Author Topic: NASA is trying to make the Space Launch System rocket more affordable (Ars)  (Read 14802 times)

Offline Markstark

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Offline Stan-1967

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following the links to the RFI documents, it looks like this is only for EUS.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=4599556849e76bc3d5f4bc8b43b2276e&_cview=0
« Last Edit: 12/15/2017 10:41 PM by Stan-1967 »

Offline Stan-1967

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The RFi is still heavily biased in favor of staying with the RL-10.  From the report:

"The current vehicle is designed to the following engine parameters.

Isp ~ 460
MR ~ 5.5 - 5.9 (range)
Weight ~ 2100 lbs (total of 4 engines)
Length ~ 10.5 ft (gimbal to nozzle exit)

These engine design parameters may be traded with each other to maintain the vehicle design constraints noted above."


Vinci & BE-3 will have a very hard time to meet the ISP number if they can only be 10.5 ft. long, as the expansion ratio will have to be much less, hence lower ISP.   Both BE-3 & Vinci would have to push chamber pressure beyond current design.  Can they do this by 2023?  Maybe.  Who else has a candidate?  Mitsubishi maybe?

The fact they issued an new RFI suggests somebody out there thinks they can meet the spec, or maybe they are just hedging to preclude any challenges to AR winning the contract.

Offline GWH

Doesn't both the Vinci and BE-3 allow for extendable engine nozzles?
For Vinci this is stated on the wiki page for that engine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinci_(rocket_engine) - 465s ISP is listed.
And I believe the proposal for BE-3 for Orbital ATKa division of Northrop Grumman's Next Generation Launcher was to use an extendable nozzle on the BE-3U.

But I have never seen any numbers on BE-3's ISP...
« Last Edit: 12/15/2017 11:50 PM by GWH »

Offline Stan-1967

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Closer examination makes it pretty clear this is targeted to allow Vinci to compete.   The Wiki article also confirms this in the reference section, as their is a history of NASA considering Vinci going back to 2014.

The Vinci rocket is 4.2 meters tall, vs an RL-10B is 4.14 meters tall with the extendable nozzle.  The RFI says the engine can be 10.5 ft from gimbal to nozzle exit.  I can't find the specifications for the RL-10B regarding it's height when the nozzle is not extended, but it seem reasonable that it fits within the 3.2 meters ( 10.5 ft) specified in the RFI.  Vinci has a much higher chamber pressure, so it can get to ISP of 460 with a lesser expansion ration than RL-10B

The questions then are can Vinci be made with an extendable nozzle that fits within the allotted form factor, & do the Europeans want to try and do this when they have Ariane 6 to get ready for?

BE-3 is simply not a candidate for this RFI. It will never get to 460 s ISP with an open cycle.  BE-3 would also be under expanded within the allotted length.  It it has 4X more thrust, so throat area is likely 4X larger than RL-10 assuming same chamber pressure. ( which is not known).  To make BE-3 work, the specs would have to change, & the interstage & GSE would have to be re designed.

Online woods170

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Closer examination makes it pretty clear this is targeted to allow Vinci to compete.   The Wiki article also confirms this in the reference section, as their is a history of NASA considering Vinci going back to 2014.

The Vinci rocket is 4.2 meters tall, vs an RL-10B is 4.14 meters tall with the extendable nozzle.  The RFI says the engine can be 10.5 ft from gimbal to nozzle exit.  I can't find the specifications for the RL-10B regarding it's height when the nozzle is not extended, but it seem reasonable that it fits within the 3.2 meters ( 10.5 ft) specified in the RFI.  Vinci has a much higher chamber pressure, so it can get to ISP of 460 with a lesser expansion ration than RL-10B

The questions then are can Vinci be made with an extendable nozzle that fits within the allotted form factor, & do the Europeans want to try and do this when they have Ariane 6 to get ready for?

The "Europeans" as you refer to them is actually ESA. And ESA is in the process of finishing a simplified design of Vinci, for Ariane 6, that actually does away with the extendable nozzle.
This RFI comes at an exceptionally bad time given that the new baseline for Vinci is now fixed nozzle.

If and when the contractors for Vinci want to offer Vinci with an extendable nozzle they will have to pay to complete development of such a nozzle out of their own pocket. But that won't pay off given the extremely low flight frequency of SLS IMO.

Offline IanThePineapple

I know New Glenn's optional third stage will have a "vacuum-optimized" BE-3U.

Here's what I could find about it. Nothing very specific though.
From Blue's site:
Quote
BE-3U variant
The BE-3 will be upgraded with a larger nozzle to operate in the vacuum of orbital space, becoming our BE-3U. One BE-3U will power the third stage of our New Glenn launch vehicle. With extensive testing and use on New Shepard and the BE-3, the BE-3U will be one of the best understood rocket engines before it ever launches into space.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 02:46 PM by IanThePineapple »

Offline Markstark

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Thanks for the replies. Seems like there are not many potential alternatives to the RL-10 based on the specifications provided.

Offline jak Kennedy

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They really don't want the SLS to fly do they with the never ending spec changes. The BO engines may be cheaper but how many billions will it cost to implement? Every day it doesn't go anywhere it still eats through NASA money. Cynical? Me! ::)

Offline Markstark

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They really don't want the SLS to fly do they with the never ending spec changes. The BO engines may be cheaper but how many billions will it cost to implement? Every day it doesn't go anywhere it still eats through NASA money. Cynical? Me! ::)
As I understand it, this potential engine change would affect Block IB missions with the Exploration Upper Stage (EM-2+). It would not affect EM-1 (Block I). In any case, I'm happy to hear that NASA is at least considering cost reduction efforts.

I know many people here would prefer to kill it all together but NASA doesn't have the power to do that. Therefore cost reduction efforts are welcomed.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 05:49 PM by Markstark »

Online brickmack

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They really don't want the SLS to fly do they with the never ending spec changes. The BO engines may be cheaper but how many billions will it cost to implement? Every day it doesn't go anywhere it still eats through NASA money. Cynical? Me! ::)

Agreed. RL10 isn't THAT expensive, ~20 million a piece at the absolute most pessimistic (and thats before the modernization Aerojet is working on now). Even a 90% cost reduction would save only about 72 million dollars a flight, realistically probably much less. Unless SLS flies a lot more often than looks likely, its probably never going to justify this expense.

Meanwhile RS-25 is optimistically about 70 million a piece, and presents a hard limit to flightrate as well, but theres no real effort to fix that problem. The focus on the upper stage is just weird.

Offline calapine

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From a political perspective Vinci engines for EUS could be a barter item for an ESA seat on crewed Orion missions. Something that was mooted as idea several times, once even by Wörner, if I remember correctly.

« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 06:17 PM by calapine »

Offline Rocket Science

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This is all window dressing as the high cost is "baked into" the design plus all the Cape infrastructure required...
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Offline ncb1397

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They really don't want the SLS to fly do they with the never ending spec changes. The BO engines may be cheaper but how many billions will it cost to implement? Every day it doesn't go anywhere it still eats through NASA money. Cynical? Me! ::)

Meanwhile RS-25 is optimistically about 70 million a piece, and presents a hard limit to flightrate as well, but theres no real effort to fix that problem.

Really?

Quote
According to information the redesign reduced the number of parts needed to assemble the accumulator from twenty-eight to six, eliminated 123 welds and one bolted joint.  The extensive changes would have been impractical or impossible using conventional manufacturing means, and have also reduced the unit cost by a third.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/12/rs-25-next-phase-testing-stennis-hot-fire/

Offline Coastal Ron

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Lowering cost overall for any product that is already in production is difficult, since everything is set up for the current design and cost structures. Sure you can spend more money to try and save money in the short-term, like for the engine swap they are hoping to do, but even that has to pay for itself within a reasonable amount of time in order to realize the cost savings.

Of course if they really want to save money on the SLS NASA should just release the production cost information - that will generate a lot of suggestions for how to save money...  ;)
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 Markstark

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EUS is not in production yet.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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If a RFI about engines to use on EUS just came out then the pick for which engine would no t occur until contract  award sometime after about 9 months from now. Putting the CDR for EUS at about 6 months later or around Apr 2019. Then 3-4 years to build/qualify and that is NET Apr 2022 to as late as Apr 2023 for delivery of first EUS flight hardware. EUS could become the critical path for SLS 1B flights.

I thought they had decided on engines for EUS. This RFI says that the design work on EUS is still very preliminary and the detailed design is on hold until a decision on engines.

Online brickmack

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Really?

Quote
According to information the redesign reduced the number of parts needed to assemble the accumulator from twenty-eight to six, eliminated 123 welds and one bolted joint.  The extensive changes would have been impractical or impossible using conventional manufacturing means, and have also reduced the unit cost by a third.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/12/rs-25-next-phase-testing-stennis-hot-fire/

Not good enough. The price target is to eventually reach 50 or 60 million dollars per engine https://spaceflightnow.com/2015/11/27/aerojet-rocketdyne-wins-propulsion-contracts-worth-nearly-1-4-billion/ . Not on the initial production run either, but eventually. 200-240 million dollars per flight is still a lot of money. These upgrades can probably get them to that ballpark, but they still need another factor of 5 or so cost reduction on top of that to make SLS sorta competitive (or, at least, not have its engines for a single stage cost more than most entire launch systems). Probably the only fix viable at this point would be to implement a scaled up version of SMART engine recovery (which most Shuttle derived superheavy launchers before SLS assumed anyway, for exactly this reason)

If a RFI about engines to use on EUS just came out then the pick for which engine would no t occur until contract  award sometime after about 9 months from now. Putting the CDR for EUS at about 6 months later or around Apr 2019. Then 3-4 years to build/qualify and that is NET Apr 2022 to as late as Apr 2023 for delivery of first EUS flight hardware. EUS could become the critical path for SLS 1B flights.

I thought they had decided on engines for EUS. This RFI says that the design work on EUS is still very preliminary and the detailed design is on hold until a decision on engines.

The RFI specifies that the first 2 missions will use RL10C as previously planned, and they don't need it ready until mid-2023. So that gives some scheduling margin for the change

Offline Coastal Ron

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EUS is not in production yet.

The 1st stage is, and that's where most of the costs are for the SLS.
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 Zed_Noir

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According to Eric's Ars Techncia article. Each of the re-furbished RL-10C's cost about $17M each.  :o

So just the engines for the EUS costs more than a Falcon 9 flight! And that's with re-furbished RL-10C's. Scary to guess the cost of newly build RL-10's will be.

Some of the comments in the article suggest humorously that just put a Falcon 9 on top of the SLS as the upper stage. ;D

Offline MATTBLAK

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...Or task SpaceX with making a wide LOX/CH4 fueled stage, powered by a pair of (subscale) Raptor engines... ;)
« Last Edit: 12/17/2017 09:47 PM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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...Or task SpaceX with making a wide LOX/CH4 fueled stage, powered by a pair of (subscale) Raptor engines... ;)

The Masten Broadsword engine has about the right amount of thrust.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Really?

Quote
According to information the redesign reduced the number of parts needed to assemble the accumulator from twenty-eight to six, eliminated 123 welds and one bolted joint.  The extensive changes would have been impractical or impossible using conventional manufacturing means, and have also reduced the unit cost by a third.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/12/rs-25-next-phase-testing-stennis-hot-fire/

Not good enough. The price target is to eventually reach 50 or 60 million dollars per engine https://spaceflightnow.com/2015/11/27/aerojet-rocketdyne-wins-propulsion-contracts-worth-nearly-1-4-billion/ . Not on the initial production run either, but eventually. 200-240 million dollars per flight is still a lot of money. These upgrades can probably get them to that ballpark, but they still need another factor of 5 or so cost reduction on top of that to make SLS sorta competitive (or, at least, not have its engines for a single stage cost more than most entire launch systems). Probably the only fix viable at this point would be to implement a scaled up version of SMART engine recovery (which most Shuttle derived superheavy launchers before SLS assumed anyway, for exactly this reason)

If a RFI about engines to use on EUS just came out then the pick for which engine would no t occur until contract  award sometime after about 9 months from now. Putting the CDR for EUS at about 6 months later or around Apr 2019. Then 3-4 years to build/qualify and that is NET Apr 2022 to as late as Apr 2023 for delivery of first EUS flight hardware. EUS could become the critical path for SLS 1B flights.

I thought they had decided on engines for EUS. This RFI says that the design work on EUS is still very preliminary and the detailed design is on hold until a decision on engines.

The RFI specifies that the first 2 missions will use RL10C as previously planned, and they don't need it ready until mid-2023. So that gives some scheduling margin for the change
Huh?

So over the first 4 flights 3 US developments. Where are they getting all this money to throw away. Oh right taxpayers.

Online brickmack

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I'm thinking SLS may *never* have a stable configuration at this rate. Especially if you count Orion:

EM-1: totally new obviously

Europa Clipper: first SLS 1B

EM-2: first fully integrated SLS 1B/Orion

EM-3: Orion gets a new main engine, new EUS engine

Flight 5: RS-25E

Flight 10 (maybe sooner): Castor 1200

Thats 6 major redesigns/unique configurations in the first 10 flights. Not counting the minor component level upgrades needed early on by every launcher. And that still doesn't get SLS to its performance targets, so there may be even more upgrades in between/after those that NASA hasn't decided on yet!

Offline corneliussulla

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I am sure it would be much cheaper to ask SX to quote them on 2x falcon heavy to get exploration mission components into LEO and doc them. Maybe one falcon heavy and a falcon 9 would do the job. That's about $200 mill. You could do that close to 10 times for the price of SLS. Might require a bit of rengineering on the exploration craft but got to be worth it. SLS is a bad joke from budget point of view.

Offline Rocket Science

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Leaving the core stage as is for the most part as is, the other possible change could be to make the side boosters either flyback or boost back. It has been demonstrated in "serial staging" by SpaceX's Falcon 9 and soon to be demonstrated by Falcon Heavy's "parallel staging". Technically feasibility is not the issue; but politically feasibility is the main question. The issue of the low flight rate may also begs the question why bother at this point?
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Offline envy887

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Leaving the core stage as is for the most part as is, the other possible change could be to make the side boosters either flyback or boost back. It has been demonstrated in "serial staging" by SpaceX's Falcon 9 and soon to be demonstrated by Falcon Heavy's "parallel staging". Technically feasibility is not the issue; but politically feasibility is the main question. The issue of the low flight rate may also begs the question why bother at this point?

The technical feasibility is certainly an issue (for launch, not landing), but the main problem is that the Congress contingent from Utah would have a fit over ditching the solids.

Offline Rocket Science

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Leaving the core stage as is for the most part as is, the other possible change could be to make the side boosters either flyback or boost back. It has been demonstrated in "serial staging" by SpaceX's Falcon 9 and soon to be demonstrated by Falcon Heavy's "parallel staging". Technically feasibility is not the issue; but politically feasibility is the main question. The issue of the low flight rate may also begs the question why bother at this point?

The technical feasibility is certainly an issue (for launch, not landing), but the main problem is that the Congress contingent from Utah would have a fit over ditching the solids.
Hence my phrase "political feasibility"... ;)
"ditching the solids"; they are planning to do that with every flight into the Atlantic... You made a funny! ;D

Edit to add:
« Last Edit: 12/19/2017 01:58 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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I'm thinking SLS may *never* have a stable configuration at this rate. Especially if you count Orion:

EM-1: totally new obviously

Europa Clipper: first SLS 1B

EM-2: first fully integrated SLS 1B/Orion

EM-3: Orion gets a new main engine, new EUS engine

Flight 5: RS-25E

Flight 10 (maybe sooner): Castor 1200

Thats 6 major redesigns/unique configurations in the first 10 flights. Not counting the minor component level upgrades needed early on by every launcher. And that still doesn't get SLS to its performance targets, so there may be even more upgrades in between/after those that NASA hasn't decided on yet!
But those major changes are not happening fast. That is because there is 1 to 3 years between flights.
EM-1 to EC -> 3 years (2023)
EC to EM-3 -> 2 years (2025)
EM-3 to Flight 5 -> 2 years (2027)
Flight 5 to Flight 10 -> 5 years (2032)

Upgrades every couple of years is not uncommon. It is just that flights occur also only every couple of years.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2017 02:32 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline Khadgars

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I am sure it would be much cheaper to ask SX to quote them on 2x falcon heavy to get exploration mission components into LEO and doc them. Maybe one falcon heavy and a falcon 9 would do the job. That's about $200 mill. You could do that close to 10 times for the price of SLS. Might require a bit of rengineering on the exploration craft but got to be worth it. SLS is a bad joke from budget point of view.

This thread is not about SpaceX nor its ability to replace SLS.  You can discuss that on 10,000 other threads.

Offline Lar

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I am sure it would be much cheaper to ask SX to quote them on 2x falcon heavy to get exploration mission components into LEO and doc them. Maybe one falcon heavy and a falcon 9 would do the job. That's about $200 mill. You could do that close to 10 times for the price of SLS. Might require a bit of rengineering on the exploration craft but got to be worth it. SLS is a bad joke from budget point of view.

This thread is not about SpaceX nor its ability to replace SLS.  You can discuss that on 10,000 other threads.

He's exaggerating. But it (probably) is over 9000.

So yeah, let's stay focused on SLS.
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Offline Patchouli

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Leaving the core stage as is for the most part as is, the other possible change could be to make the side boosters either flyback or boost back. It has been demonstrated in "serial staging" by SpaceX's Falcon 9 and soon to be demonstrated by Falcon Heavy's "parallel staging". Technically feasibility is not the issue; but politically feasibility is the main question. The issue of the low flight rate may also begs the question why bother at this point?

A flyback stage with seven BE-4s or AR-1s or nine Raptors would allow SLS to meet it performance targets.
I wonder could a modified New Glenn core be used as a booster?
« Last Edit: 12/19/2017 09:28 PM by Patchouli »

Offline envy887

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Leaving the core stage as is for the most part as is, the other possible change could be to make the side boosters either flyback or boost back. It has been demonstrated in "serial staging" by SpaceX's Falcon 9 and soon to be demonstrated by Falcon Heavy's "parallel staging". Technically feasibility is not the issue; but politically feasibility is the main question. The issue of the low flight rate may also begs the question why bother at this point?

A flyback stage with seven BE-4s or AR-1s or nine Raptors would allow SLS to meet it performance targets.
I wonder could a modified New Glenn core be used as a booster?

I always thought that 5.5 meter diameter boosters were the largest that NASA seriously considered due to VAB or MLP constraints. But SpaceGhost1962 mentioned studying triple core 8.4 meter vehicles in the VAB, though I'm not sure how many changes that would entail.

New Glenn boosters would have considerably higher thrust and ISP than the current solids. How high and fast would they stage? Does downrange landing the boosters help payload (Blue isn't planning on RTLS as far as I can tell)?

Offline Patchouli

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I always thought that 5.5 meter diameter boosters were the largest that NASA seriously considered due to VAB or MLP constraints. But SpaceGhost1962 mentioned studying triple core 8.4 meter vehicles in the VAB, though I'm not sure how many changes that would entail.

New Glenn boosters would have considerably higher thrust and ISP than the current solids. How high and fast would they stage? Does downrange landing the boosters help payload (Blue isn't planning on RTLS as far as I can tell)?

New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 02:01 AM by Patchouli »

Offline envy887

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I always thought that 5.5 meter diameter boosters were the largest that NASA seriously considered due to VAB or MLP constraints. But SpaceGhost1962 mentioned studying triple core 8.4 meter vehicles in the VAB, though I'm not sure how many changes that would entail.

New Glenn boosters would have considerably higher thrust and ISP than the current solids. How high and fast would they stage? Does downrange landing the boosters help payload (Blue isn't planning on RTLS as far as I can tell)?

New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

The 5 seg RSRM thrust averages about 2.9 mlbf, per this profile from Ares 1, and it burns for 130 seconds. The thrust profile for SLS might be different, but total impulse will be the same.

New Glenn will carry a lot more fuel (~1000 tonnes), and burn it for a longer time (~200 sec) at continuous max thrust profile for much higher total impulse. I'll take a look at what the performance should be on SLS with 2 of those boosters, but it should be good with downrange recovery.

Edit: plugging some numbers into the Silverbird calculator, it looks like this would be an absolute beast. With EUS it would put 146 tonnes to LEO and 58 tonnes to TLI even with downrange booster recovery. Makes sense since the GTOW would be nearly 3500 tonnes, 1000 tonnes more than RSRM-boosted SLS. Plus it has much more powerful and efficient boosters.
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 02:52 AM by envy887 »

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 04:02 AM by brickmack »

Offline envy887

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)

The F-1B only had two throttle settings, and the lowest was 72% of max. And with two off-center engines on Pyrios they could not shut some of them down to "throttle".

BE-4 will throttle much lower, somewhere around 30%, and is much more controllable since it's a requirement for landing. If they need to, they can shut down 2, 4 or 6 engines leading up to separation. The extra 80+ seconds of burn time will allow the RS-25s to burn an extra 140 tonnes of fuel, increasing the core stage TWR at booster sep and further reducing the difference in acceleration of the boosters and core.

With the relatively slow liftoff (~1.23 TWR at liftoff) and the large mass of the core stage (at staging it will mass 50% more than two NG upper stages), the boosters should be going fairly slow at staging compared to New Glenn, although much faster than RSRMs will be. I figure about 2.3 km/s at booster sep for NG booster SLS, vs 2.5 km/s for NG, vs 1.4 km/s for RSRM boosted SLS.

The extra velocity at staging with NG boosters is sufficient to put the entire EUS and Orion in orbit with only a small circularization burn from the EUS (even with downrange recovery of the boosters).
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 01:00 PM by envy887 »

Offline Rocket Science

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)

The F-1B only had two throttle settings, and the lowest was 72% of max. And with two off-center engines on Pyrios they could not shut some of them down to "throttle".

BE-4 will throttle much lower, somewhere around 30%, and is much more controllable since it's a requirement for landing. If they need to, they can shut down 2, 4 or 6 engines leading up to separation. The extra 80+ seconds of burn time will allow the RS-25s to burn an extra 140 tonnes of fuel, increasing the core stage TWR at booster sep and further reducing the difference in acceleration of the boosters and core.

With the relatively slow liftoff (~1.23 TWR at liftoff) and the large mass of the core stage (at staging it will mass 50% more than two NG upper stages), the boosters should be going fairly slow at staging compared to New Glenn, although much faster than RSRMs will be. I figure about 2.3 km/s at booster sep for NG booster SLS, vs 2.5 km/s for NG, vs 1.4 km/s for RSRM boosted SLS.

The extra velocity at staging with NG boosters is sufficient to put the entire EUS and Orion in orbit with only a small circularization burn from the EUS (even with downrange recovery of the boosters).
Now if we can recover the core main engines in a "pod" as has been studied over the years we will begin to see potentially real cost savings in the out years with a flyback/boostback architecture...
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Offline envy887

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)

The F-1B only had two throttle settings, and the lowest was 72% of max. And with two off-center engines on Pyrios they could not shut some of them down to "throttle".

BE-4 will throttle much lower, somewhere around 30%, and is much more controllable since it's a requirement for landing. If they need to, they can shut down 2, 4 or 6 engines leading up to separation. The extra 80+ seconds of burn time will allow the RS-25s to burn an extra 140 tonnes of fuel, increasing the core stage TWR at booster sep and further reducing the difference in acceleration of the boosters and core.

With the relatively slow liftoff (~1.23 TWR at liftoff) and the large mass of the core stage (at staging it will mass 50% more than two NG upper stages), the boosters should be going fairly slow at staging compared to New Glenn, although much faster than RSRMs will be. I figure about 2.3 km/s at booster sep for NG booster SLS, vs 2.5 km/s for NG, vs 1.4 km/s for RSRM boosted SLS.

The extra velocity at staging with NG boosters is sufficient to put the entire EUS and Orion in orbit with only a small circularization burn from the EUS (even with downrange recovery of the boosters).
Now if we can recover the core main engines in a "pod" as has been studied over the years we will begin to see potentially real cost savings in the out years with a flyback/boostback architecture...

This "pod" would be coming back from orbit. Might be a lot cheaper to shorten the core and land it downrange, and use the difference in height to build a large 2nd stage.

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Honestly, it's like a bandaid for gangrene at this point. SLS will not be made significantly cheaper no matter what you do, the reason it's so expensive is due purely to the politics that drive the funding for it. You would have to totally change the contracting process and centralize many more contracts to one area and one or two companies to really make a dent, and if you did that there'd be no political will to fund it at all.

If they want to actually make the exploration plan as a whole cheaper, the easiest way would be to cancel SLS and use the money to bid launch services from commercial. Like every other payload. Then all NASA has to do is fund mission payloads. Which, is what they should be doing anyway.

We know how to launch large things into space what we are going to have challenges with is launching complex life sustaining infrastructure to the surfaces of other planetary bodies, and to do so routinely and in a sustainable way so as to sustain permanent settlement. NASA should be focusing on building the equipment needed for this, things like the DSG for example should be the focus. Bid the LV out like you would do for any other payload.

At this rate SLS will hardly be flying at all anyway by the time things like BFR/New Glenn/Vulcan LV family are supposed to be starting. Further design changes or engine changes will impact later exploration missions and make this slip even worse.

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Offline Rocket Science

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)

The F-1B only had two throttle settings, and the lowest was 72% of max. And with two off-center engines on Pyrios they could not shut some of them down to "throttle".

BE-4 will throttle much lower, somewhere around 30%, and is much more controllable since it's a requirement for landing. If they need to, they can shut down 2, 4 or 6 engines leading up to separation. The extra 80+ seconds of burn time will allow the RS-25s to burn an extra 140 tonnes of fuel, increasing the core stage TWR at booster sep and further reducing the difference in acceleration of the boosters and core.

With the relatively slow liftoff (~1.23 TWR at liftoff) and the large mass of the core stage (at staging it will mass 50% more than two NG upper stages), the boosters should be going fairly slow at staging compared to New Glenn, although much faster than RSRMs will be. I figure about 2.3 km/s at booster sep for NG booster SLS, vs 2.5 km/s for NG, vs 1.4 km/s for RSRM boosted SLS.

The extra velocity at staging with NG boosters is sufficient to put the entire EUS and Orion in orbit with only a small circularization burn from the EUS (even with downrange recovery of the boosters).
Now if we can recover the core main engines in a "pod" as has been studied over the years we will begin to see potentially real cost savings in the out years with a flyback/boostback architecture...

This "pod" would be coming back from orbit. Might be a lot cheaper to shorten the core and land it downrange, and use the difference in height to build a large 2nd stage.
Yes that would mean a heat-shield with prop doors and chutes. Two stage is also interesting a cost/benefit analysis of each proposal would be revealing. I just recalled the old Saturn S-1D proposal of partial main engine re-usability as well...
http://lostinthisspace.blogspot.ca/2013/01/s-1d-first-stage.html
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Offline Proponent

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
I said pretty much the same on the previous page unless NASA is just throwing out a "red herring"...
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1.  Rockets, for the most part, are not LEGOs, {edit:not even the much heralded Falcon 9 which is not as interchangeable from core to core as they thought it would be.  (Which, by the way, I am eager to see launch.)}

2.  It may SpaceX, Blue Origin, and any other companies might not want to bid on the item because of the great uncertainty in funding and contract processes.

3.  Changing engines will require design changes that will cascade from the engine to the rocket to the launch pad plumbing to the VAB doors (maybe) and to the MLP swing arms.  This will drive up the cost and increase the time to do anything.

4.  Restricting this to the SLS, it will probably be cheaper and more effective to just stick to the current plan, such as it is.

$0.02...
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 03:46 PM by mike robel »

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SLS does not need to be made cheaper, but there does need to be the appearance of constantly making it look as if attempts are made to keep it cheaper. That allows SLS to remain in a perpetual development cycle while at the same time showing off the hardware in flight every couple of years until the political momentum for SLS dissipates and the program can be laid to rest.
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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

But why would Bezos want to help NASA compete against his own rockets that will be both cheaper and have greater lift than SLS?

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

But why would Bezos want to help NASA compete against his own rockets that will be both cheaper and have greater lift than SLS?
The answer is simple: he wouldn't want to help NASA.
Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 12:04 PM by woods170 »

Offline envy887

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.

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Oh folks... it dawned on me... I know, apples and oranges, but even then...

Quote
courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

... that ackward and uneasy moment when you realize that Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget...

No kidding. From memory, NASA gets, what, 18 billion dollars, annually; while freakkin' Bezos get's 40 billion - damn, checked, 115 BILLION, REALLY ??!! - from Amazon or even more.

(impersonating Grandpa Simpson voice) NASA is doomed !  :o
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 04:38 PM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline AncientU

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.
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Online woods170

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.

Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 05:48 PM by woods170 »

Online woods170

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.

Offline whitelancer64

Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.

So then BO won't get the contract, that sounds like a loss to me.

No reason why NASA could not request changes to the BE-4 engine, and no reason BO wouldn't accomodate those changes.

SpaceX doesn't "need" NASA money. Most of their future manifest is commercial launches. 3/5 of their launches have been for commercial customers.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.
The rationale for ULA using BE4 on Vulcan is to qualify it in excess of RD-180 (superset) in all ways.

That way if NASA has bought off on RD-180/Atlas (it has), they implicitly do so for BE4, thus they have had their say already. Arms length away. (ULA is in fact the only one who could do such for them.)

(The downside of this is that it takes a lot longer for ULA to "select" BE4 because of extreme rigor required in testing, thus a difficult to qualify engine (by it being a closed cycle) lengthens the schedule on Vulcan more than what they need for first flight.)

However, it also means that the alternative of AR-1 also gets compared against BE4 and this higher standard, thus AJR is doublely disadvantaged, since it is already well behind (no where close to full scale on a test stand) and would be compared against an engine already targeting higher test standards than planned for with AR-1.

BO by doing this gets an externally vetted, proven, flown engine with which to start with on a multi-engined, fully reusable stage.

Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.
Spot on.

You beat me to it.

Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.
Yes.

The reason that BO does sell engines (and SX doesn't) has little to do with revenue (it does build the business as a practice). Has something to do with increasing flight history. SX already is exhaustively flying Merlin - who could fly them more than SX itself (which tells you exactly who SX could ever potentially partner with for outside of SX use of vehicles, just two names on that list, and it would have to be for a big deal given displacement of missions).

These deals reach a level where they accumulate a stack of data/experience, and its "take it or leave it". Which is hard for both ULA and OATK with BE-3 as we have seen.

Back to this original thread. In re: "NASA is forcing change" vs. "NASA forces changes". None of the world's space agencies (or arsenal systems contractors) force changes - only the market forces changes, and that happens too late for them to recover.

They can "force changes" on their providers/vendors/contractors. In many cases it may not have the effect to "force changes" on the industry, as they don't have that need, witness the only two CC instead of three choices, and FAR.

add:
Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.
Dunno.

Think there's a good chance of Falcon 9 given some things I've heard from Boeing.

We won't know about Vulcan for awhile, given AR-1 "down select" didn't happen at the end of 2017, and no one is willing to say when BE4 will be accepted. Suggests that they may "go ahead" at some point w/o the expected unconditional testing assurance once arrogantly claimed by Bruno (walked back like NSS mission by 2020 "eating hat with mustard bet" tweet?)

Yes large scale methalox ORSC isn't a walk in the park, as it's the very definition of "playing with fire" (cue the music).

add:

And ... have been asked how to advance SLS irrespective of political and ASAP limits with current developments but w/o FH as a LV.

Current "off the wall" way would to use an advantage of the existing SLS core with its overdesigned for RSRB reinforcement (that significantly limits performance. Enough is present for three F9R boosters on a side, allowing uprating IMLEO to about 140t (180t if no recovery), and likely more with a longer term core redesign following flight.

(The "cheap solids" aren't cheap anymore given mature F9 in use. They also limit performance for SLS, also cost and yearly flight rate/budget, so they have turned into a "must have" political albatross. If you add up all the lifetime costs of the total programs end to end, none of the big solids for SLS/CXP payout. Unless you're a political shill.)
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 08:22 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline envy887

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2018 11:59 AM by woods170 »

Offline MaxTeranous

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.

I agree with all your points - but following it through to it's logical conclusion, lets assume for a moment that in 2/3 years some potential issue is identified with the BE-4. Something similar to the Merlin M1D blades cracking issue. NASA knowing the issue would also require changes to the BE-4 - just like they did with Merlin. If that situation occurs then although Blue Origin is in a position to tell them to go take a hike, that would leave ULA right up the creek without a paddle. Would NASA uncertify (or refuse to certify) Vulcan due to the BE-4 problem? Same situation - they have 2 contractors for a reason, but I reckon it'd take more balls on NASA's behalf to remove flights from ULA than a new space company, simply due to politics.

Offline envy887

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.

And if BE-4 has evidence of turbine cracking or similar potential issues in that documentation, NASA will tell Blue to fix it. And Blue will fix it unless they never want to fly NASA or USAF payloads on BE-4 including New Glenn. Eventually Blue needs customers, and NASA is the #1 customer in the launch business. Even Bezos doesn't have enough money to tell NASA to get lost if he wants to build a launch service business (rather than a hobby).

NASA didn't have that choice with RD-180. Not certifying Atlas isn't an option, they would have figured out a qualification program to accept rather than fix any documented potential issues with RD-180.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2018 03:12 PM by envy887 »

Online woods170

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.

And if BE-4 has evidence of turbine cracking or similar potential issues in that documentation, NASA will tell Blue to fix it. And Blue will fix it unless they never want to fly NASA or USAF payloads on BE-4 including New Glenn. Eventually Blue needs customers, and NASA is the #1 customer in the launch business. Even Bezos doesn't have enough money to tell NASA to get lost if he wants to build a launch service business (rather than a hobby).

NASA didn't have that choice with RD-180. Not certifying Atlas isn't an option, they would have figured out a qualification program to accept rather than fix any documented potential issues with RD-180.

You clearly have no idea just how deep Bezos' pockets are. You also don't understand that the primary customers Blue is after are not NASA and/or USAF but commercial.
Bezos wants the planet to become a park where people live and work. He wants to move heavy industry and resource-mining off-Earth.
He is never going to accomplish that by relying on NASA, USAF, or any other US government agency. He needs commercial initiatives for that. Bezos knows this and it is the very reason why you have not seen any significant involvement of NASA with any of Blue's operations.

Let's assume for a minute that your scenario plays out: Starliner launches on Vulcan and a problem with the BE-4 turbopump is found. Blue will likely fix it. But not because they would be afraid to lose NASA money. Remember, Blue is just a sub-contractor to ULA. NASA would in fact not tell Blue to go fix the problem, they would tell Boeing to go fix the problem. Boeing in turn would tell ULA and ULA in turn would tell Blue. Given that Blue is not obliged to serve NASA, but is obliged to serve ULA it would probably fix the problem to do ULA a favor. Not NASA because what little CCP funding reaches Blue for the BE-4 engine, is just a trickle compared to what Blue will be receiving by then from commercial contracts and Bezos' personal wealth.

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