Author Topic: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future  (Read 17185 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Feature article on LauncherOne via quotes from William Pomerantz, Vice President, Special Projects at Virgin Galactic speaking at the SpaceTech Expo, via video captured by Derrick Stamos.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/06/virgin-galactic-prepare-busy-launcherone-future/

Spent a fair amount of time to write down most of what he said, so it's a bit long, but we don't cover this sort of thing every week like SpaceX or SLS, etc. I was sold listening to him, so it was worth an article.

Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:

Offline Longhorn John

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/2016 01:39 PM »
I'm sold too. That was a great read and this could really work out well for them.

Offline KEdward5

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #2 on: 06/30/2016 02:17 PM »
A really interesting and informative read. And William Pomerantz retweeted it, so he must have liked it too!

I hope they provide live coverage of the test launch!

Offline abaddon

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #3 on: 06/30/2016 02:27 PM »
What a strange idea, to focus on the rocket and then get a COTS aircraft, as opposed to building a custom aircraft without anything to launch with it...

With that OneWeb contract and a straightforward no-nonsense plan they seem pretty well-positioned to succeed in this space if anyone can.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2016 02:28 PM by abaddon »

Online Comga

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #4 on: 06/30/2016 02:52 PM »
Interesting but not convincing, IMHO.

LOX on an air-launched system is interesting, as is the "linerless composite tanks" for said LOX. 

It is not clear why they want to launch from both east and west coasts.   The 747 should be able to fly far enough off the east coast to launch polar / sun-synchronous missions from the same place as their low inclination orbits. (I don't think the term "equatorial" is correct.)  The 747 can "self ferry" pretty easily but why maintain two facilities?  They could even fly it to the Gulf of Mexico to launch low inclination orbit from a west coast base. 

It is also curious that they specify 50 miles off shore.  That would give up one of the major advantages of air launch.  Besides the ability to launch into polar orbits from the east coast, they could do things like fix the time of day of the launch and fly to the appropriate longitude, rather than wait for the target orbit to pass over a fixed base.

It is also interesting that the second stage and payload faring are both of slightly less diameter than the first stage. Apparently they don't agree with the advantages others see in keeping a single diameter for commonality.

The two figures disagree. One has little wings.  The other has tail fins.  Neither look like other air launch concepts.

The discussion of SS2 is also curious.  It almost sounds like this part of the company is running away from SS2 and WK2.  They don't seem to share anything except name and owner.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline abaddon

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #5 on: 06/30/2016 03:09 PM »
The discussion of SS2 is also curious.  It almost sounds like this part of the company is running away from SS2 and WK2.  They don't seem to share anything except name and owner.
Doesn't seem curious to me at all, really, when you consider SS2 and WK2 were designed and developed out-of-house, and with all of the problems that have been attached to that project.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2016 03:11 PM by abaddon »

Offline Seattle Dave

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #6 on: 06/30/2016 04:25 PM »
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.

Online Comga

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #7 on: 06/30/2016 10:17 PM »
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.

That's faint praise. ;)
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online jongoff

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #8 on: 07/01/2016 04:31 AM »
Great article! I think a lot of people are overly pessimistic about Launcher One because of VGs challenges with SS2. They have a good team, good funding, and a fair amount of momentum behind them. And frankly, they're not really that far behind where SpaceX was at a comparable point in their orbital launch development timeline (4yrs in).

I'm a bit biased because I know Will and the Launcher One Chief Engineer Kevin Sagis from my NGLLC days, but I'm rooting for them.

~Jon

Online wannamoonbase

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #9 on: 07/01/2016 02:52 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #10 on: 07/01/2016 02:57 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.

No need to speculate. The graphic above says pump-fed for both engines.

Online Kryten

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #11 on: 07/01/2016 02:59 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Online wannamoonbase

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #12 on: 07/01/2016 04:01 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.

No need to speculate. The graphic above says pump-fed for both engines.

Thanks, I need to stop reading on my old iphone.

Edit: That N4 turbo pump must be just the cutest thing, like a kitten or puppy.
« Last Edit: 07/01/2016 04:02 PM by wannamoonbase »
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Offline abaddon

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #13 on: 07/01/2016 04:55 PM »
Boy, that video clip was 90's supercar porn - Ferrari Testarossa, F-40, and Lamborghini Diablo. 1500 hp !
That's actually a Berlinetta, I think.  The F-40 is an 80's car, the F-50 was the 90's version.  But that does appear to be an F-40 (which was the superior of the two in most people's minds).

Sorry for the off-topic, getting back to rockets...

Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #14 on: 07/03/2016 05:57 PM »
Does anyone know the weight of Launcherone?  Seems to me the extra weight on the port side will have to be compensated for.  When Pegasus flew on B52 they could transfer fuel according to Antonio Elias. Quote
"We didn't just inspect the B-52, we flew 6 mission with it! (I was the LPO on missions 1 and 4)

B-52 s/n 0008 (good ol' "balls 8") had a large fuselage tank on the centerline as well as tanks on the the wings (but no tip tanks like later B-52 versions).  Pegasus was hung from the pylon on the starboard (right) wing.

After towing the Pegasus-carrying trailer under the wing, but before attaching the rocket, we transfered fuel to the starboard wing tanks to lower the starboard wing.

We then raised the trailer a bit and attached Pegasus to the pylon.

Next, we transfered fuel to the port side to lift the Pegasus up from the trailer (we also lowered the trailer bed.)

We then took off with more fuel on the port side to balance the Pegasus on the starboard side, making the B-52 weight-symmetric at takeoff.

Before drop, we transfered fuel to the starboard side to make the aircraft heavy on the rocket side by about ONE HALF THE ROCKET WEIGHT.

When the rocket was dropped, the aircraft became instantly port-heavy by the same amount (on-half the rocket weight).  The lateral aerodynamics of the B-52 were more than sufficient to handle these asymmetries.   Also, the left-turning tendency was used by the pilot to acheive lateral separation from the release flight path.

Before landing, the fuel was equalized so, again, the aircraft was weight-symmetrical."

I don't think there has ever been a large weighted object ever ejected off the wing of a 747.

Online Comga

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #15 on: 07/03/2016 07:15 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Curiously on slide 3 this presentation lists launch sites as the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC, Mojave Air and Space Port, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Why Wallops?
The only orbits unique to Wallops are 55 to 60 degrees.
What prevents the 747 from flying eastward from KSC to where a 60 degree inclination launch doesn't overfly land?
Or far enough west from Mojave to reach 55 deg?
And again, they exclude polar orbits from the East coast, even though the 747 could fly out far enough over the Atlantic.
There are also no inclinations below 28.5 degrees, (KSC) even though Cosmic Girl should be able to fly southward.
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline mfck

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #16 on: 07/03/2016 09:44 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Curiously on slide 3 this presentation lists launch sites as the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC, Mojave Air and Space Port, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Why Wallops?
The only orbits unique to Wallops are 55 to 60 degrees.
What prevents the 747 from flying eastward from KSC to where a 60 degree inclination launch doesn't overfly land?
Or far enough west from Mojave to reach 55 deg?
And again, they exclude polar orbits from the East coast, even though the 747 could fly out far enough over the Atlantic.
There are also no inclinations below 28.5 degrees, (KSC) even though Cosmic Girl should be able to fly southward.
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.
Might that be due to range dependence?

Offline joek

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #17 on: 07/03/2016 10:25 PM »
Might that be due to range dependence?

Likely; some facilities may also factor into it.  Locations and inclinations are very similar to Pegasus (or a subset thereof); from the Pegasus users guide...

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #18 on: 07/04/2016 07:49 AM »
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.

The further the range, the more fuel the aircraft needs to carry, which lessens the payload that can be dropped. Perhaps there is a maximum range in order to achieve the specified payload.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Nibb31

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Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #19 on: 07/05/2016 01:19 PM »
Launch location is always going to be limited by the number of airports that are both big enough to accomodate a 747 and have LOX/RP1 storage and handling facilities.

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