Author Topic: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1 (aka AJ-1E6)  (Read 130149 times)

Offline john smith 19

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Answered upthread. They get lobbyists to insist on its use as "Advanced boosters for SLS" in LRE to displace the solids, which were abandoned politically earlier. (Which does have a sensible point, as it did then, because the solids limit the performance of SLS, and get you much of Block 2 performance, at a political cost.)

But this would be a desperate gamble. And before its brought up, AR-1 is too expensive for use on Antares to displace the RD-181's.

I suppose Congress could write a law banning non indigenous LRE's.
Well the lobbyists would write it, then they'd hand it to some representative to put on the list of work to do.

I know it's just BAU in the Big Aerospace arena, but I've never liked the sound of corporate executives whining for a handout.   :(

"Our technology is so precious yet no one will buy the engines we make"
So in fact your technology is not  as precious as you think it is, but you want the USG to bank roll you anyway.

If it's that good, yet the profit margin is that poor the smart move would seem to be for AJR to parcel up the company assets and auction them off to find out what they are really worth.

I found it very telling that when ULA and AJR (or whatever it was called then) had the same corporate parent and ULA was shopping for an RL10 replacement they went to XCOR to develop it.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2017 09:45 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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{snip}

I found it very telling that when ULA and AJR (or whatever it was called then) had the same corporate parent and ULA was shopping for an RL10 replacement they went to XCOR to develop it.

Equals can negotiate. Where one side has a boss man with the rank to fire the other side the group ends up doing what he says. This may not be good for the project.

Offline Patchouli

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More of a decision for AJR than a decision for ULA.


Ironically, that was why AR-1 would have had to have been developed to undercut RD-180 and Merlin 1C(!) long ago, which would have caused a drop in the then Aerojet revenues for a half decade, but then that risk might have paid off in a broad base (big assumption that you could get many rival LV providers to eat the same dog food). Then you could have had a different story. Note the similarities/risks - you have to do it before things like booster reuse actually happen.


I wonder if a gas generator engine maybe a scaled down F-1B or an up scale of the RS-27 would have been a better route than trying to copy the RD-180?
Blue got a bid on Vulcan with an engine that not only had a different OF ratio but used different fuel.

Offline woods170

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I suppose Congress could write a law banning non indigenous LRE's.
Congress tried with a partial ban first. And that failed when the "in-effect" date was shifted backwards several years. By the time the new "in-effect" data approaches and indigenous LRE's are not available US Congress will simply shift the date to the right again.

Offline WindnWar

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They are, as Sowers describes, professional leeches. That is in fact what they were designed to be by circumstance, as an outgrowth of decision from the Nixon administration's forced acqusitions in aerospace.


So when people talk of using AR-1 with yet another government program, it doesn't necessarily do AJR the kind of favor it really needs to remedy its root issues. It just gives the leach another artery to temporarily avoid the necessary reinvention. This does not make a firm better. And that idiot Casper Wienberger, while not directly complicit in this situation, did create this, one of many, by a colossal idiocy that caused many of these, ironically to "make Amercian aerospace great again".  ::)

I'm thinking of the analogy that AJR is like a virus that infects ULA. Raising it's prices is like raising the temperature of the body. Sooner or later either the body overcomes the virus or the body dies.  :(

They are both a product of the USG's absolute desire to maintain access to space at all times, regardless of a level of price inflation that sometimes seems to outsiders a lot like extortion.  :(

With the Centaurus 5 needing multiple (3-4?) RL-10s, or a single BE-EU (>110,000klbf) -- and Vulcan needing to cost half as much as Atlas V -- hasn't price inflation at AJR essentially killed use of RL-10 on Vulcan/Centaurus 5?

The other question on this is, how much of the RL-10 stockpile that ULA has is currently remaining? They were converting them to the RL-10C for use on both Atlas and Delta, but I've never been able to find how many of those engines were left, just that Boeing had bought a large number of the engines for Delta. Depending on how many are left that might be what powers the initial Vulcan Centaurs until they are used up. Anyone have an actual count of how many are left?

Online brickmack

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Boeing ordered 100 RL10Bs, IIRC. 35 have been used on Delta IV. RL10C first flew on Atlas in December 2013. I know theres been at least one RL10A mission since then, probably more, but ballpark theres been about 20 flown since then. So >half used up. Theres still ~10 Deltas planned to fly, and at least 21 Atlases (probably much more), though not all future Atlases will use them (DEC missions must use RL10A). So with the known future manifest, thats only about 15 engines left to play with. Seems pointless to use them on Vulcan and have to redesign both upper stages once the supply runs out. Burn through them on the final Atlas V flights

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Not great news for AR-1 funding by USAF:

Good article by Eric Berger on the NDAA funding language and thus the flexibility it does, and does not, give the USAF:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/11/a-new-law-gives-air-force-some-wiggle-room-in-picking-its-new-rockets/

Two crucial quotes:

Quote
Further, the bill defines “rocket propulsion system” as a main booster, first-stage rocket engine, or motor. The term does not include a launch vehicle, an upper stage, a strap-on motor, or related infrastructure.

Quote
Another provision in the bill relates to the engines under development for Vulcan. This language states that the Air Force may terminate funding for other rocket propulsion systems when “the Secretary of the Air Force certifies to the congressional defense committees that a successful full-scale test of a domestic rocket engine has occurred.”

So first stage funding is fine, but not second or other stages, and AR-1 funding can be dropped once BE-4 achieves a 'full-scale test'.

Suggest following up in original (space policy) thread.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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This wording also allows USAF to fund CASTOR 300, 600 & 1200 development by OrbitalATK.
Indeed bad news for Rocketdyne and AR-1 development funding.

Offline john smith 19

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This wording also allows USAF to fund CASTOR 300, 600 & 1200 development by OrbitalATK.
Indeed bad news for Rocketdyne and AR-1 development funding.
I think ULA might like to keep AR-1 around a bit longer just to give Blue the possibility they could be dropped if they don't deliver on time.

It depends on how keen Congress is on finishing funding to AJR.  They could continue to fund even after a successful all up engine test for Blue, even after they ran it for the full time IE a full stages worth of propellant.  :(
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Darkseraph

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There's a possibility Aerojet Rocketdyne, alone or partnering with another aerospace firm, submits a proposal for the EELV contract that uses AR-1. Extremely unlikely, but stranger things have happened! 
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline john smith 19

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There's a possibility Aerojet Rocketdyne, alone or partnering with another aerospace firm, submits a proposal for the EELV contract that uses AR-1. Extremely unlikely, but stranger things have happened!

Indeed.

As anyone who remembers the ATK "Liberty" launcher proposal knows.  :(
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

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