Author Topic: Could ATK and OSC's Merger Mean a new EELV Class Commercial LV?  (Read 72580 times)

Offline Lobo

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Note that WK1 retirement just announced.

Seems that whatever path OrbATK goes, high energy US is on the board eventually meaning hydrolox handling. That's the major complication in getting to interesting performance levels. SpaceX just stays with kerolox out of cost / processing reasons and accepts the payload penalty for such - am sure they'll just stretch US as needed.


Yes, I that that's the case.  Casto 30XL just isn't going to be good for doing anything other than flying LEO payloads.  And not very big ones at that.  Multi-stage solid boosters can help make up for the lower ISP of solids vs. SC kerolox.  But that high energy upper stage is still needed.  Getting a "cheap" one will be the challenge, to make the Antares system, with either kerolox or solid boosters, cost competative.

Interestingly, if Antares were to go to like a pair of RD-191's or 193's, or a pair of AR-1's, and they put a big hydrolox upper stage on it with two RL-10's could get performance in excess of Atlas-401 and F9v1.1 (fully expendable).   A two RL-10 hydrolox upper stage which was mentioned for Pegasus II...and I can't imagine that OrbATK wouldn't use it for Antares too.   Interestingly they mention an optional 2nd RL-10 powered hydrolox upper stage for Pegasus II...which seems odd.  An Atnares with 1Mlbs of ORSC booster power, plus two hydrolox upper stages would probably have pretty darn good performance I'd think.  If they could find a feasible way to add GEM-60's to it at that pad...well...

Developing two hydrolox upper stages seems to add cost for not necessaryly a lot of return for it though.


And that polar air launch is possible if aircraft has enough range to fly eastward from Florida for the azimuth.


Now that's an interesting thought.  Wouldn't actually need VAFB at all then.  There's still the problem of vertical vs. horizontal integration though.


Consider that if you accelerated development of a solids modular launcher, the plane might not be ready but the solids would be. One could test them from a land launch pad using the appropriate GSE testing GSE and launcher BEFORE aircraft complete and qualified.

Also, the pad could be rebuilt to scale up the modular launcher to EELV scale afterwards. And vertical integration.


Yup.  Essentially develop your "Solid Antares" and test launch first.  Then when Stratolaunch is read (if ever) you add the fins to the 2nd Antares stage/1st Pegasus II booster stage, and test it on the carrier aircraft.  I would think you'd build your pad from the start to accomodate whatever scale up you plan to do though.


Depends on pad flows / GSE.  If you have one location for LV integration and multiple SC integration, and handle both with specialized pad/GSE, you could lower deployment costs and retain good pad flow. Non traditional in the extreme.

Which would be the advantage to a solid Antares, if Stratolaunch actually looks like a real possibility to actually fly.  Base everything at CCAFS.  Have a hanger/HIB at the SLF, and then some sort of minimal MST at one of the CCAFS pads.  Have the solid motors trained in from Utah and taken to the Hanger/HIB at at the SLF.  That's the main base of operations.  Motors that are going to be pad-launched are transported to the pad and cranes built into the MST lift them up and stack them on the pad.  There's a integration room on top for vertical payload mating.  Motors that will be air launched will be horizontally processed at that Hanger/HIB and then the stack mated to Startolaunch, which will take off and land from the SLF.  For polar orbits, or rapid response launches, it flies out over the ocean where it can launch them.   

It's an interesting concept.

This Wikipedia bit (for whatever it's worth) would also seem to indicate Pegasus II/Stratolaunch would be based out of CCAFS:

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

The first and second stages will be constructed from "carbon-composite wound" cases, with the "same outside diameter as the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) segments", and thus will be able to utilize the same ground support equipment, transportation railroad cars, and lift devices as those previously used.

Did the Shuttle SRB segments come on train all the way to KSC?  Or somewhere else at CCAFS?  Wherever they came to for offload, it appears they are planning to use that equipment to offload the motors, and then taket them to wherever Pegasus II would be stacked.  The SLF would be the only place Stratolaunch could be based there, so I can't see what else they might do. 
It would also seem likely that a solid Antares would lease a high bay in the VAB, repurpose an old MLP, and launch form 39B, if they are already right there.  But Jim said nothing but SLS will operate there ever, so I would think LC-36 or LC-46 if not KSC. 
Not sure how Wallops might play into it, if at all. 

So here's a question.  I get the impression that not all USAF/DoD payloads require vertical integration.  There was some mention about SpaceX that they were reviewing the USAF/DoD payloads that were compatible with horizontal integration, and SpaceX was going to try to bid on those first while they were getting their vertical integration infrastructure developed.  So I'm wondering how many of those 12 VAFB EELV launches ever flown actually required vertical integration over the past 12 years?  I wonder if OrbATK could just opt to not bid on USAF/DoD payloads that were to have polar orbits and require vertical integration?  And just forgo those, and opt for any polar orbit payload compatible with horizontal integration, or equitorial oribt that was either vertical or horizontal integration compatable.  My guess is that would cover over 90% of USAF/DoD payloads, but would save OrbATK the expense of any VAFB facility, much less a vertically integrated one.  Let SpaceX and ULA fight over those occasional payloads.

It also depends on if Pegasus II would have enough capability for the USAF/DoD polar payloads. 


Missed my point. Use Stratolaunch to handle entire monolithic motors for land launch boosters to surround core, using same handling equipment for Stratolaunch cores ...


I must have missed it.  You mean instead of a big in-line solid booster for land launch, it would use mutiple Pegasus II 1st stage boosters in parallel? 


I would be surprised if it wasn't that way right now. They expect Realpolitik to win over 300 inconvenient deaths because you can't upset commerce even if Putin handed a drunk Cossack a SAM to fire. Watch the French ship debacle - it may signal which way things will go.

My read is that Ukraine is a symptom of a larger issue that will continue to rear its head thru multiple events. The west will eventually press the financial services sanctions button at some point. Six months later a new government of sorts has bloody spasms. Does not encourage steady vendor relationship through all that.

So I wouldn't bet on anything as certain. Only that kerolox as supplied will be used, either AJ-26 or RD-191 (the decision between the two is more about volume of Angara vs Soyuz, but the 193 is more suited to Antares).  If a nervous Congress yanks them, then we have an issue. My guess is the legislation will be mostly for show and allow an "out" for existing contracts.


Yup, that'd be my concern with continuing depending on Ukranian supplied cores and Russian supplied engines.  Just the political mine field potential in the future.  But any move away from sticking with that would seem to favor solids vs. a US made ORSC engine and a US made liquid booster core. 


The "made in the USA" nonsense went away in the 90's or before. Just happy talk. However, Russian instability also doesn't go away either - this will hobble both OrbATK  and ULA, who don't have SpaceX's financial resources.

Elon's trying to bring it back though.  And having some success at it. 

Offline arachnitect

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Orbital is just a subcontractor to Stratolunch, so there are a bunch of restrictions on using "Pegasus II" hardware for OSC launches.

Orbital can't take Stratolunch's development money and apply it to their own programs.

I really think people are taking the "EELV launches" quote too far. I don't think OSC wants to build a whole new intermediate-class LV with a whole new processing infrastructure at KSC. They want to fight Spacex for the small number of AF/DOD launches that shouldn't require Atlas performance and all the bells and whistles of the EELV program (things like DMSP).

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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OrbATK is also the only source of solid motors for Pegasus II, just like for Minuteman and Peacekeeper among others, as a contractor.

Such has been used by Orbital for LVs.

Perhaps you don't know this, but after a contract, the motors can be repurposed, and also you can hedge your contract such that volume/other commitments can be satisfied with other arrangements.

But yes you can agree to locked in exclusives - they'll be quite costly. Because potentially "dead end", "one shot" products with no volume always are, to pay off such extreme needs. 50-100x more would not surprise me. But go ahead by all means, after all money is no object, right?

Billionaire types do have their limits. Sometimes they can be very "tight" with the money. And loose on certain terms.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Note that WK1 retirement just announced.

Seems that whatever path OrbATK goes, high energy US is on the board eventually meaning hydrolox handling. That's the major complication in getting to interesting performance levels. SpaceX just stays with kerolox out of cost / processing reasons and accepts the payload penalty for such - am sure they'll just stretch US as needed.


Yes, I that that's the case.  Casto 30XL just isn't going to be good for doing anything other than flying LEO payloads.  And not very big ones at that.  Multi-stage solid boosters can help make up for the lower ISP of solids vs. SC kerolox.  But that high energy upper stage is still needed.  Getting a "cheap" one will be the challenge, to make the Antares system, with either kerolox or solid boosters, cost competative.
The original focus was on Delta II payloads. They wanted a liquid US but got a solid instead to limit risk. The economics close for the time Taurus II / Antares was conceived.

Interestingly, if Antares were to go to like a pair of RD-191's or 193's, or a pair of AR-1's, and they put a big hydrolox upper stage on it with two RL-10's could get performance in excess of Atlas-401 and F9v1.1 (fully expendable).
This is crossing into EELV or ULA territory. Like SpaceX.

  A two RL-10 hydrolox upper stage which was mentioned for Pegasus II...and I can't imagine that OrbATK wouldn't use it for Antares too.   Interestingly they mention an optional 2nd RL-10 powered hydrolox upper stage for Pegasus II...which seems odd.  An Atnares with 1Mlbs of ORSC booster power, plus two hydrolox upper stages would probably have pretty darn good performance I'd think.  If they could find a feasible way to add GEM-60's to it at that pad...well...
Developing two hydrolox upper stages seems to add cost for not necessaryly a lot of return for it though.

I agree - once past the kerolox engines block, they'd want a shared high energy stage.

Why you might want multiple liquid stages for an air launch vehicle is the same reason you have multiple solids on them - to optimize for specific parts of the flight profile - one where you want thrust more, the other iSP and mass fraction. Of course you shoot your LV economics doing this ... but air launch is more about versatility.

Essentially develop your "Solid Antares" and test launch first.  Then when Stratolaunch is read (if ever) you add the fins to the 2nd Antares stage/1st Pegasus II booster stage, and test it on the carrier aircraft.  I would think you'd build your pad from the start to accomodate whatever scale up you plan to do though.

Depends on Stratolaunch qualification and schedule. If all we are doing is building a huge aircraft to launch a big rocket, there may be no interest in facilities and flows. Then it would be like Minotaur in "some assembly required" each time. And you time development by the aircraft entering flight test meaning you have to close out LV development to move on to functional prototype,

As opposed to concurrent development/prototype/test of both, which might require a pad for separate flight test. Perhaps a prior use pad for another solid. Nothing as elaborate as Antares pad.


Depends on pad flows / GSE.  If you have one location for LV integration and multiple SC integration, and handle both with specialized pad/GSE, you could lower deployment costs and retain good pad flow. Non traditional in the extreme.

Which would be the advantage to a solid Antares, if Stratolaunch actually looks like a real possibility to actually fly.  Base everything at CCAFS.  Have a hanger/HIB at the SLF, and then some sort of minimal MST at one of the CCAFS pads.  Have the solid motors trained in from Utah and taken to the Hanger/HIB at at the SLF.  That's the main base of operations.  Motors that are going to be pad-launched are transported to the pad and cranes built into the MST lift them up and stack them on the pad.  There's a integration room on top for vertical payload mating.  Motors that will be air launched will be horizontally processed at that Hanger/HIB and then the stack mated to Startolaunch, which will take off and land from the SLF.  For polar orbits, or rapid response launches, it flies out over the ocean where it can launch them.   

It's an interesting concept.

This Wikipedia bit (for whatever it's worth) would also seem to indicate Pegasus II/Stratolaunch would be based out of CCAFS:

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

The first and second stages will be constructed from "carbon-composite wound" cases, with the "same outside diameter as the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) segments", and thus will be able to utilize the same ground support equipment, transportation railroad cars, and lift devices as those previously used.

Did the Shuttle SRB segments come on train all the way to KSC?
File:NASA Railroad transporting SRB segments across Indian River.jpg

  Or somewhere else at CCAFS?  Wherever they came to for offload, it appears they are planning to use that equipment to offload the motors, and then taket them to wherever Pegasus II would be stacked.  The SLF would be the only place Stratolaunch could be based there, so I can't see what else they might do. 
Pegasus II would likely be stacked near the Stratolaunch hanger, or in the vicinity of SLF.

If you were to land launch, you'd need to do so in the undeveloped area either above KSC or in the area reserved for Pad 39C/D.
Heavy loads handling is the key issue - can you have a means to share handling resources with SLF and a pad. Might not be possible given land/access/distance/safety conditions.

It would also seem likely that a solid Antares would lease a high bay in the VAB, repurpose an old MLP, and launch form 39B, if they are already right there.  But Jim said nothing but SLS will operate there ever, so I would think LC-36 or LC-46 if not KSC. 
Not sure how Wallops might play into it, if at all. 
Sorry, this is a fantasy. Governments can do such financially dumb things, but not businesses.

And I'm dubious if even government can afford such any more.

Never going to happen at WFF either. No airport, rail systems not necessarily able to handle such to facility. Dubious of scale of investment to facilities.

So here's a question.  I get the impression that not all USAF/DoD payloads require vertical integration.  There was some mention about SpaceX that they were reviewing the USAF/DoD payloads that were compatible with horizontal integration, and SpaceX was going to try to bid on those first while they were getting their vertical integration infrastructure developed.  So I'm wondering how many of those 12 VAFB EELV launches ever flown actually required vertical integration over the past 12 years?  I wonder if OrbATK could just opt to not bid on USAF/DoD payloads that were to have polar orbits and require vertical integration?
Same as SpaceX here. It's my impression that anyone following EELV has no guarantees of selection for vertical integration launches AT ALL. So they all wish to avoid "build it and they'll come" ... and they don't come.

Yes there are some that SpaceX can bid on. Some in interesting ways too.

So my take is that a launch services vendor builds up a launch services business first that is attractive to government launches, and that a launch is awarded requiring vertical integration IN ADVANCE, and that is used to "front load" facilities expansion.

Likely for SpaceX this will be part of CC at pad 39A. It may not be all that is needed / desired for AF launches. But enough to make it for some. Which means some becomes more.

This is more elusive for Antares.
  And just forgo those, and opt for any polar orbit payload compatible with horizontal integration, or equitorial oribt that was either vertical or horizontal integration compatable.  My guess is that would cover over 90% of USAF/DoD payloads, but would save OrbATK the expense of any VAFB facility, much less a vertically integrated one.  Let SpaceX and ULA fight over those occasional payloads.

It also depends on if Pegasus II would have enough capability for the USAF/DoD polar payloads. 
First order is to handle "interesting" payloads that can be encapsulated/integrated appropriately. Non "experimental project" payloads, but serious missions with exacting requirements. Next are ones requiring vertical integration, possibly even science missions not AF.


Missed my point. Use Stratolaunch to handle entire monolithic motors for land launch boosters to surround core, using same handling equipment for Stratolaunch cores ...


I must have missed it.  You mean instead of a big in-line solid booster for land launch, it would use mutiple Pegasus II 1st stage boosters in parallel? 
Its a cargo aircraft. Lifts heavy cylinders. Cylinders can be many things. Like longer monolithic "stage 0" boosters that can be paired with a core solid stages 1/2 and others. So think of other ways to leverage the cargo aspect.



I would be surprised if it wasn't that way right now. They expect Realpolitik to win over 300 inconvenient deaths because you can't upset commerce even if Putin handed a drunk Cossack a SAM to fire. Watch the French ship debacle - it may signal which way things will go.

My read is that Ukraine is a symptom of a larger issue that will continue to rear its head thru multiple events. The west will eventually press the financial services sanctions button at some point. Six months later a new government of sorts has bloody spasms. Does not encourage steady vendor relationship through all that.

So I wouldn't bet on anything as certain. Only that kerolox as supplied will be used, either AJ-26 or RD-191 (the decision between the two is more about volume of Angara vs Soyuz, but the 193 is more suited to Antares).  If a nervous Congress yanks them, then we have an issue. My guess is the legislation will be mostly for show and allow an "out" for existing contracts.


Yup, that'd be my concern with continuing depending on Ukranian supplied cores and Russian supplied engines.  Just the political mine field potential in the future.  But any move away from sticking with that would seem to favor solids vs. a US made ORSC engine and a US made liquid booster core. 
People minimise the long term Russia issues too much.

I think we'll be flying off many more Russian engines, with lots more threat, and many will just go heads down.

They won't hedge with large solids. More likely to hedge eventually with SpaceX. Delta IV will be an expensive distraction that they won't invest in. AR will get money to toy with kerolox. Perhaps some increased action on small solids dominated LVs.

If they are stupid and let Atlas/Falcon get wrecked somehow by dumb policy, then they'll suck it in with Delta IV and mess with new things, but no one will trust budgets for new launch services because they will remember the carnage.



The "made in the USA" nonsense went away in the 90's or before. Just happy talk. However, Russian instability also doesn't go away either - this will hobble both OrbATK  and ULA, who don't have SpaceX's financial resources.

Elon's trying to bring it back though.  And having some success at it.
Very unpredictable. Politics are peculiar. Lots of dumb, vicious stuff right now. Nothing smart.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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I'm thinking of something like Ariane-6 but with a US-built high-thrust upper stage.
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Offline Lobo

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I'm thinking of something like Ariane-6 but with a US-built high-thrust upper stage.

Especially if they need to build a whole new pad at CCAFS somewhere.  They could make it compatable with three 3.71m composite booster motors, with another on top, and then the hydrolox stage on top of that.
Also could have the two outboard boosters light first, and then jettion and air light the central core, and then the 2nd solid stage, before finally lighting the hydrolox stage.
Depending on thrust obviously.  But these boosters would have their own thrust vector nozzles, so it should be able to fly on just the two outboard boosters.  Like Titan did before lighting the hypergolic core.  Those 3.71m wide boosters could probably be based on what would be used for a Pegasus II 1st stage.  Some length and such.  No movable fins or anything, so it could perhaps be a "different" motor than what they are contracted to build for Pegasus II, but essentially be the same.  Put 3 of those in parallel with one more on top.  So all four motors would be the same. 
Light the two ouboard boosters, then the central when they burn out.  Then the upper when the central one burns out.  That should reduce the amount of ascent the hydrolox upper stage will need to do quite a bit, so it's BLEO performance should be improved.

Conversely, they could make a longer motor than the Pegasus II first stage, but use the same 3.71 casing tooling and perhaps the same nozzles and TVC as the Pegasus II first stage.  And thus optimize performance better for what they want from a ground launch. 

Offline Zed_Noir

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I'm thinking of something like Ariane-6 but with a US-built high-thrust upper stage.

Especially if they need to build a whole new pad at CCAFS somewhere.  They could make it compatable with three 3.71m composite booster motors, with another on top, and then the hydrolox stage on top of that.
Also could have the two outboard boosters light first, and then jettion and air light the central core, and then the 2nd solid stage, before finally lighting the hydrolox stage.
Depending on thrust obviously.  But these boosters would have their own thrust vector nozzles, so it should be able to fly on just the two outboard boosters.  Like Titan did before lighting the hypergolic core.  Those 3.71m wide boosters could probably be based on what would be used for a Pegasus II 1st stage.  Some length and such.  No movable fins or anything, so it could perhaps be a "different" motor than what they are contracted to build for Pegasus II, but essentially be the same.  Put 3 of those in parallel with one more on top.  So all four motors would be the same. 
Light the two ouboard boosters, then the central when they burn out.  Then the upper when the central one burns out.  That should reduce the amount of ascent the hydrolox upper stage will need to do quite a bit, so it's BLEO performance should be improved.

Conversely, they could make a longer motor than the Pegasus II first stage, but use the same 3.71 casing tooling and perhaps the same nozzles and TVC as the Pegasus II first stage.  And thus optimize performance better for what they want from a ground launch.
Don't see any technical showstoppers.

However integrating this beastie will be interesting, You are thinking of stacking at the pad or at a VIF with MLP?

Offline Lobo

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Pegasus II would likely be stacked near the Stratolaunch hanger, or in the vicinity of SLF.

If you were to land launch, you'd need to do so in the undeveloped area either above KSC or in the area reserved for Pad 39C/D.
Heavy loads handling is the key issue - can you have a means to share handling resources with SLF and a pad. Might not be possible given land/access/distance/safety conditions.

Why couldn't a land launch LV use LC-36 or LC-46?  They are available for lease from SpaceFlorida aren't they?


Sorry, this is a fantasy. Governments can do such financially dumb things, but not businesses.

And I'm dubious if even government can afford such any more.


That's what Jim said too.  It just -seems- like such an obivous answer on paper...


So my take is that a launch services vendor builds up a launch services business first that is attractive to government launches, and that a launch is awarded requiring vertical integration IN ADVANCE, and that is used to "front load" facilities expansion.

Likely for SpaceX this will be part of CC at pad 39A. It may not be all that is needed / desired for AF launches. But enough to make it for some. Which means some becomes more.

This is more elusive for Antares.

Ahhh, that makes sense.  A launch services vendor would still need to have facilities that -could- be upgraded for vertical integration.  In OrbATK's case, they could keep Antares flying from WFF while servicing commercial contracts, and just add the hydrolox upper stage, and new kerolox booster engines to launches there.  If they are awarded a launch from USAF/DoD that required vertical integration, they would then pursue building a new pad at CCAFS which would have a MST of some sort.

Per Jim, USAF/DoD only launch from CCAFS on the East Coast, so OrbATK would have to move from WFF to a CCAFS pad in the event of any USAF/DoD payload, even if it were compatible with horizontal integration.
If OrbATK sticks with the kerolox booster, and procures new engines, then conceivably they could continue to launch COTS payloads and other commercial payloads from WFF, and USAF/DoD payloads from CCAFS.  And have two East coast pads.  An equivalent of SpaceX's Boca Chica pad at WFF, and then their "government" launch pad at CCAFS. 

For West coast launches, they'd need to lease and modify a VAFB pad I guess?  Especially of Antares stays liquid.  Pegasus II would actually be used for payloads procured by Stratolaunch, not OrbATK.  So it probably couldn't be used by OrbATK for USAF/DoD polar launch contracts they get.  Unless they purchase services from Stratolaunch in some sort of partnership.  Pegasus II would then need to be certified for USAF/DoD launches as well.  And it could not be vertically integrated.  So not sure if that could work.  OrbATK may just have to suck it up and build a VAFB pad.  I guess they could wait until they get a USAF/DoD payload awarded requiring a west coast launch before they'd need to procure a VAFB pad though.


People minimise the long term Russia issues too much.


Agreed.  I think Putin wished to expand Russia's influence and power in the world again, for the first real time since the end of the Cold War.  Not in the directly militaristic way the Soviet Union did, but in a more calculated, measured way, as we see in Ukrane.  And I think that will put them at odds with us going forward again and again.  Whenever that happens, we'll have more issues with things like Russian supplied rocket engines.  If not an actual interruption of them, then at least a reoccuring thread of supply inturruption, which is a real pain in the rear if you are a US launch supply company.


Offline Lobo

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Don't see any technical showstoppers.

However integrating this beastie will be interesting, You are thinking of stacking at the pad or at a VIF with MLP?

I'm just an armchair rocket engineer, so the best way to do that would be left to others with knowledge than I. 

However, from my limited knowledge, I would think some sort of MST with a crane built onto it that can lift each motor off of a truck/transporter and then move it inside where it can be stacked on the pad.  Once the solids are all stacked, then the hydrolox upper stage would be stacked on top.  After that, a vertically integrated, encapsulated payload would be trasmorted to the MST, where it would be lifted and stacked.  Then the MST would retract when ready for launch.  Not unlike how I believe it's done at Kodiak.  I think they have a vertical assembly building that's mobile, but it I think it rotates, rather than slides.  There's a couple of good picturs here:

http://brph.com/project_gallery/view/kodiak-launch-complex

The motors would be trucked in, a crane lifts them off, and then moves them inside the structure for stacking.  Just form looking at it, that doesnt' seem to be all that complex or expensive.  A couple of support/processing buildings, and then a vertical integration building. 

I would think that'd be a cheaper/easier way to do it than how it's done at LC-41 with a VIB and a MLP, because you don't need to move the LV once stacked, which would be quite heavy.   But I'm not knowledgable enough to answer with certainty.  Maybe a fixed VIB, with a basic MLP on a pair of wide set rails and a pad that's very close, rather than far away like it is at LC-41, would be easier?  With some sort of simple winch system that would move it in and out of the VIB.  A solid Antares wouldn't be a very tall LV, so a VIB wouldn't need to be all that tall.  Especially with parallel boosters. 
If the Kodiak MST can be that close to Minotaur during launch, the VIB could be very close to the pad in such a system, I would think.

But, smaller solid LV's like Minotaur and Athena are stacked on the pad I believe.  So there's probably a reason for it.
So the quesiton is, is it cheaper/easier to move the VIB back and forth (or around) to the pad?  Or is it cheaper/easier to move the LV back and forth from the VIB to the pad?  And would a solid Antares be heavy enough to make a mobile VIB easier than a mobile LV?




 

« Last Edit: 07/25/2014 10:50 PM by Lobo »

Offline GClark

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Why couldn't a land launch LV use LC-36 or LC-46?  They are available for lease from SpaceFlorida aren't they?

AIUI, the infrastructure at SLC-46 is sized for Minotaur/Athena-class vehicles.  It might be difficult to modify that for anything larger.

Per Jim, USAF/DoD only launch from CCAFS on the East Coast...

Far be it from me to argue with that authority, but... East coast Minotaur launches have (to date) all been from WFF.  With the exception of LADEE, they were all USAF launches.  If you're discussing EELV-class launches, then of course...

For West coast launches, they'd need to lease and modify a VAFB pad I guess?  Especially of Antares stays liquid.

ISTR discussion of rebuilding a SLC-1 pad at one point.  IASTR KLC making Orbital a very attractive offer.  Perhaps the same calculus that sent them to WFF will send them to KLC.  Time will tell.

Offline Lobo

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Far be it from me to argue with that authority, but... East coast Minotaur launches have (to date) all been from WFF.  With the exception of LADEE, they were all USAF launches.  If you're discussing EELV-class launches, then of course...

That must have been what he meant.


ISTR discussion of rebuilding a SLC-1 pad at one point.  IASTR KLC making Orbital a very attractive offer.  Perhaps the same calculus that sent them to WFF will send them to KLC.  Time will tell.

Agreed.

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