Author Topic: Antares General Discussion Thread  (Read 179080 times)

Online Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #720 on: 04/18/2017 10:44 PM »
The global launch provider market is congested already, and congesting still further, absent some peculiar, potential markets that haven't happened yet (if ever).

There doesn't seem to be much room for NSS launch services, an even more rarefied subset. Sort of like NASA wanting three commercial crew/cargo providers, but congress allowing ... fewer, hard to argue for more than two.

Even more difficult is the position of use of a non-indigenous propulsion vendor, where OA has its own solid motors in house, as well as BO's BE3/4 and AJR's RL10/AR1.

That quick decision for the RD-191 derivative RD-181 may not have been fast enough, significant enough to matter.

And there's never been much of a manifest growth for Antares. Perhaps it has relied too much on serendipity to lift/improve its fortunes, as with other Orbital LV's in the past. Absent recent changes in the launch provider market, that may have not been a stretch.

A solids only 3 stage NGL might actually survive post BE-4/Vulcan, leaving AR-1 as the odd man out.

But its hard to imagine OA fielding two marginal manifested, incompatible LVs, especially with ULA and SX duking it out for payloads. Also, this isn't the only difficult LV market for OA to field, Pegasus and Minotaur also have challenges in the next few years too. Too few payloads, for too many LV's/configurations/...

add:
You know, Aerojet tried to acquire Atlas V IPR to field themselves, could they acquire, even use Antares/Yuzhnoye to field a vehicle, even given the "bad blood" over AJ26? One crazy idea might inspire another crazy one ...  ::)
« Last Edit: 04/18/2017 10:52 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline woods170

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #721 on: 04/19/2017 06:49 AM »
Antares once they've optimized the first stage for the new engines will probably be able to get another 1000lbs up, but it still won't be able to match atlas I believe.

My take on this (sorry in advance for dragging a certain company from Hawthorne into the mix):
The entry of SpaceX into the market resulted in ULA dropping it's price for the basic versions of Atlas 5. When that happened Atlas V became a cost-effective solution for getting (enhanced) Cygnus into orbit with a bonus being the increased up-mass capacity.
So, if and when Antares is put on the back-burner with Atlas V taking the majority of Cygnus launches than SpaceX has succeeded in putting at least one competing launcher out of action.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #722 on: 04/19/2017 12:31 PM »
Don't forget that Antares is the last NPO Energomash client on the West, and the same goes for Yuzhnoye. I'm pretty sure they will make a very special price to OA to keep their business. Yuzhnoye might go as far as to give it the RD-871 engines (basically a clone of the RD-120K), to keep it on the "politically correct" supply list. So I wouldn't count it out, just yet. Having three launches per year should be enough for them (Yuzhnoye and OA), and they would "keep" most of the revenue.
AIUI, the CRS-2 is for current Enhanced Cygnus and they don't have many incentives to make a Super Cygnus (4 segment PCM).
« Last Edit: 04/19/2017 12:31 PM by baldusi »

Offline acolangelo

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #723 on: 04/19/2017 11:47 PM »
NGL is a big "IF" at this point.  If the Government wants NGL, Orbital ATK will proceed with development.  If not, it won't.  There are only going to be two ultimate EELV winners.  Right now there are at least three competitors.

It’s certainly an if, but I wouldn’t say big if. The Air Force policy is to have two providers, but that doesn’t necessarily limit this next round of contracts to only two winners.

I think we would all be shocked if Vulcan isn’t a winner. SpaceX may throw their hat in the ring with something like a new Falcon 9/Heavy variant with a Raptor-powered upper stage.

But with the Falcon family (mostly) up and running and starting to launch DOD payloads—and with parts of the US government already a bit weary of constant Falcon upgrades—I wouldn’t be surprised if NGL is awarded a contract.

Especially considering how much vested interest there is within both NASA and the DOD in keeping Orbital ATK around.
Writing and podcasting about spaceflight at mainenginecutoff.com.

Online Lars-J

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #724 on: 04/20/2017 12:07 AM »
Antares once they've optimized the first stage for the new engines will probably be able to get another 1000lbs up, but it still won't be able to match atlas I believe.

My take on this (sorry in advance for dragging a certain company from Hawthorne into the mix):
The entry of SpaceX into the market resulted in ULA dropping it's price for the basic versions of Atlas 5. When that happened Atlas V became a cost-effective solution for getting (enhanced) Cygnus into orbit with a bonus being the increased up-mass capacity.
So, if and when Antares is put on the back-burner with Atlas V taking the majority of Cygnus launches than SpaceX has succeeded in putting at least one competing launcher out of action.

Exactly. NGL is irrelevant for Antares. Thanks to OrbitalATKs use of Atlas V, Antares will fade away even if NGL never happens.

I know Antares was an Orbital project before the merger with ATK, and after the merger it really looks like OrbitalATK has zero interest in Antares.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 12:10 AM by Lars-J »

Online Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #725 on: 04/20/2017 03:24 AM »
It's a really good question to ask "who wants Antares/NGL" and "why do they want Antares/NGL".

Originally Antares, like F9 and K-1 before that, were funded under a non-EELV program to provide Delta II class launch services, as Delta II was (still is) going away, largely due to its high labor costs (and little crossover with other LV's).

NGL isn't a Delta II class but an EELV class. If Atlas V flies indefinitely (which is possible but not assured), apparently the Delta II class need that handled Cygnus payloads ... seems to be obviated by a low cost, higher volume Atlas V. And, as we've seen, no additional missions on the manifest. At a guess, the theory here is possibly that a RTLS 24 hour F9R with a sequence of F9US probably handles the rest of that need below Antares costing.

So the only remaining reason is for OA to self-contract/manufacture/qualify/launch entire missions as a one-stop shop - which we have yet to see them do, kind of like Boeing/LockMart do through ULA themselves (haven't seen SX do this either yet). How likely is that?

As far as NPO Energomash, does it really make a difference selling one RD-180 or two RD-181's? Same either way (if Atlas V still flies post Vulcan step up).

NGL, like SLS, exercises the solids, in this case in the potential performance of NSS missions. If SLS, then lowers aggregate costs due to volume (Antares/NGL/SLS are all very low frequency). If not SLS, then like Athena, used to retain a potential capability long term.

However, NASA and AF have had interests in low cost, high frequency launches under the theory that below a certain threshold they could engage in more effective "usage of space".

In that ambition, where does "keeping alive" OA launch appeal to any govt (or commercial for that matter) interest? Don't get it?

Agree with woods170, that Antares might be one of the early victims of the current congested launch provider market, as perhaps Atlas V gets "cheap" enough in volume that it could have.

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