Author Topic: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?  (Read 10261 times)

Offline yg1968

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Stratolaunch and SpaceX have parted ways. SpaceX will be replaced by OSC. See the Stratolaunch thread for more information:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27520.msg984753#msg984753

It's hard not to speculate that OSC will be considering an Air version of its Antares rocket and perhaps a crewed version of the Cygnus (possibly the same one that was proposed under CCDev-1) as a replacement for the Air Falcon and Dragon. Here is more information on the CCDev-1 crewed Cygnus proposal:
http://spaceports.blogspot.com/2009/09/orbital-plans-to-develop-cygnus-based.html
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 02:29 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #1 on: 11/28/2012 05:06 AM »
Crewed version of Cygnus? I thought their proposal was the Prometheus spaceplane?

Offline baldusi

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #2 on: 11/28/2012 12:14 PM »
I still wonder about the Antares part. If they use the Ukranians, They halve 3.9m tooling (Zenit-2/Antares) and the 3m tooling from the Cyclone family. Depending on the size, they could use either. The only issue is that the latest changes required tooling and structural changes that SpaceX wasn't willing to invest on. Could the Ukranians do it? Would they have the necessary experience?
On the other hand, and just for the sake of speculation, Stratolaunch is weigth limited. So, to maximize performance they will have to have a fully liquid rocket. It might be the window to develop a liquid upper stage for Antares and Stratolaunch.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #3 on: 11/28/2012 03:14 PM »
Crewed version of Cygnus? I thought their proposal was the Prometheus spaceplane?

Prometheus was OSC's CCDev-2 proposal which launched from an Atlas V. It would not be possible for Prometheus to be launched by either Antares or Stratolaunch (too heavy).

OSC's CCDev-1 proposal was a much lighter capsule for 3 or 4 astronauts which could have been lifted by their Antares rocket. See the article that I linked above on OSC's crewed Cygnus proposal for CCDev-1.
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 03:27 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #4 on: 11/28/2012 03:32 PM »
Since the primary payload for this concept would likely be commercial spacecraft, not people, it is possible for Orbital and Scaled to develop a single engine version of Antares with wings, using an RD-8 based upper stage, likewise constructed by Scaled. This would be able to loft some GEO comsats at a reasonable price.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #5 on: 11/28/2012 03:37 PM »
Since the primary payload for this concept would likely be commercial spacecraft, not people, it is possible for Orbital and Scaled to develop a single engine version of Antares with wings, using an RD-8 based upper stage, likewise constructed by Scaled. This would be able to loft some GEO comsats at a reasonable price.

That crossed my mind too. But I get the impression that Paul Allen is involved in this venture in order to eventually launch humans to orbit. The commercial payload business is essentially a means to an end. IMO, whatever OSC proposes will need to have growth options that could eventually allow human spaceflight.
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 03:45 PM by yg1968 »

Offline simonbp

I still wonder about the Antares part. If they use the Ukranians, They halve 3.9m tooling (Zenit-2/Antares) and the 3m tooling from the Cyclone family. Depending on the size, they could use either. The only issue is that the latest changes required tooling and structural changes that SpaceX wasn't willing to invest on. Could the Ukranians do it? Would they have the necessary experience?

I'm dubious they would. Scaled Composites was already going to build roughly half of the Falcon Air's first stage anyway, so it would make sense for them to step in and build the structure for the entire first stage. Everything else on Antares (engines, avionics, upper stage) would probably make the transition easily enough.

Orbital's job at the moment though, sounds to be a trade study of all the options, with no decision until next year.
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 08:36 PM by simonbp »

Offline Comga

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #7 on: 11/28/2012 08:47 PM »
Since the primary payload for this concept would likely be commercial spacecraft, ...
How do you come to that conclusion?

With no specific evidence, I come to the oppostite conclusion.  Whatever will go on Stratolaunch has to be unconventional, and need the specific capbilities of an air launch system to make up for the massive added expense.  These capabilities may include launch time flexibility, launch invisiblity over the ocean, launch offseting, like launching uprange from the base for first stage glide-forward recovery, horizontal carriage, and probably a few I haven't thought of.

This impact of this to the switch from SpaceX to Obital, and from Falcon N to what may be an Antares derivative lies only in that Stratolaunch probably cannot lose capbility.  The new system probably has to have every bit of the payload capacity of the original plan.  Therefore it probably won't have any solid rocket motor stages, with all the development that implies.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline strangequark

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #8 on: 11/28/2012 08:59 PM »
Since the primary payload for this concept would likely be commercial spacecraft, not people, it is possible for Orbital and Scaled to develop a single engine version of Antares with wings, using an RD-8 based upper stage, likewise constructed by Scaled. This would be able to loft some GEO comsats at a reasonable price.


Why RD-8?

Offline Danderman

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #9 on: 11/28/2012 09:02 PM »
Since the primary payload for this concept would likely be commercial spacecraft, not people, it is possible for Orbital and Scaled to develop a single engine version of Antares with wings, using an RD-8 based upper stage, likewise constructed by Scaled. This would be able to loft some GEO comsats at a reasonable price.


Why RD-8?

RD-8 is about the same thrust level as the RD-58 that Blok-DM uses. For GTO launches, the standard configuration is an upper stage much smaller than the first stage, but very long burning (see Atlas V/Centaur for comparison).

The comparison gets a little blurry when considering that the airplane is really the first stage, but the desirement for a "small" upper stage still holds.

« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 09:03 PM by Danderman »

Offline strangequark

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #10 on: 11/28/2012 09:18 PM »
RD-8 is about the same thrust level as the RD-58 that Blok-DM uses. For GTO launches, the standard configuration is an upper stage much smaller than the first stage, but very long burning (see Atlas V/Centaur for comparison).

The comparison gets a little blurry when considering that the airplane is really the first stage, but the desirement for a "small" upper stage still holds.



Hmm, for some reason I had remembered the RD-809 as being about 8000lbf. I see that it's actually nearly 20,000lbf. It's still a little light, but that could be enough for a decent second stage.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 06:10 PM by strangequark »

Offline baldusi

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #11 on: 11/29/2012 01:15 PM »
I still wonder about the Antares part. If they use the Ukranians, They halve 3.9m tooling (Zenit-2/Antares) and the 3m tooling from the Cyclone family. Depending on the size, they could use either. The only issue is that the latest changes required tooling and structural changes that SpaceX wasn't willing to invest on. Could the Ukranians do it? Would they have the necessary experience?
I'm dubious they would. Scaled Composites was already going to build roughly half of the Falcon Air's first stage anyway, so it would make sense for them to step in and build the structure for the entire first stage. Everything else on Antares (engines, avionics, upper stage) would probably make the transition easily enough.
I based my speculation on the fact that Yuzhnoye not only makes the tanks, but designed and built all the pressurization and fluid management system. Scaled Composites has very little experience. Only the liquid tank on the SS1 and SS2 hybrids.
Also, nobody had (yet) made composite main tanks for a LV. And I'm pretty sure they would like to start with something smaller, like the LauncherOne. Not only do they lack the material and experience of Yuzhnoye, but they don't have the tooling for the job. The Ukranians do, and, they did designed their stages to be air transported on the An-225. I can't really think of a better team than Yuzhnoye/Orbital to design an air dropped LV.
If we assume for a while that the LV will be have two stages dropped, and looking at the thrust of 4 to 5 Merlin 1D, I would assume that they expected a total weight of around 220tonnes to 280tonnes. If we assume an 8:1 relationship between first and second stage, they could use RL10, HM7B, Vinci or LE-5B for H2, RD-8/RD-809 or RD-0124 for RP-1/LOX and even the AJ-10 for hypergolics. And that's assuming that they don't get into some new player, like XCOR.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #12 on: 11/29/2012 09:27 PM »
I still wonder about the Antares part. If they use the Ukranians, They halve 3.9m tooling (Zenit-2/Antares) and the 3m tooling from the Cyclone family. Depending on the size, they could use either. The only issue is that the latest changes required tooling and structural changes that SpaceX wasn't willing to invest on. Could the Ukranians do it? Would they have the necessary experience?
I'm dubious they would. Scaled Composites was already going to build roughly half of the Falcon Air's first stage anyway, so it would make sense for them to step in and build the structure for the entire first stage. Everything else on Antares (engines, avionics, upper stage) would probably make the transition easily enough.
Also, nobody had (yet) made composite main tanks for a LV. And I'm pretty sure they would like to start with something smaller, like the LauncherOne. Not only do they lack the material and experience of Yuzhnoye, but they don't have the tooling for the job. The Ukranians do, and, they did designed their stages to be air transported on the An-225. I can't really think of a better team than Yuzhnoye/Orbital to design an air dropped LV.
Nobody??? I can think of about three companies that have developed, designed, built and tested various sizes of composite tankage for LVs right off the top of my head. For that matter I know of one company that's been flying composite propellant tanks regularly in their RSR-LV. Scaling seems to have always been pretty straightforward, but there hasn't been a lot of interest in pursuing composite tanks.

I kinda question the "assumption" that Scaled was "building" anything on the LV as I don't recall seeing ANYTHING that would indicate that to be the case. As far as I could see it was simply "assumed" because the booster was shown with "wings-like-the-Pegasus" and the assumptions followed from there.

The LV was always a seperate division from the Air Craft and Scaled was the AC not the LV.

"Transported" is vastly different than "Air-Launching" just so we're clear :)
Quote
If we assume for a while that the LV will be have two stages dropped, and looking at the thrust of 4 to 5 Merlin 1D, I would assume that they expected a total weight of around 220tonnes to 280tonnes. If we assume an 8:1 relationship between first and second stage, they could use RL10, HM7B, Vinci or LE-5B for H2, RD-8/RD-809 or RD-0124 for RP-1/LOX and even the AJ-10 for hypergolics. And that's assuming that they don't get into some new player, like XCOR.
Figures I've seen is 220,000kg as the all-up launch mass of the LV for a little over 6.000kg into LEO. I can't see the LV being more than two-stages really. "Maybe" a 3rd "kick" or manuever stage. Why not just "stick" with the engines already in use? Twin NK-33/AJ26-62's for the first stage and a single NK-43/AJ26-60(IIRC) for the second? (Personally I'd like to see an RL-10 using sub-cooled Propane and LOX upper stage but isn't the RL-10 going away? You could use the same tankage as the 1st stage that way and while it's not as "good" as LH2/LOX it's just about as good as LNG/LOX but a bit denser)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Danderman

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #13 on: 11/30/2012 03:07 AM »

Not only do they lack the material and experience of Yuzhnoye, but they don't have the tooling for the job. The Ukranians do, and, they did designed their stages to be air transported on the An-225. I can't really think of a better team than Yuzhnoye/Orbital to design an air dropped LV.


http://www.yuzhnoye.com/index.php?id=30&path=Aerospace%20Technology/Launch%20Vehicles/Svitiaz/Svitiaz_e&lang=en


Offline simonbp

And I'm sure it's a great powerpoint rocket. But Scaled does know a thing or two about actually building aeroplanes and air launched rockets. And once they finish the Birdzilla, they'll have plenty of space capacity...

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #15 on: 11/30/2012 06:33 AM »
And I'm sure it's a great powerpoint rocket. But Scaled does know a thing or two about actually building aeroplanes and air launched rockets. And once they finish the Birdzilla, they'll have plenty of space capacity...

I am as certain as I can be that Scaled won't be involved in the LV.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #16 on: 12/05/2012 09:02 PM »
Updated article posted elsewhere but not here for some reason:
http://news.yahoo.com/orbital-sciences-replaces-spacex-stratolaunch-project-231138310.html

The addition of the "chine" kinda has me wondering how the flight profile is looking. Might be a "recovery" asset or it might simply be for additional lift for the aero-turn.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #17 on: 12/06/2012 01:34 PM »
Updated article posted elsewhere but not here for some reason:
http://news.yahoo.com/orbital-sciences-replaces-spacex-stratolaunch-project-231138310.html

The addition of the "chine" kinda has me wondering how the flight profile is looking. Might be a "recovery" asset or it might simply be for additional lift for the aero-turn.

Randy

I think it reduces the horizontal stabilizer surface area. Think of it as an ascending lifting body. IMO if you use chines than you basically need a new airframe design to replace the usual cylindrical rocket airframe.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #18 on: 12/06/2012 07:42 PM »
Updated article posted elsewhere but not here for some reason:
http://news.yahoo.com/orbital-sciences-replaces-spacex-stratolaunch-project-231138310.html

The addition of the "chine" kinda has me wondering how the flight profile is looking. Might be a "recovery" asset or it might simply be for additional lift for the aero-turn.

Randy

I think it reduces the horizontal stabilizer surface area. Think of it as an ascending lifting body. IMO if you use chines than you basically need a new airframe design to replace the usual cylindrical rocket airframe.
The Horizontal-Stab reduction sounds right. I suspect that the chines will be more "add-on" rather than a full frame change. Probably wrong and I'm eager to see what Orbital comes up with :)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline simonbp

Bump, as it's now Febuary 2013, so hopefully we should hear something soon with respect to Orbital and Stratolaunch...

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #20 on: 02/11/2013 07:35 PM »
Still nothing on the website, last news is the split with SpaceX and they still list SpaceX as a "partner" status. :(

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline yg1968

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Re: Air Launch Antares and Crewed Cygnus for Stratolaunch?
« Reply #21 on: 02/11/2013 10:22 PM »
The said that they would make a decision in the early spring. It's not spring yet.

Quote
Stratolaunch and SpaceX have amicably agreed to end contractual relationship

MOJAVE, CA, December, 2012 - Stratolaunch and SpaceX have amicably agreed to end our contractual relationship because the current launch vehicle design has departed significantly from the Falcon derivative vehicle envisioned by SpaceX and does not fit well with their long-term strategic business model. Moving forward, Stratolaunch has engaged Orbital Sciences Corporation to evaluate and develop alternative solutions with the objective of arriving at a design decision in the early spring timeframe.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2013 10:24 PM by yg1968 »

Offline simonbp

I was going off the comment from Orbital in the AvWeek article about "We expect more information to be available in the February 2013 timeframe."

Obviously it could be longer, but I bumped now, just in case they do announce something.

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