Author Topic: SPECIAL EVENT: George Sowers - ULA VP for Human Launch Services - Q&A  (Read 55741 times)

Offline georgesowers

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Currently in the commercial space market, insurance companies indemnify the comsat customers for lost payloads and missions related to launch vehicle performance.  Do you envision a similar situation for commercial crew missions?

See previous answer (question #5)

Offline georgesowers

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Have you coordinated clocking of the spacecrafts between CST-100 and DC? And with Dragon?

Yes, and as a launch provider, we try to maintain compatibility with all potential spacecraft.

Offline georgesowers

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What is the plan for the first test launch with a crewed vehicle? (Unmanned, a CST-100 or DC, estimated date for this event)?

ULA could support the first test launch as early as (late) 2015, if funded.  I can't speak to the specific's of the primes' schedules.

Offline georgesowers

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What are your thoughts on SLS? I assume ULA are still proponents of the "master plan" with prop depots...

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/09/ula-claim-gap-reducing-solution-via-eelv-exploration-master-plan/

..., but does that impact on support for a HLV?

ULA is currently providing the DIV upperstage (through BA) to the be the iCPS for SLS.  ULA is also very supportive of the development of technologies for long duration storage and transfer of cryogenic propellents, as represented by NASA's CPST initiative.  These technologies are, in my opinion, enabling of BEO exploration regardless of the launch architecture.  We are incorporating many of these technologies into ACES.

Offline georgesowers

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If NASA ends up picking SpaceX as its only commercial crew provider after the end of CCicap in 2014, would ULA continue its human rating efforts relating to the Atlas V in order to service other companies that would decide to service the non-NASA market (e.g., Blue Origin or perhaps Dream Chaser)?

Second, would you consider human rating the Atlas V Heavy to be used for Orion and will the Atlas V Heavy ever be a reality? 

Can you expand on the work that is being done on the dual centaur and the EDS as part of Boeing's CCiCap base period milestones. After the CCiCap base period, will the dual centaur and the EDS essentially be ready?

Hard to say what we would do without knowing more about the circumstances, but certainly we would follow the lead of our customers.

Not currently, and unlikely.

Without the options, CCiCap will bring both the DEC and EDS to a CDR level of maturity.

And i thought you only got one question...

Offline georgesowers

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With the supply of RD-180 apparently finite, are there plans already in the works for a replacement kerolox engine(s) for Atlas V/human rating?

There are no limits to the supply of RD-180's. 

That being said, ULA is interested in and supportive of any efforts to develop a US built high performance kerolox engine, like Aerojet's recent award under the SLS advanced booster.

Offline mmeijeri

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Would there be any merit in a future merger between the newly merged Aerojet + Rocketdyne and ULA?
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

Offline georgesowers

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Have you any information from P&W about how long it would take them to develop and qualify a cheaper modern manufacturing and materials RL-10 version? If you do, about how long would that be? Also the same questions about XCOR’s RL-10 class replacement engine?

We are always interested in ideas from PWR to improve the RL10 and I already mentioned the RL10C.  Our work with XCOR is aimed at technology development and risk reduction and has a long term horizon.

OK, so I got through one page (whew!!).  Time for a break.  Hopefully I can get to some more later this afternoon.
« Last Edit: 08/23/2012 06:02 PM by georgesowers »

Online Chris Bergin


OK, so I got through one page (whew!!).  Time for a break.  Hopefully I can get to some more later this afternoon.

Much appreciated! :)

Offline Downix

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How is the development of the Delta Common Booster Core coming along?
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline MP99

And we have been working hard on ACES, the next generation Centaur with all kinds of enhancements for producability, reliability, long duration, commonality and performance.

Many thanks for some fascinating insights.

Excellent to see ACES is still an ongoing programme - I've had the impression it was less active.

Does it look likely that ACES will make it all the way through to production as things stand (eg to launch existing payloads at lower cost), or would there need to be a specific payload (like drove the RS-68A upgrade) to carry it over the line?

Supplementary (but related) question if I may - how much difference would ACES make over the existing upper stages in helping with launch costs?

Thanks, Martin

Offline PahTo

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Indeed, thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions, Dr. Sowers!

Offline georgesowers

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Back for a little while.

Congratulations to George and team. I know you guys have been trying to fight the fight for a long time now to convince NASA to use Atlas V for flying people (in spite of the fact that they're fine with using it for flying unique, multi $B unmanned payloads).

Do you think the flight rates you'll get for Atlas V between commercial crew flights and existing satellite launches will get high enough to start seeing per-launch costs start dropping again? Does the higher flight rate and more RL-10s per flight make it look like you are likely to get the price of RL-10s back into a sane price/engine range?

~Jon

As you know, the single greatest factor on per unit launch cost is flight rate.  So yes, additional rate from Commercial Crew would be beneficial across the board, including engines.  (BTW, define "sane")

Offline georgesowers

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Are there any plans to market a man-rated Atlas to customers outside of the current CCicap program or outside of the USA?

ULA (and LM prior to ULA), has been working with Bigelow since 2005.  We are definitely open to anyone who wants to buy launch services.  However, if the end customer is other than the USG, the sale is through either BA or LM.

Offline Jim

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  However, if the end customer is other than the USG, the sale is through either BA or LM.

So, that is why ULA is working directly with BA and SNC for commercial crew vs LM?
« Last Edit: 08/23/2012 08:04 PM by Jim »

Offline georgesowers

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With the possibility of running out of RD-180's and being replace by a new American made engine(s) will the Atlas first stage be upgraded to a 5 meter core and still be human rated ( Atlas phase II or similar )?

That being with the stumpy version for light payloads, regular length with up to 6 SRB's, and with the possibility to upgrade to the 70mt triple core.

Not sure where the notion that RD-180 supply is limited is coming from, but it's not true.

The idea of a 5m Lox/RP booster (the old Atlas phase II) is still a very attractive growth option:  Atlas fuels and engines on a Delta booster tank.  It continues to live on our advanced planning drawing board, waiting for an opportunity.

Offline georgesowers

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To maintain the excellent track record of Atlas V, what level of insight into crewed vehicle designs has ULA required? On the flip side, how much will ULA change its launch operations when keeping crew safe (via abort) can require loss of the launch vehicle during ascent?

We are working hand in glove with the primes to provide an integrated crew delivery service, and recieve (as well as provide) all the insight required to do that.

We are trying to change the launch ops as little as possible while accomodating crew.  Flight ops does require a bit of adjustment.  For example, today's flight SW is designed to always keep trying (to reach orbit) no matter what the vehicle is doing around it.  With crew, the SW mind set has to change to "save the crew first".  The trick is eliminating false aborts (really minimizing), while ensuring every flight failure is survivable (really maximizing).  In safety speak, minimize LOC without increasing LOM.

Offline deepseaskydiver

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While the RD-180 supply is not finite, with some of the recent troubles in the Russian aerospace industry (and rumblings of "buy American" in launch vehicle procurement by the gov't) is there any thought towards American production of the RD-180?

Offline georgesowers

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I've got a question on EFT-1. What is the launch vehicle availability situation, given NASA are claiming EFT-1 Orion will be ready to fly way ahead of the Delta IV-H's availability. Are there any get-wells to stop the mission slipping into the summer of 2014?

The LV for EFT-1 is in our production and launch queue and production is underway.  The projected launch date has been agreed to between ULA, LM and NASA and ULA is on track.  If Orion is planning to an earlier date, that is prudent since it's the first flight for the spacecraft and there's more risk.  The Delta IV rocket, on the other hand, is a mature product.

Offline georgesowers

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What sort of work would be involved and on what timescale should it be desirous to man-rate the D4H in the near future and will the introduction of the RS-68A assist in achieving this in a timely fashion should it be needed?

There is not direct work ongoing to human rate the DIV. 

However, Both Atlas and Delta are going to "common avionics", a ULA funded upgrade which is the baseline for commercial crew.  Common avionics is designed to be human rated and have accomodations for the EDS.  EDS is being designed to accomodate DIV.

In addition, the DIV upperstage, as the iCPS for SLS, will be human rated.  With all that in place, the driver for human rating DIV would be access and egress at the pad.

Not sure the RS68A has any bearing one way or the other.

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