Author Topic: Air Force awards Rocket Propulsion agreement to Orbital ATK  (Read 10164 times)

Online rcoppola

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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...
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Online RonM

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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

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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.

Online Robotbeat

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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!
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Offline kevin-rf

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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.
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Online Lars-J

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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.

Online 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

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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

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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

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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.

Online Robotbeat

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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.
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Online 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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Online Robotbeat

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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.
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Offline yg1968

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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

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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

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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.

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