Author Topic: Blue Origin working towards making the Cape its Orbital Launch Site  (Read 7893 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Some more insights into Blue Origin on the Space Coast:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/03/blue-origin-making-cape-orbital-launch-site/

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Many thanks to Noel Munson who proactively worked with the USAF PAO to acquire the latest update to the environmental impact report, as he did with the SpaceX update (which we reported on https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/01/spacex-air-force-landing-pads-dragon-lz-1/)

The report (it's a very long read, so thanks again to Noel for working with me to find the most interesting parts) is here:
http://tinyurl.com/mt9bf3m - pdf, shortened URL as the original URL is very long.

Offline sghill

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Hi folks,

Here are some highlights and images from the 340 page report. I waded through it so you don't have to.

I did also note that there is zero discussion of Blue Shepard launches and crewed operations in this EA.

I've attached images I think work well and have value as well. 

From the FONSI:
The EA assesses the environmental impacts resulting from Blue Origin constructing and operating an engine test stand for the Blue Engine 4 (BE-4) engine, and constructing and operating a launch complex for launching an Orbital Launch Vehicle (OLV). The BE-4 engine test stand will be located at Launch Complex (LC)-11, and the launch facility will be located at adjacent complex LC-36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida. Collectively the combined sites of LC-11, LC-36, and approximately 50 acres of surrounding land form a total of approximately 306 acres which are the subject of the EA and are referred to collectively as the Orbital Launch Site (OLS).

Here are some summary highlights from my reading of the 340-page EA document. These are all direct quotes.

The Proposed Action is to construct and operate an OLS at the combined areas of LC-11 and LC-36 at CCAFS, Florida. The commercial facility would contain infrastructure to test rocket engines, integrate launch vehicles, and conduct launches of liquid fueled, heavy-lift class orbital vehicles. Blue Origin’s long term intention is to sign a lease directly with the USAF for both LC-11 and LC-36. Space Florida is not expected to continue their license at the time Blue Origin acquires a license or lease directly from the USAF.

LC-11 History
The USAF operated LC-11 from 1958 through 1964 as a launch complex for the Atlas family of rockets. It was
constructed alongside launch complexes 12, 13, and 14 on what is known as “missile row.” From the time of the first launch on July 19, 1958, of an Atlas B to the last launch on April 1, 1964, of an Atlas F, thirty-two rockets were launched. Of these thirty-two missions, thirty-one were suborbital, and one was orbital. In June of 1967 following deactivation, the pad and service tower structures were dismantled, and in 2013 the blockhouse was demolished. The site is no longer being maintained.

LC-36 History
Throughout the nearly 43 years of operation of LC-36, the facility launched a combination of commercial and
government missions, including those for the USAF and NASA. Since NASA’s first launch of an Atlas/Centaur rocket
in 1962, LC-36 has hosted 145 rocket launches from its two pads (68 from LC-36A and 77 from LC-36B). The last
launch from LC-36A was an Atlas IIAS in 2004, and the last launch from LC-36B was an Atlas IIIB in 2005. LC-36 was deactivated in 2006 and much of the infrastructure was demolished in 2006 and 2007. The USAF granted a license to Space Florida in 2009 for the re-development of LC-36 for use as a launch complex for generic launch
vehicles (GLV) (USAF 2009a). The license was extended in 2014 under USAF License No.: USAF-AFSPC-DBEH-14-
2-0556. Blue Origin Florida, LLC. and Space Florida executed sub-license agreement No. 15-078 for LC-36 on May,
12, 2016. Collectively the combined sites of LC-11, LC-36, and approximately 50 acres (20 ha) of surrounding land form a total of approximately 306 acres (123.8 ha) which is the subject of this EA and will be referred to as the OLS.

The manufacturing of the large elements (e.g. first stage, second stage, PLF, etc.) will occur at the new facility located at Exploration Park (Phase 2) on KSC.

The major elements of the OLS at CCAFS are the launch pad, integration facility, engine test stand, and the systems to recover and refurbish reusable space systems such as the first stage. Once elements have been manufactured at the Exploration Park manufacturing facility, they would be transported by road to the integration facility at LC-36. The first and second stages, and a possible third stage, would then be mated together and integrated onto the transporter erector system. Following integration of the booster stages, the SC (or payloads) would be attached, and then the entire system would undergo a readiness test. The OLV would then be transported from the integration facility approximately 2000 ft. to the launch pad and erected for launch.

The OLV is currently under development and would consist of a first stage, second stage, and the payload. A third stage may be added in the future. The vehicle would be up to 350 ft. (106.68 m) tall, with a diameter of approximately 23 ft. (7 m). The thrust of the vehicle would reach approximately, 4.5 million lbf (2 MN). The first and second stages would be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen (LOX). The possible third or alternative second stage would be powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2) and LOX. Impacts from launch vehicle testing and operations will not be significantly different than other launch operations on CCAFS. The launch rate anticipated for the OLV is 12 launches per year. The Proposed Action would include fuel and oxidizerstorage and transfer as described in the launch complex construction section below. A common integration and test facility located on the launch complex would be used for processing the launch vehicle.

Blue Origin considered locations within the continental United States as a starting point in its broad search for its OLV Program. This process began with internal reviews and assessments of locations and candidate sites. The search included coastal sites along the east and gulf coasts, as well as inland sites in remote areas of the southwest. The criteria for the ideal site included but were not limited to the following: safety, environmental setting, operational flexibility, business costs, risk profile, schedule, and workforce availability. This set of criteria helped to narrow the possible locations. The flight path for the OLV was not allowed to cross any populated area due to safety concerns of both Blue Origin and the FAA. West coast and interior state sites were eliminated as they did not meet the requirement for safe north easterly trajectories thus narrowing the search to states which are located along the eastern and gulf coastline. The complexity of orbital launch along with the governing regulatory standards drove Blue Origin to focus on coastal sites with adequate buffer zones and minimal overflight. Upon review of sites proposed by interested states and the project technical requirements, Blue Origin reduced the candidate list to four states—Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Of the states with potential sites to meet our project requirements, only Florida provided multiple locations. The candidate list includes six potential sites for consideration: Camden County Georgia, Hyde County North Carolina, Virginia’s Wallops Island, Florida’s Shiloh site on the border of Brevard County and Volusia County, Launch Complex 20 at CCAFS, and Launch Complex 11 and 36 at CCAFS. The site chosen for detailed assessment as the Preferred Alternative is Launch Complex 11 and 36 at CCAFS.

It is anticipated that primary commercial payload processing would occur at an off-site operations support area. Once primary payload processing is complete (to include fueling), the payload would be trucked to the OLS. Optionally, payloads would be fueled at the integration facility.

The general layout of the OLS is spread over existing LC-11 and LC-36, with the launch pad co-located on the former LC-36A area and the engine test stand on the former LC-11 area as previously shown in Figure 2-4. The deluge basin for the launch pad will be located east of the pad and would be approximately 200 ft. x 200 ft. (61 m x 61 m). An integration facility, refurbishment building, and GSE building will be constructed to support launch operations. Approximately 100 parking spaces will also be constructed for the facility workforce. Another GSE building will be constructed to support engine testing operations. LOX, and LNG, and LH2 storage tanks will be constructed in the vicinity of the launch pad for the purpose of supporting both launch vehicle fueling, as well as engine testing. A water tank will also be constructed between the launch pad and the engine test stand for water sound suppression and firefighting water supply.

The launch pad area would also include the structures required to access the launch vehicle. It provides a lightning
mitigation system to help protect the OLV when on the launch pad for extended periods of time. The OLV will roll to
the pad, be erected vertical, and then proceed into propellant loading and then launch. Permanent propellant and fuel storage would be constructed to meet requirements outlined in AFSPC manual 91-710, NFPA or industry standards, as applicable, for separation distances between fuel tanks and between fuels and the public. Approved spill containment systems would be constructed to contain liquid spills. Proposed launch vehicle testing and operations will not be substantially different than other launch operations conducted at CCAFS.

Estimated areas that make up the approximate 100 acres (40.5 ha) of construction related clearing include the planned clearings to build/support the various tanks to be installed (estimated at approximately 1.75 acres (0.7 ha)). Also included is “other” estimated clearing that might be required beyond current developed areas and would consist of approximately 2 acres (0.8 ha) for the main pad, 1.5 acres (0.6 ha) for the test-stand pad, 2 acres (0.8 ha) for the integration facility, 3 acres (1.2 ha) for various support facilities, and 9 acres (3.6 ha) for interconnectivity road/ramps/parking.

Refurbishment Building
The refurbishment building will be constructed at the entrance to the current LC-36 complex. After the recoverable first stage is retrieved and returned to the launch site from its offshore landing area, it must be washed to remove salt spray and possible contaminants associated with launch and re-entry. A wash water collection system would be designed and constructed to retain the water for recycling or approved discharge to the CCAFS waste water system.

Integration Facility
The integration facility, which will be located at LC-36, will be approximately 2,000 feet from the launch pad and have an area of approximately 150,000 sq. ft. (13,935 sq. m.) with a length of 500 ft. (152.4 m.), a width of 300 ft. It may contain office space in addition to the integration area. The purpose of this building will be for the final assembly of major elements of the OLV. The facility includes final mechanical and electrical connections, final integrated OLV readiness testing, and final ordnance connections prior to rolling the OLV out to the launch pad. Payload fueling operations may also be performed in the integration facility. The integration facility would be designed to minimize risks to roads and structures outside of Blue Origin’s licensed boundary due to explosive hazards.

Engine Test Stand
A single engine test stand will be constructed in the vicinity of LC-11 for engine acceptance testing of the BE-4 engine.
This stand could be designed with a vertical testing configuration for testing the BE-4 engine. The BE-4 will be indirectly fueled during testing through use of remote LNG and LOX tanks located in the vicinity of the test stand. The flame duct for the test stand is proposed to be directed in a north-northeast direction at approximately 5 degrees. The deluge basin will be located to the north of the engine test stand and will be approximately 100 ft. x100 ft. (30.5 m x 30.5 m).

Road-way Modifications
Some minor modification to roadways within the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Right-of-Way on both CCAFS and NASA property would be required, and may include up to 8,800 ft2 (817.5 sq. m) of new impervious area to provide alignment, turning radius, and grades that can accommodate the transportation of launch vehicle stages and payloads. Some signal lights would require modification or removal, and some power lines would need to be raised. A transportation survey study was developed to demonstrate adherence to FDOT standards for the transport system which may support such recommended modifications, and ensure existing roadways would support the transport vehicles.

Operations
As construction activities near completion, there will be a period during which system and integration testing occurs, and operations tempo begins to increase. Initial estimates indicate that Blue Origin would maintain approximately 60 individuals at the launch facility by 2018. It is estimated that this number may expand to approximately 100 people by the year 2025.

Engine Acceptance Testing
Acceptance testing of the BE-4 engine will occur at the engine test stand at the former LC-11 area of the OLS. Each engine tested would have a separate test plan. Each test plan would require a variety of engine test run durations (measured in seconds) with a maximum total run duration of approximately 500 seconds. The total duration of all engine testing would be approximately 30 minutes per month based on approximately 9 test events per month. Maximum test thrust for the BE-4 would be approximately 550,000 lbf (2.4 MN).

Transportation, Pre-Launch and Post Launch
The operation of the proposed OLS would include transportation of vehicle stages and/or payload elements. Launch
vehicle stages and payloads would arrive at the OLS at CCAFS by heavy truck (tractor-trailer) or specialized
transporter. The study commissioned to assess Proposed Action transportation impacts evaluated the loads on
roadways using a self-propelled multi-axle trailer system or pulled by a semi-tractor as the conveyance equipment.
The first stage element transport will require two trailers; an eight axle unit leading with a six axle unit in the rear. The second stage and payload element transport will use a single eight axle trailer, with the six axle trailer as a backup.

When employed, the third stage transport will use a single six axle trailer, with the eight axle trailer as a backup.
According to the transportation study, axle loading is expected to be less than 20,000 lbs. with maximum wheel loading of 100 psi and should not impose detrimental wear and tear on roads that meet FDOT specifications. The proposed primary route from the Exploration Park manufacturing facility to the OLS at CCAFS would be north on Kennedy Parkway, east on Saturn Causeway through KSC, south on Cape Road, east on Central Control Road and into the former LC-36 area entrance.

Prior to launch, a sequence of events must occur before the OLV is prepared for flight. After assembly in the integration facility, the OLV will be rolled out to the launch pad. Once at the pad, it will be erected to the vertical launch position where cryogenic fueling will commence. For the cargo or satellite missions, the payload accommodations will have been pre-loaded in the integration facility. Initial launch vehicle pre-flight testing could include a short on-pad static fire test of the full launch vehicle engine set and would be part of the launch pad operations. The Proposed Action would include mitigating actions to minimize impacts to operations on CCAFS.

Up to 12 launches of the OLV would be conducted per year beginning in 2018. Of these 12 launches, ten are expected to be conducted during daylight hours, and two may be conducted during night time hours.

Post Launch and First Stage Recovery
After a successful launch of the OLV, the first stage would separate from the second stage at predetermined altitude. After separation, the first stage would return to Earth for recovery in an area in the Atlantic Ocean defined approximately by an ellipse centered on approximately latitude 29° 42’ 17.79” N and 71° 30’ 53.01” W with a length and width of approximately 630 miles (1013 km) and 440 miles (708 km) respectively, as shown in Figure 2-7. The first stage would land on an at-sea platform, be rendered safe, and be transported by ship, coordinated by Blue Origin, into Port Canaveral. Awaiting cranes would place the first stage on the transporter for transfer to Blue Origin facilities at LC-36 for refurbishment in preparation for a future flight. If the expended first stage could not be successfully landed on the at-sea platform, it would likely be due to damage, and in this case would land in the water and subsequently sink, and would not be recovered. The first stage would not have parachutes and would return to the at-sea platform under the power of re-ignited main engines.

The second and/or third stages would continue on the mission to orbit with the payload. They would be left in orbit and rendered safe per FAA and USAF regulations (14 CFR §431.25, 431.35), such as venting the vehicle and ensuring that the batteries have discharged. Eventually the second stage would be expected to deorbit and enter the atmosphere. Parts not consumed during re-entry would fall in the general broad ocean area of the central Indian Ocean. Should there be a third stage, it would be placed into a safe disposal orbit.

 The refurbishment and construction activities involved with the planned integration facility, which will
rise to a height of approximately 145 ft. MSL (44.2 m), will be installed at least 500 ft. (152.4 m) west of the beach dune area. This height is lower than the existing National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Eastern Processing Facility further inland of LC-11 and LC-36. Lightning protection towers may be approximately 534 ft. MSL (162.8 m) tall.


The expected sonic booms created by the landing event would occur over the open Atlantic Ocean, at least 250 miles down-range.

Blue Origin factored global climate change and water level rise into the design of the OLS. All new road-ways would
be constructed between 6 inches and 12 inches higher than existing roadways which are some of the highest in the
area. The design falls into accordance with the CCAFS General Plan guidance. Current roadways at LC-36 are
approximately 7.5 feet above the 100 year flood stage. Current design also calls for building floors to be at least 8.5 feet above 100 year flood stage.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2017 01:38 PM by sghill »
Bring the thunder Elon!

Offline Justin Space

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Well I had no idea they were going to do engine testing literally on site. A launch site and a mini-McGregor in one. Epic!

Offline Andy DC

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Very, very interesting. I like the LV Wash Down. That's going to be one big washing machine!

Offline Prettz

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Two questions. What becomes of their BE-4 test stand in Texas? And where do they test fire the first stage, on the launch pad?

Offline BrianNH

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According to the chart, Blue is planning 4 launches from LC-36 next year.  That is very difficult to accept unless they are talking about New Shepard.

Offline rpapo

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Those were certainly Blue Origin-centric launch projections.  They seem to assume that Blue Origin will conquer the space launch business, much as Amazon is currently in the business of out-competing brick-and-mortar retail.

It could happen, but I wouldn't assume it.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2017 04:25 PM by rpapo »
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline Lars-J

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Those were certainly Blue Origin-centric launch projections.  They seem to assume that Blue Origin will conquer the space launch business, much as Amazon is currently in the business of out-competing brick-and-mortar retail.

It could happen, but I wouldn't assume it.

Hah, yes, I imagine SpaceX and ULA would dispute those launch projections.  ;D

Offline fthomassy

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Quote
... that will accelerate the company forward even more ferociously.
Nice, I see what you did there. :D
gyatm . . . Fern

Offline Chasm

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The assessment is dated November 2016 so the launch projections it is based upon must be older.
It's much easier justify a delay than to launch earlier. Maybe they'll surprise us. Has someone figured out if they could roll out a NG in Kent and get it to the water for shipping? ;)

Offline Chris Bergin

Quote
... that will accelerate the company forward even more ferociously.
Nice, I see what you did there. :D

Thanks. I try, I really do! ;D

Offline Chris Bergin

The assessment is dated November 2016 so the launch projections it is based upon must be older.
It's much easier justify a delay than to launch earlier. Maybe they'll surprise us. Has someone figured out if they could roll out a NG in Kent and get it to the water for shipping? ;)

Yeah, that almost put me off, but Noel literally got word of it being completed and available this week. So it's as updated as we'll have right now. But yeah, it was always going to take a lot of time to create such a meaty document.

Offline Flying Beaver

Love how the route to pad 36 goes right by 39A. So close Glenn could give BFR/ITS a high-five.
Saw OG-2 Booster Land in person 21/12/2015.

Offline Jim

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Love how the route to pad 36 goes right by 39A. So close Glenn could give BFR/ITS a high-five.

BFR/ITS?  How about just F9/FH.

Offline Lars-J

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The pad 36 plan does not show any landing pad, so that is certainly additional supporting evidence for them not doing any RTLS flights. (either as test flights or when margins allow)

(To be fair they could still use a landing pad nearby if needed)

But they are certainly putting all the eggs in a very small basket. The engine assembly, the engine test stand, and of course the rest of the pad. Any kind of on pad mishap (Like pad 40 but with a larger vehicle) could cause them to have to stand down for a significant time.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2017 08:35 PM by Lars-J »

Offline Chasm

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In that case they better don't blow too many up. =) More realistically, in case something goes really wrong there is at minimum no chance to launch until the transporter erector gets repaired and the root cause is found and removed. Plenty of time to move engines to the Texas site for tests and back.


What is hydrogen peroxide used for? Figure 2-4 labels a tank of it at the southern tip of the areal.

Offline stcks

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Love how the route to pad 36 goes right by 39A. So close Glenn could give BFR/ITS a high-five.

I noticed this too. Seems pretty roundabout, can they not cross the bridge?

Offline Jim

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Love how the route to pad 36 goes right by 39A. So close Glenn could give BFR/ITS a high-five.

I noticed this too. Seems pretty roundabout, can they not cross the bridge?

nope, everything goes north

Offline Rocket Science

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Nice meaty article, thank you gentlemen! :)
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline AncientU

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The OLV is currently under development and would consist of a first stage, second stage, and the payload. A third stage may be added in the future. The vehicle would be up to 350 ft. (106.68 m) tall, with a diameter of approximately 23 ft. (7 m). The thrust of the vehicle would reach approximately, 4.5 million lbf (2 MN). The first and second stages would be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen (LOX). The possible third or alternative second stage would be powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2) and LOX.

4.5Mlbf is 643klbf per engine... assuming seven, of course -- or 17% higher than advertised for BE-4 going to ULA. (also should be 20MN)
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

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