Author Topic: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft  (Read 26653 times)

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Eric Berger (Ars Technica) just published an article detailing an RFI that may signal trouble for the Orion program.

As Trump takes over, NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
Quote
NASA has initiated a process that raises questions about the future of its Orion spacecraft. So far, this procedural effort has flown largely under the radar, because it came in the form of a subtle Request for Information (RFI) that nominally seeks to extend NASA’s contract to acquire future Orion vehicles after Exploration Mission-2, which likely will fly sometime between 2021 and 2023.

Nevertheless, three sources familiar with the RFI, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Ars there is more to the request than a simple extension for Orion’s primary contractor, Lockheed Martin. Perhaps most radically, the RFI may even open the way for a competitor, such as Boeing or SpaceX, to substitute its own upgraded capsule for Orion in the mid-2020s.

Offline pikawaka

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 10
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #1 on: 11/10/2016 06:00 PM »
The 2 big problems I can see with switching off Orion are SLS compatibility and the service module, specifically the available Delta-V. Orion has around 1.3 KM/S in the SM, and I'd think both Dragon and CST-100 would have significantly less, being designed for LEO ferry operations. So any proposal would need to account for the cost of adding extra propulsion to either craft.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4872
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #2 on: 11/10/2016 06:14 PM »
Star liner in particular should have no big problem with adding more propellant except it makes abort more sluggish.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #3 on: 11/10/2016 06:22 PM »
On the other hand, that delta-V was built into Orion with a Constellation-style lunar sortie mission in mind.  That mission is long gone.  ARRM has now been designed around that delta-V, but ARRM seems unlikely to survive the upcoming change of administrations.  So there may not actually be any requirement for it, and it probably isn't sized right for most other purposes.

Maintaining an additional large-delta-V version of CST-100 would probably be cheaper than keeping Orion on line.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 02:09 AM by Proponent »

Offline pikawaka

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 10
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #4 on: 11/10/2016 06:28 PM »
Star liner in particular should have no big problem with adding more propellant except it makes abort more sluggish.

So the Starliner SM can be used for orbital maneuvers? What engine(s) does it use, and what kind of performance can you get relative to the AJ10 on Orion?

Online brickmack

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 258
  • USA
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #5 on: 11/10/2016 07:42 PM »
The 2 big problems I can see with switching off Orion are SLS compatibility and the service module, specifically the available Delta-V. Orion has around 1.3 KM/S in the SM, and I'd think both Dragon and CST-100 would have significantly less, being designed for LEO ferry operations. So any proposal would need to account for the cost of adding extra propulsion to either craft.

Starliner at least could probably use an ACES as a tug for BEO missions. ULA has studied this option before. SpaceX doesn't have anything available off the shelf, but they could fit a decent propellant load plus a couple (Super?)Dracos in the trunk, and this would almost certainly be much cheaper than continued Orion development.

As for SLS compatibility, I see little reason for that to be a requirement. Vulcan and FH can perform the job just fine, though distributed launch may be needed to deliver any additional payloads and fuel (still cheaper than an SLS launch, and doesn't require SLS to be manrated if that program continues)

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #6 on: 11/10/2016 07:46 PM »
Do Starliner and Dragon have enough ECLSS endurance to be useful in cislunar space? I did some searching but I haven't been able to find CCtCAP ECLSS requirements. 

Also, is the Starliner heat shield robust enough for cislunar return trajectories?

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3407
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2674
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #7 on: 11/10/2016 08:11 PM »
Starliner at least could probably use an ACES as a tug for BEO missions. ULA has studied this option before. SpaceX doesn't have anything available off the shelf, but they could fit a decent propellant load plus a couple (Super?)Dracos in the trunk, and this would almost certainly be much cheaper than continued Orion development.

If launched on a Falcon Heavy, the 2nd stage would be able to stay attached and provide propulsion beyond LEO.  You could probably create a module for the trunk area (which would not abort with the spacecraft during an ascent emergency) that would house the additional life support equipment and supplies.

Quote
As for SLS compatibility, I see little reason for that to be a requirement. Vulcan and FH can perform the job just fine, though distributed launch may be needed to deliver any additional payloads and fuel (still cheaper than an SLS launch, and doesn't require SLS to be manrated if that program continues)

Agreed.
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 rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #8 on: 11/10/2016 08:31 PM »
This would, in theory, also allow LM to propose a non-ATV based SM for Orion.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2016 08:31 PM by rayleighscatter »

Offline hkultala

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 640
  • Liked: 173
  • Likes Given: 105
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #9 on: 11/10/2016 08:36 PM »
The 2 big problems I can see with switching off Orion are SLS compatibility and the service module, specifically the available Delta-V. Orion has around 1.3 KM/S in the SM, and I'd think both Dragon and CST-100 would have significantly less, being designed for LEO ferry operations. So any proposal would need to account for the cost of adding extra propulsion to either craft.

Where is that 1.3km/s delta-v needed? Getting back from LLO to earth?

But who wants to go to moon anyway? The aim is now to Mars?

And that 1.3 km/s is not enough to get back from LMO, especially with a habitat attached to the orion capsule.

Orion just looks like to be "Apollo CSM 2.0" when something else is needed.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2016 08:37 PM by hkultala »

Offline redliox

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1719
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 323
  • Likes Given: 54
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #10 on: 11/10/2016 08:40 PM »
Never hurts to have a plan B...or perhaps we should say "plan T" in light of the election.

I would prefer to keep the SLS but kill Orion.  If it does end up replaced, it'd make sense to replace it with something current or well underway, which would include Dragon, Starliner, or even Dream Chaser.  The poor Orion was a mess simply because they couldn't mesh the launcher and SM requirements together since the Ares 1 days.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2016 08:40 PM by redliox »
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #11 on: 11/10/2016 09:06 PM »
Specification for vehicle depends on mission requirements. As taxi to and from DSH it only needs support crew for few days. The right US (eg ACES) could deliver vehicle direct to DSH leaving a DV requirement of 7-800m/s for return trip.

Both Starliner and Dragon would need separate service modules that can be left behind during an launch abort.
Enlarging Starliner service module fuel tanks would make it too heavy for LAS, better to have extra one that is left behind in an abort. Dragon has to abort with trunk attached, extra fuel and engines in trunk wouldn't be option. A Dragon service module would require more powerful engines than Dracos. SuperDracos are too inefficient  (<250ISP) for large orbital changes.

Blue could be dark horse in this race. The NG with BE3 3rd stage could be capable of delivering crew vehicle direct to DSH while reusing booster. With moon as long term destination, it is good bet Blue orbital crew vehicle will be designed for BLEO missions.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2016 09:07 PM by TrevorMonty »

Online brickmack

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 258
  • USA
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #12 on: 11/10/2016 10:15 PM »
or even Dream Chaser.

Would be quite interesting to have a BEO spaceplane, theres been a few proposals over the years. It would be an attractive option in terms of crew volume, if not mass efficiency. And SNC seems quite willing to build multiple configurations for different uses

Do Starliner and Dragon have enough ECLSS endurance to be useful in cislunar space? I did some searching but I haven't been able to find CCtCAP ECLSS requirements.

CCT-REQ-1130 is the closest I've found (requirements document for commercial crew in general), but it doesn't say a huge amount on ECLSS. Looks like they're expecting launch to docking to take about 24 hours, plus a 24 hour contingency for rendezvous/docking failures, and undocking to landing would be about 8 hours at most. So 56 hours total, for a maximum 7 man crew. Thats about 4 days endurance with a 4 man crew, not good enough. However, I'd expect that all the companies have gone at least a little bit beyond the minimum requirements, and those 3-4 extra seats can be filled with consumables, so its not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Offline docmordrid

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4275
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 1431
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #13 on: 11/10/2016 11:34 PM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...
« Last Edit: 11/10/2016 11:39 PM by docmordrid »
DM

Offline okan170

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 991
  • Los Angeles
  • Liked: 5123
  • Likes Given: 1240
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #14 on: 11/11/2016 12:48 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

Offline docmordrid

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4275
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 1431
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #15 on: 11/11/2016 12:56 AM »
Have NASA's CEV, Constellation, SLS/Orion dates been better?  Even if Spaceship testing slips 5-6 years it beats SLS/Orion to Mars.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 12:58 AM by docmordrid »
DM

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7948
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2155
  • Likes Given: 5090
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #16 on: 11/11/2016 01:22 AM »
Have NASA's CEV, Constellation, SLS/Orion dates been better?  Even if Spaceship testing slips 5-6 years it beats SLS/Orion to Mars.
I said a few years back that I liked having the CST-100 in the works for a potential vehicle for a BEO upgrade but I never thought it would be considered so soon... ???
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Online brickmack

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 258
  • USA
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #17 on: 11/11/2016 01:38 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

ITS is quite something, but it has the problem of being unmatched. NASA probably won't want to go with a commercial provider with no backup. Unless BO's capsule for NG is something really huge (like 40+ people), or someone else pops up with a colonization-class spacecraft, theres no backup for ITS yet. I expect NASA will eventually fund a "mega-CCDev" to make more vehicles like that, but by the time it actually happens ITS will probably have a very large lead

Offline okan170

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 991
  • Los Angeles
  • Liked: 5123
  • Likes Given: 1240
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #18 on: 11/11/2016 02:27 AM »
Have NASA's CEV, Constellation, SLS/Orion dates been better?  Even if Spaceship testing slips 5-6 years it beats SLS/Orion to Mars.

Yes, assuming miracle development and funding and no hitches it could.  And nothing SpaceX has decided "isn't a problem."  Basically yes, SLS/Orion dates are significantly more believable, and to most non-space people as well.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #19 on: 11/11/2016 02:40 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

What SpaceX can do entirely with internal funding is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what they could do with the Orion plus SLS budget.  And the answer is: ITS.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #20 on: 11/11/2016 02:45 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

ITS is quite something, but it has the problem of being unmatched. NASA probably won't want to go with a commercial provider with no backup. Unless BO's capsule for NG is something really huge (like 40+ people), or someone else pops up with a colonization-class spacecraft, theres no backup for ITS yet. I expect NASA will eventually fund a "mega-CCDev" to make more vehicles like that, but by the time it actually happens ITS will probably have a very large lead

Orion is also unmatched.  So is SLS.  So, if the question is Orion/SLS versus ITS, in either case there's no backup. So, lack of backup is not relevant.

The days when people could say commercial options need backup but government options don't are rapidly coming to an end.

Offline okan170

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 991
  • Los Angeles
  • Liked: 5123
  • Likes Given: 1240
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #21 on: 11/11/2016 02:47 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

What SpaceX can do entirely with internal funding is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what they could do with the Orion plus SLS budget.  And the answer is: ITS.

Yes and have your entire HLV and architecture beholden to one company with no public benefits.  I don't see why its so desirable that NASA should fund Elon's personal colonization dreams, any more than any of the other Mars plans pitched to NASA over the years by Lockheed and co.  But then again I know what forum I'm posting in.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 02:51 AM by okan170 »

Offline docmordrid

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4275
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 1431
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #22 on: 11/11/2016 02:51 AM »
Is there a difference between one company and the establishment kieretsu? Nope, it's a single source vs a distributed single source. Same difference.
DM

Offline okan170

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 991
  • Los Angeles
  • Liked: 5123
  • Likes Given: 1240
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #23 on: 11/11/2016 02:53 AM »
Is there a difference between one company and the establishment kieretsu? Nope, it's a single source vs a distributed single source. Same difference.

If SpaceX goes out of business, does NASA own the IP?  Thats basically what this whole thing is about with Orion to begin with, that they can shop it around in case Lockheed is unable to pick up the pace and lower the cost.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #24 on: 11/11/2016 03:05 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

What SpaceX can do entirely with internal funding is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what they could do with the Orion plus SLS budget.  And the answer is: ITS.

Yes and have your entire HLV and architecture beholden to one company

Orion is already beholden to one company.  SLS is already beholden to one company.

The government deals with that by signing contracts.  The companies are legally bound by the terms of the contracts.

with no public benefits.

There would be every public benefit there is for Orion and SLS and more.

I don't see why its so desirable that NASA should fund Elon's personal colonization dreams, any more than any of the other Mars plans pitched to NASA over the years by Lockheed and co.  But then again I know what forum I'm posting in.

Elon's personal colonization dreams are irrelevant.

The government is currently paying for Orion and SLS to achieve some ends.  If they can achieve all those ends cheaper by funding ITS instead, the government should do that.  If that accidentally also enables Elon to send people to Mars, that's not a reason to disqualify them.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #25 on: 11/11/2016 03:08 AM »
Is there a difference between one company and the establishment kieretsu? Nope, it's a single source vs a distributed single source. Same difference.

If SpaceX goes out of business, does NASA own the IP?  Thats basically what this whole thing is about with Orion to begin with, that they can shop it around in case Lockheed is unable to pick up the pace and lower the cost.

If the government were only paying a part of the cost of fulfilling the contract, that would be a valid point.  For example, with COTS the government only paid part of the cost and Rocketplane Kistler was supposed to come up with the rest.  They failed and went bankrupt.

But if the $3 billion a year that goes to Orion plus SLS were enough to fund ITS without any additional funding by SpaceX, then your point is invalid.  Companies don't go out of business when they have large government contracts paying the full costs.

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3407
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2674
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #26 on: 11/11/2016 03:14 AM »
What SpaceX can do entirely with internal funding is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what they could do with the Orion plus SLS budget.  And the answer is: ITS.

NASA is currently allowed to spend money looking into going to Mars, but the SLS and Orion were not really justified specifically for a Mars program, so cancelling them won't result in a need to replace them.

I'm a supporter of SpaceX and their goal of making humanity multi-planetary, and I'd even donate some of my play money to help them, but the U.S. Government has no problem today that gets solved by sending government employees to Mars.

So if the SLS and Orion are cancelled, I don't see a comparable amount of funding being redirected to an effort to get to Mars, regardless what the private sector is doing.
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 su27k

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Liked: 413
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #27 on: 11/11/2016 03:36 AM »
If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

SpaceX doesn't need to "build revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale" from the start, why is everyone assuming the first ITS will be able to support 100 colonists? Even an ITS that can only support 4 people to Mars would be a vast improvement comparing to Orion.

Offline su27k

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Liked: 413
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #28 on: 11/11/2016 03:40 AM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

What SpaceX can do entirely with internal funding is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what they could do with the Orion plus SLS budget.  And the answer is: ITS.

Yes and have your entire HLV and architecture beholden to one company with no public benefits.  I don't see why its so desirable that NASA should fund Elon's personal colonization dreams, any more than any of the other Mars plans pitched to NASA over the years by Lockheed and co.  But then again I know what forum I'm posting in.

I agree, NASA shouldn't be Elon's personal bank, if a change of direction is needed then it should be openly competed and preferably multiple providers should be selected. But I think SLS + Orion funding is more than enough to support both ITS and anything Blue Origin/ULA can come up.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #29 on: 11/11/2016 07:55 AM »
Is there a difference between one company and the establishment kieretsu? Nope, it's a single source vs a distributed single source. Same difference.

If SpaceX goes out of business, does NASA own the IP?  Thats basically what this whole thing is about with Orion to begin with, that they can shop it around in case Lockheed is unable to pick up the pace and lower the cost.
Who actually owns the IP of Orion is not exactly clear from public sources. Back when Constellation was canned NASA basically handed Orion back to LockMart, pulling it's own staff off the development team because Obama had cancelled Orion along with the rest of CxP. What happened to the IP when Orion was re-instated is not clear.
There is an indicator pointing to the IP possibly still belonging to the contractor. The "fencing-off" of the Orion work-area in the OC&C. Even NASA personnel, and other non-LockMart personnel must get clearance first before being allowed into that area.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31277
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #30 on: 11/11/2016 11:16 AM »


The government is currently paying for Orion and SLS to achieve some ends.  If they can achieve all those ends cheaper by funding ITS instead, the government should do that.  If that accidentally also enables Elon to send people to Mars, that's not a reason to disqualify them.


just no

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #31 on: 11/11/2016 11:56 AM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #32 on: 11/11/2016 01:17 PM »
Lockheed Martin issued a short statement in response to Eric Berger's story (see attachment).

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4872
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #33 on: 11/11/2016 01:22 PM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.
You read the article?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline notsorandom

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1681
  • Ohio
  • Liked: 373
  • Likes Given: 87
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #34 on: 11/11/2016 01:40 PM »
Lockheed Martin issued a short statement in response to Eric Berger's story (see attachment).
A reduction in cost by 50%? Looks like this RFI did its intended job.

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #35 on: 11/11/2016 02:14 PM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.
You read the article?
I did. I read the RFI too.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=235165b05e83184c0bbdeaaedbc2d429&tab=core&tabmode=list&

The RFI doesn't seem to give any indication at all about substituting alternate spacecraft.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 02:16 PM by rayleighscatter »

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #36 on: 11/11/2016 02:41 PM »
I did. I read the RFI too.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=235165b05e83184c0bbdeaaedbc2d429&tab=core&tabmode=list&

The RFI doesn't seem to give any indication at all about substituting alternate spacecraft.
For ease of access, the RFI documents are attached below.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 02:42 PM by Navier–Stokes »

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #37 on: 11/11/2016 03:38 PM »
The RFI doesn't seem to give any indication at all about substituting alternate spacecraft.

As I began typing this post, I was going to agree.  Then I reread the article and noticed the following passage:
Quote from: Eric Burger in Ars Technica, 10 Nov., 16:47 UTC
"If a respondent wishes to provide a broader input beyond the topics described in this RFI or beyond the technical scope of the Orion spacecraft, then it is requested alternate responses be submitted separately,” the RFI states. It adds that these “alternate approaches” should include an analysis of their cost implications for NASA.
That may seem a little fuzzy, but I think it's about as blunt as can be in the context of an RFI.

Whether a change of spacecraft would have a snowball's chance on Venus of getting through Congress is another question, but it looks to me like there is interest at NASA.

By the way, regarding Orion IP, the article also says:
Quote
The original structure of NASA’s contract with Lockheed Martin is such that NASA “owns” the design work when it is completed, so another contractor, if it could demonstrate a compelling cost advantage, could take over for Exploration Mission-3 and beyond.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2016 03:38 AM by Proponent »

Offline EE Scott

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1145
  • Liked: 39
  • Likes Given: 101
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #38 on: 11/11/2016 03:54 PM »
Any talk of ITS in the context of this RFI just seems way beyond the pale. It is so far from being a reality and so not compatible with NASA's mission plans (so far that they have conceptualized them), that IMO, it's really not helpful.

Also, just IMO, it makes sense to de-couple Orion and SLS if one seeks to salvage at least one of those programs going forward. To me it seems that SLS (if it is deemed worthy of survival by the next Administration) would make a formidable cargo-only LV that can work nicely as part of multi-launch missions where the alternative crew vehicle selected (if it shakes out that way) is launched by an LV from Blue, ULA, SpaceX, or even ESA (Ariane 6?). It also could have great utility as an LV for unmanned planetary probe missions, as we have read a lot about.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 03:55 PM by EE Scott »
Scott

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #39 on: 11/11/2016 11:40 PM »
Any talk of ITS in the context of this RFI just seems way beyond the pale. It is so far from being a reality and so not compatible with NASA's mission plans (so far that they have conceptualized them), that IMO, it's really not helpful.

Also, just IMO, it makes sense to de-couple Orion and SLS if one seeks to salvage at least one of those programs going forward. To me it seems that SLS (if it is deemed worthy of survival by the next Administration) would make a formidable cargo-only LV that can work nicely as part of multi-launch missions where the alternative crew vehicle selected (if it shakes out that way) is launched by an LV from Blue, ULA, SpaceX, or even ESA (Ariane 6?). It also could have great utility as an LV for unmanned planetary probe missions, as we have read a lot about.

What payloads?  The Europa missions were opportunities to keep SLS flying annually so that it would be safe for crewed missions.  Without crew, what justifies the cost of SLS launches?  if you think Science Mission Directorate will carry the cost of SLS, think again.

Without Orion, SLS is history.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2016 11:41 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #40 on: 11/12/2016 12:00 AM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.

Making a distinction between buying hardware and buying services for expendable systems is not rational.  Either way, they have to pay for a new one each time.  The only real difference is how much of the launch cost goes to government employees versus contractor employees.

If you're only interested in the mission, not in which district the jobs are in, buying services versus buying hardware to perform the same mission doesn't matter.


Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3407
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2674
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #41 on: 11/12/2016 12:25 AM »
I agree, NASA shouldn't be Elon's personal bank...

Right, that wouldn't be American.  Instead it should be Boeing and Lockheed Martin's personal bank.

Quote
...if a change of direction is needed then it should be openly competed and preferably multiple providers should be selected.

Yes, that is what should happen.  Unfortunately that didn't happen with the SLS and Orion.

Quote
But I think SLS + Orion funding is more than enough to support both ITS and anything Blue Origin/ULA can come up.

Let's remember that the SLS and Orion were funded directly because they were taking over an existing program - the Constellation program.

But normally new programs are not proposed as 1:1 replacements for programs that are being cancelled.  And if the SLS and Orion do get cancelled, it will be because they are not needed for any known U.S. Government efforts in space.  So if the SLS and Orion are not needed, why would Congress fund a replacement program?

Let's be rational about our expectations here...
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 Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12968
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2829
  • Likes Given: 430
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #42 on: 11/12/2016 02:19 AM »
Orion is already beholden to one company.  SLS is already beholden to one company.

Orion has Lockheed Martin doing the capsule and Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space are doing the Service Module. That's three companies.

SLS has Boeing doing the core and upper stage, Orbital ATK doing the boosters and Aerojet Rocketdyne doing the core and upper stage engines. That's three companies.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2016 03:28 AM by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #43 on: 11/12/2016 05:39 AM »
Orion is already beholden to one company.  SLS is already beholden to one company.

Orion has Lockheed Martin doing the capsule and Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space are doing the Service Module. That's three companies.

SLS has Boeing doing the core and upper stage, Orbital ATK doing the boosters and Aerojet Rocketdyne doing the core and upper stage engines. That's three companies.

But that makes it even worse.  It means any one of those companies failing or being difficult brings the whole effort to a halt.  It means the government is beholden to all of those companies, not just one.

To not be "beholden" to any one company, you need to have competing providers of the same good or service.  On Orion, you don't have three companies competing.  You have three monopolies on three different parts of the system.  And the same thing is true for SLS.

Offline su27k

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Liked: 413
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #44 on: 11/12/2016 08:05 AM »
But normally new programs are not proposed as 1:1 replacements for programs that are being cancelled.  And if the SLS and Orion do get cancelled, it will be because they are not needed for any known U.S. Government efforts in space.  So if the SLS and Orion are not needed, why would Congress fund a replacement program?

Let's be rational about our expectations here...

What I wrote is not my expectation, it's what I think should happen. The most likely outcome is obviously continuing the status quo, but if we limit our discussion to business as usual it would be pretty boring wouldn't it? Besides, as recent event shows, the unexpected can happen, so you never know...

I for one don't know how to qualify what government needs or does not need, from my point of view whatever they decided to get is what they need, and this decision is not always rational. Why would congress fund a replacement program? The same reason they funded $200M for US participation in LHC even though they cancelled SSC. The replacement program doesn't have to be 1:1, a 50% funding would be enough for a robust program, even 10% could make a difference if they follow the COTS model.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #45 on: 11/12/2016 11:23 AM »

By the way, regarding Orion IP, the article also says:
Quote
The original structure of NASA’s contract with Lockheed Martin is such that NASA “owns” the design work when it is completed, so another contractor, if it could demonstrate a compelling cost advantage, could take over for Exploration Mission-3 and beyond.
Oh good. That's the first clear indicator about the IP of the CM that I've seen in quite a while. Nice find!
We already know that the IP of the ESM will be co-shared between NASA and ESA once development of the ESM is complete.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #46 on: 11/12/2016 11:44 AM »
There could be an open competition for say 400mT to orbit annually, starting 2025, with up to four launches, 8+m fairing capability, and minimum crew of 8 per year.  (Adjust the numbers as you see fit for a realistic exploration program that includes Mars by early to mid 2030s.)  Awards would be fixed fee/COTS model.

SLS/Orion would compete with all costs through FY 2017 ignored, but full cost accounting thereafter.  Existing industrial team would be required to propose this option, but each member would be free to propose alternatives or team with others.

Development costs to USG, plus operating costs for ten years (2025-2035) at this threshold 400mT annual rate would be one of the criteria.  Another would be the tonnage and crew delivered to Mars surface per synod. Other technical features could score bonus points.  Distribution of funds to existing industrial partners not a weighed criterion.

At a minimum, this would force the SLS/Orion program to reveal costs, and possibly even work to reduce them. It would also fulfill US Law as we are frequently reminded by Robotbeat:
Quote
To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0
« Last Edit: 11/12/2016 12:18 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline EE Scott

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1145
  • Liked: 39
  • Likes Given: 101
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #47 on: 11/12/2016 11:51 AM »
Any talk of ITS in the context of this RFI just seems way beyond the pale. It is so far from being a reality and so not compatible with NASA's mission plans (so far that they have conceptualized them), that IMO, it's really not helpful.

Also, just IMO, it makes sense to de-couple Orion and SLS if one seeks to salvage at least one of those programs going forward. To me it seems that SLS (if it is deemed worthy of survival by the next Administration) would make a formidable cargo-only LV that can work nicely as part of multi-launch missions where the alternative crew vehicle selected (if it shakes out that way) is launched by an LV from Blue, ULA, SpaceX, or even ESA (Ariane 6?). It also could have great utility as an LV for unmanned planetary probe missions, as we have read a lot about.

What payloads?  The Europa missions were opportunities to keep SLS flying annually so that it would be safe for crewed missions.  Without crew, what justifies the cost of SLS launches?  if you think Science Mission Directorate will carry the cost of SLS, think again.

Without Orion, SLS is history.

I get it. I share your concerns - the money does not even come close to adding up. I'm one of the most shrill critics of SLS/Orion and have stated all too many times here that I wish those programs could be replaced by payload designing/building (hab, SEP, etc.) programs. My post above was just speculation on what NASA might be considering behind the scenes.
Scott

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #48 on: 11/12/2016 12:40 PM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.

Making a distinction between buying hardware and buying services for expendable systems is not rational.  Either way, they have to pay for a new one each time.  The only real difference is how much of the launch cost goes to government employees versus contractor employees.

If you're only interested in the mission, not in which district the jobs are in, buying services versus buying hardware to perform the same mission doesn't matter.
Don't conflate rationality and government procurement.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31277
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #49 on: 11/12/2016 12:57 PM »

SLS/Orion would compete with all costs through FY 2017 ignored, but full cost accounting thereafter.  Existing industrial team would be required to propose this option, but each member would be free to propose alternatives or team with others.


Not feasible SLS/Orion is a gov't/contractor team.  It is not a contractor managed/operated system.  Part of the reason for SLS and Orion existing is for NASA to have "hands on" work.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #50 on: 11/12/2016 01:41 PM »

SLS/Orion would compete with all costs through FY 2017 ignored, but full cost accounting thereafter.  Existing industrial team would be required to propose this option, but each member would be free to propose alternatives or team with others.


Not feasible SLS/Orion is a gov't/contractor team.  It is not a contractor managed/operated system.  Part of the reason for SLS and Orion existing is for NASA to have "hands on" work.

So, include the cost of NASA's hands-on effort. 
This 'feature' can be evaluated for it's cost/benefit like any other.
(I'm sure NASA can find other hands-on tasks to keep themselves busy, like developing payloads, for instance.)

Or are you saying no one can determine what the full cost accounting would be if NASA is involved?
« Last Edit: 11/12/2016 01:42 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #51 on: 11/12/2016 01:54 PM »
Lockheed Martin issued a short statement in response to Eric Berger's story (see attachment).

So Lockheed Martin says it will be able to reduce Orion's recurring production costs by 50% -- but from what level?  Do we have any figures as to what Orion will cost to produce?  Without out that, the 50% comment is just about meaningless.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31277
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #52 on: 11/12/2016 01:56 PM »

1.  So, include the cost of NASA's hands-on effort. 
This 'feature' can be evaluated for it's cost/benefit like any other.

2.  (I'm sure NASA can find other hands-on tasks to keep themselves busy, like developing payloads, for instance.)


1. It doesn't matter what the costs are compared to the others.  The others don't provided the hands on

2.  Not the same, they aren't rockets.  And JSC, MSFC and KSC don't develop payload

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #53 on: 11/12/2016 02:32 PM »

1.  So, include the cost of NASA's hands-on effort. 
This 'feature' can be evaluated for it's cost/benefit like any other.

2.  (I'm sure NASA can find other hands-on tasks to keep themselves busy, like developing payloads, for instance.)


1. It doesn't matter what the costs are compared to the others.  The others don't provided the hands on

2.  Not the same, they aren't rockets.  And JSC, MSFC and KSC don't develop payload

So, if they cannot develop a launch system that is affordable or reasonably competitive, time to move on to someone that can.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31277
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #54 on: 11/12/2016 02:36 PM »
So, if they cannot develop a launch system that is affordable or reasonably competitive, time to move on to someone that can.

That has never been the mandate, especially competitive since it is the gov't

Offline texas_space

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 392
  • Ex Terra, Scientia
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, USA
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #55 on: 11/12/2016 02:49 PM »
Based on reading the article, I'd say that NASA is looking to save money primarily by going to fixed-price pricing versus cost-plus.  That makes sense as we move into production versus development.  Defense contracting is going that way too.  The government doesn't have the money to be wasteful anymore.  (not that it ever did)

"Ars understands that there are also discussions in Gerstenmaier’s office about issuing a similar RFI for the Space Launch System rocket, which has Boeing as its primary contractor. This would not be too great of a surprise, because at least two companies, SpaceX and Blue Origin, are privately developing heavy-lift alternatives that theoretically could offer significant savings to the large government rocket."

This would be a more prudent way to go.  The larger cost for BEO missions is going to be the rocket.  Alternatives to SLS would be a more prudent avenue to investigate.  The New Space companies still have work to do though.  The recent SpaceX explosion doesn't inspire much confidence in NASA I imagine for example.

Sure, we could scrap Orion and go with an alternative.  No other spacecraft are currently designed for the BEO environment currently though.  That means more development (more money, pushing schedules to right).  Jim is right though...taking NASA out of the "hands on" process means NASA has little to do.  Congress won't like that.  That's why we have SLS after all.
"We went to the moon nine times. Why fake it nine times, if we faked it?" - Charlie Duke

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #56 on: 11/12/2016 03:11 PM »
So, if they cannot develop a launch system that is affordable or reasonably competitive, time to move on to someone that can.

That has never been the mandate, especially competitive since it is the gov't

Time to make it the mandate. Past time.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31277
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #57 on: 11/12/2016 03:16 PM »

Time to make it the mandate. Past time.

No, that is never the job of the gov't.  It is not to compete.

Anyways, the market and gov't requirements are not aligned and shouldn't be.

The gov't has no need for an ITS
« Last Edit: 11/12/2016 03:19 PM by Jim »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4872
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #58 on: 11/12/2016 04:38 PM »
A Hercules lander (or any ascent vehicle really) would be a payload that is also a rocket.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3407
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2674
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #59 on: 11/12/2016 05:57 PM »
Lockheed Martin issued a short statement in response to Eric Berger's story (see attachment).

So Lockheed Martin says it will be able to reduce Orion's recurring production costs by 50% -- but from what level?  Do we have any figures as to what Orion will cost to produce?  Without out that, the 50% comment is just about meaningless.

And that would only be for the Crew Module, and not the Service Module.

Plus, just as an observation, and to your point also, the Orion has now been in development for 5 years as the original CEV version, and 5 years as the current MPCV.  With the amount of money already spent, and the amount of money it apparently takes to build the current MPCV, 50% savings for just the CM doesn't sound like it will allow NASA to do a lot of missions per year.

NASA needs to rethink it's transportation needs, and how it will satisfy them.  Maybe this RFI is part of that, and if so I'm glad they are doing it.  At the amount NASA is funded today, the SLS & Orion combo does not allow for much use, which is a recipe for not getting much done.  We should be able to do better...
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 pathfinder_01

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1874
  • Liked: 47
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #60 on: 11/13/2016 12:35 AM »
NASA isn't looking for services to buy, they're looking for hardware to buy. Unless SpaceX has decided to start selling hardware rather than services then talk of ITS, Dragon, or anything else is moot.

Making a distinction between buying hardware and buying services for expendable systems is not rational.  Either way, they have to pay for a new one each time.  The only real difference is how much of the launch cost goes to government employees versus contractor employees.


It is a very important distinction. If NASA buys the Hardware it owns it. If it buys services it does not. The RFI suggests that NASA wants to own hardware and that it is looking for something different from Orion due to cost and/or mission change. 

If NASA were to buy services it would allow the Contractor to sell those same services to anyone. i.e. Anyone(who has the cash) can buy a stand alone Cygnus mission, a stand alone Cargo dragon flight , or an unmanned Atlas launch for an sate-light.  You don't need NASA's blessing to do any of these things just approval from the other relevant Government agencies.

In this case NASA wants to own the spacecraft. It could be cheaper, more capable or even less capable but NASA would be responsible for the Hardware. This has effects on development(can not develop without NASA approval and money supplies from Congress) as well as Availability to Organizations outside of Government(is not for sell).
 



Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4872
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #61 on: 11/13/2016 03:27 AM »
I honestly fail to see how NASA could just hand over the plans to another company and have them build it cheaper than LM. I just don't think it works like that for something as complicated as a spaceship.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3407
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2674
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #62 on: 11/13/2016 06:32 AM »
I honestly fail to see how NASA could just hand over the plans to another company and have them build it cheaper than LM. I just don't think it works like that for something as complicated as a spaceship.

It's not really how complicated the product is that would determine if another company could build an Orion for significantly less, but the production rate and overall number of Orion that NASA committed to being built.

For instance, if the production rate is so low that major fixtures and automated processes are not merited, then it would be hard for a competitor to find significant cost savings over what Lockheed Martin has already put in place - that LM would have already gone through a significant learning curve to justify their processes.

For expendable systems the only way to get down the cost curve is through simplification and volume production.  That's unlikely to happen with the Orion though.

However, if you are building reusable systems then low rate production is acceptable.  Which is what SpaceX is likely planning to do with the ITS.
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 GWH

Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #63 on: 11/13/2016 04:12 PM »
I think the design requirements of Orion make it ideally suited for the initial establishment and testing of a cis-lunar station.  The 21 day mission duration capabilities mean that the Orion can function as not just a life boat but a base camp for astronauts to conduct repairs on the station should an on board failure to something such as the station's ECLSS.  Other vehicles don't offer this capability and nor should they because those requirements are above and beyond their intended purpose. 

This IMO can actually create a lot of opportunity to utilise commercially developed station modules in a more risk tolerant development environment (and therefore hopefully much cheaper).

Once a tested and systems redundant cis-lunar station is in place though these requirements go away, as the Orion as a safe haven isn't a critical capability.   In that role, the requirement of transporting crews would only need the bare minimum in a vehicle with shorter mission duration requirements and an overall downsizing of the entire vehicle to suit.  And IF the commercial crew suppliers or other entities could provide a capable crew vehicle for transport to cis-lunar destinations then the cost benefit of shared infrastructure with LEO transportation AND the smaller launch vehicle requirements could significantly reduce costs, far more than just a production optimised Orion.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8173
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 254
  • Likes Given: 106
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #64 on: 11/13/2016 06:14 PM »
I think the design requirements of Orion make it ideally suited for the initial establishment and testing of a cis-lunar station.  The 21 day mission duration capabilities mean that the Orion can function as not just a life boat but a base camp for astronauts to conduct repairs on the station should an on board failure to something such as the station's ECLSS.  Other vehicles don't offer this capability and nor should they because those requirements are above and beyond their intended purpose. 

This IMO can actually create a lot of opportunity to utilise commercially developed station modules in a more risk tolerant development environment (and therefore hopefully much cheaper).

Once a tested and systems redundant cis-lunar station is in place though these requirements go away, as the Orion as a safe haven isn't a critical capability.   In that role, the requirement of transporting crews would only need the bare minimum in a vehicle with shorter mission duration requirements and an overall downsizing of the entire vehicle to suit.  And IF the commercial crew suppliers or other entities could provide a capable crew vehicle for transport to cis-lunar destinations then the cost benefit of shared infrastructure with LEO transportation AND the smaller launch vehicle requirements could significantly reduce costs, far more than just a production optimised Orion.

21 days of life support is very short for a permanent lunar base but ideal for two week trips in manned lunar and Mars rovers. Orion's ECLSS may also work in a reusable lunar lander. The consumables can be refilled at the lunar base or at a spacestation. The connectors will have to be on the inside of the vehicle or possibly form part of the docking port.

Many of the components of a lunar base's ECLSS could be the same as the long term life support system used on spacestations and Mars Transfer Vehicles (MTV).

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3118
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1513
  • Likes Given: 117
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #65 on: 11/13/2016 07:02 PM »
The interesting point about an RFI is that the contractors can comment on how the RFP should be configured: such as services vs hardware purchase. But if the case is services then SLS would also be out since it is a NASA owned hardware and a provider would unlikely suggest a service that then uses SLS owned and operated by NASA outside of their capability to optimize.

But the capabilities of FH and Vulcan/ACES(distributed launch) with respective Dragon or Starliner capsules could do the services of cargo and crew to a Lunar orbit. A BTW Vulcan/ACES is actually an easier technical path than FH.

So if the corner is turned from hardware to services then SLS is out as well as Orion once initial target cis-Lunar station is deployed. Think of this as the CRS2 contract. That Orion is the CRS1 with an initial operational period. That could very well be done through a contract mod to the existing Orion contract while the follow-on multiple transports are put into service. 

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2123
  • Liked: 378
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #66 on: 11/14/2016 03:44 AM »

I still think NASA should consider returning from cis-lunar space to the ISS propulsively.

Such a crew transfer vehicle would have a cabin that could be shared with a Mars taxi, lunar lander, or even a MAV.

Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12968
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2829
  • Likes Given: 430
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #67 on: 11/14/2016 04:48 AM »
Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Yeah, the added 3 km/s of delta-V to the mission.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2123
  • Liked: 378
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #68 on: 11/14/2016 05:59 AM »
Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Yeah, the added 3 km/s of delta-V to the mission.

Which would at least partially be compensated by the lower payload (cabin) mass. I estimate it would still be within the capability of Block 1B (could be mistaken of course). At a later point it could be combined with SEP-deployed prop./return stage.

But apart from the added delta-v, I wonder whether it would add undesirable constraints on the return window or add too much time to the return (another docking in LEO).



Offline rocx

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 384
  • NL
  • Liked: 263
  • Likes Given: 145
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #69 on: 11/14/2016 07:30 AM »
The 3 km/s delta-v requirement would be compensated at least partly by not needing a heat shield or any other requirements for flying through an atmosphere. You could have a reusable lunar taxi that would look more like a Soyuz or Lunar Module than like an Apollo or Orion capsule.
Any day with a rocket landing is a fantastic day.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #70 on: 11/14/2016 09:04 AM »
Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Yeah, the added 3 km/s of delta-V to the mission.
A ACES based OTV (10t dry 40t wet) could do round trip for 1x Vulcan (564) fuel tanker launcher plus 1 x Vulcan (504) or F9 for crew. This lot cheaper than 1x SLS/Orion plus could have higher flight rate. The only issue is there is no emergency return from DSH as OTV would need to off load its fuel to depot at DSH for crew duration. There are a few options to over come this.
1) Have a spare Orion stationed at DSH and alternate missions between Orion and OTV so Orion rotated.
2) Have a Dragon V2 (cargo delivery one) as escape vehicle, wouldn't have DV for return but could ferry crew to refuelling OTV.



Offline Khadgars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 932
  • Long Beach, California
  • Liked: 141
  • Likes Given: 476
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #71 on: 11/15/2016 04:53 PM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

Completely agree with this statement.  ITS may come to pass, but it will be many decades before its operational imo. 

Full development of SLS/Orion is nearly complete.  Lockheed had already stated large cost reductions (50%) for Orion and the operating cost of SLS isn't looking as crazy as it did.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #72 on: 11/15/2016 05:00 PM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

Completely agree with this statement.  ITS may come to pass, but it will be many decades before its operational imo. 

Full development of SLS/Orion is nearly complete.  Lockheed had already stated large cost reductions (50%) for Orion and the operating cost of SLS isn't looking as crazy as it did.

If SpaceX has full funding for ITS, I see no reason to believe it would launch later than SLS and every reason to believe it would launch before SLS.  So if we're considering whether it makes sense to continue U.S. government funding of SLS versus shifting that funding to ITS, schedule shouldn't be a reason to disqualify ITS.

Offline Khadgars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 932
  • Long Beach, California
  • Liked: 141
  • Likes Given: 476
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #73 on: 11/15/2016 05:24 PM »
Elephant in the room; ITS

They say a mid-20's replacement which coincides with SpaceX's timeline, by definition it'll have a long duration ECLSS, large internal propellant stores, and its cargo capability would eliminate the need for developing a large cargo lander for Mars. Crew size: no problem.

Just saying...

If SpaceX can build, test and fund the entire thing on their own by that time, while building a revolutionary ECLSS system of unprecedented scale, I'll honestly be very impressed.  But I'm not going to count on it, especially with SpaceX's dates.

Completely agree with this statement.  ITS may come to pass, but it will be many decades before its operational imo. 

Full development of SLS/Orion is nearly complete.  Lockheed had already stated large cost reductions (50%) for Orion and the operating cost of SLS isn't looking as crazy as it did.

If SpaceX has full funding for ITS, I see no reason to believe it would launch later than SLS and every reason to believe it would launch before SLS.  So if we're considering whether it makes sense to continue U.S. government funding of SLS versus shifting that funding to ITS, schedule shouldn't be a reason to disqualify ITS.

If SpaceX has full funding of ITS, Government need not get involved and everything else becomes obsolete anyway (regarding human space flight).

The chances of ITS happening are tiny imo, so the current path is most logical.  Continue to fund SLS/Orion/DSH and see how ITS develops. 

Offline GWH

Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #74 on: 11/15/2016 07:31 PM »
If SpaceX has full funding for ITS, I see no reason to believe it would launch later than SLS and every reason to believe it would launch before SLS.  So if we're considering whether it makes sense to continue U.S. government funding of SLS versus shifting that funding to ITS, schedule shouldn't be a reason to disqualify ITS.

First orbital flight of SLS is scheduled for 2018, orbital tests of ITS are 2020 by SpaceX's schedule - which is aggressive to say the least.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #75 on: 11/16/2016 08:45 AM »
Full development of SLS/Orion is nearly complete.  Lockheed had already stated large cost reductions (50%) for Orion and the operating cost of SLS isn't looking as crazy as it did.

So, what are the projected operating costs of Orion and SLS?  I would challenge the notion that development is nearly complete.  The first crewed flight of Orion, for example, is more than $6 billion (funds for Orion alone, excluding service module) in the future (six years times over a billion dollars per year).
« Last Edit: 11/16/2016 08:45 AM by Proponent »

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2123
  • Liked: 378
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #76 on: 11/16/2016 11:39 AM »
Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Yeah, the added 3 km/s of delta-V to the mission.
A ACES based OTV (10t dry 40t wet) could do round trip for 1x Vulcan (564) fuel tanker launcher plus 1 x Vulcan (504) or F9 for crew.

That is a bit optimistic. I estimate the crew part could be reduced in mass to ~8mt (see e.g. here). To L2/LDRO and back requires a delta-v of ~7km/s. Braking into L2 from TLI and back requires ~4km/s.

More importantly though the cost of a taxi should be much lower than Orion. In the link above the Mars taxi and similar vehicles (EAM for example) are estimated to cost around $1.5bn to develop. The HEFT estimate for Orion development is $10.2bn and for a production unit $840m. It looks like Orion will match or exceed those numbers.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #77 on: 11/16/2016 05:39 PM »
Or is there any serious disadvantage I am missing?

Yeah, the added 3 km/s of delta-V to the mission.
A ACES based OTV (10t dry 40t wet) could do round trip for 1x Vulcan (564) fuel tanker launcher plus 1 x Vulcan (504) or F9 for crew.

That is a bit optimistic. I estimate the crew part could be reduced in mass to ~8mt (see e.g. here). To L2/LDRO and back requires a delta-v of ~7km/s. Braking into L2 from TLI and back requires ~4km/s.

More importantly though the cost of a taxi should be much lower than Orion. In the link above the Mars taxi and similar vehicles (EAM for example) are estimated to cost around $1.5bn to develop. The HEFT estimate for Orion development is $10.2bn and for a production unit $840m. It looks like Orion will match or exceed those numbers.
I started to add reusable lander (OTV with landing kit) plus its tanker flights but decided to remove it as it was going OT. OTV was going get top up at DSH for return. Hence shortage on DV.


Offline Khadgars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 932
  • Long Beach, California
  • Liked: 141
  • Likes Given: 476
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #78 on: 11/16/2016 05:50 PM »
Full development of SLS/Orion is nearly complete.  Lockheed had already stated large cost reductions (50%) for Orion and the operating cost of SLS isn't looking as crazy as it did.

So, what are the projected operating costs of Orion and SLS?  I would challenge the notion that development is nearly complete.  The first crewed flight of Orion, for example, is more than $6 billion (funds for Orion alone, excluding service module) in the future (six years times over a billion dollars per year).

Projected operating costs of SLS/Orion that includes all the ground ops is $1.5 Billion.  With a projected $4 Billion Exploration budget, that leaves plenty of room for DSH and in-space propulsion stage.

IMO, development is nearly complete.  By the time of 1st crewed flight, we will be at Block 1B, which could be the final configuration.  The Block 2 may end up just being optimized 5 Seg Boosters that have been discussed in other threads.

Offline Eric Hedman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 766
  • Liked: 186
  • Likes Given: 157
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #79 on: 11/16/2016 06:02 PM »
I honestly fail to see how NASA could just hand over the plans to another company and have them build it cheaper than LM. I just don't think it works like that for something as complicated as a spaceship.
I completely agree.  The time it takes to get the people up to speed and the workflow processes in place is not trivial.  Whoever got the contract would have to try to hire key people from LM for any chance to succeed.  Moving to another company is begging for a significant, costly delay.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3118
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1513
  • Likes Given: 117
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #80 on: 11/16/2016 08:31 PM »
After havign read through the RFI docs, the goal of the RFI is to investigate possible savings in the production of Orion spacecraft. Not in replacing it with someone else's spacecraft design.

So the majority of the speculation as to what this RFI means is off target. The only actual alternate producer of Orion I can see is Boeing which has been involved in integrating the Orion to the SLS and could easily take over its production. But the RFI and the response from LM may be what NASA procurement was after.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #81 on: 11/17/2016 05:40 PM »
Projected operating costs of SLS/Orion that includes all the ground ops is $1.5 Billion.  With a projected $4 Billion Exploration budget, that leaves plenty of room for DSH and in-space propulsion stage.

Can you provide an authoritative source for these figures?  That's what I'm wondering.
« Last Edit: 11/17/2016 08:22 PM by Proponent »

Offline BrightLight

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1311
  • Northern New Mexico
  • Liked: 196
  • Likes Given: 262
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #82 on: 11/17/2016 06:27 PM »
Projected operating costs of SLS/Orion that includes all the ground ops is $1.5 Billion.  With a projected $4 Billion Exploration budget, that leaves plenty of room for DSH and in-space propulsion stage.

Can you provide an authoritative source for these figures?  That's what I'm wondering.


Really good question, I poked around the net and came up with this, from; http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/08/how-much-will-sls-and-orion-cost-to-fly-finally-some-answers/

ARS quoted Bill Hill:
Quote
“My top number for Orion, SLS, and the ground systems that support it is $2 billion or less,” Hill told Ars. “I mean that’s my real ultimate goal. We were running at about three-plus, 3.6 billion [dollars] during the latter days of space shuttle. Of course, there again, we were flying six or seven missions. I think we’re actually going to have to get to less than that.

Ars has learned that the agency’s ultimate goal for annual production and operations costs is about $1.5 billion." 

It appears that the 1.5 billion is from the ARS web site and the article is written by Eric Berger, is he quoting Bill Hill?

Edit/Lar: Fixed quotes... please use preview... also please use the quote tag rather than colors when citing things from outside sources....
« Last Edit: 11/17/2016 08:45 PM by Lar »

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #83 on: 11/17/2016 10:53 PM »
After havign read through the RFI docs, the goal of the RFI is to investigate possible savings in the production of Orion spacecraft. Not in replacing it with someone else's spacecraft design.

So the majority of the speculation as to what this RFI means is off target. The only actual alternate producer of Orion I can see is Boeing which has been involved in integrating the Orion to the SLS and could easily take over its production. But the RFI and the response from LM may be what NASA procurement was after.

Eric Berger highlights the following paragraph, found near the end of the RFI:

If a respondent wishes to provide a broader input beyond the topics described in this RFI or beyond the technical scope of the Orion spacecraft, then it is requested alternate responses be submitted separately. However, if a respondent includes an alternate approach other than the reproduction of the Orion spacecraft developed under the current Orion contract based on NASA-provided data, the respondent shall identify which, if any, of the requirements and objectives identified in the Contemplated Future Requirements” section of this RFI could not be met or would need to be revised to accommodate the alternate approach. The respondent should also identify the cost implications, both impacts and savings, associated with the suggested changes to those requirements.

I think that makes it pretty clear that NASA is willing to consider a much broader range of possibilities than just producing more copies of the Orion spacecraft.

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #84 on: 11/18/2016 01:05 PM »
As foreshadowed in Eric Berger's article, NASA has issued a very similarly worded RFI for SLS.

Here is the follow-up article from Eric Berger: NASA realizes SLS and Orion are too expensive, opens door to competitors
Quote
In its latest request for information (RFI) released Thursday afternoon, NASA seeks solutions from industry and academia to maximize "the long term efficiency and sustainability" of its of exploration systems programs. Essentially, NASA wants ideas on how best to cut the production and operations costs for its SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which presently consume more than $3 billion annually in development costs. However, the RFI also offers respondents the opportunity to submit ideas about rockets and spacecraft that might compete with NASA's own vehicles for exploration funds.

Specifically, the document requests responses about: "Competing exploration services in the mid-2020s timeframe and beyond if the market demonstrates such services are available, reliable, and consistent with NASA architectural needs." Ars understands this to mean that if private competitors such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, or other companies produce less expensive rockets and spacecraft within the next five to seven years, NASA will consider using them in lieu of SLS and Orion.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3118
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1513
  • Likes Given: 117
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #85 on: 11/19/2016 12:57 PM »
After havign read through the RFI docs, the goal of the RFI is to investigate possible savings in the production of Orion spacecraft. Not in replacing it with someone else's spacecraft design.

So the majority of the speculation as to what this RFI means is off target. The only actual alternate producer of Orion I can see is Boeing which has been involved in integrating the Orion to the SLS and could easily take over its production. But the RFI and the response from LM may be what NASA procurement was after.

Eric Berger highlights the following paragraph, found near the end of the RFI:

If a respondent wishes to provide a broader input beyond the topics described in this RFI or beyond the technical scope of the Orion spacecraft, then it is requested alternate responses be submitted separately. However, if a respondent includes an alternate approach other than the reproduction of the Orion spacecraft developed under the current Orion contract based on NASA-provided data, the respondent shall identify which, if any, of the requirements and objectives identified in the Contemplated Future Requirements” section of this RFI could not be met or would need to be revised to accommodate the alternate approach. The respondent should also identify the cost implications, both impacts and savings, associated with the suggested changes to those requirements.

I think that makes it pretty clear that NASA is willing to consider a much broader range of possibilities than just producing more copies of the Orion spacecraft.
Thanks.
This is why SpaceX and possibly Boeing are interested in responding to the RFI. A CC HSF BEO replacement program for the Orion HSF BEO program. With the other RFI for SLS with similar wording that would be a complete program swap out that still meets goals and schedules and lowers the costs of operations expanding the mission rates for a budget level.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6035
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 781
  • Likes Given: 4853
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #86 on: 11/19/2016 01:58 PM »
This is why SpaceX and possibly Boeing are interested in responding to the RFI. A CC HSF BEO replacement program for the Orion HSF BEO program. With the other RFI for SLS with similar wording that would be a complete program swap out that still meets goals and schedules and lowers the costs of operations expanding the mission rates for a budget level.
Hmmm. That does rather open up the field does it not?

Did anything remotely like this ever happen for Apollo? Or even Gemini? It sounds hard to believe.

Maybe I'm just seeing things but this looks to me like LM seriously overran their cost estimates (and their new estimated cost, and perhaps a few more later estimates as well  :( ).

No doubt LM had reasons for doing so but it's pretty clear NASA is very unhappy about this and even going to a no cost SM from the ESA is not going to be enough to get the budget back on track.

Interesting times ahead.
« Last Edit: 11/19/2016 01:58 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Navier–Stokes

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Liked: 174
  • Likes Given: 1374
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #87 on: 11/19/2016 02:35 PM »
Hmmm. That does rather open up the field does it not?

Did anything remotely like this ever happen for Apollo? Or even Gemini? It sounds hard to believe.

Maybe I'm just seeing things but this looks to me like LM seriously overran their cost estimates (and their new estimated cost, and perhaps a few more later estimates as well  :( ).

No doubt LM had reasons for doing so but it's pretty clear NASA is very unhappy about this and even going to a no cost SM from the ESA is not going to be enough to get the budget back on track.

Interesting times ahead.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on the Orion program in July. Here are the highlights:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Orion Multi- Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion) program has overcome several technical challenges and made design changes to the crew capsule to reduce risk. Known challenges, however, remain—such as development of the service module and the crew capsule heatshield, among others—that could cause cost increases and schedule delays as the program undergoes integration and test. Technical challenges are inherent in complex programs such as Orion, but if not carefully managed, they could result in cost overruns and schedule delays. For example, the program has identified software development as an area of substantial risk with a potential cost impact of more than $90 million and which may result in schedule delays.

GAO found that the Orion program's cost and schedule estimates are not reliable based on best practices for producing high-quality estimates. Cost and schedule estimates play an important role in addressing technical risks. In September 2015, NASA established a commitment baseline of $11.3 billion and an April 2023 launch readiness date for the program's second exploration mission. NASA used a joint cost and schedule confidence level (JCL) analysis—a point-in-time estimate that, among other things, includes all cost and schedule elements and incorporates and quantifies known risks—to establish the commitment baselines at a 70 percent confidence level, as required by NASA policy. However, NASA's JCL analysis was informed by its unreliable cost and schedule estimates. GAO found that the Orion cost estimate met or substantially met 7 of 20 best practices and its schedule estimate met or substantially met 1 of 8 best practices. For example, the cost estimate lacked necessary support and the schedule estimate did not include the level of detail required for high-quality estimates. Without sound cost and schedule estimates, decision makers do not have a clear understanding of the cost and schedule risk inherent in the program or important information needed to make programmatic decisions.

NASA and the Orion program have made some programmatic decisions that could further exacerbate cost and schedule risks. The Orion program is executing to an internal schedule with a launch readiness date of August 2021, which has a lower confidence level than its commitment baseline. This means that NASA is accepting higher cost and schedule risk associated with executing this schedule. Working toward a more aggressive goal is not a bad practice; however, increasing cost and schedule risk to the program in order to pursue such a goal may not be a beneficial strategy to the program in the long term. According to program officials, the program employs most of its available budget to fund current work and holds most of its cost reserves at the end of the internal schedule. The lack of cost reserves has caused the program to defer work to address technical issues and stay within budget. As a result, the Orion program's reserves in future years could be overwhelmed by work being deferred. Program officials told GAO that they have not performed a formal analysis to understand the impact that delaying work might have on the available reserves since the program was confirmed. Without this type of analysis, program management may not have a complete understanding of how decisions made now will affect the longer-term execution of the program.
Note: emphasis mine.

The full report is attached.
« Last Edit: 11/19/2016 02:38 PM by Navier–Stokes »

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #88 on: 11/19/2016 03:08 PM »
... even going to a no cost SM from the ESA is not going to be enough to get the budget back on track.

And it's not actually no cost.  ESA supplies the SM instead of meeting ISS logistics requirements.  So the ESM is a way of siphoning money from ISS to Orion.  And ESA's obligation to supply ESMs is not indefinite.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #89 on: 11/19/2016 07:09 PM »

Maybe I'm just seeing things but this looks to me like LM seriously overran their cost estimates (and their new estimated cost, and perhaps a few more later estimates as well  :( ).
Let me put it this way. LM is the company that stated publically, around the time CxP and Orion got cancelled in late 2010 that LM could have Orion ready for crewed flight in 3 years. It is now a little over 6 years later and crewed flight of Orion is still 5 to 6 years away. So, that was a pretty absurd claim by LM then, particularly when considering the fact that around that time LM had pretty much halted work on their version of the SM, for lack of sufficient funds.

So, given that LM is not very good in making flight-date estimates (they are in fact much worse than some company in Hawthorne) I don't trust their cost estimates either.

Offline redliox

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1719
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 323
  • Likes Given: 54
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #90 on: 11/19/2016 07:59 PM »
And it's not actually no cost.  ESA supplies the SM instead of meeting ISS logistics requirements.  So the ESM is a way of siphoning money from ISS to Orion.  And ESA's obligation to supply ESMs is not indefinite.

That's right.  For the moment it is 2 SMs they're obligated to build.  Obviously once the ISS retires (presumably) in 2024 they have no obligation to continue building more.  ESA would have to setup a new agreement, such as something where they get a free ride for astronauts and their own equipment.  Depending on what they still owe for ISS duty or how desperate NASA is for more (E)SMs it might end up a situation like NASA was in for their own ISS rides via Russia.

A further hypothetical comes to mind...especially since this thread is about 'Orion alternatives.'  The SLS might fly for a good while, but the Orion might not.  It's supposed to be reusable, but in light of Lockheed's cited shortcomings I'm guessing this isn't the case anymore (online articles mentioning reuse are increasingly scarce post-2014).  Given that there's an EM-1 and EM-2 scheduled, this implies 2 Orions will be built, not to mention that it would ease refurbishing if there were a 2nd vehicle available while the first is worked over.  Just as there were only 5 space shuttles built, we might only see a limited number of Orions (disposable or reusable) built...
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #91 on: 11/19/2016 11:16 PM »
I honestly fail to see how NASA could just hand over the plans to another company and have them build it cheaper than LM. I just don't think it works like that for something as complicated as a spaceship.
I completely agree.  The time it takes to get the people up to speed and the workflow processes in place is not trivial.  Whoever got the contract would have to try to hire key people from LM for any chance to succeed.  Moving to another company is begging for a significant, costly delay.

And you'd have to find a company that is willing to invest to build this old school capsule.  No idea why anyone in the commercial world would want to do that.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #92 on: 11/20/2016 12:27 PM »
And it's not actually no cost.  ESA supplies the SM instead of meeting ISS logistics requirements.  So the ESM is a way of siphoning money from ISS to Orion.  And ESA's obligation to supply ESMs is not indefinite.

That's right.  For the moment it is 2 SMs they're obligated to build.  Obviously once the ISS retires (presumably) in 2024 they have no obligation to continue building more.  ESA would have to setup a new agreement, such as something where they get a free ride for astronauts and their own equipment.  Depending on what they still owe for ISS duty or how desperate NASA is for more (E)SMs it might end up a situation like NASA was in for their own ISS rides via Russia.

A further hypothetical comes to mind...especially since this thread is about 'Orion alternatives.'  The SLS might fly for a good while, but the Orion might not.  It's supposed to be reusable, but in light of Lockheed's cited shortcomings I'm guessing this isn't the case anymore (online articles mentioning reuse are increasingly scarce post-2014).  Given that there's an EM-1 and EM-2 scheduled, this implies 2 Orions will be built, not to mention that it would ease refurbishing if there were a 2nd vehicle available while the first is worked over.  Just as there were only 5 space shuttles built, we might only see a limited number of Orions (disposable or reusable) built...
The goal to reuse Orion CM "as a whole" ceased to exist after CxP got cancelled and Orion was re-instated as an ISS lifeboat and subsequently got re-purposed as the MPCV. Reuse of Orion now entails reuse of components, but not the CM as a whole. If more than 2 Orions fly, there will be more than 2 Orion CM's built. Naturally, both NASA and LockMart kept this change-in-direction under the radar only acknowledging it in some yearly Congressional review documents.
The simple fact is that Orion is still just as fiscally unsustainable as it was when it got canned the first time in late 2010. And despite the fact that Orion was subsequently re-instated as the MPCV the main problem with Orion has not been fixed: it is simply too darn expensive. The RFI that is subject of this thread is just another major indicator towards that fact.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2016 12:33 PM by woods170 »

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2123
  • Liked: 378
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #93 on: 11/20/2016 06:10 PM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
« Last Edit: 11/20/2016 06:12 PM by Oli »

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3118
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1513
  • Likes Given: 117
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #94 on: 11/20/2016 07:43 PM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
« Last Edit: 11/20/2016 07:53 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #95 on: 11/20/2016 09:02 PM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come now, can't people at least read reports before using so many exclamation points?

The report its self states that the total program cost through 2030 (about 25 years into the program) is 22.1 Billion. It also states "Capability Enhancements" would be a total of 3.5 Billion over 9 years.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4790
  • Liked: 2875
  • Likes Given: 4034
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #96 on: 11/20/2016 11:24 PM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come now, can't people at least read reports before using so many exclamation points?

The report its self states that the total program cost through 2030 (about 25 years into the program) is 22.1 Billion. It also states "Capability Enhancements" would be a total of 3.5 Billion over 9 years.

The graphic shows $800M/year for nine years... double your figure.  The graphic shows about $3-4B for Ops over these years, so maybe the legend is flipped.

Note: First crewed flight in 2023.  What happened to 2021 that so many have been shouting us disbelievers down with??????????  Glad someone can do the math.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2016 11:30 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Khadgars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 932
  • Long Beach, California
  • Liked: 141
  • Likes Given: 476
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #97 on: 11/21/2016 01:17 AM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come now, can't people at least read reports before using so many exclamation points?

The report its self states that the total program cost through 2030 (about 25 years into the program) is 22.1 Billion. It also states "Capability Enhancements" would be a total of 3.5 Billion over 9 years.

The graphic shows $800M/year for nine years... double your figure.  The graphic shows about $3-4B for Ops over these years, so maybe the legend is flipped.

Note: First crewed flight in 2023.  What happened to 2021 that so many have been shouting us disbelievers down with??????????  Glad someone can do the math.

Did you stop reading or something?  Please read the below in its entirety.  You don't have to take digs at every single opportunity

Quote
The fourth mission – Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) – will be the first crewed flight for the combined
system. The Agency has committed to a launch readiness date for EM-2 of April 2023. However, the
Orion Program has been managing toward an earlier launch date of August 2021 for planning and
scheduling purposes


Offline Steam Chaser

  • Member
  • Posts: 77
  • Liked: 15
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #98 on: 11/21/2016 02:49 AM »
Has this audit been posted?

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-029.pdf

What is "capability enhancements"?
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come now, can't people at least read reports before using so many exclamation points?

The report its self states that the total program cost through 2030 (about 25 years into the program) is 22.1 Billion. It also states "Capability Enhancements" would be a total of 3.5 Billion over 9 years.

From the OIG report:

"The Orion Program has planned a budget of $22.1 billion through FY 2030 to be spent in three overlapping phases (see Figure 1). The first phase, “Design, Development, Test, and Evaluation,” is budgeted at $10.8 billion, runs from FY 2012 to FY 2022, and includes reserve funds known as Unallocated Future Expenses (UFE). The second phase, “Production and Operations,” is budgeted at $7.8 billion and runs from FY 2018 to FY 2030.  The third phase, “Capability Enhancements,” is budgeted at $3.5 billion and runs from FY 2022 to FY 2030."

So, they aren't counting 25 years of the program in the $22.1 billion estimate.  They are only counting years 2012 through 2030.  They are ignoring the billions of dollars spent on Orion before that.

The graphic and text don't appear to match on "Capability Enhancements" and "Production and Operations" ("Capability Enhancements" appears much bigger than "Production and Operations" in the graphic, but not in the text, even accounting for the different year coverage for the 2 areas in the text). 

Using either the text or the graphic, the per-year Orion cost is spectacularly high, even ignoring the related SLS, SLS ground systems, and "cross-agency support" overhead costs.  It looks like that high cost will continue indefinitely.  People hoping for a future budget wedge for developing SLS/Orion related payloads shouldn't look at the future Orion budget for that.

We haven't gotten any value for the money spent so far in the first 11 or 12 years of Orion, but I understand that after a couple more years a handful of cubesats might get a piggyback ride with it.  That's ... something.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6035
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 781
  • Likes Given: 4853
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #99 on: 11/21/2016 07:30 AM »
Probably many things that have been deferred in order to meet the EM-1 schedule like ECLSS(?) and long duration operations capabilities(?). The real sad item is that it is a ~$1B/yr expenditure.

At an annual expenditure of <$1.4B /yr NASA is developing 2 CC providers for ISS. If they spent the same starting in 2019 upgrading the CC capsules to make them BEO over a period of 3-4 years you could have them available in 2022/23. This spending forever $1.4B over 20 years, a total of almost $30B just on Orion is too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well possibly not quite that bad, but pretty bad.

But the worst is the fact they use 7 of 20 best practices for cost and 1 of 8 best practices for schedule estimating.

So using 35% of the best practices for cost and 12.5% of the BP for schedule suggests that the chances of the actual costs and schedule coming anywhere close to those numbers are slim  :(

Of course they could come in below estimated cost and early. I'll leave others who've watched both programmes more closely than I to say how likely that outcome is.


"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7948
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2155
  • Likes Given: 5090
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #100 on: 11/21/2016 12:27 PM »
It's hard to rationalize to taxpayers a lot money being spent for little accomplishment...
« Last Edit: 11/22/2016 03:21 PM by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2123
  • Liked: 378
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #101 on: 11/21/2016 01:16 PM »

This footnote is interesting:

Quote
The Design, Development, Test and Evaluation phase of a flight vehicle program typically culminates with development and production of the first vehicle.  For the Orion Program, this phase involves the development of two vehicles and will culminate with development and production of the vehicle that will be used for EM-2. The Production and Operations phase covers vehicles produced for subsequent missions and the Capability Enhancements phase, which includes a relatively small amount of reserve funds, makes modifications to those vehicles.

EM-2 is in 2023 and according to this part of DDTE. So the few Orion flights from then to 2030 come at a cost of $7.8bn. Even if there will be one flight per year from 2024 onwards that's $1.1bn per flight. Significantly more than the HEFT unit cost estimate ($840m).

Offline jgoldader

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 672
  • Liked: 224
  • Likes Given: 132
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #102 on: 11/22/2016 11:51 AM »
Is the ECLSS the long pole now for Orion?
Recovering astronomer

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #103 on: 11/22/2016 03:13 PM »
Is the ECLSS the long pole now for Orion?
Not for EM-1, given that only a very basic ECLSS set-up is required for that unmanned mission. It is however one of the current long poles for EM-2.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #104 on: 03/26/2017 02:11 PM »
It's now been 3 months since responses to the RFI (attached) mentioned in the OP were due (ditto for a similar RFI regarding SLS).  Has there been any activity?  Any sign that this is not dead?

In retrospect, I might have expected the pro-commercial members of the NASA landing team to have picked up on this RFI, but I know of no evidence they did.
« Last Edit: 03/26/2017 02:17 PM by Proponent »

Offline johnn_rocket

  • Member
  • Posts: 7
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: NASA considers alternatives to its Orion spacecraft
« Reply #105 on: 04/21/2017 09:44 PM »
Great question....

Tags: