Author Topic: Taurus II and availability of the NK33  (Read 76997 times)

Offline Sid454

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Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« on: 01/25/2008 04:14 AM »
Seem more info has gotten out on Taurus II and it looks to be a much better vehicle then originally
expected it's first stage engine is man rated and it offers delta II performance in it's base form no strap on SRBs so getting it to lift 8000kg capsules or even small space planes like the X34 is not out of the question.

Supposedly the NK 33 engines on it are man rated the upper stage at this point remains a mystery.
 
It seems a much better vehicle then the ATK Athena III which really can't be man rated easily and you might not want to either.

 But one issue with it's engine is future availability they say aerojet has a license to produce more of them in the US.

The real issue is can production be ramped up before the 50 remaining NK-33s are used up?


Offline meiza

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #1 on: 01/25/2008 07:56 AM »
I don't think there's much hope of manufacturing an NK-33 in USA. It's a staged combustion engine - the US have produced only a single one ever, the SSME.

Offline Jim

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RE: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #2 on: 01/25/2008 11:52 AM »
Quote
Sid454 - 24/1/2008  12:14 AM


The real issue is can production be ramped up before the 50 remaining NK-33s are used up?


All depends on the flight rate and you are forgetting the 40 that are in the US.
45 flights or so, that is many years, 5 minimum

Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #3 on: 01/25/2008 06:18 PM »
The numbers of NK-33 engines available from Aerojet, and the number available from Russia today, and in the future, are not described here accurately.  FWIW.

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #4 on: 01/25/2008 08:52 PM »
Far from the solid motor expert here...  But the final stages of the Taurus II and Athena III look to be powered by an identical motor.  It's supposed to be a "shortened" version of the Castor 120 (30 or maybe 35?).  Ed Kyle has done some work on both and some of it can be read from the Space Launch Report (http://geocities.com/launchreport/slr.html)

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #5 on: 01/25/2008 08:54 PM »
Question would be...  What would Taurus II with a Delta II upperstage instead of the Castor be capable of?

Offline aero313

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #6 on: 01/26/2008 12:04 AM »
Quote
TrueGrit - 25/1/2008  4:54 PM

Question would be...  What would Taurus II with a Delta II upperstage instead of the Castor be capable of?

Using the Delta II upper stage would likely make the Taurus II capable of costing a lot more... ;)

Offline Sid454

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #7 on: 01/26/2008 12:47 AM »
I'd go with a centaur resized for use on the Taurus II that or have spacedev make a hybrid stage if they don't get selected for COTS this would offer more flexibility then the castor allow you to launch live cargo ie people  and should have a little  higher ISP or the second stage RCS would then be a gimme since it can just use some of the cold N2O gas thats already under pressure.

Every company likely has a plan B if they can't be a prime contractor they can still e a sub contractor o a winner.

A related story can Taurus II scale up enough to lift something like dream chaser or even something lighter like the t/space CXV?
Though orbital likely has their own solution maybe based off the X34.

As for manufacturing the MK-33 it is a lot easier to manufacture then the SSME so I say it very possible to have it made in the US.

If Rocket dyne really does follow though and shut down the SSME production line those people will be available for aerojet to hire.

A real irony is the USA may be a better bet then the former soviet union for producing these engines because of the recent experience with the SSME.

Also there is a market for a big lox kerosene engine on the open market beyond the Taurus II since the RS27 is out of production but many startup companies have interest in perusing lox kero fueled RLVs but don't have the capital like spacex has to develop an engine from scratch.

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #8 on: 01/26/2008 12:59 AM »
Quote
Sid454 - 25/1/2008  8:47 PM

1.   I'd go with a centaur resized for use on the Taurus II that or have spacedev make a hybrid stage if they don't get selected for COTS this would offer more flexibility then the castor allow you to launch live cargo ie people  and should have a little  higher ISP or the second stage RCS would then be a gimme since it can just use some of the cold N2O gas thats already under pressure.

2.  Every company likely has a plan B if they can't be a prime contractor they can still e a sub contractor o a winner.

3.  A related story can Taurus II scale up enough to lift something like dream chaser or even something lighter like the t/space CXV?
Though orbital likely has their own solution maybe based off the X34.

4.  If Rocket dyne really does follow though and shut down the SSME production line those people will be available for aerojet to hire.

5.  A real irony is the USA may be a better bet then the former soviet union for producing these engines because of the recent experience with the SSME.


1.  Using other upperstages doesn't make a business case. Especially another contractors

2.  No. Not for a launch vehicle

3.  Again, there is no business case.  There is a glut of LVs in that lift range.  Again X-34 is not a orbital entry vehicle.  

4.  The line has been shut down.  Those people are working on RS-68

5. Not applicable.  LH2 vs RP-1

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #9 on: 01/26/2008 06:01 AM »
Quote
TrueGrit - 25/1/2008  3:54 PM

Question would be...  What would Taurus II with a Delta II upperstage instead of the Castor be capable of?

Less.  Quite a bit less.  By my figuring, you would loose about one metric ton of LEO payload capability using the Delta II second stage rather than the Castor 30 second stage.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #10 on: 01/26/2008 09:08 PM »
That much lost is a little surprising?  How much less impulse does the Taurus II first stage have in comparision to the Delta II combined first stage and SRMs?  It would have to be quite significant...  I wondered if the mass reduction with the Delta II stage would have overcome some loss in impulse.  But not nearly enough:

  Castor 120 (Taurus): GLOW 53.171 t - Thrust 164.665 t - Isp 282 sec - Burn Time 82.5 sec - Total Impulse 135684 t-sec
  Castor 30 (My Guess): GLOW 13.292 t - Thrust 41.163 t - Isp 282 sec - Burn Time 82.5 sec - Total Impulse 3395 t-sec
  Delta II Upperstage: GLOW 6.95 t - Thrust 4.45 t - Isp 319 sec - Burn Time 431.6 sec - Total Impulse 1920.6 t-sec

   Note: doesn't account for removing the HAPS trim stage

Basical reasoning behind my question was trying to think about furture growth potential in this configuration.  To try and compare it to the ATK proposal, which claims growth potential thru lighter weight cases and different propellant mixes.  Since there was talk in the Orbital Q&A about a LOx/LH2 upperstage it made sence to go along the new upperstage route of thinking.  I'd think a LOx/LH2 stage would likely be at least 5x more expensive than the Castor 35, so was thinking a pressure fed Hypergol could be near equivelent.  Delta II like upperstage was the starting point because it is simple and cost effective: consisting of only a simple steel tank, pressure fed engine, bi-propellant valve, and mechanically regulated tank press system.  Wonder how much larger the Delta II stage would have to grow to make it equivelent?  Of course Hypergols likely isn't the perfered approach overall due to the environmental concerns.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #11 on: 01/27/2008 02:59 AM »

Quote
TrueGrit - 26/1/2008 4:08 PM How much less impulse does the Taurus II first stage have in comparision to the Delta II combined first stage and SRMs? It would have to be quite significant...

Actually, the Taurus II first stage has more impulse than both Delta II's first stage/SRM combinations.  Here 's the comparison (all numbers vacuum):

A single GEM-40: Thrust: 50.2 t, Burn time: 64 sec, total impulse: 3213 t-sec

Delta II core: Thrust: 107.5 t, Burn time: 265 sec, total impulse: 28487 t-sec

Taurus II: Thrust: 387.8 t, Burn time: 171 sec (approx., assumes 200 t of propellant) 

Therefore,

Delta II 73XX core + 3 SRB's total impulse: 38127 t-sec

Delta II 79XX core + 9 SRB's total impulse: 57408 t-sec

Taurus II Stage 1 total impulse: 66313 t-sec

Delta benefits from the additional staging event (two additional events for the 79XX) and the smaller thus lighter fairing.  The larger core diameter makes the AJ-10's long nozzle airframe structural penalty (interstage mass) larger on T-II than on D-II, thus favoring the Castor-30.  On the other hand, D-II (esp. the 79XX) is a bit draggier than T-II.

T-II with the Castor-30 and ORK is "bottom heavy", as typically LV's are at the beginning of their life cycle.  As more performance is required of them, they get bigger and bigger upper stages, and more and more SRB's.  Who knows, T-II thirty years from now may look just like a Delta 79XX on steroids!

Delta is an amazing rocket, more so when considering its evolution.  Unfortunately, it is at the end of its product cycle life, its components have become (they weren't!) very expensive to manufacture, and requires a complex and expensive to maintain vertical assembly/launch pad complex.

The Delta II core costs about as much in parts and assembly/test labor as the Taurus II stage 1 (well, at least I hope that's how it ends up), yet is provides less than half the impulse.  And the price of GEM-40's and other SRB's seems to increase each day we ask.

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #12 on: 01/27/2008 03:08 AM »
Quote
TrueGrit - 26/1/2008  4:08 PM

Wonder how much larger the Delta II stage would have to grow to make it equivelent?  

My guess is that it would have to grow to about 10.5 tonnes gross mass from its current 6.954 tonnes.  This might require the addition of a second AJ10 engine, which would produce something along the lines of the old Titan III Transtage.  
http://space.skyrocket.de/index_frame.htm?http://www.skyrocket.de/space/doc_stage/transtage.htm

 - Ed Kyle

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #13 on: 01/27/2008 03:19 AM »
You are right: the AJ-10 is ablatively cooled, and I understand Delta II operates it close to its max burn length time.  Two engines solves this problem.
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Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #14 on: 01/27/2008 01:12 PM »
The Delta II heavy uses 9 GEM-46's at 4805 t-sec impulse each; thus, at 71734 t-sec the D-IIH core+SRB's has actually more total impulse than a T-II stage 1. SO the T-II Stage 1 is, impulse-wise, somewhere between the D-II 79XX and the D-IIH core+SRB combinations.
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Offline tnphysics

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #15 on: 01/28/2008 12:56 AM »
But the D-IIH core+SRB combination is heavier and thus uses a greater fraction of that impulse lifting its own weight.

So does the Taurus-II Stage 1 provides a larger delta-V?

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #16 on: 01/28/2008 01:22 AM »

Quote
edkyle99 - 26/1/2008 1:01 AM
Quote
TrueGrit - 25/1/2008 3:54 PM Question would be... What would Taurus II with a Delta II upperstage instead of the Castor be capable of?
Less. Quite a bit less. By my figuring, you would loose about one metric ton of LEO payload capability using the Delta II second stage rather than the Castor 30 second stage. - Ed Kyle
Quote
TrueGrit - 26/1/2008 4:08 PM That much lost is a little surprising?

Here's a very rough Excel-and-Solver calculation (all figures approximate, but the relative difference is roughly correct):

                  T-II S1 C-30 S2      T-II S1 D-II S2
Payload        20521     5621        11823    4873     Kg
Jettison        16400     1400        16400      950     Kg
Final            36921     7021         28223    5823     Kg
Propellant   200000   13500       200000    6000     Kg
Initial         236921   20521       228223   11823    Kg


Isp (Vac)         331    282              331       319    s
DV (Ideal)     6034   2966            6785      2215   m/s


Total DVI     Actual Target           Actual    Target
                   9000    9000            9000     9000    m/s

As can be seen, a T-II S1/C-30 combination has about 800 Kg more payload to a 9 Km/s Ideal DV trajectory than a T-II/Delta II S2 combination.  Actually, the difference is closer to edkyle99's 1 ton number due to the higher structural penalty associated with the long AJ-10 nozzle on the larger (3.9m vs. 2.44m) T-II core diameter.

(could somebody teach me how to either enter a table properly or place a figure in the middle of a text without having to store it on some public URL????... I can design rockets, but I can't format squat on this forum...)

(also, can somebody tell me how to use greek letters on the signature line?  I'm getting sick and tired of my pig-greek phonetic spelling)

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline marsavian

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #17 on: 01/28/2008 01:24 AM »
could somebody teach me how to either enter a table properly

< pre >  

table

< /pre >

Click on Use Rich Text Editor button to the bottom left when posting/editing, that has Greek letters (click on Insert custom character => omega symbol) and Image insert.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #18 on: 01/28/2008 01:59 AM »
What about a larger and/or bipropellant second stage? Or Atlas I style balloon tanks?

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #19 on: 01/28/2008 02:10 AM »

(triple *sigh*) thanks, marsavian.  I knew about the "preformatted text" tag, but somehow, after carefully entering the preformatted text between <pre> and <pre>, I preview the text (pun intended) and someting kills my tags and enters a large number of extraneous and random tags... and reverts the font to proportional... arghhhh!

Also, the Rich Text Editor and gree font options don't appear to be available when entering one's signature line...

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Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #20 on: 01/28/2008 02:21 AM »

Quote
tnphysics - 27/1/2008 8:59 PM What about a larger and/or bipropellant second stage?

(*sigh*)... using what engine?  The D-II Upper Stage (a.k.a. "Delta K") using the AJ-10 is about all the biprop gear you can find in the US today...

Quote
Or Atlas I style balloon tanks?

Atlas I balloon tanks were wonderful (the lowest structural mass fraction of any launch vehicle stage EVER), but I'm afraid the art has been lost.  I remember seeing a picture in Popular Mechanics of the gigantic lathes at the San Diego Convair plant that were used to turn the Atlas fuselages to the proper thickness... This was 1961 or so; I was 12 (and lusting after rockets)... I guess one could use chem milling today, but I'm afraid we don't have the money and the time to develop that capability...

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Sid454

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RE: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #21 on: 01/28/2008 02:51 AM »
Quote
Jim - 25/1/2008  6:52 AM

Quote
Sid454 - 24/1/2008  12:14 AM


The real issue is can production be ramped up before the 50 remaining NK-33s are used up?


All depends on the flight rate and you are forgetting the 40 that are in the US.
45 flights or so, that is many years, 5 minimum

5 years should be more then enough time round up as many of the old SSME assembly line workers as they can hire tool up to ready production and test the new batch of engines.

Though the single core configuration may not be the only configuration they have in mind for this vehicle.

Other things I'm interested in upper stage options .

Replacing the solid upper stage with just about anything else the same mass could increase payload by 25% or more.

A centaur derived stage could make it a real performer able to match vehicles like soyuz and falcon 9 on equal terms maybe even allow them to launch an X34 derived vehicle or offer spacedev a lower cost vehicle for dream chaser.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #22 on: 01/28/2008 03:16 AM »
Quote
antonioe - 27/1/2008  10:21 PM

Quote
tnphysics - 27/1/2008 8:59 PM What about a larger and/or bipropellant second stage?

(*sigh*)... using what engine?  The D-II Upper Stage (a.k.a. "Delta K") using the AJ-10 is about all the biprop gear you can find in the US today...

Quote
Or Atlas I style balloon tanks?

Atlas I balloon tanks were wonderful (the lowest structural mass fraction of any launch vehicle stage EVER), but I'm afraid the art has been lost.  I remember seeing a picture in Popular Mechanics of the gigantic lathes at the San Diego Convair plant that were used to turn the Atlas fuselages to the proper thickness... This was 1961 or so; I was 12 (and lusting after rockets)... I guess one could use chem milling today, but I'm afraid we don't have the money and the time to develop that capability...




What about multiple AJ-10s?

I brought up the balloon tanks because they would allow stage 1 to be almost SSTO. Thus Stage 2 could be small.

Offline Sid454

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #23 on: 01/28/2008 03:19 AM »
Quote
antonioe - 27/1/2008  9:21 PM

Quote
tnphysics - 27/1/2008 8:59 PM What about a larger and/or bipropellant second stage?

(*sigh*)... using what engine?  The D-II Upper Stage (a.k.a. "Delta K") using the AJ-10 is about all the biprop gear you can find in the US today...

Quote
Or Atlas I style balloon tanks?

Atlas I balloon tanks were wonderful (the lowest structural mass fraction of any launch vehicle stage EVER), but I'm afraid the art has been lost.  I remember seeing a picture in Popular Mechanics of the gigantic lathes at the San Diego Convair plant that were used to turn the Atlas fuselages to the proper thickness... This was 1961 or so; I was 12 (and lusting after rockets)... I guess one could use chem milling today, but I'm afraid we don't have the money and the time to develop that capability...


The old atlas I balloon tanks did have issues with ground handling and require a jig to support them and the vehicle must be pressurized before moving it and kept pressurized while on the pad.

They were very prone to accidental damage while being handled which is partly why they switched to an isogrid .

The isogrid being stiffer eliminated an oscillation mode from the vehicle that occurred late in the burn as the first stage tanks emptied.

The change also allowed strap on SRBs and heavier upper stages which allowed the payload to grow from 3000lbs to over 22,000lbs today.

This is also why spacex went with a hybrid balloon/isogrid tank setup over a pure balloon tank on falcon 1 and falcon 9.

Balloon tanks are still used on the centaur high energy upper stage so the art of making the tanks is not lost.


Offline Jim

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RE: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #24 on: 01/28/2008 10:35 AM »
Quote
Sid454 - 27/1/2008  10:51 PM

5 years should be more then enough time round up as many of the old SSME assembly line workers as they can hire tool up to ready production and test the new batch of engines.

.

Incorrect.  If you would read the responses to your other posts, you would know that SSME production has already ended and most of the workers are on RS-68.  Also who says Aerojet is going to hire them

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #25 on: 01/28/2008 10:39 AM »
Quote
Sid454 - 27/1/2008  11:19 PM

Quote
antonioe - 27/1/2008  9:21 PM

Quote
tnphysics - 27/1/2008 8:59 PM What about a larger and/or bipropellant second stage?

(*sigh*)... using what engine?  The D-II Upper Stage (a.k.a. "Delta K") using the AJ-10 is about all the biprop gear you can find in the US today...

Quote
Or Atlas I style balloon tanks?

Atlas I balloon tanks were wonderful (the lowest structural mass fraction of any launch vehicle stage EVER), but I'm afraid the art has been lost.  I remember seeing a picture in Popular Mechanics of the gigantic lathes at the San Diego Convair plant that were used to turn the Atlas fuselages to the proper thickness... This was 1961 or so; I was 12 (and lusting after rockets)... I guess one could use chem milling today, but I'm afraid we don't have the money and the time to develop that capability...


The old atlas I balloon tanks did have issues with ground handling and require a jig to support them and the vehicle must be pressurized before moving it and kept pressurized while on the pad.

They were very prone to accidental damage while being handled which is partly why they switched to an isogrid .

The isogrid being stiffer eliminated an oscillation mode from the vehicle that occurred late in the burn as the first stage tanks emptied.

The change also allowed strap on SRBs and heavier upper stages which allowed the payload to grow from 3000lbs to over 22,000lbs today.

This is also why spacex went with a hybrid balloon/isogrid tank setup over a pure balloon tank on falcon 1 and falcon 9.

Balloon tanks are still used on the centaur high energy upper stage so the art of making the tanks is not lost.


You don't need to give a history lesson or regurgitate what has been said on many threads.  Everyone knows that info.  Especially, antonioe, who is Pegasus Designer Dr. Antonio Elias

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #26 on: 01/28/2008 12:56 PM »

Quote
Jim - 28/1/2008 5:39 AM Everyone knows that info. Especially, antonioe, who is Pegasus Designer Dr. Antonio Elias

Jim, I know this will come as a shock to you, but EVEN *I* don't know everything...

By the way, if my memory serves me right, there WAS a difference between the original Atlas I tanks and the latter Atlas and Centaur pressure-stabilized ones, precisely in the direction of increasing its buckling stiffness.  I don't know this for sure, but I infer it from a number of data, especially the worse structural mass fractions of the latter units.  Can anyone confirm?

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #27 on: 01/28/2008 07:42 PM »
Things don't always make sense until you think it out...  I was surprised that the T-II stage 1 has greater than D-II 79XX total impluse and yet if you were to put identical upperstages on it would have less capability.  D-II does gets a benifit by dropping the solids, and the MECO stage 1 "dry" weight is much less... obvious considering D-II is a 8ft stage, while T-II is a 3.9m stage...  I'ts starting to makes sense.  So it looks like a Hypergol stage looks to be out.

As for the change to a LOx/LH2 upperstage...  As I've said your talking about someting at least 5x the cost of the proposed Castor 30 in recurring costs.  The empty stage alone would be about the same cost as the Castor, then you'd need to add an engine (at least 2x), and then propellant and increased processing labor.  You'd also have to add signifcant launch site infrastructure: new propellant storage and transfer system, new cryo swing arms, etc...  Delta III was done with internal money alone and cost $800-mil.  That included a first stage mod and development of the GEM-46s, but the vast majority was for the new cryo stage.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #28 on: 01/28/2008 09:34 PM »
What about a large (30 tonne) hypergol second stage with multiple AJ-10 engines, or a new, cheaply developed engine a la LM landing engine?

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #29 on: 01/28/2008 09:36 PM »
Quote
tnphysics - 28/1/2008  5:34 PM
a new, cheaply developed engine
?

No such thing

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #30 on: 01/28/2008 10:49 PM »

Quote
tnphysics - 28/1/2008 4:34 PM What about a large (30 tonne) hypergol second stage with multiple AJ-10 engines, or a new, cheaply developed engine a la LM landing engine?

Ouch!  You're starting to get to the liftoff thrust limit of the NK-33's... no, the cat's meow would be an RL-10 stage that weighs about the same as the C-30, but at RL-10 Isp's and restartable... and for $29.95, of course... anybody's got P&W's phone number? ;)

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Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #31 on: 01/28/2008 11:12 PM »
Quote
Jim - 28/1/2008  8:39 PM
You don't need to give a history lesson or regurgitate what has been said on many threads.  Everyone knows that info.  Especially, antonioe, who is Pegasus Designer Dr. Antonio Elias

Hey, I didn't know about the Atlas I balloon tanks...
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #32 on: 01/28/2008 11:36 PM »
"Taurus II" is looking more and more impressive by the day.  When can we expect Orbital to make a firm commitment to the program?  For that matter, will Orbital have a better name than "Taurus II" by the time the program is approved?

I assume that the Stage 1 structure will be contracted out, rather than done in-house at Orbital.  Obviously, Orbital has to be tight-lipped about who the subcontractors might be at this point in time.  

Lastly, is there any chance of buying additional NK-33's from RpK at this point in time?  It might be a good idea to stock up now, but I'd assume there's plenty of bad blood between Orbital and RpK which might prevent such a deal from going through.  Then again, RpK will need the cash to get their suborbital program flying.  Selling off the K-1 assets would seem like a fiscally-sound plan.
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Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #33 on: 01/29/2008 03:07 AM »
I was wondering about your overhead costs for launches - like you say, when customers went telemetry etc. with their side order of booster fries and a lox shake. These must consume a fair whack of what you charge for a launch. Does Taurus II make some kind of saving here? (Of course these are trade secrets, but I'd just settle for an idea, being an armchair rocket enthusiast...)

Even if you had flight rates that justified reusability - say weekly flights to a Bigelow hab, then how would you cut down on all those other factors? Some sort of standardised launch telemetry service, for example? "Containerisation" of payloads?

SpaceX's projected costs seem to be creeping ever upwards - I suppose yours did initially as well. Do you think it's partly because of a growing realisation of all the extra costs associated with a launch?
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #34 on: 01/29/2008 03:42 AM »

Quote
CFE - 28/1/2008 6:36 PM "Taurus II" ... When can we expect Orbital to make a firm commitment to the program?

Please allow me to take a rain check on that one.  Things are looking good from a cost, schedule and technical standpoint, but we're far from the hard part of program yet...  I promise to inform this forum as soon as I'm able.

Quote
For that matter, will Orbital have a better name than "Taurus II" by the time the program is approved?

(Quadruple *SIGH*) I'm afraid Taurus II has become quite cast in concrete... Cygnus and all other names seem to have faded away... at least we will follow a long tradition of misnaming:  Titan -> Titan II, Delta II -> Delta IV, Ariane 4 -> Ariane 5... 

Quote
 I assume that the Stage 1 structure will be contracted out, rather than done in-house at Orbital.

Good assumption: Orbital does NOT manufacture flight structures in-house either for our rockets or our spacecraft: for example, the Pegasus wing (and fins) are manufactured by Scaled Composites (Burt also designed the structure: I only gave him the outer mold line, the hook pin interfaces, and the loads).  We assemble the fairings from major parts that various houses build to print for us.  Ditto for spacecraft parts: main core barrel, structural panels, solar panel substrates, etc.  We do all the finishing work, such as applying the TPS to the Pegasus wings, attaching the separation joint and hardware to the fairing parts, and all the clips and pucks to the spacecraft panels.

Quote
is there any chance of buying additional NK-33's from RpK at this point in time?

I was unaware that RpK owned any NK-33's.

Quote
 I'd assume there's plenty of bad blood between Orbital and RpK

Bad assumption.  I was at the Long Beach conference last year when Alan L. announced officially that RpK had been sent the "warning letter", and when Randy Brinkely had the amazing courage to participate in the panel he had committed to months before.  It takes real guts to do what Randy did.  I swear I cried. 

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #35 on: 01/29/2008 04:18 AM »

Quote
Lampyridae - 28/1/2008 10:07 PM I was wondering about your overhead costs for launches - like you say, when customers went telemetry etc. with their side order of booster fries and a lox shake. These must consume a fair whack of what you charge for a launch.

They typically range between $800K to about $1.5M depending on a lot of things: range involved, trajectory and amount of coverage needed (e.g., do you need to rent a P3 from the Navy to "see" spacecraft separation? Also, the first downrange station - for example McMurdo or IOS - is sometimes considered a launch cost, sometimes a spacecraft operations cost). 

Quote
Does Taurus II make some kind of saving here?

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the Taurus II design that significantly change the range costs one way or another, but the choice of range can.  We've had very good luck launching Pegasi and "Minotauri" (???) from Wallops; the guys (and gals) there are very efficient, work amazingly fast, and they bend over backwards to accomodate any reasonable request.  Also, because of our relatively large number of new large rocket developments (5 in 18 years... wow! Fasten your seatbelts  :laugh:  ),  Orbital has become quite efficient in preparing range documentation, flight safety analysis, etc (essentially one team does it for Pegasus, Taurus, the Minotaurs and the large suborbitals, thus spreading the cost and keeping up proficiency.  It helps a lot when the range knows and trusts you!!!)

On the other hand, the Taurus II design details (such as lack of SRB's, use of a liquid stage 1, etc.) DO save a bundle in fixed infrastructure cost, especially compared with Delta II, but it can't get to the incredible level of simplicity of Taurus where, a week after a launch, you can't tell there had been a space launch there!

Quote
 Even if you had flight rates that justified reusability - say weekly flights to a Bigelow hab, then how would you cut down on all those other factors? Some sort of standardised launch telemetry service, for example?

Well, yes, I guess that if we had six flights a year TO THE SAME ORBIT and with similar payloads (e.g., no surprise plutonium-powered RTGs... ;)  ) the range costs per flight could be halved.

Quote
SpaceX's projected costs seem to be creeping ever upwards - I suppose yours did initially as well. Do you think it's partly because of a growing realisation of all the extra costs associated with a launch?

Well, as I reported elsewhere, we nailed the Pegasus development cost amazingly well ($42M actuals vs. $40M predicted) and we blew the recurring costs ($12M actuals vs, $6M predicted) right at the first flight.  We did have some cost increases after that  But what we REALLY blew were our 1987 predictions of launch rate: 15/year predicted AVERAGE vs. 38 launches in 18 years actual.  Which means we had to charge an even greater price than we thought in order to recoup the $42M (I'm embarassed to admit how late we reached the breakeven point...)  We're a lot smarter (and older, too) now; that's why we are designing the Taurus II system to survive on 2-3 flights/year.

I know nothing about SpaceX's costs.  All I can say is that, knowing what I learned from Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur, I never understood the logic behind their predictions of price.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #36 on: 01/29/2008 04:22 AM »
Ooops... I mis-spelled Randy Brinkley's name, and I realized it too late to edit it... sorry, Randy...
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #37 on: 01/29/2008 05:34 AM »

Quote
TrueGrit - 28/1/2008 2:42 PM Things don't always make sense until you think it out... I was surprised that the T-II stage 1 has greater than D-II 79XX total impluse and yet if you were to put identical upperstages on it would have less capability.

I don't think that's what edkyle99 meant - he was not comparing a 79XX with a Delta K on top versus a T-II with a Delta K on top.  He was comparing a T-II with a Delta K on top with a T-II with a Castor-30 on top!

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #38 on: 01/29/2008 06:27 AM »
Quote
antonioe - 28/1/2008  9:42 PM

Quote
is there any chance of buying additional NK-33's from RpK at this point in time?

I was unaware that RpK owned any NK-33's.

Quote
I'd assume there's plenty of bad blood between Orbital and RpK

Bad assumption.  I was at the Long Beach conference last year when Alan L. announced officially that RpK had been sent the "warning letter", and when Randy Brinkely had the amazing courage to participate in the panel he had committed to months before.  It takes real guts to do what Randy did.  I swear I cried.


Looks like I'm eating crow now.  I assumed that RpK did have NK-33's in-house for the partly-complete K-1, but that might not be a valid assumption.  I also thought that ill-will might exist from the failed negotiations between Orbital and RpK earlier in COTS, but apparently that was a bad assumption too.
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #39 on: 01/29/2008 12:02 PM »
Once the Taurus II  is proven, is there any chance of it being able to up the flight rate by picking up some of the GPS launches that are now flying on EELV's?
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #40 on: 01/29/2008 12:39 PM »
Quote
kevin-rf - 29/1/2008  8:02 AM

Once the Taurus II  is proven, is there any chance of it being able to up the flight rate by picking up some of the GPS launches that are now flying on EELV's?

they would have to win a contract from the USAF.  Doesn't look like they will be doing that for awhile, since the EELV contracts go for many years

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #41 on: 01/29/2008 01:20 PM »

Quote
Jim - 29/1/2008 7:39 AM
Quote
kevin-rf - 29/1/2008 8:02 AM Once the Taurus II is proven, is there any chance of it being able to up the flight rate by picking up some of the GPS launches that are now flying on EELV's?
they would have to win a contract from the USAF. Doesn't look like they will be doing that for awhile, since the EELV contracts go for many years

Jim's probably right - GPS is firmly baselined on EELV.  There may be a few USAF new (currently not manifested) missions that may be interested in T-II.  Onesies, likely.  But the EELV program needs the big "production" runs, like GPS.

Then, there are the six or so Delta II "white tails" that seem unable to find a home because they are threatened by the disappearance of the assembly and launch infrastructure after 2010 (remember, Delta II's are assembled vertically at the pad).  Unless something pops out really fast (i.e. for launch during or before 2010) they will go to waste.  And they are all potential "heavys".

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #42 on: 01/29/2008 01:37 PM »

Quote
CFE - 29/1/2008 1:27 AM Looks like I'm eating crow now. I assumed that RpK did have NK-33's in-house for the partly-complete K-1, but that might not be a valid assumption.

My understanding is that they did not buy any engines during their COTS-I effort.  In the pre-Rockteplane days, Joe C. used to think that they had some rights to some of the engines in Sacramento from the pre-Kistler bankrupcy days, but Aerojet always contested Joe's statements and I seem to remember than even the Kistler General Counsel did not believe they had a case.


Quote
I also thought that ill-will might exist from the failed negotiations between Orbital and RpK earlier in COTS, but apparently that was a bad assumption too.

Well, we disagreed on how to attack the financing problem and a few other things, but I guess it ended up as a gentleman's disagreement.  Orbital looked at Kistler a lot in pre-Rocketplane days, but we just could not get the numbers to close.

I've repeated my "LV reusability only starts to pay off beyond 50 flights/year" mantra so many times that you are probably sick of reading it.  However, if somebody put a gun to my head and forced me to choose a reusability concept, I think Kistler's is the best I've ever seen.  I know and admire Randy, Will, Joe (when he acts as what he is: one of the country's top space engineers...) And I worship the very ground George Muller walks on.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #43 on: 01/29/2008 02:16 PM »
Quote
kevin-rf - 29/1/2008  2:02 PM

Once the Taurus II  is proven, is there any chance of it being able to up the flight rate by picking up some of the GPS launches that are now flying on EELV's?

No way. The GPS to be launched on EELVs do not have an apogee engine and require the launch vehicle upper stage to put them into the circular GPS-Orbit. As Taurus II does not have a reignitable upper stage as Centaur or the Delta-IV-upper stage, it can not handle these launches (neither can Delta II).


Offline edkyle99

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #44 on: 01/29/2008 02:23 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 29/1/2008  12:34 AM

Quote
TrueGrit - 28/1/2008 2:42 PM Things don't always make sense until you think it out... I was surprised that the T-II stage 1 has greater than D-II 79XX total impluse and yet if you were to put identical upperstages on it would have less capability.

I don't think that's what edkyle99 meant - he was not comparing a 79XX with a Delta K on top versus a T-II with a Delta K on top.  He was comparing a T-II with a Delta K on top with a T-II with a Castor-30 on top!


Bingo!  

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #45 on: 01/29/2008 02:53 PM »
Quote
Skyrocket - 29/1/2008  9:16 AM

Quote
kevin-rf - 29/1/2008  2:02 PM

Once the Taurus II  is proven, is there any chance of it being able to up the flight rate by picking up some of the GPS launches that are now flying on EELV's?

No way. The GPS to be launched on EELVs do not have an apogee engine and require the launch vehicle upper stage to put them into the circular GPS-Orbit. As Taurus II does not have a reignitable upper stage as Centaur or the Delta-IV-upper stage, it can not handle these launches (neither can Delta II).


Right.  It doesn't appear that Taurus II would be able to insert a GPS directly even if it used a Star 48 third stage *and* a hypergolic trim stage.  I think OSC would have to go with a restartable high-energy second stage to do a GPS mission.  A liquid hydrogen second stage that weighed about the same as a Castor 30 would easily be able to get the job done.

BTW, a Taurus II with a high-energy second stage looks a lot like Atlas III on paper, capability-wise.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #46 on: 01/29/2008 04:27 PM »
Bingo!
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Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #47 on: 01/29/2008 07:33 PM »

Quote
CFE - 28/1/2008  11:27 PM
 Looks like I'm eating crow now.  I assumed that RpK did have NK-33's in-house for the partly-complete K-1, but that might not be a valid assumption.  I also thought that ill-will might exist from the failed negotiations between Orbital and RpK earlier in COTS, but apparently that was a bad assumption too.

It wouldn't make sense for Kistler to take possession of the NK-33s, thus removing them from Aerojet, where the engines could have been tested near launch time.

 


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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #48 on: 01/29/2008 07:56 PM »
Antonio,
Quote
I've repeated my "LV reusability only starts to pay off beyond 50 flights/year" mantra so many times that you are probably sick of reading it.

I'd be willing to bet that the minimum flight rate for reusability to make sense can be reduced, in a manner analogous to how Taurus II is being developed as an EELV that can be profitable even with low flight rates.  I'm sure there are probably people who would be willing to say that an ELV can't be profitable at flight rates of 2-3 per year.  And depending on their assumptions, they'd probably be right.

That said, I doubt you could drop the RLV "breakeven" flight rate much below 20 flights per year, and so long as the main thing being flown to orbit is satellites of one form or another, that is never going to happen.  Now, if Bigelow succeeds in developing his Sundancer and Nautilus stations, and if there really is the kind of demand he's trying to generate, you might very well start seeing 20-50 flights per year worth of *people* that want to fly.  And fortunately, people are a much lower development cost payload.  I hear they can even make them in third-world countries using completely unskilled labor....

But I'm sure my "people, propellants, and provisions" mantra is probably getting old too.

~Jon

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #49 on: 01/29/2008 08:49 PM »

Quote
jongoff - 29/1/2008 2:56 PM And fortunately, people are a much lower development cost payload. I hear they can even make them in third-world countries using completely unskilled labor....

Lemme see... I heard that line some time ago from a certain Bart... no, Bert, no..

On the other hand, I understand that the civil liability lawsuits resulting from the loss of said payloads can sometimes reach settlements in the billion $'s, in spite of the very low replacement costs... :laugh:

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #50 on: 01/29/2008 09:27 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 29/1/2008  10:49 PM

Quote
jongoff - 29/1/2008 2:56 PM And fortunately, people are a much lower development cost payload. I hear they can even make them in third-world countries using completely unskilled labor....

Lemme see... I heard that line some time ago from a certain Bart... no, Bert, no..


You might possibly refer to "Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft... and the only one that can be mass-produced with unskilled labor." which is attributed to Wernher von Braun

Offline jongoff

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #51 on: 01/29/2008 09:36 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 29/1/2008  1:49 PM

Quote
jongoff - 29/1/2008 2:56 PM And fortunately, people are a much lower development cost payload. I hear they can even make them in third-world countries using completely unskilled labor....

Lemme see... I heard that line some time ago from a certain Bart... no, Bert, no..


Hmm...I think I heard it from Rick Tumlinson.

Quote
On the other hand, I understand that the civil liability lawsuits resulting from the loss of said payloads can sometimes reach settlements in the billion $'s, in spite of the very low replacement costs... :laugh:


Oh, I agree that there's definite tradeoffs.  If I were a space tourism true believer I wouldn't be working for a company focused on unmanned reusable suborbital vehicles.  That said, I think that there's some real potential there if the design can be made safe enough.  

Or put another way, the only classes of payloads that I can see ever creating enough demand to justify RLVs are passengers (whether they be joy riders, researchers, government employees, or whatever), propellants (for going beyond LEO to GEO, the moon, etc--for both manned and unmanned vehicles), and light cargo (supplies for people in LEO, research materials, etc).  Satellites are very unlikely to ever justify RLVs for the very reasons you and Jim like to highlight--it takes money to develop a satellite, and there just isn't enough money/need anytime soon for 50+ satellites of a reasonable size to be launched every year.

While I agree that there are definite risks, there's no other markets that I can think of that will result in the kind of demand necessary to really change the way space is done.  But the challenge is that by definition, getting to that point will require changing the way space is done.

~Jon

Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #52 on: 01/30/2008 12:46 AM »
Quote
jongoff - 30/1/2008  7:36 AM
While I agree that there are definite risks, there's no other markets that I can think of that will result in the kind of demand necessary to really change the way space is done.  But the challenge is that by definition, getting to that point will require changing the way space is done.

~Jon

Space-based solar power would require a lot of launches to assemble, 10 a year starting with the military ones to maybe 50 a year or so if they start to get serious and commercial.

Virgin Galactic has already collected something like $40 million in ticket sales. SS2 is fully reusable and has a (projected) flight rate of something like 100 per year, with what seems like a rock solid business case.

All very well for a deltaV of 1kps or so, but what about the serious matters of orbital spaceflight? Well, I plugged the rocket equation in and used the Isp of a SS1 hybrid rocket (250s or so) against orbital velocity (10kps) to guesstimate how the ticket price scales. Guess what, I got a pretty neat fit of $13.6 million, roundabout the asking price of a Soyuz seat a few years ago (before the business with the price hike to $40 million).

So, if Virgin Galactic only does 50% of its predicted flight rate, that's still about $75 million a year of business. Assuming that the same amount of money is available for people wanting space launches, that's still a reasonable market. Launching 6 tourists on a Dragon-type capsule would eat up one year's worth of orbital spaceflight revenue and would probably be cost-effective. However, if SpaceX manages to stick to its advertised flight costs ($35 million) then it could potentially halve the cost-to-orbit price for the space tourist to about $7 million. That's about as rock-bottom low as you could go at the moment.

It's safest to launch space tourists in a bunch and not really cost-effective or safe to do single-passenger Mercury-type flights, so space tourism by itself does not generate high flight rates. The orbital tourism market is simply not big enough to drive RLV development on its own.

Anyway, I'm getting away from the subject at hand here.
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #53 on: 01/30/2008 12:54 AM »
SPS won't be it either

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #54 on: 01/30/2008 07:27 AM »
Quote
Jim - 29/1/2008  5:54 PM

SPS won't be it either

I'm actually with Jim here.  SPS hardware is going to take a *lot* of up-front development costs (and there is a non-zero chance that even in the most favorable of circumstances the business case might not close).  Now, if some other markets (like the 3 P's I brought up earlier) could provide enough demand to close the case for private RLVs, that might make it easier to close the case for SPS systems...but probably not the other way around.  

~Jon

Edit: Out of curiosity Jim, can you think of any other markets that could *potentially* provide the level of demand necessary to make an RLV worthwhile?

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #55 on: 01/30/2008 12:28 PM »
Quote
jongoff - 30/1/2008  3:27 AM

Edit: Out of curiosity Jim, can you think of any other markets that could *potentially* provide the level of demand necessary to make an RLV worthwhile?

When we need to interact with significant ventures off planet, whether it is people or material

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #56 on: 01/30/2008 12:46 PM »
Quote
jongoff - 30/1/2008  3:27 AM
Edit: Out of curiosity Jim, can you think of any other markets that could *potentially* provide the level of demand necessary to make an RLV worthwhile?

How about a network of radar sats for a world wide air traffic control. You will finally get full coverage over the oceans and areas that have sparse radar coverage due to lack of $$$ and population density. You would need (out of thin air here) some 50ish birds in LEO, and I am sure birds like this would be to heavy for anything other than an individual launch on an EELV class vehicle.

If designed right it could double as a world wide ship tracking and weather radar system.

Honestly, if the $$$ where there, I could see several different LEO polar systems. Another would be a set of LEO birds that provide decent resolution IR coverage every half hour or so for detecting, tracking, and fighting wild fires. If we could only make the birds and place them in orbit cheap enough to actually do it.

Of course I am sure we are talking billions and billions here...

...The only thing holding back SkyNet is the cost of getting into LEO ;)
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #57 on: 01/30/2008 01:04 PM »
Quote
kevin-rf - 30/1/2008  8:46 AM

 Another would be a set of LEO birds that provide decent resolution IR coverage every half hour or so for detecting, tracking, and fighting wild fires. If we could only make the birds and place them in orbit cheap enough to actually do it.

DSP does that already

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #58 on: 01/30/2008 01:08 PM »
Quote
kevin-rf - 30/1/2008  8:46 AM

How about a network of radar sats for a world wide air traffic control. You will finally get full coverage over the oceans and areas that have sparse radar coverage due to lack of $$$ and population density. You would need (out of thin air here) some 50ish birds in LEO, and I am sure birds like this would be to heavy for anything other than an individual launch on an EELV class vehicle.

If designed right it could double as a world wide ship tracking and weather radar system.

Actually that can be done from GSO.  Current air traffic control radars don't "skin paint" any more, that just interrogate a transponder.  The aircraft could even broadcast its GPS position, which would also apply to ships

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #59 on: 01/30/2008 01:48 PM »
Quote
Jim - 30/1/2008  9:04 AM

Quote
kevin-rf - 30/1/2008  8:46 AM

 Another would be a set of LEO birds that provide decent resolution IR coverage every half hour or so for detecting, tracking, and fighting wild fires. If we could only make the birds and place them in orbit cheap enough to actually do it.

DSP does that already

Is DSP data available in realtime to the fire fighter? Is the resolution good enough to plan fire lines? It was just a random thought of what we could do if the price was low enough and the political will was there to spend the money.

Also, not skin painting is a bad thing if a stricken aircraft loses power to its transponder, but your right a GSO system would work with a functioning transponder. How many months did they spend looking for that missing 737 Malaysian last winter? Why did that 737 and buisness jet collide over the amazon last year?

We are hijacking the Taurus II thread to talk about global systems that may (if) have launch rates high enough justify an RLV system. As a side thought, if such systems where setup on a global scale for the two cases we are talking about it might take some of the "its a evil spy system" sting out of the discussion about them. Especially the DSP data, imagine foreign countries begging the US to launch more DSPs (SBIRs).
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Offline aero313

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #60 on: 01/30/2008 03:11 PM »
Quote
Lampyridae - 29/1/2008  8:46 PM

Virgin Galactic has already collected something like $40 million in ticket sales. SS2 is fully reusable and has a (projected) flight rate of something like 100 per year, with what seems like a rock solid business case....

Right, just like the Space Shuttle business case of 50 flights a year for $4.5 MILLION (with an "M") per flight.  How did that work out?

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #61 on: 01/30/2008 03:25 PM »
Quote
kevin-rf - 30/1/2008  8:46 AM
Another would be a set of LEO birds that provide decent resolution IR coverage every half hour or so for detecting, tracking, and fighting wild fires. If we could only make the birds and place them in orbit cheap enough to actually do it.
That's kind of funny.  That is precisely an exercise scenario in one of the NASA Project Management and Systems Engineering courses.

BTW, this thread is kinda OT from the title.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #62 on: 01/30/2008 03:31 PM »
Quote
aero313 - 30/1/2008  8:11 AM

Quote
Lampyridae - 29/1/2008  8:46 PM

Virgin Galactic has already collected something like $40 million in ticket sales. SS2 is fully reusable and has a (projected) flight rate of something like 100 per year, with what seems like a rock solid business case....

Right, just like the Space Shuttle business case of 50 flights a year for $4.5 MILLION (with an "M") per flight.  How did that work out?

Well, to be fair to Scaled, this is actually their *second* spaceship.  They've already gotten some data on what it takes to turn one of these things around, so their guesses are a lot better than anything coming out of NASA before 1981 would've been.  Additionally, they have an abundance of payloads (ie people), especially if at some point they can start ratcheting down the price.  Plus they have a much simpler system that was designed from the start for operations.  All in all, I wouldn't be surprised if within 1-2 years of operations they could eventually work their way up to their predicted turn-time.  Whether or not they hit flight rate goals depends on the demand at their pricepoint.

Not that I'm saying that SS2 is the best that can be done for turntime, etc.  Far from it.  But it's a lot better than the Space Cow.

~Jon

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #63 on: 01/30/2008 03:32 PM »
Antares,
Quote
BTW, this thread is kinda OT from the title.

Sorry...I have a habit of doing that....

~Jon

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #64 on: 01/30/2008 04:28 PM »

Quote
jongoff - 30/1/2008 10:31 AM Well, to be fair to Scaled, this is actually their *second* spaceship. They've already gotten some data on what it takes to turn one of these things around ... Plus they have a much simpler system that was designed from the start for operations.

Also, Burt has this nasty habit of not trying to acheive (or, even more importantly, promise!) more than he knows can chew, even if the bites are pretty big.  Bad, bad Burt, if you keep acheiving what you promise, you will give us all a bad rep...

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #65 on: 01/30/2008 06:51 PM »
Quote
I don't think that's what edkyle99 meant - he was not comparing a 79XX with a Delta K on top versus a T-II with a Delta K on top.  He was comparing a T-II with a Delta K on top with a T-II with a Castor-30 on top!

Your right...  it was a leap of logic.  I thought T-II with C30 was sized to match the 79XX DII...  I guess not.  What is the T-II payload capability?  79XX DII LEO is ~5000kg w/ 9ft fairing and ~4800 kg with 10 ft fairing.  Assume T-II will start with single 3.9m fairing... right?

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #66 on: 02/20/2008 11:36 AM »
I think I have checked all the Taurus II threads but I haven't seen anything about which pad will be used.  The image shows it at Wallops, is that the COTS launch site or will there be one at the Cape as well?
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline hop

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #67 on: 02/20/2008 08:44 PM »
Quote
tnphysics - 20/2/2008  1:42 PM

It will be drop-launched from an aircraft.
This is completely wrong.
edit: As should be obvious from the GLOW alone.

Offline dmc6960

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #68 on: 02/20/2008 08:50 PM »
I dont get why you keep saying such outlandish things as if they are fact.  Why is that?


Quote
tnphysics - 20/2/2008  3:42 PM

It will be drop-launched from an aircraft.
-Jim

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #69 on: 02/20/2008 09:48 PM »
Looking at Cynus' payload it appears to be a small vehicle that will fly very often vs a big vehicle that flies twice a year.
Though if the NK33 can't be mass produced before the supply runs out could another engine replace it though this is a very very tough order.
The NK33 is not a simple engine like the RS27 or J2 just anyone can produce easily but a very high performance lox kerosene combined cycle engine with operating pressures are close to those of the SSME.
Finding something of the same thrust is easy but matching the ISP thats going to be difficult maybe a detuned RS-84 could replace the twin nk-33s.
Yes I know the RS-84 program was frozen by some idiots in Washington but it can be restarted we'll likely have a completely new administration soon and the first thing they will do is clear away all the stupidity of the last one.

 Killing SLI was one of the stupidest decisions they made and was undefendable.
 it's a decision that may cause the US to loose the space race .

Restarting SLI and funding it with money saved after killing ares and throwing down the deepest trench in the ocean and replacing it with direct sounds like something Obama or Clinton will do.

Though I feel there is a US contractor who can produce this engine if we can't even copy a Russian engine then how can we even think we're ready to return to the moon or travel to mars?

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #70 on: 02/20/2008 10:12 PM »
Quote
Patchouli - 20/2/2008  5:48 PM

1.  Looking at Cynus' payload it appears to be a small vehicle that will fly very often vs a big vehicle that flies twice a year.

2.  Though if the NK33 can't be mass produced before the supply runs out could another engine replace it though this is a very very tough order.

3.  Killing SLI was one of the stupidest decisions they made and was undefendable.
 it's a decision that may cause the US to loose the space race .



1.   4-5 times a year is about right.  2 is too little

2.  The supply is big enough so this is not an issue

3.  What race?

Offline Frediiiie

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #71 on: 02/21/2008 04:02 AM »
Ed,
Elon Musk in an interview Feb 15
http://www.news.com/Elon-Musk-on-rockets%2C-sports-cars%2C-and-solar-power---page-2/2008-11389_3-6230661-2.html?tag=st.num
said Launch cost for Falcon 1 is about $8M
thats after experience of two launch attempts, so I guess he's got a bit of data now.
You're right the price is up, but not a great deal.
Yet.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #72 on: 02/21/2008 11:38 AM »
Quote
Frediiiie - 20/2/2008  12:02 AM

Ed,
Elon Musk in an interview Feb 15
http://www.news.com/Elon-Musk-on-rockets%2C-sports-cars%2C-and-solar-power---page-2/2008-11389_3-6230661-2.html?tag=st.num
said Launch cost for Falcon 1 is about $8M
thats after experience of two launch attempts, so I guess he's got a bit of data now.
You're right the price is up, but not a great deal.
Yet.

Depends on the customer

Offline josh_simonson

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #73 on: 02/21/2008 08:41 PM »
Should keep in mind we've seen about 12.5% inflation in the last 3 years, and cost of living inflation in the LA area has probably been higher than that considering there was a housing boom during that period.  To fairly compare today's price with projected prices in previous years we really need to scale the previous quote up with inflation.

A quote of $6.7M in 2004 is 7.5M today - very close to his ~8M quote.  The rocket has also been upgraded a couple times, increasing cost (and performance).

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #74 on: 08/20/2008 05:49 PM »
I've read variously on this topic and elsewhere that Aerojet has anywhere from 30 to 60 NK-33s (AJ26-58s?)  Does anyone know a more accurate number?  Also, how does that translate into Taurus II flights?  I'm assuming a 100% utilization rate is not realistic.

The Taurus II PDF lists the first stage engines as "AJ26-62", but the Aerojet site only mentions "AJ26-58/59/61", is this just a typo?

Edit: typo.
« Last Edit: 08/20/2008 05:54 PM by Jose »

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #75 on: 08/20/2008 07:21 PM »
Sounds like Orbital is having Aerojet add some Taurus II specific design changes...  I'm certain the changes are small in nature, or a matter of which kits get installed.  For example the RS68B which NASA is proposing for the Ares V is slightly different to the one used by Delta IV.  The RS68B on Ares V lacks roll control nozzle actuators, has a different thickness ablative nozle, and adds an electronic box to monitor redlines in-flight.  But fundamentally the RS68 on Ares V is the same used on Delta IV.

Perhaps someone would know the Taurus II AJ26 situation, but I don't believe it's been fully certified.  But it's been thru development testing that's for sure...  Due to it's maturity I'd expect a 2 or 3 engine certification.  These engines will be tested extensively, beyond their rated life to show margin, and then torn down for a detailed inspection.  These engines will never be flown, but the rest would be available for flight...  Assuming they pass the acceptance testing and various pre-delivery inspections.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #76 on: 08/22/2008 02:40 AM »
Folks,

I can tell you first hand that there is zero issue with a lack of NK-33 engines. None.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #77 on: 08/22/2008 06:59 AM »
How long have those things been sitting around?  Stress corrosion cracking is a laika.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #78 on: 08/22/2008 05:48 PM »

I can tell you first hand that there is zero issue with a lack of NK-33 engines. None.

Fair enough, but let's assume the supply is not infinite, just for the sake of argument.

So what do we got?  Enough for 2-3 launches for 10 years?  Five years of 4-6 launches?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Antonioe said in another thread that they'll go back to Aerojet and talk when they have orders for 50% of the available engines.  I'm just curious as to how many orders that is, but I expect that I will not get a hard answer.  I suspect there are probably good reasons why I won't get that answer.


Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #79 on: 08/22/2008 06:11 PM »
I recall 46 engines (most NK33 but 7 NK43) at Aerojet. There are more in Samara, Russia but getting at those may now be more of an issue.

This means, using US stock, about 20 or so T-II flights.  Aerojet can put the engine back into production for a reasonable price but I also recall the issue was lead time (something like 5 years).  If my memory is correct, they need to start pretty much now or within the next two years, assuming T-II is a success.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #80 on: 08/22/2008 08:30 PM »
Having spent a large portion of my Aerojet career on NK-33's (before bailing out for greener pastures earlier this year), I can tell you:

It's AJ-26-62 for the Taurus II.
There's enough engines for 5+ years of T-II flights.
The engines are well preserved and in really good shape regardless of how old  they are.
SCC is not an issue (response to Antares' post)
NK-33's could be built here in the US if somebody actually had the 'nads to commit to this and would open up their checkbook.  Remember, these were built using manual machining equipment and the components were designed with that (probably drunk, unmotivated machinist comrade) in mind.  There are a *bunch* of clever things inside.  It would be fun to make all those pieces in a modern machine shop with the latest CNC equipment.
I was bummed about the Wallops decision - I wanted Vandenberg so I could see it (assuming no fog, of course).  Ah well...

Do Svedaneye!

Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #81 on: 08/23/2008 08:06 PM »
I suspect that we would see Taurus re-engined with Merlins before we saw US manufactured AJ-26-62 engines.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #82 on: 08/23/2008 08:11 PM »
I suspect that we would see Taurus re-engined with Merlins before we saw US manufactured AJ-26-62 engines.


No, for many reasons
1.  Spacex isn't going to help a competitor
2.  Changing engines would be more costly to OSC
3.  Changing engines is not a one for one option

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #83 on: 08/23/2008 08:50 PM »
I suspect that we would see Taurus re-engined with Merlins before we saw US manufactured AJ-26-62 engines.


No, for many reasons
1.  Spacex isn't going to help a competitor
2.  Changing engines would be more costly to OSC
3.  Changing engines is not a one for one option

1. Let's see if they still are when OSC needs new engines...
2. Depends on what Aerojet bills 'em
3. Now that one will be a bit hard, especially with the differences in ISP, but then SpaceX also has an upper stage engine to offer...

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #84 on: 08/24/2008 10:30 PM »
Let me assure you that if

 1) the technical and QA characteristics and
 2) the price of the Merlin engines

are suitable for Taurus II, and

 3) SpaceX is interested in offering them to us,

we would consider it very seriously.  As of today, though, I don't know enough about that engine to even answer question 1.

Any changes from the baseline engines will require some redesign of Stage 1 and possibly re-testing or re-qualification, depending on the extent of the necessary changes.  SO we won't do it lightly, and will handicap by those costs the alternatives to U.S. production of NK33's/AJ-26's.

By the way, the Taurus II version of the AJ-26 ( the so-called "dash-62" version) is actually a simplification of the Kistler versions (the other "dashes"); the simplifications come about mainly from the shorter operational lifetime and the need for (no) restart.  Also, no high-expansion-ratio version.
« Last Edit: 08/24/2008 10:44 PM by antonioe »
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Jose

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #85 on: 08/25/2008 05:03 PM »
...but then SpaceX also has an upper stage engine to offer...

Aerojet has the NK-43 to offer.  That could be a very interesting engine if the start building it domestically with thurst-augmented nozzles.


Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #86 on: 08/25/2008 05:36 PM »
The Thrust-augmented Nozzle (TAN) AKA "afterburning rocket" is one of those ideas that look OK on paper, but the practical implementation negates many of its virtues; let me list just three:

1.- Who compresses the propellants that are injected in the nozzle?  The basic turbomachinery of, say, an NK-43 is sized precisely to match the basic fuel flow used by the main combustion chamber.  Not a gram per second more.  Need a second turbopump, or a new, larger turbopump... No, wait, the exit pressure requirements are different, so you're stuck with a different turbopump

2.- Anywhere after the throat, the flow is supersonic; which means that the injected propellants must be at matching speeds if you want to avoid a mixing flow mess.  Which means that a significant portion of the pressurization enthalpy is "lost" accelerating the flow.

3.- The mechanical complexity of the nozzle, therefore its mass and cost, increases significantly.  I have not done the numbers, but I would not be surprised if the added inert weight (including the extra turbomachinery) negated the Isp advantages of the scheme.

In any case, you would have to design such an engine from scratch; trying to modify an existing one is, at best, heroic.

Once more the superiority of staging becomes evident: use low expansion ratio, high chamber pressure engines for the first stage, then get rid of the whole thing and change to high expansion ratio, possibly lower chamber pressure engines for the upper stages.

Like aerospikes, TANs were a "bandaid" applied to SSTO concepts where you were not allowed to stage and got penalized by the expansion ratio dilemma.
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Jose

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #87 on: 08/25/2008 06:25 PM »
Than you for your reply.  So I take it you're not a fan of aerospike engines either?  You're crushing all the dreams out of me! (Kidding.)


Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #88 on: 08/25/2008 08:02 PM »
Hey, f=ma (and then you die...) ::)
« Last Edit: 08/25/2008 08:02 PM by antonioe »
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline synchrotron

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #89 on: 08/26/2008 05:48 PM »
Hey, f=ma (and then you die...) ::)

I've been using f=dp/dt totally unaware of my impending doom.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #90 on: 08/26/2008 06:22 PM »
Hey, f=ma (and then you die...) ::)

I've been using f=dp/dt totally unaware of my impending doom.


God help you if you use f= mv(d/dt)

sorry, came up in class today
« Last Edit: 08/26/2008 06:23 PM by Ronsmytheiii »
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #91 on: 08/27/2008 03:45 PM »
The Thrust-augmented Nozzle (TAN) AKA "afterburning rocket" is one of those ideas that look OK on paper, but the practical implementation negates many of its virtues; let me list just three:

Antonio, I didn't want to threadjack this thread, but I wanted to add some comments about TAN.  So I did so over on the old TAN thread started last year when I first posted my article on the concept:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=10787.msg310119#msg310119

~Jonathan Goff

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #92 on: 08/27/2008 05:00 PM »
I suspect that we would see Taurus re-engined with Merlins before we saw US manufactured AJ-26-62 engines.

This indicates a lack of the fundamental understanding of how the rocket stage and the engine are a matched pair.  What would seem like small changes in the engine operation end up having huge impacts on the stage.  Often resulting in the need to resize the tanks and pressurization system...  This in turn impacts nearly every subsystem in the rocket.  Essentially you're creating and needign to qualify a new stage.

A good example of this is the NK-33's mixture ratio 2.8:1 which is normal for Russian engines, but quite high for the US where most engines run 2.4:1.  Or another is the minimum propellant pressures that must be provided to the engine pumps, minimum NPSH or NPSP.  These are fundamental engine design characteristics, and the rocket has to make changes to accommodate the "new" engine.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #93 on: 08/27/2008 05:16 PM »
I suspect that we would see Taurus re-engined with Merlins before we saw US manufactured AJ-26-62 engines.

This indicates a lack of the fundamental understanding of how the rocket stage and the engine are a matched pair.  What would seem like small changes in the engine operation end up having huge impacts on the stage.  Often resulting in the need to resize the tanks and pressurization system...  This in turn impacts nearly every subsystem in the rocket.  Essentially you're creating and needign to qualify a new stage.

A good example of this is the NK-33's mixture ratio 2.8:1 which is normal for Russian engines, but quite high for the US where most engines run 2.4:1.  Or another is the minimum propellant pressures that must be provided to the engine pumps, minimum NPSH or NPSP.  These are fundamental engine design characteristics, and the rocket has to make changes to accommodate the "new" engine.

Which would be more expensive, changing the rocket to match the new engines, or setting up the production line for the Russian engines? Surely that would be the deciding factor?

Offline TrueGrit

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #94 on: 08/28/2008 12:11 AM »
That's the trade...  Do a Atlas II to Atlas III like development?  Or restart production of an engine built 35 yrs ago in Russia?  There's time for Orbital to make that decision, assuming their successful in the first place.  But it will start to come to head soon after first flight.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #95 on: 08/28/2008 01:23 AM »
That's the trade...  Do a Atlas II to Atlas III like development?  Or restart production of an engine built 35 yrs ago in Russia?  There's time for Orbital to make that decision, assuming their successful in the first place.  But it will start to come to head soon after first flight.
45 years ago, by then....

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #96 on: 08/28/2008 03:04 AM »
There's time for Orbital to make that decision, assuming their successful in the first place.  But it will start to come to head soon after first flight.

I'm figuring that that'd be a good problem to have.  Means the Taurus II was a success.


Offline marsavian

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #97 on: 08/30/2009 07:22 PM »
http://www.space.com/spacenews/spacenews_summary.html#BM_2

AEROJET LOOKING TO RESTART PRODUCTION OF NK-33 ENGINE

Aerojet is in talks with Russian propulsion firms to restart production of the Soviet-era NK-33 rocket engine that the Sacramento, Calif.-based propulsion company is modernizing for use on Orbital Sciences' Taurus 2 medium-lift rocket.

Aerojet's vice president of space systems, Julie Van Kleeck, said Aug. 27 that the two companies are weighing the benefits of restarting production of the 1960s engine in Russia, initiating a new line in the United States, or possibly doing both.

"We're in discussions trying to understand one another's demand and what the trigger points are and how production might be started in one place or the other," Van Kleeck told Space News. "It's a very active situation right now in terms of discussion."

Orbital Sciences is building the Taurus 2 rocket to launch an unmanned cargo tug called Cygnus that the Dulles, Va.-based company has been working on since early 2008, when it beat a dozen competitors to win a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration contract worth $171 million. In December, Orbital won a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract valued at $1.9 billion to deliver to the international space station a minimum of 20 metric tons of pressurized cargo spread over eight flights between 2010 and 2016. Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif., which has been working on a rival system with NASA's help since 2006, has a 12-flight cargo-resupply contract worth $1.6 billion.

Slated to make its launch debut in 2010 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's eastern shore, the Taurus 2 will be powered by two modified NK-33 engines. The liquid oxygen and kerosene engines originally designed for Russia's abandoned Moon program were acquired by Aerojet in the 1990s and more recently redesignated AJ26-62 for use on Taurus 2.

Today, Aerojet has 37 NK-33 engines in the United States, and owns the rights to additional surplus inventory in Russia. Van Kleeck says at this time there are ample NK-33s in the United States and Russia to support Orbital's planned CRS contract commitment.

"From a U.S. perspective, there are enough engines for CRS to go 10 to 12 years," she said, adding that a more optimistic view of forecasted U.S. demand would call for starting a new production line within the next three to five years.

The Russians, on the other hand, are looking at more near-term scenarios, she said. Space News was unable to obtain comment from Russian officials by press time, but U.S. industry sources said Russia is interested in restarting NK-33 production to power its Soyuz rockets.

Nikolai Yakushin, the deputy general director of Moscow-based United Engine Corp., wrote Orbital Sciences Chief Executive Officer David W. Thompson in late June to give assurance that Russia will be able to meet Orbital's demand for the NK-33 engine from existing inventory and a restart of NK-33 production in Russia, according to a U.S. industry source familiar with the letter.

Information posted on Russia's Samara Space Center Web site says Russia has developed a draft design for a Soyuz 2-3 launch vehicle to include a "gimbaled sustainer engine NK-33-1 with upgraded power capability" for use on the central stage of the rocket.

Van Kleeck said most of Aerojet's NK-33 modifications are specific to Taurus 2, though Russia may be interested in some modern technologies the company has developed. One U.S. industry source said Russia is eyeing a new gimbal and a number of modern actuators that Aerojet designed for its Americanized NK-33 variants.

"There are a couple of things they are interested in, but we haven't taken those discussions very far. The specific vehicle mods would not be of interest ... it's more the new hardware that we might be putting in," Van Kleeck said, adding that any modifications to the original engine would be subject to U.S. licensing requirements for export to Russia.

At this point, Van Kleeck said talks are concentrated on where the new line would be built, though she said Aerojet would prefer a U.S. production line if a sound business case can be made.

"The negatives to restarting a Russian production line are that you are dealing with purchasing something from another country, and there are just a lot of steps to bringing something like that into this country," she said, adding that U.S. production would give Aerojet an opportunity to immediately respond to problems that could potentially crop up during manufacturing.

Although the two sides are considering the start of two separate production lines — one U.S., one Russian — Van Kleeck said she is not convinced there is demand for both lines.

"There's a significant investment to put a line like this in place," she said, adding that regardless, Aerojet is fully prepared to enter production, and has been since the 1990s when the now-defunct Kistler Aerospace designed its K-1 reusable rocket around Aerojet's modified NK-33.

"We have all the drawings to produce the engines, and have had them translated and are prepared to go into production," she said. "We need to make sure we have the supply base for various components we are buying, and we have some process work to do to replicate things in this country, but we truly don't see significant risks to do this. It's not a trivial process to go into production, but we're fully prepared to do that if it makes economic sense."

That said, engines produced in Russia likely would cost less than engines produced domestically, she said. In addition, because the NK-33 originates in Russia, it is likely that restarting a production line there could be done more quickly than starting from scratch in the United States, a scenario that could take four or five years.

"We believe there would be a price benefit of being able to purchase the engines from Russia. That might not be true in five years, but that's the case today," Van Kleeck said. "Given that uncertainty, we are evaluating both scenarios for U.S. customers, and believe the Russians are doing the same to evaluate their needs."

At this point, the only clear demand for the NK-33 from Aerojet's perspective is Orbital and its CRS commitment, which one U.S. industry source said entails two Taurus 2 launches per year. But if the launch rate were to increase, Van Kleeck said there could be a need for new production down the road.

"From a U.S. perspective, in an optimistic sense, you could make the argument that someone needs to start setting up the line three years from now," she said. "We're evaluating nominal as well as optimistic cases."

This fall, Aerojet is planning a long-duration, high-power test firing of the NK-33 in Samara, Russia. Scheduled for late September or early October, the test could raise confidence in the engine.

"A successful demonstration will increase the confidence level and allow us to reduce some of the performance margins we'll be carrying," Antonio Elias, vice president and general manager of Orbital's advanced programs group, said Aug. 28. "By performing this ground test, we'll be able to fly with smaller reserves."

Van Kleeck said the upcoming test, which Aerojet has been contemplating for more than a year, is not related to discussions about restarting production.

"If, however, these tests result in other future applications, they could become related. If the test is wildly successful, it could lead to future customers and it could drive the need for production sooner," she said.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #98 on: 08/30/2009 07:47 PM »
Merlin was first test-fired a year after SpaceX was founded. How hard is it to make a new engine? I'm sure if there's a large demand for the Taurus II and they run out of engines, someone could just make a new one. Couldn't cost more than $200 million, half a billion tops. Might be a good idea to have one on the back-burner to use as a bargaining chip with the Russians.
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Offline hop

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #99 on: 08/30/2009 07:57 PM »
Merlin was first test-fired a year after SpaceX was founded. How hard is it to make a new engine? I'm sure if there's a large demand for the Taurus II and they run out of engines, someone could just make a new one. Couldn't cost more than $200 million, half a billion tops. Might be a good idea to have one on the back-burner to use as a bargaining chip with the Russians.
Matching NK-33 performance would be much more difficult than building Merlin. Despite being designed in the 60s, it's still a pretty hot engine.

Merlin 1c:
T/W 96 (according to wikipedia)
ISP 275(sl) 304 (vac)

NK-33:
T/W 136
ISP 295 (sl) 331 (vac)


Offline sdsds

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #100 on: 08/30/2009 08:18 PM »
http://www.space.com/spacenews/spacenews_summary.html#BM_2

AEROJET LOOKING TO RESTART PRODUCTION OF NK-33 ENGINE
[...] Van Kleeck said [...]

"If the test is wildly successful, it could lead to future customers and it could drive the need for production sooner,"

What are the measures of success for this test?  Demonstrating a T/W ratio greater than 136?  Demonstrating a sea-level Isp greater than 295?  Extended burn time?

What values would be characterized as "wild" success, i.e. just how spectacular is this engine design?
-- sdsds --

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #101 on: 08/30/2009 09:08 PM »
Merlin was first test-fired a year after SpaceX was founded.

Because there was some preliminary work done by TRW.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #102 on: 08/30/2009 10:54 PM »
Merlin was first test-fired a year after SpaceX was founded.

Because there was some preliminary work done by TRW.

I didn't know that! Interesting to know. Thanks.

My main point is that Orbital probably is already looking at what they'd need to do in case the Russians don't play ball. If they aren't, then they are fools because the Russians will use that to their own advantage. Does anyone have something beyond conjecture about if Orbital is looking into their options to avoid vender-lock-in?
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Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #103 on: 08/30/2009 11:02 PM »
My main point is that Orbital probably is already looking at what they'd need to do in case the Russians don't play ball. If they aren't, then they are fools because the Russians will use that to their own advantage. Does anyone have something beyond conjecture about if Orbital is looking into their options to avoid vender-lock-in?

I am sure that ORB would like to avoid vendor lock in. However, with 30 some NK-33s available in Sacramento, the problem is much less acute than the problem of getting Taurus II to make it to orbit in the near term.

Offline R.Simko

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #104 on: 08/31/2009 12:56 AM »
Can anyone give a brief explanation as to:

1.  Why Russia's NK-33 has an ISP so much higher than other rocket engines like the Merlin? 

2.  Do we (America), have any RP1 engines with comparable in ISP, to the NK-33?   

Thanks for any info.

Offline Antares

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #105 on: 08/31/2009 01:28 AM »
Staged Combustion (most of the Isp difference), and Oxygen Rich Staged Combustion for rest of it.

No.  An RD-180US would be.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #106 on: 08/31/2009 01:58 AM »
http://www.space.com/spacenews/spacenews_summary.html#BM_2

AEROJET LOOKING TO RESTART PRODUCTION OF NK-33 ENGINE

... At this point, Van Kleeck said talks are concentrated on where the new line would be built, though she said Aerojet would prefer a U.S. production line if a sound business case can be made.

....This fall, Aerojet is planning a long-duration, high-power test firing of the NK-33 in Samara, Russia. Scheduled for late September or early October, the test could raise confidence in the engine. ...


This is going right down the road already trod by RD-180.  Promises of U.S. production that never seem to materialize beyond "we have the blueprints and are sure we *could* do it". 

"Aerojet is planning a ... test firing of NK-33 in Samara, Russia?"  Clearly Aerojet won't be the party actually conducting a test at Samara, and I suspect the use of the word "planning" would be a stretch for a Samara test too.  (Weren't these tests supposed to be performed at Stennis?)

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/31/2009 02:00 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #107 on: 08/31/2009 02:11 AM »
I can add some insight.

The Stennis tests are short duration single-engine PRE-FLIGHT ACCEPTANCE TESTS for the Sacramento-stored engines.  The test facility is designed for short duration tests using subcooled LOX and chilled RP.

The Samara test will be a 2X duration using the Taurus II thrust profile (perhaps a few percent over) and inlet conditions, using a Samara-stored engine from the same production batch as the Sacramento engines.  Quite a test!!!

While the Russians will be providing the facility and the engine, and will conduct the test, their customer is Aerojet.

Different tests, different purpose, different facilities.
« Last Edit: 08/31/2009 02:17 AM by antonioe »
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline R.Simko

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #108 on: 08/31/2009 02:15 AM »
Thanks for the info. Antares.   :)

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #109 on: 08/31/2009 04:16 AM »
2.  Do we (America), have any RP1 engines with comparable in ISP, to the NK-33?
Do we need them? We have pretty good hydrogen engines, which work fine even on lower stages without any SRBs.

I understand that Taurus is principially a kerosene rocket, so in context of its development Orbital does need them, but you asked about America in general.

-- Pete

Offline ugordan

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #110 on: 08/31/2009 11:52 AM »
We have pretty good hydrogen engines, which work fine even on lower stages without any SRBs.

Do they? Their flight rate would suggest otherwise.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #111 on: 08/31/2009 02:21 PM »
Staged Combustion (most of the Isp difference), and Oxygen Rich Staged Combustion for rest of it.

No.  An RD-180US would be.

This is a nit, but I was under the impression that the NK-33 ran a fuel-rich preburner.

Offline William Barton

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #112 on: 08/31/2009 02:34 PM »
Merlin was first test-fired a year after SpaceX was founded. How hard is it to make a new engine? I'm sure if there's a large demand for the Taurus II and they run out of engines, someone could just make a new one. Couldn't cost more than $200 million, half a billion tops. Might be a good idea to have one on the back-burner to use as a bargaining chip with the Russians.
Matching NK-33 performance would be much more difficult than building Merlin. Despite being designed in the 60s, it's still a pretty hot engine.

Merlin 1c:
T/W 96 (according to wikipedia)
ISP 275(sl) 304 (vac)

NK-33:
T/W 136
ISP 295 (sl) 331 (vac)



I have read (no longer remember where) that NK-33 was designed and manufactured by jet-engine manufacturer Kuznetzov, due to a dispute between Korolev and Glushko over what the N-1 engines should be. No idea if that's true, but interesting, if so.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #113 on: 08/31/2009 02:38 PM »
Just verified in various AIAA papers: it's ox-rich.  See Closed Cycle Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines, by Kuznetsov in 1993.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #114 on: 08/31/2009 02:38 PM »
Staged Combustion (most of the Isp difference), and Oxygen Rich Staged Combustion for rest of it.

No.  An RD-180US would be.

This is a nit, but I was under the impression that the NK-33 ran a fuel-rich preburner.

The gas generator of the NK33 is oxygen rich, running at an o/f of 57:1 as I recall the number.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #115 on: 08/31/2009 03:29 PM »
I have read (no longer remember where) that NK-33 was designed and manufactured by jet-engine manufacturer Kuznetzov, due to a dispute between Korolev and Glushko over what the N-1 engines should be. No idea if that's true, but interesting, if so.

This is actually true.


Offline Dmitry_V_home

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #116 on: 08/31/2009 06:01 PM »
I can add some insight.

The Stennis tests are short duration single-engine PRE-FLIGHT ACCEPTANCE TESTS for the Sacramento-stored engines.  The test facility is designed for short duration tests using subcooled LOX and chilled RP.

The Samara test will be a 2X duration using the Taurus II thrust profile (perhaps a few percent over) and inlet conditions, using a Samara-stored engine from the same production batch as the Sacramento engines.  Quite a test!!!

While the Russians will be providing the facility and the engine, and will conduct the test, their customer is Aerojet.

Different tests, different purpose, different facilities.

Antonio, if not a secret, with whom you work in Samara? After all, Kuznetsov SNTK is almost dead...

Offline strangequark

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #117 on: 08/31/2009 08:19 PM »
Just verified in various AIAA papers: it's ox-rich.  See Closed Cycle Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines, by Kuznetsov in 1993.

Hmm, that's intriguing. I had been led to believe that the NK-33 was a fuel-rich preburn, and therefore much simpler to manufacture, as there was no need for extensive ceramic use as in the RD-0180. I'll stop hijacking the thread, but thank you for the correction. Learn something new every day.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #118 on: 08/31/2009 08:28 PM »
Antonio, if not a secret, with whom you work in Samara? After all, Kuznetsov SNTK is almost dead...
We work through Aerojet - they arranged the meetings with the NK-33 designers.  I don't know what the organization name is, but according to the people that visited them they still have the ability to perform the test.
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #119 on: 08/31/2009 08:39 PM »
... using a Samara-stored engine from the same production batch as the Sacramento engines ...
By any chance are these the ones unbolted from the unflown N1 that was reworked following the last flight?
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #120 on: 08/31/2009 08:49 PM »
I have read (no longer remember where) that NK-33 was designed and manufactured by jet-engine manufacturer Kuznetzov, due to a dispute between Korolev and Glushko over what the N-1 engines should be. No idea if that's true, but interesting, if so.

Glushko, after designing the LOX-kerosene RD-107 and 108 used on the Semyorka, "converted" to the religion of storable hypergols as the only way to acheive the launch responsiveness required for an ICBM (at the time, solid ICBM's were pie in the sky).  Sergey Pavlovich, on the other hand, thought large quantities of hypergol were for the birds.  When Valentyn Petrovych REFUSED to design LOX-kerosene engines for the N-1, S.P. told himself: "hmmm... the hardest part of an engine is the turbopump... let me see, who knows how to design high performance aerospace turbomachinery?  AH! Nicolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov's OKB-276, who is building the world's biggest turboprop engine (the 15,000 horsepower NK-12 that powered the Tu-95 "Bear").

The legend is that S.P. went to Kuznetsov with the request, and when Nicolai Dmitriyevich  replied "but I don't know anything about rockets, especially combustion chambers!" S.P. said "you worry about the turbomachinery, I'll worry about the combustion chamber".
« Last Edit: 08/31/2009 08:50 PM by antonioe »
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Offline yinzer

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #121 on: 08/31/2009 09:44 PM »
When Valentyn Petrovych REFUSED to design LOX-kerosene engines for the N-1, S.P. told himself: "hmmm... the hardest part of an engine is the turbopump... let me see, who knows how to design high performance aerospace turbomachinery?  AH! Nicolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov's OKB-276, who is building the world's biggest turboprop engine (the 15,000 horsepower NK-12 that powered the Tu-95 "Bear").

The legend is that S.P. went to Kuznetsov with the request, and when Nicolai Dmitriyevich  replied "but I don't know anything about rockets, especially combustion chambers!" S.P. said "you worry about the turbomachinery, I'll worry about the combustion chamber".

It wasn't only the USSR where people turned to aircraft engine manufacturers to make rocket engines.  The RL10 was made by Pratt and Whitney as a derivative of their work on a LH2-powered turbojet for a secret spyplane.

To hear the Pratt guys tell it, rocket engines designed by airplane engine guys tend to weigh more but be much more reliable.  I wonder if the same holds true for the Soviets.
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Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #122 on: 08/31/2009 10:40 PM »
When Valentyn Petrovych REFUSED to design LOX-kerosene engines for the N-1, S.P. told himself: "hmmm... the hardest part of an engine is the turbopump... let me see, who knows how to design high performance aerospace turbomachinery?  AH! Nicolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov's OKB-276, who is building the world's biggest turboprop engine (the 15,000 horsepower NK-12 that powered the Tu-95 "Bear").

The legend is that S.P. went to Kuznetsov with the request, and when Nicolai Dmitriyevich  replied "but I don't know anything about rockets, especially combustion chambers!" S.P. said "you worry about the turbomachinery, I'll worry about the combustion chamber".

It wasn't only the USSR where people turned to aircraft engine manufacturers to make rocket engines.  The RL10 was made by Pratt and Whitney as a derivative of their work on a LH2-powered turbojet for a secret spyplane.

To hear the Pratt guys tell it, rocket engines designed by airplane engine guys tend to weigh more but be much more reliable.  I wonder if the same holds true for the Soviets.

I have always liked rocket engines built by aircraft powerplant guys.  If you study both the RL10 and the NK33, you can see the unmistakable hand of an aircraft engine designer.

They are not necessarily heavier, either.  The NK33 has a spectacular T/W, far better than the much higher pressure (but only slight higher performance) RD180.

I have long said that if NASA had been serious about a reusable Shuttle forty years ago, they would have given the engine contract to P&W, the airframe contract to a cargo airframer like Lockheed or Boeing, and they would have managed the effort from an old NACA center, like Ames, Langley or Lewis.

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #123 on: 09/01/2009 06:00 AM »
I know this might seem like a dumb question and this thread might not be exactly the right place for it, but....  In engine designations like "NK-33" are the letters "NK" used because they are the initials of Nikolai Kuznetsov?  Or is that just a coincidence?  If it isn't a coincidence, why isn't the RD-180 designated the VG-180?
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Offline antonioe

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #124 on: 09/01/2009 03:17 PM »
I know this might seem like a dumb question and this thread might not be exactly the right place for it, but....  In engine designations like "NK-33" are the letters "NK" used because they are the initials of Nikolai Kuznetsov?  Or is that just a coincidence?  If it isn't a coincidence, why isn't the RD-180 designated the VG-180?

"RD" is the traditional Soviet/Russian designation for rocket engine; I believe it comes from "Rocket Engine" ("Ракетный Двигатель"), so all the traditional engines were "RD-something", including Valentyn Petrovych's masterpiece, the RD-253.

Kuznetzov engines, be they aero or rocket, have traditionally been denominated "NK-something" such as the NK-144 which powered the, what else, Tu-144 supersonic airliner.  His rocket engines followed this naming pattern.

Curiously, other Russian aero engines had much more erratic naming history: for example, aero engines coming out of the Klimov OKV (Vladimir Yakovlevich Klimov was Kuznetzov's mentor - Nicolai Dmitriyevich started as a simple mechanic) were designated "VK-something", "M-something" and, can you believe this? "RD-something"!!! (The Klimov RD-33 is the MiG-29's powerplant).

Actually, the story about Nicolai Dmitriyevich's reluctance to design the N-1 engines is most likely apocryphal; NK was dabbling with staged combustion rocket engines for S.P. since 1959.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2009 03:19 PM by antonioe »
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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #125 on: 09/27/2009 08:34 PM »
This link still works for the article previously discussed:
http://www.spacenews.com/launch/aerojet-looking-restart-production-nk-33-engine.html
Quote
This fall, Aerojet is planning a long-duration, high-power test firing of the NK-33 in Samara, Russia. Scheduled for late September or early October, the test could raise confidence in the engine. “A successful demonstration will increase the confidence level and allow us to reduce some of the performance margins we’ll be carrying,” Antonio Elias, vice president and general manager of Orbital’s advanced programs group, said Aug. 28. “By performing this ground test, we’ll be able to fly with smaller reserves.”

Will it be "late September or early October" soon?  Is the engine on the stand?

I can add some insight.

The Stennis tests are short duration single-engine PRE-FLIGHT ACCEPTANCE TESTS for the Sacramento-stored engines.  The test facility is designed for short duration tests using subcooled LOX and chilled RP.

The Samara test will be a 2X duration using the Taurus II thrust profile (perhaps a few percent over) and inlet conditions, using a Samara-stored engine from the same production batch as the Sacramento engines.  Quite a test!!!

While the Russians will be providing the facility and the engine, and will conduct the test, their customer is Aerojet.

Different tests, different purpose, different facilities.

This "2X duration" bit is just beginning to sink in.  Isn't it rather an understatement to say it will, "Allow us to reduce some of the performance margins" for Taurus II?  Naively, if the engine could be qualified for run durations twice as long, couldn't it power a stage carrying twice as much propellant mass?  Wouldn't that be awesome, particularly for a variant with strap-on solids?
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Offline Lars_J

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #126 on: 09/28/2009 04:05 AM »
No... Just because an engine can run twice as long does not mean that you can scale up the thrust the same way. (For your suggestion about a larger propellant mass)

Offline Danderman

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #127 on: 09/29/2009 05:14 AM »
This "2X duration" bit is just beginning to sink in.  Isn't it rather an understatement to say it will, "Allow us to reduce some of the performance margins" for Taurus II?  Naively, if the engine could be qualified for run durations twice as long, couldn't it power a stage carrying twice as much propellant mass?  Wouldn't that be awesome, particularly for a variant with strap-on solids?

Yes. Assuming there was sufficient thrust from the strap-ons to handle the increased prop mass and extended tankage, there is no reason to believe that a Long Tank Taurus would not work out.

Offline cheesybagel

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #128 on: 10/02/2009 11:27 AM »
Glushko, after designing the LOX-kerosene RD-107 and 108 used on the Semyorka, "converted" to the religion of storable hypergols as the only way to acheive the launch responsiveness required for an ICBM (at the time, solid ICBM's were pie in the sky).  Sergey Pavlovich, on the other hand, thought large quantities of hypergol were for the birds.  When Valentyn Petrovych REFUSED to design LOX-kerosene engines for the N-1, S.P. told himself: "hmmm... the hardest part of an engine is the turbopump... let me see, who knows how to design high performance aerospace turbomachinery?  AH! Nicolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov's OKB-276, who is building the world's biggest turboprop engine (the 15,000 horsepower NK-12 that powered the Tu-95 "Bear").

IIRC Glushko himself said that this was not what happened. He said that he told Korolev that he would only build a LOX/Kerosene engine if he could use a multiple-combustion chamber design like he did for R-7 because of combustion instability problems. Korolev supposedly said he needed it with just one chamber, then Glushko fumed and refused to build him engines for the N-1. N-1 never made a successful launch with Minsky at the helm, then it was canceled and the new launcher, designed by Glushko (Energia) used multiple combustion chamber LOX/Kerosene engines (RD-170).
« Last Edit: 10/02/2009 11:56 AM by cheesybagel »

Offline meiza

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #129 on: 10/02/2009 11:41 AM »
RD-170 wasn't ready until much much later and had a relatively troubled development history. The specs were very ambitious though.

I'm surprised about how the NK-33 just worked and nobody talks much about... I don't know its history much. The N-1 had some predecessor engines btw.
Though Proton's engine is a piece of work too....

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