Author Topic: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?  (Read 18357 times)

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2014
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 241
Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« on: 04/16/2013 11:10 PM »
I'm somewhat unfamiliar with the vehicle, but from looking around it doesn't appear that Orbital had much hand in the design of the vehicle.

The engines are NK-33 from the old Soviet N1. The first stage was designed by Yuzhnoye SDO. The second stage is designed by ATK. So from what I'm seeing this is only 1/2 to 1/3 American (depending on how you count stages) and none of it is designed by Orbital? Did they build the avionics package for the first or second stage?
« Last Edit: 04/16/2013 11:11 PM by mlindner »
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline arachnitect

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1440
  • Liked: 387
  • Likes Given: 462
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #1 on: 04/17/2013 12:34 AM »
A rocket is more than the sum of its parts.

And yes, the avionics are by Orbital.



Offline Kabloona

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4319
  • Velocitas Eradico
  • Fortress of Solitude
  • Liked: 2552
  • Likes Given: 529
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #2 on: 04/17/2013 01:09 AM »
Systems engineering on a project like this is the most difficult, and critical, part of the whole effort, I would argue, and easily overlooked in the "who built what" discussion.

Also, let's not confuse the S2 *motor* which is ATK's with the whole stage...

By reductio ad absurdum you could argue that Orbital didn't design/build much of Pegasus because all the stage motors were designed and built by Hercules. But of course that would ignore all the system design, systems engineering, software, GNC, avionics, GSE, carrier aircraft design mods, launch site integration and test, etc, done by Orbital.


Offline deltaV

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1538
  • Change in velocity
  • Liked: 166
  • Likes Given: 480
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #3 on: 04/17/2013 01:14 AM »
And Chris B. didn't build NSF. At least not unless his day job involves running a semiconductor fab and a hard drive manufacturer and he moonlights as an operating system developer and... :)
« Last Edit: 04/17/2013 01:15 AM by deltaV »

Offline fregate

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 908
  • Space Association of Australia
  • Melbourne Australia
  • Liked: 123
  • Likes Given: 10
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #4 on: 04/17/2013 01:32 AM »
I'm somewhat unfamiliar with the vehicle, but from looking around it doesn't appear that Orbital had much hand in the design of the vehicle.

The engines are NK-33 from the old Soviet N1. The first stage was designed by Yuzhnoye SDO. The second stage is designed by ATK. So from what I'm seeing this is only 1/2 to 1/3 American (depending on how you count stages) and none of it is designed by Orbital? Did they build the avionics package for the first or second stage?
FYI NK-33 LREs were intended for Soviet N-1 Launch Vehicle, but had been created later in 70s (NK-33 LRE is derived from the earlier NK-15, 30xNK-15 had been used on first stage of N-1 during 4 unsuccessful launches). 
The rest is the history...
"Selene, the Moon. Selenginsk, an old town in Siberia: moon-rocket  town" Vladimir Nabokov

Offline strata8

  • Member
  • Posts: 5
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #5 on: 04/17/2013 01:59 AM »
From Orbital's Antares factsheet:


Orbital Sciences Corporation
- Prime integrator, systems engineering, avionics, primary structure, testing and software
- Overall Stage 1 development and integration

KB Yuzhnoye/Yuzhmash
- Stage 1 core design, production and verification

Aerojet
- Stage 1 engines

ATK
- Stage 2 motor

Even if the majority of the components aren't manufactured by Orbital, there a very not insignificant amount of work that goes into actually assembling the thing.

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #6 on: 04/17/2013 02:09 AM »
Forgot: fairing, telemetry, flight termination system, GN&C software, launch pad interface (hold-down, umbilicals, fuel/oxidizer/nitrogen/helium loading and pressurization system) thrust vector control, stage and payload separation systems, upper stage reaction (attitude) control systems, countdown sequencer and ground display/control consoles, propellant and gases loading control and display consoles... just to name a few.

Oh!  And the parts have to fit.  Duck tape not allowed.
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2014
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 241
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #7 on: 04/17/2013 05:52 AM »
Systems engineering on a project like this is the most difficult, and critical, part of the whole effort, I would argue, and easily overlooked in the "who built what" discussion.

I would agree. Integrating parts from several countries from a multitude of companies that were never designed/intended to work with each other does sound like a complex task.

To everyone else, thanks for all the useful factoids. The whole concept of buying someone else's non-mass produced products or even custom produced products to make something else has always rubbed me the wrong way. The airlines do this as well and it has always bugged me as well.

Anyway, I think the question has been satisfactorily answered now.
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline a_langwich

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Liked: 211
  • Likes Given: 48
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #8 on: 04/17/2013 07:35 AM »
Forgot: fairing, telemetry, flight termination system, GN&C software, launch pad interface (hold-down, umbilicals, fuel/oxidizer/nitrogen/helium loading and pressurization system) thrust vector control, stage and payload separation systems, upper stage reaction (attitude) control systems, countdown sequencer and ground display/control consoles, propellant and gases loading control and display consoles... just to name a few.

Oh!  And the parts have to fit.  Duck tape not allowed.


Yes.  All these posts have focused on the simple meaning of "built"...there's also the aspect of who had the stones (and money or access to money) to plop down hundreds of millions of dollars, and contract to pay for those other parts, and submit the bids to NASA and respond to their feedback, and attach their name to the venture for good or ill, on what is still a very risky venture. 

Good luck^H^H^H^H...may your stochastic events be favorable.  :)

Offline Lurker Steve

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1420
  • Liked: 35
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #9 on: 04/17/2013 01:41 PM »
I was thinking about the first stage this morning. This is Orbital's first LV with a liquid first stage, right ?

Exactly what were the options here :
1. Build out a new factory for creating a liquid first stage. Huge capital investment for a factory that will be under-utilized most of the time.

2. Find someone else to build the stage for us. What domestic options are there ? Who builds liquid first stages in the US that isn't the competition  (ULA, SpaceX) ?

3. Find a global partner with experience in building RP1/LOX stages of this size that has some spare production capacity in their existing factory.

It turns out that #3 happens to be the most logical choice every time.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10647
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 7510
  • Likes Given: 5286
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #10 on: 04/17/2013 03:16 PM »

It turns out that #3 happens to be the most logical choice every time.


For the expected volumes I totally agree. SpaceX is betting on higher volumes though, apparently...

Maybe someday soon the market will be big enough that Orbital will revisit this decision because they are flush with business.
« Last Edit: 04/17/2013 03:16 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8652
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1123
  • Likes Given: 243
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #11 on: 04/17/2013 07:35 PM »

Oh!  And the parts have to fit.  Duck tape not allowed.


What about aviation grade Speed Tape ;)
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Kabloona

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4319
  • Velocitas Eradico
  • Fortress of Solitude
  • Liked: 2552
  • Likes Given: 529
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #12 on: 04/17/2013 09:12 PM »

Oh!  And the parts have to fit.  Duck tape not allowed.


What about aviation grade Speed Tape ;)

Could have used some of that today on the S2 umbilical... :-\

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #13 on: 04/19/2013 12:59 AM »

Oh!  And the parts have to fit.  Duck tape not allowed.


What about aviation grade Speed Tape ;)

The folks out at Dryden call it "Mach 3 tape" and have proof of it (SR-71.) :o
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
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #14 on: 04/19/2013 01:15 AM »
So with the disconnect, is Wallops gonna one up them and push it to Mach 25?
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
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #15 on: 04/19/2013 02:15 AM »
Yeah, but the Q is wimpy...
« Last Edit: 04/19/2013 02:16 AM by antonioe »
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #16 on: 05/08/2013 02:43 PM »
The war of words continues...

Can you spot at least four things wrong with the following sentence (from an <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-25/what-spacex-can-teach-us-about-cost-innovation.html> article "about" SpaceX[/url]):

"Another similar space venture is still using fuel-inefficient surplus Russian rocket engines built in the 1960's that cost more to run and maintain over time. Due to their finite number, the company has a limited future unless like SpaceX it develops its own engine."

I find the date the article was issued (April 25) interesting...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Kabloona

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4319
  • Velocitas Eradico
  • Fortress of Solitude
  • Liked: 2552
  • Likes Given: 529
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #17 on: 05/08/2013 03:05 PM »
The war of words continues...

Can you spot at least four things wrong with the following sentence (from an <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-25/what-spacex-can-teach-us-about-cost-innovation.html> article "about" SpaceX[/url]):

"Another similar space venture is still using fuel-inefficient surplus Russian rocket engines built in the 1960's that cost more to run and maintain over time. Due to their finite number, the company has a limited future unless like SpaceX it develops its own engine."

I find the date the article was issued (April 25) interesting...

OK, I'll bite:

1. Fuel ineffcient??
2. Cost more to run??
3. Finite number?? Umm, yes, until more are built...just like Merlins are finite in number...until more are built...
4. Limited future unless own engine developed??

Ah, the indignities.

Offline randomly

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 518
  • Liked: 98
  • Likes Given: 40
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #18 on: 05/08/2013 03:05 PM »
The profound level of ignorance in that article is stunning. It's rather scary that such stuff is published and read and given credibility in the business world.

Offline jnc

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 277
  • Yorktown, Virginia
    • Home page
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Antares - How much is actually built by Orbital?
« Reply #19 on: 05/08/2013 03:07 PM »
Can you spot at least four things wrong with the following sentence

Eh, don't you know that reporters management consultants are the smartest people on earth?! A mere rocket scientist, no matter how long and distinguished their career, just doesn't understand as much as they do!

(Speaking of careers in aerospace, my wife and I were just discussing that last night. As a computer science person, I did my most important work in my late 20's, whereas as an aerospace person, she's just now getting to the top of the heap. Very different career trajectories [sic].)

Noel
"America Needs - Space to Grow"

(old bumper sticker)

Tags: