Author Topic: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK  (Read 10646 times)

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • CA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 20
ATK Launch Systems Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Orbital ATK Inc., Magna, Utah, has been awarded a $46,968,005 other transaction agreement for the development of three rocket propulsion system prototypes for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. This agreement implements Section 1604 of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which requires the development of a next-generation rocket propulsion system that will transition away from the use of the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine to a domestic alternative for National Security Space launches. An other transaction agreement was used in lieu of a standard procurement contract in order to leverage on-going investment by industry in rocket propulsion systems. This other transaction agreement requires shared cost investment with ATK Launch Systems Inc. for the development of prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Originís BE-3U upper stage engine. These rocket propulsion systems are intended for use on an Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle.  The GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor is also intended for use on United Launch Allianceís Vulcan launch vehicle.  The locations of performance are Magna, Utah; Iuka, Mississippi; Chandler, Arizona; and Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The work is expected to be completed no later than Dec. 30, 2019.  Air Force fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $46,968,005 are being obligated at the time of award.  ATK Launch Systems Inc. is contributing $31,130,360 at the time of award.  The total potential government investment, including all options, is $180,238,059.  The total potential investment by ATK Launch Systems Inc., including all options, is $124,830,693. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with multiple offers received. The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California is the contracting activity (FA8811-16-9-0002).

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 486
  • Likes Given: 228
The USAF just uncancelled Ares I.....

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881
Air Force would look really bad investing all of this money in a next generation Antares if OrbitalATK doesn't win a CRS2 contract. My guess is that OrbitalATK has won a CRS2 contract and that it will be announced soon (possibly tomorrow).
« Last Edit: 01/13/2016 11:52 PM by yg1968 »

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 486
  • Likes Given: 228
Not necessarily, OA has two strong suits. They can take components from separate items and combine them in a new project. They can also sit on a project for a while so long as it's being used elsewhere.

Minotaur for instance doesn't launch very often but OA can manage those launches fine because they still support that same equipment through other (ICBM mostly) projects.

CBS is currently ongoing with NASA/SLS. Gem 63 is ongoing with ULA (Atlas/Vulcan), and the BE3 sourced from an ongoing project with Blue. Even if CRS falls through OA can mostly sit on this tech and come back to it again in 5-6 years for a launch if need be. No institutional base required to be maintained for it at the moment.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3811
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 3191
Air Force would look really bad investing all of this money in a next generation Antares if OrbitalATK doesn't win a CRS2 contract. My guess is that OrbitalATK has won a CRS2 contract and that it will be announced soon (possibly tomorrow).

The Air Force people making this contracting decision would have no inside information about who won CRS-2.  And they had to have begun negotiations with OrbitalATK before the CRS-2 decision was even made.  I don't think there's any linkage.

The Air Force was told by Congress to spend this money on engine development, so they asked for proposals and they seem to have chosen to spread the money out among a number of different companies.  They said they're still in negotiations with some of them and more awards are still to be announced.

I think all it took to get one of these awards was a willingness on the part of the company to invest a significant amount of private capital to share the costs of development of an engine.

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881
There is a requirement that OrbitalATK fund at least a third of its engine development itself. So it seems like a risky proposition for OrbitalATK to invest millions of dollars into a rocket without having any clients. The timing is also oddly convenient. For CCtCap, Congress was apparently briefed on it prior to the awards being announced. Obviously, the Air Force has no say in which company gets a CRS2 award but I imagine that NASA is allowed to brief other agencies or departments once it has made its decision internally.

The joint explanatory statement to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act mentions that the DOD should try to coordinate its engine program with NASA. NASA has no need for new engines but it has a need for LVs for commercial crew and cargo. So there may have been some kind of coordination between NASA and the Air Force.

Quote
The Secretary should coordinate with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to the extent practicable, to ensure that the rocket propulsion system developed under subsection meets objectives that are common to both the national security space community and the civil space program of the United States.

See page 261:
http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=78ED7A79-9066-43FD-AA75-1D8F14B4B4A2
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 01:21 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • CA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 20
There is a requirement that OrbitalATK fund at least a third of its engine development itself. So it seems like a risky proposition for OrbitalATK to invest millions of dollars into a rocket without having any clients. The timing is also oddly convenient. For CCtCap, Congress was apparently briefed on it prior to the awards being announced. Obviously, the Air Force has no say in which company gets a CRS2 award but I imagine that NASA is allowed to brief other agencies or departments once it has made its decision internally.

The joint explanatory statement to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act mentions that the DOD should try to coordinate its engine program with NASA. NASA has no need for new engines but it has a need for LVs for commercial crew and cargo. So there may have been some kind of coordination between NASA and the Air Force.

Quote
The Secretary should coordinate with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to the extent practicable, to ensure that the rocket propulsion system developed under subsection meets objectives that are common to both the national security space community and the civil space program of the United States.

See page 261:
http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=78ED7A79-9066-43FD-AA75-1D8F14B4B4A2

Very, very unlikely.

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881
What makes you say that?

Just to be clear, I meant coordination within the last few days not throughout the entire process. But I admit that it's a bit of a guess on my part. But I just find it hard to believe that ATK would make a huge investment without knowing if it has any potential clients for its investment. It's also a gamble for the Air Force to invest millions into a rocket if it has no potential client.

In any event, I expect ATK to win a CRS2 award. From a political perspective, abandonning OrbitalATK and Wallops would be a huge blow to the company and that facility. I can't see NASA abandonning OrbitalATK for a new company unlesss their prices are completely out of whack with other companies (which seems unlikely).
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 01:58 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2240
  • Liked: 425
  • Likes Given: 57
Quote
This other transaction agreement requires shared cost investment with ATK Launch Systems Inc. for the development of prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Originís BE-3U upper stage engine. These rocket propulsion systems are intended for use on an Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle.  The GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor is also intended for use on United Launch Allianceís Vulcan launch vehicle.

Could be in direct competition to Blue Origin's hypothetical orbital rocket. Bezos surely doesn't mind selling his engines to competitors :).

Offline TrevorMonty

This new LV is looking a lot like the Liberty with US government funding a lot if the development. The Common Core Booster will mostly likely be derived from SLS SRBs which NASA has a paid most of R&D for. OrbitalATK only needs fund a US which they may jointly do with Blue and pad to support the new LV.




Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28616
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8583
  • Likes Given: 5596
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #11 on: 01/14/2016 03:16 AM »
Quote
This other transaction agreement requires shared cost investment with ATK Launch Systems Inc. for the development of prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Originís BE-3U upper stage engine. These rocket propulsion systems are intended for use on an Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle.  The GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor is also intended for use on United Launch Allianceís Vulcan launch vehicle.

Could be in direct competition to Blue Origin's hypothetical orbital rocket. Bezos surely doesn't mind selling his engines to competitors :).
...probably because Blue Origin is a lot slower than SpaceX, and when Blue Origin DO intend to enter the market, they'd have a reusable RTLS/barging first stage right from the get-go, so it's very unlikely that anyone who'd buy engines from them would be able to compete on cost.

...milk the expendable launch providers while you can, then enter the market with a reusable rocket.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17822
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 6073
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #12 on: 01/14/2016 03:18 AM »
Any body know what the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor is?
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline arachnitect

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1441
  • Liked: 391
  • Likes Given: 462
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #13 on: 01/14/2016 03:21 AM »
What makes you say that?

Just to be clear, I meant coordination within the last few days not throughout the entire process. But I admit that it's a bit of a guess on my part. But I just find it hard to believe that ATK would make a huge investment without knowing if it has any potential clients for its investment. It's also a gamble for the Air Force to invest millions into a rocket if it has no potential client.

In any event, I expect ATK to win a CRS2 award. From a political perspective, abandonning OrbitalATK and Wallops would be a huge blow to the company and that facility. I can't see NASA abandonning OrbitalATK for a new company unlesss their prices are completely out of whack with other companies (which seems unlikely).

I think the trick here is that all this work is applicable to other OrbitalATK priorities. For example it's a little weird that USAF is funding GEM-63XL work since OrbATK was already doing that for Atlas/Vulcan. As for the big solid motor segments, I think OrbATK is committed to the big solids business and any money coming in helps while they hope for big projects like SLS booster evolution, ICBM replacement, ABM boosters, etc.

The BE-3 nozzle extension is really interesting, but it makes sense for a composites and solids company like OrbATK to get into that. Even if they don't use BE-3U on their own rocket, other companies might be interested in buying such a product from them. Getting a bigger engine bell into a smaller form factor could be useful to a lot of projects out there right now. I also have a pet theory that OrbATK is tired of RL-10 ruling the US upperstage market and would delight in forcing AJR out of that business too.

None of this stuff immediately benefits their presumptive CRS-II bid, so I think the timing is coincidental. If anything, I would say this work is inversely correlated with CRS-II success, since CRS keeps them locked to Wallops (no big solids allowed, no DOD payloads), needs continuity, and is free to use Russian engines. If they lose out on CRS-II, they've got a much bigger incentive to start over and try breaking into the EELV market.

Online Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
  • Liked: 263
  • Likes Given: 26
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #14 on: 01/14/2016 03:30 AM »
Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 03:31 AM by Kryten »

Offline TrevorMonty

Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
If Blue is supplying the engine why not the whole upper stage.  OrbitalATK have shown with Antares booster they will buy stages from other companies.  LOX/LH stages are not easy to develop and I doubt OA has much expertise in this area.

Offline J-V

  • Member
  • Posts: 99
  • Liked: 25
  • Likes Given: 35
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #16 on: 01/14/2016 09:56 AM »
Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
If Blue is supplying the engine why not the whole upper stage.  OrbitalATK have shown with Antares booster they will buy stages from other companies.  LOX/LH stages are not easy to develop and I doubt OA has much expertise in this area.

"upper stage solution" sounds like an entire stage to me. Or did I miss where they said they will provide only the engine?

Offline TrevorMonty

Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
If Blue is supplying the engine why not the whole upper stage.  OrbitalATK have shown with Antares booster they will buy stages from other companies.  LOX/LH stages are not easy to develop and I doubt OA has much expertise in this area.

"upper stage solution" sounds like an entire stage to me. Or did I miss where they said they will provide only the engine?
ATK had planned to use Antares 5 US for Liberty LV. A Blue US is likely to be considerably cheaper especially if Blue use same US themselves.

http://spacenews.com/atk-pitches-liberty-rocket-commercial-crew-program/

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28616
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8583
  • Likes Given: 5596
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #18 on: 01/14/2016 12:21 PM »
So.. In 4-5 years we might have:
Delta IV
Atlas V
beginnings of Vulcan(?)
Falcon 9/H
bfr/BFS (?)
Antares
zombie Liberty (?)
Blue Origin's launch vehicle (?)

There's going to have to be some consolidation here.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3811
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 3191
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #19 on: 01/14/2016 01:46 PM »
Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
If Blue is supplying the engine why not the whole upper stage.  OrbitalATK have shown with Antares booster they will buy stages from other companies.  LOX/LH stages are not easy to develop and I doubt OA has much expertise in this area.

"upper stage solution" sounds like an entire stage to me. Or did I miss where they said they will provide only the engine?

Except that the term "upper stage solution" is used to describe something labeled "BE-3U".  And then later they say BE-3U is an engine.  So, they are saying their BE-3U is an upper stage solution.  That says to me that by "upper stage solution" they mean they are providing an upper stage propulsion solution, not an upper stage.  Otherwise, why not just say they are providing an upper stage?

Offline rcoppola

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2028
  • USA
  • Liked: 1315
  • Likes Given: 580
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #20 on: 01/14/2016 01:55 PM »
The three amigos.  Blue supplying engines to ULA and OATK. OATK suppling solids to ULA.

Now if ULA decides to replace the RL-10, AJR will...
Sail the oceans of space and set foot upon new lands!
http://www.stormsurgemedia.com

Offline RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2563
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 1330
  • Likes Given: 1028
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #21 on: 01/14/2016 02:02 PM »
So.. In 4-5 years we might have:
Delta IV
Atlas V
beginnings of Vulcan(?)
Falcon 9/H
bfr/BFS (?)
Antares
zombie Liberty (?)
Blue Origin's launch vehicle (?)

There's going to have to be some consolidation here.

If current plans stay the same, eventually Delta IV and Atlas V will be replaced by Vulcan. Also, Orbital ATK might settle on a new rocket based on combined assets and the Be-3U.

So in 5-10 years we might have:
Vulcan
Falcon 9/H
Orbital ATK launch vehicle
Blue Origin's launch vehicle

and BFR/BFS, alone in the HLV category (or SHLV depending on how you define these things).

With constellations of communication satellites coming online, there will be plenty of work for these launchers.

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • CA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 20
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #22 on: 01/14/2016 02:52 PM »
What makes you say that?

Just to be clear, I meant coordination within the last few days not throughout the entire process. But I admit that it's a bit of a guess on my part. But I just find it hard to believe that ATK would make a huge investment without knowing if it has any potential clients for its investment. It's also a gamble for the Air Force to invest millions into a rocket if it has no potential client.

In any event, I expect ATK to win a CRS2 award. From a political perspective, abandonning OrbitalATK and Wallops would be a huge blow to the company and that facility. I can't see NASA abandonning OrbitalATK for a new company unlesss their prices are completely out of whack with other companies (which seems unlikely).

Everyone on the Government's side in these major source selections is paranoid about violating the Procurement Integrity Act, which is punishable by jail.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28616
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8583
  • Likes Given: 5596
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #23 on: 01/14/2016 04:01 PM »
The Stick is the most persistent zombie ever. Ares I is still alive. Incredible!
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8654
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1124
  • Likes Given: 244
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #24 on: 01/14/2016 04:23 PM »
Bad ideas never go away, until they are implemented. Then the finger pointing begins.
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4428
  • California
  • Liked: 3965
  • Likes Given: 2398
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #25 on: 01/14/2016 04:24 PM »
The Stick is the most persistent zombie ever. Ares I is still alive. Incredible!

"When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". It should be no surprise that OrbitalATK is eager to sell a concept based on a solid first stage.

Offline TrevorMonty

Mike Gruss just tweeted a statement (attached) from Rob Meyerson confirming that the Be-3U work in this contract is for the OrbATK next-gen vehicle.
If Blue is supplying the engine why not the whole upper stage.  OrbitalATK have shown with Antares booster they will buy stages from other companies.  LOX/LH stages are not easy to develop and I doubt OA has much expertise in this area.

"upper stage solution" sounds like an entire stage to me. Or did I miss where they said they will provide only the engine?
ATK had planned to use Antares 5 US for Liberty LV. A Blue US is likely to be considerably cheaper especially if Blue use same US themselves.

http://spacenews.com/atk-pitches-liberty-rocket-commercial-crew-program/
I thought the Liberty 2nd stage was using Ariane5 US but is actually core booster of Ariane 5. This is approx 150t LOX/LH stage, which would need 2-3 BE3U engines.

Here is better article .

http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/liberty.html
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 05:08 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • CA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 20
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #27 on: 01/14/2016 04:35 PM »
Bad ideas never go away, until they are implemented. Then the finger pointing begins.

I'd like some background as to why this is a bad idea.

Offline spacenut

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2454
  • East Alabama
  • Liked: 423
  • Likes Given: 240
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #28 on: 01/14/2016 04:58 PM »
Solids are expensive, very heavy, hard to transport and store, and even if made reusable, cost about the same as a new solid rocket.  The burned solid fuel is also a hazardous material.  SpaceX and Blue Origin realizes it is less expensive in the long run to develop liquid fueled rockets that are reusable.  Solids are great for long term storage of ICBM's and other military use.  This argument went round and round during the Direct talks.  Liquid fueled rockets can be shut down in case of emergency, solids cannot.  You would have to go back several years ago to the threads when the talks about how to develop SLS began. 

The "stick" or Liberty can launch 20 tons to LEO.  So can Atlas V.  So can Falcon 9 FT expendable.  Nasa didn't think Liberty could match the price of either of the other two. 

Offline ArbitraryConstant

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1769
  • Liked: 439
  • Likes Given: 253
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #29 on: 01/14/2016 05:47 PM »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when we saw the Orbital ATK proposal for EELV engine replacement, I believe it was two solid stages. Two solid stages topped with a hydrogen upper stage likely makes more sense than a multi-segment SRB, no? They'd be able to be shipped as completed units. This approach isn't nuts, it looks similar to some of the Ariane 6 concepts, and a lot of the problems with the huge multi-segment SRB like thrust oscillations should be much easier to deal with at the smaller size AAUI. Might even be able to have a Delta II class version with only one solid stage.

Moreover, looking at ULA I don't think it's unreasonable to think about scenarios where they can't fund Vulcan to completion or has trouble getting enough commercial launches to support it, in which case some solids ideas might make sense as a relatively low rate launcher.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28616
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8583
  • Likes Given: 5596
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #30 on: 01/14/2016 05:56 PM »
Very reminiscent of Ariane 6. And like Ariane 6, it might indeed make sense in a world without (significant) reuse, but I fail to see how it'd compete with a 80-95% reusable rocket like Falcon 9, Heavy, or Blue Origin's orbital launcher. The idea may be to hope to play second fiddle, hoping for either ULA or SpaceX to fold.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline TrevorMonty

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when we saw the Orbital ATK proposal for EELV engine replacement, I believe it was two solid stages. Two solid stages topped with a hydrogen upper stage likely makes more sense than a multi-segment SRB, no? They'd be able to be shipped as completed units. This approach isn't nuts, it looks similar to some of the Ariane 6 concepts, and a lot of the problems with the huge multi-segment SRB like thrust oscillations should be much easier to deal with at the smaller size AAUI. Might even be able to have a Delta II class version with only one solid stage.

Moreover, looking at ULA I don't think it's unreasonable to think about scenarios where they can't fund Vulcan to completion or has trouble getting enough commercial launches to support it, in which case some solids ideas might make sense as a relatively low rate launcher.

I think you maybe right with a Ariane 5/6 design. Customers will be more accepting of this design compared to Liberty. Partial reusability is still an option using something like Ariane or ULA recovery concepts.

This new LV may actually beat Vulcan and Ariane 6 to the launch pad.

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #32 on: 01/14/2016 06:17 PM »
What makes you say that?

Just to be clear, I meant coordination within the last few days not throughout the entire process. But I admit that it's a bit of a guess on my part. But I just find it hard to believe that ATK would make a huge investment without knowing if it has any potential clients for its investment. It's also a gamble for the Air Force to invest millions into a rocket if it has no potential client.

In any event, I expect ATK to win a CRS2 award. From a political perspective, abandonning OrbitalATK and Wallops would be a huge blow to the company and that facility. I can't see NASA abandonning OrbitalATK for a new company unlesss their prices are completely out of whack with other companies (which seems unlikely).

Everyone on the Government's side in these major source selections is paranoid about violating the Procurement Integrity Act, which is punishable by jail.

I meant consultation with the Air Force once a decision on CRS2 has been made and approved (not before). In any event, I admit that this was speculation on my part. So I withdraw my comments. The date of the award should be on the CRS 2 contract. So we'll find out what the exact date of the CRS2 decision (it's usually a few days before the announcement).

In any event, I expect Orbital/ATK to win an award. So none of this matters.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 06:40 PM by yg1968 »

Offline notsorandom

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1721
  • Ohio
  • Liked: 418
  • Likes Given: 91
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #33 on: 01/14/2016 06:18 PM »
This other transaction agreement requires shared cost investment with ATK Launch Systems Inc. for the development of prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Originís BE-3U upper stage engine. These rocket propulsion systems are intended for use on an Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle. 
The CBS is interesting. I don't think we know much about that. I'd guess it has some heritage with the Antares booster replacement scheme that ATK pitched to Orbital after the ORB-3 failure and before the merger. Orbital ATK's next generation launch vehicle might look something like the Athena II with a LH2 upper stage and a variable number of strap on boosters.

Online abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1733
  • Liked: 1204
  • Likes Given: 1046
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #34 on: 01/14/2016 06:58 PM »
To be fair, several of the issues with the Stick and Liberty were related to launching humans.  If the launcher is designed strictly for cargo, those issues go away.

I'm not saying I like the idea very much, but it's not the same situation as before either.

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 486
  • Likes Given: 228
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #35 on: 01/14/2016 08:41 PM »
Solids are expensive, very heavy, hard to transport and store, and even if made reusable, cost about the same as a new solid rocket.  The burned solid fuel is also a hazardous material.  SpaceX and Blue Origin realizes it is less expensive in the long run to develop liquid fueled rockets that are reusable.  Solids are great for long term storage of ICBM's and other military use.  This argument went round and round during the Direct talks.  Liquid fueled rockets can be shut down in case of emergency, solids cannot.  You would have to go back several years ago to the threads when the talks about how to develop SLS began. 

The "stick" or Liberty can launch 20 tons to LEO.  So can Atlas V.  So can Falcon 9 FT expendable.  Nasa didn't think Liberty could match the price of either of the other two.
Solids aren't necessarily expensive.

They aren't hard to store although you refuted yourself on that later on anyway.

Solids can shut off in an emergency via linear or opposing charges. It's what all solids already use. Plus the ability to shut off an engine in an emergency is irrelevant in an unmanned launch. If the engine doesn't shut off, the payload is lost, if the engine does shut off, the payload is lost.

Solids have the biggest issues during manned launches which doesn't matter in this context. This isn't a manned Ares rocket or a manned Liberty rocket, it would be an unmanned <fill in the blank> rocket.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28616
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8583
  • Likes Given: 5596
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #36 on: 01/14/2016 09:34 PM »
You can "shut off" a solid with explosives.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9709
  • Liked: 1422
  • Likes Given: 881
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #37 on: 01/16/2016 01:48 AM »
Here is an article on this Next Generation Orbital ATK rocket:

http://spacenews.com/orbital-developing-rocket-to-compete-with-spacex-ula/

Offline a_langwich

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Liked: 211
  • Likes Given: 48
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #38 on: 01/16/2016 04:13 AM »
Here is an article on this Next Generation Orbital ATK rocket:

http://spacenews.com/orbital-developing-rocket-to-compete-with-spacex-ula/

After re-reading this article, I'm struck by this sentence:
"With the Jan. 13 award, Pieczynski said Orbital ATK would spend much of its time in the next few months determining the optimum size of the solid rocket motors."


Doesn't it seem...uh, backwards...to be doing trades on rocket motor sizes and stages and staging, AFTER submitting a proposal to USAF and getting an award to build and test a prototype?  AFTER having presented a proposal in 2014 to redo Antares with solids, which presumably is very similar to this new design?  And presumably having a wealth of experience with a previous EELV bid and Sticks and Liberty and Athena II and Taurus and Minotaurs...

Is a solid-motor-based rocket that much different from liquids, such that trading various sizes can happen later in the design process?

As an example, I'd expect specifying a target thrust, ISP, and weight for the BE-4 would be almost the first step to working on a Vulcan design.  You haven't even done a paper rocket design if you haven't settled on a rocket size or even a ballpark of which upper stage you might use.

As a contrast, as I recall when ATK won the contract for (SLS?  Constellation?)  SRBs, they immediately went off and started playing with propellant formulations.  That's kind of what I would expect.

If Orbital-ATK does get a rocket to a test flight by 2019, from this Step 000 "we'll fiddle around with engine trades for a few months" in 2016 it would be very impressive. 

My concern is that the Air Force knows they won't be spending any more money on this (unless Congress for some reason likes this redirection of RD-180 replacement funds and gives them more next year, or I suppose it's almost even likely they'll win a Continuing Resolution jackpot once or twice), and O-ATK knows that further funding won't be forthcoming, and so they just decided to cynically take the money and fund the engineering design group this year with trades of EELV-class solids with the recent crop of upper stage engines.  In theory further milestones could be pursued, but in reality it's known to be paper study money and maybe a report as a deliverable.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1769
  • Liked: 439
  • Likes Given: 253
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #39 on: 01/16/2016 05:54 AM »
Doesn't it seem...uh, backwards...to be doing trades on rocket motor sizes and stages and staging, AFTER submitting a proposal to USAF and getting an award to build and test a prototype?  AFTER having presented a proposal in 2014 to redo Antares with solids, which presumably is very similar to this new design?  And presumably having a wealth of experience with a previous EELV bid and Sticks and Liberty and Athena II and Taurus and Minotaurs...
The BE-3U is relatively new and changes a lot of the trades because it's quite high thrust, no? And Antares has a solid upper stage. They may not know how much thrust/ISP they're going to get out of the extensible nozzle.

Is a solid-motor-based rocket that much different from liquids, such that trading various sizes can happen later in the design process?
We can infer it would have 2-3 solid stages, and they are different from liquids in that thrust is a lot easier to select in small increments. They'd have to study expected payloads to think about what combinations of 2-3 stages and sizes or perhaps extra SRBs would be needed to support various launches, which will have a lot to say about what cost they will be able to bid on specific launches.

In theory further milestones could be pursued, but in reality it's known to be paper study money and maybe a report as a deliverable.
It does make sense in at least one way: if ULA falls below survival level or Vulcan progress falters, the lower launch rate is better suited to solids, and Orbital ATK would probably do just fine on ~3 launches per year. They'd probably be able to pick up some extra as a contingency rocket like Sea Launch for GTO, NASA HSF activities like CRS and I'm sure CST-100 and DC would be able to use it. They've never really had a proper high energy upper stage before and it would open a lot of nifty doors.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17822
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 6073
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #40 on: 01/16/2016 06:33 AM »
They may not know how much thrust/ISP they're going to get out of the extensible nozzle.

That is relatively easy to determine once you have designed the basic engine. All you need to know is the new exit diameter and the other basic engine parameters. If I had that information, I can even work this out myself.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1769
  • Liked: 439
  • Likes Given: 253
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #41 on: 01/16/2016 06:29 PM »
That is relatively easy to determine once you have designed the basic engine. All you need to know is the new exit diameter and the other basic engine parameters. If I had that information, I can even work this out myself.
Who says they know the diameter and mass the extension will be able to achieve?

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4428
  • California
  • Liked: 3965
  • Likes Given: 2398
Re: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK
« Reply #42 on: 01/17/2016 07:09 PM »

That is relatively easy to determine once you have designed the basic engine. All you need to know is the new exit diameter and the other basic engine parameters. If I had that information, I can even work this out myself.
Who says they know the diameter and mass the extension will be able to achieve?

I sure hope they know the exact diameter and have a very specific mass target. This isn't guesswork here, c'mon.

Tags: