Author Topic: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)  (Read 11233 times)

Offline jongoff

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Someone in the Axiom thread got Ixion and Axiom confused, and suggested we start a thread specifically for the Ixion concept being developed by NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA. I did a quick search and found a few mentions of Ixion in other threads (one thread on an article about the NextSTEP BAA Ph2 that this study is part of, and one on the NanoRacks thread), but I think it might be worth having a dedicated thread for their specific "wet station" concept.

IIRC there have been a few articles posted describing more about what NanoRacks' team is looking at here, including doing a node module made from Centaur domes and forward skirt structures that would allow kitting out a Centaur after it gets to ISS. If people can track those down, it would probably be worth relinking to them here in this thread.

All told, I think this is an interesting concept for getting large amounts of inexpensive pressurized volume in space. Most people assume that Bigelow's inflatables, or traditional ISS modules are the only ways to go for commercial space facilities, but I think there's a place for wet habitats (or Skylab like dry habitats) in the future, so I wanted to start a dedicated Ixion thread.

~Jon

Online NavierĖStokes

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #1 on: 04/14/2017 06:21 PM »
Here's a good article from Evan Ackerman in the IEEE Spectrum: NASA Funds Plan to Turn Used Rocket Fuel Tanks Into Space Habitats. I've attached a few of the relevant pictures from the article to better illustrate the concept.

Offline GWH

Anthony Colangelo's Podcast Main Engine Cutoff has a really interesting interview with Mike Johnson the chief designer for Nanoracks on this, really worth a listen:
https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/20

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #3 on: 04/14/2017 10:23 PM »
Wet stations sound great in theory, but are so impractical.

And even if it was plausible, I would think that Centaur - with its A) incredible mass fraction, B) very thin tank skin, and C) thin diameter - would be far from the optimal starting point.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #4 on: 04/14/2017 10:49 PM »
If memory serves, that is why Skylab (a dry lab) was chosen. Wet labs were researched and abandoned.

The residues were one problem. Another was making an opening large enough. The diagrams do not indicate the size of the opening into the 'wet' tank.

Offline GWH

Wet stations sound great in theory, but are so impractical.

And even if it was plausible, I would think that Centaur - with its A) incredible mass fraction, B) very thin tank skin, and C) thin diameter - would be far from the optimal starting point.

The stage insulation is said by Tory Bruno to help somewhat with point B, although he falls short of full on endorsment of the concept:
https://www.reddit.com/r/ula/comments/4x00xd/nanoracks_space_systems_loral_and_united_launch/#d6br6gs

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #6 on: 04/14/2017 11:24 PM »
Here's a good article from Evan Ackerman in the IEEE Spectrum: NASA Funds Plan to Turn Used Rocket Fuel Tanks Into Space Habitats. I've attached a few of the relevant pictures from the article to better illustrate the concept.

From the article:
Quote
Mike Johnson: ... The reason that Skylab wasn't build like this is kind of a strange story: [NASA] had fewer Saturn IBs than they had Saturn Vs, so von Braun just decided to use a Saturn V and fly up a "dry" lab, with all of the equipment aboard it already.

IEEE Spectrum: So you're saying that NASA didn't go with the idea of reusing a wet Saturn 1B stage for Skylab mostly because they had spare Saturn Vs lying around that could lift an entire dry lab all at once?

Mike Johnson: That's correct. They had extra Saturn Vs, leftovers from the Apollo program.

That's a wee bit of oversimplification, I'd say. The engineering challenges for doing a wet lab conversion on orbit were significant.

Offline GWH

Personally I feel that the concept is weak in LEO for anything more than initial testing, but much stronger in higher deltaV destinations or within gravity wells where crude in-situ resources are available but pressurized volume is at a premium.  For example multiple Xeus landers could be tied together on the lunar surface providing a larger pressurized volume for anything from living areas to propellant storage.  The relative cost of getting the hardware in place on lunar surface should far eclipse the value in returning said hardware to a staging orbit for reuse.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #8 on: 04/15/2017 01:31 AM »
Wet stations sound great in theory, but are so impractical.

And even if it was plausible, I would think that Centaur - with its A) incredible mass fraction, B) very thin tank skin, and C) thin diameter - would be far from the optimal starting point.

I'm not sure what tank skin thickness has to do with it. You're obviously going to need some sort of MMOD protection, even if you had a thick isogrid tank wall. The smaller diameter is less optimal, but the techniques they develop for Centaur should work for ACES too, and that's 2/3 the volume of a bigelow module.

~Jon

Offline TrevorMonty

For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up. 

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #10 on: 04/15/2017 05:41 PM »
For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up.

Ideal?  It's as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck on Earth.

And even on Earth even the most robotic of factories aren't sealed-off black boxes that humans never enter.  Robotic manufacturing requires regular maintenance by humans.  So there's no way with today's technology that a factory in space doesn't have to be a human habitat.

Offline dror

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #11 on: 04/15/2017 07:16 PM »
For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up.

Ideal?  It's as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck on Earth.
...
To put the alegory in it's context, it is as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck you got for free, instead of buying a brand-new tanker truck and flying it to space...

Still not ideal though
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #12 on: 04/15/2017 08:33 PM »
For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up.

Ideal?  It's as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck on Earth.
...
To put the alegory in it's context, it is as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck you got for free, instead of buying a brand-new tanker truck and flying it to space...

Still not ideal though

You still need to fly all the people and equipment to space to convert the old tank into a factory or whatever.  If those people doing the conversion are going to require a lot of time in space and support equipment, the whole conversion process might require a lot more to be launched into space than the alternative of just launching a module that is already designed and built on Earth to be the desired factory (or habitat or whatever).

Remember, this conversion has to be done in space.  Upper stages don't have airlocks or docking ports or anything like that.  Are you going to cut a hole in the space for a docking adapter and weld it in place in vacuum in zero-g?  Is the structure of the upper stage even going to be compatible with that kind of a change?

It's all far more ambitious than anything that's ever been attempted in space before, and all to avoid a solved problem: just launching something into space that's already exactly the factory or habitat you want.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #13 on: 04/15/2017 08:39 PM »
For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up.

Ideal?  It's as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck on Earth.
...
To put the alegory in it's context, it is as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck you got for free, instead of buying a brand-new tanker truck and flying it to space...

Still not ideal though

You still need to fly all the people and equipment to space to convert the old tank into a factory or whatever.  If those people doing the conversion are going to require a lot of time in space and support equipment, the whole conversion process might require a lot more to be launched into space than the alternative of just launching a module that is already designed and built on Earth to be the desired factory (or habitat or whatever).

Remember, this conversion has to be done in space.  Upper stages don't have airlocks or docking ports or anything like that.  Are you going to cut a hole in the space for a docking adapter and weld it in place in vacuum in zero-g?  Is the structure of the upper stage even going to be compatible with that kind of a change?

It's all far more ambitious than anything that's ever been attempted in space before, and all to avoid a solved problem: just launching something into space that's already exactly the factory or habitat you want.
Listen to podcast.

Offline dror

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #14 on: 04/15/2017 09:26 PM »
For human habitat a wet habitat may have its limits, but for low cost robotic factory it could be ideal. Nanoracks and SSL are looking at this as basis for in orbit manufacturing. Add Made In Space to equation and lot possibilities open up.

Ideal?  It's as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck on Earth.
...
To put the alegory in it's context, it is as ideal as setting up a machine shop in an old tanker truck you got for free, instead of buying a brand-new tanker truck and flying it to space...

Still not ideal though

You still need to fly all the people and equipment to space to convert the old tank into a factory or whatever.  If those people doing the conversion are going to require a lot of time in space and support equipment, the whole conversion process might require a lot more to be launched into space than the alternative of just launching a module that is already designed and built on Earth to be the desired factory (or habitat or whatever).

Remember, this conversion has to be done in space.  Upper stages don't have airlocks or docking ports or anything like that.  Are you going to cut a hole in the space for a docking adapter and weld it in place in vacuum in zero-g?  Is the structure of the upper stage even going to be compatible with that kind of a change?

It's all far more ambitious than anything that's ever been attempted in space before, and all to avoid a solved problem: just launching something into space that's already exactly the factory or habitat you want.

Yes, there are planty of situations in which this would not be ideal.
Generally it is better to reuse upper stages as stages, fit your module on earth, use your lunar lander for return to earth.

But in some situations it may be a better option to use that pressurized volume:
Cygnus missions could increase the volume of ISS or the DSG station or DragonLab style missions,
On the Moon Xeus landers can be covered with regolith for extra protection.
Extra leg room for the @JournyToMars
...

It's an option worth exploring.

*It reminds me of the old "space islands" initiative that got me fascinated a long time ago:
http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #15 on: 04/15/2017 10:24 PM »
Would it be easier to turn the upper stage into the storage tanks for a propellant depot?
Possibly attached to a space station.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #16 on: 04/15/2017 10:31 PM »
Would it be easier to turn the upper stage into the storage tanks for a propellant depot?
Possibly attached to a space station.

That's a lot more plausible than turning it into a habitat or factory.

But I think by the time we have prop depots, expendable upper stages will no longer be a thing.  Two well-funded companies have concrete plans for fully-resuable launch vehicles that they are actually actively working on building and testing.  Both have flown real hardware.  That's far further along than any propellant depot plans, and once fully-reusable launch vehicles are regularly flying, I think expendable launch vehicles won't fly much longer.

Offline Chasm

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #17 on: 04/16/2017 12:25 PM »
Dry storage space itself is already valuable. Maybe things are easier to relocate if there is no need to store them 3 layers deep.


The big problem with wet workshop is that you just get an empty tank and then have to outfit it.
I wonder what happens if the concept gets reversed. Start with a rather simple module including all the MMOD and external connections, strip the internals down, using it as tank during launch and reinstall gear on orbit.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #18 on: 04/16/2017 02:49 PM »


Dry storage space itself is already valuable. Maybe things are easier to relocate if there is no need to store them 3 layers deep.


For ISS a large store room would be valuable and maybe what BEAM ends up being used for. For Ixion experiment ISS also gets exploration suit (stored on outside as per moon and mars ones) locker.

The ACES IVF pods could still be used for station keeping. Use LOX tank for water storage and fit a small electrolysis plant to feed the IVF small O and H gas tanks.

Offline WmThomas

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #19 on: 04/16/2017 03:49 PM »
Dry storage space itself is already valuable. Maybe things are easier to relocate if there is no need to store them 3 layers deep.


The big problem with wet workshop is that you just get an empty tank and then have to outfit it.
I wonder what happens if the concept gets reversed. Start with a rather simple module including all the MMOD and external connections, strip the internals down, using it as tank during launch and reinstall gear on orbit.

I like this idea. But could the normal internal fittings withstand the temperature of Liquid Hydrogen without severe damage?

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #20 on: 04/16/2017 07:09 PM »
Indeed. And if they are so hell-bent on doing the outfitting in orbit... try this thought experiment. How about launching just an empty habitation shell as a payload, and then outfit that instead. Does that sound like a lot of work? Still a LOT easier than a wet lab conversion.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #21 on: 04/16/2017 07:13 PM »
Dry storage space itself is already valuable. Maybe things are easier to relocate if there is no need to store them 3 layers deep.


The big problem with wet workshop is that you just get an empty tank and then have to outfit it.
I wonder what happens if the concept gets reversed. Start with a rather simple module including all the MMOD and external connections, strip the internals down, using it as tank during launch and reinstall gear on orbit.

Upper stages are very carefully designed for their purpose.  It would be totally impractical to take a module designed to be a habitat module and bolt on some engines and use it as an upper stage.

An upper stage might look like it's the same shape as an ISS module, but it doesn't mean they're really very similar other than shape.

Offline Chasm

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #22 on: 04/17/2017 01:57 PM »
 Į\_(ツ)_/Į
It's a reversal for arguments sake.
The goal in both cases is to get additional usable volume, for cheap.

NanoRacks basically says that their concept is not exactly new and that over the decades much work went into it. Few modifications to Centaur itself are required, most of them in areas that are easily modded. That together with ULA they can build the concept with standard parts or things that have been done before in a few weeks for the centaur items and a bit more for the rest. (Paperwork obviously not included.)

Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

Next step is to mitigate by adding things to the stage and it is not simple any longer.

So what happens if you start from the other end and take wet lab a bit more literal. Starting with an empty module as (additional) upper stage tank. Remove everything from the interior but attachment points and maybe major structural elements. Probably patch in bulkheads/parts of a tank dome to cover the docking adapter(s) and assorted gear around them. It's not like upper stages are perfectly empty either.

Is that a particularly great idea? Hell no. It removes one set of complaints and replaces them with others.



After listening to the podcast again and the concept to launch Ixion together with a Cygnus on top...

A variation of that idea would be to revert to a variation of their first CRS round wet lab concept. Stick a docking adapter on the centaur H2 tank. Only use this contraption as trash truck.
That should cut down exposure to MMOD and other risks nicely. Much less need to do interior work on orbit. Cygnus moves the stack to the ISS, both get captured and berthed. Open the wet and fill it what has accumulated for disposal, replace the access cover. Undock and reentry. Only then really start to work on the Cygnus cargo.
Now that there is less need for disposal services extra points for upgrading the Cygnus pressure section to a full if somewhat empty module like some of the ATV concepts, the propulsion section to a detachable tug and recovering Centaur engine and avionics with SMART. ;)

Sounds roundabout enough for gouvernment work. After all why just play rocket lego if there are also ISS and transport addons aviailible.  ;D

Offline dror

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #23 on: 04/17/2017 07:05 PM »
...
After listening to the podcast again and the concept to launch Ixion together with a Cygnus on top...

A variation of that idea would be to revert to a variation of their first CRS round wet lab concept. Stick a docking adapter on the centaur H2 tank. Only use this contraption as trash truck.
That should cut down exposure to MMOD and other risks nicely. Much less need to do interior work on orbit. Cygnus moves the stack to the ISS, both get captured and berthed. Open the wet and fill it what has accumulated for disposal, replace the access cover. Undock and reentry. Only then really start to work on the Cygnus cargo.
Now that there is less need for disposal services extra points for upgrading the Cygnus pressure section to a full if somewhat empty module like some of the ATV concepts, the propulsion section to a detachable tug and recovering Centaur engine and avionics with SMART. ;)

Sounds roundabout enough for gouvernment work. After all why just play rocket lego if there are also ISS and transport addons aviailible.  ;D

If it is ACES and not Centaur, you don't really need a propultion module at all, do you?

But, then again, what's in it for Orbital ATK?
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #24 on: 04/18/2017 02:31 AM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #25 on: 04/19/2017 11:36 PM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

There are, but are they credible and practical? NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I finally got around to listening to the pod cast while driving yesterday, some notes from the interview:

1. Mike Johnson clearly likes Centaur. A LOT. He is spent the last 15(?) years working on and off with proposals to adapt Centaur tanks as station components or cargo spacecraft. First as a "dry lab" (modified on ground), then now as a "wet lab" (modified in orbit). While he does admit that his concept could be applied to many other upper stages, I do find the single-minded obsession with Centaur stages somewhat baffling. He seems to have lots of connections with people at ULA, perhaps that is the explanation. But this single-mindedness does bring to mind the saying "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

2. The actual work of outfitting and modifying the Centaur on orbit is hand-waved away, aside from a brief mention of robots doing the work. I really do wish the host would have pressed him more on this.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 05:20 AM by Lars-J »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #26 on: 04/20/2017 04:12 AM »
Cue a small set of objections: But MMOD, but balloon tank, but thermal regulation, but interior of any kind, but attaching anything internally because balloon tank, but electrical connections, but fluids, but external handholds, but external attachment points, but radiation shielding, but .....

There are answers to most of those objections... :-)

~Jon

There are, but are they credible and practical. NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I finally got around to listening to the pod cast while driving yesterday, some notes from the interview:

1. Mike Johnson clearly likes Centaur. A LOT. He is spent the last 15(?) years working on and off with proposals to adapt Centaur tanks as station components or cargo spacecraft. First as a "dry lab" (modified on ground), then now as a "wet lab" (modified in orbit). While he does admit that his concept could be applied to many other upper stages, I do find the single-minded obsession with Centaur stages somewhat baffling. He seems to have lots of connections with people at ULA, perhaps that is the explanation. But this single-mindedness does bring to mind the saying "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

2. The actual work of outfitting and modifying the Centaur on orbit is hand-waved away, aside from a brief mention of robots doing the work. I really do wish the host would have pressed him more on this.


I think DCSS would be better suited though the Delta IV doesn't fly as often and generally is not used for LEO missions.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 04:16 AM by Patchouli »

Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #27 on: 04/20/2017 07:05 AM »
There are, but are they credible and practical? NOTE, no one has said that this is impossible. Just impractical.

I think the solutions for several of the problems are pretty straightforward. Especially MMOD protection, and how you mount stuff to the inside and outside of a Centaur/ACES style balloon tank. A lot of the other concerns (about kitting out the volume) are ones that inflatables tend to share or are worse at. Admittedly it's an idea I've been noodling for years, so I'm somewhat biased.

I'm being intentionally vague for now, but hopefully can say more down the road.

~Jon

Offline Chasm

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #28 on: 04/20/2017 09:07 AM »
Not say, show.  :)

I would really like to see some form of wetlab fly. If it is not a perfect solution? So what.
The concepts have been around for a long time and got reworked again and again. Unlike some other ides which gets thrown around there is certainly no "That doesn't even work in Kerbal Space..." factor.
I'm pretty tired of all those ideas that get developed to hardware and then canceled at the last second because they are not shiny enough, don't make that last Č of profit or got endorsed by the wrong person at some point in time, three decades ago.



ACES
As I understand there is no getting close to the ISS while there are still cryogenics in the stage. If you have to vent all tanks ACES does not help too much as far as docking or disposal goes. Otherwise it would be time for another round of rocket lego. 8) The upside is the the increased size and that more gear is located on the rear bulkhead, removing obstacles from the top. Construction method stays the same so no changes there.

Other upper stages
As per the linked podcast the H2 upper stages are quite similar, there is not too much difference between them. It's hard to justify launching on Delta IV because of price. Using a foreign launcher is not a real option for an American company either.
I suppose switching stages would be an easy fix if "but balloon tank" was the only complaint, but it isn't.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #29 on: 06/06/2017 01:01 AM »
tweets from Jeff Foust today

At a @spaceRESlux event in New York this afternoon, featuring space industry executives and the deputy prime minister of Luxembourg.

Manber (NanoRacks)also noted they (finally) had kickoff meeting on their NextSTEP hab module study. Hope to have 1st commíl module up by 2021.

Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk


Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #30 on: 10/25/2017 02:57 AM »
FYI, there will be a NextSTEPs panel at the Von Braun Symposium in Huntsville on Thursday morning (8:30am Central Time) with Jason Crusan and representatives from most of the NextSTEPs teams.

http://astronautical.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017-Von-Braun-Program-Website-3.pdf

There'll be a webcast at astronautical.org/live for those who're interested.

~Jon

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #31 on: 10/25/2017 03:49 AM »
FYI, there will be a NextSTEPs panel at the Von Braun Symposium in Huntsville on Thursday morning (8:30am Central Time) with Jason Crusan and representatives from most of the NextSTEPs teams.

http://astronautical.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017-Von-Braun-Program-Website-3.pdf

There'll be a webcast at astronautical.org/live for those who're interested.

~Jon
Jon, I see you representing Nanoracks on the panel. Have they contracted you for this project?

Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #32 on: 10/25/2017 04:28 AM »
Jon, I see you representing Nanoracks on the panel. Have they contracted you for this project?

Yeah, we've been supporting them since late June. We weren't part of the originally proposed team, and I didn't realize at the time of my earlier comments on this thread that we'd be involved in any way, but wet labs have been one of those ideas I've always liked, and so we were excited to have the chance to help out.

The reason they're having me go is that the person NanoRacks was originally going to have on the panel (Mike Lewis) was double-booked, so they asked if I could fill in for him. Should be a lot of fun. It'll also be my first time ever in Huntsville.

~Jon
« Last Edit: 10/25/2017 04:30 AM by jongoff »

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #33 on: 10/26/2017 08:49 PM »
Podcast interview with Jeff Manber, Nanoracks CEO, on SpaceQ:

Nanoracks is hoping to go beyond just the NextStep program to their own complete private space station.

Relevant info on Nanoracks own station starting at 33:10
Link:
https://soundcloud.com/spaceq/episode-19-jeff-manber-ceo-of-nanoracks-new-space-entrepreneur-unfiltered

The entirety of the interview is great and covers a lot of history in establishing a private market within Mir and ISS.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #34 on: 10/26/2017 09:58 PM »
So now that ULA is moving to a 5.4m very wide body Centaur for all Vulcan flights, how does this affect this wet station concept? More volume is better, but changed construction techniques could add challenges, I would think.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #35 on: 10/26/2017 10:11 PM »
So now that ULA is moving to a 5.4m very wide body Centaur for all Vulcan flights, how does this affect this wet station concept? More volume is better, but changed construction techniques could add challenges, I would think.
Jon Goff mention Centuar V at seminar, so it is in their plans. Would be best candidate given it's 5.4m dia.

One way I see it working is for Centuar to carry cargo/docking module between its self and primary payload. After payload/satellite is deployed, proceed to spacestation and dock. Cargo module would have bits to fit out Centuar.
They primary payload could even be a Starliner going to space station.

For cost of docking module and a extra SRB or two they get a new habitat module.

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #36 on: 10/26/2017 10:46 PM »
Everything points to Centaur V and ACES still using stainless steel tanks, common bulk head.  Also external Multi-Layer Insulation.

More importantly ULA is a partner in development of this concept - so there should be no reason that Ixion's design isn't future compatible.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #37 on: 10/28/2017 04:11 PM »
So now that ULA is moving to a 5.4m very wide body Centaur for all Vulcan flights, how does this affect this wet station concept? More volume is better, but changed construction techniques could add challenges, I would think.

Everything points to Centaur V and ACES still using stainless steel tanks, common bulk head.  Also external Multi-Layer Insulation.

More importantly ULA is a partner in development of this concept - so there should be no reason that Ixion's design isn't future compatible.

I'm not sure what all I can say publicly but I will say that the main reason I showed the Centaur III version in my symposium presentation wasn't because we're not working with Centaur V/ACES, but because those were the pictures we knew were approved for release the time. Also, we didn't want to steal the thunder from our final feasibility study briefing with NASA.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #38 on: 10/28/2017 04:14 PM »
Also, here's a copy of my short (~5min) Von Braun Symposium presentation for those who weren't able to watch it live or online on Thursday. I don't know that there's a huge amount of new information there, but it was a good discussion.

~Jon
« Last Edit: 10/28/2017 04:15 PM by jongoff »

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #39 on: 10/28/2017 05:48 PM »
Quote
With up to 310 m3 habitable volume Ixion is the largest single element station since SkyLab

How do you get this number, isn't the Centaur relatively small? Some of the volume would be in the "mission module" but that looks small. Are you counting an additional cygnus-like module on top?

Hydrolox density is about 360 kg/m so the current centaur with 23 ton of propellant would have ~60 m3 of volume. 310 m3 volume would hold more than 100 tons of hydrolox.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #40 on: 10/28/2017 06:16 PM »
How is a wet lab "better" than a dry lab?  Why would NASA want this rather than say a BA330?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #41 on: 10/28/2017 07:24 PM »
Cost.  Its lower cost way to add extra habitat modules. I think there is still a need for a few essential purpose built modules.

With every Cygnus mission they would get extra habitat module from US tank.

In case of Xeus lander, it is extra lunar habitat volume for every cargo lander.
« Last Edit: 10/28/2017 07:26 PM by TrevorMonty »

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #42 on: 10/28/2017 07:30 PM »
Cost.  Its lower cost way to add extra habitat modules. I think there is still a need for a few essential purpose built modules.

With every Cygnus mission they would get extra habitat module from US tank.

In case of Xeus lander, it is extra lunar habitat volume for every cargo lander.



What is the cost range to for  wet lab vs a dry lab? 

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #43 on: 10/28/2017 09:07 PM »
Also, here's a copy of my short (~5min) Von Braun Symposium presentation for those who weren't able to watch it live or online on Thursday. I don't know that there's a huge amount of new information there, but it was a good discussion.

~Jon

That diagram shows IXION using both a Mission Module and a Wet Lab. The combination makes sense, where as a Wet Lab by itself does not. All the complex stuff is launched in the Mission Module and arrives at the same time.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #44 on: 10/29/2017 04:01 AM »
Quote
With up to 310 m3 habitable volume Ixion is the largest single element station since SkyLab

How do you get this number, isn't the Centaur relatively small? Some of the volume would be in the "mission module" but that looks small. Are you counting an additional cygnus-like module on top?

Hydrolox density is about 360 kg/m so the current centaur with 23 ton of propellant would have ~60 m3 of volume. 310 m3 volume would hold more than 100 tons of hydrolox.

That number is based on the Centaur V stage, and associated mission module and docking tunnel. You are correct that the Centaur III version is much smaller.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #45 on: 10/29/2017 04:07 AM »
How is a wet lab "better" than a dry lab?  Why would NASA want this rather than say a BA330?

The Ixion approach gets you the best of both worlds, IMO. You can  have the complex, hard-to-outfit hardware in the mission module, where it can be pre-installed and checked-out on the ground prior to launch (like a traditional hab), while still having the large volume in the wet lab portion that can be kitted out with less sophisticated but volume intensive things like sleeping quarters, ward-rooms, storage, etc (like an inflatable). But outfitting the tank is easier because you can bake in hard mounting points that make it easier to use robotic outfitting. There are other benefits of a wetlab over an inflatable, but I'm not sure how public the info is. Inflatables are also interesting, I just think they're a bit oversold.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #46 on: 10/29/2017 04:14 AM »
Cost.  Its lower cost way to add extra habitat modules. I think there is still a need for a few essential purpose built modules.

With every Cygnus mission they would get extra habitat module from US tank.

In case of Xeus lander, it is extra lunar habitat volume for every cargo lander.


What is the cost range to for  wet lab vs a dry lab?

I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #47 on: 10/29/2017 04:15 AM »
Also, here's a copy of my short (~5min) Von Braun Symposium presentation for those who weren't able to watch it live or online on Thursday. I don't know that there's a huge amount of new information there, but it was a good discussion.

~Jon

That diagram shows IXION using both a Mission Module and a Wet Lab. The combination makes sense, where as a Wet Lab by itself does not. All the complex stuff is launched in the Mission Module and arrives at the same time.

Bingo.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #48 on: 10/29/2017 01:08 PM »
Cost.  Its lower cost way to add extra habitat modules. I think there is still a need for a few essential purpose built modules.

With every Cygnus mission they would get extra habitat module from US tank.

In case of Xeus lander, it is extra lunar habitat volume for every cargo lander.


What is the cost range to for  wet lab vs a dry lab?

I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

Part of the cost is the mass of the Ixion module is the reduced mass and volume of the paying payload.

Is there a stretched Ixion module about half of which can be used instead of a Cygnus?

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #49 on: 10/29/2017 01:49 PM »
I want to see them try this because they been talking about this sort of thing for decades and it would be an opportunity to see if it really is feasible.
Though I'd like to seee something like this done on a New Glenn upperstage or the EUS.

« Last Edit: 10/29/2017 02:01 PM by Patchouli »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #50 on: 10/29/2017 03:09 PM »
Cost.  Its lower cost way to add extra habitat modules. I think there is still a need for a few essential purpose built modules.

With every Cygnus mission they would get extra habitat module from US tank.

In case of Xeus lander, it is extra lunar habitat volume for every cargo lander.


What is the cost range to for  wet lab vs a dry lab?

I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

Part of the cost is the mass of the Ixion module is the reduced mass and volume of the paying payload.

Is there a stretched Ixion module about half of which can be used instead of a Cygnus?
They are using Cygnus as it is ISS rated vehicle, the other plus is a large part of mission costs will be covered by cargo resupply out of ISS operating budget.

The Centuar proposal is a test, if it works then I can see Nanoracks looking at other US. .

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #51 on: 10/29/2017 05:11 PM »
I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

Jon, has any work been done to look at feasibility on lunar surface like with Xeus?

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #52 on: 10/29/2017 11:47 PM »

What is the cost range to for  wet lab vs a dry lab?

I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

I remain very skeptical that the conversion on-orbit is going to be as easy and/or cheap as proponents of wet lab concepts argue, but I certainly want them to give it a shot, so I can be proven wrong.  :)

Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #53 on: 10/30/2017 01:57 PM »
I don't think we have great numbers for comparison (it's not like Bigelow publishes their cost numbers). But most of the pressure structure for Ixion is made on the same tank fabrication tooling as the upper stage, which keeps the mass efficiency high and the cost relatively low. And since you can do most of the complex outfitting on the ground without requiring as much labor time on orbit, that should also be a win. Your launch costs should be lower too because half your volume is already paid for in getting the upper stage to orbit in the first place, and the rest of your structure is very mass efficient.

That doesn't prove it would be cheaper, but it suggests it likely is.

~Jon

Jon, has any work been done to look at feasibility on lunar surface like with Xeus?

I had to think about if I had discussed this on the panel (to make sure I wasn't sharing not-yet-public info), but yes, we have looked at a Xeus version of Ixion. Short version is we can land the full Ixion 4-person space facility within the mass constraints of a Xeus lander (with Vulcan distributed lift). It's pretty sweet.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #54 on: 10/30/2017 01:59 PM »
I remain very skeptical that the conversion on-orbit is going to be as easy and/or cheap as proponents of wet lab concepts argue, but I certainly want them to give it a shot, so I can be proven wrong.  :)

Skeptics who are willing to be proven wrong are always welcome.

I wish I could say more about our outfitting strategy, but I'm not sure they want that info public at this point. But I'm pretty happy with where this is all going (and that's not just because Altius has been heavily involved in designing the outfitting hardware for the wet lab).

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #55 on: 11/10/2017 12:46 PM »
Jon, thank you for sharing with what you can !
I had some thoughts about this concept and I wonder if these were considered:
*Instead of a seperate mission module, have the stage extended an seperated with a bulkhead between the tank and the mission section
*dont vent all the fuel, save some for the thrusters in a smaller, seperate tank
*recover the main engin in a 'smart reuse' way with HIAD and parachute.


"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #56 on: 11/10/2017 01:49 PM »
Wasn't the main reason they didn't use a Saturn upper stage was trapped hydrogen or oxygen that didn't completely vent would or may cause an internal fire, especially hydrogen.  Oxygen has to be breathed, and could be combined with nitrogen for stability.  However, the larger tank would be the hydrogen if you are needing space.  Sounds good, but it could be dangerous.  A lot of purging would have to be done. 

Beyond this, the problem I see is external blankets of Kevlar may have to be installed.  Radiation shielding on the inside may need to be installed.  A lot of internal construction would be required. 

Now leaving a lander on the surface of the moon or Mars might be more practical.  Gravity would allow the light hydrogen to escape out a top vent once purged with nitrogen.  It could then be outfitted for habitat on the surface.  Of course any engines remaining would be wasted, unless disconnected and shipped back for some type of reuse. 

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #57 on: 11/10/2017 07:47 PM »
Now leaving a lander on the surface of the moon or Mars might be more practical.  Gravity would allow the light hydrogen to escape out a top vent once purged with nitrogen.
A differential density purge is completely possible in orbit - rotating the relatively light empty stage about the mission module, or continuous low thrust out of the engine plumbing, would cause hydrogen to float up to the payload end of the stage when nitrogen is introduced.  Not as easy as transferring fluids in weightlessness (never thought I'd say that), but possible.

Could also go for a chemical cleaning approach, for example by hydrogenating alkenes with a platinum catalyst - almost like burning it off, except with much less potential for disaster since no oxidizer is present.

These are both just armchair ideas with their own problems, but my point is that it's entirely plausible that solutions to this problem exist.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #58 on: 11/10/2017 08:42 PM »
We Skylab-hugging greybeards just sigh....  Fabricate, integrate, assemble, test, take corrective actions after test, roll to pad and launch.  Ideally*, after launch you have a ready-to-use space station.  No propellant venting, no internal construction, no adding protective layers, no new power/data hookups, no systems testing, etc.  It's a turnkey product.

*Admitting solar array/meteoroid shield problems.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #59 on: 11/11/2017 03:45 AM »
Wasn't the main reason they didn't use a Saturn upper stage was trapped hydrogen or oxygen that didn't completely vent would or may cause an internal fire, especially hydrogen.  Oxygen has to be breathed, and could be combined with nitrogen for stability.  However, the larger tank would be the hydrogen if you are needing space.  Sounds good, but it could be dangerous.  A lot of purging would have to be done.

Once again, I'm not sure what's info I can share or not, but I feel ULA addressed the tank venting issues. Turns out they have some relevant experience.

Quote
Beyond this, the problem I see is external blankets of Kevlar may have to be installed.  Radiation shielding on the inside may need to be installed.  A lot of internal construction would be required.

They had solutions for MMOD protection that was pretty clever. Same with the internal construction--that was the part we got to help with. :-)

Quote
Now leaving a lander on the surface of the moon or Mars might be more practical.  Gravity would allow the light hydrogen to escape out a top vent once purged with nitrogen.  It could then be outfitted for habitat on the surface.  Of course any engines remaining would be wasted, unless disconnected and shipped back for some type of reuse. 

Yeah, It would be nice (but unlikely easy) if it were possible to pull and store the engines as spares for Xeus landers/ACES stages that aren't converted into Ixions. Probably same thing with the landing kit, IVF, etc.

~Jon

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #60 on: 11/11/2017 04:09 AM »
On the Moon astronauts will walk through the port hole between the ACES and Ixions. During takeoff this is vertical. Everything will have to be able to handle a 90 degree rotation and have walk spaces.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #61 on: 12/06/2017 03:25 PM »
My first attempt at posting a link:

NanoRacks and NASA Sign NextSTEP Contract for Commercial Habitat Concept Study

http://nanoracks.com/nextstep-contract-for-commercial-habitat-concept/

" our team will leverage the habitat as a proving ground for a variety of private sector activities leading to a new era in commercial low-Earth orbit utilization."

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #62 on: 12/06/2017 03:35 PM »
And their tweet:

Quote
We see the future commercialization of #LEO in re-using and re-purposing spent upper stages of launch vehicles. Here's a new look at #Ixion. Learn more about our #NextSTEP program here: https://t.co/CMXzFUiVyv #SpaceComExpo https://t.co/ueLgehtFg3

https://twitter.com/NanoRacks/status/938439243449368576

--- Tony

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #63 on: 12/06/2017 05:24 PM »
^This is also the first look at Centaur V, ULA's 5m upper stage for Vulcan.

Confirmed by MainEngineCutOff - who recently completed a nanoracks tour.
https://twitter.com/WeHaveMECO/status/938440720846872576

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #64 on: 12/06/2017 05:32 PM »
And their tweet:

Quote
We see the future commercialization of #LEO in re-using and re-purposing spent upper stages of launch vehicles. Here's a new look at #Ixion. Learn more about our #NextSTEP program here: https://t.co/CMXzFUiVyv #SpaceComExpo https://t.co/ueLgehtFg3

https://twitter.com/NanoRacks/status/938439243449368576

--- Tony

I'm glad that picture is finally public. I wish we had as good of a quality version of the Ixion/XEUS 4-person lunar lander habitat concept we looked at...

~Jon

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #65 on: 12/06/2017 06:16 PM »
Jon could starliner be used to deliver Centuar to a space station. If so between Cygnus and Starliner they could build quite station over a few missions.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #66 on: 12/06/2017 06:51 PM »
Somewhat confusing.

Looks to have a side port on the Centaur V, which would be exposed on launch (fairing doesn't cover the sides of Centaur V on Vulcan, it's exposed to the air and has foam on the outside for TPS on ascent).

The FRGF would appear to be on the payload adapter, and the intended mate is appears to be with the Harmony forward port with the IDA2 and PMA2 removed (possibly both relocated to the zenith port of Harmony). The absence of a mid point grapple limits the options to handle the module elsewhere on the station.

One would assume as a VV it would arrive on an R bar approach, get grappled and relocated to the forward port. So this view shows it as a Z- (or V-bar) approach.

Note that the pressurized volume possible seems roughly that of KIBO.


Offline acolangelo

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #67 on: 12/06/2017 11:17 PM »
^This is also the first look at Centaur V, ULA's 5m upper stage for Vulcan.

Confirmed by MainEngineCutOff - who recently completed a nanoracks tour.
https://twitter.com/WeHaveMECO/status/938440720846872576

Adding a bit of stream-of-consciousness-stlye context from memory of my visit to NanoRacks:

- Side CBMs are put there to meet NASA requirements for port placement. Couldnít quite achieve that with the node on top of the tank per previous renderings.
- I saw some renderings with those intertank coverings removed on orbit, but Iím unsure if thatís something that would happen, or was rendered to better show the structure.
- Theyíre still focusing on keeping the architecture upper stage agnostic, so that what they develop can be used on other vehicles in the future. Some very interesting stages were brought up in the discussion.

Working on scheduling an interview for the podcast in the coming weeks that will probably touch on a lot of this!
Writing and podcasting about spaceflight at mainenginecutoff.com.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #68 on: 12/06/2017 11:22 PM »
That looks more like a 5.4m Centaur V with a node, and an *Additional* Centaur V tank/body at the end. There is no way that Centaur V is that long - that would make the stage 20-25m long.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2017 11:23 PM by Lars-J »

Offline acolangelo

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #69 on: 12/06/2017 11:23 PM »
That looks more like a 5.4m Centaur V with a node, and an *Additional* tank at the end. There is no way that Centaur V is that long.

Itís a modified Centaur V with a CBM node in the intertank. Regular Centaur V looks like itíll be common bulkhead, but those two sections you see there are the tanks.
Writing and podcasting about spaceflight at mainenginecutoff.com.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #70 on: 12/06/2017 11:26 PM »
That looks more like a 5.4m Centaur V with a node, and an *Additional* tank at the end. There is no way that Centaur V is that long.

Itís a modified Centaur V with a CBM node in the intertank. Regular Centaur V looks like itíll be common bulkhead, but those two sections you see there are the tanks.

That's possible... But then the drawing must be off scale/proportion quite a bit. (again remember the 5.4m diameter - measure the image) That would be a super massive sized stage, the stack would be far taller than Atlas V. (which would go against them trying to maintain the stage heights to allow a transition without massive infrastructure changes)

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #71 on: 12/06/2017 11:30 PM »
Would the Ixion concept work with either EUS or IUS flying on SLS as way to implement the Lunar Deep Space Gateway? Since NASA is going to be sending these large upper stages towards the moon anyway...
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Offline acolangelo

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #72 on: 12/06/2017 11:31 PM »
That looks more like a 5.4m Centaur V with a node, and an *Additional* tank at the end. There is no way that Centaur V is that long.

Itís a modified Centaur V with a CBM node in the intertank. Regular Centaur V looks like itíll be common bulkhead, but those two sections you see there are the tanks.

That's possible... But then the drawing must be off scale/proportion quite a bit. (again remember the 5.4m diameter - measure the image) That would be a super massive sized stage, the stack would be far taller than Atlas V. (which would go against them trying to maintain the stage heights to allow a transition without massive infrastructure changes)

Illustrations are just that, and itís obviously early on in both design processes, but Iíve seen some other renders showing internals. :)

Take out the middle node, and pull one tank dome into the other tank, and youíve shortened its length quite a bit.
Writing and podcasting about spaceflight at mainenginecutoff.com.

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #73 on: 12/06/2017 11:42 PM »

- Theyíre still focusing on keeping the architecture upper stage agnostic, so that what they develop can be used on other vehicles in the future. Some very interesting stages were brought up in the discussion.
Such a tease. I can't help but speculate as what could be more interesting than Atlas/Vulcan.
F9 would probably be less volume, I doubt the Kerosene tank would be very appealing to set up shop in.
New Glenn?
SLS's EUS for a DSG application I suppose.  The core could always make orbit without an upper stage if someone REALLY wanted to...

Although very far fetched, I think the most interesting stage would be a Long March 5 core.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2017 11:53 PM by GWH »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #74 on: 12/07/2017 12:04 AM »
Don't think that the crew access goes that high either. So ... dedicated mission with pad, umbilicals, MLP, and VIB mods?

Seems quite expensive for "cheap" hab space.

add:
SLS's EUS for a DSG application I suppose...

Although very far fetched, I think the most interesting stage would be a Long March 5 core.
There's such a thing as "too big" a space to fill.

Remember, it's a "wet" hab - you fit it out from other pressurized volume. Hundreds of Orion capsule volumes, and even with say Cygnus super ultra huge flights ... you'd need dozens of them.

Which works against the DSG concept, which is not to be huge like the severely underutilized ISS (limited by operating environment and frequency of visits by crew/cargo), but to be compact to be the smallest of way stations possible - so even the first EUS is overkill.

This concept sure does give Bigelow a run for the "ISS backup" and transfer to a commercial non joint operation concept. It does have potentially station keeping and long lived propulsion possibilities, although not with storable props (GOx to supplant ECLSS too). Not passivated fully for those cases. Wonder how those would go over with ASAP?
« Last Edit: 12/07/2017 01:04 AM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline JBF

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #75 on: 12/07/2017 01:56 AM »
How much work will this take once it reaches orbit, to make it usable?
"In principle, rocket engines are simple, but thatís the last place rocket engines are ever simple." Jeff Bezos

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #76 on: 12/07/2017 06:39 AM »
That looks more like a 5.4m Centaur V with a node, and an *Additional* tank at the end. There is no way that Centaur V is that long.

Itís a modified Centaur V with a CBM node in the intertank. Regular Centaur V looks like itíll be common bulkhead, but those two sections you see there are the tanks.

But the LOX and LH tanks aren't the same size. And making such a custom modification of Centaur V seems to defeat the point of this.

As for the size... here is a quick image I mocked up that illustrates the issue with size... Compare with Centaur and ACES. The size makes no sense. If the center are is the intertank, the stage would have so much mass that the thrust to weight ratio would be anemic, even moreso than Centaur. Even with 4 RL-10s. Now look at the ACES stage. Suspiciously about half the length.

The other possible explanation is that the "intertank" is actually the top of Centaur V, and that what is above it is simply a cargo module that happens to share the Centaur V diameter - a more streamlined version of their earlier Centaur/Cygnus combo that Ixion has shown. (see image 2)
« Last Edit: 12/07/2017 06:43 AM by Lars-J »

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #77 on: 12/07/2017 09:55 PM »
Don't think that the crew access goes that high either. So ... dedicated mission with pad, umbilicals, MLP, and VIB mods?

Seems quite expensive for "cheap" hab space.

add:
SLS's EUS for a DSG application I suppose...

Although very far fetched, I think the most interesting stage would be a Long March 5 core.
There's such a thing as "too big" a space to fill.

Remember, it's a "wet" hab - you fit it out from other pressurized volume. Hundreds of Orion capsule volumes, and even with say Cygnus super ultra huge flights ... you'd need dozens of them.

Which works against the DSG concept, which is not to be huge like the severely underutilized ISS (limited by operating environment and frequency of visits by crew/cargo), but to be compact to be the smallest of way stations possible - so even the first EUS is overkill.

This concept sure does give Bigelow a run for the "ISS backup" and transfer to a commercial non joint operation concept. It does have potentially station keeping and long lived propulsion possibilities, although not with storable props (GOx to supplant ECLSS too). Not passivated fully for those cases. Wonder how those would go over with ASAP?

The current rough idea for DSG seems to involve a lot of docking and assembly over several years even though it is a relatively small station. Nowhere as much as ISS but pretty significant. It depends what would be worse, lots of spare capacity to fill or docking and assembling multiple modules over years.  I'm curious to know if the same capability as DSG could be achieved rapidly in one or two launches through retrofitting an upperstage that's already going to TLI with Orion. The Ixion concept even mentions the possiblity of robotic outfitting of the eventual habitat. Since the DSG is not intended to be permanently inhabited, perhaps this would benefit the speedy construction of such a station between SLS/Orion missions.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #78 on: 12/08/2017 03:15 AM »
Don't think that the crew access goes that high either. So ... dedicated mission with pad, umbilicals, MLP, and VIB mods?

Seems quite expensive for "cheap" hab space.

add:
SLS's EUS for a DSG application I suppose...

Although very far fetched, I think the most interesting stage would be a Long March 5 core.
There's such a thing as "too big" a space to fill.

Remember, it's a "wet" hab - you fit it out from other pressurized volume. Hundreds of Orion capsule volumes, and even with say Cygnus super ultra huge flights ... you'd need dozens of them.

Which works against the DSG concept, which is not to be huge like the severely underutilized ISS (limited by operating environment and frequency of visits by crew/cargo), but to be compact to be the smallest of way stations possible - so even the first EUS is overkill.

This concept sure does give Bigelow a run for the "ISS backup" and transfer to a commercial non joint operation concept. It does have potentially station keeping and long lived propulsion possibilities, although not with storable props (GOx to supplant ECLSS too). Not passivated fully for those cases. Wonder how those would go over with ASAP?

The current rough idea for DSG seems to involve a lot of docking and assembly over several years even though it is a relatively small station.
IMHO it's a balancing act of exploration, construction, and replenishment.

The components are carefully chosen to match SLS capability.

Quote
Nowhere as much as ISS but pretty significant. It depends what would be worse, lots of spare capacity to fill or docking and assembling multiple modules over years.
The benefit of this "wet" station is supposed to be lots of cheap, pressurized volume.

DSG, why to some already has too much pressurized volume, is mostly about unpressurized capabilities like power and docking/airlock capability. You could build them into its EUS stage, but then you'd have to carry along way too much additional mass. One of the benefits of keeping DSG lithe, is that you can inject it with SEP into a long trajectory to get it to LMO as a receiving station that could support surface access.

Quote
  I'm curious to know if the same capability as DSG could be achieved rapidly in one or two launches through retrofitting an upperstage that's already going to TLI with Orion.
Nope.

Mass limits, not pressurized volume. Which costs in dragging things to Mars. And it can't be paired down. Nor does the integration save you, because a lot of things need to be deployed and are inconsistent with a US environment (power, comm, robotic arm).

Now, lets say you used something like Centaur 3 (or V) - you could have like with ISS a hab portion brought along, about the right size. But how do you jettison the excess weight of the other tank, the engine(s), and the TPS covering it aren't the right material for deep space.

Non functional concept.

Quote
The Ixion concept even mentions the possiblity of robotic outfitting of the eventual habitat.

Actually,  you could more quickly and cost effectively entirely robotically (and teleoperated) assembled without any Orion flights, possibly from many different LV's. This would be a better means for DSG because it could also be serviced and modules replaced autonomously, for the lowest overhead cost of way stations at here and Mars.

(But that doesn't supply govt guaranteed jobs to congressional districts.)

Quote
Since the DSG is not intended to be permanently inhabited, perhaps this would benefit the speedy construction of such a station between SLS/Orion missions.
No, it would slow things down and make them even less optimal than the current bad.

Because there's more total mass to be delivered, more missions, more things to go wrong. And designing things to work with it would defeat the purpose of using many of the advantages of the modules chosen.

Offline GWH

Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #79 on: 12/08/2017 05:51 PM »
Mass limits, not pressurized volume. Which costs in dragging things to Mars. And it can't be paired down. Nor does the integration save you, because a lot of things need to be deployed and are inconsistent with a US environment (power, comm, robotic arm).

Keep in mind the Deep Space Gateway, and Deep Space Transport are two separate things. One stays in cis-lunar orbit, the other is actually intended to leave. 

I totally agree with your points on the cost of mass to inject to a given orbit - which is where the real benefit of a wet lab starts to shine IMO, just so much as it remains a stationary asset.  That way the mass of the pressure vessel is essentially transported for free, while parasitic mass of engines and the like only become a minor long term cost for small course corrections and the like.

For Deep Space Gateway, any use of EUS as a module would really require a complete redesign of the concept due to the size and many other factors you point out.  Is it practical and worth talking about? Eh, probably not. Point well taken that this application, while exciting at a glance, probably just isn't practical. I've attached a sketch illustrating sizes in comparison to Lars-J's sketch, for an illustration but not to make any specific points.
In comparison to the current plans: http://www.russianspaceweb.com/imp.html

Getting away from the EUS + DSG detour, back to the value that IXION could bring: a very interesting comparison to make would be Bigelow's plans for a LLO station and an ACES derived wetlab. Could that be outfitted robotically after placing itself in lunar orbit? How would the trades of transportation costs for a standalone hab vs this concept come out?

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #80 on: 12/08/2017 07:30 PM »
That would very much depend on the a) contents of the Bigelow and b) the mission for both/either. None of this is clear.

Let me point out though that the Bigelow assumes ACES not the Centaur 3 (or V) that the Ixion is shown with. This is a critical difference as the Bigelow video shows the wet hab outfitted in earth orbit with a steady flow of Dragons, likely volume not weight limited, where after a different fully fueled ACES boosts to LLO. (Likely the orbit is not ISS's 51.6 degree inclination (due to increased difficulty in doing TLI as well as less effective mass to orbit for Dragon outfitting flights as well as ACES entry into orbit to do the TLI). Likely it's CCAFS 28.5 or close to that.

So, assuming the Ixion envisioned up thread could even reach LLO (possible but not insured, it would have to be very light, possibly missing things like an embedded hub as shown), all those outfitting Dragons would have to fly on uprated FH's, likely expendable to reach LLO (if possible). Ironically, even with all those disadvantages, it would likely be quicker/cheaper than providing a hab via SLS/Orion, and definitely quicker than (assuming you could do a like concept with F9US) Vulcan and the shown concept, because the vehicle is soon to fly (not necessarily cheaper because of all the non reuse).

As to robotic "outfitting", we've got the minimal (you extract the contents of the Dragon's, leaving first mission personnel to "insert tab-A into slot-B", or you need to have everything incrementally assembled, tested and working before first crew launches.

For the former "just load", simple robotic package in the vehicle moves contents from one to another (note need for docking not berthing as neither has an external robotic arm), bin packing regular cargo carriers for later. You'd keep the robotic package in the Dragon because it would serve no further purpose in the hab, and might be used in setting up other habs/modules as well, or upgraded successively. The astros no longer are doing deliveries.

For the latter "industrious assembly and more", you'll need multiple robotic fixtures that can work in small quarters with highly regular interfaces/shapes, and intensive work to bring it off (unfundable currently). Robots for this would stay with the station (possibly used also outside the station, but that's another story), because they'd likely be capable of automated repair/replace/upgrade when the station was unattended. (This kind of thing might reduce on orbit operations cost as well as exploration productivity improvement 10-20x, as the most expensive part of HSF exploration is the "H", not the launch, modules, or consumables, and you really don't want your astro's as doing deliveries or assembly or checkout or swap out or diagnostic.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #81 on: 12/09/2017 04:21 AM »
How much work will this take once it reaches orbit, to make it usable?

Less than you would think.

~Jon

Offline AncientU

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #82 on: 12/09/2017 12:11 PM »
Does the four engine Ixion Wet Station configuration indicate that Centaur V will have four RL-10s?
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #83 on: 12/09/2017 07:10 PM »
Does the four engine Ixion Wet Station configuration indicate that Centaur V will have four RL-10s?

Yes, to maintain the same thrust to weight ratio as the current Centaur, the Centaur V will need 3 or 4 RL-10's. (Which makes me curious how ULA will make that affordable - unless they switch to BE-3)

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #84 on: 12/09/2017 11:31 PM »
Yes, to maintain the same thrust to weight ratio as the current Centaur, the Centaur V will need 3 or 4 RL-10's. (Which makes me curious how ULA will make that affordable - unless they switch to BE-3)

Presumably they would be the same improved version Aerojet is bidding for ACES (most of the existing stockpile has been burned through or will be by the time Vulcan debuts, and its not clear that the tooling still exists to produce the legacy engines). 3d printing and other manufacturing modernizations helps a lot. Plus more engines produced allows some economy of scale to appear. IMO comparisons to the relatively high cost of legacy RL10 are not relevant given the significant redesign.

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #85 on: 12/10/2017 02:03 AM »
Yes, to maintain the same thrust to weight ratio as the current Centaur, the Centaur V will need 3 or 4 RL-10's. (Which makes me curious how ULA will make that affordable - unless they switch to BE-3)

Presumably they would be the same improved version Aerojet is bidding for ACES (most of the existing stockpile has been burned through or will be by the time Vulcan debuts, and its not clear that the tooling still exists to produce the legacy engines). 3d printing and other manufacturing modernizations helps a lot. Plus more engines produced allows some economy of scale to appear. IMO comparisons to the relatively high cost of legacy RL10 are not relevant given the significant redesign.
What is the expected price of the new design?  I don't doubt that they can be made cheaper than legacy versions.  But until we have some concrete data that they are actually being sold for significantly cheaper, such comparisons are inevitable.
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: Ixion Wet Station Concept (NanoRacks, ULA, and MDA)
« Reply #86 on: 12/11/2017 01:04 AM »
Yes, to maintain the same thrust to weight ratio as the current Centaur, the Centaur V will need 3 or 4 RL-10's. (Which makes me curious how ULA will make that affordable - unless they switch to BE-3)

Presumably they would be the same improved version Aerojet is bidding for ACES (most of the existing stockpile has been burned through or will be by the time Vulcan debuts, and its not clear that the tooling still exists to produce the legacy engines). 3d printing and other manufacturing modernizations helps a lot. Plus more engines produced allows some economy of scale to appear. IMO comparisons to the relatively high cost of legacy RL10 are not relevant given the significant redesign.

Talk is cheap. The historical cost is *absolutely* relevant, far more so that elusive Aerojet promises of cheaper engines.

EDIT: I would be happy to have AJR prove me wrong in this case. But they have long history of chronic overcharging, so I'm skeptical until proven wrong.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2017 04:56 AM by Lars-J »

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