Author Topic: NASA Selects Orbital ATK to Begin Negotiations for Space in Iconic VAB  (Read 15856 times)

Online Chris Bergin

April 18, 2016
RELEASE 09-16
NASA Selects Orbital ATK to Begin Negotiations for Space in Iconic Vehicle Assembly Building

NASA has selected Orbital ATK Inc. of Dulles, Virginia, to begin negotiations on an agreement to use High Bay 2 in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The prospective property use agreement, which also will include a mobile launcher platform, reflects Kennedy’s transformation to a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial organizations.

“Over the past few years, the people of Kennedy have worked diligently to transform the center. We are now a true multi-user spaceport supporting a variety of different partners successfully,” said Bob Cabana, Kennedy director. “We look forward to working with Orbital ATK in the future to help expand the capabilities of this unique, historic asset.”

NASA will remain the primary user of the VAB for the Space Launch System and Orion programs. If an agreement is negotiated, NASA will act as the overall site operator for the facility.

The potential agreement is the result of a competitive Announcement for Proposals the agency released in June 2015.

The VAB, a national landmark, was completed in 1966 for the assembly of the Apollo/Saturn V moon rockets. For 30 years, it acted as the final assembly point for all space shuttle missions. The building is 525 feet tall and 518 feet wide.

Essentially a large steel box, a mobile launcher platform measures 160 by 135 feet. The platform's surface features wide openings that align with a space-bound vehicle's engines and direct the rocket’s blast into the flame trench below.

For more information about partnership opportunities with Kennedy, visit:

http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov

For more information about Orbital ATK, visit:

https://www.orbitalatk.com/

Online Chris Bergin

High Bay and MLP = Liberty back from the dead? But why?

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Expensively fly a all solid EELV replacement? Counting on SLS solid infrastructure to "cost share"? By twisting certain arms in Congress to rewrite the laws of "financial gravity" through government fiat?

Offline WBY1984

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Scratching my head on this one too. Is there any way that Liberty makes sense? I can't see any advantage over ULA or SpaceX offerings, to say nothing of foreign competition.

Offline shooter6947

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Presumably after ULA having declined Orbital/ATK's buyout bid, Orbital/ATK now want to try to outcompete ULA instead.  If ULA implodes with RD-180 issues and competition they may get an opening, but otherwise it would be an uphill battle.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Presumably after ULA having declined Orbital/ATK's buyout bid, Orbital/ATK now want to try to outcompete ULA instead.  If ULA implodes with RD-180 issues and competition they may get an opening, but otherwise it would be an uphill battle.

Think you are mixing this up with Aerojets buyout offer. OrbitalATK has actually increased cooperation with ULA by winning SRB contracts for Atlas V and Vulcan.

So this new project could be the new OA EELV or a move for Antares to win more flights (doubt it).
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Online Chris Bergin

Ah, it's not Liberty, it's for the *potential* EELV-class Next Generation Launch vehicle system. I'll write it up...

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Scratching my head on this one too. Is there any way that Liberty makes sense? I can't see any advantage over ULA or SpaceX offerings, to say nothing of foreign competition.
Seems like there might be an advantage over ULA offerings in the sense of being viable at a lower number of launches per year. Say there's a year with 3 DoD launches, and ULA, OATK, and SpaceX each get one. OATK and SpaceX can deal with that, I don't think ULA can. They've also got BE-3 which is new since Liberty was last mooted, should simplify upper stage development. Think Ariane 6 PPH.

Offline arachnitect

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So how does DOD get the payload access they need? Can they get from the VAB to liftoff fast enough for EELV requirements?

Do they build something like the Apollo Mobile Service Structure?

Online Chris Bergin

Article, including Orbital ATK comments:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/04/orbital-atk-eye-vab-mlp-potential-eelv-rocket/

And of course a Nathan L2 render envisioning of the EELV class NGL rocket.

Offline shooter6947

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Presumably after ULA having declined Orbital/ATK's buyout bid, Orbital/ATK now want to try to outcompete ULA instead.  If ULA implodes with RD-180 issues and competition they may get an opening, but otherwise it would be an uphill battle.

Think you are mixing this up with Aerojets buyout offer. OrbitalATK has actually increased cooperation with ULA by winning SRB contracts for Atlas V and Vulcan.

Yup -- you're right, my bad.

Offline Bubbinski

Wonder if part of the reason for this new launcher is to have something to offer for future Cygnus flights if RD-181 engines become unavailable for the Antares 2?

Also wondering if ATK is planning to parachute the first stage into the sea and reuse it like they did with SRB's.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline russianhalo117

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Wonder if part of the reason for this new launcher is to have something to offer for future Cygnus flights if RD-181 engines become unavailable for the Antares 2?

Also wondering if ATK is planning to parachute the first stage into the sea and reuse it like they did with SRB's.
Last I read and heard was OA is still reviewing the option of Reusability in the future but that is not the plan for the current design cycle on OA's next gen EELV family. They have not tabled the option either but are going from a lessons learned and personnel experience development approach.

Offline GreenShrike

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Also wondering if ATK is planning to parachute the first stage into the sea and reuse it like they did with SRB's.

I think that only works for steel SRB casings.

I believe the proposed EELV will use motors derived from the segments of the forthcoming Dark Knight advanced SRBs for SLS, and for cost saving and performance reasons they use composite casings. A composite casing would likely be much the worse for wear after it's been fired, and unsuited for refurbishment and then loading additional propellant like the steel casings were.
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Online jacqmans

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NASA has selected Orbital ATK, to begin negotiations on an agreement to use High Bay 2, in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The prospective property use agreement reflects Kennedy’s transformation to a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial organizations. The agreement also includes a space shuttle-era mobile launcher platform. NASA will remain the primary user of the VAB for the Space Launch System and Orion programs. The potential agreement is the result of a competitive Announcement for Proposals the agency released in June 2015. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Offline TrevorMonty

Here is another article on this.

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2016/04/21/ksc-could-launch-new-orbital-atk-rocket/83341276/

The article confirms Blue are supplying the complete US not just BE3. With most of launch facilities already existing, the solid engines based on SLS plus  Gem 63XL SRBs from Vulcan, the development costs should be very modest. This should allow new LV to be economical even at 3 launches a year. Besides DOD and launches, they will now be able to compete for commercial GEO satellite launches.

Blue will most likely use a version of same US for their LV which should keep build costs down.

Surprised they still plan to fly Antares but this may change ones the new LV has proven its self.


Offline Welsh Dragon

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The VAB looks to be an interesting place in the future! Still have my doubts ATKs new bird can be economically viable, but who am I? Nitpick on the article though, it only has imperial units, it need proper metric units added.

Offline Proponent

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As I understand it, the plan is that Orbital ATK (OA) and hopefully other commercial launch providers will fly from LC-39B when NASA doesn't need it for SLS launches.  Suppose SLS manages to fly once per year.  SLS specs we've seen on L2 call for a 120-day turn-around time between SLS launches.  So, if SLS manages to launch once per year, then LC-39B is unavailable for OA or other firms one-third of the time.  That's a problem right there.  There will be some customers who will be willing to put up with that, but others won't.  OA will have to sell launches at a discount.

Then, what if the Evolvable Mars Campaign becomes reality?*  Under either the "split" or "hybrid" options (launch schedule for the latter attached), three SLS launches are required in 2028.  So OA is just going to say, "That's OK, we'll take the year off!"?  I don't think so.  After 2028, two launches per year are not unusual, meaning that LC-39B would be available for commercial use only a third of the time in some 12-month periods.

Finally, recall that OA's Antares exploded not long ago at Wallops, damaging the pad.  Suppose that happened at LC-39B.  If repairs take a year, there will an enormous cost to NASA, given that the fixed costs of Orion/SLS appear to be in the neighborhood of $2 billion annually.  Is NASA going to demand OA be insured for that kind of thing?  How much is that going to cost?

I don't see how commercial use of LC-39B can make any sense at all unless nobody, including NASA, believes that SLS will ever fly more than once every few years (which, coincidentally, is all that's scheduled at present).  At higher SLS launch rates, commercial use of the VAB might make sense if another pad accessible from the VAB but completely separate from 39B were built.

Chris's article describes Pad 39C as being "within Pad 39B."  Would I be correct in assuming that means that 39C would be very close to 39B?  If so, it somewhat eases things, but still raises the question of what happens if an explosion on 39C takes out 39B..

Could someone please explain how I'm wrong.


* Then again, the Florida Today article does explicitly say that "NASA exploration missions" are expected to fly "no more than once a year."  So it's official that the Evolvable Mars Campaign is fiction???
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 10:14 AM by Proponent »

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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@Proponent:
There is only one MLP for SLS, right? The MLP is needed to assemble the SLS.
I think the turn around involves:
- Buildup of SLS,
- integrate the payload,
- roll out to LC-39B,
- integrate the MLP/SLS with the facilities at LC-39B,
- launch,
- roll back to VAB
- Refurbish MLP
=> Repeat.

This total proces (turn around) takes 120 days. But I think LC-39B is only involved for at most two months (<60 days). The rest of the time LC-39B and LC-39C are available for commercial launchers.
LC-39C is a small pièce of unused land of LC-39B. See the added image

I agree insurance might be an issue.

This potential EELV is directly linked to SLS. SLS becomes more affordable by it (shared solid manufacturing facilities and LC-39B). If US government decides it is ridiculous to spend more than $2.000.000.000 annually on on SLS (the hole development budget for Ariane 6, ELC-4 and Vega-C <$5 billion [<4 billion euro]). OATK has no businesscase for their solid EELV anymore.
I think this EELV is the next best affordable launch vehicle. Only Launchers with an reusable first stage are more affordable. I agree reuse of the composite boosters makes no sense, (it also barely made sence with steel casings).     
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 10:42 AM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline Proponent

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OK, so if 39B is tied up for no more than two months at a time, then the Evolvable Mars Campaign still leaves 39B free for six months of the year, worst case.  A more typical availability would be eight months or more (2 SLS launches per year).  It still sounds like an issue to me, but maybe not a complete show stopper.

Of course, there is still the issue of making 39B itself capable of launching multiple vehicles of very different sizes.

Is there any reason anyone would want to launch from 39C but not use the VAB?  I'd think that if you didn't use the VAB, you'd be better off further from 39B, especially if you hope to have a high flight rate.
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 11:51 AM by Proponent »

Online abaddon

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Blue is turning out to be quite the disruptor here.  Interesting.

Not sure how realistic any of this is, but will be interesting to see.

Offline spacenut

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This is all getting interesting.  What are we going to have in 5 years?  A new Orbital/ATK rocket with solids derived from SLS booster, strap on solids for Vulcan, and a BO upper stage.  Then we have Vulcan with strap on solids from ATK, engines from BO, and Centaur with an Orbital engine.  Then we have SpaceX with Falcon Heavy coming on line, and possibly a Raptor upper stage.  Everyone but SpaceX is selling to each other.  I wonder if that will save money over time?

One question, why can't a composite solid be reused?  Does it burn when the fuel burns to the sides?   

Edit.  In 5 years BO may have their New Sheppard orbital vehicle with reusable first and second stage that may compete with these other ones. 
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 01:15 PM by spacenut »

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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We say rockets aren't legos, but clearly nobody told Orbital ATK. This is a chimera of everyspace.

What performance benefits could this stand to have over the other, possibly significantly cheaper LVs that might be around in the foreseeable future?
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Offline rocx

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Well, if there is one company that can lego rockets together, it's Orbital. It's their business model, their speciality, their way of life.
Any day with a rocket landing is a fantastic day.

Offline notsorandom

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One question, why can't a composite solid be reused?  Does it burn when the fuel burns to the sides?
I'm not sure it is a given that a composite solid cannot be reused. The Filament-wound cases developed so the Shuttle could launch into a polar orbit from Vandenberg AFB were intend for reuse.

Offline spacenut

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I didn't know what type of Filament they use, glass, composite?  Some of this composite material is flammable.  Some maybe not.  Fiberglass can melt with heat.  Maybe the inside of the casings are lined with a thin layer of steel or a ceramic material to avoid flame from the remaining burning fuel. 

Offline Jim

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I didn't know what type of Filament they use, glass, composite?  Some of this composite material is flammable.  Some maybe not.  Fiberglass can melt with heat.  Maybe the inside of the casings are lined with a thin layer of steel or a ceramic material to avoid flame from the remaining burning fuel. 

no steel or ceramic, just some rubber type insulation.  Solid motors burn from the inside out (not lengthwise), so the propellant is the primary insulation until burnout.

Offline Jim

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The Filament-wound cases developed so the Shuttle could launch into a polar orbit from Vandenberg AFB were intend for reuse.

Not really, the casings weren't
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 02:07 PM by Jim »

Offline spacenut

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Yes, I did know they burned from the inside out, that is why I mentioned as the fuel burned out, would the composite burn itself out when the fuel reached the walls, or melt them, thus expendable. 

Offline spacenut

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Since Orbital obtained the rights to the RL-10, I'm surprised that BO would make the complete upper stage.  I would have figured they would use an RL-10 upper stage. 

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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I think it will be Carbonfiber-epoxy composite casings, with some kind of rubber liner. Making composite casings is not very expansive (if an automatic winding line is used). Steel casings are much more expansive to fabricate.
Both composite and metal casings have a liner material that needs to be replaced when the casing has to be reused. This can only be done by hand and thus is very expansive. I think OATK wants to make a line that produces 12-24 segments annually, for a SLS launch 6 segments are needed, for their EELV vehicle 3 segments are needed.
Ariane 6 is 50% cheaper than Ariane 5 because of three things.
1) composite instead of steel booster casings.
2) New production methods that decrease the liquid rocket engine production time and cost.
3) Higher launch cadence 12 in stead of max 8.
I think 1 and 3 also apply to the SLS boosters and OATK's new solid EELV.

OATK is developing three different stages with the composite casing:
- SLS booster 3-segments.
- EELV first stage 2-segments
- EELV second stage single segment.
Calling it a lego rocket isn't faire in my opinion.
It is true solids are easier to use in multiple rockets than liquid stages because they tend to be stronger than necessary for safety reasons (higher safety margins).

I don't know if OATK solid EELV will use the GEM63 OATK is developing for ULA's Vulcan.
If they use them, they could use different grain geometries to optimize for the different systems.

OATK is developing a nozzle extention for BO's BE-3U. I don't think it will be used on Centaur.
It will be used on BO's first orbital rocket, OATK's solid EELV and possibly Vulcan-ACES (but 4xRL-10C is the baseline). 

edit: When did OATK got the right to produce RL-10's. I missed that one.
 RL-10 is developed and build only by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

 
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 09:37 PM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Yes, I did know they burned from the inside out, that is why I mentioned as the fuel burned out, would the composite burn itself out when the fuel reached the walls, or melt them, thus expendable.

When the grain is burning the flames should not reach the casing, both with steel and composite casings this will lead to failure. I don't think the liner burns away completly in both cases (steel/composite). The casing needs to be cleaned by hand and a new liner has to be applied when a casing is reused. Soon making a new casing is cheaper than retrieting and refurbishing a casing. That's why there has only be one system (STS) that reused the casings.
Casings have been retrieved more often, to examine the casing/liner after the burn. (Ariane4 (and 5 if I'm not mistaken))
   
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 02:35 PM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline edkyle99

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We say rockets aren't legos, but clearly nobody told Orbital ATK. This is a chimera of everyspace.

What performance benefits could this stand to have over the other, possibly significantly cheaper LVs that might be around in the foreseeable future?
First, erase the "Lego" idea from your mind on this one.  This vehicle will use new motors, a new liquid upper stage, and probably new liquid engines. 

As for cost, if we're looking at EELV Heavy class I see a solid motor boost based rocket (two stages) with a high energy upper stage as potentially very cost competitive.  If done right, it could also have a reliability advantage.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 04:09 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline wolfpack

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Sounds like a bet that the economy of a throwaway booster made of composites and solid propellant beats a flyback liquid stage.

Offline Proxima_Centauri

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Sounds like a bet that the economy of a throwaway booster made of composites and solid propellant beats a flyback liquid stage.

If they are only launching 3-5 times a year, having no reuse and cheap solids that will also be used on SLS, with side-mounted boosters that will also be used on Vulcan, it starts to make very good sense why they aren't pursuing reuse for this design.

Offline TrevorMonty

Blue also benefit from this, by increasing production rate of the US they are likely to use on their RLV. There is no reason to believe this US will be any more expensive than F9 to build. LH is more expensive to deal with but they can eliminate He for pressurization. Most of US systems will be NS based with a extensive flight history.

Offline spacenut

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I thought Orbital bought out Rocketdyne or Aerojet, one of which made the RL-10. 

Offline TrevorMonty

I thought Orbital bought out Rocketdyne or Aerojet, one of which made the RL-10.
Not yet. But an interesting idea which would deserve its own thread.

Offline Sam Ho

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I thought Orbital bought out Rocketdyne or Aerojet, one of which made the RL-10.
Orbital and ATK merged.  Aerojet and Rocketdyne merged with each other.  AJR makes the RL-10.  OA and AJR merging would raise all sorts of antitrust concerns, since it would concentrate pretty much all US space propulsion work in one company.

Offline spacenut

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If BO is to develop this upper stage, it might be reusable so it would work on their proposed reusable booster.  Is ATK/Orbital going to pay for development of this upper stage?  Or is BO going to take their existing rocket, add the vacuum nozzle to their engine, so not much development would be needed?  Maybe just a few modifications  for landing and attaching to the second stage solid. 

Offline rayleighscatter

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Sounds like a bet that the economy of a throwaway booster made of composites and solid propellant beats a flyback liquid stage.

If they are only launching 3-5 times a year, having no reuse and cheap solids that will also be used on SLS, with side-mounted boosters that will also be used on Vulcan, it starts to make very good sense why they aren't pursuing reuse for this design.

It wouldn't even have to be that frequent (although I'm sure OA would love it). They've become very good at low flight rates. Minotaur averages less than 2 launches a year, Pegasus less than 1, and they not only continue to support them, they still make a profit. They might only get 1 or 2 launches a year with this EELV and still be able to make it work. A low flight rate also makes it much easier to schedule around SLS.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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I thought Orbital bought out Rocketdyne or Aerojet, one of which made the RL-10.
Orbital and ATK merged.  Aerojet and Rocketdyne merged with each other.  AJR makes the RL-10.  OA and AJR merging would raise all sorts of antitrust concerns, since it would concentrate pretty much all US space propulsion work in one company.

Indeed two companies = competition. and that's a good thing.
Frankly becoming a monopolist  is what Airbus Safran Launchers is pushing to in Europe.
I hope Airbus and Safran merge into ASL; and MT Aerospace and Avio merge into ??.
I don't want ASL to also take over Avio.
Sorry for being of topic.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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If BO is to develop this upper stage, it might be reusable so it would work on their proposed reusable booster.  Is ATK/Orbital going to pay for development of this upper stage?  Or is BO going to take their existing rocket, add the vacuum nozzle to their engine, so not much development would be needed?  Maybe just a few modifications  for landing and attaching to the second stage solid.

The upperstage looks different then BO new Shepherd so it is a new stage. I think it will be expendable and I'm very skeptical about the possibility of developing a reusable upper-stage.
It is logical when it uses the BE-3U, but it is unknown if OATK will develop a upper-stage or if BO orbital launcher upper-stage can be used. We'll have to wait for more info to go public before we know more details.

Offline RocketGoBoom

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What is the potential customer for this Orbital ATK rocket?

Can the overall market really support 4 launch vehicles in the USA?
Is there enough business to keep them all viable?

SpaceX, ULA, Blue Origin and now Orbital ATK?

Offline arachnitect

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Thinking about all the issues with using VAB/39B.

Maybe this wouldn't be a long term arrangement? OrbATK uses a lightly modified MLP to get the basic configuration of the vehicle flying. Maybe fly a couple commercial payloads or Cygnus.

Then in the early/mid 2020's when they're ready to fly EELV missions they move to a newly available location elsewhere (i.e. ex-ULA launch complex). There they can have a facility with a proper MST. They don't have to modify the NASA MLP to accommodate strap-on motors or a multi-core vehicle, they do that at their new pad. They're out of KSC before NASA exploration missions really get going.

Offline spacenut

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I think they are using the VAB because it is set up to store solid booster cores from the shuttle days.  No changes necessary. 

Offline edkyle99

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What is the potential customer for this Orbital ATK rocket?

Can the overall market really support 4 launch vehicles in the USA?
Is there enough business to keep them all viable?

SpaceX, ULA, Blue Origin and now Orbital ATK?
Right now in the USA we have Atlas 5, Delta 4, Falcon 9, Antares, Delta 2, and occasional Minotaur/Pegasus types.  Three of these are slated to retire during the next decade.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/23/2016 04:57 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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What would OATK do to support the west coast?

Offline Chalmer

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What is the potential customer for this Orbital ATK rocket?

Can the overall market really support 4 launch vehicles in the USA?
Is there enough business to keep them all viable?

SpaceX, ULA, Blue Origin and now Orbital ATK?

Who says they will all survive or even materialize?

In any case, I think this has the potential to be a really clever move. If OA can position themselves to be ready with an EELV-class launcher to compete with ULA and SpaceX for both USG and Commercial payloads at around 2019/20 they will have a good chance of being succesful.

ULA transition to Vulcan, the end of the Block Buy, and SpaceX knocking in the door the EELV competition creates a window of opportunity to for AO to enter the market with a new rocket.

At the sametime much of their development is paid through SLS booster contract, and upper stage possibly developed at Blue.

For Blue it is quite exciting as well. They might end op with having their Booster engine (BE-4) on Vulcan and their upper stage engine (BE-3) on AOs NGLV.  Making shared cost of both development and production of their own orbital launcher possible.

 

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Now it's: Antares; Atlas V, Delta IV; Delta II; Falcon 9FT; (5 EELV's)
It will be: Antares; OATK solid, BlueOrigin orbital launcher; Falcon 9FT; Falcon 9 Heavy; Vulcan (-Centaur | - ACES) (6 EELV) and SLS.
I think Antares and BO Orbital launcher serve the same market. They could develop into the same system.
BO uses BE-3 for New Sheperd; BE-3U and BE-4 for its own launcher.
BE-3U could be used on: Antares; OATK Solid EELV; Vulcan-ACES. And BE-4 will most likely be in Vulcan.
Vulcan and BO Orbital launcher could become a new Delta IV | Delta II launcher family.   

Large multi segment solids have to be assembled verticaly, the VAB has lots of overhead cranes that are designed to assemble solids. I think using the VAB and LC-39B is a beter idea then developing new facilities.
Possibly a MLP can be developed that can both support the Solid EELV and can serve as backup for SLS.
As written all depends on SLS. With it it could work, without definitely not.

I think that Antares will get the hartest time in a tight launch marked. Next will be OATK Solid EELV.   
« Last Edit: 04/23/2016 11:47 AM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline Sam Ho

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Now it's: Antares; Atlas V, Delta IV; Delta II; Falcon 9FT; (5 EELV's)
It will be: Antares; OATK solid, BlueOrigin orbital launcher; Falcon 9FT; Falcon 9 Heavy; Vulcan (-Centaur | - ACES) (6 EELV) and SLS.
I think Antares and BO Orbital launcher serve the same market. They could develop into the same system.
BO uses BE-3 for New Sheperd; BE-3U and BE-4 for its own launcher.
BE-3U could be used on: Antares; OATK Solid EELV; Vulcan-ACES. And BE-4 will most likely be in Vulcan.
Vulcan and BO Orbital launcher could become a new Delta IV | Delta II launcher family.   

Large multi segment solids have to be assembled verticaly, the VAB has lots of overhead cranes that are designed to assemble solids. I think using the VAB and LC-39B is a beter idea then developing new facilities.
Possibly a MLP can be developed that can both support the Solid EELV and can serve as backup for SLS.
As written all depends on SLS. With it it could work, without definitely not.

I think that Antares will get the hartest time in a tight launch marked. Next will be OATK Solid EELV.
You count Delta 4 M+ and Heavy as one launcher, but Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as two launchers.  Logically, they should be counted the same way.

That said, we should break up that list a bit more, by lift capacity.

Delta II and Antares have similar capacity (Medium).  Note that there's not really a Medium class in the current EELV contract, which starts in Intermediate.  The smallest EELVs (Delta 4S, Atlas 5 Light) were cancelled because it was cheaper to upgrade to the bigger launchers than pay the engineering to develop the small launchers.  It sounds like BO might be aiming for this class as well.  One issue is that many missions of this class want to go to SSO, and neither Antares nor BO currently have launch sites that can easily go to SSO.

In the Intermediate class, you have Delta 4, Atlas V, Falcon 9, Vulcan and the OA solid.  Delta 4, Falcon, and Vulcan also extend up to the Heavy class.  Since this thread is about OA, I'll concentrate on the OA launcher.  One of the things we have seen with OA is that they optimize their designs for low flight rates.  By contrast, Delta 4 and Atlas V were designed around a commercial launch rate that never materialized.  Given that history, I could imagine OA staking out a position as the EELV assured access launcher, with a couple of launches a year, and still being able to make money on it.  I guess we'll see over the coming year, as OA reveals more details.


Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Sam Ho, I totally agree with you. Nice elaboration on my post.
I also think BO will need a launch site at Vandenberg. (possibly the delta II pad, SLC 2W)
Do you also think OATK will need a launch site for there solid EELV at Vandenberg, possibly they can use SLC 6.

Offline baldusi

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Oh, I believe that the key here is the CRS-2 contract. They could get one or two launches assured with that. And they would probably be able to take a lot of mass to the ISS.

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Offline Patchouli

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Oh, I believe that the key here is the CRS-2 contract. They could get one or two launches assured with that. And they would probably be able to take a lot of mass to the ISS.

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If the vehicle's  performance is any where near what Liberty was supposed to have or roughly Saturn IB class then it would be able to lift other vehicles such as Dream Chaser or even full sized Bigelow modules.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2016 09:51 PM by Patchouli »

Offline original_mds

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I thought Orbital bought out Rocketdyne or Aerojet, one of which made the RL-10.
Orbital and ATK merged.  Aerojet and Rocketdyne merged with each other.  AJR makes the RL-10.  OA and AJR merging would raise all sorts of antitrust concerns, since it would concentrate pretty much all US space propulsion work in one company.

Indeed two companies = competition. and that's a good thing.
Frankly becoming a monopolist  is what Airbus Safran Launchers is pushing to in Europe.
I hope Airbus and Safran merge into ASL; and MT Aerospace and Avio merge into ??.
I don't want ASL to also take over Avio.
Sorry for being of topic.

Disclaimer:  I am an Orbital ATK employee, but am posting as an individual.  I have zero knowledge about mergers and such except what I get from press releases (e.g I found out about the OA merger the day of the public announcement).  The statements below are my personal opinions and don't represent that of Orbital ATK.

Competition concerns would likely be limited to design and production in the the small to medium solid motor area, where they have most of the combined market share in the US for strap-on boosters/sounding rockets and small to medium range missiles.  There really isn't any competition for large solid motors, OA doesn't have much going on (that I know of) for liquid engines (even though their precursor absorbed Reaction Motors Inc decades ago), and there is more competition now for liquid engines now than there has been in decades (SpaceX, Blue Origin, XCOR...).  However, solids are hard enough that they might not bar a theoretical merger if they could convince regulators that it doesn't really hurt competition or that the customers  (mostly USG) benefit from merging in a small market with high fixed costs.

More on the first point: solid motors are hard and get harder as they scale up; they require a lot of specialized equipment, specialized knowledge, and facilities that are far enough from neighbors but close enough to your workforce.  All USAF and NASA solids in the past few decades have been produced in the Thiocol/ATK/Orbital ATK Promontory, UT facility.  Aerojet exited the large solid motor market when NASA didn't pick the Aerojet giant solid motor for the Saturn 1st stage (their abandoned facility in the Everglades still had the remains of their last test article sitting in the test fixture as of a few years ago).  Aerojet has tried a few times to grow their medium solid motor market share, but hasn't had much recent success (possibly due to difficulties maintaining their skilled workforce during the ups and downs of the aerospace/defense economy and after loosing their last large solid programs years ago), high fixed costs, and grandfathering of EPA waivers for production.  These have made it so difficult to start a new large solid motor supplier, that it has been mentioned by others that the USAF probably had something to do with congress picking the shuttle boosters for Ares and SLS in order to keep enough similar business in the pipeline to reduce risks associated with gaps in ICBM production/refurbishment.

Not sure if I see a case for such a merger.  It would be nice to have an in-house liquid engine, but there is an awful lot of other stuff that would need to be figured out to keep from having parts of a combined company competing with itself.  Orbital + ATK had a lot going for it ( good integrator + its major component supplier that did't really compete anywhere); OA + ARD would have a  harder time showing shareholders  the same benefits.

Offline FinalFrontier

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The stick.

Is.

Back.
3-30-2017: The start of a great future
"Live Long and Prosper"

Offline russianhalo117

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maybe in its Lite and Medium versions, but more Delta II like as Strapon Stage-0 SRM's are added around Stage-1's diameter for the Medium Plus and Heavy versions
« Last Edit: 04/26/2016 05:44 PM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Arcas

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The stick.

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Back.
I'll always miss the corndog.
The risk I took was calculated, but boy am I bad at math.

Offline edkyle99

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The stick.

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Please stop.  You know this isn't Liberty or Ares 1.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/26/2016 06:40 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline baldusi

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The stick.

Is.

Back.
It is not. In fact, this is what you get when you are a world class integrator that actually does the trades to determine the configuration that makes economic sense.
Not the pork sucking Griffin acolytes of before. From Ed's interpretation it would seem like a two segment first stage, a one segment second stage and an H2 third. Probably 120tonne per segment. Quite similar to Ariane 6 PPH concept.

Online Steven Pietrobon

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- SLS booster 3-segments.

The OA Advanced Boosters for SLS are four segment.

D. Sauvageau and A. Corliss, “Advanced booster for NASA Space Launch System (SLS),”. IAF Int. Astronautical Congress, Naples, Italy, IAC–12–D2.8.6, Oct. 2012.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline TrevorMonty

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It is not. In fact, this is what you get when you are a world class integrator that actually does the trades to determine the configuration that makes economic sense.
Not the pork sucking Griffin acolytes of before. From Ed's interpretation it would seem like a two segment first stage, a one segment second stage and an H2 third. Probably 120tonne per segment. Quite similar to Ariane 6 PPH concept.
The Ariane 6 PPH was to use Ariane 5 US ( 28t + 36kbls engine). It is the more capable an most likely cheaper BE3 US that will make difference.

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