Author Topic: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty  (Read 148056 times)


Offline BrightLight

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #1 on: 07/05/2012 04:48 AM »
Great summation of what appears to be a great deal of work by ATK - One more great article Chris, in a series of great articles.

Happy 4th to all!

Offline Jason Sole

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #2 on: 07/05/2012 04:58 AM »
Great read! I was a bit sceptical of this vehicle, but that's a lot of progress and on their own dime! Impressive.

Offline Alpha Control

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #3 on: 07/05/2012 05:34 AM »
Fine article, Chris. You continue to demonstrate NSF's strong focus with well-researched articles across a wide variety of topics.

I'm personally not in favor of this vehicle. I view it as too much of an Ares 1 clone. But opinions shouldn't stand in the way of solid journalism, and this article is just that.

I'm impressed with the fact that Astrium has conducted a machining & welding test on a potential Liberty tank panel (which the article notes is several times thicker than an Ariane-V core stage). I didn't know that before I read this article. That's definite progress beyond the "Power Point" stage.
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Offline Jamie Young

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #4 on: 07/05/2012 06:16 AM »
Great news. I didn't know they were making so much progress of late!

Offline Lars_J

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #5 on: 07/05/2012 06:30 AM »
There certainly appears to be progress on prepping the 2nd stage manufacturing capability, but it seems like far less work has been done on the Liberty the spacecraft. (BTW, couldn't they have a different name for the LV and spacecraft?) :)

The spacecraft was only announced recently, with the only hardware in sight being the composite pressure hull test article completed under the Orion program. (of course, I am basing this only on what has been shown to the public, there might be far more work done...)

The use of a composite pressure hull is actually something that should slow down the vehicle development. Had they picked a typical pressure hull, LM could simply make a lighter version of what the first Orion flight hardware they just shipped to KSC this week. But with the composite pressure hull, there are more unknowns, it would seem. (why else would it have been turned down for Orion?)

Apparently ATK was involved in the construction of that composite test article, so it might be the primary explanation. But it doesn't seem to be the quick and easy (relatively) option, so I'm very curious to see how quickly ATK/LM is planning to meet the milestones that would be a part of the CCiCap award for the spacecraft if selected.

Offline Jason1701

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #6 on: 07/05/2012 07:48 AM »
There certainly appears to be progress on prepping the 2nd stage manufacturing capability, but it seems like far less work has been done on the Liberty the spacecraft. (BTW, couldn't they have a different name for the LV and spacecraft?) :)

The spacecraft was only announced recently, with the only hardware in sight being the composite pressure hull test article completed under the Orion program. (of course, I am basing this only on what has been shown to the public, there might be far more work done...)

The use of a composite pressure hull is actually something that should slow down the vehicle development. Had they picked a typical pressure hull, LM could simply make a lighter version of what the first Orion flight hardware they just shipped to KSC this week. But with the composite pressure hull, there are more unknowns, it would seem. (why else would it have been turned down for Orion?)

Apparently ATK was involved in the construction of that composite test article, so it might be the primary explanation. But it doesn't seem to be the quick and easy (relatively) option, so I'm very curious to see how quickly ATK/LM is planning to meet the milestones that would be a part of the CCiCap award for the spacecraft if selected.

ATK implied at the Expo that the composite pressure vessel was essential to getting the weight down enough for the launch vehicle.

Offline gospacex

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #7 on: 07/05/2012 09:32 AM »
Quote
ATK will build a second “Ares I” style Mobile Launcher (ML), following the repurposing of the first ML to the SLS program.

I hope ATK will have to purchase that ML for $0.5b which went into building it?

Quote
It will be transported to the pad via one of the Crawler Transporters, following launch vehicle integration inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

And crawlers too?

Somehow I doubt it. Knowing these guys, they will lobby for getting it all free of charge.

Offline Jason1701

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #8 on: 07/05/2012 09:54 AM »
Quote
ATK will build a second “Ares I” style Mobile Launcher (ML), following the repurposing of the first ML to the SLS program.

I hope ATK will have to purchase that ML for $0.5b which went into building it?

Quote
It will be transported to the pad via one of the Crawler Transporters, following launch vehicle integration inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

And crawlers too?

Somehow I doubt it. Knowing these guys, they will lobby for getting it all free of charge.

I think building another ML will be much cheaper without the design work and without the NASA paperwork.

Offline CitabriaFlyer

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #9 on: 07/05/2012 10:25 AM »
Could the Liberty second stage be a mechanism for ESA to pay for some of its ISS utilization given the impending demise of ATV?

Could that, along with utilization of LC39, be a political calculation to enhance the chances of securing NASA funding?

I like that idea better than an ATV derived service module for Orion.

Offline woods170

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #10 on: 07/05/2012 10:35 AM »
1. Could the Liberty second stage be a mechanism for ESA to pay for some of its ISS utilization given the impending demise of ATV?

2. Could that, along with utilization of LC39, be a political calculation to enhance the chances of securing NASA funding?

3. I like that idea better than an ATV derived service module for Orion.

1. No, Liberty is a private underatking between ATK and Astrium. Has nothing to do with ESA, so no leverage for money ESA still owns for ISS utilization. Ariane 5 is not an ESA launcher, it's an ArianeSpace launcher. Astrium is main-contractor for the Ariane-5 core stage.

2. Private companies don't do political calculations. They work politicians to provide them with funding in return for doing work for state entities (such as government agencies). Liberty is not an ATK-Astrium-ESA co-op to secure US funding.

3. See point 1. Astrium providing ATK with an Ariane-5-derived upper stage has nothing to do with leverage for ISS utilization.

Offline woods170

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #11 on: 07/05/2012 10:37 AM »
Quote
ATK will build a second “Ares I” style Mobile Launcher (ML), following the repurposing of the first ML to the SLS program.

I hope ATK will have to purchase that ML for $0.5b which went into building it?

Quote
It will be transported to the pad via one of the Crawler Transporters, following launch vehicle integration inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

And crawlers too?

Somehow I doubt it. Knowing these guys, they will lobby for getting it all free of charge.

I think building another ML will be much cheaper without the design work and without the NASA paperwork.

I wonder if ATK will purchase the now useless Ares-1 launch mounts that were built for the Ares-1 (now SLS) ML. Two were constructed, and from what I hear they will not be used on the modified ML for SLS.

Online Chris Bergin

Really appreciate the nice words! :)

GoSpaceX - SpaceX have lobbyists too you know ;)

Agree on the second ML being much cheaper, and I'll ask about the launch mount (sounds like it would be a good idea, but I'll confirm).

Offline gospacex

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #13 on: 07/05/2012 11:44 AM »
Really appreciate the nice words! :)

GoSpaceX - SpaceX have lobbyists too you know ;)

SpaceX lobbyists did not lobby for disasters called CxP and Ares I which cost US 5 years and $10b wasted.

Online Chris Bergin

Really appreciate the nice words! :)

GoSpaceX - SpaceX have lobbyists too you know ;)

SpaceX lobbyists did not lobby for disasters called CxP and Ares I which cost US 5 years and $10b wasted.

If you're going to blame ATK for that, go back to page 1 of 49237239 on the forum and start over again, because you're sounding like you're sobbing into your cornflakes with this now. ;D

Want to blame someone for that? Blame ESAS, then blame NASA, then blame Congress.

Not that it has anything to do with this progress report, so be advised that if you're going to pull this card everytime someone mentions Liberty, you will be trolling.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2012 11:59 AM by Chris Bergin »

Online MATTBLAK

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #15 on: 07/05/2012 12:01 PM »
Really appreciate the nice words! :)

GoSpaceX - SpaceX have lobbyists too you know ;)

SpaceX lobbyists did not lobby for disasters called CxP and Ares I which cost US 5 years and $10b wasted.

They didn't have to. And analogies are specious - Space X was in a much more formative stage in 2005-6 when Constellation was in full swing. Also, ATK is doing a lot of Liberty out of its own pocket now - admittedly with amelioration of funds already spent! :) However: with the upper stage Thrust Oscillation gone and the rather Heavy Orion not part of its payload manifesto (at this stage) Liberty stands a fair chance - technically - of being able to do what they claim it can. There are other Commercial Space providers with greater or lesser designs and 'skin in the game'.

Space X has done very well and I'd applaud with three hands if I had a third one. But don't act so surprised when you bias/bluff is called! Its not easy for 'Space Cadets' (even me) to be bi-partisan and unbiased.

EDIT: By all means start a separate "ATK Solids & Ares sucks!" thread if you want to - Chris Bergin might even let you have one! But don't be surprised if it gets ugly at times in that thread...
« Last Edit: 07/05/2012 12:04 PM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #16 on: 07/05/2012 12:32 PM »
I'm not a particular fan of Ares-I Liberty for the obvious reasons but I'm happy to give it a chance so long as ATK remains willing to take the risk on their own money.

That said, the mendaciousness of their marketing from day one really gets on my nerves.  No one ever said that the darkest of the dark commercial arts has to be nice or even particularly honest.  However, their strange claims that they and only they are offering American space flight independence (with a half-European launcher no less!) annoys me, as does their completely unjustifiable claims about their US-based competitors.

My worry, though, is that their absolutely impeccable political connections may ensure that their product is chosen irrespective or how costly, unsafe and slow-to-deliver it turns out to be.  NASA cannot afford a decision on commercial crew to be made by political fiat.  That way lies a decade or longer stuck on the ground or worse.

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Offline gospacex

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #17 on: 07/05/2012 12:33 PM »
Really appreciate the nice words! :)

GoSpaceX - SpaceX have lobbyists too you know ;)

SpaceX lobbyists did not lobby for disasters called CxP and Ares I which cost US 5 years and $10b wasted.

If you're going to blame ATK for that, go back to page 1 of 49237239 on the forum and start over again, because you're sounding like you're sobbing into your cornflakes with this now. ;D

Want to blame someone for that? Blame ESAS, then blame NASA, then blame Congress.

Sorry, but I have hard time believing that it is merely a miraculous coincidence that ESAS chose the path which required a lot of SRBs, no ATK involvement here.

It is well known that Doc Horowitz had links to ATK as thick as anchor chain:

"Horowitz retired from the United States Air Force and NASA in October, 2004. He returned to NASA in September, 2005 to become the Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, in charge of the return of America to the Moon during the next decade.

During his interim away from NASA, Horowitz held a senior executive position with ATK Thiokol, the makers of the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters. While there, he developed some ideas he had for new types of launch vehicles that used only solid fuel rockets. His ideas were crucial to the development of the mission hardware NASA has adopted for the Vision for Space Exploration. NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin invited Horowitz back to NASA as an associate administrator so he could lead the effort to develop this hardware."

And then ESAS is released in November 2005 and - wow, are we surprised?? - we need a lot of R&D on SRBs.

Seriously. This *stinks*.

Second, I tend to trust DIRECT people, who know ins and outs of US space politics way better than me, when they said numerous that ATK has such a disproportional lobbying influence on NASA that it was a suicide for any post-Shuttle HLV project to go against SRBs.

Offline Harold KSC

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #18 on: 07/05/2012 12:34 PM »
MUCH cheaper to build a second ML.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: ATK push for US space flight independence via Liberty
« Reply #19 on: 07/05/2012 12:58 PM »
There are many who don't like and distrust ATK but if they develop and present a competitive system then it should be given a fair shot at winning a contract. That is what this competition is all about. Besides its too early to pick winners. That was made clear by Bolden during the recent dust up over having a down select now.

One thing that should be clear though is that LC-39 will not be shut down. Even if SLS gets canceled. Proposals which use it are going to have an advantage if SLS looks threatened. That is not necessarily an ATK only advantage as their competitors have looked at using it as well.

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