Author Topic: Could you envisage a situation where ULA only produces the Atlas V  (Read 15923 times)

Offline Star One

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With the military, even the NRO,  seemingly moving towards smaller craft is there going to be an ongoing need for a large launcher such as the Delta IV?

ULA seem to be concentrating their manned efforts on the Atlas V and there doesn't seem to much in the way of payloads that it can't handle from interplanetary to Earth resources. So will it eventually be the case that it reaches a situation where the decide to only support and produce the Atlas V?

Offline William Graham

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Atlas and Delta have more or less the same payload capacity - the difference is that the DIV Heavy was built and the Atlas V Heavy wasn't. The real reasons for having two EELVs are redundancy and to allow more launches to take place.

That said, in a few years, if it proves reliable and can maintain a high enough flight rate, I think Falcon 9/Heavy could start taking enough EELV-class contracts to become a threat to one of the existing rockets. Falcon is hardly established though, and with commercial launches and Dragon fitting in government payloads as well could be an issue...it should be clearer in a few years time.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2013 07:25 pm by William Graham »

Offline sdsds

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ULA is openly committed to consolidating the two launch systems to the extent that's at all practical. They are having success with that, and the eventual result will be that the marginal cost of continuing to fly Delta IV will be relatively low.

Specifically:
- consolidation of production locations
- consolidation of production techniques
- consolidation of transport infrastructure (Delta Mariner)
- consolidation of upper stage engines
- consolidation of entire upper stages
- consolidation of launch procedures
- (?) consolidation of launch personnel (?)
And then the big one: ;)
- consolidation of bureaucratic executive management overhead
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Offline Downix

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If you followed ULA's consolidation process, the Delta IV and Atlas V will share so many systems that the cost to support one over the other will be relatively minor. Delta IV however offers capability not developed in Atlas V, so it would be foolish for them to cancel it.
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Offline vapour_nudge

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Perhaps they might feasibly just market the Delta IV Heavy as the only Delta IV and concentrate all other launches on Atlas V?

If this was the case, what capabilities would be lost?

Offline Star One

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Perhaps they might feasibly just market the Delta IV Heavy as the only Delta IV and concentrate all other launches on Atlas V?

If this was the case, what capabilities would be lost?

Well if they are interchangeable in capabilities it would seem a sensible course to follow.

Offline Lobo

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If you followed ULA's consolidation process, the Delta IV and Atlas V will share so many systems that the cost to support one over the other will be relatively minor. Delta IV however offers capability not developed in Atlas V, so it would be foolish for them to cancel it.

Even if they share many systems, they don't share the booster engines or upper stages [yet]
That keeps at least RS-68 from any reasonable economics of scale.  Sounds like RD-180 is cheap for them even with low flight rate.
Same with two different SRB's. 

The two different sets of core tooling probably doesn't cost any more since it already exits.  It's not like there are developing two sets do tooling new at this point.

Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
I think a common 5m upper stage for both would help in the long run.  Something like ACES or a common Centaur on Atlas 55x would match the D4H to LEO I think Jim said once.   Not sure about BLEO.
Of course that same stage on D4H would boost its capacity too.  As would a pair of GEM 60's on each core.  Not sure if there are any payloads for that though.  Would have been a nice building block for CxP instead of Ares though.
So an Atlas 55x with large 5m upper stage might effectively retire D4H for that payload class, if there is no payloads that need D4H with he new upper stage.

Offline Hyperion5

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If you followed ULA's consolidation process, the Delta IV and Atlas V will share so many systems that the cost to support one over the other will be relatively minor. Delta IV however offers capability not developed in Atlas V, so it would be foolish for them to cancel it.

Even if they share many systems, they don't share the booster engines or upper stages [yet]
That keeps at least RS-68 from any reasonable economics of scale.  Sounds like RD-180 is cheap for them even with low flight rate.
Same with two different SRB's. 

The two different sets of core tooling probably doesn't cost any more since it already exits.  It's not like there are developing two sets do tooling new at this point.

I don't know Lobo, it sure seems like there'd be a lot of extra costs associated with the tooling to make rockets of multiple diameters.  Right now ULA is making rockets of 2 diameters, those being 3.81 m (Atlas V) and 5 m (new standard Delta IV core).  Think about just how much different the transport assets have to be to carry all those varying diameters to the pads.  Apparently neither can be road-transported to their pads.  Then you have the tooling for the 4 m US on the Delta, which is yet another cost and line you have to maintain.  It seems to me what you want is only one diameter of tooling at one plant.  The one I'd use would be the 5 m tooling.  It might not be the top choice of others here, but it'd let you simply modify the Delta pads for any eventual "Atlas" successor to both the Atlas V & Delta IV. 

Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
I think a common 5m upper stage for both would help in the long run.  Something like ACES or a common Centaur on Atlas 55x would match the D4H to LEO I think Jim said once.   Not sure about BLEO.

Of course that same stage on D4H would boost its capacity too.  As would a pair of GEM 60's on each core.  Not sure if there are any payloads for that though.  Would have been a nice building block for CxP instead of Ares though.
So an Atlas 55x with large 5m upper stage might effectively retire D4H for that payload class, if there is no payloads that need D4H with he new upper stage.

Back to the thread topic, I think the premise is wrong.  ULA keeps talking about going to a wide-body booster for the Atlas V and using a common upper stage eventually.  I frankly don't think the result could properly be called an Atlas V, but Atlas VI.  Here's how I'd envision things evolving to only producing an "Atlas". 

Atlas V-------------------------------------------------Delta IV
                                            |
                                      Atlas VI
                                      ~400 mt
              5 m core with additional propellants vs Atlas V core
                             inherits Delta IV 5 m US
                more powerful AJ-1-E6 replaces RD-180
                    uses modernized Atlas avionics
       uses new common US engine (RL-10C or other successor)
                                    man-rated

The answer to me is to chop down to one tooling size, that being the 5 meter tooling for the biggest Deltas.  You then use that to create an Atlas V-Delta IV lovechild, up the thrust and ditch the political issues with an AJ-1-E6, and trim down to only one plant.  It'd cause Congressmen to go nuts in at least a couple of districts, but this would at least turn ULA into a more rational company.  The best part is your transport infrastructure would already be in place and you could shut down the old Atlas pads.  You'd have to add some modifications if you're flying crews from the Delta pads, but that's not an insurmountable obstacle.  Now sure the resulting rocket would look a bit stubby, but it'd be very capable and reliable.  It might even be a slightly safer setup given the main engine would feature significantly lower chamber pressure. 
           
                                       
« Last Edit: 04/29/2013 03:22 pm by Hyperion5 »

Offline Jim

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(Atlas V), 4 m (Delta IV medium), and 5 m (new standard Delta IV core).  Think about just how much different the transport assets have to be to carry all those varying diameters to the pads.  The Atlas V & smaller Delta IV core can be road-transported, while the biggest Delta IV cores require water transportation.  This situation to me sounds needlessly complicated, and indeed ULA will be standardizing the Delta IV on the 5 m core & RS-68A in the next few years.  I'm still not bullish on ULA's longer-term prospects.  They often seem like they're half asleep at the wheel while the new competition is rapidly getting bigger in the rear-view mirror. 


Huh?  Delta IV has only one core size 5m.  The upperstages come in two sizes, 4m and 5m.   
Atlas V can not be road-transported nor can the non-existent 4m Delta IV.

The rest of your post is nonsense base on this major error and others (such as if there was a 5m Atlas it would still use the same existing Atlas infrastructure (pads) and that ULA has already consolidated Atlas and Delta into one factory).

As for bullish and sleep at the wheel, I think you have no grounds to make such statements since you can't get the basic information right.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2013 04:05 am by Jim »

Offline russianhalo117

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(Atlas V), 4 m (Delta IV medium), and 5 m (new standard Delta IV core).  Think about just how much different the transport assets have to be to carry all those varying diameters to the pads.  The Atlas V & smaller Delta IV core can be road-transported, while the biggest Delta IV cores require water transportation.  This situation to me sounds needlessly complicated, and indeed ULA will be standardizing the Delta IV on the 5 m core & RS-68A in the next few years.  I'm still not bullish on ULA's longer-term prospects.  They often seem like they're half asleep at the wheel while the new competition is rapidly getting bigger in the rear-view mirror. 


Huh?  Delta IV has only one core size 5m.  The upperstages come in two sizes, 4m and 5m.   
Atlas V can not be road-transported nor can the non-existent 4m Delta IV.

The rest of your post is nonsense base on this major error and others (such as if there was a 5m Atlas it would still use the same existing Atlas infrastructure (pads) and that ULA has already consolidated Atlas and Delta into one factory).

As for bullish and sleep at the wheel, I think you have no grounds to make such statements since you can't get the basic information right.
Thanks for correcting him, i was going to last night but fell asleep last night before I could do so.

Offline edkyle99

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Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
That's going to change as excess RL10B-2 engines are converted to RL10C engines for Centaur.  In a few years, when the RL10 inventory finally runs out, a new common engine will be developed.  The way things are going, I expect that new engine to come from outside the U.S..

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/29/2013 01:51 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline russianhalo117

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Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
That's going to change as excess RL10B-2 engines are converted to RL10C engines for Centaur.  In a few years, when the RL10 inventory finally runs out, a new common engine will be developed.

 - Ed Kyle
RL-10A-4 completed its last production run several years ago and RL-10C is to fly starting sometime early next year, but it might take ULA PAO and site webmaster awhile to take note of this and update their information to reflect this switch.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2013 01:53 pm by russianhalo117 »

Offline Hyperion5

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(Atlas V), 4 m (Delta IV medium), and 5 m (new standard Delta IV core).  Think about just how much different the transport assets have to be to carry all those varying diameters to the pads.  The Atlas V & smaller Delta IV core can be road-transported, while the biggest Delta IV cores require water transportation.  This situation to me sounds needlessly complicated, and indeed ULA will be standardizing the Delta IV on the 5 m core & RS-68A in the next few years.  I'm still not bullish on ULA's longer-term prospects.  They often seem like they're half asleep at the wheel while the new competition is rapidly getting bigger in the rear-view mirror. 


Huh?  Delta IV has only one core size 5m.  The upperstages come in two sizes, 4m and 5m.   
Atlas V can not be road-transported nor can the non-existent 4m Delta IV.

Ah, well I got mixed up when I read a number of sources referring to a Delta IV 4,2 lifting more than a Delta IV 5,2.  I thought they were referring to core size and US, but evidently not.  It unfortunately was not totally clear from the sources I read. 

The rest of your post is nonsense base on this major error and others (such as if there was a 5m Atlas it would still use the same existing Atlas infrastructure (pads) and that ULA has already consolidated Atlas and Delta into one factory).

The idea with the 5 m Atlas, if it wasn't clear enough, was to use existing Delta pads and shut down the current Atlas pads.  You would have to modify things obviously, like adding a kerosene supply and ways to get crew up to the tower if the rocket's a manned launcher.  As for the factory error, it must be because my sources are out of date, because they're still reporting a manufacturing, assembly and integration plant in existence at Harlingen, Texas along with the main plant at Decatur, Alabama. 

As for bullish and sleep at the wheel, I think you have no grounds to make such statements since you can't get the basic information right.

Well we all have to live and learn from errors like misinterpreting sources.  Though to be fair, Jim, this isn't my field, so I don't mind trying to learn from my errors as I go along.  It's sort of how you learned from forecasting a Romney victory, like many in my field did, that making an accurate political forecast is tough. 



Offline Hyperion5

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Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
That's going to change as excess RL10B-2 engines are converted to RL10C engines for Centaur.  In a few years, when the RL10 inventory finally runs out, a new common engine will be developed.  The way things are going, I expect that new engine to come from outside the U.S..

 - Ed Kyle

If it's coming from outside the USA that would limit the choices to French, Russian and Japanese engines (AFAIK).  While politically I cannot see DoD rockets having a non-American upper stage engine, technically it's probably feasible.  I do wonder why you see the engine from coming from outside the US the way things are going, Ed.  Could you please explain your reasoning on that? 

It's not that I'd mind seeing a Vinci, RD-0146 or a Japanese hydrolox engine atop an Atlas or Delta, it's just politically I wouldn't predict it.  I'm just curious as to why you are predicting it, Ed. 

Offline Jim

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The idea with the 5 m Atlas, if it wasn't clear enough, was to use existing Delta pads and shut down the current Atlas pads.


easier to use existing Atlas infrastructure and mod it for 5m than use Delta IV pad.

Offline Jim

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  It's sort of how you learned from forecasting a Romney victory, like many in my field did, that making an accurate political forecast is tough. 


That was more of a wish

Offline Jim

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  As for the factory error, it must be because my sources are out of date, because they're still reporting a manufacturing, assembly and integration plant in existence at Harlingen, Texas along with the main plant at Decatur, Alabama. 


Harlingen just makes some subassemblies for ULA and it has contracts with other companies for non LV work.

Offline Star One

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Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
That's going to change as excess RL10B-2 engines are converted to RL10C engines for Centaur.  In a few years, when the RL10 inventory finally runs out, a new common engine will be developed.  The way things are going, I expect that new engine to come from outside the U.S..

 - Ed Kyle

Why do you expect this to come from outside the US?

Offline edkyle99

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It's not that I'd mind seeing a Vinci, RD-0146 or a Japanese hydrolox engine atop an Atlas or Delta, it's just politically I wouldn't predict it.  I'm just curious as to why you are predicting it, Ed. 
PWR hasn't developed a new engine since RS-68, an effort that began nearly two decades ago.  PWR is on the verge of being merged into Aerojet, a company currently focused on essentially rewiring Russian-built engines.  Neither company seems motivated to develop a new U.S. built engine.  Rocketdyne bowed out of the Atlas competition rather than develop a new engine during the 1990s, giving the work to Energomash.  A few years back, P&W actually proposed an RL10 replacement that would have been based on a Russian engine. 

This year to date there have been 20 orbital launch attempts world-wide.  Only one of those was powered off the pad by U.S. built rocket engines. 

The trend seems clear to me.

 - Ed Kyle

Online LouScheffer

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Not sure how much commonality there is in the upper stages.  They even use different RL-10 variants, right?
That's going to change as excess RL10B-2 engines are converted to RL10C engines for Centaur.  In a few years, when the RL10 inventory finally runs out, a new common engine will be developed. 

 - Ed Kyle
I'm surprised the DOD is allowing a common stage.  I thought they explicitly wanted different stages to minimize the chance of both being grounded due to the same cause.  We saw this just last year, when the Delta version of the RL-10 was grounded, but the Atlas version could continue to launch.  If this incidence had happened with a common stage, it could have grounded all launches for the duration of the investigation.

Tags: cadence Atlas V Vulcan 
 

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