Author Topic: Orbital ATK has no plans to phase out seldom-used Pegasus rocket  (Read 4603 times)

Offline Star One

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The biggest limitation on Pegasus must be its L-1011 launch aircraft and the ever increasing costs of keeping it flying as with its RAF retirement there can't be many operational examples still out there. Spare parts must be drying up and manufacturing new ones would I think be prohibitively expensive.

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/12/27/orbital-atk-has-no-plans-phase-out-seldom-used-pegasus-rocket/
« Last Edit: 12/28/2016 02:49 PM by Star One »

Offline RonM

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

Offline Star One

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

It would seem the sooner they transfer to a new launch aircraft the better.

Online edkyle99

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

It would seem the sooner they transfer to a new launch aircraft the better.
Stratolaunch, with its six used 747 engines, surely will cost more to operate than 3-engined Stargazer.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/28/2016 04:17 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Star One

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

It would seem the sooner they transfer to a new launch aircraft the better.
Stratolaunch, with its six used 747 engines, surely will cost more to operate than 3-engined Stargazer.

 - Ed Kyle

Yet they are still considering it as an alternative so there must be some advantage in it be it financial or some other factor.

Online hop

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Spare parts must be drying up and manufacturing new ones would I think be prohibitively expensive.
I'm not convinced this is as big a deal as many assume. Orbital must have had the opportunity stock up on spares as L-1011 fleets retired, and given how little Stargazer flies, parts near the end of their service life in airliner terms would last a long time.

Yet they are still considering it as an alternative so there must be some advantage in it be it financial or some other factor.
If Paul Allen wants to open his wallet, why would they say no? ;)

Offline RonM

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

It would seem the sooner they transfer to a new launch aircraft the better.
Stratolaunch, with its six used 747 engines, surely will cost more to operate than 3-engined Stargazer.

 - Ed Kyle

The difference is between owning and maintaining the L-1011 versus paying for a ride on Stratolaunch. As long as Paul Allen can find other uses for his big airplane, per flight prices for Pegasus might be reasonable.

Offline Lee Jay

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Stratolaunch, with its six used 747 engines, surely will cost more to operate than 3-engined Stargazer.

 - Ed Kyle

Six very common engines used on at least 5 different aircraft many of which are still in service versus 3 engines that were only ever deployed on L1011s.

Offline sdsds

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I think it would (at the least) be an interesting exercise for OA, recreating aboard another aircraft the launch support equipment they have aboard Stargazer.
-- sdsds --

Online Robotbeat

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Many replacement parts for out of production aircraft can be made by skilled machinists. Delta airlines does that.

As mentioned in the article, Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft would be an option.

It would seem the sooner they transfer to a new launch aircraft the better.
Stratolaunch, with its six used 747 engines, surely will cost more to operate than 3-engined Stargazer.

 - Ed Kyle
I suspect, since Stratolaunch is a Paul Allen prestige project, that the cost will be subsidized by Vulcan Aerospace unless the flight rate climbs high enough (or other payloads for Stratolaunch found) to make it work without help.
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 starchasercowboy

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The main obstacle to the L1011 is the FAA. They come out with AD'S that can ground the aircraft at anytime.  There was one recently on an LPT bearing on the engine that affected all 3 of the engines plus the 2 spare engines.  AMOC (alternate means of compliance ) is needed. Only 1 shop left in the world that can fix the engines, but because of opening a section of the engine it could add other AD'S to the repair.  Because of low utilization of the L1011,  it should be allowed to do borescope inspections. Plenty of spare parts on hand, will know a lot more about how long the L1011 will last after the next heavy check is done in 2017.

Offline dave500

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As well as the aforementioned challenges with sourcing spares and complying FAA directives for the L1101 - don't forget the challenges with keeping the flight crew current from a legal perspective and well practiced with flying the aircraft.  Pilot Type ratings expire after 90 days of not flying, and flight reviews with a instructor are required every 2 years on the type of aircraft the rating is for.  Some of this can be done using simulators rather than a real flight on a real aircraft, but the last L1101 simulator run by Delta in GA was shut in 2014.  (Rumor that it was actually sold to Orbital?).

Flying one of the last examples of an airliner is really hard and can become prohibitively expensive - particularly when its for a "low cost" launcher where its hard to hide the costs...

Offline starchasercowboy

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Launching Pegasus from the L1011 will still be needed because of the orbit required for the customer satellite.  Stratolaunch is restricted by its range and it's available landing sites.  CNOFS, IBEX, NUSTAR, and upcoming ICON missions all from Kwaj with a 6800' long runway.   I  don't think Launcherone can land the 747 there either.  Available hotpad areas that can handle the ramp weight is an issue too.

Online Robotbeat

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6800' may be doable for a 747 if you offload a little fuel.
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 LouScheffer

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As well as the aforementioned challenges with sourcing spares and complying FAA directives for the L1101 - don't forget the challenges with keeping the flight crew current from a legal perspective and well practiced with flying the aircraft.  Pilot Type ratings expire after 90 days of not flying, and flight reviews with a instructor are required every 2 years on the type of aircraft the rating is for.  Some of this can be done using simulators rather than a real flight on a real aircraft, but the last L1101 simulator run by Delta in GA was shut in 2014.  (Rumor that it was actually sold to Orbital?).

Is there any path to "downgrade" an old commercial aircraft to experimental, or whatever type of license they use for White Knight or StratoLaunch?  That would seem more appropriate for an aircraft that only flies technical missions, and where the only passengers are professionals who know and acknowledge the risks.

In absolute terms, I'd have to think an old, ex-commercial airliner would be safer than a new, one-of-a-kind aircraft.

Offline starchasercowboy

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Orbitalatk has an FAA certified L1011 simulator in Carlsbad Ca. And pilot, flight engineer check airmen.   

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6800' may be doable for a 747 if you offload a little fuel.
I don't know about taking off, but some 747s have landed on the 5400' runway in McMinnville Oregon. They were being turned into display pieces so I'm assuming they were also stripped down to minimize weight.
I tried it at home

Offline rayleighscatter

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As well as the aforementioned challenges with sourcing spares and complying FAA directives for the L1101 - don't forget the challenges with keeping the flight crew current from a legal perspective and well practiced with flying the aircraft.  Pilot Type ratings expire after 90 days of not flying, and flight reviews with a instructor are required every 2 years on the type of aircraft the rating is for.  Some of this can be done using simulators rather than a real flight on a real aircraft, but the last L1101 simulator run by Delta in GA was shut in 2014.  (Rumor that it was actually sold to Orbital?).

Is there any path to "downgrade" an old commercial aircraft to experimental, or whatever type of license they use for White Knight or StratoLaunch?  That would seem more appropriate for an aircraft that only flies technical missions, and where the only passengers are professionals who know and acknowledge the risks.

In absolute terms, I'd have to think an old, ex-commercial airliner would be safer than a new, one-of-a-kind aircraft.

As best as I can recall Northrop Grumman did this with their BAC-111's when the commercial airworthiness was withdrawn.

Offline starchasercowboy

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Pegasus has another launch opportunity in 2020.
http://spacenews.com/nasa-selects-x-ray-astronomy-mission/

Offline Patchouli

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I think Orbital ATK is betting on the smallsat market finally taking off and having a vehicle already intended for it would give them a head start.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2017 09:52 PM by Patchouli »

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