Author Topic: NASA Selects Orbital ATK to Begin Negotiations for Space in Iconic VAB  (Read 17904 times)

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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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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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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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.

Offline 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.

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