Author Topic: Solid Propellant Industrial Base  (Read 8567 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« on: 06/22/2017 02:35 PM »
..
« Last Edit: 07/31/2017 02:38 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline IRobot

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #1 on: 06/22/2017 03:09 PM »
Interesting... but buying rockets from the Russians is OK...
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 03:15 PM by IRobot »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #2 on: 06/22/2017 08:54 PM »
Interesting... but buying rockets from the Russians is OK...
They are theoretically different situations.

What the article is describing is supporting a defense industry that currently has no domestic alternatives. Liquid engines on the other hand still have multiple domestic producers.

Offline Lar

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #3 on: 06/23/2017 12:37 AM »
My problem is the term "key rocket motor ingredient" ... we need to do away with solids. Full stop.
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Offline gongora

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #4 on: 06/23/2017 12:53 AM »
My problem is the term "key rocket motor ingredient" ... we need to do away with solids. Full stop.

Solids are very good for many military systems.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #5 on: 06/23/2017 09:02 PM »
My problem is the term "key rocket motor ingredient" ... we need to do away with solids. Full stop.

Who is "we", kemosabe? ;-)

As long as the Pentagon wants/needs solids for ICBM's, SLBM's, THAAD, Patriot, AMRAAM, ad nauseum, there will be a need to support the solid propellant industry in this country. You can argue that they shouldn't be used for man-rated launch vehicles, but "doing away" with them totally is wishful thinking.

And since ICBM's aren't launched very often, one way to keep the solids industrial base going is to keep them busy making commercial boosters. You may not like the logic, but that's the underlying driver.

« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 09:22 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #6 on: 06/23/2017 11:16 PM »
Solids are very good for many military systems.

But do solids always require AP?!  ;)
Missile most of the time use more exotic oxidizers.

Doesn't this show that they chose a wrong factory design. The same situation as with the F-35.

OATK NGL could be a good solution. As is going fully for HAN, ADN, RMX, HMX, CN-20/HNIW. But TRL...

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #7 on: 06/23/2017 11:21 PM »
My problem is the term "key rocket motor ingredient" ... we need to do away with solids. Full stop.
As long as the Pentagon wants/needs solids for ICBM's, SLBM's, THAAD, Patriot, AMRAAM, ad nauseum, there will be a need to support the solid propellant industry in this country. You can argue that they shouldn't be used for man-rated launch vehicles, but "doing away" with them totally is wishful thinking.

And since ICBM's aren't launched very often, one way to keep the solids industrial base going is to keep them busy making commercial boosters. You may not like the logic, but that's the underlying driver.

But that logic doesn't even hold up if you compare budgets. The military budget is far larger than any income from commercial or NASA use. If they can't make a sustainable business from military contracts, they don't know what they are doing, and should quit. And arguing from other - smaller - income to help offset costs (what costs? massive income!) is just a sellers marketing push.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 11:22 PM by Lars-J »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #8 on: 06/23/2017 11:37 PM »
My problem is the term "key rocket motor ingredient" ... we need to do away with solids. Full stop.
As long as the Pentagon wants/needs solids for ICBM's, SLBM's, THAAD, Patriot, AMRAAM, ad nauseum, there will be a need to support the solid propellant industry in this country. You can argue that they shouldn't be used for man-rated launch vehicles, but "doing away" with them totally is wishful thinking.

And since ICBM's aren't launched very often, one way to keep the solids industrial base going is to keep them busy making commercial boosters. You may not like the logic, but that's the underlying driver.

But that logic doesn't even hold up if you compare budgets. The military budget is far larger than any income from commercial or NASA use. If they can't make a sustainable business from military contracts, they don't know what they are doing, and should quit. And arguing from other - smaller - income to help offset costs (what costs? massive income!) is just a sellers marketing push.

I won't try to defend the Pentagon.  ;)

The biggest problem with the solids industry is that the Pentagon needs it for huge ICBM contracts every few decades, and in between there's less demand. They can't let the solids industry just wither in between ICBM procurements, because knowledge and expertise get lost, not just facilities. Facilities can be replaced; experts in solids formulation, manufacture, handling, etc aren't so easily replaced. If they don't have jobs, they disappear, and ChemE PhD's with 20+ years experience in propellant chemistry don't grow on trees.*

So there's a big cyclical component to solids procurements, and in between the Pentagon doesn't like to see its capacity wither (witness the hand the Gov't had in the Pepcon/Kerr-McGee merger mentioned in the article.)

(*One major difference between the solids and liquid propellant industries is that solid propellant formulation and production is still as much an art as a science, and subtle chemistry changes between ingredient batches can cause baffling problems that sometimes only gray-hairs with 20+ years of experience can solve. So maintaining expertise in the industry is a big concern.)
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 11:46 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #9 on: 06/23/2017 11:50 PM »
And since ICBM's aren't launched very often, one way to keep the solids industrial base going is to keep them busy making commercial boosters. You may not like the logic, but that's the underlying driver.

Or scale down the facilities, so they match the current/new demand/ update for the new oxidizers.
Go for stage replacement after ~15 25 years.
The old stages could be used on small launchers; Minotour/Athena (with liquid upper-stages).

I've written this before.
Stimulate small launcher development by using their upper-stage engines on surplus solids.
Why are those four (at VAB more) launch sites for surplus ICBM/SLBM standing dormant. I think each site must have at least three annual launches. This makes these sites also cheaper to use for the micro launch vehicles.

Why can't US companies launch their small/cube satelites on US launchers?
Why can't US companies offer attractive services for Planetlabs, Spire Global, enz.?
This year three PSLV's and two Soyuz launches bring a lot of US cubesat's to orbit.
Not even SpX can offer a decent service to these companies.

 ::) Possibly the pentagon could spread out the ICBM/SLBM procurement?
I think it's fast procurment capability in war times (aka WO3 scenario) that couses this problem.

The AP production facilities require NGL! Or far higher use of Pegasus, Minotaur and Angara or some new solid rockets. Since the Spaceshuttle program stopped, only two five segment ground tests have been executed. and <10 pegasus/GBI.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 09:20 AM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #10 on: 06/23/2017 11:54 PM »
Solids are very good for many military systems.

But do solids always require AP?!  ;)
Missile most of the time use more exotic oxidizers.

Doesn't this show that they chose a wrong factory design. The same situation as with the F-35.

OATK NGL could be a good solution. As is going fully for HAN, ADN, RMX, HMX, CN-20/HNIW. But TRL...

AP is so well-understood, so (relatively) safe when properly handled (resulting in Class 1.3 low-detonable propellant) and so relatively cheap, it's going to remain the oxidizer of choice in large solid boosters for a long time. HAN and the high-energy oxidizers you list are more expensive and/or more detonable, so are more suitable for smaller tactical missiles, not large launch vehicle booster.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #11 on: 06/23/2017 11:56 PM »
HAN is also 1.3 is i'm not mistaken. Stability and ISP is less unfortunately, at this moment.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #12 on: 06/23/2017 11:56 PM »
And since ICBM's aren't launched very often, one way to keep the solids industrial base going is to keep them busy making commercial boosters. You may not like the logic, but that's the underlying driver.

Or scale down the facilities, so they match the current/new demand/ update for the new oxidizers.
Go for stage replacement after ~15years.
The old stages could be used on small launchers; Minotour/Athena (with liquid upper-stages).

I've written this before.
Stimulate small launcher development by using their upper-stage engines on surplus solids.
Why are those four (at VAB more) launch sites for surplus ICBM/SLBM standing dormant. I think each site must have at least three annual launches. This makes these sites also cheaper to use for the micro launch vehicles.

Why can't US companies launch their small/cube satelites on US launchers?
Why can't US companies offer attractive services for Planetlabs, Spire Global, enz.?
This year three PSLV's and two Soyuz launches bring a lot of US cubesat's to orbit.
Not even SpX can offer a decent service to these companies.

 ::) Possibly the pentagon could spread out the ICBM/SLBM procurement?
I think it's fast procurment capability in war times (aka WO3 scenario) that couses this problem.

The AP production facilities require NGL! Or far higher use of Pegasus, Minotaur and Angara or some new solid rockets. Since the Spaceshuttle program stopped, only two five segment ground tests have been executed. and <10 pegasus/GBI.

Spreading out Pentagon procurements increases cost, so that's not going to happen. And even if you replace ICBM stages every 15 years, that's still 15 years between procurements.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #13 on: 06/23/2017 11:58 PM »
HAN is also 1.3 is i'm not mistaken. Stability and ISP is less unfortunately, at this moment.


Also more expensive IIRC, but even if not, HAN still has the other problems.

Point is, AP is here to stay as the major component in Class 1.3 solids for a long time. Air Force and others have been developing potential replacements for 20+ years and still haven't found a better alternative for low-cost Class 1.3 booster propellants.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 12:02 AM by Kabloona »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #14 on: 06/24/2017 12:21 AM »
Using surplus ICBM SRBs for low cost small sat LV.

Nice business model for OA, sell Govt a new SRB for ICBM, then buy it back at discount price 15yrs later for commercial smallsat launches.

While seems to make sense would give OA an unfair advantage against likes VG who are building their LVs from scratch.
SpaceX would probably not exist if OA had be able to do this as they would of captured F1 payload market.


Offline gongora

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #15 on: 06/24/2017 12:38 AM »
Isn't there a law against using most of the surplus solids for orbital launch, so they won't compete with our thriving small launcher industry?

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #16 on: 06/24/2017 12:44 AM »
Isn't there a law against using most of the surplus solids for orbital launch, so they won't compete with our thriving small launcher industry?
No the law (rules) predates thriving small launcher industry and prevents their use for all commercial flights which is why Castor-120 based Taurus and Pegasus came about.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #17 on: 06/24/2017 12:58 AM »
Isn't there a law against using most of the surplus solids for orbital launch, so they won't compete with our thriving small launcher industry?
No the law (rules) predates thriving small launcher industry and prevents their use for all commercial flights which is why Castor-120 based Taurus and Pegasus came about.

I think you mean Minotaur. Pegasus doesn't use Gov't surplus motors, though it did benefit from Hercules' Small ICBM program technology that Hercules put into developing the Pegasus motors.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 01:02 AM by Kabloona »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #18 on: 06/24/2017 01:14 AM »
Isn't there a law against using most of the surplus solids for orbital launch, so they won't compete with our thriving small launcher industry?
No the law (rules) predates thriving small launcher industry and prevents their use for all commercial flights which is why Castor-120 based Taurus and Pegasus came about.

I think you mean Minotaur. Pegasus doesn't use Gov't surplus motors, though it did benefit from Hercules' Small ICBM program technology that Hercules put into developing the Pegasus motors.
read the bold properly

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #19 on: 06/24/2017 01:18 AM »
Keep in mind the economics (total cost) of launch may not allow a business case to close for small payload solids vehicles, regardless of source of the motors.

If the concept of microlaunch is successful,  this too might erode launch service prices considerably - many of the approaches underway are LRE, have simple (sometimes mobile) launch facilities/GSE, and meant to be recoverable.

Ironically, the technologies they use largely come from use with munitions, as also the integration with range/other is as with tactical command and control.

None of these scale well with solid motors, and actually raise more safety issues. Outside of air launch systems, where the risks as a munition can be managed by existing protocols and flight from managed bases, there's not a lot of opportunities for a manifest.

So with the top of the launch services pyramid eroding for solids, and the bottom under attack shortly, there's a circumscribed future back to munitions delivery systems.

Past NGL, don't see much on the horizon.

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