Author Topic: NASA Selects Orbital ATK to Begin Negotiations for Space in Iconic VAB  (Read 19899 times)

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?
Resident feline spaceflight expert. Knows nothing of value about human spaceflight.

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 »

Online 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 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.

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