Author Topic: Taurus II and availability of the NK33  (Read 77279 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #40 on: 01/29/2008 12:39 PM »
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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

Offline antonioe

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

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Jim - 29/1/2008 7:39 AM
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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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Offline antonioe

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

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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.


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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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Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #43 on: 01/29/2008 02:16 PM »
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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 »
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antonioe - 29/1/2008  12:34 AM

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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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Offline edkyle99

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

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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.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline antonioe

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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 »

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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.

 


Offline jongoff

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #48 on: 01/29/2008 07:56 PM »
Antonio,
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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

Offline antonioe

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

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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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Offline Skyrocket

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

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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 »
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antonioe - 29/1/2008  1:49 PM

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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.

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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 »
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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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Offline Jim

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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

Offline jongoff

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #54 on: 01/30/2008 07:27 AM »
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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?

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #55 on: 01/30/2008 12:28 PM »
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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 »
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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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Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #57 on: 01/30/2008 01:04 PM »
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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

Offline Jim

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Re: Taurus II and availability of the NK33
« Reply #58 on: 01/30/2008 01:08 PM »
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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 »
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Jim - 30/1/2008  9:04 AM

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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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