Author Topic: ULA General Discussion Thread  (Read 227949 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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ULA General Discussion Thread
« on: 07/19/2019 06:08 am »
Couldn’t find somewhere to post these so thought would start a general discussion thread for topics that are not launch or launch vehicle specific:

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1151839735553437698

Quote
This story raises some interesting questions, but I wonder if the issue goes deeper. @ulalaunch has flown just twice in 6.5 months this year (Deltas). Remarkably, the Atlas V rocket has launched just once in 14 months.
https://spacenews.com/atlas-5-and-delta-4-launch-delays-caused-by-common-component-in-upper-stage/

twitter.com/wrcooksey/status/1151957735770087433

Quote
@torybruno How will @ulalaunch sustain the launch cadence necessary to support your technical & manufacturing infrastructure w so few launches? Will the partially reusable Vulcan truly be able to compete with the fully reusable Falcon 9 booster?

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1152048849428668416

Quote
This year was planned with a large gap to accommodate pad mods for Vulcan, which are underway right now. We are currently at an all time record high with 30 booster cores in flow at the Decatur factory and expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.

Offline GWH

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #1 on: 07/19/2019 04:00 pm »
They certainly seem to be struggling a little these days with a lot of launch delays and few launch contracts.
Their attempts to win more commercial launches doesn't seem to have been very successful, although they certainly have been working hard to shed the baggage imposed on them from what was 3 completely separate rocket families.

Some of the reviews floating around certainly indicate that the road to being more competitive has been a rocky one.

There's a few employees posting anonymously here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ula/comments/cb0y5s/current_state_of_morale_at_ula/

And their Glassdoor reviews of course:
https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/United-Launch-Alliance-Reviews-E146300.htm

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #2 on: 07/19/2019 04:25 pm »
They certainly seem to be struggling a little these days with a lot of launch delays and few launch contracts.
Their attempts to win more commercial launches doesn't seem to have been very successful, although they certainly have been working hard to shed the baggage imposed on them from what was 3 completely separate rocket families.

Some of the reviews floating around certainly indicate that the road to being more competitive has been a rocky one.

There's a few employees posting anonymously here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ula/comments/cb0y5s/current_state_of_morale_at_ula/

And their Glassdoor reviews of course:
https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/United-Launch-Alliance-Reviews-E146300.htm
The 30 cores currently in simultaneous production are part of an accelerated production scheme to finish off DIVH and Atlas production early next decade respectively so the Decatur complex can be fully switched over to VC production as soon as possible. They are actively stockpiling cores with the intention and ability support full CCAFS and VAFB manifests slots even though not all slots have been allocated yet (Atlas only). ULA plans to assemble and stockpile cores to use up their existing RD-180, RS-68A, and RL10A-4/RL10B-2 (Switch to RL10C-2 to occur very soon for DIVH per ARH online documentation with remainder converted to RL10C-1, RL10C-3, RL10C-5 versions) stockpiles assigned to their current fleet.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2019 07:46 pm by russianhalo117 »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #3 on: 07/19/2019 06:01 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #4 on: 07/19/2019 06:15 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.
After VCH (VH Phase I) is flown (since already in initial offering phase) and certifications complete DIVH should no longer be buyable. Parts orders through the planned transition and retirement phase are in final steps so that they can complete builds. If follow on orders are needed some vendors will have to supply replacements for obsolescence.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #5 on: 07/19/2019 06:42 pm »
So how are they paying for all this downtime, production and Pad Mods? Are the parents allowing them to keep more to re-invest? Or is this being made possible by initial $181 million of the $967 million the USAF made available as part of the LSAs?
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Offline russianhalo117

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #6 on: 07/19/2019 07:55 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.
To be specific regarding Tory's tweets: the 30 includes only those at Decatur that are in "production" flow and does not include those in short-to-long term storage at Decatur as well as those in final processing at SLC's, in launch site storage, in offline/online processing, and en route to VAFB and CCAFS.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2019 09:03 pm by russianhalo117 »

Offline ZachF

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #7 on: 07/26/2019 12:39 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.

I suspect that with the complete silence on BE-4, Vulcan (and NG) will probably be delayed to 2022.

add in some launches moving to the right (always happens) and I suspect ULA's totals for 2020 and 2021 will probably both be ~9.
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Offline russianhalo117

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #8 on: 07/26/2019 02:04 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.

I suspect that with the complete silence on BE-4, Vulcan (and NG) will probably be delayed to 2022.

add in some launches moving to the right (always happens) and I suspect ULA's totals for 2020 and 2021 will probably both be ~9.
There is not complete silence from ULA. There are stages in various phases of production.

Offline Lemurion

Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #9 on: 07/26/2019 09:57 pm »
Yeah, I'm fairly sure that ULA can have one or more Vulcan cores ready for a test program in 2021, provided they get the engines in time.

The catch is the BE-4 delay as we have no idea what's happening there. Blue may be secretive, but with the way they announced a full-power full-duration burn for BE-7 recently, you would have to think that were they able to make the same claim for BE-4 they would have.

Unfortunately, the engine is the long pole and there's only so much anyone can do before it is finalized.

Offline ZachF

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #10 on: 07/27/2019 12:08 pm »
Looking at the latest US launch schedule I make it 10 ULA launches in 2020 and 12 in 2021 (including a couple of test Vulcan flights). I think there may be a couple more CC Starliner launches on top of that too (e.g. I doubt CFT will be this year).

So Tory’s statement: “expect about a launch per month next year and the year after.” is pretty accurate. Clearly quite a few more cores to come after the 30, which won’t even cover ULA to end of 2021.

I recall Tory saying that ULA will supply DIVH as long as customers want it, but presumably they’re expecting customers to stop asking once Vulcan is proven and certified.

I suspect that with the complete silence on BE-4, Vulcan (and NG) will probably be delayed to 2022.

add in some launches moving to the right (always happens) and I suspect ULA's totals for 2020 and 2021 will probably both be ~9.
There is not complete silence from ULA. There are stages in various phases of production.

Not talking about ULA but Blue Origin... we've heard hardly anything about BE-4 for well over a year now.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #11 on: 07/27/2019 04:26 pm »
Not talking about ULA but Blue Origin... we've heard hardly anything about BE-4 for well over a year now.
A bit less than a year.  In late January, 2019, Blue Origin's Bob Smith told reporters that BE-4 had been tested at 70% thrust for more than 200 second durations and that a new version would soon be installed at the test site designed to test at 100% thrust.  Bezos more or less confirmed that in a February 2019 interview. 

But yes, I don't think we have heard anything about the 100% thrust testing, which makes one wonder.  Meanwhile, Raptor is firing away in full view down at Boca Chica and we've heard directly from Elon about the challenges that engine development has faced that has limited its throttling ability, for example. 

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #12 on: 07/28/2019 03:47 am »
Not talking about ULA but Blue Origin... we've heard hardly anything about BE-4 for well over a year now.
A bit less than a year.  In late January, 2019, Blue Origin's Bob Smith told reporters that BE-4 had been tested at 70% thrust for more than 200 second durations and that a new version would soon be installed at the test site designed to test at 100% thrust.  Bezos more or less confirmed that in a February 2019 interview. 

But yes, I don't think we have heard anything about the 100% thrust testing, which makes one wonder.  Meanwhile, Raptor is firing away in full view down at Boca Chica and we've heard directly from Elon about the challenges that engine development has faced that has limited its throttling ability, for example. 
The Apollo F-1 engine development, which operated at a breakneck pace, took a year to go from partial thrust to full thrust:
Quote
In the first year of testing – because of other problems – we were unable to operate at rated thrust (the performance level an engine is designed to achieve). That’s not unusual. In fact, it’s more usual than not that the first engine in a new design is unable to achieve rated thrust for some reason. The maximum thrust the F-1 could hit for the first engine was 1 million pounds; so, for the first year, testing was limited to 1 million pounds
So by this (probably overly simplistic) comparison, we could expect full thrust engines early next year.

Offline Hog

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #13 on: 07/29/2019 03:37 pm »
Not talking about ULA but Blue Origin... we've heard hardly anything about BE-4 for well over a year now.
A bit less than a year.  In late January, 2019, Blue Origin's Bob Smith told reporters that BE-4 had been tested at 70% thrust for more than 200 second durations and that a new version would soon be installed at the test site designed to test at 100% thrust.  Bezos more or less confirmed that in a February 2019 interview. 

But yes, I don't think we have heard anything about the 100% thrust testing, which makes one wonder.  Meanwhile, Raptor is firing away in full view down at Boca Chica and we've heard directly from Elon about the challenges that engine development has faced that has limited its throttling ability, for example. 
The Apollo F-1 engine development, which operated at a breakneck pace, took a year to go from partial thrust to full thrust:
Quote
In the first year of testing – because of other problems – we were unable to operate at rated thrust (the performance level an engine is designed to achieve). That’s not unusual. In fact, it’s more usual than not that the first engine in a new design is unable to achieve rated thrust for some reason. The maximum thrust the F-1 could hit for the first engine was 1 million pounds; so, for the first year, testing was limited to 1 million pounds
So by this (probably overly simplistic) comparison, we could expect full thrust engines early next year.
Emphasis mine.
Does the fact that the F-1 engine was never designed to be throttleable have any influence over its progress when compared to the other modern engines in development?

Those F-1's are amazing engines.  I'd love to see SLS Block 2 use the Pyrios Advanced Boosters proposal which would see 4 RS-25s running at 113% on the Core Stage with 4 F-1B KeroLox engines running in pairs on 2 Liquid Rocket Boosters.  4 x 1.8 million pounds of thrust for 7.2 million pounds thrust just from the Boosters plus 4 x 528,000 pounds thrust @ 113%=2,112,000 pounds thrust for the Core STage.
Core STage Thrust + Booster thrust= total thrust
7,200,000 + 2,112,000=9,312,000 pounds of thrust
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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #14 on: 07/31/2019 09:47 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1156663096192176128

Quote
ULA getting corralled by both parents. Boeing says don't do in-space refueling or the ACES upper stage. Lockheed says don't do the XEUS lunar lander. Company is thus forced to put all of its eggs into the Vulcan basket. Not good for them, or aerospace in general.

For context see this twitter thread:

https://twitter.com/george_sowers/status/1156602016023498752

Quote
A lot of that was aimed at me and my advanced programs group at ULA. We had released a series of papers showing how a depot/refueling architecture would enable a human exploration program using existing (at the time) commercial rockets.

twitter.com/george_sowers/status/1156602845006708736?s=21

Quote
Boeing became furious and tried to get me fired. Kudos to my CEO for protecting me. But we were banned from even saying the “d” word out loud.

https://twitter.com/george_sowers/status/1156604590269390848

Quote
But physics cannot be silenced forever. Refueling is an incredible game changer, especially with fuel from space. Was a great moment for me to hear VP Pence talk fuel depots in his address at the Space Symposium in 2018.

twitter.com/george_sowers/status/1156605396989042688

Quote
Sad part is that ULA did a lot of pathfinding work in that area and could have owned the refueling/depot market, enriching Boeing (and Lockheed) in the process. But it was shut down because it threatened SLS.

https://twitter.com/george_sowers/status/1156605841694314496

Quote
Reminds me of the Kodak story. Kodak invented digital photography, but did not pursue because it threatened their film business. Now they are out of business...
« Last Edit: 07/31/2019 09:48 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline Blackout

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #15 on: 08/01/2019 04:24 am »
This is pretty depressing.  It is hard not to think of an alternative history where the commercial CEV program with EELV and Duel Depots went forward instead of constellation.  Or if ULA's parents had the foresight to just go ahead and build ACES/Depots then sell the capability to NASA like SpaceX has done with Falcon Heavy.

I do not expect ULA to survive until 2030.  Right now they only get contracts from DOD in order to preserve a two-provider system with SpaceX.  With fully expendable rockets they cannot compete on price with reusable systems like Falcon.  Once Blue Origin starts operating New Glenn, there is no longer any reason to pay the premium for ULA's continued existence.

I hope someone buys their patents for ACES and Depots at least.  The comparison to Kodak seems very apt  :(

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #16 on: 08/01/2019 04:32 am »
Depots or at the very least; transference of propellants in space is the literal future. If Senator Shelby was up in arms about the concepts - you have to ask yourself a big, fat why?

Some might even say my question is rhetorical...
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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #17 on: 08/01/2019 04:34 am »
Not talking about ULA but Blue Origin... we've heard hardly anything about BE-4 for well over a year now.
A bit less than a year.  In late January, 2019, Blue Origin's Bob Smith told reporters that BE-4 had been tested at 70% thrust for more than 200 second durations and that a new version would soon be installed at the test site designed to test at 100% thrust.  Bezos more or less confirmed that in a February 2019 interview. 

But yes, I don't think we have heard anything about the 100% thrust testing, which makes one wonder.  Meanwhile, Raptor is firing away in full view down at Boca Chica and we've heard directly from Elon about the challenges that engine development has faced that has limited its throttling ability, for example. 
The Apollo F-1 engine development, which operated at a breakneck pace, took a year to go from partial thrust to full thrust:
Quote
In the first year of testing – because of other problems – we were unable to operate at rated thrust (the performance level an engine is designed to achieve). That’s not unusual. In fact, it’s more usual than not that the first engine in a new design is unable to achieve rated thrust for some reason. The maximum thrust the F-1 could hit for the first engine was 1 million pounds; so, for the first year, testing was limited to 1 million pounds
So by this (probably overly simplistic) comparison, we could expect full thrust engines early next year.
Emphasis mine.
Does the fact that the F-1 engine was never designed to be throttleable have any influence over its progress when compared to the other modern engines in development?

Those F-1's are amazing engines.  I'd love to see SLS Block 2 use the Pyrios Advanced Boosters proposal which would see 4 RS-25s running at 113% on the Core Stage with 4 F-1B KeroLox engines running in pairs on 2 Liquid Rocket Boosters.  4 x 1.8 million pounds of thrust for 7.2 million pounds thrust just from the Boosters plus 4 x 528,000 pounds thrust @ 113%=2,112,000 pounds thrust for the Core STage.
Core STage Thrust + Booster thrust= total thrust
7,200,000 + 2,112,000=9,312,000 pounds of thrust
Not to mention much better specific impulse from the hydrocarbon boosters over the solids.
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Offline Semmel

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #18 on: 08/01/2019 06:14 am »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1156663096192176128

Quote
ULA getting corralled by both parents. Boeing says don't do in-space refueling or the ACES upper stage. Lockheed says don't do the XEUS lunar lander. Company is thus forced to put all of its eggs into the Vulcan basket. Not good for them, or aerospace in general.


I came here to discuss this because it kind of shocked me. The SLS situation is bad enough as it is. But this sheds an entirely darker light (o.O) on the whole situation. In the past, I was kind of indifferent towards Shelby. Yes he wasts a lot of money on SLS but I didnt see that zombie roaming around outside of its cage. Now this shows that Shelby is willing to ax innovation and development in favour of SLS. That is exactly the opposite of what should be happening. Not only wasting time and money but actively suppressing development. I kind of feel sorry for ULA at this point. They are running a race with shackles on their feet. I hope this can change before its too late. And I sincerely hope that other companies dont get entangled in the same net over time.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: ULA General Discussion Thread
« Reply #19 on: 08/01/2019 06:56 am »
Well, the first correction is that Kodak are still in business and they did develop digital cameras. I have a digital Kodak EasyShare CX4200 camera that I still use. They are also big in digital printing in the commercial area (our local K-Mart uses their big printers to print photos at only 10 cents each!). And by the way, they still make digital cameras!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak
https://www.kodak.com

As to whether Boeing and Lockheed are restricting what ULA can do to protect SLS and other programs, all I see is hearsay. No proof has been provided. We only have George Sowers word that he was ordered to not say "Depot". Using Von Braun's tanking mode, a depot is not needed anyway, so there were ways to get around that restriction. There may also be an innocent reason why ACES and propellant transfer are currently not being pursued (if that allegation is true). One reason could be is that ULA needs to focus on getting Vulcan done and so anything that could delay that is being put to the side for now.

Searching ULA for depot shows that their previous papers on depots are still there. They have papers from 2018 on using Lunar propellant! Their last paper on ACES is from May 2018, a little over a year ago.

https://www.ulalaunch.com/explore/papers-presentations
« Last Edit: 08/01/2019 06:58 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

 

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