Author Topic: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2  (Read 307039 times)

Offline gongora

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1280 on: 10/06/2017 11:47 PM »
This thread is starting to wander a bit.  It's not about why reusable vehicles might be better.  It's not about what you think Vulcan should have been.  It's about the Vulcan that ULA intends to build.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1281 on: 10/07/2017 03:33 AM »
I ment: That it might have been a mistake to not make Vulcan a replacement for Delta II. ...
The following might be the appropriate thread to continue this Delta II class discussion. 
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42970.0

 - Ed Kyle

Online Lars-J

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1282 on: 10/07/2017 04:53 AM »
If New Glenn is certified for national security payload's, is there still a demand for Vulcan?
Two-stage New Glenn would provide generally the same payload capability as the most souped-up Vulcan-Centaur version, but New Glenn would be a 1,450 tonne rocket competing with a 667 tonne rocket.  Partial recovery versus fully expendable.

Cost is what matters. Size is irrelevant. There is some correlation, but once you go reusable (even partially), a lot of assumptions for cost are in flux until a system actually is in use.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1283 on: 10/07/2017 06:02 AM »
I ment: That it might have been a mistake to not make Vulcan a replacement for Delta II.

Atlas V has a defined end point that ULA can't change because it's caused by political factors, and Delta IV is more expensive than Atlas V so it's a drag on ULA's business. These are the two money makers for ULA, which is why the Vulcan is replacing both of them. And if Vulcan can meet it's cost goals then it can also compete for the market Delta II covered.

Quote
The disadvantage of reusable launchers, is a loss in high paying high skilled jobs.

That's not a disadvantage for commercial companies, which is what ULA is.

Quote
But it's also possible the economy shrinks.

The amount of talent ULA employs is a very small fraction of the aerospace industry, so it won't matter if they switch to reusable rockets or not. SpaceX now has more employees than ULA does, and they are shifting their entire launch offerings to reusable rockets - Elon Musk is not concerned.

Quote
ULA is backed by the US government because of the jobs they create, and they maintain vital assets.

ULA is not "backed". They win contracts from the U.S. Government because of their abilities, some of which only they have. However SpaceX, and soon Blue Origin, are starting to become certified to do the same launches the U.S. Government used to only get from ULA, so ULA's market is getting squeezed.

It is normal for the U.S. Government to go out of it's way to ensure that it can maintain two or more critical suppliers, and now that the U.S. Government is getting more and more competition it would not be a good idea to lose ULA and revert to relying on only one supplier. So the U.S. Government could mandate contract awards for ULA in order to keep them as an option. But if Blue Origin becomes a third provider, then the U.S. Government has less incentive to prop up the most costly of three providers. Which is why ULA needs to consider very carefully what the Vulcan will be able to do.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1284 on: 10/07/2017 09:31 AM »
It is not so much what Vulcan can do, but how much it will cost for what it does!

Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1285 on: 10/07/2017 02:45 PM »
If New Glenn is certified for national security payload's, is there still a demand for Vulcan?
Two-stage New Glenn would provide generally the same payload capability as the most souped-up Vulcan-Centaur version, but New Glenn would be a 1,450 tonne rocket competing with a 667 tonne rocket.  Partial recovery versus fully expendable.

Cost is what matters. Size is irrelevant. There is some correlation, but once you go reusable (even partially), a lot of assumptions for cost are in flux until a system actually is in use.
ULA tells us its goal for the base Vulcan Centaur is $99 million.  My guess for Vulcan Centaur with 6 GEM63XL boosters is $152 million.  New Glenn will expend a 270 tonne second stage (about 68% of the Vulcan first stage mass) and one BE-4 engine during each flight, and the 54 x 7 meter first stage and its seven staged-combustion BE-4 engines will have recovery/refurbishment costs. 

SpaceX is recovering first stages with simpler gas generator engines but is still apparently charging $62 million, for a less capable (about half the GTO payload) of Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn 2-Stage.  Vulcan versus New Glenn seems like it might be close on costs to me.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 02:48 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline meekGee

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1286 on: 10/07/2017 08:43 PM »
If New Glenn is certified for national security payload's, is there still a demand for Vulcan?
Two-stage New Glenn would provide generally the same payload capability as the most souped-up Vulcan-Centaur version, but New Glenn would be a 1,450 tonne rocket competing with a 667 tonne rocket.  Partial recovery versus fully expendable.

Cost is what matters. Size is irrelevant. There is some correlation, but once you go reusable (even partially), a lot of assumptions for cost are in flux until a system actually is in use.
ULA tells us its goal for the base Vulcan Centaur is $99 million.  My guess for Vulcan Centaur with 6 GEM63XL boosters is $152 million.  New Glenn will expend a 270 tonne second stage (about 68% of the Vulcan first stage mass) and one BE-4 engine during each flight, and the 54 x 7 meter first stage and its seven staged-combustion BE-4 engines will have recovery/refurbishment costs. 

SpaceX is recovering first stages with simpler gas generator engines but is still apparently charging $62 million, for a less capable (about half the GTO payload) of Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn 2-Stage.  Vulcan versus New Glenn seems like it might be close on costs to me.

 - Ed Kyle

Ed - are you aware that Vulcan and NG are not anywhere close to flying, right?  Neither ULA nor BO are charging anything for them, since they are still paper rockets.

SpaceX will continue to charge comfortably less than the competition, and if the competition continues to do nothing, SpaceX will be happy to keep prices where they want to.

You are one of the few people who continue to harp on "But SpaceX has only flown 3 reused rockets to date".  So why are you comparing today's F9 prices with hypothetical rocket pricing?

By the time Vulcan or NG start looking viable, SpaceX will have a regularly-reflying fleet.  Do you really think they will still be at $62M?
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 09:11 PM by meekGee »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1287 on: 10/08/2017 04:15 AM »
By the time Vulcan or NG start looking viable, SpaceX will have a regularly-reflying fleet.  Do you really think they will still be at $62M?
No, I actually think they will be charging more than that by then.  SpaceX won a $96.5 million contract to launch a GPS satellite in 2019 earlier this year, for example, which was a $13.8 million increase from its first GPS contract.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline meekGee

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1288 on: 10/08/2017 04:23 AM »
By the time Vulcan or NG start looking viable, SpaceX will have a regularly-reflying fleet.  Do you really think they will still be at $62M?
No, I actually think they will be charging more than that by then.  SpaceX won a $96.5 million contract to launch a GPS satellite in 2019 earlier this year, for example, which was a $13.8 million increase from its first GPS contract.

 - Ed Kyle

What were the competitive bids?

What I'm saying is that of course SpaceX can charge more now, given that there's no credible reusable competitor, and SpaceX is established itself as a viable launch vendor.

With reusability, SpaceX can also charge less, and will do so to optimize for their goals - as they see fit.

---

Somehow, there's a group of you that only looks backwards in an attempt to understand trends.

You call it "only look at proven prices"... I have a friend, a CTO of a large company, that calls it "driving forward using the rear view mirror"...

It doesn't work if there are curves in the road. Up until you go over the cliff, you think everything is ok...  Which kinda describes what we see with ULA.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 06:00 AM by meekGee »
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1289 on: 10/08/2017 10:06 AM »
I'll rest my case.

Given the state of BE-4 and AR-1 engine developments, is a maiden launch in 2019 still feasible?
I think that when BE-4 is proven before year end it is possible (~2year for Vulcan development).
When BE-4 is chosen but it's testing phase last well into 2018, I think 2019 will be a very ambitious timeline.
If AR-1 is chosen, I think 2019 is totally unrealistic, because AR-1 will still have to be qualified in 2018.

When are the GEM-63's planned to be introduced on Atlas V? (Google_spaceflightinsider)
Has OATK already performed ground tests of GEM-63 and the XL version? (not that I expect to be a problem).
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 10:11 AM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline AncientU

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1290 on: 10/08/2017 12:00 PM »
I'll rest my case.

Given the state of BE-4 and AR-1 engine developments, is a maiden launch in 2019 still feasible?
I think that when BE-4 is proven before year end it is possible (~2year for Vulcan development).
When BE-4 is chosen but it's testing phase last well into 2018, I think 2019 will be a very ambitious timeline.
If AR-1 is chosen, I think 2019 is totally unrealistic, because AR-1 will still have to be qualified in 2018.

When are the GEM-63's planned to be introduced on Atlas V? (Google_spaceflightinsider)
Has OATK already performed ground tests of GEM-63 and the XL version? (not that I expect to be a problem).

Since both engines are ORSC from vendors who have never succeeded in producing a single ORSC engine, the potential for both engines to still be in development in 2019 is very real.  Having a maiden flight that year is, as you say, a very ambitious timeline.

That places USAF in a particularly interesting position... they are scheduled to compete Phase 2 of NSS contracts (less the heavy launches) in 2019.  Without a flown vehicle, if the replace-RD-180 development programs break against them, what will ULA bid?  NG certainly won't be available in this scenario.  Will NGL get a launch in before then?

Will Phase 2 be placed on the back-burner?
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 12:04 PM by AncientU »
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Offline spacenut

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1291 on: 10/08/2017 01:34 PM »
I too see ULA in deep trouble without a rocket or engines for said rocket because SpaceX will have block 5 of F9 and FH going and will be the only game in town, unless ULA still buys Russian engines and launches Atlas V.   Hopefully John McCain will be out of office by then.  I predict Atlas will continue to fly beyond 2018.  Seems as if Raptor is ahead of BE-4 and AR-1.   

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1292 on: 10/08/2017 01:54 PM »

With reusability, SpaceX can also charge less, and will do so to optimize for their goals - as they see fit.

They don't have all this fiscal flexibility you think they do. It's publicly known their liabilities exceed their (own) revenue projections (per GAO) and their payroll already exceeds half a billion a year. SpaceX needs cash as much as any other company.

Offline spacenut

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1293 on: 10/08/2017 02:05 PM »
Yes, but they spend a lot of money on development and innovation, like Raptor, BFR/BFS.  Once their rockets are being reused, they will begin to make more money, especially when they start putting up the Constellation.  The GAO is and has been known to not be accurate.  I don't trust any government agency for accuracy anymore. 

Offline whatever11235

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1294 on: 10/08/2017 02:08 PM »
They don't have all this fiscal flexibility you think they do. It's publicly known their liabilities exceed their (own) revenue projections (per GAO) and their payroll already exceeds half a billion a year. SpaceX needs cash as much as any other company.

With brand that is Musk and achievements to date, they can easly raise all the money they will ever need.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1295 on: 10/08/2017 02:17 PM »
They don't have all this fiscal flexibility you think they do. It's publicly known their liabilities exceed their (own) revenue projections (per GAO) and their payroll already exceeds half a billion a year. SpaceX needs cash as much as any other company.

With brand that is Musk and achievements to date, they can easly raise all the money they will ever need.

And therein lies the Catch-22 of cults of personality. People would like to buy SpaceX stock because Musk is in charge. But as soon as the public sales start he will no longer be in charge, the stock holders will.

Yes, but they spend a lot of money on development and innovation, like Raptor, BFR/BFS.  Once their rockets are being reused, they will begin to make more money, especially when they start putting up the Constellation.  The GAO is and has been known to not be accurate.  I don't trust any government agency for accuracy anymore.
Musk has been known not to be accurate. Quite often.
I suppose SpaceX being wrong should be a profound hope as well. Because those financials are self-reported.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 02:27 PM by rayleighscatter »

Online yokem55

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1296 on: 10/08/2017 02:20 PM »
They don't have all this fiscal flexibility you think they do. It's publicly known their liabilities exceed their (own) revenue projections (per GAO) and their payroll already exceeds half a billion a year. SpaceX needs cash as much as any other company.

With brand that is Musk and achievements to date, they can easly raise all the money they will ever need.
Not while maintaining control of the company. The value of the company has to grow in order to keep the value held by others below 50% and the SEC limits how many share holders they can have without going public. Now they have a couple of very good things in the works that add a lot of value to the company (Starlink, BFR, regular reuse of Falcon) so they will likely have room to run, but the challenge is that none of those is set in stone and could go wrong.

Offline whatever11235

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1297 on: 10/08/2017 03:02 PM »
They don't have all this fiscal flexibility you think they do. It's publicly known their liabilities exceed their (own) revenue projections (per GAO) and their payroll already exceeds half a billion a year. SpaceX needs cash as much as any other company.

With brand that is Musk and achievements to date, they can easly raise all the money they will ever need.
Not while maintaining control of the company. The value of the company has to grow in order to keep the value held by others below 50% and the SEC limits how many share holders they can have without going public. Now they have a couple of very good things in the works that add a lot of value to the company (Starlink, BFR, regular reuse of Falcon) so they will likely have room to run, but the challenge is that none of those is set in stone and could go wrong.

We can look at Tesla where he has ~20% shareholding and yet he runs Tesla pretty much the way he likes.

At Spacex, all he needs to maintain is >50% voting rights and he can run SpaceX as he likes. According to wikipedia he has 78% to date so he can dilute himself quite a lot. Remember last funding round was at $21B, next one will be much higher.

Online cppetrie

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1298 on: 10/08/2017 03:07 PM »
Musk and SpaceX fund raising is OT.

Atlas will certainly fly beyond 2018. Donít they already have contracts for flights on Atlas beyond 2018? The better speculation is whether ULA be in a position to compete for future NSS launches if engine restrictions remain in place and Vulcan is still without a working engine in 2019, which seems like a very real possibility.

Offline gongora

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Re: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle - General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1299 on: 10/08/2017 03:39 PM »
ULA tells us its goal for the base Vulcan Centaur is $99 million.  My guess for Vulcan Centaur with 6 GEM63XL boosters is $152 million.  New Glenn will expend a 270 tonne second stage (about 68% of the Vulcan first stage mass) and one BE-4 engine during each flight, and the 54 x 7 meter first stage and its seven staged-combustion BE-4 engines will have recovery/refurbishment costs. 

SpaceX is recovering first stages with simpler gas generator engines but is still apparently charging $62 million, for a less capable (about half the GTO payload) of Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn 2-Stage.  Vulcan versus New Glenn seems like it might be close on costs to me.

 - Ed Kyle

So, you're saying it's bad that SpaceX is charging less than half of the Vulcan 561 price and delivering (slightly more than?) half the performance (with first stage recovery of a new booster)?

edit:  The SpaceX comparison for Vulcan 561 would be FH, not F9, and that could become a very interesting comparison for different types of missions.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 04:31 PM by gongora »

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