Author Topic: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007  (Read 10772 times)


Offline edkyle99

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More cash, even though the company only performed two orbital space launches.  It seems, oddly enough, that the fewer space launches Orbital performs, the more revenue it generates.  One reason is that the profits in its launch business are coming from suborbital missile defense targets.  

It seems that "suborbital" is where the money is.  Is Elon paying attention?

Maybe Orbital Sciences Corporation should change its name to "Suborbital Sciences Corporation."  

 - Ed Kyle

Offline EE Scott

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Orbital has seen a very healthy growth in their satellite building business.  That seems to be where their future revenue growth lies.  If the trend continues, perhaps they may shed their stagnant launch business?
Scott

Offline Danny Dot

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edkyle99 - 19/7/2007  9:18 AM

More cash, even though the company only performed two orbital space launches.  It seems, oddly enough, that the fewer space launches Orbital performs, the more revenue it generates.  One reason is that the profits in its launch business are coming from suborbital missile defense targets.  

It seems that "suborbital" is where the money is.  Is Elon paying attention?

Maybe Orbital Sciences Corporation should change its name to "Suborbital Sciences Corporation."  

 - Ed Kyle

What ever it is called, it is a great company.  I had the pleasure of working with them on the Orbital Space Plane, OSP.

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Offline vt_hokie

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Hmm, maybe I should shoot my resume over to them!   ;)  Actually, I'm starting the grad school application process, hoping to escape the real world for a couple of years, but that would be a cool company to work for!

Offline Jim

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vt_hokie - 19/7/2007  2:38 PM

Hmm, maybe I should shoot my resume over to them!   ;)  Actually, I'm starting the grad school application process, hoping to escape the real world for a couple of years, but that would be a cool company to work for!

You would be working on weapon systems,  gasp!

Offline vt_hokie

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Jim - 19/7/2007  2:45 PM

You would be working on weapon systems,  gasp!

LOL...good point!  :laugh:  You know, I was fairly conservative in my views on defense before the PNAC hawks took over in Washington.  I may not agree with our current foreign policy, but I never said we don't need a strong national defense.

But yes, I would prefer to work on peaceful applications of technology.

Offline Andy L

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Are these companies making lots of money because of the war, rather than space, like ATK, Lockheed Martin etc.

Offline edkyle99

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Andy L - 20/7/2007  3:14 PM

Are these companies making lots of money because of the war, rather than space, like ATK, Lockheed Martin etc.

The missile defense program accounts for much of it.  The missile defense budget is something like $10+ billion per year right now, and is projected to hit $14 billion in a few years.  That is more than NASA's spaceflight budget.

In terms of actual war spending, war fighting causes higher munitions spending and equipment replacement costs, etc., at the expense of new weapons systems procurement.  A big chunk of the $1 trillion that the Iraq War is going to end up costing will be spent on medical expenses and  disability payments to veterans over their lifetimes.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Andy L

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edkyle99 - 20/7/2007  4:09 PM


The missile defense program accounts for much of it.  The missile defense budget is something like $10+ billion per year right now, and is projected to hit $14 billion in a few years.  That is more than NASA's spaceflight budget.

 - Ed Kyle

Thanks, and I can understand that the missile defense budget is more important than anything given the evil threat that we're fighting against.

Offline vt_hokie

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #10 on: 07/21/2007 06:14 PM »
Quote
edkyle99 - 20/7/2007  5:09 PM

The missile defense budget is something like $10+ billion per year right now, and is projected to hit $14 billion in a few years.  That is more than NASA's spaceflight budget.

Wow, I didn't realize that!  Kind of puts things in perspective...

Personally, I don't see how a missile defense system is more important than safeguarding our ports and securing our borders.  The Cold War relics continue to draw insane funding while we have to worry about lunatics blowing themselves up on subways, attacking us in our own home towns, etc.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #11 on: 07/21/2007 09:51 PM »
Quote
vt_hokie - 21/7/2007  1:14 PM

Quote
edkyle99 - 20/7/2007  5:09 PM

The missile defense budget is something like $10+ billion per year right now, and is projected to hit $14 billion in a few years.  That is more than NASA's spaceflight budget.

Wow, I didn't realize that!  Kind of puts things in perspective...

Personally, I don't see how a missile defense system is more important than safeguarding our ports and securing our borders.  The Cold War relics continue to draw insane funding while we have to worry about lunatics blowing themselves up on subways, attacking us in our own home towns, etc.

According to this document:  

http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/0605unifiedsecuritybudget.pdf

the U.S. "Homeland Security" budget is $58 billion per year, of which perhaps
$2 billion is spent on "Port Security" (though other reports give a lower number, probably because it depends on how the Coast Guard budget gets wrapped around "Port Security".

What I find *really* interesting in this document, in the table on page 16, is the listing of $7 billion budgeted for "Offensive Space-Based Weapons".

As far as terrorist attacks in the U.S. goes, I haven't heard of any such attacks for half a dozen years now.  That's not to say it won't happen again, and of course it *has* happened in Britain, Spain, etc.  But meanwhile, we in the U.S. seem to be keeping plenty busy killing ourselves.  

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/totalstab.htm
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/

 - Ed Kyle

Offline antonioe

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RE: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #12 on: 07/27/2007 07:58 PM »
Quote
edkyle99 - 19/7/2007  9:18 AM

More cash, even though the company only performed two orbital space launches.  It seems, oddly enough, that the fewer space launches Orbital performs, the more revenue it generates.  One reason is that the profits in its launch business are coming from suborbital missile defense targets.  

It seems that "suborbital" is where the money is.  Is Elon paying attention?

Maybe Orbital Sciences Corporation should change its name to "Suborbital Sciences Corporation."  

 - Ed Kyle

Well... it is true that we've "only" had 52 orbital launches since April 5, 1990 (an average of 3/year), but we've build over 100 satellites which are definitely NOT suborbital (at least not intentionally)...

Now, I must admit the Orion Launch Abort System is definitely sub-orbital...

BTW, it is easy to keep a launch vehicle product line alive on 12 launches/year... doing it with 3/year is really, REALLY tought (that's what's killing Delta II)

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline antonioe

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #13 on: 07/27/2007 08:01 PM »
Quote
Andy L - 20/7/2007  3:14 PM

Are these companies making lots of money because of the war, rather than space, like ATK, Lockheed Martin etc.

For 2007, less than 40% of Orbital revenues are expected to come from DoD, Intelligence Agencies, DARPA, etc.  Rest is Civilian (Commercial GeoComms, NASA, etc.)
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline spacey9

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #14 on: 08/20/2007 08:06 PM »
If a 'space' company can build a rocket, they can build a missile.  It is good to be able to be in the defense business these days and then transition to a more space pure-play company as the private/commercial space business really takes off in the next few years.  Startup as a defense company, transition to a space company.

Ken Schweitzer
http://www.PlanetSpace.com

Offline yinzer

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #15 on: 08/20/2007 11:27 PM »
Isn't Orbital's NMD booster pretty much a Pegasus XL without wings?
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Offline aero313

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #16 on: 08/21/2007 12:06 AM »
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yinzer - 20/8/2007  7:27 PM

Isn't Orbital's NMD booster pretty much a Pegasus XL without wings?

Nope.  The rocket motors are similar, but propulsion only makes up a small piece of the total system.  Different environments, different aeroheating, silo launch, TVC first stage, hot fire second stage with blow out ports in the interstage, different avionics, different fairing, different I&T flow...

Need I go on?

Offline antonioe

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #17 on: 08/21/2007 12:22 AM »
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spacey9 - 20/8/2007  3:06 PM

If a 'space' company can build a rocket, they can build a missile.  It is good to be able to be in the defense business these days and then transition to a more space pure-play company as the private/commercial space business really takes off in the next few years.  Startup as a defense company, transition to a space company.

Ken Schweitzer
http://www.PlanetSpace.com

Except, in our case, we started as a pure space company in 1982 (commercial, then NASA) and only transitioned to significant defense business after 2000, with the GMD program (we had a couple of small USAF Science and Technology small sats before GMD, but, combined, they never amounted to even 10% of our revenue.  Pegasus, ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE were the big programs during the 90's...)
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline yinzer

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #18 on: 08/21/2007 01:06 AM »
Quote
aero313 - 20/8/2007  5:06 PM

Quote
yinzer - 20/8/2007  7:27 PM

Isn't Orbital's NMD booster pretty much a Pegasus XL without wings?

Nope.  The rocket motors are similar, but propulsion only makes up a small piece of the total system.  Different environments, different aeroheating, silo launch, TVC first stage, hot fire second stage with blow out ports in the interstage, different avionics, different fairing, different I&T flow...

Need I go on?

Not at all.  Is it more similar to the Taurus, or are they all completely different from each other?
California 2008 - taking rights from people and giving rights to chickens.

Offline vt_hokie

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #19 on: 08/21/2007 01:12 AM »
Quote
spacey9 - 20/8/2007  4:06 PM

It is good to be able to be in the defense business these days and then transition to a more space pure-play company as the private/commercial space business really takes off in the next few years.  Startup as a defense company, transition to a space company.

I guess that's kind of what Loral did, selling the defense assets and then becoming a strictly commercial company.  Of course, that didn't exactly work out too well for shareholders of the post-1996 Loral!

Offline Jim

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #20 on: 08/21/2007 01:45 AM »
Quote
yinzer - 20/8/2007  9:06 PM

Quote
aero313 - 20/8/2007  5:06 PM

Quote
yinzer - 20/8/2007  7:27 PM

Isn't Orbital's NMD booster pretty much a Pegasus XL without wings?

Nope.  The rocket motors are similar, but propulsion only makes up a small piece of the total system.  Different environments, different aeroheating, silo launch, TVC first stage, hot fire second stage with blow out ports in the interstage, different avionics, different fairing, different I&T flow...

Need I go on?

Not at all.  Is it more similar to the Taurus, or are they all completely different from each other?

no, A Taurus is a Pegasus with no wings and the launch aircraft is replaced by a Castor 120

Offline aero313

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #21 on: 08/21/2007 02:24 AM »
Quote
Jim - 20/8/2007  9:45 PM

Quote
yinzer - 20/8/2007  9:06 PM

Quote
aero313 - 20/8/2007  5:06 PM

Quote
yinzer - 20/8/2007  7:27 PM

Isn't Orbital's NMD booster pretty much a Pegasus XL without wings?

Nope.  The rocket motors are similar, but propulsion only makes up a small piece of the total system.  Different environments, different aeroheating, silo launch, TVC first stage, hot fire second stage with blow out ports in the interstage, different avionics, different fairing, different I&T flow...

Need I go on?

Not at all.  Is it more similar to the Taurus, or are they all completely different from each other?

no, A Taurus is a Pegasus with no wings and the launch aircraft is replaced by a Castor 120

Yup. Nothing to it.

Well except for adding a vectored nozzle on the Pegasus stage 1, and beefed up skirts on the motors due to the more severe aerodynamic loads, and a bigger payload fairing, and a different avionics section structure (since the Pegasus third stage couldn't carry the heavier payload), and the hot fire of the Pegasus first stage in the PK forward skirt, and the different stage 1/2 separation system, and the different flight controls, and the extremely severe launch pad acoustics that required requalification (and often redesign) of virtually every Pegasus-heritage component, and the hand-tuned box isolation systems, and the different payload integration method (due to the requirement to operate from an austere launch site but maintain high payload cleanliness)...

Then of course there was the unique ground segment, including the self-contained control vans (a DARPA requirement), the mobile crane stacking of a 120,000 lb solid rocket motor, the launch site environmental approvals, the range approval of completely different launch site operations plans, getting approval from the people's republic of Santa Barbara County to use portable diesel generators...

Need I go on again?

Note from these two examples that when someone claims that the growth from, say, a Falcon 1 to a Falcon 9 is a simple path with no risk, they're either extremely naive or blowing smoke.  These changes weren't made for the sake of making changes (keep in mind that Taurus was internally funded, so it wasn't a case of feeding off the government), there were real technical reasons.

Offline vt_hokie

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RE: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #22 on: 08/21/2007 02:52 AM »
An interesting read on Loral's history.  Bernard Schwartz should've stuck with defense!   ;)

Offline antonioe

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #23 on: 08/23/2007 07:03 PM »
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aero313 - 20/8/2007 9:24 PM

getting approval from the people's republic of Santa Barbara County to use portable diesel generators...

You forgot their concern about the quantity of gaseous nitrogen that we were using... what would happen if all that nasty gaseous nitrogen were to be suddenly released into the delicate Santa Barbara County environment?
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Propforce

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #24 on: 08/23/2007 07:24 PM »
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antonioe - 20/8/2007  5:22 PM

Except, in our case, we started as a pure space company in 1982 (commercial, then NASA) and only transitioned to significant defense business after 2000, with the GMD program (we had a couple of small USAF Science and Technology small sats before GMD, but, combined, they never amounted to even 10% of our revenue.  Pegasus, ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE were the big programs during the 90's...)

Back in 2003, I struggled briefly with an ethical dilema on whether to purchase OSC stock shortly before the official announcement of OSC winning the GMD BV+ contract.  As an "insider", I knew the contract was awarded to OSC but has not yet made public, and I knew this would be a significant revenue infusion into OSC.  I decided not to buy the stock for fear of 'complications' with ethics, but obviously that  ethical issue didn't bother many as the ORB stock jumped from $6/share to $9/share and eventually to $14/share !!  :laugh:

Offline antonioe

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #25 on: 08/24/2007 12:43 AM »

Quote
Propforce - 23/8/2007 2:24 PM

Back in 2003, I struggled briefly with an ethical dilema on whether to purchase OSC stock shortly before the official announcement of OSC winning the GMD BV+ contract. As an "insider", I knew the contract was awarded to OSC but has not yet made public, and I knew this would be a significant revenue infusion into OSC. I decided not to buy the stock for fear of 'complications' with ethics, but obviously that ethical issue didn't bother many as the ORB stock jumped from $6/share to $9/share and eventually to $14/share !! :laugh:

You did the right thing; money helps, don't get me wrong, but there are more important things in life.

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline aero313

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #26 on: 08/26/2007 09:04 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 23/8/2007  3:03 PM

Quote
aero313 - 20/8/2007 9:24 PM

getting approval from the people's republic of Santa Barbara County to use portable diesel generators...

You forgot their concern about the quantity of gaseous nitrogen that we were using... what would happen if all that nasty gaseous nitrogen were to be suddenly released into the delicate Santa Barbara County environment?

Don't forget that they were also concerned about the condensate that would be generated by the payload environmental control unit and originally wanted that WATER collected and processed as a hazardous waste!

Offline Propforce

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #27 on: 08/26/2007 10:20 PM »
Where is the OSC pad at VAFB?  Is that the SLC 8 ?

Offline Jim

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #28 on: 08/26/2007 11:23 PM »
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Propforce - 26/8/2007  6:20 PM

Where is the OSC pad at VAFB?  Is that the SLC 8 ?

For which vehicles?

Offline antonioe

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Re: Orbital making some nice cash - reports Second Quarter 2007
« Reply #29 on: 08/27/2007 12:34 AM »

Quote
Propforce - 26/8/2007 5:20 PM

Where is the OSC pad at VAFB? Is that the SLC 8 ?
Pegasus does not use a "Launch Complex" - the L-1011 simply lands at the old shuttle runway, the LV is trailered in, and mating and final pre-takeoff preparations occur at the taxiway near the RW30 departure end.

Taurus uses a plain concrete pad in the area historically known as "LC-576E", a series of about 11 abandoned pads, silos, etc. that were used from 1959 to the mid 60's for the Atlas LV, in its various forms. The pad Taurus uses actually surrounds a silo that was once used for the testing of silo-protected Atlases (remember?...) so we have to be very careful were we step. There are no "facilities" per se at the site: Taurus brings everything it needs, down to the trailer-mounted Launch Control Room. Setting up the (buried) fiber optic line from the pad instrumentaiton box to the trailer some 3 km away was quite an adventure, given the indian burial sites that dot the landscape of the former Navy gunnery range that is today VAFB. Here's a picture of a Taurus on the pad. Note the fencing around the old silo.  Everything is road-transportable, including the launch stool.  The "umbilical tower" is, of course, single use... (aero313: can you verify all of this? My memory is not that good...).

BTW I can post these pictures because I used them at a "Responsive Space" (ha!...) conference in Long Beach a few years ago, so it has been shown to the public.

The Minotaur launches to orbit from VAFB use SLC-8, which the team considers "luxurious accomodations" :laugh: Note in the linked pictures the use of the same expendable tower as taurus.

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

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