Author Topic: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process  (Read 1876 times)

Online gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1641
  • US
  • Liked: 1082
  • Likes Given: 862
The current version of the Senate bill has language saying that money for support of Delta IV should no longer come out of the Air Force budget after D-IV Medium is retired if NRO is the only one using the Heavy version.  (As with all budget related items, who knows what will actually be signed into law at the end of this process.)

Quote
Limitation on use of funds for Delta IV launch vehicle (sec.
1604)
The committee recommends a provision that would prohibit the
Air Force from obligating funds to maintain infrastructure, system
engineering, critical skills, base and range support, depreciation, or
sustainment commodities for the Delta IV launch vehicle unless
the Secretary of the Air Force certifies to the congressional defense
committees that the Air Force plans to launch a satellite procured
by the Air Force on a Delta IV launch vehicle within 3 years of that
certification.
The committee understands that while the Air Force no longer
has plans to utilize the Delta IV launch vehicle, the National Reconnaissance
Office (NRO) will rely on the Delta IV to meet its
heavy lift requirements for the foreseeable future. While the committee
advocated for the Delta IV launch vehicle to eliminate its
reliance on the Atlas V, the Air Force has insisted that it no longer
intends to utilize the Delta IV. Given that the Air Force no longer
requires the Delta IV, the committee believes that the Air Force
should not be responsible for the significant costs associated with
maintaining the capability for the NRO.
The committee is concerned that with the decision to phase out
the Delta IV, the Air Force and the NRO have both underestimated
the cost and technical risk in replacing the unique heavy lift capability
required to meet NRO requirements.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4551
  • Liked: 2676
  • Likes Given: 3772
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #1 on: 07/12/2017 09:51 AM »
What the NRO wants, the NRO gets... but now they have to pay for it.
We'll see how long that lasts.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 124
  • CA
  • Liked: 22
  • Likes Given: 20
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #2 on: 07/12/2017 03:22 PM »
Not sure this does anything. The NRO already pays for its missions.

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1009
  • United States
  • Liked: 465
  • Likes Given: 958
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #3 on: 07/12/2017 08:07 PM »
Not sure this does anything. The NRO already pays for its missions.

The D-IVH missions for the NRO would have to pay the full cost of maintaining the D-IV fixed costs.  As the launch rate goes down for D-IV (And ELC goes away) you have fewer launches to spread those fixed costs out. Previously those fixed costs have been shared with the USAF, and now the NRO will be responsible for paying those fixed costs. 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4551
  • Liked: 2676
  • Likes Given: 3772
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #4 on: 07/12/2017 11:13 PM »
Not sure this does anything. The NRO already pays for its missions.

The D-IVH missions for the NRO would have to pay the full cost of maintaining the D-IV fixed costs.  As the launch rate goes down for D-IV (And ELC goes away) you have fewer launches to spread those fixed costs out. Previously those fixed costs have been shared with the USAF, and now the NRO will be responsible for paying those fixed costs.

Above it was quoted:
Quote
...the Air Force should not be responsible for the significant costs associated with
maintaining the capability
for the NRO.

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents -- with the requisite set of upgrades like a larger fairing and vertical integration -- will be quite worth funding as a single FH flight replacing DH will more than pay for these modifications.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Online okan170

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 973
  • Los Angeles
  • Liked: 5028
  • Likes Given: 1211
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #5 on: 07/13/2017 01:27 AM »
I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents -- with the requisite set of upgrades like a larger fairing and vertical integration -- will be quite worth funding as a single FH flight replacing DH will more than pay for these modifications.

Yep, nothing matters but cost.  To heck with it everything else, we can save money!!!

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3225
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2054
  • Likes Given: 2446
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #6 on: 07/13/2017 03:02 AM »
I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents -- with the requisite set of upgrades like a larger fairing and vertical integration -- will be quite worth funding as a single FH flight replacing DH will more than pay for these modifications.

Yep, nothing matters but cost.  To heck with it everything else, we can save money!!!

I'd be surprised if this change increased the chances of Falcon Heavy taking over for Delta IV Heavy before it's planned retirement - I would think the pipeline for payloads for Delta IV Heavy is already fairly well determined.

Even more so I think those that define NRO & DOD payloads are already looking forward to when Vulcan is supposed to come online, and when Falcon Heavy should be well proven. If there is to be a change, that's when I would expect it to happen. Maybe not immediately, as ULA has institutional knowledge and capabilities that are hard to replace, but I think lower cost launch costs will encourage them to make changes.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31147
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9397
  • Likes Given: 297
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #7 on: 07/13/2017 11:14 AM »

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents --

Wrong on both accounts. 

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7755
  • UK
  • Liked: 1236
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #8 on: 07/13/2017 11:27 AM »
Not sure this does anything. The NRO already pays for its missions.

The D-IVH missions for the NRO would have to pay the full cost of maintaining the D-IV fixed costs.  As the launch rate goes down for D-IV (And ELC goes away) you have fewer launches to spread those fixed costs out. Previously those fixed costs have been shared with the USAF, and now the NRO will be responsible for paying those fixed costs.

Above it was quoted:
Quote
...the Air Force should not be responsible for the significant costs associated with
maintaining the capability
for the NRO.

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents -- with the requisite set of upgrades like a larger fairing and vertical integration -- will be quite worth funding as a single FH flight replacing DH will more than pay for these modifications.

Cost is not the bottom line imperative for the NRO that you seem to think it is.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7086
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2644
  • Likes Given: 782
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #9 on: 07/13/2017 05:38 PM »

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents --

Wrong on both accounts. 

You are being a bit premature with that judgement about FH Jim. In fact, both you and AncientU are wrong about FH. Given that it hasn't flown yet, let alone with any NRO payload, there is no telling just how "expensive" or "cheap" it will be compared to Delta IV Heavy.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2017 05:38 PM by woods170 »

Offline incoming

  • Member
  • Posts: 57
  • washington, DC
  • Liked: 43
  • Likes Given: 27
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #10 on: 07/21/2017 06:34 PM »

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents --

Wrong on both accounts. 

You are being a bit premature with that judgement about FH Jim. In fact, both you and AncientU are wrong about FH. Given that it hasn't flown yet, let alone with any NRO payload, there is no telling just how "expensive" or "cheap" it will be compared to Delta IV Heavy.

I'm not so sure after what I heard Elon say at the ISS conference.  He plainly said that Falcon Heavy was much harder than they ever thought it would be, and talked about all of the mods that were required (such as beefing up the core) beyond just "strapping three cores together." 

Put that with the fact that SpaceX has never argued against the NRO booking those out-year missions on Delta IV.
 They've never waived their arms around saying they should be able to compete for them with Falcon Heavy (at least not that I've ever seen).  With so much money on the line why not? The only reason I can think of is that SpaceX doesn't actually want to fly those missions with Falcon Heavy, or maybe they can't and it isn't practical to mod Falcon Heavy to do so.   

It seems to me at least one likely outcome of that language is getting the NRO to think really, really hard about the requirements their missions are placing on launch vehicles that drive so much capability beyond what is needed for nearly all other commercial and gov't missions, and figure out if they have to cover the full cost of those requirements whether they should rethink their approach. 


Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 124
  • CA
  • Liked: 22
  • Likes Given: 20
Re: Launch related items in the FY2018 U.S. budget process
« Reply #11 on: 09/11/2017 05:01 PM »

I suspect items such as "Common Avionics", a pair of launch complexes (East and West ranges), and whatever other 'incidentals' that added to the $1B per Delta Heavy flight mentioned by CEO Bruno will be too much for NRO to stomach.  The bargain the FH presents --

Wrong on both accounts. 

You are being a bit premature with that judgement about FH Jim. In fact, both you and AncientU are wrong about FH. Given that it hasn't flown yet, let alone with any NRO payload, there is no telling just how "expensive" or "cheap" it will be compared to Delta IV Heavy.

I'm not so sure after what I heard Elon say at the ISS conference.  He plainly said that Falcon Heavy was much harder than they ever thought it would be, and talked about all of the mods that were required (such as beefing up the core) beyond just "strapping three cores together." 

Put that with the fact that SpaceX has never argued against the NRO booking those out-year missions on Delta IV.
 They've never waived their arms around saying they should be able to compete for them with Falcon Heavy (at least not that I've ever seen).  With so much money on the line why not? The only reason I can think of is that SpaceX doesn't actually want to fly those missions with Falcon Heavy, or maybe they can't and it isn't practical to mod Falcon Heavy to do so.   

It seems to me at least one likely outcome of that language is getting the NRO to think really, really hard about the requirements their missions are placing on launch vehicles that drive so much capability beyond what is needed for nearly all other commercial and gov't missions, and figure out if they have to cover the full cost of those requirements whether they should rethink their approach.

One of the fundamental aspects of the Air Force's near term investment and procurement strategy is about finding a way to meet the NRO's requirements more affordably than the Delta IV Heavy.

Tags: