Author Topic: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle (as announced/built) - General Discussion Thread 3  (Read 124315 times)

Offline john smith 19

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We know AJR have been doing lot of work on reducing build cost of RL10. Those significant modifications will result in a new engine with all certification issues that go with it. I expect Centuar V will fly new cheaper RL10 but will also be new unproven engine with no flight history.

Going to new US and engines increases risk of LV failure in first few missions, but gets them to DOD certified LV sooner.
In theory true, but ULA's track record in switching designs has been pretty good, and the expander cycle is pretty rugged and the RL10 engine would be the least risky option.

All change is risky.

For ULA no change is not an option if they want to have a business left.
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Offline russianhalo117

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We know AJR have been doing lot of work on reducing build cost of RL10. Those significant modifications will result in a new engine with all certification issues that go with it. I expect Centuar V will fly new cheaper RL10 but will also be new unproven engine with no flight history.

Going to new US and engines increases risk of LV failure in first few missions, but gets them to DOD certified LV sooner.
Centaur-5 variant may use the either the larger RL10C-2 or RL10C-3 Variants versus the C-1 variant. The C-2 variant was developed and was to be/may still fly on DCSS and The C-3 variant is being developed for SLS EUS Block-1B.
« Last Edit: 12/23/2017 01:55 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline john smith 19

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We know AJR have been doing lot of work on reducing build cost of RL10. Those significant modifications will result in a new engine with all certification issues that go with it. I expect Centuar V will fly new cheaper RL10 but will also be new unproven engine with no flight history.

Going to new US and engines increases risk of LV failure in first few missions, but gets them to DOD certified LV sooner.
Centaur-5 variant may use the either the larger RL10C-2 or RL10C-3 Variants versus the C-1 variant. The C-2 variant was developed and was to be/may still fly on DCSS and The C-3 variant is being developed for SLS EUS Block-1B.
Is this the one?

http://www.astronautix.com/r/rl-10c.html

They're saying that's 35 000lb thrust. Would that be equal to a SEC and a DEC Centaur stage?
A pair of them would give the equivalent of 4 RL10-A's or B's?
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Offline russianhalo117

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We know AJR have been doing lot of work on reducing build cost of RL10. Those significant modifications will result in a new engine with all certification issues that go with it. I expect Centuar V will fly new cheaper RL10 but will also be new unproven engine with no flight history.

Going to new US and engines increases risk of LV failure in first few missions, but gets them to DOD certified LV sooner.
Centaur-5 variant may use the either the larger RL10C-2 or RL10C-3 Variants versus the C-1 variant. The C-2 variant was developed and was to be/may still fly on DCSS and The C-3 variant is being developed for SLS EUS Block-1B.
Is this the one?

http://www.astronautix.com/r/rl-10c.html

They're saying that's 35 000lb thrust. Would that be equal to a SEC and a DEC Centaur stage?
A pair of them would give the equivalent of 4 RL10-A's or B's?
Sort of but no.
The following is from 2013 (http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Launch_Vehicles/Delta_IV_Users_Guide_June_2013.pdf) but their aren ew CAD files and information in existence, but I would have to search my computer for it. The latest info probably exists in a ULA thread on here.
Quote
8.2.1 RL10C-2 2nd Stage Engine Upgrade
To improve commonality between the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, ULA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) are currently developing the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage of the Atlas launch vehicle. This engine uses similar chamber and nozzle configuration as the RL10B-2 engine currently used on Delta. Use of this common engine allows for future upgrades to the RL10B-2 engine, to be called the RL10C-2 (Figure 8-2).
The RL10C-2 engine will incorporate all improvements from the RL10C-1, including an upgraded redundant ignition system to improve reliability, changes to the engine plumbing to improve starting operations, a propellant valve design update, and a number of improvements previously qualified under the Assured Access to Space program including a revised gear train and seal improvements.
The RL10C-2 development will be managed through the RL10 Sustainment and Modernization Program. This program is intended to incorporate improved manufacturing methods for turbomachinery, propellant valves, and injector hardware, revised large plumbing to reduce weight, and more robust solenoid valves. Additionally, the RL10C-2 is intended to be qualified to operate with active Mixture Ratio control, a capability available on Atlas/Centaur missions dating back to 1965. This feature, enabled on Delta IV by the addition of Common Avionics (Section 8.3.2), could result in a performance improvement of up to 200 lb for certain Delta missions. The RL10C-2 will continue to use the 3-segment extendible nozzle currently used on the RL10B-2. The C-2 will look virtually the same as an RL10B-2, with slight changes to the Ignition and Engine Instrumentation Boxes and realignment of some of the large plumbing.
Changes incorporated as part of the Sustainment and Modernization effort will be qualified for both the RL10C-1 for Atlas and the RL10C-2 for Delta at the same time, using the same common core engine. The end result will be an engine that can be built and acceptance tested using a common bill of material and test program, and then configured as necessary with bolt-on hardware to support either Atlas V or Delta IV vehicles.
Figure 8-2. RL10C-2 Engine

Offline john smith 19

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Sort of but no.
The following is from 2013 (http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Launch_Vehicles/Delta_IV_Users_Guide_June_2013.pdf) but their aren ew CAD files and information in existence, but I would have to search my computer for it. The latest info probably exists in a ULA thread on here.
Quote
8.2.1 RL10C-2 2nd Stage Engine Upgrade
To improve commonality between the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, ULA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) are currently developing the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage of the Atlas launch vehicle. This engine uses similar chamber and nozzle configuration as the RL10B-2 engine currently used on Delta. Use of this common engine allows for future upgrades to the RL10B-2 engine, to be called the RL10C-2 (Figure 8-2).
The RL10C-2 engine will incorporate all improvements from the RL10C-1, including an upgraded redundant ignition system to improve reliability, changes to the engine plumbing to improve starting operations, a propellant valve design update, and a number of improvements previously qualified under the Assured Access to Space program including a revised gear train and seal improvements.
The RL10C-2 development will be managed through the RL10 Sustainment and Modernization Program. This program is intended to incorporate improved manufacturing methods for turbomachinery, propellant valves, and injector hardware, revised large plumbing to reduce weight, and more robust solenoid valves. Additionally, the RL10C-2 is intended to be qualified to operate with active Mixture Ratio control, a capability available on Atlas/Centaur missions dating back to 1965. This feature, enabled on Delta IV by the addition of Common Avionics (Section 8.3.2), could result in a performance improvement of up to 200 lb for certain Delta missions. The RL10C-2 will continue to use the 3-segment extendible nozzle currently used on the RL10B-2. The C-2 will look virtually the same as an RL10B-2, with slight changes to the Ignition and Engine Instrumentation Boxes and realignment of some of the large plumbing.
Changes incorporated as part of the Sustainment and Modernization effort will be qualified for both the RL10C-1 for Atlas and the RL10C-2 for Delta at the same time, using the same common core engine. The end result will be an engine that can be built and acceptance tested using a common bill of material and test program, and then configured as necessary with bolt-on hardware to support either Atlas V or Delta IV vehicles.
Figure 8-2. RL10C-2 Engine
That's odd. I'd thought they were going with a fixed nozzle and making the inter stage longer? That would eliminate the seals and actuators with their costs and reliability issues. You end up with a longer inter stage, but with the development cost spread over the whole Vulcan production run.
 
One option would be to make the nozzle segments a trade option, letting the customer trade Isp and engine mass. Minimum engine mass (but maximum payload mass) gives minimum Isp. That may be acceptable in certain circumstances.  Maximum Isp needs all 3 segments bolted on and give maximum engine weight.

I think ACES is meant to go up to the equivalent of 4 RL10-B's so around 68-92 000 lb?

A good question would be what's the performance hit of throttling down a bigger engine to give lower thrust?  Could you get by with just 1 engine and run it at 50% power with acceptable performance?
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Offline jongoff

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I don't see how the 5 can be cheaper than the 3. We know the majority of the Centaur cost is the RL-10, and the Centaur 5 will need 1 to 3 more RL-10s than Centaur 3. Even if RL-10 cost is halved, that would simple make the Centaur 3 that much cheaper.
Wellllll...
They could double the thrust of a single RL-10 maybe.

Otherwise the only way this works is that people have seriously seriously underestimated AJR's capacity to lower the RL10 price

But that only works if they can actually make RL10's cheaply enough to the kind of profit AJR are used to making on RL10's at the current price.

Quote from: envy887
They have to keep the Centaur 3 around until Atlas V is retired anyway, right?
ULA don't seem to have a problem with putting rockets in long term storage awaiting customers.

I can't remember the last time Delta II launches were in anyway common, but someone wanted to use their last one and they did it.

But lowering the cost of RL-10 also lowers the cost of Centaur 3. AJR would have to pay ULA to fly RL-10 before Centaur 5 could be cheaper than Centaur 3.

That of course ignores the costs of operating two production lines, but if they need to keep building the 3 for Atlas, that cost is sunk anyway. Unless they can build enough 3's to fly out Atlas before Vulcan flies... but what if they switch everything over and then Vulcan takes 3 years longer to certify than expected? Lot of risk there.

One thought on this (not sure if anyone else has made this point yet), but I wonder if engines suffer from a similar fixed cost vs marginal cost relationship to what launch vehicles do. Basically, there's probably a healthy minimum fixed cost for a given production/development system, in addition to the marginal costs associated with building the engines. RL-10s are not that big or complex as far as engines go (they're smaller than Merlin, and possibly less complex), so I wonder if a lot of the high costs we've been seeing has been a consequence of operating down in the production rate where fixed costs dominate. With Delta-IV having stockpiled a bunch of RL-10s, that would mean that RL-10 production was probably down in the 6-8 engines per year range for Atlas V (plus a little for redoing some of the Delta-IV RL-10s for use on Atlas going forward).

Fast forward to Centaur V and ACES where you may be talking 2-4 RL-10 class engines per launch, and you're also consolidating down to one vehicle, and you may be talking as many as 24-48 RL-10s per year (ie 4-8x the current rate). That alone would move you to the "marginal cost dominated" part of the curve, where just by the virtue of being able to spread fixed costs around more the engines could be dramatically cheaper per engine. Combine that with manufacturability improvements that AJR is finally being forced to make, and I could see a situation where a Centaur V/ACES stage is getting down near the cost of a current Centaur III.

The interesting thing is that if my hunch is right, you'd only see a lot of that per-engine cost decrease if you were ordering large numbers for use on Centaur V/ACES--if you were making less engines, the marginal costs would go down, but the fixed costs wouldn't. Of course, while the per engine cost would be going down, the overall cost would be going up, but Centaur V/ACES would likely mean being able to a) completely replace Atlas V and Delta IV so they can consolidate to one booster (big savings), b) avoid using as many strapons for a given mission, saving some non-trivial money there, and c) enable more missions to do direct to GEO insertion or things like that that are more valuable.

Food for thought.

~Jon

Offline skater

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One thought on this (not sure if anyone else has made this point yet), but I wonder if engines suffer from a similar fixed cost vs marginal cost relationship to what launch vehicles do. Basically, there's probably a healthy minimum fixed cost for a given production/development system, in addition to the marginal costs associated with building the engines. RL-10s are not that big or complex as far as engines go (they're smaller than Merlin, and possibly less complex), so I wonder if a lot of the high costs we've been seeing has been a consequence of operating down in the production rate where fixed costs dominate. With Delta-IV having stockpiled a bunch of RL-10s, that would mean that RL-10 production was probably down in the 6-8 engines per year range for Atlas V (plus a little for redoing some of the Delta-IV RL-10s for use on Atlas going forward).


My first job out of college as a manufacturing engineer was at P&W, sometimes working on the RL-10, decades ago (small cog on a large machine).  You're correct in that they're not very complex, but the touch labor for each one is ludicrous.  Tooling was surprisingly simple.  You might be onto something about fixed vs variable costs, but it's not like the tooling expense would be that high, unless maybe they were doing something like maintaining brazing furnaces just for that one product. The other possibility (and I don't have any insight into how things are currently being run) is that they're trying to maintain a workforce for the sake of experience, even if they're excess to current production requirements - there was a "touch" to many of the operations of making that engine, particularly shaping the tubes.  That would drive up per-engine costs if production was low (turning labor to a fixed cost, instead of variable). BTW, I thought they were still producing them in the West Palm Beach facility, and I don't know if they own that anymore (the RL-10 production used to be a small portion of a much larger P&W facility that worked on both jet and rocket engines), and if they are renting at a fixed rate, that might be a significant fixed cost.

SpaceX has spent a great deal of effort in reducing Merlin costs, between relentlessly figuring out how to make the channel wall construction in a more cost effective manner, and coming up with a simpler-to-produce injector (the RL-10 injectors had so much detail work in them).  I would think that, if AJR focused on changing the production method of the chamber and injector, possibly with 3D printing, there would be some considerable savings, while keeping much of the existing plumbing and pumpworks.  I never had any insight to the cost and those were completed somewhere else, but the pumps and plumbing never looked like they'd be especially expensive to fabricate, even if a lot of design effort originally went into them.  No gas generator or preburner, obviously, and nothing that had to face especially high temperatures.  I always assumed, just from looking at the thing and watching them be built, that most of the cost was in that chamber and injector.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 10:07 PM by skater »

Offline jongoff

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One thought on this (not sure if anyone else has made this point yet), but I wonder if engines suffer from a similar fixed cost vs marginal cost relationship to what launch vehicles do. Basically, there's probably a healthy minimum fixed cost for a given production/development system, in addition to the marginal costs associated with building the engines. RL-10s are not that big or complex as far as engines go (they're smaller than Merlin, and possibly less complex), so I wonder if a lot of the high costs we've been seeing has been a consequence of operating down in the production rate where fixed costs dominate. With Delta-IV having stockpiled a bunch of RL-10s, that would mean that RL-10 production was probably down in the 6-8 engines per year range for Atlas V (plus a little for redoing some of the Delta-IV RL-10s for use on Atlas going forward).


My first job out of college as a manufacturing engineer was at P&W, sometimes working on the RL-10, decades ago (small cog on a large machine).  You're correct in that they're not very complex, but the touch labor for each one is ludicrous.  Tooling was surprisingly simple.  You might be onto something about fixed vs variable costs, but it's not like the tooling expense would be that high, unless maybe they were doing something like maintaining brazing furnaces just for that one product. The other possibility (and I don't have any insight into how things are currently being run) is that they're trying to maintain a workforce for the sake of experience, even if they're excess to current production requirements - there was a "touch" to many of the operations of making that engine, particularly shaping the tubes.  That would drive up per-engine costs if production was low (turning labor to a fixed cost, instead of variable). BTW, I thought they were still producing them in the West Palm Beach facility, and I don't know if they own that anymore (the RL-10 production used to be a small portion of a much larger P&W facility that worked on both jet and rocket engines), and if they are renting at a fixed rate, that might be a significant fixed cost.

SpaceX has spent a great deal of effort in reducing Merlin costs, between relentlessly figuring out how to make the channel wall construction in a more cost effective manner, and coming up with a simpler-to-produce injector (the RL-10 injectors had so much detail work in them).  I would think that, if AJR focused on changing the production method of the chamber and injector, possibly with 3D printing, there would be some considerable savings, while keeping much of the existing plumbing and pumpworks.  I never had any insight to the cost and those were completed somewhere else, but the pumps and plumbing never looked like they'd be especially expensive to fabricate, even if a lot of design effort originally went into them.  No gas generator or preburner, obviously, and nothing that had to face especially high temperatures.  I always assumed, just from looking at the thing and watching them be built, that most of the cost was in that chamber and injector.

Skater,

Yeah, when I was talking about fixed costs, I was thinking more of the minimum headcount involved in making even one or two engines per year than tooling and shop floor space. I don't see any reason why RL-10 couldn't be made a lot less touch labor intensive. After all it was some of the very same manufacturing challenges (labor intensiveness of tube-wall nozzles and such) that drove the original development of the M1D at SpaceX.

Though one interesting point is that driving down the touch labor and complexity of an engine like RL-10 probably reduces both the fixed and marginal cost--meaning that once you've sunk the development cost not only is the cost curve lower, but it should be somewhat flatter, since you have less fixed cost that has to be amortized over the year's engine production rate.

~Jon

Offline AncientU

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.
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Offline envy887

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Offline AncientU

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Understand where you are going, but is AJR selling to anyone who is increasing flight rate and can be the demand source for these increases?  ULA is looking at a shrinking launch rate and trying to halve the cost of each launch.  (The other customer, SLS, is destined for a minimal launch rate and short service life.)

Where is AJR getting the volume?  Doesn't seem to be in their DNA to become a low-cost engine supplier.
« Last Edit: 12/26/2017 03:58 PM by AncientU »
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Offline russianhalo117

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Understand where you are going, but is AJR selling to anyone who is increasing flight rate and can be the demand source for these increases?  ULA is looking at a shrinking launch rate and trying to halve the cost of each launch.  (The other customer, SLS, is destined for a minimal launch rate and short service life.)

Where is AJR getting the volume?  Doesn't seem to be in their DNA to become a low-cost engine supplier.
Per L2 change is in the air for AJR. Cant say yet if the information is positive or negative
L2 Link 1: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34793.msg1764315#msg1764315
L2 Link 2: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42173.msg1764317#msg1764317

Offline TrevorMonty

More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Understand where you are going, but is AJR selling to anyone who is increasing flight rate and can be the demand source for these increases?  ULA is looking at a shrinking launch rate and trying to halve the cost of each launch.  (The other customer, SLS, is destined for a minimal launch rate and short service life.)

Where is AJR getting the volume?  Doesn't seem to be in their DNA to become a low-cost engine supplier.
OA are also looking RL10 for NGLV, may only be 3 launches are year but another 6 (x2 ? for US) engines can only help bring engine costs down.

Offline russianhalo117

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Understand where you are going, but is AJR selling to anyone who is increasing flight rate and can be the demand source for these increases?  ULA is looking at a shrinking launch rate and trying to halve the cost of each launch.  (The other customer, SLS, is destined for a minimal launch rate and short service life.)

Where is AJR getting the volume?  Doesn't seem to be in their DNA to become a low-cost engine supplier.
OA are also looking RL10 for NGLV, may only be 3 launches are year but another 6 (x2 ? for US) engines can only help bring engine costs down.
With OA merging into NG, I would expect TRW engine options awakening from their sleepy lair real soon.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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More fundamentally, can AJR afford to be in the low cost engine business?  If they reduced costs to say 10% of current, wouldn't they have to close shop or drastically reduce workforce/shop space so as to become unrecognizable?  Seems to me they are in the business of selling extremely high-priced, low volume engines to established entities... RS-25Es to NASA, for instance, for $1.15B for six engines over eight years.

If they can sell more RL-10s at a lower cost each, then AJRD can make the same total revenue - or potentially even more. AJRD isn't providing SRBs for Vulcan, so if ULA can save money by replacing an SRB with an upper stage engine the only company losing revenue is Orbital ATK on the GEM-63s.

Understand where you are going, but is AJR selling to anyone who is increasing flight rate and can be the demand source for these increases?  ULA is looking at a shrinking launch rate and trying to halve the cost of each launch.  (The other customer, SLS, is destined for a minimal launch rate and short service life.)

Where is AJR getting the volume?  Doesn't seem to be in their DNA to become a low-cost engine supplier.
OA are also looking RL10 for NGLV, may only be 3 launches are year but another 6 (x2 ? for US) engines can only help bring engine costs down.
With OA merging into NG, I would expect TRW engine options awakening from their sleepy lair real soon.
That's rather optimistic. Time, cost, and need for flight history strongly argue against it. And ... suggest you ask Tom Mueller about its likelihood. He might have a thing or to to contribute to that.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Per L2 change is in the air for AJR. Cant say yet if the information is positive or negative
L2 Link 1: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34793.msg1764315#msg1764315
L2 Link 2: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42173.msg1764317#msg1764317

I don't know what the L2 links say, but I was thinking last night of possible options for ULA. Hoping that SpaceX and Blue Origin don't pull the rug from under them is not a good plan. To take charge of your future, perhaps ULA could buy AJR. This reduces the overhead on the RL-10. Also, use the AR-1 in a fully reusable first stage with seven or nine engines. That way, ULA is in control of their future and should be able to compete toe to toe with SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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Per L2 change is in the air for AJR. Cant say yet if the information is positive or negative
L2 Link 1: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34793.msg1764315#msg1764315
L2 Link 2: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42173.msg1764317#msg1764317

I don't know what the L2 links say, but I was thinking last night of possible options for ULA. Hoping that SpaceX and Blue Origin don't pull the rug from under them is not a good plan. To take charge of your future, perhaps ULA could buy AJR. This reduces the overhead on the RL-10. Also, use the AR-1 in a fully reusable first stage with seven or nine engines. That way, ULA is in control of their future and should be able to compete toe to toe with SpaceX and Blue Origin.
More like Blue now having a chance to pull even more rug from under ARJ. But I'll leave it to Chris to reveal the all-telling details.

Offline AncientU

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Per L2 change is in the air for AJR. Cant say yet if the information is positive or negative
L2 Link 1: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34793.msg1764315#msg1764315
L2 Link 2: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42173.msg1764317#msg1764317

I don't know what the L2 links say, but I was thinking last night of possible options for ULA. Hoping that SpaceX and Blue Origin don't pull the rug from under them is not a good plan. To take charge of your future, perhaps ULA could buy AJR. This reduces the overhead on the RL-10. Also, use the AR-1 in a fully reusable first stage with seven or nine engines. That way, ULA is in control of their future and should be able to compete toe to toe with SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Don't think ULA plus AJR is competitive.  Neither has adjusted to the realities of today's and tomorrow's market; both are only viable in a high cost niche markets.  Together, they'd likely sink more rapidly than either could achieve alone.  Also, Boeing and Lockmart aren't likely to toss lots of new money into a market where they are not competitive.  (They have been rumored to be seeking buyers for ULA.)

But sure, ULA would be taking control of its future as you say.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline the_other_Doug

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Per L2 change is in the air for AJR. Cant say yet if the information is positive or negative
L2 Link 1: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34793.msg1764315#msg1764315
L2 Link 2: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42173.msg1764317#msg1764317

I don't know what the L2 links say, but I was thinking last night of possible options for ULA. Hoping that SpaceX and Blue Origin don't pull the rug from under them is not a good plan. To take charge of your future, perhaps ULA could buy AJR. This reduces the overhead on the RL-10. Also, use the AR-1 in a fully reusable first stage with seven or nine engines. That way, ULA is in control of their future and should be able to compete toe to toe with SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Don't think ULA plus AJR is competitive.  Neither has adjusted to the realities of today's and tomorrow's market; both are only viable in a high cost niche markets.  Together, they'd likely sink more rapidly than either could achieve alone.  Also, Boeing and Lockmart aren't likely to toss lots of new money into a market where they are not competitive.  (They have been rumored to be seeking buyers for ULA.)

But sure, ULA would be taking control of its future as you say.

I find myself agreeing -- it would be one company, rooted into a failing dependency on dwindling ultra-high-cost niche contracts, acquiring another company that is in the exact same situation.

Companies which have changed the business model by offering much lower-cost launch services through re-use are taking over the future of a vast majority of the world's launch business.  It's hard to see how ULA acquiring AJR would make them more competitive in such a future.  It would be the Consolidation of the Dinosaurs.

If SpaceX was willing to sell just their engines to other rocket manufacturers, I predict you would see the next generation of launchers operating with Merlin and Raptor engines almost exclusively.  As it is, ULA's strong interest in BE engines illustrate that, even if AJR wins its next couple of rounds of competition with the new space companies, their dinosaur status is becoming more and more obvious to more and more of their potential customers.

All I will say is, dinosaurs consolidate at the risk of hurrying their extinction, all the while shouting, in pain and bewilderment, "What did we do wrong?  We only did what we have always succeeded with!  How could that have failed?".......
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline john smith 19

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If SpaceX was willing to sell just their engines to other rocket manufacturers, I predict you would see the next generation of launchers operating with Merlin and Raptor engines almost exclusively.  As it is, ULA's strong interest in BE engines illustrate that, even if AJR wins its next couple of rounds of competition with the new space companies, their dinosaur status is becoming more and more obvious to more and more of their potential customers.

All I will say is, dinosaurs consolidate at the risk of hurrying their extinction, all the while shouting, in pain and bewilderment, "What did we do wrong?  We only did what we have always succeeded with!  How could that have failed?".......
Bruno does at least seem to be trying to work toward a solution that keeps ULA as a viable payload launching entity.  I'm not sure the same can be said for AJR's efforts, which basically seem to be "Please give us more money (because we didn't spend a dime on researching anything new)," but perhaps that reading is a little harsh.

But whenever people say things like "They're are dinosaurs," I remember one little fact.

Dinosaurs were the dominant animal type on Earth for 70 000 000 years.

Under the right environmental conditions a species can last a very long time. Something to keep in mind.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

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