Author Topic: HISPASAT and Orbital Sign Contract for Construction of Two Amazonas Sats  (Read 6417 times)


Offline neilh

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2365
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Liked: 43
  • Likes Given: 148
Very cool. Is <2 years between announcement and expected launch date (early 2014) for a comsat typical?
Someone is wrong on the Internet.
http://xkcd.com/386/

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1446
  • Likes Given: 4499
Can you get some extra info on the new GTO platform (Star 3, I believe?)

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Very cool. Is <2 years between announcement and expected launch date (early 2014) for a comsat typical?

It's typically in the 22-26 month range.  Record is, IIRC, 17 months.

That's the nature of the GeoCom business: GeoCom operators, like the Gallo Brothers, will buy no satellite before its time but then they want it tomorrow.

Seriously, time between financial committment and start of productive life is a key profitability parameter in the commercial satellite communications business model, so delivery time ARO is a key feature of a competitive commercial satellite offering.
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1446
  • Likes Given: 4499
Very cool. Is <2 years between announcement and expected launch date (early 2014) for a comsat typical?

It's typically in the 22-26 month range.  Record is, IIRC, 17 months.

That's the nature of the GeoCom business: GeoCom operators, like the Gallo Brothers, will buy no satellite before its time but then they want it tomorrow.

Seriously, time between financial committment and start of productive life is a key profitability parameter in the commercial satellite communications business model, so delivery time ARO is a key feature of a competitive commercial satellite offering.
How does that changes with the SEP transfer from GTO to GSO? I would be very interesting in your view of the issue. I understand that it adds about 6 months to the schedule, and the main saving (please correct me) comes from launch costs. I would thing that payload and power are the main cost drivers on the satellite, and thus saving fuel and kick engine are sort of offset by the need for more power and ion thrusters, am I correct?

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8652
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1123
  • Likes Given: 243
I wonder if it has to do with when final payment is made, ideally the GEO operators would rather not pay the launch and satellite providers a penny before the satellite is on station and delivering revenue (While the satellite and launch providers would rather have every penny before they even bend metal item one). That is why these contracts are complicated with different payments made at different milestones in the project. 

So with SEP, is the final set of payments made when the satellite arrives on station, or is it a case of payment being made when "launch" has completed. If arriving on station is the case, a small bit of planning and it might be a good option for the GEO operators. Though it does leave people like the satellite builder holding the bag for the six months it takes to arrive on station.

So Antonioe, when does Orbital get paid?
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline neilh

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2365
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Liked: 43
  • Likes Given: 148
Very cool. Is <2 years between announcement and expected launch date (early 2014) for a comsat typical?

It's typically in the 22-26 month range.  Record is, IIRC, 17 months.

That's the nature of the GeoCom business: GeoCom operators, like the Gallo Brothers, will buy no satellite before its time but then they want it tomorrow.

Seriously, time between financial committment and start of productive life is a key profitability parameter in the commercial satellite communications business model, so delivery time ARO is a key feature of a competitive commercial satellite offering.

Thank you for the informative response!
Someone is wrong on the Internet.
http://xkcd.com/386/

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0

So with SEP, is the final set of payments made when the satellite arrives on station, or is it a case of payment being made when "launch" has completed. If arriving on station is the case, a small bit of planning and it might be a good option for the GEO operators. Though it does leave people like the satellite builder holding the bag for the six months it takes to arrive on station.

Indeed, this is the type of trade the operators are performing right now.  Depending on the launch cost savings, the cost of money/revenue loss caused by the  slow transfer may or may not be offset by the lower launch costs.  The satellite itself is probably a bit more expensive.  If SpaceX is able to provide "large" GTO capacity at the currently advertised prices, electric propulsion will be financially beneficial, at least in the 8-10 Kw size range.
Quote
So Antonioe, when does Orbital get paid?

Depends on the cost of money for Orbital vs. the cost of money for the customer - usually the customer has a lower cost of money so it's cheaper for them to pay us (or whoever the satellite manufacturer is) on a "progress" or "milestone" basis - note that commercial are not bound by procurement rules the way the U.S. Government is and therefore have more flexibility to find the combination that optimized their business plan.

Some small customers may have a higher cost of money so it's advantageous for them to have the manufacturer to finance the sale and pass their cost of money to them.

In any case, SOMEBODY pays for it... money only grows on trees on prehistoric Earth (according to the HHGTTG)
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8652
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1123
  • Likes Given: 243
The satellite itself is probably a bit more expensive.

Can I ask how so? You are removing all the tangled plumbing for that messy liquid apogee motor and trading it for a larger Xenon tank and larger SEP motor.

1. While the SEP motor to get to GSO is oversized for station keeping, do you need to buy a separate electric propulsion system for station keeping? 
2. Is the larger electric propulsion system more expensive than the now eliminated liquid apogee system?
3. Since the payload is not used going from GTO to GSO, I would assume you would have enough extra power from the panels to not need a larger solar array. So no extra cost?
4. Since the satellite is expected to spend longer in the Van Allen, does that translate into a higher solar panel cost?

Antonioe thanks for your previous reply. As always, they are truly top notch.
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
The satellite itself is probably a bit more expensive.

Can I ask how so? You are removing all the tangled plumbing for that messy liquid apogee motor and trading it for a larger Xenon tank and larger SEP motor.

1. While the SEP motor to get to GSO is oversized for station keeping, do you need to buy a separate electric propulsion system for station keeping? 
Don't know - will ask.
Quote
2. Is the larger electric propulsion system more expensive than the now eliminated liquid apogee system?
I'm told the specialized power supplies are quite a bit expensive.  Also, the Xenon tank and its plumbing still needs to be as good as the Bi-prop stuff.
Quote
3. Since the payload is not used going from GTO to GSO, I would assume you would have enough extra power from the panels to not need a larger solar array. So no extra cost?
I believe that is correct.  Also, Beginning of Life.
Quote
4. Since the satellite is expected to spend longer in the Van Allen, does that translate into a higher solar panel cost?
Don't know, will ask.

What I DO KNOW is that recently I asked our GeoCom brethren for a quote for a SEP geo bus for a possible proprietary project that was launch-mass constrained and was give a higher (recurring) price for the lighter SEP bus than the (heavier) equivalent hybrid (bi- and mono-prop) of equivalent net payload electrical power.  I'd rather not say how much more expensive, but it was not "ignorable."
« Last Edit: 06/29/2012 01:09 AM by antonioe »
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8652
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1123
  • Likes Given: 243
Antonioe,

I think your last statement is the most telling. They cost more. That is the answer, and settles several threads on NSF over the years that have debated this topic.

I thought the savings from removing the Bi-Pro stuff and scaling up the Xenon Electric Propulsion stuff would not result in a more expensive spacecraft. Clearly it is not the case, wonder if most of the cost is the space rated power electronics. I can see those not being cheap.

I fully understand you not sharing the cost differential. You after all have to keep the other satellite builders guessing at how much you would charge. Otherwise, well they can out quote you. Somehow I feel in a bidding war you are not someone I want to be quoting against... Just call it a sinking feeling ;)

Good luck with Amazonas 4A and 4B!
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Online A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8479
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 349
  • Likes Given: 148
{snip}
What I DO KNOW is that recently I asked our GeoCom brethren for a quote for a SEP geo bus for a possible proprietary project that was launch-mass constrained and was give a higher (recurring) price for the lighter SEP bus than the (heavier) equivalent hybrid (bi- and mono-prop) of equivalent net payload electrical power.  I'd rather not say how much more expensive, but it was not "ignorable."

A thing to watch out for is:

Xenon - Cost, pure: $120 per 100g
Argon - Cost, pure: $0.5 per 100g

Bulk buy prices not revealed.

Source
http://www.chemicool.com/elements/xenon.html
http://www.chemicool.com/elements/argon.html
Retrieved June 29, 2012

A two order of magnitude price difference can make a big difference when dealing with the quantities of propellant needed by a satellite.  SEP manufactures are slowly reacting.

Online douglas100

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2177
  • Liked: 226
  • Likes Given: 104

Xenon - Cost, pure: $120 per 100g
Argon - Cost, pure: $0.5 per 100g

A two order of magnitude price difference can make a big difference when dealing with the quantities of propellant needed by a satellite.  SEP manufactures are slowly reacting.

Xenon is expensive, sure. But you'll notice that antonioe didn't mention propellant costs in his post. Compared with the cost of the satellite, the cost of xenon is still quite small (less than 10% I'm guessing.)

Xenon has advantages compared with other noble gases for electric propulsion. As always there is a trade between efficiency and cost. There may be a future trend toward cheaper EP propellant but it is early days to predict how this might go.
Douglas Clark

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1446
  • Likes Given: 4499
What I DO KNOW is that recently I asked our GeoCom brethren for a quote for a SEP geo bus for a possible proprietary project that was launch-mass constrained and was give a higher (recurring) price for the lighter SEP bus than the (heavier) equivalent hybrid (bi- and mono-prop) of equivalent net payload electrical power.  I'd rather not say how much more expensive, but it was not "ignorable."
I know that doing futurology if you are not Ijon Tichy is very risky, but do you see that price difference getting smaller in the future? I mean, sometimes, it's just because one technology is new (xenon thrusters and power system) and thus expensive, while the other is old and has lots of low cost suppliers (hypergolic kick engines), or is some rather fundamental issue (like stage combustion and gas generator complexity)?

Offline strangequark

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1074
  • Co-Founder, Tesseract Space
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Liked: 219
  • Likes Given: 12
I know that doing futurology if you are not Ijon Tichy is very risky, but do you see that price difference getting smaller in the future? I mean, sometimes, it's just because one technology is new (xenon thrusters and power system) and thus expensive, while the other is old and has lots of low cost suppliers (hypergolic kick engines), or is some rather fundamental issue (like stage combustion and gas generator complexity)?

Testing costs for qualification of an EP system are substantially higher than anything chemical because of the run times involved. Running through a qual firing matrix for a hypergol engine takes a week. Running through the equivalent for a Hall thruster takes years. Some of that will change, as the cost is amortized over more units, and you can get away with just acceptance testing and the occasional shorter delta-qual for unique missions.

The actual hardware involved is fairly low cost. There's nothing particularly exotic in a Hall thruster or common gridded ion engines. In fact, some of the old Russian HETs had high purity iron as the bulk of their mass.
« Last Edit: 07/03/2012 11:55 PM by strangequark »

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1446
  • Likes Given: 4499
So, it's one of those things that might very well be the next trend, but we don't know if its moment is now or in ten years, right?

Tags: