Author Topic: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - Business Case/Competition/Alternatives Discussion  (Read 18622 times)

Offline gongora

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Please use this thread for discussion of Vulcan's economics, competitive environment, etc.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Thanks for this thread.

Now the points to kick off the discussion again.

That Vulcan is a competitive LV but for GEO/BEO markets only. It's costs for LEO and the fact that super reliability is not the number one item constellation operators are looking for but cost per sat to launch being the number one business case driver for such ventures.

This then gets back to how many launches in a year would Vulcan have?

There is one feature for Vulcan demanded by Boeing. That is that Vulcan will be manrated and certified by NASA from the start. That is so that CRS and CC flights currently manifested on Atlas V would swap to Vulcan and actually save the providers some in launch cost of up to $20M/launch. These represent up to 5 launches per year but would more likely be around 3 launches per year.

Add an occasional NASA planetary probe an average of about <1.

Add 2 or 3 NSS payloads of mainly GEO sats with the occasional high value LEO Vandenberg launch.

Even though it will have lower prices for GEO sats than Atlas V it still will likely not be low enough to compete successfully for commercial GEOSATS against F9/FH, NG and Ariane.

This then results in an estimate of from 5 to 10 launches per year. That is until 2024, retirement of ISS, privatization of ISS, or follow-on public/private station.

From Vulcan's first launch probably in 2020 to 2024, the number of launches total over that time could be from 20 to 40 launches. After 2024 the number of launches from CRS and CC could drop to just 1 or 2 reducing the yearly launch rate to 3 - 7.

Once launch rate goes below 5 the fixed costs start to become the major drivers of costs not the incremental costs. In a highly competitive market increasing prices is not something that is survivable from a business case if you are already marginally competitive. So for ULA and Vulcan to survive they need to break into a new market for which they are competitive. Here ACES may save both the Vulcan and ULA. Distributive launch/depot technology simplistic ISRU prop manufacture from water could make ULA a player in cis-Lunar operations. Their competitor here would be BO and their HydroLox proposed 3rd stage and Lunar lander. But prices between the two would be similar for these operations. The wildcard is SpaceX BFR/BFS Lunar operations. But even here with Lunar ISRU HydroLox prop production the other two may still be competitive in local cis-Lunar operations leaving bulk transport to and from Earth to BFR/BFS.


« Last Edit: 12/08/2017 05:09 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Online AncientU

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...
There is one feature for Vulcan demanded by Boeing. That is that Vulcan will be manrated and certified by NASA from the start. That is so that CRS and CC flights currently manifested on Atlas V would swap to Vulcan and actually save the providers some in launch cost of up to $20M/launch. These represent up to 5 launches per year but would more likely be around 3 launches per year.
...
Annually:
One crewed CS-100 (after Atlas V retires in mid 2020s)
One Dream Chaser cargo (possibly also after Atlas retires)
(Orbital planning all CRS-2 on Antares; SpaceX planning all CRS-2 and crew on Falcon.)

Where do these potential 5 flights (or 3 flights) originate?
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 05:51 PM by AncientU »
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Online AncientU

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A key article concerning the pressure to change procurement approach for large NSS sats:
Quote
Battle brewing in the Pentagon over military space investments
Quote
...Hyten wants to see drastic changes in satellite procurements. He has been pushing the Air Force to stop buying complex, expensive spacecraft that he believes are “fragile” and “undefendable,” and instead start deploying more resilient networks of smaller, cheaper satellites that can be more easily replaced if they came under attack.

Quote
The Air Force last month issued a “request for information” for a “SBIRS follow-on” system, calling it a “unusual and compelling” need and setting a 2029 target date for its deployment.

Hyten called it “ridiculous” that this could take 12 years.

Quote
The focus should be on investing in a “very good sensor” for strategic missile warning that can be attached to any satellite.

Quote
Hyten said he is prepared to draw a line in the sand if business as usual continues in the SBIRS follow-on program.

Quote
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has spent years trying to figure out how to buy wideband communications, he noted. “It’s just a commodity. Why don’t we buy it as a commodity?”

http://spacenews.com/battle-brewing-in-the-pentagon-over-military-space-investments/
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 06:04 PM by AncientU »
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Offline TrevorMonty

...
There is one feature for Vulcan demanded by Boeing. That is that Vulcan will be manrated and certified by NASA from the start. That is so that CRS and CC flights currently manifested on Atlas V would swap to Vulcan and actually save the providers some in launch cost of up to $20M/launch. These represent up to 5 launches per year but would more likely be around 3 launches per year.
...
Annually:
One crewed CS-100 (after Atlas V retires in mid 2020s)
One Dream Chaser cargo (possibly also after Atlas retires)
(Orbital planning all CRS-2 on Antares; SpaceX planning all CRS-2 and crew on Falcon.)

Where do these potential 5 flights (or 3 flights) originate?
There is still unknown orbital space tourism market which Boeing would try to service with Starliner. SNC still want crew version of Dream Chaser, which would also go after tourist market and crew missions for countries. While cargo Dream Chaser can switch LVs easily,  a crew version would be paired to single LV, most likely Vulcan.


Online AncientU

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...
There is one feature for Vulcan demanded by Boeing. That is that Vulcan will be manrated and certified by NASA from the start. That is so that CRS and CC flights currently manifested on Atlas V would swap to Vulcan and actually save the providers some in launch cost of up to $20M/launch. These represent up to 5 launches per year but would more likely be around 3 launches per year.
...
Annually:
One crewed CS-100 (after Atlas V retires in mid 2020s)
One Dream Chaser cargo (possibly also after Atlas retires)
(Orbital planning all CRS-2 on Antares; SpaceX planning all CRS-2 and crew on Falcon.)

Where do these potential 5 flights (or 3 flights) originate?
There is still unknown orbital space tourism market which Boeing would try to service with Starliner. SNC still want crew version of Dream Chaser, which would also go after tourist market and crew missions for countries. While cargo Dream Chaser can switch LVs easily,  a crew version would be paired to single LV, most likely Vulcan.

OK.  These couple NASA flights per year (post-Atlas V) are it so far.

Hadn't heard about any other sold flights. 
Only Vulcan-related flight discussed so far is the lunar outpost offer to NASA ($2B) with Bigelow AFAIK.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 07:54 PM by AncientU »
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Offline GWH

While cargo Dream Chaser can switch LVs easily,  a crew version would be paired to single LV, most likely Vulcan.

Not that easily I don't think.
I believe length for cargo dream chaser is a constraint on LV selection. At least for Falcon but not New Glenn or BFR.

Offline GWH

Thanks for the focused thread.

I made up a spreadsheet a while back to compare various launchers and pricing for the GTO market, attached is the current version. 

Some notes on the spreadsheet:
- The breakdown is based around ULA's 'dial-a-rocket' approach, so it looks at cost per kilogram for various sized payloads. This will be more cost efficient vs a one size fits all rocket, so its worth noting where ULA can be cheaper than other launchers for in between sizes.  Max payload for any launcher is highlighted as yellow.
- Current ULA pricing for Atlas 5 is shown. Because Vulcan is much more capable the pricing on the baseline variant is dramatically lower per kg of max payload.
- SpaceX prices are shown with some guesses as to what Falcon Heavy MIGHT cost for payloads above what is priced on their website, and guesses at what it would look like for reuse discounts. For the sake of keeping the conversation on topic please don't read too much into these!!
- Vulcan ACES payload estimates where taken from a bar graph ULA released - not super precise but its the best we have.
- I believe the baseline price for Vulcan was to be $99M? We know from Rocketbuilder.com that each SRB is about $6M. Also we know that fairings will only be from the top of the upper stage and up, not encapsulated with Atlas V 5m so the shorter fairing shouldn't add a huge cost like with AV5.
- The baseline Vulcan Centaur 5 will probably be close in capacity, although maybe not cost to these estimates.  This is a huge unknown so initial variants of Vulcan aren't shown in this pricing.
- Edit: It had been stated by Tory Bruno that the goal for ACES is to build the stage at the same cost as the current Centaur.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 09:46 PM by GWH »

Offline GWH

The big takeaway from the spreadsheet above is twofold:
- the declining costs per kg approaching full capacity, and declining costs/kg by adding SRBs. 
- There is a huge gap between Atlas V 401 and Vulcan Aces 50x performance, leaving a lot of wasted capacity when one considers how many AV401's have flown, 50% historically.

This is where ACES comes in, if that extra capacity can be used to put up propellant in orbit reserved for more demanding missions, then the total cost per mission becomes much more attractive.  In the case of ACES, it opens up possibilities of missions that can't be accomplished by other vehicles, or very expensive ones like SLS*.  See the Bigelow BA330 to LLO mission as an example of unique capabilities. There isn't really a simple cost comparison for a mission like this, other than SLS I suppose, so the value of a mission like that is significantly greater than the cost of the multiple launches alone.

*BFR of course can, however but again it would be best to not delve too far into that.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 09:47 PM by GWH »

Online AncientU

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Thanks for the focused thread.

I made up a spreadsheet a while back to compare various launchers and pricing for the GTO market, attached is the current version. 

Some notes on the spreadsheet:
- The breakdown is based around ULA's 'dial-a-rocket' approach, so it looks at cost per kilogram for various sized payloads. This will be more cost efficient vs a one size fits all rocket, so its worth noting where ULA can be cheaper than other launchers for in between sizes.  Max payload for any launcher is highlighted as yellow.
- Current ULA pricing for Atlas 5 is shown. Because Vulcan is much more capable the pricing on the baseline variant is dramatically lower per kg of max payload.
- SpaceX prices are shown with some guesses as to what Falcon Heavy MIGHT cost for payloads above what is priced on their website, and guesses at what it would look like for reuse discounts. For the sake of keeping the conversation on topic please don't read too much into these!!
- Vulcan ACES payload estimates where taken from a bar graph ULA released - not super precise but its the best we have.
- I believe the baseline price for Vulcan was to be $99M? We know from Rocketbuilder.com that each SRB is about $6M. Also we know that fairings will only be from the top of the upper stage and up, not encapsulated with Atlas V 5m so the shorter fairing shouldn't add a huge cost like with AV5.
- The baseline Vulcan Centaur 5 will probably be close in capacity, although maybe not cost to these estimates.  This is a huge unknown so initial variants of Vulcan aren't shown in this pricing.

The $99M figure was Vulcan booster with basic Atlas V everywhere else.  It certainly didn't include Centaur V, which was just recently announced, or ACES, which was supposed to be introduced in 2025 or 2026.
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Offline GWH

The $99M figure was Vulcan booster with basic Atlas V everywhere else.  It certainly didn't include Centaur V, which was just recently announced, or ACES, which was supposed to be introduced in 2025 or 2026.

Right, I forgot to add in Tory Bruno at some point stated that the goal for ACES was to get the costing the same as the current Centaur flying.  That's why its still listed at $99M. Centaur V who knows though...

Online AncientU

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The $99M figure was Vulcan booster with basic Atlas V everywhere else.  It certainly didn't include Centaur V, which was just recently announced, or ACES, which was supposed to be introduced in 2025 or 2026.

Right, I forgot to add in Tory Bruno at some point stated that the goal for ACES was to get the costing the same as the current Centaur flying.  That's why its still listed at $99M. Centaur V who knows though...

Cost of current Centaur flying is double(?) the cost that went into the $99M.  $99M reflected a fully cost reduced Centaur only, not either of the upgrades.  I believe the basic Vulcan core with BE-4s was supposed to match the equivalent of 1-2 solids in performance, so 511 or 521 capability for $99M.
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Offline envy887

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Why wouldn't NASA crew flights switch to Vulcan as soon as it's available and certified for HSF? I see little point in waiting for Atlas V to be retired, and if Vulcan is that much cheaper ULA will probably try to switch asap.

Offline envy887

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Did ULA confirm that they will stop flying Centaur III?

Offline brickmack

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Quite the opposite, Bruno said Centaur III will be used for all remaining Atlas flights.

Online AncientU

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Why wouldn't NASA crew flights switch to Vulcan as soon as it's available and certified for HSF? I see little point in waiting for Atlas V to be retired, and if Vulcan is that much cheaper ULA will probably try to switch asap.

Why are they buying sufficient RD-180s to last well past the 2022 deadline/embargo?  Jim says transition will extend until mid-2020s.  Seems that they'll use the remaining inventory for civil flights if NSS become off-limits in 2022.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2017 12:26 AM by AncientU »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Why wouldn't NASA crew flights switch to Vulcan as soon as it's available and certified for HSF? I see little point in waiting for Atlas V to be retired, and if Vulcan is that much cheaper ULA will probably try to switch asap.

ULA will want to get Vulcan human rated as soon as possible so that they can retire Atlas V as quick as possible. So I don't really see it as customer driven, but ULA business plan driven.
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Offline envy887

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Quite the opposite, Bruno said Centaur III will be used for all remaining Atlas flights.

Sorry, should have phrased that better. Is it confirmed that Centaur III will not fly on Vulcan?

Offline envy887

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Why wouldn't NASA crew flights switch to Vulcan as soon as it's available and certified for HSF? I see little point in waiting for Atlas V to be retired, and if Vulcan is that much cheaper ULA will probably try to switch asap.

Why are they buying sufficient RD-180s to last well past the 2022 deadline/embargo?  Jim says transition will extend until mid-2020s.  Seems that they'll use the remaining inventory for civil flights if NSS become off-limits in 2022.

They need RD-180 to satisfy all customers that demand flight heritage: NASA HSF, high priority NSS, nuclear materials launch, etc.

I think the latter two will take longer than NASA HSF, to both to certify for/actually get Vulcan flying those missions.

Offline TrevorMonty

They can't rely on Vulcan being avaliable by certain date, especially flying reliably. If Vulcan is like any other space development project, it's schedule will shift to right by 6-24months.

Offline Jim

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A key article concerning the pressure to change procurement approach for large NSS sats:
Quote
Battle brewing in the Pentagon over military space investments
Quote
...Hyten wants to see drastic changes in satellite procurements. He has been pushing the Air Force to stop buying complex, expensive spacecraft that he believes are “fragile” and “undefendable,” and instead start deploying more resilient networks of smaller, cheaper satellites that can be more easily replaced if they came under attack.

Quote
The Air Force last month issued a “request for information” for a “SBIRS follow-on” system, calling it a “unusual and compelling” need and setting a 2029 target date for its deployment.

Hyten called it “ridiculous” that this could take 12 years.

Quote
The focus should be on investing in a “very good sensor” for strategic missile warning that can be attached to any satellite.

Quote
Hyten said he is prepared to draw a line in the sand if business as usual continues in the SBIRS follow-on program.

Quote
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has spent years trying to figure out how to buy wideband communications, he noted. “It’s just a commodity. Why don’t we buy it as a commodity?”


no, wideband, missile warning are not large NSS sats

Offline LouScheffer

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This is completely against ULA's DNA, but if they wanted to become more vertically integrated in the interest of cuttting costs, building their own RL-10 alternative might make a lot of sense.

 - They have decades of experience in how the existing RL-10 works, its advantages, and its drawbacks.
 - It's a simple rocket cycle without high temperature or oxygen rich conditions for the turbine.
 - No need for a pre-burner, which is a tricky bit in most engines.
 - It's a big part of their costs, particularly if they put multiple of them on a second stage.
 - They can keep buying RL-10s until theirs works, so it's not critical to company survival.
 - There is IP (Mitsubishi?) for RL-10 like engines they might be able to purchase.
 - The design is quite old and any patents needed should be long expired.

I'm not expecting ULA to do this, but on the other hand I'm a little surprised that no-one has tried to directly replace the RL-10 in the low-thrust, high-performance, simple-cycle, high cost market. 

Offline TrevorMonty





I'm not expecting ULA to do this, but on the other hand I'm a little surprised that no-one has tried to directly replace the RL-10 in the low-thrust, high-performance, simple-cycle, high cost market.

XCOR did with help of ULA, unfortunately they've fallen by wayside.


Offline envy887

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Don't think ULA plus AJR is competitive.  Neither has adjusted to the realities of today's and tomorrow's market

No, people are just over hyping the "realities of today's and tomorrow's market".  Most don't know what they are talking about and just repost the same unsupported biased opinions.

That's exactly what RIM said back in 2007. Sometimes those with the deepest knowledge are the last to see change coming... but only time will tell.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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When is it "wishful thinking" vs "a market pivot"?

With the RIM vs IOS/Android it was a consumer phenomena.

Jim's in the real world about mission SC builds and current on orbit growth. My concern is ROI for those new on orbit payloads to sustain a launch frequency uptick.

Keep in mind that speed to launch is more important at the moment than volume of launches/performance.

So, it's nice things are changing, but the market has to move to keep that change going ...

Online john smith 19

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When is it "wishful thinking" vs "a market pivot"?

With the RIM vs IOS/Android it was a consumer phenomena.

Jim's in the real world about mission SC builds and current on orbit growth. My concern is ROI for those new on orbit payloads to sustain a launch frequency uptick.

Keep in mind that speed to launch is more important at the moment than volume of launches/performance.

So, it's nice things are changing, but the market has to move to keep that change going ...
Indeed.

There is potential for massive change in the market, but this has been the case before. Things happened and the (hoped for) changes did not happen.

Hopefully this time things will be different.

BTW. Love what you've done with the avatar.  Very seasonal.  :)
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Online AncientU

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Don't think ULA plus AJR is competitive.  Neither has adjusted to the realities of today's and tomorrow's market

No, people are just over hyping the "realities of today's and tomorrow's market".  Most don't know what they are talking about and just repost the same unsupported biased opinions.


That's exactly what RIM said back in 2007. Sometimes those with the deepest knowledge are the last to see change coming... but only time will tell.

Here's a background article for those of us who weren't familiar with the analogy:
http://www.macnn.com/articles/10/12/27/rim.thought.apple.was.lying.on.iphone.in.2007/
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Offline Lars-J

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Don't think ULA plus AJR is competitive.  Neither has adjusted to the realities of today's and tomorrow's market

No, people are just over hyping the "realities of today's and tomorrow's market".  Most don't know what they are talking about and just repost the same unsupported biased opinions.


That's exactly what RIM said back in 2007. Sometimes those with the deepest knowledge are the last to see change coming... but only time will tell.

Here's a background article for those of us who weren't familiar with the analogy:
http://www.macnn.com/articles/10/12/27/rim.thought.apple.was.lying.on.iphone.in.2007/

Right... The Apple/RIM comparison is not just a story about customers choosing one brand over the other, despite RIM's best efforts. No... RIM were in retrospect completely blind and unable to think outside their own little box. This is where the ULA comparison comes in - We all hope that ULA is not RIM.

Online meekGee

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Moving it to this thread where it belongs:

When is it "wishful thinking" vs "a market pivot"?

With the RIM vs IOS/Android it was a consumer phenomena.

Jim's in the real world about mission SC builds and current on orbit growth. My concern is ROI for those new on orbit payloads to sustain a launch frequency uptick.

Keep in mind that speed to launch is more important at the moment than volume of launches/performance.

So, it's nice things are changing, but the market has to move to keep that change going ...
Sorry, but the "market change" didn't just happen.  Steve Jobs recognized the opportunity posed by convergence of technologies, took the initiative, and changed the market. SpaceX did the same.

The future belongs to those that take charge of their market instead of whining about it.

ULA and its parents had the ability to do that, and a market position to do it from.  Instead, they're still in denial about what's going on, and taking half-measures while still clinging to tools like block buys, which only perpetuate their situation.
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Online AncientU

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The fact that they are still waiting for either a company that has never built an orbital engine or another whose product has been promised forever and will likely be uncompetitive due to price if ever finished shows their true colors.

ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.

At present, Europe, Russia, and likely China (along with Blue Origin) are investing in reusable rocket technology, even knowing that it will probably render their new, expendable rockets obsolete.  Boeing*/LockMart/Ula... nada.

* Boeing's effort with DARPA for a small sat launcher may be the exception.
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 03:12 PM by AncientU »
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Offline hplan

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The fact that they are still waiting for either a company that has never built an orbital engine or another whose product has been promised forever and will likely be uncompetitive due to price if ever finished shows their true colors.

ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.

At present, Europe, Russia, and likely China (along with Blue Origin) are investing in reusable rocket technology, even knowing that it will probably render their new, expendable rockets obsolete.  Boeing*/LockMart/Ula... nada.

* Boeing's effort with DARPA for a small sat launcher may be the exception.

Europe, Russia, and Ukraine are countries, not publicly traded companies. By that analogy, it should be the US government investing in reusable rocket technology. However, simply encouraging privately-held commercial space companies seems to be doing the job at the moment.

It's hard for a publicly traded company to make speculative investment that would take many years to pay back.

Online meekGee

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The fact that they are still waiting for either a company that has never built an orbital engine or another whose product has been promised forever and will likely be uncompetitive due to price if ever finished shows their true colors.

ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.

At present, Europe, Russia, and likely China (along with Blue Origin) are investing in reusable rocket technology, even knowing that it will probably render their new, expendable rockets obsolete.  Boeing*/LockMart/Ula... nada.

* Boeing's effort with DARPA for a small sat launcher may be the exception.

Europe, Russia, and Ukraine are countries, not publicly traded companies. By that analogy, it should be the US government investing in reusable rocket technology. However, simply encouraging privately-held commercial space companies seems to be doing the job at the moment.

It's hard for a publicly traded company to make speculative investment that would take many years to pay back.

A private company is responsible for its future.  ULA's parents are plenty capable of such investment.  How much exactly did SpaceX require?  Nothing that Boeing and Lockheed can't jointly (or separately) afford.
 
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Offline edkyle99

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ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.
"Ukrainian rockets"?  RD-180 is manufactured by Energomash of Russia.  I can't think of anything Ukrainian on an Atlas or Delta.

As for "Russian ... rockets which went exactly no where", what do you mean?  Atlas 5 has been a core element of U.S. space, both civil and defense, for nearly two decades now.   It launched MRO, Pluto New Horizons, Juno, MSL, MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, three Cygnus and four X-37B missions, as well as many critical defense satellites.  Now it is preparing to orbit astronauts.  "No where"?

What ULA is trying to do with Vulcan is to resolve the issue you describe - to develop U.S. propulsion technology.  RD-180, the world's most advanced hydrocarbon engine, was developed for Atlas 3/Atlas 5 by Lockheed Martin/Energomash during the post Cold-War 1990s, when such efforts were all the rage.  Meanwhile, Rocketdyne was shunted around between corporate ownerships, its resources sapped.  The company did not even bother to bid on the Atlas 3 propulsion contract.  Only recently was RD-180's discontinuance commanded by U.S. government, and ULA is facilitating the change.   

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 04:26 PM by edkyle99 »

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...
Europe, Russia, and Ukraine are countries, not publicly traded companies. By that analogy, it should be the US government investing in reusable rocket technology. However, simply encouraging privately-held commercial space companies seems to be doing the job at the moment.
...

Countries that are subsidizing their launch vehicle programs have a vested interest in staying competitive (minimizing subsidies) and also not falling behind the state-of-the-art.  I do think the US should be investing in reusable rocket technology (other than a $150M DARPA program), but buying launches on reused rockets is probably the most rapid indirect method of doing that. 

If USAF allows previously-flown vehicles to be quickly certified/used in current launch solicitations, it would go a long way in encouraging/forcing ULA/Vulcan down this path.  On the other hand, if they manage competition (allocate/give away) half of future launches to expendable vehicles at a much higher price than possible with reusable/reused vehicles, it will throttle innovation and competition.
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ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.
"Ukrainian rockets"?  RD-180 is manufactured by Energomash of Russia.  I can't think of anything Ukrainian on an Atlas or Delta.

 - Ed Kyle

Didn't Boeing invest in Sea Launch/Zenit vehicles that were made in the Ukraine?
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Offline edkyle99

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ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.
"Ukrainian rockets"?  RD-180 is manufactured by Energomash of Russia.  I can't think of anything Ukrainian on an Atlas or Delta.

 - Ed Kyle

Didn't Boeing invest in Sea Launch/Zenit vehicles that were made in the Ukraine?
Boeing, yes, but not ULA.  Boeing's Sea Launch involvement pre-dated ULA and Delta 4. 

You have to transport yourself back in time, to the 1990s when commercial launch prices collapsed thanks to the flood of cheap ex-Soviet and even Chinese rockets.  It was impossible for Boeing and Lockheed Martin to compete with these prices, so both companies joined international consortiums (ILS and Sea Launch) to participate in the business. 

Lockheed backed out of ILS in 2006.  Boeing stayed with Sea Launch until it went bankrupt, causing the company to lose a lot of cash.   

There were no commercial cargo or crew contracts (STS was still flying).  The money was in satellites and DoD launches, and Boeing even messed that up with the EELV scandal.  There should have only been one EELV, but DoD changed the plan at the last minute to fund two, messing up the investment models, and doubling the per-launch costs, for both.  DoD also slashed its satellite plans late in the game, increasing costs further.  Much blame lies with the U.S. Government when it comes to the high costs of these machines and to the lack of investment in U.S. liquid propulsion during that era.  Boeing lost another billion or so on EELV, and Lockheed Martin seemed ready to pull the plug on Atlas.  ULA was formed in 2006 to pick up the pieces, something that it has done with excellence in terms of its mission performance.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 05:00 PM by edkyle99 »

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A private company is responsible for its future. 
Only if it's in control of its funding.  SX is. REL is somewhat. ULA is funded at the whim of it's parents.
Quote from: meekGee
ULA's parents are plenty capable of such investment.  How much exactly did SpaceX require?  Nothing that Boeing and Lockheed can't jointly (or separately) afford.
You're forgetting the first rule of being a USG Contractor.

"Why should I invest my money when I can invest yours?*"


*Apologies if you're not a US taxpayer.
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A private company is responsible for its future. 
Only if it's in control of its funding.  SX is. REL is somewhat. ULA is funded at the whim of it's parents.
Quote from: meekGee
ULA's parents are plenty capable of such investment.  How much exactly did SpaceX require?  Nothing that Boeing and Lockheed can't jointly (or separately) afford.
You're forgetting the first rule of being a USG Contractor.

"Why should I invest my money when I can invest yours?*"


*Apologies if you're not a US taxpayer.

That rule is their undoing when the landscape changes. 

I'm just saying the excuses of "we're a publicly traded company" and "it's not us it's the parents" and "the market does't exist" - they're all just that.
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ULA and parents had the perfect opportunity to head off upstarts like SpaceX before they achieved any market share.  Instead, they invested in cheap Russian and Ukrainian rockets which went exactly no where, while sitting on the Nation's consolidated rocket engineering expertise.
"Ukrainian rockets"?  RD-180 is manufactured by Energomash of Russia.  I can't think of anything Ukrainian on an Atlas or Delta.

 - Ed Kyle

Didn't Boeing invest in Sea Launch/Zenit vehicles that were made in the Ukraine?
Boeing, yes, but not ULA.  Boeing's Sea Launch involvement pre-dated ULA and Delta 4. 

You have to transport yourself back in time, to the 1990s when commercial launch prices collapsed thanks to the flood of cheap ex-Soviet and even Chinese rockets. It was impossible for Boeing and Lockheed Martin to compete with these prices, so both companies joined international consortiums (ILS and Sea Launch) to participate in the business. 

Lockheed backed out of ILS in 2006.  Boeing stayed with Sea Launch until it went bankrupt, causing the company to lose a lot of cash.   


There were no commercial cargo or crew contracts (STS was still flying).  The money was in satellites and DoD launches, and Boeing even messed that up with the EELV scandal.  There should have only been one EELV, but DoD changed the plan at the last minute to fund two, messing up the investment models, and doubling the per-launch costs, for both.  DoD also slashed its satellite plans late in the game, increasing costs further.  Much blame lies with the U.S. Government when it comes to the high costs of these machines and to the lack of investment in U.S. liquid propulsion during that era.  Boeing lost another billion or so on EELV, and Lockheed Martin seemed ready to pull the plug on Atlas.  ULA was formed in 2006 to pick up the pieces, something that it has done with excellence in terms of its mission performance.

 - Ed Kyle

Yup.  Boeing and LockMart, later ULA, were sitting on all (most) of the rocket engineering expertise in the USA during those years, and also had the huge technological edge of the US in their column.  Why couldn't they compete?  When the investments went south by 2006-2010, and SpaceX was emerging, did they learn how or prove how it could be done better? 

Only conclusion is that they did not have the DNA to compete.  Still don't.
Too much easy cash like ELC and Block Buy give aways... USG paying launch prices that are unsustainable.

Now, they are in the same position -- of their own making --  that they were around when ULA was formed.  Delta is dissolving, Atlas is having the plug pulled/morphing into a different version of the last generation launch vehicle that will have to depend on USG launch allocation to fly enough to stay in business.  They haven't won any commercially competed launches; engineering army is being laid off.  Tory Bruno is fighting a valiant fight, but even if he drags Vulcan into service, it won't be enough.
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That rule is their undoing when the landscape changes. 
That depends on how much the landscape changes.
Quote from: meekGee
I'm just saying the excuses of "we're a publicly traded company" and "it's not us it's the parents" and "the market does't exist" - they're all just that.
Firstly ULA is not a publicly traded company and ULA is basically treated by it's parents the way a state owned industry is by it's countries Treasury IE, take as much money out and use it elsewhere and give them as little back as possible.  As Boeing / LM stockholder that is  exactly what you want. Their money in your wallet.

Bruno has a very tricky balancing act to maintain. It's quite clear that neither of ULA's parents like the launch vehicle business but they know if they shut it down and walk away they will be known as the USG contractors who, when given every benefit by the USG
(Anti trust on the merger? Don't even think about it. Billion dollar "Assured access" payments to keep doing  your job? We understand, times are tough. 36 core block buy with no competition? It's yours.)  still just could not be bothered.

He has to keep funding flowing to Vulcan/ACES Centaur 5 as they work toward phasing out all 3 legacy lines and moving to 1 single vehicle.

In other circumstances I'd say the best thing that could happen to ULA would be for them to have a MBO but  I don't think that's possible with a company this size (I'll bet SG1962 can say a thing or two about such a notion, but unfortunately I don't think they will add up to "Yes, it can be done," although I'd love to be proved wrong).
"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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That rule is their undoing when the landscape changes. 
That depends on how much the landscape changes.
Quote from: meekGee
I'm just saying the excuses of "we're a publicly traded company" and "it's not us it's the parents" and "the market does't exist" - they're all just that.
Firstly ULA is not a publicly traded company and ULA is basically treated by it's parents the way a state owned industry is by it's countries Treasury IE, take as much money out and use it elsewhere and give them as little back as possible.  As Boeing / LM stockholder that is  exactly what you want. Their money in your wallet.

Bruno has a very tricky balancing act to maintain. It's quite clear that neither of ULA's parents like the launch vehicle business but they know if they shut it down and walk away they will be known as the USG contractors who, when given every benefit by the USG
(Anti trust on the merger? Don't even think about it. Billion dollar "Assured access" payments to keep doing  your job? We understand, times are tough. 36 core block buy with no competition? It's yours.)  still just could not be bothered.

He has to keep funding flowing to Vulcan/ACES Centaur 5 as they work toward phasing out all 3 legacy lines and moving to 1 single vehicle.

In other circumstances I'd say the best thing that could happen to ULA would be for them to have a MBO but  I don't think that's possible with a company this size (I'll bet SG1962 can say a thing or two about such a notion, but unfortunately I don't think they will add up to "Yes, it can be done," although I'd love to be proved wrong).

Imagine for a second that ULA didn't happen and the parents were still running their own respective launch businesses.

You don't actually have to imagine... Just dial back 15 years.  Document theft, legal battles, toxic lobbying...

So right now, if ULA did not exist, they'd be like two rats on a sinking boat, bleeding each other as the waterline rises....

In fact ULA is the kind of risk-sharing joint-venture that is ideal for combatting energetic newcomers like SpaceX.

That's why I'm saying you can't blame the "ULA situation".  It's actually a perfect setup in order for the parents to do something about their predicament, and yet they don't.

ULA is of and for the parents.  It is staffed by the parents' employees, and led by the parents' executives, Bruno included - so for all purposes of discussion, they are one and the same.
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Offline edkyle99

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Yup.  Boeing and LockMart, later ULA, were sitting on all (most) of the rocket engineering expertise in the USA during those years, and also had the huge technological edge of the US in their column.  Why couldn't they compete?  When the investments went south by 2006-2010, and SpaceX was emerging, did they learn how or prove how it could be done better? 

Only conclusion is that they did not have the DNA to compete.  Still don't.
Too much easy cash like ELC and Block Buy give aways... USG paying launch prices that are unsustainable.
They did try to compete, despite the impossible and rapidly changing international political/economic conditions at the time.  They maximized profits by concentrating on satellites, and by supporting international ventures to launch them cheaply.  That's the best they could do.  The alternative was pulling out of launch altogether.  And what did they get for their efforts?  Big monetary losses on launch, but presumably profits on satellites.

They pulled out of launch due to the losses, forming ULA to support EELV likely only because the government demanded.  Even then the U.S. launch crises did not become apparent to most political leaders.  Elon Musk noticed, and started up a company, at just the right instant as it turned out because it really wasn't until Putin consolidated his power during the late 2000s, combined with the Constellation cancellation and the forced STS retirement, that the need for companies like SpaceX became apparent.  Only then did NASA offer billions for cargo contracts to support the newcomer.  Remember that until that contract, SpaceX only had a failing Falcon 1 to show for its efforts.  Interestingly, NASA's contract came in 2006, the same year that ULA was formed, that Lockheed Martin pulled out of ILS, and only weeks before Sea Launch suffered the ultimately financially devastating NSS-8 launch explosion.  All of that change came quickly.

In the interim, ULA did its thing to keep DoD in space as ordered.  It provides to this day capabilities that no other U.S, launch provider can offer.  Only now, post-Ukraine, etc. when Russia's ultra-low-cost rockets no longer get to play commercially as they once did, does ULA have its chance to try the U.S. propulsion route. 

 - Ed Kyle

   
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 06:46 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Both Boeing and LM did invest heavily in new LVs, to service government and a predicted jump in commercial demand. That large commercial demand never really happened,  resulting in both companies being burnt and formation of ULA.

Don't be surprised if they are reluctant to repeat same mistake. The demand for Vulcan class payloads has not really changed. Yes there are the large LEO web constellations,  but two main contenders (OneWeb and SpaceX) already have LV providers sorted.

Rideshare of smallsats and cubesats can add few $M extra profit to Vulcan launch  but not enough to justify LV development.

Both LM and Boeing are investing in smaller LVs, Boeing with XS1 and LM with a stake in Rocket Lab and probably others.


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If I were Boeing and you have been burned before...they would be very cautious about being burned again.  However, if you take too long to change...you can become another Kodak or RIM.  SpaceX and BO want to change the market and make it bigger.  What does ULA want?  Remember just a few years ago they had the whole govt market.   By 2025 with BO, SpaceX, and possible Orbital - what percent of the govt market will they have?  And remember the number of military launches may be going down.  I think ULA should try and expand the market.  Please remember Boeing pours how much into a new plane development?   I don't think Boeing funds new plane development the way they investing in Vulcan per quarter.  The US market and the world market maybe very different in 5 years.  You invest now...or you may become a side player.

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Yup.  Boeing and LockMart, later ULA, were sitting on all (most) of the rocket engineering expertise in the USA during those years, and also had the huge technological edge of the US in their column.  Why couldn't they compete?  When the investments went south by 2006-2010, and SpaceX was emerging, did they learn how or prove how it could be done better? 

Only conclusion is that they did not have the DNA to compete.  Still don't.
Too much easy cash like ELC and Block Buy give aways... USG paying launch prices that are unsustainable.
They did try to compete, despite the impossible and rapidly changing international political/economic conditions at the time.  They maximized profits by concentrating on satellites, and by supporting international ventures to launch them cheaply.  That's the best they could do.  The alternative was pulling out of launch altogether.  And what did they get for their efforts?  Big monetary losses on launch, but presumably profits on satellites.

They pulled out of launch due to the losses, forming ULA to support EELV likely only because the government demanded.  Even then the U.S. launch crises did not become apparent to most political leaders.  Elon Musk noticed, and started up a company, at just the right instant as it turned out because it really wasn't until Putin consolidated his power during the late 2000s, combined with the Constellation cancellation and the forced STS retirement, that the need for companies like SpaceX became apparent.  Only then did NASA offer billions for cargo contracts to support the newcomer.  Remember that until that contract, SpaceX only had a failing Falcon 1 to show for its efforts.  Interestingly, NASA's contract came in 2006, the same year that ULA was formed, that Lockheed Martin pulled out of ILS, and only weeks before Sea Launch suffered the ultimately financially devastating NSS-8 launch explosion.  All of that change came quickly.

In the interim, ULA did its thing to keep DoD in space as ordered.  It provides to this day capabilities that no other U.S, launch provider can offer.  Only now, post-Ukraine, etc. when Russia's ultra-low-cost rockets no longer get to play commercially as they once did, does ULA have its chance to try the U.S. propulsion route. 

 - Ed Kyle

   

That's one reading of history...  'as ordered' sounds like an excuse, not an explanation.

ULA, by the sworn testimony of its CEO, had the plans and the ability to go the US propulsion route... did from the beginning of the RD-180 buy.  When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

So, finally, they're building Vulcan, a vehicle fully capable of competing in the EELV market of 2002.
 
They had a huge head start to modernize and advance rocketry, but totally blew it.  No excuses.
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ULA is of and for the parents.  It is staffed by the parents' employees, and led by the parents' executives, Bruno included - so for all purposes of discussion, they are one and the same.

Wrong.  ULA has its own employees.  They are neither Boeing or LM.  It also has its own facilities and IP
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 08:38 PM by Jim »

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Both Boeing and LM did invest heavily in new LVs, to service government

That met all USG requirements and did not cherry pick them

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They had a huge head start to modernize and advance rocketry, but totally blew it.  No excuses.

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Yup.  Boeing and LockMart, later ULA, were sitting on all (most) of the rocket engineering expertise in the USA during those years, and also had the huge technological edge of the US in their column.  Why couldn't they compete?  When the investments went south by 2006-2010, and SpaceX was emerging, did they learn how or prove how it could be done better? 

Only conclusion is that they did not have the DNA to compete.  Still don't.
Too much easy cash like ELC and Block Buy give aways... USG paying launch prices that are unsustainable.
They did try to compete, despite the impossible and rapidly changing international political/economic conditions at the time.  They maximized profits by concentrating on satellites, and by supporting international ventures to launch them cheaply.  That's the best they could do.  The alternative was pulling out of launch altogether.  And what did they get for their efforts?  Big monetary losses on launch, but presumably profits on satellites.

They pulled out of launch due to the losses, forming ULA to support EELV likely only because the government demanded.  Even then the U.S. launch crises did not become apparent to most political leaders.  Elon Musk noticed, and started up a company, at just the right instant as it turned out because it really wasn't until Putin consolidated his power during the late 2000s, combined with the Constellation cancellation and the forced STS retirement, that the need for companies like SpaceX became apparent.  Only then did NASA offer billions for cargo contracts to support the newcomer.  Remember that until that contract, SpaceX only had a failing Falcon 1 to show for its efforts.  Interestingly, NASA's contract came in 2006, the same year that ULA was formed, that Lockheed Martin pulled out of ILS, and only weeks before Sea Launch suffered the ultimately financially devastating NSS-8 launch explosion.  All of that change came quickly.

In the interim, ULA did its thing to keep DoD in space as ordered.  It provides to this day capabilities that no other U.S, launch provider can offer.  Only now, post-Ukraine, etc. when Russia's ultra-low-cost rockets no longer get to play commercially as they once did, does ULA have its chance to try the U.S. propulsion route. 

 - Ed Kyle

   

That's one reading of history...  'as ordered' sounds like an excuse, not an explanation.

ULA, by the sworn testimony of its CEO, had the plans and the ability to go the US propulsion route... did from the beginning of the RD-180 buy.  When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

So, finally, they're building Vulcan, a vehicle fully capable of competing in the EELV market of 2002.
 
They had a huge head start to modernize and advance rocketry, but totally blew it.  No excuses.

To me, the phrase "as ordered" sounds as though ULA was acting more as an engineering contractor for the government than a company trying to compete in the open launch market.

It's not rocket science, people: ULA was not making money in the commercial launch market, but they were making decent money in building and launching to order for the US government for a good price. That's what they've been doing for the last several years, and they've been doing it extremely well. That's what Vulcans are targeting, not competing for commercial launches.


Offline edkyle99

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ULA, by the sworn testimony of its CEO, had the plans and the ability to go the US propulsion route... did from the beginning of the RD-180 buy. 
Again, it was Lockheed Martin, not ULA, that made the choice - and it really had no choice.  Rocketdyne (then part of Rockwell International) pulled out of the Atlas IIAR competition, leaving only RD-180 and NK-33 as bidders, both staged-combustion hydrocarbon engines offering capabilities that the U.S. has still never developed. 

And lets not forget that five of the six primary EELV propulsion systems used by ULA are made in the USA.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/30/2017 09:36 PM by edkyle99 »

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Wrong.  ULA has its own employees.  They are neither Boeing or LM.  It also has its own facilities and IP
Unfortunately it's Board all seem to be supplied by LM and Boeing.

The desperately slow way in which Vulcan/Centaur 5 has proceeded suggests that whenever the the question is "What is our next move" the answer seems to be "Whatever gives the most amount of cash back to our parents." :(

IOW they appear to have little (or any) interest in protecting ULA's long term future.

Yup.  Boeing and LockMart, later ULA, were sitting on all (most) of the rocket engineering expertise in the USA during those years, and also had the huge technological edge of the US in their column.  Why couldn't they compete?  When the investments went south by 2006-2010, and SpaceX was emerging, did they learn how or prove how it could be done better? 
Which sounds quite compelling if it was accurate.

Except ULA don't make the engines for those stages, AJR (and their predecessor companies) did.
Quote from: AncientU
Only conclusion is that they did not have the DNA to compete.  Still don't.
Too much easy cash like ELC and Block Buy give aways... USG paying launch prices that are unsustainable.
That's a conclusion. Quite a few others are possible. No I'm not going to name them. If you are open minded enough you can work them out yourself.
"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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What I am trying to figure out is how they will keep the costs under control when Centaur 5 will need at least 2 rl-10 engines at some current $34ish million for just those engines. From a cost perspective they really need an alternate supplier but with xcor gone there doesn't seem to be any other options, even more so that it doesn't look like be-3u will be available in time.

It's costs like that that make it difficult to compete.

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ULA is of and for the parents.  It is staffed by the parents' employees, and led by the parents' executives, Bruno included - so for all purposes of discussion, they are one and the same.

Wrong.  ULA has its own employees.  They are neither Boeing or LM.  It also has its own facilities and IP
Of course they are on the ULA payroll now...  But that's exactly the point.

With a joint venture like this, it should br possible to accept more risk.

But it's clearly not in any of their DNAs, so the offspring doesn't have it either.
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When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

Yep, they could have all done what SpaceX did, with regards to domestic engine technology. Because you can't have it both ways - Either
A) SpaceX was doing something truly revolutionary that Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just couldn't match (not according to experts on this forum)  ::) -  Or
B) Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just didn't try hard enough, all too happy with the status quo...

Neither is very flattering for Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 07:32 AM by Lars-J »

Online meekGee

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When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

Yep, they could have all done what SpaceX did, with regards to domestic engine technology. Because you can't have it both ways - Either
A) SpaceX was doing something truly revolutionary that Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just couldn't match (not according to experts on this forum)  ::) -  Or
B) Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just didn't try hard enough, all too happy with the status quo...

Neither is very flattering for Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR.
Not to mention that SpaceX told them, years in advance, exactly what it intends to do.
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Online john smith 19

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When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

Yep, they could have all done what SpaceX did, with regards to domestic engine technology. Because you can't have it both ways - Either
A) SpaceX was doing something truly revolutionary that Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just couldn't match (not according to experts on this forum)  ::) -  Or
B) Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just didn't try hard enough, all too happy with the status quo...

Neither is very flattering for Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR.
No, but a similar criticism could be leveled at many other joint stock companies whose Boards feel their #1 priority is making sure the stock price and the dividends continue to rise.

For such Boards all research is a waste of money (unless someone else pays for it. There always happy to do that).

When they also Govt contractors then you also have the mindset of "If the government wanted this, they'd ask (and pay) us to do it, and they haven't."

The concept of effective competition is quite alien to such organizations. However Shotwells background is the US Automotive industry.

She knows exactly what can happen when organizations think they are in a protected market and stop  making any effective innovation. Any time she drives around in LA she'll be reminded of it.  :(

Let me suggest that while Aerospace is quite bad it's not unique in this regard. The real issue is
joint stock companies Boards perceptions of their core role, and how it makes them very risk averse.

Right now in the US space sector SX and SNC seem to be the most innovative companies, and you will note neither is publicly quoted, yet both have to make a profit in order to do what they do. People have to want  to use them in a way that Blue simply does not share.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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When SpaceX was fumbling around trying to get a rocket to orbit, they had the full expertise base of the USA, fifty years of rocketry experience, and could have easily built what SpaceX did -- ask all the 'experts' -- SpaceX just used what everyone else understood and had shelved.  All of this could have been done while keeping DoD in space (for which they were paid more than adequately).

Yep, they could have all done what SpaceX did, with regards to domestic engine technology. Because you can't have it both ways - Either
A) SpaceX was doing something truly revolutionary that Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just couldn't match (not according to experts on this forum)  ::) -  Or
B) Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR just didn't try hard enough, all too happy with the status quo...

Neither is very flattering for Boeing/Lockmart/ULA/AJR.

The interesting bit is that Boeing/LockMart/AJR are heading down the same cash cow milking route with SLS/Orion and their NSS satellite businesses -- which is great, IMO.  Status Quo Queens all.  All have been too much spent for the returned product, and all need competition to kill them.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 12:01 PM by AncientU »
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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going. 

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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going.

"Russia is going to work on XYZ" = PowerPoint project until it gets allocated appropriate pile of money (in which case projects fate will also depend on what % of the allocated money will be stolen by officials)...

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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going.

Europeans and Chinese, too.  Reusable methlox engine funded and development underway in Europe.
Chinese have all the cash they'll need.  Russia, on other hand is strapped for cash, so could be laggard because of this... but also has world-class rocket development ability.  Will be interesting to see if having five reusable rocket programs starts to turn ULA in this direction.
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JS is correct that this stagnation condition is not unique.

Ironically, having brought up the auto industry  Tesla is right there...  But if you rewind 40 years, remember when Japanese cars were a new thing?

Lots of "they don't know anything" condescending attitude, then 15 years later, running crying to the government.



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Offline edkyle99

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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going. 
What Russia does (or China, or Europe, etc.) is irrelevant to the EELV program and to Vulcan, which is being developed for the EELV program.  Vulcan's competitors, or potential competitors, are currently Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy and (soon) Northrop Grumman's NGL.  Only Falcon uses partial reuse as a strategy, and one wonders since SpaceX just expended a first stage during Iridium 4 to "save money".  The Falcon Heavy challenge likelihood will be known a bit better in a few weeks.  Whether NGL is proceeding should become apparent in 2018.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 04:42 PM by edkyle99 »

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This is the Business Case/Competition/Alternatives discussion.  Unless ULA doesn't want to compete, Russia with a re-usable may be able to snag satellite launches to compete with SpaceX.  All launches are not to GSO or GTO.  All launches are not government launches.  ULA, in my opinion, is painting themselves into a corner with only government launches.  Time will tell, but by the time they get Vulcan launched, and all the bugs worked out, the second generation of re-usable vehicles may be coming out like New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy will be operational.  Then BFR/BFS will be coming on line by the mid-20-20's.  New Glenn may be fully reusable by then also including the upper stage.  China is also looking to re-usability. 

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ULA boss Bruno has stated that they need to capture a share of commercial launches to remain viable. 
Nobody is going to 'allocate' these launches to them.
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The interesting bit is that Boeing/LockMart/AJR are heading down the same cash cow milking route with SLS/Orion and their NSS satellite businesses -- which is great, IMO.  Status Quo Queens all.  All have been too much spent for the returned product, and all need competition to kill them.
Real competition may just be the thing that makes them finally wake up to the concept that in fact they do not have some $deity given right to survive and that they can be replaced, because in fact whoever did so would probably buy up their back libraries and inherit their knowledgebase anyway.

However that's not really OT for this thread. 

From ULA's perspective I think Bruno understands that for ULA's long term survival Vulcan has to happen, and happen sooner rather than later. 

Upgrading the US so that it will encompass the whole DIVH performance range as well (rather than needing another generation of development) is a good movein the right direction. Note that I don't think that means it will have full DIVH performance from first launch, more that the key structures are designed to take those loads and there are "hooks" in the design ready to mount whatever's needed to be added to bring it up to full DIVH spec.

I've suggested that (where possible)  designing in the hooks for reuse now would also be a good idea, but that seems to be a bit too adventurous for ULA to consider.

So far...
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going. 
What Russia does (or China, or Europe, etc.) is irrelevant to the EELV program and to Vulcan, which is being developed for the EELV program.  Vulcan's competitors, or potential competitors, are currently Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy and (soon) Northrop Grumman's NGL.  Only Falcon uses partial reuse as a strategy, and one wonders since SpaceX just expended a first stage during Iridium 4 to "save money".  The Falcon Heavy challenge likelihood will be known a bit better in a few weeks.  Whether NGL is proceeding should become apparent in 2018.

 - Ed Kyle
Semantically, you are correct.  And yet you completely miss the picture.

Vulcan will start life already obsolete.

To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   SMART, which is not even part of Vulcan yet, will be a joke - if it ever happens.

NGL - (aka Ares I aka liberty rocket)...  Are you kidding???!
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Online AncientU

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I read on the Russian section, that Russia is now going to work on a re-usable booster.  Seems ULA is falling further behind, especially if BO gets New Glenn going. 
What Russia does (or China, or Europe, etc.) is irrelevant to the EELV program and to Vulcan, which is being developed for the EELV program.  Vulcan's competitors, or potential competitors, are currently Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy and (soon) Northrop Grumman's NGL.  Only Falcon uses partial reuse as a strategy, and one wonders since SpaceX just expended a first stage during Iridium 4 to "save money".  The Falcon Heavy challenge likelihood will be known a bit better in a few weeks.  Whether NGL is proceeding should become apparent in 2018.

 - Ed Kyle

I don't agree.  What the EELV program has as requirements is based on a stalemated, post-Soviet military situation.  That is changing.  The US NSS assets are at risk even today.

If China and/or Russia fields reusable launchers and begins a massive build-up of space military assets based on reduced costs and unrestrained launch frequency, then the USG will have to respond in a new dimension -- in either scenario, the EELV program will deliver that response.  Most likely response will be in dis-aggregated assets, paralleling the private sector.
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Offline edkyle99

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To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   SMART, which is not even part of Vulcan yet, will be a joke - if it ever happens.

NGL - (aka Ares I aka liberty rocket)...  Are you kidding???!
Partial reuse, yes.  That is the way Falcon flies.  The second stage and payload fairing are expended during every flight.  Some of the first stages are expended too - four this year.  Some of the recovered first stages are scrapped or mothballed - maybe two or three or more this year.

NGL has nothing whatsoever to do with Ares I, or Liberty, etc.  It is a new design, three stage, with new motors, new composite casings, a new upper stage, etc.  It would use the Vulcan GEM-63XL strap on motors too.  Orbital ATK certainly isn't kidding.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 07:22 PM by edkyle99 »

Online meekGee

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To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   SMART, which is not even part of Vulcan yet, will be a joke - if it ever happens.

NGL - (aka Ares I aka liberty rocket)...  Are you kidding???!
Partial reuse, yes.  That is the way Falcon flies.  The second stage and payload fairing are expended during every flight.  Some of the first stages are expended too - four this year.  Some of the recovered first stages are scrapped or mothballed - maybe two or three or more this year.

NGL has nothing whatsoever to do with Ares I, or Liberty, etc.  It is a new design, with new motors, new composite casings, a new upper stage, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Like I said, semantically you are correct, but those are just word games.

The picture you paint is just detached from reality.
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Offline edkyle99

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Like I said, semantically you are correct, but those are just word games.

The picture you paint is just detached from reality.
I don't follow.  I'm saying that Falcon 9, like Shuttle, is partially reusable.  How is that a "word game"?  Are you suggesting that it is entirely reusable? 

 - Ed Kyle



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Because what F9 does is on the path to fully reusable rockets like BFR.

You fly the first stage, it lands, and is ready to go again in no time.

SMART, (which again, is not even being built into Vulcan) is a still "rockets shedding parts".

So you can call both of then "partial reuse", but the implications they have on flight rate and flight cost are day and night.

Now factor in that F9 is already flying block 5, and Vulcan will only start fully expendable in a couple of years (maybe) and SMART will fly a few years after that...  It'll be born in a world with BFR and NG...

NGL meanwhile is still a flying solid booster. Amazing that they even bother.

So you can claim equivalency between F9 and SMART, but it doesn't change their prognosis. 

And you can call it "Northrop's NGL", but it is still the ATK rocket.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Generation_Launcher

EDIT:  Anyway, this is circular...  happy new year, see you in another thread...
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 08:09 PM by meekGee »
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Offline edkyle99

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Because what F9 does is on the path to fully reusable rockets like BFR.

You fly the first stage, it lands, and is ready to go again in no time.
Terrific, but BFR is not being bid for EELV against Vulcan.
Quote
SMART, (which again, is not even being built into Vulcan) is a still "rockets shedding parts".
I haven't mentioned SMART during this discussion.
Quote
So you can call both of then "partial reuse", but the implications they have on flight rate and flight cost are day and night.

Now factor in that F9 is already flying block 5, and Vulcan will only start fully expendable in a couple of years (maybe) and SMART will fly a few years after that...  It'll be born in a world with BFR and NG...
The implications are less than clear to me.  Falcon Heavy, if successfully developed, gives up an awful lot to recover its boosters.  That big rocket can only boost 8 tonnes to GTO in that mode.  Vulcan can do that with basically one-third as much rocket.
Quote
NGL meanwhile is still a flying solid booster. Amazing that they even bother.

And you can call it "Northrop's NGL", but it is still the ATK rocket.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Generation_Launcher
You believe Wikipedia?  That article is riddled with errors.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 08:11 PM by edkyle99 »

Online john smith 19

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Vulcan will start life already obsolete.
That's your opinion. Obviously the designers at ULA disagree.

Quote from: meekGee
To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   
No, because the F9 is partially reusable. Taht is simply a statement of fact. It was planned to be fully reusable, but the science did not work out.
Quote from: meekGee
A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   
And how fast has it been so far?
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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Vulcan will start life already obsolete.
That's your opinion. Obviously the designers at ULA disagree.

Quote from: meekGee
To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   
No, because the F9 is partially reusable. Taht is simply a statement of fact. It was planned to be fully reusable, but the science did not work out.
Quote from: meekGee
A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   
And how fast has it been so far?
Sorry, like I said, this has gotten circular...

Answers upthread, and we can chat about it again when SMART flies.
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Offline joek

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The implications are less than clear to me.  Falcon Heavy, if successfully developed, gives up an awful lot to recover its boosters.  That big rocket can only boost 8 tonnes to GTO in that mode.  Vulcan can do that with basically one-third as much rocket.

Have to question whether "gives up an awful lot" is material given the primary market.  If the majority of the market does not need more than 8 tonnes to GTO, what FH gives up is propellant-recovery-refurbishment.

That is also one-third with a 100% expended Vulcan (discounting SMART for the moment) vs. a smaller percentage expended for FH.  All other things equal, given 8 tonnes to GTO for each launch: after more than three launches, Vulcan is going to have consumed-expended more "rocket" than FH.[1]

I think we beat this to death in the thread started by Dr. Sowers, Apr-2015: Reuse business case.


[1] edit: Assuming FH propellant-recovery-refurbishment (plus expended S2-whatever) costs per launch are less than or equal to the Vulcan expended costs per launch.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2017 10:09 PM by joek »

Offline joek

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... Most people in the industry thought Spacex would fail at reuse or even go under so they were caught off guard.

Yes they did, which likely informed much of the discussion within the industry.[1]  The common wisdom several years ago was that boost-back was not capable or cost effective.[2]

SpaceX has now demonstrated boost-back with supersonic-hypersonic reentry of their LV's and consequent recovery and reflight.

The rest of the crowd is now left to suck eggs because they did not have the balls to attempt it based on paper-based studies for which they would have demanded copious USG funds to go beyond.

Oh well.  Don't entirely blame ULA; they have been a USG captive since they were formed.  When the USG said sh*t, the only acceptable answer was "How much, what color, and what is the price?"  The USG was willing to pay for whatever the color and the amount, and ULA was happy to accommodate--especially given that the USG controlled every aspect of ULA's existence.

Make no mistake, ULA and the USG have been in a co-dependent relationship for years.  If there is blame to be laid, it lands as much on the USG (and in particular USAF EELV management), as ULA.


[1] And Bruno stated so, although in not in quite black-and-white terms, but strongly hinted at it, based on his "experience with hypersonics".  Sorry, cannot find a reference  to his statement, but it was clearly a rebuke to SpaceX's boost-back approach.

[2] Which rejected boost-back approaches years ago in favor of fly-back.

Online john smith 19

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Yes they did, which likely informed much of the discussion within the industry.[1]  The common wisdom several years ago was that boost-back was not capable or cost effective.[2]

SpaceX has now demonstrated boost-back with supersonic-hypersonic reentry of their LV's and consequent recovery and reflight.

The rest of the crowd is now left to suck eggs because they did not have the balls to attempt it based on paper-based studies for which they would have demanded copious USG funds to go beyond.
You are saying their studies said boost back wouldn't work but they should have attempted it anyway?

Is that what you meant to say, because otherwise it makes no sense.  :(

Do you mean they should have attempted to try fly-back?
BTW AFAIK the highest speed first stage recovery has been from M4.8. Hypersonic speeds start at M5. It is still very  impressive.

I sometimes wonder if boost-back appealed to SX because it could be done with minimal changes to the stage or because "fly" back implies wings, and if your end game is Mars that's more or less a dead end except at very high speed IE decelerating from atmospheric entry.

However WRT to this thread ULA does not have the constraint of "Any recovery system that works must also work on Mars," and if they don't believe the market will grow in any significant way, on a straight balance sheet view it's just the engine package that matters.

This is a line of reasoning Bruno can defend to his corporate masters. Customers don't care how much is recovered. They care (in ULA's view) about "Mission assurance." The near absolute certainty that anything they put on a ULA rocket will get to orbit. So far theUSG has paid more or less whatever they've asked to ensure this.

Except SX are setting a new floor price for NSS launches. If their success rate rises then at some point someone will ask the question "Why are ULA so much more expensive than SX launches for the same capability and reliability? What do you do, and how do you do it, that other providers do not?"

If ULA can radically lower their costs (if merging the capabilities of 3 LV systems to 1 can't lower costs I'd suggest they are pretty much doomed) that won't be an issue but if they can't then they'd better have a really good answer other than "Because we're special."
"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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... Most people in the industry thought Spacex would fail at reuse or even go under so they were caught off guard.

Yes they did, which likely informed much of the discussion within the industry.[1]  The common wisdom several years ago was that boost-back was not capable or cost effective.[2]

SpaceX has now demonstrated boost-back with supersonic-hypersonic reentry of their LV's and consequent recovery and reflight.

What I recall the biggest critique of the retropropulsive full booster recovery method wasn't that it was technically impossible, just that it was highly cost inefficient. Bruno had spent some time on the Delta Clipper project, so he understood it to be technically feasible.

Where the "legacy" launch providers completely missed the mark was in seeing how SpaceX was able to incrementally increase the vehicle's performance to enable recovery and reuse without a massive increase in costs. SpaceX increased the raw performance of F9 by nearly double from 1.0 to the Block 5 specs, while prices have gone up ~25% ($50 million to $63 million). ULA would have to add more SRB's or get their main propulsion uprated (at a fantastic cost) to get the same performance boost that SpaceX got.

Offline joek

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You are saying their studies said boost back wouldn't work but they should have attempted it anyway?

Is that what you meant to say, because otherwise it makes no sense.  :(

No, sorry for not being clearer...

There was a USAF/DoD study which essentially argued that fly-back was better than boost-back, and which appeared to represent the conventional wisdom at that time. (Circia 2005-2010?  I am sure there is a link to in one of my old posts, but cannot find it.)

It begat several semi-proposals which never led anywhere because no one was interested in funding it.  Because the cost for doing so was very high, and no one (especially the USG) had an appetite for such given that the status quo was acceptable (*cough*), which evaporated given the EELV cost crisis circa 2010 (but that is another story hashed out in other threads).

The crux of the argument was the same as many continue to make today: The performance penalty for boost-back outweighs the gains of <pick-your-choice>.  The merit and relevance of that argument depends on the cost of the performance penalty--which is where most of the analysis failed IMHO.

Without a seriously cost-driven player (such as SpaceX), a serious trade between the options would likely never have occurred.

Offline joek

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...
Where the "legacy" launch providers completely missed the mark was in seeing how SpaceX was able to incrementally increase the vehicle's performance to enable recovery and reuse without a massive increase in costs. SpaceX increased the raw performance of F9 by nearly double from 1.0 to the Block 5 specs, while prices have gone up ~25% ($50 million to $63 million). ULA would have to add more SRB's or get their main propulsion uprated (at a fantastic cost) to get the same performance boost that SpaceX got.

They also missed the mark by being unwilling to fund the necessary R&D because they were pre-disposed to other options.

<aside>
Which in the case of ULA is understandable... Starting with a +$2B deficit and losing money on DoD launches through circa 2008 does not tend to engender a "hey, if we just throw more [of our own] money into RDT&E [we already did that ~1995-2003] it will get better [so why is it not getting better ~2003-2010]" attitude, or DNA, or whatever you want to call it.

USAF/DoD certainly took their pound of flesh (or more) out of Boeing-LM-ULA, continuing to dog them with Block-1 Buy (below cost) pricing through years of the EELV program.  And Boeing-LM-ULA have tried to take it back over the last decade; can't blame them for that.

Whether ULA's parents have recouped their losses from past years is unknown, but that past still has to hurt, infuse and inform present attitudes.  If SpaceX had started in the same hole as ULA with the same prescriptions laid on it by USAF/DoD as ULA, would they they be the same?  Unlikely.

Again, ULA has always been a USG captive.  They are the tail on the dog.  Past sins are as much due to USAF/DoD mismanagement of the EELV program as ULA.  I have little sympathy for either of them.
</aside>

Online john smith 19

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No, sorry for not being clearer...

There was a USAF/DoD study which essentially argued that fly-back was better than boost-back, and which appeared to represent the conventional wisdom at that time. (Circia 2005-2010?  I am sure there is a link to in one of my old posts, but cannot find it.)
So you think ULA should have IRD funded a fly back test? That's what I'd guessed you meant.

Quote from: joek
The crux of the argument was the same as many continue to make today: The performance penalty for boost-back outweighs the gains of <pick-your-choice>.  The merit and relevance of that argument depends on the cost of the performance penalty--which is where most of the analysis failed IMHO.
"cost" can be measured (and planned for) in several different ways.

Other questions are
a) Are you trying to retrofit recovery to an existing system? Often proposed, never actually done.
b) Do you really know enough to make sensible trades? IOW any system gives you more experience  of recovery than you have now. The downside is the risk of getting it very wrong.

Starting with a clean sheet you can specifically allocate X mass for recovery in the performance spec.  If you can build the recovery hardware inside of that, great. If not will anyone know?

Maybe the issue with ULA is they already maxed out performance with RD180's and they are thinking "We have to be able to offer that level of performance. To put in recovery as well we need engines that can top RD-180's in performance."

So maybe ULA are at the top of the learning curve and can't crank performance up far enough to do full stage recovery, even if they wanted to?

I'm always reminded of Cecil B. De Miln comments on films.  Writing a script is pretty cheap. Writers pay, typewriter ribbon and paper.  Much like making design changes to a rocket is cheap during design.

But once you're on location, with the whole crew ready to go, you'd better know exactly what they are all doing because it gets very expensive to leave them standing about while you work things out.

I'd like to think that the fact boost-back is now TRL-9 means it should have pole position in ULA thinking because it is now absolutely known to work. No ifs, no buts. It works, if you're prepared to spring for the cost of a recovery barge. Then again, all recovery systems have costs. Won't ULA need to keep a heavy helicopter on near permanent lease if they want to do regular engine pod recoveries?
Quote from: joek
Without a seriously cost-driven player (such as SpaceX), a serious trade between the options would likely never have occurred.
Probably not. But not really relevant for this thread.
"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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Offline tobi453

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To say F9 uses partial reuse is to try to really spin things for "SMART".   A rapidly reflyable first stage is a game changer.   SMART, which is not even part of Vulcan yet, will be a joke - if it ever happens.

NGL - (aka Ares I aka liberty rocket)...  Are you kidding???!
Partial reuse, yes.  That is the way Falcon flies.  The second stage and payload fairing are expended during every flight.  Some of the first stages are expended too - four this year.  Some of the recovered first stages are scrapped or mothballed - maybe two or three or more this year.

NGL has nothing whatsoever to do with Ares I, or Liberty, etc.  It is a new design, three stage, with new motors, new composite casings, a new upper stage, etc.  It would use the Vulcan GEM-63XL strap on motors too.  Orbital ATK certainly isn't kidding.

 - Ed Kyle

Orbital made so many strategic mistakes during the COTS/CRS program with Antares and Cygnus that my faith in the people in charge is highly limited. Just look where SpaceX is today with F9/Dragon and compare it to Antares/Cygnus.

Offline joek

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So you think ULA should have IRD funded a fly back test? That's what I'd guessed you meant.

Should have?  Maybe.  Could have?  Unlikely.

ULA is a USAF/DoD captive.  USAF/DoD has been ULA's puppet master for years.  ULA does not take a sh*t without an OK from USAF/DoD.  They do not spend or make a nickle without scrutiny from USAF/DoD--albeit that scrutiny is sometimes a bit (*cough*) lax (*cough*).

ULA cannot do squat without USAF/DoD giving the OK, because any funds expended would ultimately come back to USAF/DoD.  If whatever ULA wants to do is not a priority for USAF, it does not happen (unless independently funded by the parents, separate from the EELV program).

That was the devil's deal on which ULA was founded: ULA provides the goods; USAF/DoD provides the coin and calls the shots.

Online AncientU

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So you think ULA should have IRD funded a fly back test? That's what I'd guessed you meant.

Should have?  Maybe.  Could have?  Unlikely.

ULA is a USAF/DoD captive.  USAF/DoD has been ULA's puppet master for years.  ULA does not take a sh*t without an OK from USAF/DoD.  They do not spend or make a nickle without scrutiny from USAF/DoD--albeit that scrutiny is sometimes a bit (*cough*) lax (*cough*).

ULA cannot do squat without USAF/DoD giving the OK, because any funds expended would ultimately come back to USAF/DoD.  If whatever ULA wants to do is not a priority for USAF, it does not happen (unless independently funded by the parents, separate from the EELV program).

That was the devil's deal on which ULA was founded: ULA provides the goods; USAF/DoD provides the coin and calls the shots.

And Boeing ($175B market cap.) plus LockMart ($91B) are hapless entities?  Amazing how the 'Parents' come and go as it suits the argument... or rationalization/confirmation bias/whatever.

Yes they did, which likely informed much of the discussion within the industry.[1]  The common wisdom several years ago was that boost-back was not capable or cost effective.[2]

SpaceX has now demonstrated boost-back with supersonic-hypersonic reentry of their LV's and consequent recovery and reflight.

The rest of the crowd is now left to suck eggs because they did not have the balls to attempt it based on paper-based studies for which they would have demanded copious USG funds to go beyond.
You are saying their studies said boost back wouldn't work but they should have attempted it anyway?

Is that what you meant to say, because otherwise it makes no sense.  :(

...

SpaceX had access to that common 'wisdom', too, and a hell of a lot* less rocketry experience than Boeing/Lockmart/NASA/USAF combined.

*A couple or orders of magnitude less in years...
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 12:46 PM by AncientU »
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Offline gosnold

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Because what F9 does is on the path to fully reusable rockets like BFR.

You fly the first stage, it lands, and is ready to go again in no time.
Terrific, but BFR is not being bid for EELV against Vulcan.

Do you have a source on that?

Offline edkyle99

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Orbital made so many strategic mistakes during the COTS/CRS program with Antares and Cygnus that my faith in the people in charge is highly limited. Just look where SpaceX is today with F9/Dragon and compare it to Antares/Cygnus.
Dragon is up to 12 missions not including a failure, Cygnus has flown seven, not including the failure.  I was impressed when Orbital ATK quickly adapted to the Antares failure by moving Cygnus to Atlas 5 for three launches, gaining payload in the bargain.  Cygnus has been carrying more payload mass than Dragon.  The Antares engine change to RD-181 after the failure - during the Ukrainian situation no less - was also pretty impressive.  If Orbital made a mistake, it was in trusting the reliability of NK-33/AJ-26, but that is only obvious after the fact.

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 05:10 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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Because what F9 does is on the path to fully reusable rockets like BFR.

You fly the first stage, it lands, and is ready to go again in no time.
Terrific, but BFR is not being bid for EELV against Vulcan.

Do you have a source on that?
Any number of stories about the ongoing EELV RFP, including
http://spacenews.com/house-members-ask-pentagon-to-stay-the-course-on-launch-vehicle-development/
These identify Vulcan, Falcon 9/Heavy, and NGL as the competitors.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline gosnold

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Any number of stories about the ongoing EELV RFP, including
http://spacenews.com/house-members-ask-pentagon-to-stay-the-course-on-launch-vehicle-development/
These identify Vulcan, Falcon 9/Heavy, and NGL as the competitors.

 - Ed Kyle

All I can find in this article is
Quote
Among the companies expected to compete for those awards are Orbital ATK, which is developing a vehicle through its Next Generation Launch program; SpaceX, which received funding to support work on its Raptor methane engine last year; and United Launch Alliance, for its Vulcan vehicle.
Which is the journalist hedging his bets and does not exclude BFR.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 05:45 PM by gosnold »

Online john smith 19

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One side point about any reuse strategy ULA decides to develop.

AFAIK all ULA LV's have conventional LV processor architectures. IOW no computer on the booster stage. It's all done from the top.

That means they any attempts to try anything (like high mach engine restart) begins with them having to add processing, power and attitude sensing at a minimum. You'll probably want attitude control (IE thrusters of some kind) as well.

And unlike SX, they don't design that stuff in house. It would all be bought in.

Personally I'd design such a package to be as "throwaway" as possible.  Commercial grade, single string and only activated by at least two signals from the US (to prevent accidental start), with as little data transfer (ideally none) from the US GNC to it as possible. A completely (AFAP) self contained unit. Batteries fully charged but isolated until they receive the dual key start signal connecting them to the electronics, probably the last event before stage separation.  It's like an X-plane. It's primary mission is to generate data.

The key  deliverables of such a system are
a) What does it take start a big engine at high Mach in the high atmosphere (RD180's are much bigger than Merlins. Blue's engine is not small either. Size does matter in this context. Reme,ber the claims by AJR that SSME could be restarted at altitude? Remember what happened to the SLS design when it turned out they couldn't? )
b) Develop the first generation software to do this. Obviously that's in a high level language so it can be re-hosted on the Vulcan processor when the time comes.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 05:49 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.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Whether ULA's parents have recouped their losses from past years is unknown, but that past still has to hurt, infuse and inform present attitudes.
IMHO, Lockheed Martin "yes", Boeing "no".

Hurt both. LM confirmed its approach to minimalist approach. Boeing didn't learn. And both are struggling to "unlearn" demonstrated "study fallacies" that clouded their judgement.

Thank you for your posts above.

Offline Exastro

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Orbital made so many strategic mistakes during the COTS/CRS program with Antares and Cygnus that my faith in the people in charge is highly limited. Just look where SpaceX is today with F9/Dragon and compare it to Antares/Cygnus.
Dragon is up to 12 missions not including a failure, Cygnus has flown seven, not including the failure.  I was impressed when Orbital ATK quickly adapted to the Antares failure by moving Cygnus to Atlas 5 for three launches, gaining payload in the bargain.  Cygnus has been carrying more payload mass than Dragon.  The Antares engine change to RD-181 after the failure - during the Ukrainian situation no less - was also pretty impressive.  If Orbital made a mistake, it was in trusting the reliability of NK-33/AJ-26, but that is only obvious after the fact.

I think tobi453's broader point is this: While Orbital used their COTS contract to fund Antares/Cygnus which (so far at least) does nothing except COTS, SpaceX parlayed theirs into a general-purpose medium-class, mostly-reusable launch system that served as the basis for their successful Commercial Crew bid and is on its way to dominating the whole commercial launch market.

Offline jongoff

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No, sorry for not being clearer...

There was a USAF/DoD study which essentially argued that fly-back was better than boost-back, and which appeared to represent the conventional wisdom at that time. (Circia 2005-2010?  I am sure there is a link to in one of my old posts, but cannot find it.)

That's the exact opposite of my recollection. The USAF study from the mid 2000s (from Barry Hellman IIRC) was showing that boostback actually made a lot of sense. I'm pretty sure I reviewed it on Selenian Boondocks under my Orbital Access Methodologies thread.

http://selenianboondocks.com/2008/06/orbital-access-methodologies-part-v-boostback-tsto/

One of the links is broken, but the takeway from the link that is still working is that Boostback looked very promising.

~Jon

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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IIRC, the issue revolved around costing models as a justification. A rival has already dis-proven a costing model rather significantly since.

Offline butters

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ULA doesn't have enough rope to develop anything better than Vulcan, and Boeing and Lockheed lost their enthusiasm for the launch industry years ago. It stands to question whether Vulcan would have gotten the green light if not for the RD-180 situation.

IF they were to pursue a path toward RLV, would they have any better options than emulating New Glenn? Their engine options are basically: Blue Origin, too expensive (AJR), or way too slow (begin in-house engine development). Can ULA come up with a more effective way to use BO's engines than BO can?

It's hard to imagine what ULA will be launching in 2025-2030, with New Glenn and BFR likely well-established in service. Vulcan at least presents a credible way to win some government contracts in the 2020-2025 timeframe. Are the development costs too high to justify a 5-year product lifecycle? Maybe. Will the comparison between NG/BFR and Vulcan be even more embarrassing for ULA than F9 vs. Atlas V? Probably. But I'm not going to blame a proud company for wanting to delay its probable death. Who knows, maybe there's still a chance that SpaceX or Blue will fail...

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Generation_Launcher
You believe Wikipedia?  That article is riddled with errors.

It might be, but at least it's not regurgitating the company line about being a "completely new launch system by Northrop Grumman".  To go with an all-solid first stage in view of the current state of the art is just bonkers.  I understand why ATK is in it, but why would any observer be - that's beyond me.

Nevermind NGL though.

Back to Vulcan.  I am sure it will be an improvement over Atlas V. I mean it's an E3LV at this point.  But it does not feature even partial reuse. It doesn't even have a solid timeline for that.

Meanwhile the industry is moving to a completely new generation of launch systems, with the BFR project leapfrogging into a bonefide fully reusable spaceship.

So you can keep talking about which bids Vulcan is designed to respond to. It does not matter. The requirements are tailored to piston prop-planes, and this other company is developing jets. How long do you think the requirements are going to stay?  It'll be a pretty lame excuse in a few years to say "we didn't see it coming".
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Offline edkyle99

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Can ULA come up with a more effective way to use BO's engines than BO can?
Here is a key question.  Let's think about that.  In order for Vulcan to use BE-4 more efficiently than New Glenn, New Glenn will have to fall short of recovering and re-flying each first stage four times or more, just based on the number of engines needed per flight.  That is a capability that has yet to be demonstrated by anyone.  The necessity of such turn-around numbers is apparent to Blue Origin, of course, because the company is planning on pulling off such achievements.  Plans do not guarantee success.  Approaching eight years into Falcon 9 service, SpaceX has not yet reached that goal.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 09:55 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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It might be, but at least it's not regurgitating the company line about being a "completely new launch system by Northrop Grumman".  To go with an all-solid first stage in view of the current state of the art is just bonkers.  I understand why ATK is in it, but why would any observer be - that's beyond me.
NGL uses solid motor first and second stages, augmented as needed by solid boosters.  These are "state of the art" solids, with better mass fractions and specific impulse numbers than earlier motors.  They offer more thrust per dollar and higher reliability than equivalent liquid boosters.  Castor 600 produces almost as much thrust as a Falcon 9 v1.2 first stage, but with far fewer moving parts.  The reliability appeals to me.  So do the simplier launch countdowns. 

Composite solid propellant motors are actually more "state of the art" than kerosene/LOX liquid rockets, in terms of the sequence of developments.  Redstone, Atlas, Titan 1, Thor, and Jupiter predated Pershing, Minuteman and Polaris.

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 10:14 PM by edkyle99 »

Online john smith 19

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NGL uses solid motor first and second stages, augmented as needed by solid boosters.  These are "state of the art" solids, with better mass fractions and specific impulse numbers than earlier motors.
Can they hit 300secs at Sea level? I rather doubt it.
Quote from: edkyle99
  They offer more thrust per dollar and higher reliability than equivalent liquid boosters.
What liquid boosters? AFAIK the only ones in current use are the Russian hypergol ones on Russian LV's
Quote from: edkyle99
Castor 600 produces almost as much thrust as a Falcon 9 v1.2 first stage, but with far fewer moving parts.  The reliability appeals to me.  So do the simplier launch countdowns. 
They'd better be reliable, given they can't be shut down once they start. The teeth rattling vibration spectrum is rather less appealing, and what they'd do to humans they'll do to hard mounted payloads on top as well.
Quote from: edkyle99
Composite solid propellant motors are actually more "state of the art" than kerosene/LOX liquid rockets, in terms of the sequence of developments.  Redstone, Atlas, Titan 1, Thor, and Jupiter predated Pershing, Minuteman and Polaris.
IOW they make great weapon systems.  No one doubts that. Liquid fueled ICBM's are only for wannabe world powers etc.

However how does this relate to ULA, which is the subject of this thread? Arianespace may have abandoned their "mostly solid" A6 concept and stayed liquid for the cores but I don't see ULA switching horses.

Bruno is not going to wake up tomorrow and say "This Methane Lox thing is just too big a PITA. We're going to scrap it and go with a huge solid for the booster"
"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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Offline LouScheffer

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People here tend to dis SMART, but at a basic level it's no different than SpaceX's fairing recovery.  What seems more damning to me is that ULA itself is not taking it seriously.   If they were out there blowing test boosters apart to see if they could get clean separation with acceptable shock levels, trying out aerodynamic decelerators, and testing big parachutes and recovery helicoptors/boats, then I'd feel they could still be in the mix in the 2020s.   But if they wait and add it on later, it will be a few years later yet due to the later start, plus extra engineering to add recovery in, and the inevitable necessary changes could compromise certification.   

3 years to a competitive system would be OK.  6 years, as I'd guess if they retrofit SMART later, seems like too much.

Online meekGee

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People here tend to dis SMART, but at a basic level it's no different than SpaceX's fairing recovery.  What seems more damning to me is that ULA itself is not taking it seriously.   If they were out there blowing test boosters apart to see if they could get clean separation with acceptable shock levels, trying out aerodynamic decelerators, and testing big parachutes and recovery helicoptors/boats, then I'd feel they could still be in the mix in the 2020s.   But if they wait and add it on later, it will be a few years later yet due to the later start, plus extra engineering to add recovery in, and the inevitable necessary changes could compromise certification.   

3 years to a competitive system would be OK.  6 years, as I'd guess if they retrofit SMART later, seems like too much.

The reason for "dissing" SMART (for first stages) is not because it's impossible - it's (exactly as you say) very similar to fairing recovery, whether by helicopter or by boat.

The "dissing" comes from the fact that all you get back are engines. They may be the most expensive part of the stack, but building new tanks, and then re-assembling the first stage - this pales in comparison to "land, refuel, re-fly".

SMART, as applied to a second stage, and assuming second stage recovery is too expensive, can make sense - but that's true irrespective of what is done with the first stage.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Getting payloads to LEO on RLVs is only half picture, to really open up space especially BLEO. Reusable OTVs are needed along with fuel depots, ideally supplied from ISRU. ULA are addressing the OTV with ACES.

ULA future may be as pure space transport company, leaving others to handle earth-LEO leg.

Offline envy887

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The implications are less than clear to me.  Falcon Heavy, if successfully developed, gives up an awful lot to recover its boosters.  That big rocket can only boost 8 tonnes to GTO in that mode.  Vulcan can do that with basically one-third as much rocket.

~1/3 by mass, but ~2x by cost. Which is more relevant here?

Offline Patchouli

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Getting payloads to LEO on RLVs is only half picture, to really open up space especially BLEO. Reusable OTVs are needed along with fuel depots, ideally supplied from ISRU. ULA are addressing the OTV with ACES.

ULA future may be as pure space transport company, leaving others to handle earth-LEO leg.

An OTV would simplify the mission requires of a launch vehicle considerably.



~1/3 by mass, but ~2x by cost. Which is more relevant here?

The actual operating cost of the two vehicles remains to be seen though Falcon heavy should definitely be the cheaper of the two.
But Centaur and ACES esp with IVF are capable of more restarts and longer autonomous operation time than the F9 upper stage so Vulcan would be better at multiple payloads that need to be in slightly different orbits.
This should make it easier to get enough payloads to allow launching a Vulcan with a full payload then it would be for Falcon Heavy so ULA may have a solid business case with it.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 02:06 AM by Patchouli »

Offline edkyle99

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The implications are less than clear to me.  Falcon Heavy, if successfully developed, gives up an awful lot to recover its boosters.  That big rocket can only boost 8 tonnes to GTO in that mode.  Vulcan can do that with basically one-third as much rocket.

~1/3 by mass, but ~2x by cost. Which is more relevant here?
Cost and reliability and performance.  Cost is determined in large part by reliability.   Falcon Heavy intends to compete by flying a much larger rocket that requires low cost recovery and reuse of the first stages to make it pay, sacrificing much potential performance in the trade.  It is a more complex machine than Vulcan.  Vulcan sacrifices no performance, is single core even for Heavy missions, offers vertical integration, etc.  In all likelihood, both will win missions, find niches, etc., but it isn't clear to me which will cost less in the end. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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What liquid boosters? AFAIK the only ones in current use are the Russian hypergol ones on Russian LV's
When I say "liquid booster" I'm using the original, early Space-Age description of a boost stage, which can be a first stage.  The Falcon 9 first stage is a "booster" by this definition. 
Quote
They'd better be reliable, given they can't be shut down once they start. The teeth rattling vibration spectrum is rather less appealing, and what they'd do to humans they'll do to hard mounted payloads on top as well.
Shutting down a rocket stage after lift off is a very bad idea, regardless of propellant type.  Thrust oscillation can be mitigated by design on a newly-designed solid motor launch vehicle, which is NGL.   
Quote
Arianespace may have abandoned their "mostly solid" A6 concept and stayed liquid for the cores but I don't see ULA switching horses.
Vulcan uses Castor GEM-63XL solid rocket motors.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 03:54 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Coastal Ron

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The implications are less than clear to me.  Falcon Heavy, if successfully developed, gives up an awful lot to recover its boosters.  That big rocket can only boost 8 tonnes to GTO in that mode.  Vulcan can do that with basically one-third as much rocket.

~1/3 by mass, but ~2x by cost. Which is more relevant here?
Cost and reliability and performance.

Reliability, as far as SpaceX is concerned, is a given. The market has already determined that SpaceX having accidents is not a reason to cancel existing launch contracts, or avoid new ones, and an accident-free 2017 was confirmation of their confidence.

Quote
Cost is determined in large part by reliability.

Cost is determined by the approach used to satisfy a customer demand. Reliability is a factor, but so is overall price to the customer.

Plus, a service provider can spend too much on "reliability". And for the commercial launch industry, 100% reliability is not assumed.

Quote
Falcon Heavy intends to compete by flying a much larger rocket that requires low cost recovery and reuse of the first stages to make it pay, sacrificing much potential performance in the trade.

You keep looking at the Falcon Heavy from a non-customer standpoint, whereas potential customers are looking at the SpaceX pricing page that says Falcon Heavy can move "up to 8.0mt to GTO" for $90M.

Quote
It is a more complex machine than Vulcan.

You're telling me that the Vulcan SMART system will be less complex than what SpaceX does?  :o

Quote
Vulcan sacrifices no performance, is single core even for Heavy missions, offers vertical integration, etc.

A. If Falcon Heavy can do the job, then it doesn't matter what extra performance Vulcan has.
B. The customer does not care how many "cores" there are, especially since you could count SRM's as "cores".
C. Vertical integration is a useless metric for commercial customers, and that is what ULA needs more of.

Quote
In all likelihood, both will win missions, find niches, etc., but it isn't clear to me which will cost less in the end.

As of today what we know is that if a customer needs to move a 8.0mT or less payload to GTO, that Falcon Heavy will cost less for just the launcher. And from what we've heard about insurance rates, SpaceX merits normal rates.

Compare that to the $99M that Vulcan will cost in it's basic configuration and Falcon Heavy has the customer price advantage.

I have no doubt that ULA can build a safe, reliable launcher, and Vulcan will have advantages for USAF payloads due to ULA's experience and capabilities. But ULA will have to compete with more than Falcon Heavy to win commercial customers. They will also be competing against Falcon 9, Ariane 5/6, Proton and others. ULA needs to find their competitive differentiator that will allow them to hold onto and grow their marketshare - and so far it's not clear what that will be.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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When I say "liquid booster" I'm using the original, early Space-Age description of a boost stage, which can be a first stage.  The Falcon 9 first stage is a "booster" by this definition. 
By that definition I'd guess that would make the Indian GSLV or the ESA Vega the most advanced ELVs on the planet, give it's GSLV's "booster" stage and the strap ons are are all solid, while both Vega's standard 3 stages are all solid.

https://www.isro.gov.in/launchers/gslv

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vega_(rocket)

And yet when NASA was offered the opportunity to support the "Liberty Launcher" they rejected it. The short sighted fools! Then again the company doing the proposing didn't seem to do much with it afterward either.  Not quite so convinced as they seemed perhaps.
Quote from: edkyle99
Shutting down a rocket stage after lift off is a very bad idea, regardless of propellant type. 
Really? I can think of about six Shuttle astronauts who would be alive today if a stage could be shut down and jettisoned when it went bad.  :(
Quote from: edkyle99
Thrust oscillation can be mitigated by design on a newly-designed solid motor launch vehicle, which is NGL.   
Good to know. Hopefully the results of the Ares1-x test will be worth something after all. However unless you have a need to (somehow) support the ICBM motor mfg base the simpler option for customers is to simply not buy launches on solid based LV's.
Quote from: edkyle99
Vulcan uses Castor GEM-63XL solid rocket motors.
As optional components of a launch, not mandatory parts of every vehicle.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 07:09 AM 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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline TrevorMonty

Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.


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Getting payloads to LEO on RLVs is only half picture, to really open up space especially BLEO. Reusable OTVs are needed along with fuel depots, ideally supplied from ISRU. ULA are addressing the OTV with ACES.

ULA future may be as pure space transport company, leaving others to handle earth-LEO leg.

For me this is the key point. I think ULA are well aware that they are potentially too late to the new LV party and understand that the amounts of funding they can realistically access rather limit how far and fast they can go. ACES and what it potentially enables, eg Cislunar 1000 vision, is their innovation bet for the longer-term. My guess is that the minimum reqt for Vulcan, and SMART, is to keep things going long enough to enable a transition to provision of different types of services.

The longer Vulcan flies and is profitable, the better the chances to transition. I think there are scenarios, eg years of Blue Origin delays, where Vulcan could pick up just enough additional launches to make it work. I don't see customers putting all their eggs in the SpaceX basket.

P.S. I'm late to this excellent thread, thanks all for your great - thought provoking - contributions.

Offline woods170

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Can ULA come up with a more effective way to use BO's engines than BO can?
Here is a key question.  Let's think about that.  In order for Vulcan to use BE-4 more efficiently than New Glenn, New Glenn will have to fall short of recovering and re-flying each first stage four times or more, just based on the number of engines needed per flight.  That is a capability that has yet to be demonstrated by anyone.  The necessity of such turn-around numbers is apparent to Blue Origin, of course, because the company is planning on pulling off such achievements.  Plans do not guarantee success.  Approaching eight years into Falcon 9 service, SpaceX has not yet reached that goal.

 - Ed Kyle

Falcon 9 v1.0 was never intended for reuse. SpaceX was only (and unsuccessfully) experimenting with stage recovery, not reuse. You seem to have forgotten that Falcon 9 v1.0 was all about COTS and getting experience in flying a multi-engine booster.
This changed with Falcon v1.1. That one was designed from the start to be successfully recovered and reused.

So really: only 4 years and 3 months (first F9 v1.1 flew September 29, 2013) in service and SpaceX is close to reaching the goal of re-flying a booster more than once.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 11:01 AM by woods170 »

Online AncientU

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

Whatever.  Advertised price for something six or more years into the future is not the same as billed price today either.

The quoted price is for basic Vulcan core plus Centaur III, no solids.  When comparing to FH, need to add six solids and Centaur V... which will basically doubles the price, whether that's 2x $99M or 2x <$100M.

This price also assumed ten launches* per year, half of them commercial.


* I seriously doubt that ULA/Boeing/LockMart would stay in the business with 10x $100M (or less) revenue per year.  This is basically what they were getting from ELC -- for launching nothing.  At these discounted prices, their margin will be quite thin, to say the least.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 12:12 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline woods170

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

Whatever.  Advertised price for something six or more years into the future is not the same as billed price today either.

The quoted price is for basic Vulcan core plus Centaur III, no solids.  When comparing to FH, need to add six solids and Centaur V... which will basically doubles the price, whether that's 2x $99M or 2x <$100M.

This price also assumed ten launches* per year, half of them commercial.


* I seriously doubt that ULA/Boeing/LockMart would stay in the business with 10x $100M (or less) revenue per year.  This is basically what they were getting from ELC -- for launching nothing.  At these discounted prices, their margin will be quite thin, to say the least.

Quite. And mind you, ELC is going away. The Atlas portion stops in 2019. The Delta IV portion ends a year later, in 2020. From then on ULA will have to make do the same way SpaceX already does: launch price becomes all-inclusive.

Trouble is that ULA cannot spread the burden thru performing commercial launches. Simply because they don't have commercially competitive vehicles. Which brings us back, full circle, to the business case for Vulcan.

Vulcan better become a commercially attractive vehicle or it will become in-competitive for certain types of NSS launches. And that might just be a threat to the very existence of ULA. Which in turn explains why Bruno has put ULA on a severe diet as well as why he is pushing Vulcan for all he's worth.

Offline envy887

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

He said $99M for Vulcan, about a year and a half ago:

Quote
ULA is working on a next-generation rocket called Vulcan that will be less expensive to manufacture and fly than its current Atlas booster.

Quote from: Tory Bruno
Our prices are coming down every day, we now talk about a $99 million launch service.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-ula-layoffs/united-launch-alliance-to-lay-off-up-to-875-by-end-of-2017-ceo-idUSKCN0XB2HQ

Offline envy887

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Falcon Heavy intends to compete by flying a much larger rocket that requires low cost recovery and reuse of the first stages to make it pay, sacrificing much potential performance in the trade.

Support this opinion.

SpaceX has emphatically stated many times that reuse is not built into their prices, and I have seen no evidence that Falcon Heavy needs reuse to be profitable at $90M, or that 8.0 tonnes is a hard limit due to reuse instead of a number that covers 100% of the commercial market with ample margins.

It is a more complex machine than Vulcan.  Vulcan sacrifices no performance, is single core even for Heavy missions, offers vertical integration, etc.  In all likelihood, both will win missions, find niches, etc., but it isn't clear to me which will cost less in the end. 

 - Ed Kyle

SMART sacrifices some performance. And the base model Vulcan for $99M can only put ~5 tonnes to GTO. Either Centaur 5 and 1 SRB (or 5 SRBs and Centaur 3) are required to 8 tonnes to GTO. This will at least several million to the cost.

SMART saves 90% of the booster propulsion cost according to ULA. The last contract for RD-180 was $24M per engine, so they can save $22M off a base Atlas V a $109M. This is about 20% off, while SMART reduces payload by around half that.

BE-4 is estimated at $16M, so taking the 90%, $99M, and $16M at face value a SMART launch base Vulcan would be $85M for ~4.5 tonnes to GTO. That is competitive with Ariane 5. To compete with Ariane 6 and Proton (6 or 7 t to GTO) it will need either 2 SRBs or Centaur 5, which likely add some cost.

Any way you cut it, Vulcan either gives up a lot of performance to get competitive cost, or adds a lot of expensive parts to get competitive performance.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 02:12 PM by envy887 »

Offline edkyle99

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And yet when NASA was offered the opportunity to support the "Liberty Launcher" they rejected it. The short sighted fools! Then again the company doing the proposing didn't seem to do much with it afterward either.  Not quite so convinced as they seemed perhaps.
Liberty has nothing whatsoever to do with this discussion.
Quote
Quote from: edkyle99
Shutting down a rocket stage after lift off is a very bad idea, regardless of propellant type. 
Really? I can think of about six Shuttle astronauts who would be alive today if a stage could be shut down and jettisoned when it went bad.  :(
NGL is not going to launch astronauts.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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You're telling me that the Vulcan SMART system will be less complex than what SpaceX does?  :o
As I said earlier, I haven't mentioned SMART.  I'm not assuming for this discussion that it will be developed.
Quote
But ULA will have to compete with more than Falcon Heavy to win commercial customers. They will also be competing against Falcon 9, Ariane 5/6, Proton and others. ULA needs to find their competitive differentiator that will allow them to hold onto and grow their marketshare - and so far it's not clear what that will be.
I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline envy887

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I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle

How do you interpret Bruno's statements that they need commercial customers to survive with Vulcan?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lockheed-martin-boeing-ula/lockheed-boeing-rocket-venture-needs-commercial-orders-to-survive-idUSKBN0O62M720150521

Offline Sknowball

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

He said $99M for Vulcan, about a year and a half ago:

Quote
ULA is working on a next-generation rocket called Vulcan that will be less expensive to manufacture and fly than its current Atlas booster.

Quote from: Tory Bruno
Our prices are coming down every day, we now talk about a $99 million launch service.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-ula-layoffs/united-launch-alliance-to-lay-off-up-to-875-by-end-of-2017-ceo-idUSKCN0XB2HQ

I have never been certain if he was referring to Vulcan costs or Atlas V costs when he made this statement as at the time Atlas V costs were on a downward trend having hit 109M.

Offline Coastal Ron

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But ULA will have to compete with more than Falcon Heavy to win commercial customers. They will also be competing against Falcon 9, Ariane 5/6, Proton and others. ULA needs to find their competitive differentiator that will allow them to hold onto and grow their marketshare - and so far it's not clear what that will be.
I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

You seem to want to only predict the future by relying on what has happened in the past. That strategy guarantees that you will miss out on changes in the marketplace - such as what's happening today. From a 2016 article on Tory Bruno and ULA:

Quote
Today, ULA gets about 60% of its revenues from national-security launches, with the remainder split almost evenly between civil and commercial work. Looking out to 2020, though, Bruno sees national-security missions falling to 42% of revenues, with NASA and commercial launches providing the rest.

And...

Quote
In other words, ULA has to do more business with NASA and commercial customers otherwise the Air Force competitive model will break down.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online john smith 19

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Quote
But ULA will have to compete with more than Falcon Heavy to win commercial customers. They will also be competing against Falcon 9, Ariane 5/6, Proton and others. ULA needs to find their competitive differentiator that will allow them to hold onto and grow their marketshare - and so far it's not clear what that will be.
I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle
True. ULA has pretty much operated as an arms length part of the US government.

However both its predecessor companies pitched commercial launches as a key part of their business plan to get govt funding for their EELV programme entries, allowing "cost sharing" to benefit the govt.

You're saying ULA is planning no attempts to compete for commercial launch business?

Because depending on how you frame that it's either a begging letter or a Blackmail letter to the USG.


Either tactic can work to a point with the USG, given enough lobbying, wheather or not US taxpayers like it.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online john smith 19

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NGL is not going to launch astronauts.
I very strongly doubt it will launch anything ever.

How long did ATK take to get to the Aries 1-x flight from CxP programme start?

Then they promoted Liberty, and said they'd pursue it with company funds even if not selected for COTS. They weren't selected and they didn't pursue it.

So they have a track record of taking
a) A  very long time to deliver incomplete hardware (4 working segments of a 5 segment booster and a completely dummy US and mass simulator after how much money was spent on what was pitched as
basically the upgraded Shuttle SRB's?)
b) Not committing any company funds on a project.

OrbitalATK may theoretically be a competitor to ULA for big rockets, but I doubt ULA takes them very seriously.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online john smith 19

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

He said $99M for Vulcan, about a year and a half ago:

Quote
ULA is working on a next-generation rocket called Vulcan that will be less expensive to manufacture and fly than its current Atlas booster.

Quote from: Tory Bruno
Our prices are coming down every day, we now talk about a $99 million launch service.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-ula-layoffs/united-launch-alliance-to-lay-off-up-to-875-by-end-of-2017-ceo-idUSKCN0XB2HQ

I have never been certain if he was referring to Vulcan costs or Atlas V costs when he made this statement as at the time Atlas V costs were on a downward trend having hit 109M.
Welcome to the site.

It's a good question.  ULA has a good history of producing reliable LV's and it could be argued that Vulcan is no bigger a shift than Delta IV or Atlas V were from their predecessor designs but the fact remains it will be a substantial shift and ULA needs to be competitive to get itself in front of commercial customers as a first move.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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SMART saves 90% of the booster propulsion cost according to ULA. The last contract for RD-180 was $24M per engine, so they can save $22M off a base Atlas V a $109M. This is about 20% off, while SMART reduces payload by around half that.

BE-4 is estimated at $16M, so taking the 90%, $99M, and $16M at face value a SMART launch base Vulcan would be $85M for ~4.5 tonnes to GTO. That is competitive with Ariane 5. To compete with Ariane 6 and Proton (6 or 7 t to GTO) it will need either 2 SRBs or Centaur 5, which likely add some cost.

I am not familiar with the source for that $16M figure is that per BE-4 or is that for the 2xBE-4 engines that will be used by Vulcan?

Online john smith 19

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A note on FH pricing.

Musk stated that FH pricing could be below $1000/lb if SX launches 4 fully loaded FH's a year.

Note those 2 constraints closely.

Arianespace had trouble getting rideshares with 2 satellites and with SX charging another $30m for GTO comm sats that exceed it's standard F9-to-GTO mass limit people will work very hard to either stay below that limit of max out to the full up to the full GTO capacity of FH if they can't.

Keep in mind also with Musks stated goal of phasing out all F9 booster production to move to BFS SX will likely become very unwilling to fly a mission that expends any further F9 booster stages.

I'll leave other posters to decide how that affects their views on Vulcan, Ariane 6 and all those "smallsat" launcher who are expecting payloads to get smaller as payloads "dis-aggregate" despite the fact  Starlink payloads are likely to be in the 400Kg+ range.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 03:47 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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline TrevorMonty



Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

He said $99M for Vulcan, about a year and a half ago:

Quote
ULA is working on a next-generation rocket called Vulcan that will be less expensive to manufacture and fly than its current Atlas booster.

Quote from: Tory Bruno
Our prices are coming down every day, we now talk about a $99 million launch service.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-ula-layoffs/united-launch-alliance-to-lay-off-up-to-875-by-end-of-2017-ceo-idUSKCN0XB2HQ

The $99m is target price for Atlas 401, still no price for Vulcan. Given they haven't finalised the engine choice or design its no surprise there isn't an published price.
With BE4 engines and existing Centuar price should be closer to $90M as BE4 are 30% cheaper (ULA quote) than RD180. Vulcan should be cheaper than Atlas to build and operate as it clean sheet design. Losing He for tank pressurisation alone should be big saving. They are now planning to use a new larger Centuar (50t?) with more engines, which may or may not be much dearer than existing Centuar. If it uses IVF and lower cost RL10 may well be same price as current Centuar.

Performance for this new Centuar version without SRBs is likely to be close to 8t GTO.




Online john smith 19

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Performance for this new Centuar version without SRBs is likely to be close to 8t GTO.
Which sounds pretty good, especially the bit about not needing SRB's.

"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online AncientU

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You're telling me that the Vulcan SMART system will be less complex than what SpaceX does?  :o
As I said earlier, I haven't mentioned SMART.  I'm not assuming for this discussion that it will be developed.
Quote
But ULA will have to compete with more than Falcon Heavy to win commercial customers. They will also be competing against Falcon 9, Ariane 5/6, Proton and others. ULA needs to find their competitive differentiator that will allow them to hold onto and grow their marketshare - and so far it's not clear what that will be.
I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle

Exactly. 
That's the point that has been made over and over -- Vulcan is not going to be a competitor (nor competitive) in the commercial market.  But -- 1. They say they need commercial launches to close business case, and 2. USAF expects to share cost with commercial launches for its selectees, probably stems from being burned so badly by the unsustainable launch costs by non-market-competitive ULA.

I completely agree that this is not how ULA has operated in the past and they most likely will not change.  They are planning to say 'take it or leave it' to the USAF when Phase 2 bids are submitted.  Expect severe lobbying to change the rules for that competition.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline edkyle99

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I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle

How do you interpret Bruno's statements that they need commercial customers to survive with Vulcan?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lockheed-martin-boeing-ula/lockheed-boeing-rocket-venture-needs-commercial-orders-to-survive-idUSKBN0O62M720150521
Note that the story says "commercial and civil space launch orders".  Civil space is also government work, which I don't consider to be "commercial". 

ULA has launched a bare handful of "commercial" satellites, but I'm not sure it has any such contracts on its current backlow.  It anticipates more work for NASA, most certainly, now that it has the "commercial" crew contract.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 05:00 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline gongora

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Comparisons between Vulcan and its competitors are on-topic for this thread, but when a series of posts is only about NGL or FH those should be made in the appropriate threads.

Offline envy887

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I don't see Vulcan being developed to compete for commercial launches.  That is not how ULA has operated.

 - Ed Kyle

How do you interpret Bruno's statements that they need commercial customers to survive with Vulcan?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lockheed-martin-boeing-ula/lockheed-boeing-rocket-venture-needs-commercial-orders-to-survive-idUSKBN0O62M720150521
Note that the story says "commercial and civil space launch orders".  Civil space is also government work, which I don't consider to be "commercial". 

ULA has launched a bare handful of "commercial" satellites, but I'm not sure it has any such contracts on its current backlow.  It anticipates more work for NASA, most certainly, now that it has the "commercial" crew contract.

 - Ed Kyle

Civil launches still have to compete on price, although NASA's redundancy requirements will get them at least a couple launches per year until either Orbital or Blue enters the crew picture. That could take a while.

Offline envy887

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Where have ULA stated Vulcan price of $99M. Only price I've heard is less than $100M. They are not same thing.

He said $99M for Vulcan, about a year and a half ago:

Quote
ULA is working on a next-generation rocket called Vulcan that will be less expensive to manufacture and fly than its current Atlas booster.

Quote from: Tory Bruno
Our prices are coming down every day, we now talk about a $99 million launch service.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-ula-layoffs/united-launch-alliance-to-lay-off-up-to-875-by-end-of-2017-ceo-idUSKCN0XB2HQ

The $99m is target price for Atlas 401, still no price for Vulcan. Given they haven't finalised the engine choice or design its no surprise there isn't an published price.
With BE4 engines and existing Centuar price should be closer to $90M as BE4 are 30% cheaper (ULA quote) than RD180. Vulcan should be cheaper than Atlas to build and operate as it clean sheet design. Losing He for tank pressurisation alone should be big saving. They are now planning to use a new larger Centuar (50t?) with more engines, which may or may not be much dearer than existing Centuar. If it uses IVF and lower cost RL10 may well be same price as current Centuar.

Performance for this new Centuar version without SRBs is likely to be close to 8t GTO.

Even Vulcan-ACES needs at least a single SRB to get 8 t to GTO. See the ULA graphic above. The first SRB adds a lot of capability, after that there's diminishing returns.

Offline Sknowball

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Even Vulcan-ACES needs at least a single SRB to get 8 t to GTO. See the ULA graphic above. The first SRB adds a lot of capability, after that there's diminishing returns.

Are you reading that chart as the base Vulcan/ACES starting at 10k lb or at 18k lb GTO?  That particular chart is a little confusing as the steps are in the background with the rocket in the foreground.   Looking at the equivalent chart from their AIAA presentation in 2016 http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Evolution/Vulcan_ACES_and_Beyond_2016_AAS_16-052_DEROY_REED.pdf(steps in foreground, rocket in background) it looks like the base Vulcan/ACES starts at 18k lb to GTO (otherwise there would be 7 SRB steps rather than 6 SRB steps).
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 05:59 PM by Sknowball »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Note that the story says "commercial and civil space launch orders".  Civil space is also government work, which I don't consider to be "commercial".

Which is why the author said "commercial and civil space launch orders". I think you are working too hard to confuse them.

Quote
ULA has launched a bare handful of "commercial" satellites, but I'm not sure it has any such contracts on its current backlow.

That's right, because there was plenty of government work to rely upon, and no competitors.

However the amount of non-NASA government payloads is forecasted to decrease, and since those provided the most amount of revenue for ULA in the past it needs to find other sources of revenue in the future.

Quote
It anticipates more work for NASA, most certainly, now that it has the "commercial" crew contract.

No, not NASA, Boeing. Boeing's customer is NASA, ULA's customer is Boeing. And Commercial Crew contracts would be considered "commercial" since they are not U.S. Government.

Remember also that Boeing has said they could use Falcon 9, so ULA does have to competition that it has to worry about. Of course Boeing, which is a 50/50 partner in ULA, is unlikely to switch to SpaceX, but I think there are scenarios where it would be considered.

Regardless, Tory Bruno has stated that Vulcan will need commercial customers to be successful, and there is plenty of evidence to support his statements.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline envy887

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Even Vulcan-ACES needs at least a single SRB to get 8 t to GTO. See the ULA graphic above. The first SRB adds a lot of capability, after that there's diminishing returns.

Are you reading that chart as the base Vulcan/ACES starting at 10k lb or at 18k lb GTO?  That particular chart is a little confusing as the steps are in the background with the rocket in the foreground.   Looking at the equivalent chart from their AIAA presentation in 2016 http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Evolution/Vulcan_ACES_and_Beyond_2016_AAS_16-052_DEROY_REED.pdf(steps in foreground, rocket in background) it looks like the base Vulcan/ACES starts at 18k lb to GTO (otherwise there would be 7 SRB steps rather than 6 SRB steps).

I think you're right. Although, that ACES has 68 t of hydrolox and 4x RL-10. If Centaur 5 has ~50 t and 2x RL-10 it will get more like 6.5 t to GTO without SRBs and about 13 t to GTO with 6x GEM-63XL, which would be enough to hit all the EELV reference payloads and orbits by my calcs.

6.5 t to GTO covers something like 80% of both NSS and commercial launches, potentially in the same ~$80M to $90M range as Ariane 62 and Proton. But they would still need either ACES or two SRBs to get all EELV orbits and to match Ariane 64 and FH, which I think bumps them well over $100M.

Offline edkyle99

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No, not NASA, Boeing. Boeing's customer is NASA, ULA's customer is Boeing. And Commercial Crew contracts would be considered "commercial" since they are not U.S. Government.
Where the money comes from is what matters.  The money is coming from the U.S. Government.
Quote
Regardless, Tory Bruno has stated that Vulcan will need commercial customers to be successful, and there is plenty of evidence to support his statements.
That's his plan, and I expect ULA to gain a few truly commercial satellite launches, but Vulcan is essentially being custom-designed to meet the needs of one government customer.  It will be less competitive for commercial launches than other launch systems that are not designed primarily to meet DoD/EELV requirements.  I know there are quotes from ULA's CEO about plans to compete for commercial satellite launches, but I could probably dig up similar quotes from 10 or 20 years ago from other CEOs who said the same, but did not produce serious action to follow the words.

Remember, when it comes to commercial GTO launches, ULA would be competing against not just U.S. launch companies, but against the entire planet, including providers in India, Europe, Russia, Japan, and probably China.  "Winning" such contracts may not be profitable in the long run.   

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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I think you're right. Although, that ACES has 68 t of hydrolox and 4x RL-10. If Centaur 5 has ~50 t and 2x RL-10 it will get more like 6.5 t to GTO without SRBs and about 13 t to GTO with 6x GEM-63XL, which would be enough to hit all the EELV reference payloads and orbits by my calcs.
To meet the EELV requirements list, Vulcan needs to lift 8.165 t to a GTO that is about 1,800 m/s short of GEO or 6.577 tonnes to GEO.  Those are the goals that I suspect Vulcan Centaur 5 is being designed to meet.

 - Ed Kyle


Offline envy887

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No, not NASA, Boeing. Boeing's customer is NASA, ULA's customer is Boeing. And Commercial Crew contracts would be considered "commercial" since they are not U.S. Government.
Where the money comes from is what matters.  The money is coming from the U.S. Government.
Quote
Regardless, Tory Bruno has stated that Vulcan will need commercial customers to be successful, and there is plenty of evidence to support his statements.
That's his plan, and I expect ULA to gain a few truly commercial satellite launches, but Vulcan is essentially being custom-designed to meet the needs of one government customer.  It will be less competitive for commercial launches than other launch systems that are not designed primarily to meet DoD/EELV requirements.  I know there are quotes from ULA's CEO about plans to compete for commercial satellite launches, but I could probably dig up similar quotes from 10 or 20 years ago from other CEOs who said the same, but did not produce serious action to follow the words.

Remember, when it comes to commercial GTO launches, ULA would be competing against not just U.S. launch companies, but against the entire planet, including providers in India, Europe, Russia, Japan, and probably China.  "Winning" such contracts may not be profitable in the long run.   

 - Ed Kyle

Winning those contracts would put them in a much better spot if and when Orbital and/or Blue get certified for NSS launches. The DoD isn't going to keep 3 or 4 companies afloat when they only need 2.

Offline envy887

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I think you're right. Although, that ACES has 68 t of hydrolox and 4x RL-10. If Centaur 5 has ~50 t and 2x RL-10 it will get more like 6.5 t to GTO without SRBs and about 13 t to GTO with 6x GEM-63XL, which would be enough to hit all the EELV reference payloads and orbits by my calcs.
To meet the EELV requirements list, Vulcan needs to lift 8.165 t to a GTO that is about 1,800 m/s short of GEO or 6.577 tonnes to GEO.  Those are the goals that I suspect Vulcan Centaur 5 is being designed to meet.

 - Ed Kyle

6+ t to GEO is by far the harder of those two requirements, and the Vulcan core with a 50 t dual RL-10 upper stage and six GEM-63XL can most likely do it with plenty of margin. They will need the SRBs, but that's no issue for NSS launches.

They can bring ACES in later and drop most (for GEO) or all (for GTO) of the SRBs for the same performance.

Offline russianhalo117

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I think you're right. Although, that ACES has 68 t of hydrolox and 4x RL-10. If Centaur 5 has ~50 t and 2x RL-10 it will get more like 6.5 t to GTO without SRBs and about 13 t to GTO with 6x GEM-63XL, which would be enough to hit all the EELV reference payloads and orbits by my calcs.
To meet the EELV requirements list, Vulcan needs to lift 8.165 t to a GTO that is about 1,800 m/s short of GEO or 6.577 tonnes to GEO.  Those are the goals that I suspect Vulcan Centaur 5 is being designed to meet.

 - Ed Kyle

6+ t to GEO is by far the harder of those two requirements, and the Vulcan core with a 50 t dual RL-10 upper stage and six GEM-63XL can most likely do it with plenty of margin. They will need the SRBs, but that's no issue for NSS launches.

They can bring ACES in later and drop most (for GEO) or all (for GTO) of the SRBs for the same performance.
Keep in mind that ULA considers the RL-10C series LRE's as the Vulcan Baseline for Centaur-5 and ACES. Keep in mind that they have not announced what will power these stages so really math needs to be done for not just RL-10 but also the LRE options.

Offline envy887

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I think you're right. Although, that ACES has 68 t of hydrolox and 4x RL-10. If Centaur 5 has ~50 t and 2x RL-10 it will get more like 6.5 t to GTO without SRBs and about 13 t to GTO with 6x GEM-63XL, which would be enough to hit all the EELV reference payloads and orbits by my calcs.
To meet the EELV requirements list, Vulcan needs to lift 8.165 t to a GTO that is about 1,800 m/s short of GEO or 6.577 tonnes to GEO.  Those are the goals that I suspect Vulcan Centaur 5 is being designed to meet.

 - Ed Kyle

6+ t to GEO is by far the harder of those two requirements, and the Vulcan core with a 50 t dual RL-10 upper stage and six GEM-63XL can most likely do it with plenty of margin. They will need the SRBs, but that's no issue for NSS launches.

They can bring ACES in later and drop most (for GEO) or all (for GTO) of the SRBs for the same performance.
Keep in mind that ULA considers the RL-10C series LRE's as the Vulcan Baseline for Centaur-5 and ACES. Keep in mind that they have not announced what will power these stages so really math needs to be done for not just RL-10 but also the LRE options.

What are the other options? Vinci and BE-3U?

Offline Sknowball

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What are the other options? Vinci and BE-3U?

I believe the BE-3U is the only other engine in the running based on statements by Tory Bruno given that XCOR has folded now.   The only proposal I have heard regarding Vinci on an American rocket is for ATK's NGL (if they are looking at allies outside the US anyway not sure why the LE-5B-2 didn't make the cut).

Offline russianhalo117

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What are the other options? Vinci and BE-3U?

I believe the BE-3U is the only other engine in the running based on statements by Tory Bruno given that XCOR has folded now.   The only proposal I have heard regarding Vinci on an American rocket is for ATK's NGL (if they are looking at allies outside the US anyway not sure why the LE-5B-2 didn't make the cut).
BE-3E (formerly BE-3U-EN) is the alternate BE-3 option being considered. LE-5B-2 is being replaced by LE-5B-3 for H-3 and LE-5B-2 will cease production in 2019 to prepare and modernize the production floor for LE-5B-3. If an export version for LE-5B-3 is made then that could be considered but the US is currently going through a Nationalist Made in America wave as of late.

Offline joek

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That's the exact opposite of my recollection. The USAF study from the mid 2000s (from Barry Hellman IIRC) was showing that boostback actually made a lot of sense. I'm pretty sure I reviewed it on Selenian Boondocks under my Orbital Access Methodologies thread.

http://selenianboondocks.com/2008/06/orbital-access-methodologies-part-v-boostback-tsto/

Thanks for jogging my memory Jon.  Below is a short list of related papers (attached for posterity); many others as can be seen in the papers' references.

AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

The last [3] presents the state of thinking as of 2010, at least as viewed through a more official or USAF lens (somewhere there is a more extensive companion document which I cannot locate at the moment).  Among the findings:
Quote
Given the uncertainties in the business case and the yet-to-be mitigated technology risks, it is premature for Air Force Space Command to program significant investments associated with the development of a RBS capability.
While the USAF funded some work on RBS, the program was cancelled in 2012.

Message to industry: USAF is not going to pay for or invest in it any time soon.  Not surprising given the state of the EELV program at that time with costs going through the roof.


[1] Comparison of Return to Launch Site Options for a Reusable Booster Stage, Barry Hellman, 2005

[2] Return to Launch Site Trajectory Options for a Reusable Booster without a Secondary Propulsion System, Dr. John Bradford and Barry Hellman, 2009

[3] Review and Assessment of Reusable Booster System for USAF Space Command, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, National Academy of Sciences, 2010
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 10:48 PM by joek »

Offline woods170

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No, not NASA, Boeing. Boeing's customer is NASA, ULA's customer is Boeing. And Commercial Crew contracts would be considered "commercial" since they are not U.S. Government.
Where the money comes from is what matters.  The money is coming from the U.S. Government.

I disagree.
For example: from the point of view of SpaceX the launch of Zuma is a commercial launch, albeit an unusual one. Their customer is not the government agency that operates Zuma, but Northrop Grumman.

Commercial Crew is exactly the same. To ULA a launch of Starliner is purely a commercial launch. Their customer is Boeing, not NASA.

Same goes for launching Cygnus on Atlas V. To ULA those are pure commercial launches given that their customer is OrbitalATK, not NASA.

Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 08:45 AM by woods170 »

Online john smith 19

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Same goes for launching Cygnus on Atlas V. To ULA those are pure commercial launches given that their customer is OrbitalATK, not NASA.

Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
Indeed.

It's the legal form of the contract that sets the levels of paperwork, on site inspection etc that turn "commercial" business into the tidal wave of paper that is a "government" contract.  :(

That said some parts of the USG may agree that (as the ultimate funder) it does not matter, and they'd like to see ULA go out and bid more commercial work.

It's a bit OT but IIRC part of the rise in RL10 prices was (supposedly) triggered by the Shuttle programme shutting down and no longer sharing some of the costs of part of the RL10 support infrastructure despite (AFAIK) no RL10 ever have been used on Shuttle, apart from the studies for using RL10 machinery for the OMS task and the Shuttle compatible Centaur version, which never flew. 
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online john smith 19

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

The last [3] presents the state of thinking as of 2010, at least as viewed through a more official or USAF lens (somewhere there is a more extensive companion document which I cannot locate at the moment).  Among the findings:
Thanks for that.

Note that the Devils all in the details, specifically the implicit assumptions about what they are talking about.

Assumption. 1) Booster must return to launch site in order to give fast turnaround.
In fact if you have enough of them in the pipeline for a projected launch rate that's not needed.

Assumption 2) Booster will be so expensive you can't afford to have that sort of pipeline.
And given the prices the USAF is used to paying they might be right.

Assumption 3) Only an ORSC engine can  has enough performance to do this.
Since "this" is rocketback RTLS from Mach 5 (AFAIK the highest staging for F9 has been about M4.8) they may be right.

No one seems to have considered "How about we put a landing barge 200Km down range and land the booster on that?"

This is basically what happens when set so many pre conditions and constraints that you force a "shape" to the solution when the core requirement is "Build a system that allows us to launch 1 payload a day for X days."  :(

Still, nice to see an SEI report where the answer ends up being "Needs a SCramjet to make it work." :)
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline woods170

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

The last [3] presents the state of thinking as of 2010, at least as viewed through a more official or USAF lens (somewhere there is a more extensive companion document which I cannot locate at the moment).  Among the findings:
Thanks for that.

Note that the Devils all in the details, specifically the implicit assumptions about what they are talking about.

Assumption. 1) Booster must return to launch site in order to give fast turnaround.
In fact if you have enough of them in the pipeline for a projected launch rate that's not needed.

Assumption 2) Booster will be so expensive you can't afford to have that sort of pipeline.
And given the prices the USAF is used to paying they might be right.

Assumption 3) Only an ORSC engine can  has enough performance to do this.
Since "this" is rocketback RTLS from Mach 5 (AFAIK the highest staging for F9 has been about M4. 8) they may be right.

No one seems to have considered "How about we put a landing barge 200Km down range and land the booster on that?"

This is basically what happens when set so many pre conditions and constraints that you force a "shape" to the solution when the core requirement is "Build a system that allows us to launch 1 payload a day for X days."  :(

Still, nice to see an SEI report where the answer ends up being "Needs a SCramjet to make it work." :)

Emphasis mine.

In 1998 a Japanese inventor (Yoshiyuki Ishijima) had his idea (landing a rocket on an ocean-going platform) published by the AIAA. Blue Origin later took that idea and patented it, only to have that patent over-thrown a year later.

Why is it that the referenced reports from 2005 - 2010 completely overlooked an idea that had been published nearly a decade earlier?

The answer is: lack of imagination.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 09:04 AM by woods170 »

Offline edkyle99

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Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
We really are going to disagree on this one.  Zuma is clearly a government funded enterprise, no matter that the money passes hands through a contractor or contractors.  Same with commercial crew and commercial cargo and all of the ULA launch contracts for DoD and NASA.  I suspect that by your definition all U.S. launches qualify as "commercial" at this time.  But if the government didn't fund these endeavors, they would not happen.   

Echostar 19?  Commercial.  CRS-13?  Civil Government.  Zuma?  Government (Unknown Agency).  NROL 52?  Government (NRO).  Etc.

Vulcan is going to live on government money, as do most launch vehicles (including, you know...).

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 02:08 PM by edkyle99 »

Online john smith 19

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In 1998 a Japanese inventor (Yoshiyuki Ishijima) had his idea (landing a rocket on an ocean-going platform) published by the AIAA. Blue Origin later took that idea and patented it, only to have that patent over-thrown a year later.

Why is it that the referenced reports from 2005 - 2010 completely overlooked an idea that had been published nearly a decade earlier?

The answer is: lack of imagination.
Amongst other things.  A major one being the basic "Did he get it adopted by a major US aerospace corporation? Because if we did not invent it and it has not been adopted for use by a US corp it (clearly) cannot be very good."

Drill down deep enough and a guarantee that will be a line of thinking running through some peoples heads.  :(

"Not Invented Here" is alive and well in US aerospace thinking.

It's equally spurious and pernicious sibling "We invented it so it must be brilliant," has resulted in the continuing support for SCramjet projects, despite 7 decades, more than $4Bn spent without the fielding of a  a single operational system.  Not even a missile, pretty much the minimal flight vehicle you can build that would be useful

Interestingly the US has been fielding M4 target drones (some still in service, some with mfg runs in the 1000s) since the early 1960's, without any major R&D programme and without any major issues.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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This comes up a lot on this board. People view "revenue recognition" as same/different direct/indirect.

Extremely poor use of words/definition. Only used to attempt to "fake" up an argument as an attempt to muddy the waters.

Most economic activity goes through governments in some form. Thus given the above rubric, nothing is purely "commercial".

(Even comsats carry considerable govt traffic, receive more than 25% funds off them.)

So when govt "privatizes" NSS, that to Ed is still "govt". That's utter BS.

(I'd suggest that mods keep to the simple definition of "who's directly paying for it, footing the bill" to the provider. And resolve these things that way, not letting this "false" rhetorical trick enter this site ever. It would reduce the workload.)

add:
And then complaints about "govt" doing too much through private become policy discussions, relegated to that particular part of the board ONLY.

See, isn't that easy to do?

Reminds of:
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 04:51 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline woods170

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Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
We really are going to disagree on this one.  Zuma is clearly a government funded enterprise, no matter that the money passes hands through a contractor or contractors.  Same with commercial crew and commercial cargo and all of the ULA launch contracts for DoD and NASA.  I suspect that by your definition all U.S. launches qualify as "commercial" at this time.  But if the government didn't fund these endeavors, they would not happen.   
Nope. Most, if not all, of the regular USAF launches are contracted to ULA directly by USAF. Not via a launch services broker.
Same goes for most NASA missions (other than CCP and CRS). NASA directly contracts ULA to launch their birds.
From the perspective of ULA none of those missions are commercial but pure government contracts.

Zuma: some unnamed government agency lays down a set of requirments for Zuma, including that the contractor finds a way to get it into orbit.
That is different from USAF (also a branch of the government) contracting LockMart to build a GPS III satellite and contracting SpaceX to launch it. Mind you, USAF contracted SpaceX for the launch directly. Not via the spacecraft contractor or a broker.

There is the difference. In the case of Zuma the government agency has no say (no input if you will) on what LSP will launch its spacecraft. The government outsourced it so that it can be handled as a purely commercial thing.
In the case of GPS III however the government agency itself decides what LSP will launch its spacecraft. No outsourcing but direct old-school government contracting.

Offline LouScheffer

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Boeing's customer is NASA, ULA's customer is Boeing. And Commercial Crew contracts would be considered "commercial" since they are not U.S. Government.
Where the money comes from is what matters.  The money is coming from the U.S. Government.
I disagree.
For example: from the point of view of SpaceX the launch of Zuma is a commercial launch, albeit an unusual one. Their customer is not the government agency that operates Zuma, but Northrop Grumman.  [Likewise Commercial Crew and Cygnus]

Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
Historians looking back at Government Support of the Semiconductor Industry: Diverse Approaches and Information Flows agree more with Ed here
Quote
The consensus among industry analysts seems to be that the government, through its direct and indirect procurement policies, provided an early and price-insensitive market that promoted movement along the learning curve and allowed the industry to decrease prices as it learned how to make its product.
This seems exactly what the process for Vulcan is hoped to be.  The government, directly and indirectly, provides for a large fraction of initial business.  Then after development, and the initial learning curve, the product can compete in the purely commercial market.  This is not unique to Vulcan -  SpaceX benefited in exactly the same way, by serving the government market to gain an initial foothold.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Where the money ultimately comes from is of no importance. The contracting entity is however.
Historians looking back at Government Support of the Semiconductor Industry: Diverse Approaches and Information Flows agree more with Ed here
Quote
The consensus among industry analysts seems to be that the government, through its direct and indirect procurement policies, provided an early and price-insensitive market that promoted movement along the learning curve and allowed the industry to decrease prices as it learned how to make its product.
This seems exactly what the process for Vulcan is hoped to be.  The government, directly and indirectly, provides for a large fraction of initial business.  Then after development, and the initial learning curve, the product can compete in the purely commercial market.  This is not unique to Vulcan -  SpaceX benefited in exactly the same way, by serving the government market to gain an initial foothold.
This is space policy and belongs in that thread.

Has nothing to do with the business discussion AT ALL.

Put it there and nowhere else. Then we'll finally see some bounds to this nonsense that CONSTANTLY DERAILS HUNDREDS OF THREADS.

It's a kind of "bleed over", because people really want to commingle policy and ... everything else. An "easy out".

add:

All that matters outside of policy is as woods170 says, the contract.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 07:11 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Historians looking back at Government Support of the Semiconductor Industry: Diverse Approaches and Information Flows agree more with Ed here
Quote
The consensus among industry analysts seems to be that the government, through its direct and indirect procurement policies, provided an early and price-insensitive market that promoted movement along the learning curve and allowed the industry to decrease prices as it learned how to make its product.
This seems exactly what the process for Vulcan is hoped to be.  The government, directly and indirectly, provides for a large fraction of initial business.  Then after development, and the initial learning curve, the product can compete in the purely commercial market.  This is not unique to Vulcan -  SpaceX benefited in exactly the same way, by serving the government market to gain an initial foothold.

You seem to have avoided bolding the portion that invalidates your argument. ULA did indeed recently have a "price-insensitive market" of US gov't launch and they did not utilize it to "decrease their prices" and "compete in the purely commercial market". Also, SpaceX was not granted a "price-insensitive market" or any market, they went out and competed and won their market. These are very different situations. Similarly, however, there is no reason to think that Vulcan will have this "price-insensitive market" either. Tory Bruno's comments quoted, in other posts, above about needing to be commercially competitive for Vulcan to be viable show that he understands this, so I doubt this is their business plan for Vulcan as you state.

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's. Can they realistically build the rest of the rocket for another $45 million? The cost for propulsion alone makes it hard to compete with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as there is a high likelihood that Falcon Heavy spends less on its 28 engines than Vulcan will spend on its 4 engines. Reuse makes things worse for Vulcan.

I think that alone makes the business case for Vulcan very difficult unless they can substantially reduce the cost of the second stage propulsion and they really don't have much in the way of options. Things get much worse if they had to use AR-1.

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Why is it that the referenced reports from 2005 - 2010 completely overlooked an idea that had been published nearly a decade earlier?

Note the title of the first two papers both include the words "Return to Launch Site".  The papers did note some prior work which did not involve RTLS in their review, some of which involved down-range recovery (although not specifically the one you mention).   But RTLS was the specific focus of these papers.

Nor is it an exhaustive list of papers.  It simply shows the trajectory of how something which might have been simple (or simpler) became complex and the received wisdom in the USG community circa 2010.

As John Simth 19 articulated... it went from: here's how you might do RTLS and why you might want to do it; to RTLS is a requirement; which then implies requirements X, Y and Z; etc., etc.

In short, I would not criticize the lack of scope or imagination in those early papers; they were intentionally focused on the analysis of one solution.  The lack of imagination and decrepitude was more broadly based and occurred later.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2018 03:30 AM by joek »

Offline joek

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All that matters outside of policy is as woods170 says, the contract.

Yes, but not to put too fine a point on it... what really matters is what the contract says; in particular, inherited or flow-down provisions (which are often difficult or impossible to determine from the outside).

The FAA has straightforward definitions of "addressable" and "commercial".  However, the FAA's definitions are US-centric (apply to US providers).

There is a more nuanced taxonomy and market segmentation that would be worth exploring (e.g. something similar to the FAA's but global).  However,  this thread is likely not the appropriate place to do so.

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

I really don't think that was true. I know Masten and several others (including my blog posts) talked about rocket-based boostback with VTVL landing. SpaceX didn't invent something nobody had thought of, or nobody had thought was possible. They just were the first to reduce it to practice for an orbital launcher. That's a huge enough achievement that we don't need to oversell it by acting like no smart aerospace engineers existed before Elon Musk stepped onto the stage.

And this is getting pretty far afield from ULA though--other than that I do agree with your preference for full-stage gas-and-go boostback VTVL recovery.

~Jon

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

I really don't think that was true. I know Masten and several others (including my blog posts) talked about rocket-based boostback with VTVL landing. SpaceX didn't invent something nobody had thought of, or nobody had thought was possible. They just were the first to reduce it to practice for an orbital launcher. That's a huge enough achievement that we don't need to oversell it by acting like no smart aerospace engineers existed before Elon Musk stepped onto the stage.

And this is getting pretty far afield from ULA though--other than that I do agree with your preference for full-stage gas-and-go boostback VTVL recovery.

~Jon
joek was talking specifically about boostback as discussed in the linked/attached papers and studies from his comment, not all notional designs for a boostback system within the entirety of aerospace.  I'm pretty sure I've seen it stated that it was videos of the successes of Masten (and/or maybe Armadillo) that convinced Elon/SpaceX that VTVL was possible.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

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As John Simth 19 articulated... it went from: here's how you might do RTLS and why you might want to do it; to RTLS is a requirement; which then implies requirements X, Y and Z; etc., etc.

In short, I would not criticize the lack of scope or imagination in those early papers; they were intentionally focused on the analysis of one solution.  The lack of imagination and decrepitude was more broadly based and occurred later.
It's all in the problem statement.
If it had been
"We want a system that's capable of supporting a launch every N days for up M launches to orbits X,Y and Z from launch site <co-ords here> up to a mass of A lbs. How can you do this?" That would have given quite a broad potential range of answers.

Whereas "We want RTLS" pretty much ends most of those discussions right there.  :(

WRT to this thread I'll note that insisting Shuttle could RTLS after a single orbit (not a single day, which would have needed a bit more ECLSS, a single orbit needing 2000mile+ cross range) was probably the biggest waste of design and wind tunnel time on the Shuttle programme.

Which should be a very big Red flag to any designer whenever someone says they want it.

BTW does anyone know how much SX spent on the 2 ASDS's to cover both coasts?

So (WRT to SMART on Vulcan) the question would be what the parameters that make SMART seem a good idea?

Because I'm guessing part of it is the deferred development costs and hiring a helicopter (even a big one) is cheaper than buying (and fitting out, and operating) a big barge.

IOW if people are saying "Why doesn't ULA go to stage recovery like SX?" the answer "Because they can't afford to unless they can avoid the cost of the barge(s)."

So (serious question) does anyone have a stage recovery plan without major capital investment up front that's got a TRL above zero? No barges. No custom planes.
Consider those F9 boosters that have landed on dry land, rather than the barges (at least one, but have there been more?). What orbits were their payloads going to? How far below maximum mass for those orbits were they? IOW what was the performance hit for this recovery mode.

If you do have a solution then SMART does not look very clever. If you don't then, like the Shuttle architecture, it's not the best option to do a (semi) reusuable LV (for the budget, which is a key constraint) it's the only architecture that can do it.

It's as good as they can get for the money they can afford.

If only an MBO were possible.......

Sadly that's about as plausible as someone inventing anti-gravity paint in the next 10 years.  :(
« Last Edit: 01/04/2018 07:06 AM 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.
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As John Simth 19 articulated... it went from: here's how you might do RTLS and why you might want to do it; to RTLS is a requirement; which then implies requirements X, Y and Z; etc., etc.

In short, I would not criticize the lack of scope or imagination in those early papers; they were intentionally focused on the analysis of one solution.  The lack of imagination and decrepitude was more broadly based and occurred later.
It's all in the problem statement.
If it had been
"We want a system that's capable of supporting a launch every N days for up M launches to orbits X,Y and Z from launch site <co-ords here> up to a mass of A lbs. How can you do this?" That would have given quite a broad potential range of answers.

Whereas "We want RTLS" pretty much ends most of those discussions right there.  :(

WRT to this thread I'll note that insisting Shuttle could RTLS after a single orbit (not a single day, which would have needed a bit more ECLSS, a single orbit needing 2000mile+ cross range) was probably the biggest waste of design and wind tunnel time on the Shuttle programme.

Which should be a very big Red flag to any designer whenever someone says they want it.

BTW does anyone know how much SX spent on the 2 ASDS's to cover both coasts?

So (WRT to SMART on Vulcan) the question would be what the parameters that make SMART seem a good idea?

Because I'm guessing part of it is the deferred development costs and hiring a helicopter (even a big one) is cheaper than buying (and fitting out, and operating) a big barge.

IOW if people are saying "Why doesn't ULA go to stage recovery like SX?" the answer "Because they can't afford to unless they can avoid the cost of the barge(s)."

So (serious question) does anyone have a stage recovery plan without major capital investment up front that's got a TRL above zero? No barges. No custom planes.
Consider those F9 boosters that have landed on dry land, rather than the barges (at least one, but have there been more?). What orbits were their payloads going to? How far below maximum mass for those orbits were they? IOW what was the performance hit for this recovery mode.

If you do have a solution then SMART does not look very clever. If you don't then, like the Shuttle architecture, it's not the best option to do a (semi) reusuable LV (for the budget, which is a key constraint) it's the only architecture that can do it.

It's as good as they can get for the money they can afford.

If only an MBO were possible.......

Sadly that's about as plausible as someone inventing anti-gravity paint in the next 10 years.  :(
Barges are at the bottom of the maritime cost scale.

I'd guess both barges, all inclusive, cost less than a single launch.
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Offline Semmel

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As John Simth 19 articulated... it went from: here's how you might do RTLS and why you might want to do it; to RTLS is a requirement; which then implies requirements X, Y and Z; etc., etc.

In short, I would not criticize the lack of scope or imagination in those early papers; they were intentionally focused on the analysis of one solution.  The lack of imagination and decrepitude was more broadly based and occurred later.
It's all in the problem statement.
If it had been
"We want a system that's capable of supporting a launch every N days for up M launches to orbits X,Y and Z from launch site <co-ords here> up to a mass of A lbs. How can you do this?" That would have given quite a broad potential range of answers.

Whereas "We want RTLS" pretty much ends most of those discussions right there.  :(

WRT to this thread I'll note that insisting Shuttle could RTLS after a single orbit (not a single day, which would have needed a bit more ECLSS, a single orbit needing 2000mile+ cross range) was probably the biggest waste of design and wind tunnel time on the Shuttle programme.

Which should be a very big Red flag to any designer whenever someone says they want it.

BTW does anyone know how much SX spent on the 2 ASDS's to cover both coasts?

So (WRT to SMART on Vulcan) the question would be what the parameters that make SMART seem a good idea?

Because I'm guessing part of it is the deferred development costs and hiring a helicopter (even a big one) is cheaper than buying (and fitting out, and operating) a big barge.

IOW if people are saying "Why doesn't ULA go to stage recovery like SX?" the answer "Because they can't afford to unless they can avoid the cost of the barge(s)."

So (serious question) does anyone have a stage recovery plan without major capital investment up front that's got a TRL above zero? No barges. No custom planes.
Consider those F9 boosters that have landed on dry land, rather than the barges (at least one, but have there been more?). What orbits were their payloads going to? How far below maximum mass for those orbits were they? IOW what was the performance hit for this recovery mode.

If you do have a solution then SMART does not look very clever. If you don't then, like the Shuttle architecture, it's not the best option to do a (semi) reusuable LV (for the budget, which is a key constraint) it's the only architecture that can do it.

It's as good as they can get for the money they can afford.

If only an MBO were possible.......

Sadly that's about as plausible as someone inventing anti-gravity paint in the next 10 years.  :(

My opinion: the reason ULA does not consider RTLS of the full first stage is that they designed their rocket with too little performance. The ULA model: have a small booster with possible solid extension to increase payload. SpaceX: Build a liquid fuel booster as large as economically feasible and dump over-performance into recovery. Thats a difference in philosophy. If ULA would go the SpaceX approach, they would build a New Glenn clone. Looking at F9, the argument which business case is more economical will close within 2018. ULAs design choice of Vulcan+Solids is a product of their design philosophy and politics, not the product of engineering/economical considerations. Vulcan cant do RTLS or even full first stage landing because of that initial decision. The blabla about SMART being better than full first stage landings is just smoke grenades to hide the initial philosophy driven decision.

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Another article on potentially changing NSS procurement:
Quote
Air Force acquisition nominee a champion of commercial technology
Quote
How Roper might steer the Air Force to use more commercial technology will be closely watched by the space industry, a sector where privately funded innovation is booming. The Air Force has been criticized for not taking advantage of the available technology — in launch, satellites, software and other areas — and integrating it more quickly into military space systems.

Roper also has been an advocate of greater use of commercial software by the Defense Department.

Roper often noted that the world is changing rapidly due to the global spread of commercial technologies, and that the Pentagon has been slow to adjust to that reality.
http://spacenews.com/air-force-acquisition-nominee-a-champion-of-commercial-technology/?utm_content=buffer06c3d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's.

That RL-10 price is pretty absurd. SpaceX can probably outfit an entire Falcon 9 with engines for less than the price of one RL-10.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2018 01:25 PM by ZachF »

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's.

That RL-10 price is pretty absurd. SpaceX can probably outfit an entire Falcon 9 with engines for less than the price of one RL-10.

Could need as many as 4 RL-10s if looking to match thrust-to-weight of Centaur III.  Centaur V cannot possibly be cheaper than Centaur III.
When Vulcan/Centaur V hits the market, reusable Falcon 9 launch price may (will) be below propulsion costs on this expendable rocket... for comparable performance (no solids).
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Removed as it contains errors
« Last Edit: 01/10/2018 05:10 PM by A_M_Swallow »

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From what I have read, a hydrolox and metholox engine can be changed from one to the other without a huge cost.  If Vulcan is going to use metholox on the first stage, they may want to have a BE-3 outfitted to run methane in an upper stage.  If it can go from 20% or 30% to 100% thrust, it can be adjusted for various weight payloads.  Also only one engine to buy. 

Online john smith 19

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Barges are at the bottom of the maritime cost scale.

I'd guess both barges, all inclusive, cost less than a single launch.
I'm really not sure if ULA actually have even that level of funding available.  :(

Yes, ULA is (by quite a few yardsticks) a very big business but the parents take a lot out of them. IIRC Jon Goff said their whole IVF effort is no more than a few $m. It's been running since at least 2012 and they were talking about doing some kind of flight test this year, maybe. Despite the potential to put 1/2 a tonne on the payload and a significant cut in direct touch labor for the stage, margins for stage disposal (increasing payload further) and raising on orbit stage life to enable potentially whole new missions.

It sounds cents wise and dollar foolish to me but that's the rules ULA has to operate under.  :(
My opinion: the reason ULA does not consider RTLS of the full first stage is that they designed their rocket with too little performance. The ULA model: have a small booster with possible solid extension to increase payload.
It's an interesting PoV. Most people don't think of the EELV's as "small."
Quote from: Semmel
SpaceX: Build a liquid fuel booster as large as economically feasible and dump over-performance into recovery. Thats a difference in philosophy. If ULA would go the SpaceX approach, they would build a New Glenn clone. Looking at F9, the argument which business case is more economical will close within 2018. ULAs design choice of Vulcan+Solids is a product of their design philosophy and politics, not the product of engineering/economical considerations.
I'd suggest it's a mix of both. Especially WRT to funding by the parents.
Quote from: Semmel
Vulcan cant do RTLS or even full first stage landing because of that initial decision. The blabla about SMART being better than full first stage landings is just smoke grenades to hide the initial philosophy driven decision.
Plausible. Very much in line with the "performance at any price" ethos.  :(
« Last Edit: 01/05/2018 10:30 AM 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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online john smith 19

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From what I have read, a hydrolox and metholox engine can be changed from one to the other without a huge cost.  If Vulcan is going to use metholox on the first stage, they may want to have a BE-3 outfitted to run methane in an upper stage.  If it can go from 20% or 30% to 100% thrust, it can be adjusted for various weight payloads.  Also only one engine to buy.
Well historically the engines on the Titan 1's ran LOX/RP1, then switched to NTO/Aerozine50 and at least one ran with LH2 using an experimental LH2 pump.

So, with reasonably cautious design, swapping from one Cryogen to another should not be that hard.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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Barges are at the bottom of the maritime cost scale.

I'd guess both barges, all inclusive, cost less than a single launch.
I'm really not sure if ULA actually have even that level of funding available.  :(

Yes, ULA is (by quite a few yardsticks) a very big business but the parents take a lot out of them. IIRC Jon Goff said their whole IVF effort is no more than a few $m. It's been running since at least 2012 and they were talking about doing some kind of flight test this year, maybe. Despite the potential to put 1/2 a tonne on the payload and a significant cut in direct touch labor for the stage, margins for stage disposal (increasing payload further) and raising on orbit stage life to enable potentially whole new missions.

it sounds cents wise and dollar foolish to me but that's the rules ULA has to operate under.
My opinion: the reason ULA does not consider RTLS of the full first stage is that they designed their rocket with too little performance. The ULA model: have a small booster with possible solid extension to increase payload.
It's an interesting PoV. Most people don't think of the EELV's as "small."
Quote from: Semmel
SpaceX: Build a liquid fuel booster as large as economically feasible and dump over-performance into recovery. Thats a difference in philosophy. If ULA would go the SpaceX approach, they would build a New Glenn clone. Looking at F9, the argument which business case is more economical will close within 2018. ULAs design choice of Vulcan+Solids is a product of their design philosophy and politics, not the product of engineering/economical considerations.
I'd suggest it's a mix of both. Especially WRT to funding by the parents.
Quote from: Semmel
Vulcan cant do RTLS or even full first stage landing because of that initial decision. The blabla about SMART being better than full first stage landings is just smoke grenades to hide the initial philosophy driven decision.
Plausible. Very much in line with the "performance at any price" ethos.  :(
Sure, but I'm drawing a line around both ULA and the parents.  The line between them is artificial.  Whether the launch business is just a division or an owned division, who cares.

The parents have the money, call the shots, and face the consequences...  So you can r/ULA/parents and everything remains the same.
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Offline Semmel

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Plausible. Very much in line with the "performance at any price" ethos.  :(
Sure, but I'm drawing a line around both ULA and the parents.  The line between them is artificial.  Whether the launch business is just a division or an owned division, who cares.

The parents have the money, call the shots, and face the consequences...  So you can r/ULA/parents and everything remains the same.

Of course, this is true for economical decisions. But ULA is still the expert in rocket technology, not the parents. If the business people call the shots and dont listen to the engineers, it doesnt matter where exactly they are located. Its just sad for Tori. He could make stuff work if the parents would let him.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2018 11:42 PM by Lar »

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each.

Could you please provide a source for that?  I've heard some pretty outlandish prices thrown around for the RL-10 engines without a lot of backup.  While I've mentioned the labor-intensive nature of them (I used to be a manufacturing engineer for them), I find that amount difficult to believe without some reliable documentation.

EDIT: Just to indicate why I think that might be a bit off, assume that the cost of the upper stage of an Atlas 5 401 is 40% of overall cost (and I would suspect it's even less), and according to the old ULA pie chart (see below), the engine is about 25% of the stage cost), and a 401 costs $109 million, according to rockebuilder.com.  109*.4*.25= 10.9 million, and I think even that is a bit high (cost vs. price to customer, high estimate of the cost of the second stage).

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ee/7f/e5/ee7fe55080a54acf208135c9cdfe31c3--systems-engineering-space-facts.jpg
« Last Edit: 01/04/2018 08:20 PM by skater »

Offline envy887

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each.

Could you please provide a source for that?  I've heard some pretty outlandish prices thrown around for the RL-10 engines without a lot of backup.  While I've mentioned the labor-intensive nature of them (I used to be a manufacturing engineer for them), I find that amount difficult to believe without some reliable documentation.

EDIT: Just to indicate why I think that might be a bit off, assume that the cost of the upper stage of an Atlas 5 401 is 40% of overall cost (and I would suspect it's even less), and according to the old ULA pie chart (see below), the engine is about 25% of the stage cost), and a 401 costs $109 million, according to rockebuilder.com.  109*.4*.25= 10.9 million, and I think even that is a bit high (cost vs. price to customer, high estimate of the cost of the second stage).

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ee/7f/e5/ee7fe55080a54acf208135c9cdfe31c3--systems-engineering-space-facts.jpg

That is what NASA is paying for SLS upper stage engines for EUS on EM-2. Not sure how much is documentation and qualification costs for human rating.

Quote from: Eric Berger
Ars understands that NASA paid an average of $17 million for each RL-10 engine for the maiden Exploration Upper Stage vehicle

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/12/nasa-is-trying-to-make-the-space-launch-system-rocket-more-affordable/

Offline russianhalo117

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's. Can they realistically build the rest of the rocket for another $45 million? The cost for propulsion alone makes it hard to compete with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as there is a high likelihood that Falcon Heavy spends less on its 28 engines than Vulcan will spend on its 4 engines. Reuse makes things worse for Vulcan.

I think that alone makes the business case for Vulcan very difficult unless they can substantially reduce the cost of the second stage propulsion and they really don't have much in the way of options. Things get much worse if they had to use AR-1.
Which version of RL-10C
RL-10C-1 (Atlas-V/Vulcan Centaur-3/(Vulcan Centaur-5/ACES Baseline Candidate))
RL-10C-2 (Delta-IV DCSS/(Vulcan Centaur-5/ACES Alternate Candidate))
RL-10C-3 (SLS EUS Baseline Candidate)

Offline joek

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Sure, but I'm drawing a line around both ULA and the parents.  The line between them is artificial.  Whether the launch business is just a division or an owned division, who cares.

The parents have the money, call the shots, and face the consequences...  So you can r/ULA/parents and everything remains the same.

An artificial line only since 1-May-2017.  Before that it was a bright line beginning with ULA's existence--not to mention the USAF, which has been the dog wagging their tails.

Still need to draw a line between them, as from all publicly available information the Boeing-LM JV that led to ULA is still in force, with stipulations that make ULA a bone continuing to be being fought over.

Boeing and LM are not parents in any normal sense of the word; they are adversaries.

Online john smith 19

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An artificial line only since 1-May-2017.  Before that it was a bright line beginning with ULA's existence--not to mention the USAF, which has been the dog wagging their tails.

Still need to draw a line between them, as from all publicly available information the Boeing-LM JV that led to ULA is still in force, with stipulations that make ULA a bone continuing to be being fought over.

Boeing and LM are not parents in any normal sense of the word; they are adversaries.
TBH I keep thinking of them as the "Ugly Sisters" in Cinderella.

Sadly there is no Fairy Godmother.  :(
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline brickmack

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ULA is preparing to add the smaller Masten Machete engines to the Centaur as part of the Xeus lunar lander kit.

Source? I've not seen a specific engine claimed before, and Google turns up nothing, but Machete seems like a poor fit. ULAs gone to too much effort eliminating hypergolics and helium from ACES to go back to it for XEUS. It adds dead mass and risk, and it either complicates refueling a bunch or forces you to throw away the whole vehicle after 1 or 2 flights. Plus, Machete is too small anyway. 10 or so would be sufficient for terminal descent with just an empty main tank and a few tons of payload, but you'll need hundreds of them just to get off the ground on the moon with a fully loaded main tank and 60+ tons of payload

Offline russianhalo117

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ULA is preparing to add the smaller Masten Machete engines to the Centaur as part of the Xeus lunar lander kit.

Source? I've not seen a specific engine claimed before, and Google turns up nothing, but Machete seems like a poor fit. ULAs gone to too much effort eliminating hypergolics and helium from ACES to go back to it for XEUS. It adds dead mass and risk, and it either complicates refueling a bunch or forces you to throw away the whole vehicle after 1 or 2 flights. Plus, Machete is too small anyway. 10 or so would be sufficient for terminal descent with just an empty main tank and a few tons of payload, but you'll need hundreds of them just to get off the ground on the moon with a fully loaded main tank and 60+ tons of payload
http://masten.aero/vehicles-2/xeus/
Masten Landing Kit for Centaur and ACES (XEUS) use H2 and O2 (Landing engines and LH2 and LO2 and thrusters use GH2 and GO2) are the long term plan. It is possible that early XEUS development stages may use other propellants and gases but their is nothing public on Masten's site. There is no public evidence on ULA sites and social media of employing Masten Machete engines on Centaur. Centaur-3 is only a ground testbed and XEUS will only likely see in space testing on a Centaur-5 and the final production version (obviously under a different name and the X stands for experimental) employed on ACES. The poster may be referring to XL-1T and XL-1 landers which are a testbed to gather data ahead of XEUS testing with the Centaur-3 stage.
« Last Edit: 01/06/2018 01:20 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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ULA is preparing to add the smaller Masten Machete engines to the Centaur as part of the Xeus lunar lander kit.

Source? I've not seen a specific engine claimed before, and Google turns up nothing, but Machete seems like a poor fit. ULAs gone to too much effort eliminating hypergolics and helium from ACES to go back to it for XEUS. It adds dead mass and risk, and it either complicates refueling a bunch or forces you to throw away the whole vehicle after 1 or 2 flights. Plus, Machete is too small anyway. 10 or so would be sufficient for terminal descent with just an empty main tank and a few tons of payload, but you'll need hundreds of them just to get off the ground on the moon with a fully loaded main tank and 60+ tons of payload
http://masten.aero/vehicles-2/xeus/
Masten Landing Kit for Centaur and ACES (XEUS) use H2 and O2 (Landing engines and LH2 and LO2 and thrusters use GH2 and GO2) are the long term plan. It is possible that early XEUS development stages may use other propellants and gases but their is nothing public on Masten's site. There is no public evidence on ULA sites and social media of employing Masten Machete engines on Centaur. Centaur-3 is only a ground testbed and XEUS will only likely see in space testing on a Centaur-5 and the final production version (obviously under a different name and the X stands for experimental) employed on ACES. The poster may be referring to XL-1T and XL-1 landers which are a testbed to gather data ahead of XEUS testing with the Centaur-3 stage.

Ops. Rechecking it is the XL-1 lunar lander that uses MXP-351 as fuel. XEUS was to use the Katana engine. This may have been changed again. The design review slides Masten has agreed to produce for Lunar CATALYST may provide further information.

"
Milestone 20: XEUS System Concept Design Review 1
Success Criteria: Conceptual Design Review Slides and exploration of trade space around science objectives and
architecture
March 2018
"

Offline WindnWar

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's. Can they realistically build the rest of the rocket for another $45 million? The cost for propulsion alone makes it hard to compete with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as there is a high likelihood that Falcon Heavy spends less on its 28 engines than Vulcan will spend on its 4 engines. Reuse makes things worse for Vulcan.

I think that alone makes the business case for Vulcan very difficult unless they can substantially reduce the cost of the second stage propulsion and they really don't have much in the way of options. Things get much worse if they had to use AR-1.
Which version of RL-10C
RL-10C-1 (Atlas-V/Vulcan Centaur-3/(Vulcan Centaur-5/ACES Baseline Candidate))
RL-10C-2 (Delta-IV DCSS/(Vulcan Centaur-5/ACES Alternate Candidate))
RL-10C-3 (SLS EUS Baseline Candidate)

RL-10C-3 is where I saw the most recent pricing for it. Is there a substantial difference in cost to the other 2? I know for Atlas those are rebuilt engines from the Delta buy, but on a previous thread I had asked how many were left, and if it would be enough to cover initial Vulcan flights and the answer given was they'd probably be used up on Atlas. So any used on Vulcan would likely be new build. The cost driver for AR's engines have always been demand, fewer they produce the more they cost, unless that changes, that's going to be the issue. The problem is alternatives that will be ready in time. Unless Blue is working on testing and certifying BE-3U right now, it wouldn't be ready in time. I don't think they want to debut with one engine to change it a few flights later either. But that's my opinion.

Unless ULA has somewhat struck an amazing deal for new build engines...

And old article detailing some of the cost drivers ULA was facing pre block buy, with comments from George Sowers. Doesn't list the engine cost itself but does list where the price hikes were coming from and that part really hasn't changed.

http://spacenews.com/rising-engine-costs-uncertainty-drive-atlas-5-prices-nasa/


Offline jongoff

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's.

That RL-10 price is pretty absurd. SpaceX can probably outfit an entire Falcon 9 with engines for less than the price of one RL-10.

I'm really skeptical that RL-10s really cost that much. Most of the time people throw those kinds of numbers around people who actually know have usually commented that those numbers aren't realistic. If they do somehow cost that much, the only way I could imagine is if it's because they're making so few of them that they're having to spread the full fixed cost of the RL-10 team over a half dozen engines or something. The RL-10 is probably no more complex than the Merlin-1Cs were, and are actually quite a bit smaller, with no really exotic materials, so I just really have a hard time believing that they would cost anywhere near that much if they were making a decent quantity per year.

~Jon

Offline WindnWar

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's.

That RL-10 price is pretty absurd. SpaceX can probably outfit an entire Falcon 9 with engines for less than the price of one RL-10.

I'm really skeptical that RL-10s really cost that much. Most of the time people throw those kinds of numbers around people who actually know have usually commented that those numbers aren't realistic. If they do somehow cost that much, the only way I could imagine is if it's because they're making so few of them that they're having to spread the full fixed cost of the RL-10 team over a half dozen engines or something. The RL-10 is probably no more complex than the Merlin-1Cs were, and are actually quite a bit smaller, with no really exotic materials, so I just really have a hard time believing that they would cost anywhere near that much if they were making a decent quantity per year.

~Jon

The thrust chamber of brazed tubes likely adds a lot more complexity to the build process, though in April of last year they did test a new 3D printed copper chamber that they said would reduce the cost and complexity and lead time. Perhaps that's the version that Vulcan will use.

Online john smith 19

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I'm curious if anyone has seen a price target for a modernized RL-10C, IIRC currently they are some $16-17 million each. If that holds and Centaur 5 needs two of them your looking at $45ish million for your first and second stage propulsion with no SRB's.

That RL-10 price is pretty absurd. SpaceX can probably outfit an entire Falcon 9 with engines for less than the price of one RL-10.

I'm really skeptical that RL-10s really cost that much. Most of the time people throw those kinds of numbers around people who actually know have usually commented that those numbers aren't realistic. If they do somehow cost that much, the only way I could imagine is if it's because they're making so few of them that they're having to spread the full fixed cost of the RL-10 team over a half dozen engines or something. The RL-10 is probably no more complex than the Merlin-1Cs were, and are actually quite a bit smaller, with no really exotic materials, so I just really have a hard time believing that they would cost anywhere near that much if they were making a decent quantity per year.

~Jon
Yes this is where I saw the comment that ending Shuttle had put up RL-10 prices and I thought "Why?"

This looks like a classic piece of Defense industry pricing at work "You ask us to make more we charge you for the increase. You ask us to make less, we still charge you for the decrease."

In normal industries you have excess capacity you either a) Find a use for it or b)Sell it off. Where you bought that hardware to service a specific customer or contract yo normally include cancellation clauses to cover costs.

I know the USG gave itself the right to walk away from contracts with no penalties but I don't know how often they actually exercise it.

I guess this is what you get when you have a policy of creating "National Champions" and end up with 1 big engine mfg whose acceptable to the USG.  :(
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Yes this is where I saw the comment that ending Shuttle had put up RL-10 prices and I thought "Why?"

It's because the RL-10 program has to carry more of the company's overhead costs with their shuttle contracts gone.

Online john smith 19

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Yes this is where I saw the comment that ending Shuttle had put up RL-10 prices and I thought "Why?"

It's because the RL-10 program has to carry more of the company's overhead costs with their shuttle contracts gone.
In most other industries this would be a rather big clue to cut some of that overhead.
Is the ability to individually turn round section tubing into square sided tubing, then bend it into a thrust chamber contour by hand really a vital national resource that needs to be preserved, in the same way that (say) the Irish Republic helps support the last remaining shovel making blacksmith? *

But wait, space launch is special,  and AJR is very special indeed.  :(

So jack up the prices instead as the customer has nowhere to go.

Something ULA should keep in mind for future reference.

Here's the thing.

In 1960 building an LH2 turbine/pump combination was a huge leap into the unknown in materials and technology. 

In 2018 quite a lot of that folklore is in fact obsolete. Better materials, better ability to model the system and better precision in mfg the system to the design ($50 000 for a CNC pipe bender is expensive. About 6 months of the full burdened cost of an employee) before anyone says a word about 3d printing. 

Then there is the ability to eliminate parts wholesale.  In 1960 foil gas bearings were virtually unknown. By the mid 90's every aircraft aircon/APU was running on them. Ball and roller bearings were as obsolete as spinning metal gyroscopes in inertial nav systems for this application. By the late 90's NASA had released a cookbook report to explain how any company could make 1st and 2nd generation foil bearing units for themselves.

Likewise sealing against GH2 is a PITA. GH2 leakage on the SSME (built by one of AJR's predecessor companies IIRC) was 3x the design goal. Seals technology (and the tools to design those seals) was developed that can now deliver the specified leakage.

IOW what AJR does is no longer quite as special as they seem to think it is.

*They will hand forge a shovel to the job you specify it has to do and to your build. Last time I checked it's about $240 with the EU subsidy. It will take a while to get done, so make sure you place your order in plenty of time.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2018 12:16 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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online AncientU

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This is why the 'industry leader' argument is so strange...
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline brickmack

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I'm really skeptical that RL-10s really cost that much. Most of the time people throw those kinds of numbers around people who actually know have usually commented that those numbers aren't realistic. If they do somehow cost that much, the only way I could imagine is if it's because they're making so few of them that they're having to spread the full fixed cost of the RL-10 team over a half dozen engines or something.

The 17 million dollar figure is what's been reported as the cost to NASA for buying RL10C-3 engines for the first EUS. All of those are important qualifiers, since EUS only uses 4 engines and there is no other currently-known concept using RL10C-3, so lots of extra development and tooling/personnel costs spread across few units. Plus, government contracting always inflates the price, and human-rating requirements probably add cost too. I'd be surprised if the cost of even the current RL10s to ULA are nearly that high, nevermind the improved version they're working on.

Online john smith 19

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The 17 million dollar figure is what's been reported as the cost to NASA for buying RL10C-3 engines for the first EUS. All of those are important qualifiers, since EUS only uses 4 engines and there is no other currently-known concept using RL10C-3, so lots of extra development and tooling/personnel costs spread across few units. Plus, government contracting always inflates the price, and human-rating requirements probably add cost too. I'd be surprised if the cost of even the current RL10s to ULA are nearly that high, nevermind the improved version they're working on.
All probably true.

However small note. RL10's flew as the second stages of the Saturn 1. Given the usual "Man Rating" voodoo hocus pocus  (Where the J-2X was mostly built from parts of the non crew rated RS68, yet is now magically crew rated) I'd expect the RL10C-3 inherit their crew ratingness.  :(
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline russianhalo117

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I'm really skeptical that RL-10s really cost that much. Most of the time people throw those kinds of numbers around people who actually know have usually commented that those numbers aren't realistic. If they do somehow cost that much, the only way I could imagine is if it's because they're making so few of them that they're having to spread the full fixed cost of the RL-10 team over a half dozen engines or something.

The 17 million dollar figure is what's been reported as the cost to NASA for buying RL10C-3 engines for the first EUS. All of those are important qualifiers, since EUS only uses 4 engines and there is no other currently-known concept using RL10C-3, so lots of extra development and tooling/personnel costs spread across few units. Plus, government contracting always inflates the price, and human-rating requirements probably add cost too. I'd be surprised if the cost of even the current RL10s to ULA are nearly that high, nevermind the improved version they're working on.
RL-10C-3 is a man rated RL-10C-2 minus one of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension, which is a man rated RL-10C-1 which is a modernized RL-10B-2 with some RL-10A-4 components minus two of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension. Yes there are some other changes but that is the major difference.

Online john smith 19

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RL-10C-3 is a man rated RL-10C-2 minus one of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension, which is a man rated RL-10C-1 which is a modernized RL-10B-2 with some RL-10A-4 components minus two of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension. Yes there are some other changes but that is the major difference.
That sounds like it settles the man rating question. although I'm not sure the costs of crew rating the Blue engine would be great enough to make AJR the winner just yet.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online john smith 19

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This is why the 'industry leader' argument is so strange...
"Industry leader" in the sense of
a) Most LH2 engines launched
b) Highest (or next highest) success rate of LH2 engine missions.
c) Longest history of LH2 engine missions.

They are.

But how much innovation they've made to those engines since development, and their unit pricing, is rather less clear cut.
"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.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline russianhalo117

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RL-10C-3 is a man rated RL-10C-2 minus one of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension, which is a man rated RL-10C-1 which is a modernized RL-10B-2 with some RL-10A-4 components minus two of the three sections Carbon-Carbon Nozzle Extension. Yes there are some other changes but that is the major difference.
That sounds like it settles the man rating question. although I'm not sure the costs of crew rating the Blue engine would be great enough to make AJR the winner just yet.
Only the deployable Nozzle Extension sections must be man rated otherwise they must develop, qualify and certify for manned flight a new single piece fixed Nozzle Extension for SLS EUS.

Offline titusou

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

I really don't think that was true. I know Masten and several others (including my blog posts) talked about rocket-based boostback with VTVL landing. SpaceX didn't invent something nobody had thought of, or nobody had thought was possible. They just were the first to reduce it to practice for an orbital launcher. That's a huge enough achievement that we don't need to oversell it by acting like no smart aerospace engineers existed before Elon Musk stepped onto the stage.

And this is getting pretty far afield from ULA though--other than that I do agree with your preference for full-stage gas-and-go boostback VTVL recovery.

~Jon
Wasn't the primary reason for ULA to use [Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology] is because the staging timing is too late to do reentry without a heatshield? (unless you wanna burn tons of propellant for rentry/deceleration)

I didn't calculate the math, but from live stream...

Falcon9 SES-10, MECO @ 160s 8,200kph 64km alt
DeltaIV WGS-9, MECO @ 240s, 17,000kph 178km alt
AtlasV WorldView-4, MECO @ 248s, 16,000kph 148km alt

While each variant/mission does be slightly different, but DeltaIV/AtlasV 1st stage burn way longer, and wayyyy faster than Falcon9 at MECO. Kinetic energy along is ~4times compare to Falcon9, and all those need to be kill off before landing...

For me it feels like almost impossible to do full recovery if 1st stage is 250s-sustainer-stage. 150s-booster-stage is much easier to recover, wasn't it?

Maybe that's the real key of full recovery, not about RTLS/VTVL, but staging timing choice, or say, staging architecture?

Titus
« Last Edit: 01/12/2018 02:01 PM by titusou »

Offline TrevorMonty

AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

I really don't think that was true. I know Masten and several others (including my blog posts) talked about rocket-based boostback with VTVL landing. SpaceX didn't invent something nobody had thought of, or nobody had thought was possible. They just were the first to reduce it to practice for an orbital launcher. That's a huge enough achievement that we don't need to oversell it by acting like no smart aerospace engineers existed before Elon Musk stepped onto the stage.

And this is getting pretty far afield from ULA though--other than that I do agree with your preference for full-stage gas-and-go boostback VTVL recovery.

~Jon
Wasn't the primary reason for ULA to use [Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology] is because the staging timing is too late to do reentry without a heatshield? (unless you wanna burn tons of propellant for rentry/deceleration)

I didn't calculate the math, but from live stream...

Falcon9 SES-10, MECO @ 160s 8,200kph 64km alt
DeltaIV WGS-9, MECO @ 240s, 17,000kph 178km alt
AtlasV WorldView-4, MECO @ 248s, 16,000kph 148km alt

While each variant/mission does be slightly different, but DeltaIV/AtlasV 1st stage burn way longer, and wayyyy faster than Falcon9 at MECO. Kinetic energy along is ~4times compare to Falcon9, and all those need to be kill off before landing...

For me it feels like almost impossible to do full recovery if 1st stage is 250s-sustainer-stage. 150s-booster-stage is much easier to recover, wasn't it?

Maybe that's the real key of full recovery, not about RTLS/VTVL, but staging timing choice, or say, staging architecture?

Titus
You are right in that booster recovery requires earlier staging. 2nd stage needs to be lot larger as it has to provide more DV. In case of ULA they would also need larger more expensive US. Larger US works against them for distributed launch as it needs multiple tanker launches to match Vulcan / ACES single tanker launch.
Also RLV need to do more flights as it lifts less fuel

Here is example
Two 564 Vulcan launches would be
1) tanker 30t fuel. 5t is allowed for tanker dry mass and 28day boiloff. (ULA paper)
 2)ACES + 15T payload +15-20t residual fuel.
Result ACES +15T and 45-50T fuel.

Vulcan sized RLV might be good for 15t, so about 4 ×12T (3t for tank mass and 28day boiloff) tanker launchers plus payload launch. 5 all up. Of cause this doesn't factor in larger heavier US so more fuel is required for its extra dry, allow another 1-2 launches.
All up 6-7 launches to do same mission.
Logistically the tankers would fill one large tanker which would then fill mission US.

While RLV launch cost maybe $45m compared to $150M for 564. Still need to add tanker payloads to each RLV so allow $50-55M.

Prices are much same for mission but risk factor with RLV is x3 or more.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2018 07:08 PM by TrevorMonty »

Online AncientU

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AFAICT, while all use the term "boostback" (or "rocketback"), all of the notional designs assume a winged first stage and horizontal landing; the SpaceX version of boosback with vertical landing was not considered.

I really don't think that was true. I know Masten and several others (including my blog posts) talked about rocket-based boostback with VTVL landing. SpaceX didn't invent something nobody had thought of, or nobody had thought was possible. They just were the first to reduce it to practice for an orbital launcher. That's a huge enough achievement that we don't need to oversell it by acting like no smart aerospace engineers existed before Elon Musk stepped onto the stage.

And this is getting pretty far afield from ULA though--other than that I do agree with your preference for full-stage gas-and-go boostback VTVL recovery.

~Jon
Wasn't the primary reason for ULA to use [Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology] is because the staging timing is too late to do reentry without a heatshield? (unless you wanna burn tons of propellant for rentry/deceleration)

I didn't calculate the math, but from live stream...

Falcon9 SES-10, MECO @ 160s 8,200kph 64km alt
DeltaIV WGS-9, MECO @ 240s, 17,000kph 178km alt
AtlasV WorldView-4, MECO @ 248s, 16,000kph 148km alt

While each variant/mission does be slightly different, but DeltaIV/AtlasV 1st stage burn way longer, and wayyyy faster than Falcon9 at MECO. Kinetic energy along is ~4times compare to Falcon9, and all those need to be kill off before landing...

For me it feels like almost impossible to do full recovery if 1st stage is 250s-sustainer-stage. 150s-booster-stage is much easier to recover, wasn't it?

Maybe that's the real key of full recovery, not about RTLS/VTVL, but staging timing choice, or say, staging architecture?

Titus

ULA had the opportunity to design a new vehicle from a blank sheet if they were interested in reuse.
They weren't and didn't.  SMART is backfilling the decision, not part of the decision itself.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

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