Author Topic: LIVE: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26 - Jan 17, 09  (Read 136062 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #80 on: 12/12/2008 08:40 PM »

It should be noted that much of the delay in the EELV flight rate is due to issues outside the control of the rocket programs.

Payload issues are playing a role here, but so are RD-180 issues, and pyroshock testing issues, etc., on the launch vehicles themselves.

As for the payloads, why did the U.S. seemingly decide to redevelop all of its defense satellites at the same time that it brought new launch vehicles on-line?  This does not appear to have been a good idea! 

Quote
The net result is that the flight rate slows down, but that goes hand-in-hand with a greater degree of confidence that the rocket will get the job done. I'd much rather wait out the delays and fly my comsat on an Atlas than put the bird on that crap-shoot of a booster, the Proton.

Proton only appears slightly more risky than an EELV, so far.  23 of the 26 Proton M/Briz M missions have succeeded to date, compared to 20 of 22 EELV missions.  A Briz M failed earlier this year, but Proton M/Briz M has already flown four consecutive successful missions since then - matching the current Atlas V success streak.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Antares

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #81 on: 12/13/2008 03:15 AM »
EELV is a failure because it costs too much.

That's not a metric.  Relative to what?  EELV is cheaper per kilo than any preceding American rocket.

What kind of car do you drive?  EELV's are expensive on the world market for the same reason the big three are: American labor rates.  Wanna trade your national security and standard of living for a cheaper rocket?  I don't.

What's more (!): unlike American cars, EELVs are much more reliable than foreign rockets.  I don't count Heavy Demo or AV-8 as material failures.  Heavy Demo failed, but no expensive payload was lost.  AV-8 came up short, but the satellite survived and didn't lose much of its life - unlike recent foreign failures which have lost more life or been completely catastrophic.

I shrug.  You continually impugn EELV without providing any alternative, which there isn't.  They're the best rockets in existence (Falcon 9 not yet existing).
« Last Edit: 12/13/2008 05:47 AM by Antares »
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 Analyst

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #82 on: 12/13/2008 02:11 PM »
I see and understand your points. And my "feeling" indicates Proton and Zenit are a little less reliable than EELVs.

But you have to admit the following: The timescale for testing / fixing problems with US rockets (EELVs and Delta II) is simply to long: Delta II Star 48 problem > no launch since March, similar for Atlas V. Or the famous Delta II RS batteries. And this for problems which did not lead to a launch failure. Then there is a failure "recovery" times will grow even more, two STS groundings being the extreme.

These extremes are not observed with Ariane (IV or V), which is the closest to US launchers not only because of similar labor costs in western Europe. So let us compare the market share of EELVs vs. Ariane V.

Analyst
« Last Edit: 12/13/2008 02:29 PM by Analyst »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #83 on: 12/13/2008 04:17 PM »

 A rocket that's flown as long as Proton has should not have such an abysmal flight record. But, oh yeah, it's cheap (relatively) and I can fly my sat real soon.


I shared your perception of Proton reliability until I sat down and tallied up the actual results.  http://www.geocities.com/launchreport/reliability2008.txt

It turns out that Proton is pretty reliable for a GTO launcher.  Proton K/DM-2M, for example, ended up with a better record than any other existing commercial counterpart.  The second most-reliable big GTO launcher was Proton K/DM-2.  Ariane 5 ECA ranks third behind these two, but is actually first among actives now that Proton K has been retired.  Then come the EELVs, Zenit 3SL, China's CZ-3 series, and Russia's current Proton M/Briz M which is in the process of recovering (statistically) from two failures in two consecutive years.

As for Russian launch vehicle reliability, note that six of the 10 most reliable on this list are Russian/Ukrainian.  Only two are from the United States.  Russia has more failures (and more successes) because it flies two to three times more often than the U.S.. 

Which begs the question - if all of the money being spent on EELVs is supposed to buy extra reliability, where are the results?

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/13/2008 04:20 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Analyst

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #84 on: 12/13/2008 04:45 PM »
padrat, wow, I didn't know it is this bad. Thanks for the insight. Sounds to me like overregulation of some aspects. This tends to always happen (in any area, not just RS or reliability), when things have gone really bad in the past. But they haven't: Last big trouble has been 1998/99. Well, maybe they haven't happened because of this regulation? I doubt it.

Again, thanks for your time explaining. I don't want to imply US launchers are worse than others, I only observe flight rate and commercial success and wonder why other launch companies / rocket builders / payload providers etc. do - right now - much better.

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Online pippin

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #85 on: 12/13/2008 07:55 PM »
What kind of car do you drive?  EELV's are expensive on the world market for the same reason the big three are: American labor rates.  Wanna trade your national security and standard of living for a cheaper rocket?  I don't.

The cars the big three build are not expensive on the world market. They don't sell because they are cheap crap.
I hope you don't want to imply that US space should adopt the same kind of product strategy they did, which was: Sell a lot to be able to produce cheap and don't care if it's a good product.

Offline Antares

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #86 on: 12/13/2008 08:58 PM »
note that six of the 10 most reliable on this list are Russian/Ukrainian.  Only two are from the United States.

Dubious!!  You stack your list against American rockets.  Of your 47 on the list:
former Soviet are 24 (51%)
American are 9 (19%)
Oh look.  20% of the top ten are American, the same fraction as the overall list.  Plus, you skew the share of Eastern bloc rockets by separately counting 6 different flavors of Proton and 7 different flavors of Soyuz.

Which begs the question - if all of the money being spent on EELVs is supposed to buy extra reliability, where are the results?

Ed does make a good point on this one.  The EELV prime(s) can be blamed for bad supplier management.  USAF and NASA should make this a point of emphasis in future management meetings.

Pippin, yes, I agree.  I was not implying that we should relax reliability targets for launches, at least in this media environment.  If the business trade were there (cheaper missions even if 10-20% go in the water) and if public perception could be altered to accept such failures, then decreased reliability would be a rational strategy.

And to the community, as padrat and Analyst allude to, it is often the government oversight that delays flight resumption after finding bad hardware on the ground.  Usually the primes find the fault fairly quickly, solve it, but then have to justify the cause and corrective action to the government (including investigating some possible causes a proper weighing of risk would deem so non-credible that they should not be worthy of pursuit).  These delays are from both the mission assurance function of the customers and the public safety function of the Range.  In fairness, though, there are the occasional problems whose cause or corrective action vex both contractor and government engineers.
« Last Edit: 12/13/2008 08:59 PM by Antares »
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: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #87 on: 12/14/2008 07:28 AM »
note that six of the 10 most reliable on this list are Russian/Ukrainian.  Only two are from the United States.

Dubious!!  You stack your list against American rockets.  Of your 47 on the list:
former Soviet are 24 (51%)
American are 9 (19%)
Oh look.  20% of the top ten are American, the same fraction as the overall list.  Plus, you skew the share of Eastern bloc rockets by separately counting 6 different flavors of Proton and 7 different flavors of Soyuz.

Compare active launch vehicles by family then. 

Launch Vehicle Reliability by Family
Active Family Orbital Launch History
as of 12/14/2008
=========================================
Vehicle     Successes/Tries Realzd Pred     
                             Rate  Rate* 
=========================================
STS             122   124    .98  .98   
R-7            1599  1684    .95  .95
R-36            256   269    .95  .95
R-14            434   460    .94  .94
Thor            540   594    .91  .91
DF-5 (CZ)       108   119    .91  .90
M55               7     7   1.00  .89
Ariane 5         37    41    .90  .88
Atlas 5          13    14    .93  .88
Proton          300   340    .88  .88
Pegasus          35    40    .88  .86
RS-18            10    11    .91  .85
H-2(A)           18    21    .86  .83
Zenit            55    67    .82  .81
Delta 4           7     8    .88  .80
MX               11    14    .79  .75
P/GSLV           14    19    .74  .71
=========================================
* First level Bayesian estimate

Three of the top five families are Russo/Ukrainian. 
Two are from the U.S.  The best GTO launchers
(Proton, Atlas 5, Ariane 5) are all essentially tied
in this list.

Taking an aggregate from the top 15 in this list
gives the following by-nation result.

Russia/CIS   2654/2831 = 0.94
USA            724/787 = 0.92
China          108/119 = 0.91
Europe           37/41 = 0.90
Japan            18/21 = 0.86

However you slice it, the history shows that
the former USSR orbital launchers are just as
reliable as any other nation's rockets, and
probably more so.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/14/2008 07:29 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Jirka Dlouhy

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #88 on: 12/14/2008 09:46 AM »
I think the problem of EELV launchers is a result from monopoly of ULA in U.S. government´s "market". The same situation is in the cost overruns in progammes for DoD, NASA and NOAA.

Online William Graham

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #89 on: 12/14/2008 11:00 AM »
I think the problem of EELV launchers is a result from monopoly of ULA in U.S. government´s "market".

The problem still existed before ULA was formed.

Offline Jim

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #90 on: 12/14/2008 01:45 PM »
I think the problem of EELV launchers is a result from monopoly of ULA in U.S. government´s "market". The same situation is in the cost overruns in progammes for DoD, NASA and NOAA.

Has nothing to do with ULA.  And it is unrelated to the other programs

Offline Will

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #91 on: 12/14/2008 03:32 PM »
EELV reliability doesn't seem bad for the amount of flight experience they have had. If they continue to fly I expect their reliability will improve.

Offline ckiki lwai

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #92 on: 12/14/2008 07:01 PM »

However you slice it, the history shows that
the former USSR orbital launchers are just as
reliable as any other nation's rockets, and
probably more so.

 - Ed Kyle

One difference is that Western rockets tend to get more reliable when they fly a lot, while the reliability of Russian rockets stays about the same, no matter how much they have flown. For example the Delta II and the Ariane 4 are/were very reliable.
My guess is that when the EELV's and the Ariane 5 fly enough (a 100 times or so) and aren't redesigned drastically every 10 or 15 flights they will have a success rate of 92-95%.
Don't ever become a pessimist... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events. - Robert Heinlein

Online William Graham

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #93 on: 12/14/2008 07:14 PM »
One difference is that Western rockets tend to get more reliable when they fly a lot, while the reliability of Russian rockets stays about the same, no matter how much they have flown.

I disagree. To give one example, Proton has become much more reliable since the 1960s - It failed every few launches, and I believe it took 61 launches before the Proton-K was accepted into service. In the last 10 years, there have only been three core vehicle failures.

Offline Nick L.

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #94 on: 12/14/2008 09:17 PM »
One difference is that Western rockets tend to get more reliable when they fly a lot, while the reliability of Russian rockets stays about the same, no matter how much they have flown.

I disagree. To give one example, Proton has become much more reliable since the 1960s - It failed every few launches, and I believe it took 61 launches before the Proton-K was accepted into service. In the last 10 years, there have only been three core vehicle failures.

I should hope so! They've had 40 years and 340 launches to get it right! The fact that they still have had recent booster problems (remember JCSat and the bad 1-2 sep?) could indicate QC problems (which I understand they're working on).

Proton is a pretty good LV, sure, but they've had a long time to work on it. It should be.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2008 09:27 PM by Nick L. »
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Offline ckiki lwai

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #95 on: 12/14/2008 09:58 PM »
One difference is that Western rockets tend to get more reliable when they fly a lot, while the reliability of Russian rockets stays about the same, no matter how much they have flown.

I disagree. To give one example, Proton has become much more reliable since the 1960s - It failed every few launches, and I believe it took 61 launches before the Proton-K was accepted into service. In the last 10 years, there have only been three core vehicle failures.

Let's compare Proton with Ariane 4, two launchers of the same class (Proton about 6 tons to GTO and Ariane 4 about 4 tons).
At Gunter's space page, there is nice list with the launch history of both rockets:
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/ariane.htm
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_fam/proton.htm
If we look at the last 74 flights of the Ariane 4, we see there wasn't a single failure anymore, while Proton had 2 total and 3 partial failures in its last 74 flights.
Ariane 4 was a real mature vehicle, while Proton now and then still encounters a problem.
Don't ever become a pessimist... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events. - Robert Heinlein

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #96 on: 12/15/2008 01:42 AM »
One difference is that Western rockets tend to get more reliable when they fly a lot, while the reliability of Russian rockets stays about the same, no matter how much they have flown.

I disagree. To give one example, Proton has become much more reliable since the 1960s - It failed every few launches, and I believe it took 61 launches before the Proton-K was accepted into service. In the last 10 years, there have only been three core vehicle failures.

Let's compare Proton with Ariane 4, two launchers of the same class (Proton about 6 tons to GTO and Ariane 4 about 4 tons).
At Gunter's space page, there is nice list with the launch history of both rockets:
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/ariane.htm
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_fam/proton.htm
If we look at the last 74 flights of the Ariane 4, we see there wasn't a single failure anymore, while Proton had 2 total and 3 partial failures in its last 74 flights.
Ariane 4 was a real mature vehicle, while Proton now and then still encounters a problem.

Ariane 4 posted an excellent record, but keep in mind that Space Shuttle recorded 88 consecutive success before Columbia, the Soviet Union's R-7 series once posted 133 consecutive success before failing again, and so on.  Although the Proton series has suffered four failures so far this decade, it had suffered five at this point during the 1990s, seven during the 1980s, and so on.  The trend is improving, though I'm sure that Krunichev would like to see even better results.

Titan offers one counter-example of the idea that Western reliability improves with time.  The Titan series (all types) recorded better reliability during the 1980s than it did during the 1990s.  STS is another example, having done better during the 1990s than during this decade. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/15/2008 01:48 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline johnxx9

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #97 on: 12/15/2008 07:46 AM »
I think that people are failing to understand the proper idea of rockets in the east!
For example in NASA, a launch vehicle family tends to be retired after about 20-25 years max! And by that time they will be performing to their capability!
In the east, people tend to upgrade the existing launchers and keep the family for what, 40 years or something and keep upgrading them and retesting them! So the chances of failure will be higher. Take Proton for that matter, it flew first in 1965, same as the Saturn age. But Saturn was retired with the arrival of Titan family! While Proton was being upgraded with new technologies and being retested!
So we tend to forget that the present Proton Breeze M is almost completely different expect or some things. So, launched in 2007 the new Proton Breeze M is just like something new and can't be compared to a Proton of 1960s!
So it's just the fact that Russian mindset to keep upgrading old rocket designs  and constant retesting somewhat fails it! 

Offline ugordan

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #98 on: 12/15/2008 08:27 AM »
So it's just the fact that Russian mindset to keep upgrading old rocket designs  and constant retesting somewhat fails it! 

But see, that's the beauty of statistics. You can choose to ignore certain facts if it suits the point you're trying to make. It's completely flexible!
« Last Edit: 12/15/2008 08:28 AM by ugordan »

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Delta IV Heavy: NRO L-26
« Reply #99 on: 12/15/2008 08:32 AM »
I think that people are failing to understand the proper idea of rockets in the east!
For example in NASA, a launch vehicle family tends to be retired after about 20-25 years max! And by that time they will be performing to their capability!
In the east, people tend to upgrade the existing launchers and keep the family for what, 40 years or something and keep upgrading them and retesting them! So the chances of failure will be higher. Take Proton for that matter, it flew first in 1965, same as the Saturn age. But Saturn was retired with the arrival of Titan family! While Proton was being upgraded with new technologies and being retested!
So we tend to forget that the present Proton Breeze M is almost completely different expect or some things. So, launched in 2007 the new Proton Breeze M is just like something new and can't be compared to a Proton of 1960s!
So it's just the fact that Russian mindset to keep upgrading old rocket designs  and constant retesting somewhat fails it! 

These are several misconceptions:
* There are not that many NASA rocket families besides Saturn and Shuttle
* Why are the chances of failure higher, when you use a launch vehicle ober a longer period?
* The retirement of Saturn had exactly nothing to do with Titan
* The Proton-M of today is not so much away from the original Proton (e.g. the evolution of Thor to the Delta II of today (or even Delta III), which are really different)
* The russian practice is to use a rocket design unmodifed as long as it is possible and then only minor modifications are made. US practice is to upgrade old rocket designs over a long period  with rather extencive modifications (e.g. Thor -> Delta II, Titan I -> Titan IV, Atlas ICBM -> Atlas III)


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