Author Topic: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1 (aka AJ-1E6)  (Read 131281 times)

Offline Burninate

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Aerojet Rocketdyne is targeting a cost of $20-25 million for each pair of new AR-1 engines as the company continues to lobby the government to fund an all-new, U.S.-sourced rocket propulsion system, says Scott Seymour, president and CEO of the company’s parent, GenCorp.

Including legacy systems and various risk-reduction projects, Aerojet Rocketdyne has spent roughly $300 million working on technologies that will feed into the AR-1, Seymour said during a June 3 roundtable with Aviation Week editors. The effort to build a new, 500,000-lb. thrust liquid oxygen/kerosene propulsion system would take about four years from contract award and cost roughly $800 million to $1 billion.

Such an engine is eyed for United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket as well as Orbital’s Antares and, possibly, Space Exploration Technology’s Falcon 9 v1.1.
http://aviationweek.com/defense/aerojet-rocketdyne-targets-25-million-pair-ar-1-engines

Edit: The AR-1 is actually a new name for a 500klbf rocket engine AR has been pitching for an SLS liquid booster - the AJ-1E6, so this is partially a continuation of threads like this.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2014 09:56 PM by Burninate »

Offline Profwoot

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Why would SpaceX want to use these on Falcon 9? Is that author just making stuff up?

Offline Burninate

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I believe Aerojet Rocketdyne is just making stuff up.  The author expresses skepticism later down the page:
Quote
SpaceX’s Falcon 9v1.1 is powered by the company’s own Merlin 1D engine, but Seymour says he hopes the AR-1 is competitive enough in pricing to earn a place even on this platform. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has focused his company on vertical integration to support quick development timelines.

Aside from the fact that they are capable of and proud of Merlin 1D, SpaceX remain fond of the reliability margins on 9-engine configurations.  9 of these engines would cost $112.5M and push half the mass of the presumptive BFR core on 1M lbf Raptors.

The only place I might be able to imagine a 500klbf engine there, in light of their present lineup & plans, would be to replace the Merlin Vacuum for large payloads on a heavier upper stage for the Falcon Heavy or (my pet notion) Falcon Superheavy.  I'd still put odds on such an engine being internal rather than outsourced, though, or more likely, being a multi-core Merlin 1D configuration.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2014 05:38 PM by Burninate »

Offline InfraNut2

Why would SpaceX want to use these on Falcon 9? Is that author just making stuff up?

The author hedged with "possibly". He probably just made a guess without taking the time to do any checking.

If he had looked more closely into things, AR-1 is more expensive for F9 than Merlin and of course completely untested. So there is not even the beginning of a reason for SpaceX to consider changing engines to AR-1.

BTW: I would also be VERY surprised if Aerojet managed to match this initial cost estimate, and besides: cost is not the same as price...

edit: added:

I believe Aerojet Rocketdyne is just making stuff up.  The author expresses skepticism later down the page:
Quote
SpaceX’s Falcon 9v1.1 is powered by the company’s own Merlin 1D engine, but Seymour says he hopes the AR-1 is competitive enough in pricing to earn a place even on this platform. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has focused his company on vertical integration to support quick development timelines.

Aside from the fact that they are capable of and proud of Merlin 1D, SpaceX remain fond of the reliability margins on 9-engine configurations.  9 of these engines would cost $112.5M and push half the mass of the presumptive BFR core on 1M lbf Raptors.

The only place I might be able to imagine a 500klbf engine there, in light of their present lineup & plans, would be to replace the Merlin Vacuum for large payloads on a heavier upper stage for the Falcon Heavy or (my pet notion) Falcon Superheavy.  I'd still put odds on such an engine being internal rather than outsourced, though, or more likely, being a multi-core Merlin 1D configuration.

I unintentionally overlapped this answer a bit. We wrote concurrently.

Also. AR-1 is too big for the FH upper stage and I doubt Aerojet would make a Vacuum version without charging SpaceX for development. Also the unit price would have been too expensive.

For the BFR superheavy, AR-1 uses the wrong fuel (SpaceX wants methane) and the planned Raptor is a already a better match performance-wise.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2014 05:55 PM by InfraNut2 »

Offline Burninate

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Sorry, lack of clarity - Falcon SuperHeavy is my pet notion for a launch vehicle with 5 to 7 Falcon 9 cores, which seems like a fairly natural extension of their product line five years or so of payload planning in the future.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2014 06:28 PM by Burninate »

Offline woods170

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I believe Aerojet Rocketdyne is just making stuff up. 
Bingo. Have Aerojet develop that engine first and get it firing. Then they can start thinking about whose platform they wish to stick it on.

Offline Jim

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Sorry, lack of clarity - Falcon SuperHeavy is my pet notion for a launch vehicle with 5 to 7 Falcon 9 cores, which seems like a fairly natural extension of their product line five years or so of payload planning in the future.

No, it would not be a "fairly natural extension", since its operations would be complex and not horizontal.   They would go to a wider core before making a kludge of more cores than 3

Offline mikes

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Perhaps Burninate means a linear cluster of cores, which could still be integrated horizontally.
I imagine control of such a beast in flight would be rather "dynamic".

Offline Burninate

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Sorry, lack of clarity - Falcon SuperHeavy is my pet notion for a launch vehicle with 5 to 7 Falcon 9 cores, which seems like a fairly natural extension of their product line five years or so of payload planning in the future.

No, it would not be a "fairly natural extension", since its operations would be complex and not horizontal.   They would go to a wider core before making a kludge of more cores than 3

Yes, it would require a substantially different mode of launchpad assembly.  The hypothesis is that this may end up being easier than building an entirely new design with larger cores that are not road-transportable... and that vertical assembly, while they have taken pains to avoid it so far, is not necessarily something they can avoid in the long term for payloads.

Crossfeed on such arrangements can potentially be a very powerful value add.

Perhaps Burninate means a linear cluster of cores, which could still be integrated horizontally.
I imagine control of such a beast in flight would be rather "dynamic".
No, a linear cluster seems likely to have an ugly tendency to bend.

This is all a bit off-topic for this thread, I shouldn't have brought it up.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2014 03:22 PM by Burninate »

Offline baldusi

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Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #9 on: 06/12/2014 03:59 PM »
Errr. You might want to explain to the Russians how their Energyia/Buran required vertical integration?
And before anyone talks about pad interfaces, please look up "Y-Blok".
« Last Edit: 06/12/2014 04:02 PM by baldusi »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #10 on: 06/12/2014 04:28 PM »
June article on AR1 from spacenews.
http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/40767aerojet-rocketdyne-exec-pitches-long-brewing-concept-as-rd-180

Forbes article from April shows that AR1 as a designator has been around for a few months at least.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/04/07/new-rocket-engine-needed-to-rescue-americas-faltering-role-in-space/

In February 2013, Aerojet won an SLS development contract that was to deliver a 550 Klbf main injector and thrust chamber for an ORSC LOX/RP engine, which seems to line up with the AR1 concept.
http://satellite.tmcnet.com/topics/satellite/articles/2013/02/15/327065-aerojet-gets-final-nasa-sls-booster-development-contract.htm

Here's a paper on AFRL's hydrocarbon  boost project, and a page from Aerojet about its involvement.
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a556159.pdf
http://www.rocket.com/hydrocarbon-boost-hcb

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 06/13/2014 01:43 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline simonbp

Calling the SLS version of RS-25 "existing" is a bit of a stretch. The physical hardware exists, but the application is completely different.

A large reason for not using RD-180 for CaLV/Ares/SLS was that it is Russian. If AR-1 meets their cost goals, it could be well-placed to be used on a future large NASA rocket, depending on how things change after the next presidential election.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #12 on: 06/13/2014 11:09 PM »
If this comes to fruition, and SLS sticks around, might be a good replacement for when the RS25D's run out even though they would need to switch fuels... I would think using an existing engine vs developing an expendable RS-25 might make up for the switch.
This would not work, for a number of reasons.  SLS is designed around a high-ISP sustainer core that burns nearly all the way to orbit, like STS.  A core of that size filled with RP/LOX would weigh massively more than a core filled with LH2/LOX, so an entirely new stage would need to be designed.  Five segment booster would not match well, if at all, with an RP core.  The upper stage would need to do more delta-v work, which would require it to be heavier, which would require J-2X rather than RL10.  And so on. 

On an HLLV, high thrust RP would serve best on a Saturn V type serial stager (which isn't happening) or on boosters for an LH2 core (which also apparently is not going to happen).  Otherwise, this is an engine that might serve Atlas 5 and/or Antares.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 06/13/2014 11:49 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline newpylong

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #13 on: 06/16/2014 01:20 PM »
Makes sense, thank you.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2014 01:20 PM by newpylong »

Offline TrevorMonty

Since the ULA engine contract thread has been locked, I thought place my posting here.

The question is what size engine to develop.
1mlbf RD 180 replacement
500klbf and use 2
250klbf and use 4

I'm no expert on rocket design but I'm guessing a smaller engine will be cheaper to develop. The manufacturing and R&D costs of smaller engine may make cost per mlbf cheaper than larger engines.

A new engine will most like result in a new LV ( 1st stage anyway). This will be expensive but ULA will get the LV they want.

« Last Edit: 06/18/2014 04:48 AM by TrevorMonty »

Offline baldusi

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #15 on: 06/18/2014 04:20 AM »
Both Antares and Atlas V use two roughly 440klbf nozzles. So the decision the only discussion for minimum impact is on turbopump or two turbopumps. They need the two nozzles for compatibility. So it's either a single engine with two 500klbf nozzles or two engines with a single 500klbf each. My guess is that dual engine would impact Atlas V more than Antares, and single engine more Antares rather than atlas V. Given the relative maturity and strategic importance, a single engine with two nozzles would seem the optimal technical development. Optimum economic would depend on Atlas V re-certification cost, probably.
« Last Edit: 06/18/2014 01:50 PM by baldusi »

Offline MP99



Both Antares and Atlas V use two roughly 200klbf nozzles. So the decision the only discussion for minimum impact is on turbopump or two turbopumps. They need the two nozzles for compatibility. So it's either a single engine with two 500klbf nozzles or two engines with a single 500klbf each. My guess is that dual engine would impact Atlas V more than Antares, and single engine more Antares rather than atlas V. Given the relative maturity and strategic importance, a single engine with two nozzles would seem the optimal technical development. Optimum economic would depend on Atlas V re-certification cost, probably.

RD-180 is two roughly 425 klbf nozzles.

Antares is also well over 400 klbf across its two engines.

Methinks your first sentence is kgf rather than klbf?

Cheers, Martin

Offline Jim

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #17 on: 06/18/2014 01:37 PM »
What recert costs?

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #18 on: 06/18/2014 01:44 PM »
Both Antares and Atlas V use two roughly 200klbf nozzles.
RD-180 produces 860,235 lbf thrust at sea level, so about 430,117 lbf per chamber.

Each NK-33 makes 366,600 lbf thrust at sea level at its 108% setting.  Two together make 733,400 lbf.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline baldusi

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Re: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1
« Reply #19 on: 06/18/2014 01:51 PM »
Methinks your first sentence is kgf rather than klbf?
Yep, is no use trying to use Imperial measures, I should stick to metric and stay there. Number's corrected on previous, thanks.

Each NK-33 makes 366,600 lbf thrust at sea level at its 108% setting.  Two together make 733,400 lbf.
The 2013 Antares User Guide notes that the propulsion module provides typically 3,630kN (816klbf) in vacuum. It also states typical isp of 301.6s/331.2s. This would translate to 3,305kN (743klbf) at sea level. Thus, it would seem that the AJ-26 is run at 109.5% or so.
« Last Edit: 06/18/2014 02:00 PM by baldusi »

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