Author Topic: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)  (Read 83507 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #60 on: 04/14/2012 12:46 AM »
A sizeable part of Antares's business case is replacement for NASA Delta II earth science missions.  A polar/SSO capability must be in the works.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #61 on: 04/14/2012 04:46 AM »
In the Antares presentation OSC clearly show either Kodiak or VAFB as possibilities. And they have leased some offices in VAFB.
In any case, the issue are payloads. Antares might have three flights under its belt as early as middle 2013. Which would allow them to start the NASA certification process. Not to mention the Falcon 9 family which is actually building a pad at VAFB and are going to do the block 2 debut flight from there by the end of 2013.
Nasa (by extension I assume NOAA) nor DoD can procure a LV without certification. If you can have the Antares and/or the Falcon 9 (I'm assuming EELV is too big/expensive), would you pay a bit more (Falcon 9), risk a new pad for an existing LV (Antares), or a new pad plus a new vehicle (Athena 3)?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #62 on: 04/14/2012 04:55 AM »
I see no evidence that Athena 3 would be cheaper than Falcon 9.
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Offline Antares

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #63 on: 04/14/2012 04:57 AM »
Various good points to address there:

1) At what point are Antares and Athena 3 not viable wrt Falcon cost/reliability trade-offs?  If SpaceX develops a cadence and stable price, Antares and Athena 3 are done.  How big that IF is, is not worthy of discussion because no one has a clear crystal ball.

2) Payload projects are free to procure launch services if they can get DoD Major Commands or other NASA HQ Directorates to concur with their risk tolerance and procurement strategy.  Those are both debatable and unpredictable.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #64 on: 04/14/2012 06:14 AM »
What I'm stating here, is that I can't recall no significant LV that didn't had a main "tenant" for actual development. Delta II had GPS, EELV had DoD, Falcon 9 and Antares had CRS, etc. Similar cases can be made about Soyuz, Proton, Long March 2/3/4, H-IIB, Ariane 1/2/3/4/5, etc. Even Zenit-2 had it's it "clients", namely Energyia, and was to replace the Soyuz, too.
In that sense Athena 3 and Liberty are in the same limbo, viable technical project, might even have a successful business with some heavy investment and luck, but too much risk to actually put that money into the project.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #65 on: 04/14/2012 07:13 AM »
After considering some reasonable Athena 3 concepts, I've played with a few high energy upper stage ideas.  These aren't meant to be "real" (the Lego (TM) thing), but give an idea of payloads for various propellant combinations.  Obviously they cross deep into Atlas 5 territory, which Lockheed would not do unless it had a very good reason.  (And yes, Jim, I should draw a big fairing around these Centaurs, because they can't support the payload otherwise.)  The last concept is Liberty-esque, but assumes a composite case booster, etc, so is presented just to show a max-payload range.

I've found that a bigger-than Castor 120 second stage would improve performance.  Something about 1.5 times heavier would work.  ATK has been burning Castor 120-diameter motors for the Air Force, but I'm not sure that anything longer than Castor 120 itself has been tested or considered.

 - Ed Kyle

Since this is a fantasy Lego configuration discussion. Sort of.  ;D

My Athena 3X proposal is to replace the Castor 120 solid motor with the Falcon 9 upper stage on top of a 2.5 segments RSRM as a 2 stage rocket.

Amusingly, the mass of the current Merlin Vac powered F9 upper stage is roughly that of the Castor 120. The diameters of the RSRM and F9 upper stage is also roughly the same.

The chances of SpaceX let anyone else use their upper stage is next to zilch. But how would my Athena 3X configuration compare in performance?

edit for spelling
« Last Edit: 04/14/2012 06:19 PM by Zed_Noir »

Offline baldusi

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #66 on: 04/14/2012 08:49 PM »
First, the Antares launch pad at Wallops has been a long time coming and must have cost someone a pretty penny.  An Athena 3 pad might be more straightforward.
And it wasn't OSC fault. They went to Wallops because the state would pick the tab. And the state mismanaged the pad construction and certification. So much that the person in charge was sacked.
BTW, both LM and OSC have launched from Kodiak, so they know it very well. And OSC will knows exactly what it needs to launch Antares, from it's operational experience in Wallops. LM might need some development. But Antares would need an HIF, the RP-1, LOX infrastructure and such. I guess Adapting Kodiak for Antares would be really expensive wrt Athena 3.
I only see it happening if Alaska picks the tab. Which they might if the other option is closing Kodiak.

Quote
Second, both Orbital and Lockheed Martin manufacture traditional satellites.  SpaceX does not.

Which doesn't matter the least. The concept of payload and launch solution has not been very popular lately. In fact, the last example was the OCO-1/2. I don't think anybody will try it for the next few years. And, in any case, we're talking about sunsynchronous and polar launches. Very few of those that are commercial (GeoEye and DigitalGlobe) mean about three to four launches per decade! So, again, you are going after the small polar launches of NASA/NOAA/DoD. Those need certification. That's the problem.
The other issue are the five Delta II that ULA and NASA want to use from VAFB. That will eat all the "good" projects for the next five to seven years.
I simply don't see how Athena could win more than one flight each other year for the next seven years. I simply don't see it.

Quote
Third, SpaceX is talking about three launch complexes, creating more infrastructure than either Orbital or Lockheed-Athena.  Either they are going to perform three times as many launches as Antares or Athena, or their fixed costs are going to be higher.
Talking is cheap. They've closed down Omelek, KSC is paid by the CRS contract, and they hope to pay for VAFB with Iridium, Orbcomm, CONAE, NSPO and whatever they could get from DoD. In other words, they do have the clients on manifest to actually pay for the pad. No clients to justify the pad, no rocket no pad. Look the case of Omelek and F1e, not enough manifest, the clients where moved to F9, LV was suspended and the pad closed down.

Quote
Fourth, Athena 3 would expose payloads to the highest g-forces of the three (I think).
Which is a problem, not an advantage. The launch environment of the Antares, Falcon 9 and Delta II were sort of similar. By the time Athena 3 would be available, all three will have at least Cat 3/C certification. Hopefully more. But the case is that if the client baselines for Falcon 9 or Antares, it won't be much different. You could move your payload from one to the other (and if the performance is enough). Moving to the Athena means a different baseline. When you start to compete you have to use what everybody else is using. Look at SpaceX's VAFB facilities, and how they are going to have to offer vertical payload integration because of DoD. Thus, Athena 3 would have to be compatible with the Antares/Falcon 9 environment, not the other way around.

Offline Antares

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #67 on: 04/15/2012 04:28 AM »
I generally agree with baldusi's posts, but there's a whole lot wrong with that first part.

Orbital is the ultimate user of the pad at Wallops.  It doesn't matter who is in charge of building it.  Orbital selected the pad and orchestrated the business arrangement.  Orbital is responsible for putting its trust in an unworthy partner.

Orbital is way out of its element with this vehicle.  Orbital has never launched a liquid-fueled rocket before.  Orbital has never had to deal with fluid commodities on launch day.  Such support systems are non-trivial.
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Offline notsorandom

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #68 on: 04/16/2012 12:40 PM »
Ed, the hypothetical 3 composite segment 110t LH2 Athena-X, the performance of that configuration is better then Liberty or Ares I. Is the performance of the composite solid what makes the difference there? In other words is a three segment composite that much better then a five segment steel case solid?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #69 on: 04/16/2012 04:15 PM »
Ed, the hypothetical 3 composite segment 110t LH2 Athena-X, the performance of that configuration is better then Liberty or Ares I. Is the performance of the composite solid what makes the difference there? In other words is a three segment composite that much better then a five segment steel case solid?

According to my guesstimate the much improved propellant mass fraction of the first stage makes the difference.  But, of course, the real implementation would be unlikely to match my guesses.  No matter the details, composite case can provide substantial improvement.  Look at the Castor and Orion motors for examples.

 - Ed Kyle
Yes, solid rocket motors are essentially pressure-fed, thus tank mass is a HUGE factor in limiting performance because of the very high dry mass. And a lot of the reason you would have 3 or 4 (or more!) stages for an all-solid launch vehicle instead of 1.5 or 2 for a liquid, pump-fed rocket (ala original Atlas, Shuttle, Atlas V 401, etc).
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 04:17 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #70 on: 04/16/2012 06:53 PM »
Ed, my point was that lowering the tank mass can make a pretty big difference for a pressure-fed vehicle like an Athena 3, since that's such a limiting factor in its performance. I was agreeing with you! :)
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #71 on: 05/10/2012 01:07 AM »
Bump for its larger sibling Linerty news.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #72 on: 05/10/2012 08:51 PM »
Bump for its larger sibling Linerty news.

I'm not yet sure they're directly related.  Liberty is ATK/EADS.  Athena, including Athena 3 if it is ever developed, is Lockheed Martin. 

Of course ATK would pour motors for both rockets.

 - Ed Kyle
Who does the avionics and GNC of the Liberty?

Offline Silmfeanor

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #73 on: 05/29/2012 03:18 PM »
Athena II as the upper stage.  Hmmm.  Actually stacking two Castor 120s and a Castor 30 on top of "another ATK solid rocket motor" could lift more than 5.9 tonnes to LEO from Florida.  A lot more.  I figure better than 10 tonnes.
 - Ed Kyle

4 Solid stages? whelp  :D

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #74 on: 05/30/2012 03:13 AM »
This is interesting.
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/april/0417-ss-cls.html
Athena II as the upper stage.  Hmmm.  Actually stacking two Castor 120s and a Castor 30 on top of "another ATK solid rocket motor" could lift more than 5.9 tonnes to LEO from Florida.  A lot more.  I figure better than 10 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

Hmmm

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28839.0
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Offline Antares

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #75 on: 05/30/2012 05:44 AM »
How many segments are you assuming in your calcs, Ed?  That might be the difference.
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Online Calphor

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #76 on: 05/30/2012 06:04 AM »
How many segments are you assuming in your calcs, Ed?  That might be the difference.

This made me think of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch...



Fast forward to 1:23.  ;)

Offline Prober

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #77 on: 05/30/2012 12:51 PM »
This is interesting.
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/april/0417-ss-cls.html
"The company recently selected KLC as its dedicated West Coast launch facility as it looks to expand launch capability with Athena III for commercial and government customers.  Utilizing the Athena I and II as the upper stages and another ATK solid rocket motor as the first stage, Athena III will be capable of launching satellites weighing 4,600 kg (10,150 lbs.) from Alaska and 5,900 kg (13, 000 lbs.) from the Florida space coast."

Athena II as the upper stage.  Hmmm.  Actually stacking two Castor 120s and a Castor 30 on top of "another ATK solid rocket motor" could lift more than 5.9 tonnes to LEO from Florida.  A lot more.  I figure better than 10 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

How tall a launcher are we talking about ?
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Offline GClark

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #78 on: 05/31/2012 01:00 PM »
Have they indicated whether they will they go to the trouble of developing/testing optimised segments for the Athena III or just take the performance hit?

Offline spectre9

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Re: Athena News (Athena 3 Still Kicking)
« Reply #79 on: 07/14/2012 11:13 PM »
Any updates?

I noticed some discussion in the Liberty thread so came to have a look here and to give this a bump.

I'm just reading this now.

http://www.alaskajournal.com/Alaska-Journal-of-Commerce/July-Issue-3-2012/Kodiak-complex-gets-boost-from-Lockheed/

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