Author Topic: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?  (Read 23153 times)

Offline jpfulton314

  • Life Member
  • Member
  • Posts: 38
  • Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
  • Liked: 17
  • Likes Given: 56
Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« on: 04/22/2013 07:35 PM »
I'm just curious about any news relating to any improvements or follow-on's to the Orbital Antares Launcher. 

Any plan for engine upgrades?
Any plan for multiple engines?
Any plans for a Antares Heavy?

It seems that Orbital is pursuing a much more conservative strategy than SpaceX.

Offline Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2825
  • Liked: 466
  • Likes Given: 437
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #1 on: 04/22/2013 07:51 PM »
They are very different companies. Not everyone is out to colonise another planet, you know.

An upper stage upgrade (Castol 30XL) is in the works to loft the planned enlarged Cygnus.

As an aside, and purely thinking out loud here, the majestically slow lift-off of Antares did make me wonder if there would be a case for gaining performance through small strap-on SRMs. The gravity losses in early flight must be pretty large in this vehicle.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline Silmfeanor

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1179
  • Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Liked: 235
  • Likes Given: 490
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #2 on: 04/22/2013 07:56 PM »
As an aside, and purely thinking out loud here, the majestically slow lift-off of Antares did make me wonder if there would be a case for gaining performance through small strap-on SRMs. The gravity losses in early flight must be pretty large in this vehicle.

Which would kinda negate the horizontal rollout procedures, not something you want to do.

Also, the Pad is not equipped for a Antares-heavy. So you'd need a new pad - not gonna happen, imho.

The only "easy" upgrade would be some sort of upper stage. A good liquid might be a worthwhile 2nd stage.

Other then that - Dont forget, Orbital is not SpaceX.

Offline Antares

  • ABO^2
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5201
  • Done arguing with amateurs
  • Liked: 368
  • Likes Given: 226
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #3 on: 04/22/2013 08:30 PM »
if there would be a case for gaining performance through small strap-on SRMs.

Eastern Bloc launch vehicles are not designed for SRM acoustics.  My educated guess is that it would lose a lot of the Zenit heritage.  The NK-33 nozzles would probably not like the radiative heating from the SRM plumes either.
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 arachnitect

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1440
  • Liked: 387
  • Likes Given: 462
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #4 on: 04/22/2013 08:39 PM »
They are very different companies. Not everyone is out to colonise another planet, you know.

An upper stage upgrade (Castol 30XL) is in the works to loft the planned enlarged Cygnus.

As an aside, and purely thinking out loud here, the majestically slow lift-off of Antares did make me wonder if there would be a case for gaining performance through small strap-on SRMs. The gravity losses in early flight must be pretty large in this vehicle.

The future for Antares is more about increasing flexibility, rather than increasing performance (although the former implies the latter).

In addition to the 30XL upgrade, there's also a pair of third stages being offered: a "bipropellant third stage" (for fine tuning orbits and a little extra oompf) and a STAR48 based stage (more oompf for GTO or earth escape).

I don't see Orbital throwing much more money at Antares unless it starts to attract a bunch of contracts.

If that does happen, they might look into swapping out the current AJ's for higher thrust versions from Aerojet, or maybe RD-191's. There's only so many NK-33s; they'd have to make a switch anyway.

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #5 on: 04/22/2013 08:45 PM »
How about qualifying the NK... I mean, AJ-26 for a few more % max thrust???  That would do wonders for performance, given the low initial T/W...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1447
  • Liked: 1094
  • Likes Given: 306
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #6 on: 04/22/2013 08:50 PM »
How about qualifying the NK... I mean, AJ-26 for a few more % max thrust???  That would do wonders for performance, given the low initial T/W...

Make the stage one tank lighter; that would help a great deal, too.

Offline antonioe

  • PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1077
  • Virginia is for (space) lovers
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #7 on: 04/22/2013 08:51 PM »
Tank?  You mean, chilled He tank?
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1445
  • Likes Given: 4499
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #8 on: 04/22/2013 09:01 PM »
I think an AJ-1-E6 would do wonders. So would a dual RD-191. But they already use subchilled LOX. And I wonder if using a common bulkhead would save much.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3550
  • Likes Given: 715
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #9 on: 04/22/2013 09:11 PM »
How about qualifying the NK... I mean, AJ-26 for a few more % max thrust???  That would do wonders for performance, given the low initial T/W...
http://www.russianspaceweb.com/nk33.html
"In mid-2012, a chief designer of OAO Kuznetsov said that the company had planned to boost the performance of the NK-33A engine by 10 percent before 2018 and also considered the possibility of a 20 percent increase in its thrust."

Even in 1995 Aerojet tested an NK-33 to 113% thrust (it only ran at 108% yesterday I believe).

Which opens all manner of possibilities for future upper stage upgrades.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/22/2013 09:20 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3550
  • Likes Given: 715
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #10 on: 04/22/2013 09:35 PM »
I'm just curious about any news relating to any improvements or follow-on's to the Orbital Antares Launcher. 

Any plan for engine upgrades?
Any plan for multiple engines?
Any plans for a Antares Heavy?

It seems that Orbital is pursuing a much more conservative strategy than SpaceX.
Orbital is evaluating development of a west coast launch site for Antares. 

It will begin flying the larger, more efficient Castor 30XL second stage after a few flights. 

It has baselined versions with a small bipropellant or Star 48V third stage to handle higher energy missions.

A few years ago it studied advanced LOX/RP and LOX/Methane second stage options, though those seem to be on the back-burner now.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/22/2013 09:35 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline deltaV

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1538
  • Change in velocity
  • Liked: 165
  • Likes Given: 480
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #11 on: 04/22/2013 10:26 PM »
Orbital is evaluating development of a west coast launch site for Antares.
Wallops can apparently launch to polar and sun-synchronous orbits with a dog-leg: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/about/launchrange.html . Are they considering the west coast site because the dog-leg costs too much performance?

Offline asmi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Ontario, Canada
  • Liked: 100
  • Likes Given: 100
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #12 on: 04/23/2013 12:30 AM »
How about qualifying the NK... I mean, AJ-26 for a few more % max thrust???  That would do wonders for performance, given the low initial T/W...
I guess ask Russians to improve it - I'm sure they would be able to come up with a trick or two to extract more performance. And if you add NK-43 (hmm AJ26-60? ;D) in the second stage I think performance will be even better - I couldn't find Castor's specs but I'm pretty sure NK-43 has better Isp...
« Last Edit: 04/23/2013 12:35 AM by asmi »

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32234
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10886
  • Likes Given: 325
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #13 on: 04/23/2013 12:46 AM »
I guess ask Russians to improve it - I'm sure they would be able to come up with a trick or two to extract more performance.

Huh? what makes you think that is possible?
« Last Edit: 04/23/2013 12:47 AM by Jim »

Offline asmi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Ontario, Canada
  • Liked: 100
  • Likes Given: 100
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #14 on: 04/23/2013 01:25 AM »
Huh? what makes you think that is possible?
Well they are the ones that were working with KeroLOX SC engines for decades, plus they have a successful history of iterative improvements with other engines. For one, NK-33 has much lower chamber pressure than RD-1xx family, so maybe this can be increased to raise Isp and thrust. I'm not a rocket engines designer to be more specific, I'm just saying that if anyone can improve these engines, it would be the Russians... And their design philosophy has always been to build a baseline engine, and then gradually improve on that. NK-33 did not have a chance to go through this improvement process, so I'm fairly certain there is a room for improvements. Also they could use improved materials that are lighter/stronger, as there have been improvements in materials as well during all these years.
« Last Edit: 04/23/2013 01:28 AM by asmi »

Offline strangequark

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1074
  • Co-Founder, Tesseract Space
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Liked: 219
  • Likes Given: 12
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #15 on: 04/23/2013 01:49 AM »
And if you add NK-43 (hmm AJ26-60? ;D) in the second stage I think performance will be even better - I couldn't find Castor's specs but I'm pretty sure NK-43 has better Isp...

It does have a very nice Isp. However, it would be a little like putting a V10 in a motorcycle. It'd be a fun ride, but you're unlikely to survive it. If you dig back, Antonio mentions the work done on a high energy liquid upper stage powered by an RD-0124. That's a 70,000lbf engine (which is pretty close to the thrust output of a Castor 30) Contrast that with about 400,000 lbf for the NK-43. The Antares first stage won't lift an upper stage large enough to justify that, so if you were silly enough to build such a thing, you'd have a small-ish upper stage with a big honking engine, topped by what would rapidly become a very flat payload.

Offline asmi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 666
  • Ontario, Canada
  • Liked: 100
  • Likes Given: 100
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #16 on: 04/23/2013 02:59 AM »
It does have a very nice Isp. However, it would be a little like putting a V10 in a motorcycle. It'd be a fun ride, but you're unlikely to survive it. If you dig back, Antonio mentions the work done on a high energy liquid upper stage powered by an RD-0124. That's a 70,000lbf engine (which is pretty close to the thrust output of a Castor 30) Contrast that with about 400,000 lbf for the NK-43. The Antares first stage won't lift an upper stage large enough to justify that, so if you were silly enough to build such a thing, you'd have a small-ish upper stage with a big honking engine, topped by what would rapidly become a very flat payload.
Oops I admit I didn't check the numbers very well - I forgot that 8 NK-43s were meant to complement 30 NK-33s. I didn't know NK-43 was that powerful. Although Antares Heavy (yea I'm thinkin F9H's competitor) could use that extra thrust ::)
Hmm I did some googling now and it looks like NK-33 and -43 is the same thing, just with different nozzles... Is it so, or I'm missing something (again)?
Honestly I'm still amazed by these engines and by the genius of people who designed and built them 40 years ago!
« Last Edit: 04/23/2013 03:07 AM by asmi »

Offline russianhalo117

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4460
  • AR USA / Berlin, DE / Moscow, RF
  • Liked: 1057
  • Likes Given: 573
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #17 on: 04/23/2013 03:07 AM »
Huh? what makes you think that is possible?
Well they are the ones that were working with KeroLOX SC engines for decades, plus they have a successful history of iterative improvements with other engines. For one, NK-33 has much lower chamber pressure than RD-1xx family, so maybe this can be increased to raise Isp and thrust. I'm not a rocket engines designer to be more specific, I'm just saying that if anyone can improve these engines, it would be the Russians... And their design philosophy has always been to build a baseline engine, and then gradually improve on that. NK-33 did not have a chance to go through this improvement process, so I'm fairly certain there is a room for improvements. Also they could use improved materials that are lighter/stronger, as there have been improvements in materials as well during all these years.
Try stating that and proving your claims to ОАО Кузнецов and Aerojet which are jointly responsible for the NK-33 to AJ-26-62 engine modernization programme which is the direct result of Sunday's launch. You need to re check some of your statements which are incorrect. NK-33A and AJ-26-62 and its newer siblings currently in work and testing are a major leap in modernization compared to NK-33 in its original form. ОАО Кузнецов and Aerojet have said before that future upgrades to the NK-33 series beyond the latest NK-33A and AJ-26-62 versions are due to be implemented in phases and following testing for a particular phase will be introduced first to the current batches of engines as needed and if approval for production restart is obtained then new updated designed version using modern latest generation production will occur. It is up to Orbital to approve each phase ОАО Кузнецов and Aerojet jointly put before them for implementation into Antares. If ОАО Кузнецов and Aerojet do not gain Russian approval for restart, the general plan at least for Soyuz-2-1V is to switch first to RD-191 then more powerful RD-193 following its final stages of development that are currently underway by NPO Energomash. As for Antares NPO Energomash is offering to Aerojet via RD AMROSS current RD-180, RD-191 and their respective derivatives RD-181 and RD-193 with version of RD-191/RD-193 containing gimbal design similar to that on AJ-26-62.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3550
  • Likes Given: 715
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #18 on: 04/23/2013 04:24 AM »
Aerojet's purchase of PWR (P&W was the original U.S. participant in RD AMROSS) will in part determine how NK-33, etc., plays out. 

Will Aerojet-PWR ever actually build kerosene rocket engines?

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Ben the Space Brit

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7116
  • A spaceflight fan
  • London, UK
  • Liked: 641
  • Likes Given: 751
Re: Future Orbital Launchers - What's After Antares?
« Reply #19 on: 04/23/2013 09:34 AM »
Would a stretched core + 2 x AJ-26-500 be viable?

Regarding possible GTO ambitions, I think that this would require boosting Antares to a three stage vehicle with a further stage for the insertion to GTO.  Would Core>Castor-30XL>Castor-30 be viable?

Here's a big challenge though: Can ATK crew-rate the Castor? That way, Orbital can possibly fly their space-plane on their own LV.  I'm sure the MARS guys would love to be a crew launch facility!
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

~*~*~*~

The Space Shuttle Program - 1981-2011

The time for words has passed; The time has come to put up or shut up!
DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Tags: