Author Topic: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - Business Case/Competition/Alternatives Discussion  (Read 54319 times)

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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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*.

It also allows the flexibility to launch multiple satellites on a single mission, just like Ariane 5 right now. ULA has studied it before, if they really want to stay competitive seems like a simple and logical development:

http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Commercial_Space/AIAA_DSS_4_DSS_5_2011-09-12_Final.pdf
The advantage for Vulcan/(ACES or Centaur V) is that they could launch any pair combination of commercial sats by adjusting number of strapons. Anywhere from a pair of 6+mt GEO sats to a pair of 3mt GEO sats. This puts the prices for any one individual sat a direct price competitor to Ariane 5/6 and gets into the balpark of F9 prices if SpaceX does not lower their current $60M for a up to 6mt GEO sat. Also it opens flexibility in scheduling by being able to handle any combo and even swaping out customers in a combo if done early enough to keep the scheduling advantage.

Online AncientU

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2011 paper.
How's it working out?
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Offline TrevorMonty

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*.

It also allows the flexibility to launch multiple satellites on a single mission, just like Ariane 5 right now. ULA has studied it before, if they really want to stay competitive seems like a simple and logical development:

http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Commercial_Space/AIAA_DSS_4_DSS_5_2011-09-12_Final.pdf
The advantage for Vulcan/(ACES or Centaur V) is that they could launch any pair combination of commercial sats by adjusting number of strapons. Anywhere from a pair of 6+mt GEO sats to a pair of 3mt GEO sats. This puts the prices for any one individual sat a direct price competitor to Ariane 5/6 and gets into the balpark of F9 prices if SpaceX does not lower their current $60M for a up to 6mt GEO sat. Also it opens flexibility in scheduling by being able to handle any combo and even swaping out customers in a combo if done early enough to keep the scheduling advantage.
Good point. They could sell 6mt GTO sat mission, then sell lower secondary payload spot. Assuming primary OKs it, at discounted launch price of course. SRBs allows them to add significant secondary payloads, while US gives extra orbit changes need.

One example is cargo lander as secondary, which gets TLI kick from US.

Offline TrevorMonty

Offering 7m fairing may well be an advantage especially against Ariane 6 and F9. With Blue also offering 7m fairing, satellite manufacturers could make use of extra room while still having option of two different LVs.

Offline Tomness

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Offering 7m fairing may well be an advantage especially against Ariane 6 and F9. With Blue also offering 7m fairing, satellite manufacturers could make use of extra room while still having option of two different LVs.

I like this idea, perhaps have RUAG build common fairing that could be used on Blue's New Glenn & ULA's Vulcan.

Online brickmack

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Blue is building their own fairings.

Would ULA be able to support a 7 meter fairing at their existing facilities anyway? Atlas V even can aerodynamically support a 7.2 meter fairing, so that should be no trouble on a 5.4 meter core, but could such a thing fit into their processing and stacking buildings? I know this was a problem NASA encountered during Constellation as well, the facilities and transportation equipment didn't exist to handle Altair or similarly-sized payloads taking full advantage of the 8.4 meter fairing.

Online russianhalo117

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Blue is building their own fairings.

Would ULA be able to support a 7 meter fairing at their existing facilities anyway? Atlas V even can aerodynamically support a 7.2 meter fairing, so that should be no trouble on a 5.4 meter core, but could such a thing fit into their processing and stacking buildings? I know this was a problem NASA encountered during Constellation as well, the facilities and transportation equipment didn't exist to handle Altair or similarly-sized payloads taking full advantage of the 8.4 meter fairing.
Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

Online envy887

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Blue is building their own fairings.

Would ULA be able to support a 7 meter fairing at their existing facilities anyway? Atlas V even can aerodynamically support a 7.2 meter fairing, so that should be no trouble on a 5.4 meter core, but could such a thing fit into their processing and stacking buildings? I know this was a problem NASA encountered during Constellation as well, the facilities and transportation equipment didn't exist to handle Altair or similarly-sized payloads taking full advantage of the 8.4 meter fairing.
Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

Any chance Orbital's NGL ends up with identical (or nearly so) fairings to Vulcan?

Online brickmack

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Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

Pretty sure you're mistaken. Vulcan's fairing is the same as the AV 500 fairing, built by RUAG, and RUAG/ULA have spent a lot of money to bring manufacturing to Decatur. OrbATK produces some other composite structures for Atlas and Delta, I don't think we've heard for sure if that will remain the case on Vulcan. And RUAG/Dynetics only have the contract for the Universal Stage Adapter for SLS, no contracts have been awarded for an actual fairing yet (though RUAG is the presumed winner if such a contract ever comes, and for 5 meter payloads their Atlas/Vulcan/Ariane fairing has been the baseline for most recent studies)

Offline jongoff

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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*.

It also allows the flexibility to launch multiple satellites on a single mission, just like Ariane 5 right now. ULA has studied it before, if they really want to stay competitive seems like a simple and logical development:

http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Commercial_Space/AIAA_DSS_4_DSS_5_2011-09-12_Final.pdf
The advantage for Vulcan/(ACES or Centaur V) is that they could launch any pair combination of commercial sats by adjusting number of strapons. Anywhere from a pair of 6+mt GEO sats to a pair of 3mt GEO sats. This puts the prices for any one individual sat a direct price competitor to Ariane 5/6 and gets into the balpark of F9 prices if SpaceX does not lower their current $60M for a up to 6mt GEO sat. Also it opens flexibility in scheduling by being able to handle any combo and even swaping out customers in a combo if done early enough to keep the scheduling advantage.
Good point. They could sell 6mt GTO sat mission, then sell lower secondary payload spot. Assuming primary OKs it, at discounted launch price of course. SRBs allows them to add significant secondary payloads, while US gives extra orbit changes need.

One example is cargo lander as secondary, which gets TLI kick from US.

And with the 5.4m diameter tankage/forward/aft structures they're developing for Centaur V/ACES, they could probably boost the available volume for the lower satellite for a dual launch. I wonder if ULA has updated their dual-launch concept for Vulcan/Centaur-V or Vulcan/ACES.

~Jon

Online gongora

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Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

[Space News Apr. 15, 2016] Ruag to make payload fairings for ULA’s Vulcan
Quote
Swiss manufacturer Ruag Space will build composite payload fairings for United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan launch vehicle at ULA’s Alabama plant, the companies announced April 12.

Did that change?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

[Space News Apr. 15, 2016] Ruag to make payload fairings for ULA’s Vulcan
Quote
Swiss manufacturer Ruag Space will build composite payload fairings for United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan launch vehicle at ULA’s Alabama plant, the companies announced April 12.

Did that change?

Maybe RUAG is now a sub-contractor of Northrop Grumann Orbital-ATK for the PLFs.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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And with the 5.4m diameter tankage/forward/aft structures they're developing for Centaur V/ACES, they could probably boost the available volume for the lower satellite for a dual launch. I wonder if ULA has updated their dual-launch concept for Vulcan/Centaur-V or Vulcan/ACES.

~Jon

Well remember that under Tony Bruno, these concepts are being dusted off. This dual spacecraft paper I linked to came from the same pile of studies that included ACES, IVF, and SMART reuse. ULA has had a bunch of innovative concepts, I just think they never had the ability to pursue them (ie any profits went back to the parents) until now.
"Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace." - Robert Goddard

Offline Sknowball

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And with the 5.4m diameter tankage/forward/aft structures they're developing for Centaur V/ACES, they could probably boost the available volume for the lower satellite for a dual launch. I wonder if ULA has updated their dual-launch concept for Vulcan/Centaur-V or Vulcan/ACES.

~Jon

Well remember that under Tony Bruno, these concepts are being dusted off. This dual spacecraft paper I linked to came from the same pile of studies that included ACES, IVF, and SMART reuse. ULA has had a bunch of innovative concepts, I just think they never had the ability to pursue them (ie any profits went back to the parents) until now.

I think the last we heard of DSS was from the September 2015 Rideshare Overview, at that time 5m DSS was listed as in development  with a completed CDR December 2014.   As the public Atlas V user guide pre dates this presentation not sure if it is currently on offer.
Interestingly Tory Bruno did address the XPC suborbital rideshare recently in response to a question reddit, saying it had not progressed further, pretty much due to a lack of interest.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2018 07:14 PM by Sknowball »

Online russianhalo117

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Orbital ATK is solely responsible for all ULA Vulcan PLF's under the newest contracts and agreements. RUAG however has the contract for SLS Cargo and Scientific mission PLF's.

[Space News Apr. 15, 2016] Ruag to make payload fairings for ULA’s Vulcan
Quote
Swiss manufacturer Ruag Space will build composite payload fairings for United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan launch vehicle at ULA’s Alabama plant, the companies announced April 12.

Did that change?

Maybe RUAG is now a sub-contractor of Northrop Grumann Orbital-ATK for the PLFs.
Orbital ATK is the overall Prime Contractor / Manufacturer for Composites for ULA AV, DII, DIV and NGL (predates Vulcan Name) which includes fairings per a 2015 press release on Orbital ATK's website. It appears that RUAG will likely still manufacture the fairing components but OA may assemble the sections of each half in whole or part for ULA. ULA will only manufacture internally metallic structures and components.





And with the 5.4m diameter tankage/forward/aft structures they're developing for Centaur V/ACES, they could probably boost the available volume for the lower satellite for a dual launch. I wonder if ULA has updated their dual-launch concept for Vulcan/Centaur-V or Vulcan/ACES.

~Jon

Well remember that under Tony Bruno, these concepts are being dusted off. This dual spacecraft paper I linked to came from the same pile of studies that included ACES, IVF, and SMART reuse. ULA has had a bunch of innovative concepts, I just think they never had the ability to pursue them (ie any profits went back to the parents) until now.

I think the last we heard of DSS was from the September 2015 Rideshare Overview, at that time 5m DSS was listed as in development  with a completed CDR December 2014.   As the public Atlas V user guide pre dates this presentation not sure if it is currently on offer.
Interestingly Tory Bruno did address the XPC suborbital rideshare recently in response to a question reddit, saying it had not progressed further, pretty much due to a lack of interest.
The first use of DSS-5 on Atlas V was initially planned in 2019 but the Secondary Payload Astrobiotic M1 was unofficially delayed more than a year. Originally M1 would have rode inside a DSS-5 with a Cygnus mission riding on top as the primary payload.

XPC never caught on because dedicated Suborbital services are cheaper and are not tied to the delays of the primary mission payload.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2018 12:11 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Jim

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Orbital ATK is the overall Prime Contractor / Manufacturer for Composites for ULA AV, DII, DIV and NGL (predates Vulcan Name) which includes fairings per a 2015 press release on Orbital ATK's website. It appears that RUAG will likely still manufacture the fairing components but OA may assemble the sections of each half in whole or part for ULA. ULA will only manufacture internally metallic structures and components.

RAUG will manufacture 5m and 4m fairings for Vulcan, not OA.

Online brickmack

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RAUG will manufacture 5m and 4m fairings for Vulcan, not OA.

Vulcan no longer has a 4 meter fairing does it? Sounds like it'll only use Centaur V, no sense having a fairing narrower than the upper stage.

Is Atlas still going to be upgraded to a composite 4m fairing?

Online gongora

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Orbital ATK is the overall Prime Contractor / Manufacturer for Composites for ULA AV, DII, DIV and NGL (predates Vulcan Name) which includes fairings per a 2015 press release on Orbital ATK's website. It appears that RUAG will likely still manufacture the fairing components but OA may assemble the sections of each half in whole or part for ULA. ULA will only manufacture internally metallic structures and components.

I think you're reading too much into that one press release.  Looking at other press releases and articles, RUAG already makes the five meter fairings and interstages for Atlas V, and will make them for Vulcan.  O/ATK doesn't make all of ULA's composite parts.

Online AncientU

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LockMart's last year in space took a hit, partially due to lower launch numbers and lower equity from ULA:

Quote
Space's operating profit in 2017 decreased $296 million, or 23 percent, compared to 2016 . Operating profit decreased about $127 million due to the pre-tax gain recorded in 2016 related to the consolidation of AWE; about $95 million for lower equity earnings from ULA; about $30 million for space transportation programs due a reduction in launch-related events; a net decrease of about $25 million related to charges recorded in 2017 for performance matters on certain commercial satellite programs; and about $25 million for government satellite programs (primarily SBIRS and AEHF) due to a charge for performance matters and lower volume.
https://seekingalpha.com/filing/3847658

Assume that Boeing experienced a parallel reduction from ULA ops.

If these two companies are as worried about impacts to short-term profitability, these are likely as good as the numbers are going to get because:
1.  ELC is still pouring cash into the pot, but will end soon.
2.  Launch rate 2018 (up from 2017 by a few) may be maximum for foreseeable future as the Block Buy is ending.
3.  The expensive part of Vulcan development is ahead... hardware fabrication and test launch(es).
4.  Vulcan availability for NSS launches is probably limited until around 2022, so fully-competed (likely discounted) Atlas V launches will be flying along with about one Delta IV heavy per year.
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Maybe a stupid idea; Could ULA develop and build both two versions of the Vulcan-Centaur.
The first one is the Vulcan 4 (Using Atlas 5 tanks, Single engine on both stages)
The second version is the Vulcan and Centaur -5 (with the Delta IV derived tank structures, the current proposal).
I think they will be complementary in launch capability.
Vulcan 4 (12.5' diameter) with one BE-4 engine and without boosters could have a GTOW of 200mT; With one to four GEM-63 boosters, this is a replacement for Delta II, Delta IV-M and the Atlas V. It could be fitted with a 4m fairing (or the same 12.5' as the stages) or the 5.4m fairing.
The Vulcan 5 (5.4m / 17.7') has two BE-4 engines, without boosters this could have a GTOW if 400mT. Possibly the core could be stretched and a third engine could be mounted on a Vulcan 5 so the boosters could be eliminated on some launches. AFAIK the DoD requires orbital launcher to use solids. But some payloads require less vibrations, or the safety of solids is a problem (with human launches).
ULA could also use Centaur 5 and 5.4m fairing on the Vulcan 3 when they launch it with boosters.

ULA has the tooling to produce Atlas V cores. So they don't have to invest in tooling to offer Vulcan 3 besides Vulcan 5. For Vulcan 5 ULA has commissioned new tank structure tooling. Since the engines are the most expansive elements of a launcher, and Vulcan 3 uses half the BE-4 engines and half to a fourth of the RL-10C? engines, a Vulcan 3 launch would cost a lot less than a Vulcan 5 launch.
Most likely the cost per pound/kilo will be a bit higher for the Vulcan 3 than for the Vulcan 5. And the development cost are most likely a problem, two instead of one launcher have to be developed. But most likely this can be earned back during exploitation of the Vulcan rockets.

I really dislike the idea of a Centaur 5 or ACES with four RL-10 engines, I can't imagine that a stage with a single BE-3, Vince or RL-60 wouldn't be far cheaper, than a stage with four engines.

That's my two cents worth armchair engineer comments.   

Edit to add one calculation:
The volume of a cylinder: 0.25*pi()*(D2)*L with tank Diameter and Length. This is the cross-sectional Area times the tank length. Let's calculate the area's for both Vulcan 4 and Vulcan 5.
Vulcan 4 / Atlas V, D=3.81m (12.5ft). A=0.25*pi()*3.812 = 11.40m2
Vulcan 5 / Delta IV, D=5.4m (17.7ft). A=0.25*pi()*5.42 = 22.90m2
This is really nice. When the tanks have the same length, Vulcan 5 has twice the volume of Vulcan 4. Matching the Duo and Single engine propellant use.
The fueling connectors at the launch pad can be kept at the same level. But the launch restraint must be capable of restraining both core diameters, (and the optionally added boosters). With SLC-40 this can be solved with two different launch tables. But with SLC-3E this is a problem that has to be solved.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2018 12:35 PM by Rik ISS-fan »

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