Author Topic: Could ATK and OSC's Merger Mean a new EELV Class Commercial LV?  (Read 84421 times)

Offline Lobo

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Here's my guess for a composite solid motor Antares, including a growth version for CRS-2 missions.  Replacing the Castor 30XL third stage of the growth version with an equal mass liquid hydrogen stage gets 4.8 tonnes to GTO (GEO-1,500 m/s) or 3.1 tonnes to escape velocity, or maybe more than 12 tonnes to LEO.

For the growth version, I assumed essentially equal motors for the first two stages, similar to Athena 2, Minotaur 6, Shavit-3, etc.

 - Ed Kyle

The thing is, they already have this class of LV with Antares and will have with Pegasus II.  So not sure they'd develop another LV in that class, which the two solid concepts LV's would be.

I'm thinking they keep either Pegasus II (once developed) or Antares, or both (if there's enough business for them) and then use their combined hardware to have an LV that's larger.  More like Ariane 6. 
They'll have these new composite booster segs Pegasus II will use (and maybe SLS advanced boosters?).  They have a kerolox core, they have AJ26-58's (boosters) and some AJ26-59 (vacuum) enignes along with the Antares core.  They will also have the Castor 30XL upper stage.
They have a limited stock of AJ/NK engines, but are soliciting bids for a replacement, which could be new NK engines, or a Russian or domestic RD-180, or two RD-191's, or AJ-1E6 or two AJ-500's.  So assume they procure a permanent supply of staged combustion kerolox engines in that class.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34523.0

Is there a low cost (and it would have to be low cost) EELV class LV they could readily develop from that?  Especially to get that 5-6.5mt to GTO capacity of Ariane 6, Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9v1.1, etc. 
Ariane 6 would use the Ariane V Vinci powered ME upper stage.  I don't think OSC/ATK would have such a hydrolox stage and engine readily available.  Which is why I'm thinking solid or kerolox upper stages.

Some thoughts.

1)  Adding two of these Pegasus II 1-seg boosters to Antares, and launch as is.  The AJ's throttle down quite deep I think.  They could be ground lit and throttle down, giving a much longer core burn, and much later staging.

2)  An Ariane 6 configuration.  3 1-seg boosters in parallel for a 1st stage.  A 1-seg solid booster as a 2nd stage.  And a NK-43 powered, Antares-derived 3rd stage.  (I assume it can be restarted?  Useful for GTO orbits?)

3)  Ariane 6 configuration with 3 1-seg solid boosters in parallel for a 1st stage.  Then a Antares derived 2nd stage powered by an NK-43.  Then a Castor 30XL on top of that.

#2 I think is my favorite.
Arianespace has said they see the future needs for single launch 6mt GTO payloads rather than dual launch, which need the same orbit.  And for low cost.  Hence Ariane 6.  Maybe ATK/OSC could beat them to that vehicle and start carving out market share before they Arianespace can?
Would be a little more capable than F9v1.1 expendable I think, if they can get enough performance.  But SpaceX is knocking on the door of 6mt to GTO with a kerolox gas generator upper stage vehicle.  So I was thinking a more powerful, better ISP staged combustion kerolox upper stage might get there, and then a little better, and keep the Falcon model for low cost.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2014 01:22 AM by Lobo »

Offline Prober

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Let me correct you right there.......I'm talking a clone engine, not a reverse engineered engine.   Its a whole different ball game, that I'm sure many don't understand as yet.


No, you don't understand that ATK isn't going into liquid engine

too bad, would be good for the bottom line and their stockholders would enjoy that.
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Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Sorry ,Ed don't think you thinking big enough .....this is the direction they might be going with Antares as the Center core.


Huh?  That is an SLS competitor and not EELV competitor.  They aren't going in that direction

There is always old Stumpy:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26476.0
And this is a good reminder that just because one of your fellow space enthusiasts occasionally voices doubts about the SpaceX schedule announcements or is cautious about believing SpaceX has licked a problem before actually seeing proof that's true, it doesn't mean they hate SpaceX.

Offline jongoff

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Let me correct you right there.......I'm talking a clone engine, not a reverse engineered engine.   Its a whole different ball game, that I'm sure many don't understand as yet.


No, you don't understand that ATK isn't going into liquid engine

Oh they could, it would just be extremely expensive and take a heck of a lot longer than Prober seems to think. The barrier to entry isn't insurmountable, just really, really high.

~Jon

Offline arachnitect

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So, they operate two Delta II class LV's...which doesn't seem to make too much sense unless there's enough payloads to keep them both busy.  Or they keep one and perhaps try to broaden their fleet?
ATK was trying to get the government to pay for Liberty, but they seemed to want an LV in that class and thought they could get some market share if they could keep their investment to a minimum.


They operate one Delta II class vehicle. They are cashing checks from some rich hobbyists who might someday operate a complementary system.

Offline Thorny

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2)  An Ariane 6 configuration.  3 1-seg boosters in parallel for a 1st stage.  A 1-seg solid booster as a 2nd stage.  And a NK-43 powered, Antares-derived 3rd stage.  (I assume it can be restarted?  Useful for GTO orbits?)


What about the RL-10 powered stage that is being developed for Pegasus II? Or for that matter, a Centaur (would ULA or LockMart turn away a paying customer? Wouldn't be the first time one company's stage flew atop a rival's booster... i.e., Titan-Centaur pre-LockMart.)

Offline Jim

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Let me correct you right there.......I'm talking a clone engine, not a reverse engineered engine.   Its a whole different ball game, that I'm sure many don't understand as yet.


No, you don't understand that ATK isn't going into liquid engine

too bad, would be good for the bottom line and their stockholders would enjoy that.


There is nothing that says it would be good for their bottom line and it be more likely the opposite effect.

Offline Jim

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Wouldn't be the first time one company's stage flew atop a rival's booster... i.e., Titan-Centaur pre-LockMart.)

That was the government's doing.

Offline Lobo

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2)  An Ariane 6 configuration.  3 1-seg boosters in parallel for a 1st stage.  A 1-seg solid booster as a 2nd stage.  And a NK-43 powered, Antares-derived 3rd stage.  (I assume it can be restarted?  Useful for GTO orbits?)


What about the RL-10 powered stage that is being developed for Pegasus II? Or for that matter, a Centaur (would ULA or LockMart turn away a paying customer? Wouldn't be the first time one company's stage flew atop a rival's booster... i.e., Titan-Centaur pre-LockMart.)

Well heck, I need to read a little more  before I start speculating.  For some reason I was thinking that Pegasus II would have solid upper stages too.  Chris's article didn't mention anything but the first 2 solid stages.  You are correct.  They are looking at a hydrolox RL-10 powered upper stage for it.  So yes, that's probably the more likely way to go, unless there was some performance issue with it where perhaps a more powerful kerolox stage could be beneficial. Perhaps a stretched Pegasus II stage for commonality if extra performance is needed.  It could look very much like Ariane 6 in that case.
It'd actually have much in common with Pegasus II then.  Put a Pegasus II on a the tri-booster first stage instead of dropping from the Stratolaunch plane.  Could have 3 solid stages with the hydrolox RL-10 stage on that.
There would be a lot of commonality then.


« Last Edit: 05/02/2014 03:14 AM by Lobo »

Offline edkyle99

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The thing is, they already have this class of LV with Antares and will have with Pegasus II.  So not sure they'd develop another LV in that class, which the two solid concepts LV's would be.
My premise is that Orbital ATK already must develop something to replace the existing Antares first stage, simply due to the limited number of NK-33 engines.  Until just a few weeks ago, a new Russian engine seemed a likely option, but that was before Maidan Nezalezhnosti and the events that followed.  Now it is not just about the engines.  Even the production of the first stage sits in a zone of uncertainty. 

That doesn't rule out continued production of a liquid first stage elsewhere, powered by new engines built elsewhere, but that is a new rocket.  Meanwhile, Orbital has gained, or soon will gain, access to a catalog of solid motor expertise, at essentially discount prices.  The company will be developing a new class of 3.7-ish meter composite solids, perfect for the Antares replacement.  That very same effort can dovetail with new high performance SLS solids. 

There might be a path to EELV class work, but that would be down the road, and would not depend on whether Antares used a liquid hydrocarbon or a solid booster stage.  In either case, development of a high energy liquid upper stage would be required.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/02/2014 03:28 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline RocketmanUS

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And given that ATK has been wanting to have an EELV class LV commercial vehicle visa vi Liberty and Liberty 2, could this mean something along that lines to compete with SpaceX, ULA, and ArianeSpace?

ATK has shown zero interest in actually spending their own money on Liberty.  What they wanted was to convince the government to pay for development of Liberty.

There's nothing about the merger with Orbital that changes this calculus.  If developing Liberty on their own dime makes sense after the merger, it would have made sense before the merger and ATK would already be doing it, which they're not.

SpaceX is putting tremendous price pressure on this market right now.  Why would a new entrant want to invest a huge amount to get into a business that is overcrowded and unattractive?

Antares is different because the investment level is much less, the government paid much of that investment, and the government is willing to pay far more to keep Antares in the commercial cargo business than SpaceX charges just for the sake of having a second player.  None of that applies to the heavier EELV-class market.

It may or may not change the calculus.  That's why I posed the question.  The merger would give each better access to hardware than they had before.  And as it looks, Antares and Pegasus II will have similar performance. (Can someone let me know if that's correct?  It seems that from Chris's article.

So, they operate two Delta II class LV's...which doesn't seem to make too much sense unless there's enough payloads to keep them both busy.  Or they keep one and perhaps try to broaden their fleet?
ATK was trying to get the government to pay for Liberty, but they seemed to want an LV in that class and thought they could get some market share if they could keep their investment to a minimum.

And I don't know that the commercial market is all that over crowded.  ULA doesn't really play in it.  And SpaceX seems to be gobbling it up with a manifest they are having to build new pads to fill.
There's Arianespace and the Russians, but working with the Russians presents it's own set of challenges aside from price.  As does/will the Chinese.  There could be room for a low coast solid based EELV-class LV perhaps?  Maybe they could beat ArianeSpace to a US version of Ariane 6.

The composite SRB segments of the STS/SLS diameter they are going to use for Pegasus II creates some interesting possibilities.  Not to mention so SLS were to somehow go with ATK solid boosters.  There'd be synergy there.  ATK could probably make a pretty good offer if they were already tooled up to make those SRB segments for other LV's.  (setting aside the performance shortfalls with advanced solids and the EUS for a moment).

Pegasus II to replace Antares.

Solves engine supply for Antares.
Pegasus could later change over to NGE from RL-10 for lower cost if it gives equal or better payload performance.
Pegasus air launch, mostly eliminates launch delays from weather conditions.

Antares could be retired as soon as Pegasus in launching and Cygnus contract flights have finished ( as they have on contract for now ).

Over all it looks like Pegasus should out perform Antares in all areas.

Offline edkyle99

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Over all it looks like Pegasus should out perform Antares in all areas.
The problem is that even Antares is going to have to be upgraded for CRS-2 performance, and Stratolaunch, even with a liquid hydrogen upper stage, doesn't get there.  There's more growth in an Antares-type ground based rocket than there is in an air-launched rocket.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/02/2014 04:11 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline RocketmanUS

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Over all it looks like Pegasus should out perform Antares in all areas.
The problem is that even Antares is going to have to be upgraded for CRS-2 performance, and Stratolaunch, even with a liquid hydrogen upper stage, doesn't get there.  There's more growth in an Antares-type ground based rocket than there is in an air-launched rocket.

 - Ed Kyle
From this info, Pegasus could perform some of the lower end and with an increase in the Cygnus could handle the upper part. For unpressurized would need an unpressurized version of Cygnus.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Resupply_Service

Antares would need it's first stage replaced with solid core with two solid boosters and liquid US. Basically Pegasus ground vertical launched with solid boosters.

They would be better of negotiating the use of Cygnus on Pegasus. Would mean more flights per year however better for ISS ( more late loads if needed ).

Anyway could Pegasus qualify as an EELV and or for DoD?

Offline deltaV

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Anyway could Pegasus qualify as an EELV and or for DoD?

At least some of DOD's payloads require that the payload be kept upright at all times (vertical integration). This is not compatible with air launch.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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They would be better of negotiating the use of Cygnus on Pegasus. Would mean more flights per year however better for ISS ( more late loads if needed ).

Each additional flight requires the ISS managers to find a slot in the visiting vehicle schedule, spend astronaut time berthing and unberthing, opening and closing the hatch, etc.  I suspect the ISS managers would prefer to combine the cargo into just a few flights a year.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Anyway could Pegasus qualify as an EELV and or for DoD?

At least some of DOD's payloads require that the payload be kept upright at all times (vertical integration). This is not compatible with air launch.

Yeah, and also Pegasus II is supposed to have a payload to LEO of just 6.1 tons, which is far short of Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9v1.1.  There will be few, if any, EELV payloads that Pegasus will be able to carry.

Online MP99

The thing is, they already have this class of LV with Antares and will have with Pegasus II.  So not sure they'd develop another LV in that class, which the two solid concepts LV's would be.
My premise is that Orbital ATK already must develop something to replace the existing Antares first stage, simply due to the limited number of NK-33 engines.  Until just a few weeks ago, a new Russian engine seemed a likely option, but that was before Maidan Nezalezhnosti and the events that followed.  Now it is not just about the engines.  Even the production of the first stage sits in a zone of uncertainty. 

That doesn't rule out continued production of a liquid first stage elsewhere, powered by new engines built elsewhere, but that is a new rocket.  Meanwhile, Orbital has gained, or soon will gain, access to a catalog of solid motor expertise, at essentially discount prices.  The company will be developing a new class of 3.7-ish meter composite solids, perfect for the Antares replacement.  That very same effort can dovetail with new high performance SLS solids. 

There might be a path to EELV class work, but that would be down the road, and would not depend on whether Antares used a liquid hydrocarbon or a solid booster stage.  In either case, development of a high energy liquid upper stage would be required.

 - Ed Kyle

I know Pegasus II is intended to be developed for StratoLaunch.

Is there a chance they'll now develop it as Antares replacement (perhaps with a larger 2nd stage), then have a mature LV ready to integrate with the carrier plane when it's ready?

Cheers, Martin

Offline Lobo

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My premise is that Orbital ATK already must develop something to replace the existing Antares first stage, simply due to the limited number of NK-33 engines.  Until just a few weeks ago, a new Russian engine seemed a likely option, but that was before Maidan Nezalezhnosti and the events that followed.  Now it is not just about the engines.  Even the production of the first stage sits in a zone of uncertainty. 

Yes, those are good points.  I was assuming Antares would likely get a new engine source locked down at some point and had the option to keep flying Antares, but you are right, that's not a given at this point.  And is looking fairly shaky.

Well, it looks like Pegasus II will get over 6mt to LEO.  That will beat out Antares 5mt to LEO. 
This Wikipedia page (I haven't found another source of performance info on Pegasus II) also shows options for 2mt to GTO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_II_(rocket)

So perhaps they intend for Pegasus II to replace Antares if things go south with Antares cores and engines, and if they get a renewed CRS contract, they move Cygnus to Pegasus II?  They won't have two similar LV's, the new one is replacing the old one?  Also, as Pegasus II will be air dropped rather than launched, they don't need to build a new facility to launch it.  That saves the money of building a new pad for Antares' replacement, or having to modify their Wallops pad to launch a new LV.

Interesting...


That doesn't rule out continued production of a liquid first stage elsewhere, powered by new engines built elsewhere, but that is a new rocket.  Meanwhile, Orbital has gained, or soon will gain, access to a catalog of solid motor expertise, at essentially discount prices.  The company will be developing a new class of 3.7-ish meter composite solids, perfect for the Antares replacement.  That very same effort can dovetail with new high performance SLS solids. 


You are right, that doesn't rule it out, but they now have access to advanced solid rocket options.  So it seems unlikely they'd want to do the investment into new liquid cores and engines to try to make a low cost launching option to play in the Antares/Delta II market.  And I'm sure they'd love to work that into SLS advanced solids.  If they wanted to ground launch somewhere, that would make leasing a bay in the VAB and launching from 39B a pretty easy thing as it's already set up for handling solid segments of this size.  And that capability could be shared between SLS and some Pegasus II ground launched derivative.  And the Cape would be better for launching payloads not going to the ISS than Wallops I believe.


There might be a path to EELV class work, but that would be down the road, and would not depend on whether Antares used a liquid hydrocarbon or a solid booster stage.  In either case, development of a high energy liquid upper stage would be required.

 - Ed Kyle

Well, as noted, sounds like Pegasus II will have a 3rd stage that is hydrolox and powered by two RL-10's.  With an optional 4th stage powered by a single RL-10.  So it sounds like that's in the works already.
6.1mt to LEO with just the 3rd stage, and 2mt to GTO with the 4th stage.  It would also have a 5m PLF, so it's right up there in EELV-class volume already.

So things could be actually being set in place for a path to EELV class work in the future.  Again, perhaps beating ArianeSpace to an Ariane 6 type LV. 

What performance would Pegasus II have if you basically put it directly onto a 3X1-seg booster and ground launched it?  That way you have one base LV, and two options for launching it, depending on the payload.
So it'd look like Ariane 6, but with two single solid boosters in series rather than 1.  I would think three 1-seg boosters in parallel would supply more dV than the Stratolaunch plane can.  Perhaps then just the one hydrolox upper stage is needed, as that's all Ariane 6 will have.
Or, perhaps you take the Pegasus II LV, and just put two outboard 1-seg boosters on the 1st stage booster.  That would then be pretty much exactly like ARiane 6.
How will the 1-seg ATK composite boosters compare to the Ariane 6 boosters?  I would think they'd be more powerful?
Any idea what sort of performance those would have?

And of course, ATK/OSC would use those exact same composite casings for their SLS booster competition.  Other than the fact that SLS with the EUS and advanced solids boosters falls about 10mt short of 130mt to LEO, it would make advanced solids very attractive to SLS.  Basically no infrastructure changes vs. block 1, and little ML modification. 

Offline Lobo

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I know Pegasus II is intended to be developed for StratoLaunch.

Is there a chance they'll now develop it as Antares replacement (perhaps with a larger 2nd stage), then have a mature LV ready to integrate with the carrier plane when it's ready?

Cheers, Martin

I wondered why they might have two LV's with similar performance.  But given Ed's observations about potential issues with both engines and the Antares core, I'm wondering if the plan is to simply replace Antares with Pegasus II?  They wouldn't need a launch facility for it.  But it sounds like the Statolaunch aircraft won't be ready to fly until 2016?  With the first launch from it not until 2018?  (per wikipedia, for what that's worth).  Are there enough Antares cores and engiens to get to 2018?  Or might they be looking at ground launching Pegasus II from Wallops or somewhere prior to that, to maintain Cygnus until Statolaunch is ready?


Offline Prober

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Let me correct you right there.......I'm talking a clone engine, not a reverse engineered engine.   Its a whole different ball game, that I'm sure many don't understand as yet.


No, you don't understand that ATK isn't going into liquid engine

Oh they could, it would just be extremely expensive and take a heck of a lot longer than Prober seems to think. The barrier to entry isn't insurmountable, just really, really high.

~Jon

Puts training hat on:   Gives you a rough idea on some of the new ways to do things.  These guys at Dynetics are an impressive lot.
http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/new-f-1b-rocket-engine-upgrades-apollo-era-deisgn-with-1-8m-lbs-of-thrust/   
 
Jon you think the F-1 is more complex than the AJ-26 or about even?

Understand and agree with your point on Easy.....no project is really easy.  Hope I didn't give the wrong impression.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2014 04:46 PM by Prober »
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