Author Topic: Discussion on Alternative Launchers to SLS for Artemis Program  (Read 40727 times)

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1745
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1934
  • Likes Given: 1278
With recent comments on the SLS discussion thread suggesting discussion be moved elsewhere regarding talk about alternative launchers to SLS I wanted to create this topic.

This thread is intended to keep a more focused discussion on alternatives to SLS in relation to the Artemis program.

- Discussion of alternatives to SLS for single lift of Orion are a perfect fit here.

- Discussion of transporting Orion to Gateway are also an ideal fit here. Especially as capabilities with alternative launchers evolve and more is learned about the various elements that make up HLS.

- Discussion on alternatives to SLS for Human Landers is partly covered here already but it can still be talked about here as it relates to the overall lunar architecture.

- Discussion on how alternative launchers could affect missions to Mars is partly on topic, as it covers long term strategies such as the current Moon to Mars plans for a Deep Space Transport launched on SLS.

- Discussion on Starship will no doubt come up, there is a thread on Starship and Artemis here, would be best if discussion focused on how it could fit rather than proposing completely throwing Artemis as a program away.

- Discussing missions outside of Artemis that also involve SLS (Europa Clipper, ice planet missions) are also on topic since any capabilities that can put Orion to TLI would be very much capable of sending many probes on direct transfers to Jupiter and beyond.

- Discussion of nontechincal aspects such as the politics surrounding SLS should be avoided to keep the thread reasonably clean, there are plenty of other threads for that.

- Discussion of why Artemis is a bad program isn't the best fit unless it is specific to how the program limits the use of launchers that aren't SLS, so at least a rational work around should be discussed.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2020 10:43 pm by GWH »

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1745
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1934
  • Likes Given: 1278
I'll start things off with 3 things that have me thinking about alternative launchers to Orion.

First is Blue Origin's rumored New Glenn pricing:


If only $60M before mission adders, the savings to be offered on Orion missions are quite considerable.

Second is the official renders of SpaceX's vertical integration tower:


At least two launchers capable of putting Orion into at least LEO will exist in the near future, theoretically both allowing for full vertical integration of payload. Crew access arms are different stories.


Third we have the HLS alternative IP08 - see my comments here - in which a "super tug" to deliver a lander is considered. This could be based off a Centaur, which itself isn't large enough, but its close. If one looks at the pieces required for a transfer vehicle for HLS, some potential architectures would be suitable for a distributed launch mission for Orion.
A 35 tonne Blue Origin 3rd stage derived from the NG/Blue transfer element for example would be wholly suitable.




In general my thoughts are that as the Artemis program evolves it will decide whether or not SLS is still needed. As commercial heavy launchers get tested and HLS proposals are sifted out the capabilities and infrastructure to do things such as distributed lift and/or refueling will make the need for SLS pretty much non-existent, and that is a good feature of the current Artemis program strategy.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2020 10:41 pm by GWH »

Online TrevorMonty

1) Unmanned Orion to LEO on FH or Vulcan or NG.
2) Crew to LEO on crew vehicle.
3) 45t OTV launched on NG.

I prefer Vulcan over FH as long term it could support crewed launches of Orion. There are advantages to separate crew launch as its life support can be used in stead of Orions while waiting for OTV. Alternative is have crew waiting at ISS for OTV, giving long time window for launch delays of OTV.

NB OTV+ Orion has DV of 4km/s and can deliver Orion direct to Gateway.

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1745
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1934
  • Likes Given: 1278
This is the kind of stuff I am talking about: hard pricing on the actual cost of Falcon Heavy for a NASA mission.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1233505531098210306

$117M for the Psyche mission, which looks to be a Mars flyby and on to Jupiter, 4 year transit. 2850 kg,
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-awards-launch-services-contract-for-the-psyche-mission
 There are two small sat payloads as well (180 kg each?) https://www.nasa.gov/feature/small-satellite-concept-finalists-target-moon-mars-and-beyond

If base cost on FH is $90M then the bump is $27M. Factor in relatively the same cost increase for full expendable or center core expendable from the $95M to $150M that was tweeted by EM.

EDIT: tweet and press release clearly said $117M not $127M as I had originally wrote. Edited and corrected.
« Last Edit: 02/29/2020 05:17 am by GWH »

Offline spacenut

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5189
  • East Alabama
  • Liked: 2591
  • Likes Given: 2903
Even a fully expendable would be less than $200 million which is 5-7 times cheaper than SLS. 

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 39384
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 32981
  • Likes Given: 8579
This is the kind of stuff I am talking about: hard pricing on the actual cost of Falcon Heavy for a NASA mission.

twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1233505531098210306

$127M for the Psyche mission,

NASA press release says $117M. Where did the extra $10M come from?
« Last Edit: 02/29/2020 01:31 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline dglow

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2099
  • Liked: 2334
  • Likes Given: 4511
This is the kind of stuff I am talking about: hard pricing on the actual cost of Falcon Heavy for a NASA mission.

twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1233505531098210306

$127M for the Psyche mission,

NASA press release says $117M. Where did the extra $10M come from?

Tip

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1745
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1934
  • Likes Given: 1278
1) Unmanned Orion to LEO on FH or Vulcan or NG.
2) Crew to LEO on crew vehicle.
3) 45t OTV launched on NG.

I prefer Vulcan over FH as long term it could support crewed launches of Orion. There are advantages to separate crew launch as its life support can be used in stead of Orions while waiting for OTV. Alternative is have crew waiting at ISS for OTV, giving long time window for launch delays of OTV.

NB OTV+ Orion has DV of 4km/s and can deliver Orion direct to Gateway.

Vulcan would be a great launcher for Orion. 34 tonnes to LEO capability on Vulcan Heavy (6x SRB) would mean it's more than capable. Of course if ACES were developed then distributed lift could be a possibility. In the  long run even the ACES based service module for Orion could follow like ULA proposed, which would truly be an amazing spacecraft.

Splitting Orion between Blue Origin and ULA or others would be great for competition where each company could look to develop their own upper stage as an EDS capable of rendezvous with Orion. Nearly simultaneous launch could be conducted with the two separate launch vehicles and pads.

Alternatively perhaps a single company may be able to handle launches if they do polar orbits launching east and west pads for both Orion and an EDS. I know for Atlas V the max payload to a polar orbit is only 83% of that to LEO, the same would translate to 28 tonnes on Vulcan Heavy. Enough for Orion but maybe not enough for an EDS. Would need to look into that more, just throwing it out there.

Either way a path would be paved to sent not just Orion but also any other 25 tonne payload through TLI for a base launcher cost of maybe $250M. Building up capabilities that reduce costs of space access in such a way would be amazing progress.
 

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
This is the kind of stuff I am talking about: hard pricing on the actual cost of Falcon Heavy for a NASA mission.

...

If base cost on FH is $90M then the bump is $27M. Factor in relatively the same cost increase for full expendable or center core expendable from the $95M to $150M that was tweeted by EM.

Read the NASA press release for the PACE launch:
Quote
The total cost for NASA to launch PACE is approximately $80.4 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

The price of a generic launch, from any provider, is pre-negotiated by the U.S. Government for ALL U.S. Government departments and agencies. And for SpaceX specifically, they advertise their prices on their website, so they can't bait & switch.

On the SpaceX website they list a Falcon Heavy launch as $90M to put up to 8.0mT to GTO. The full performance capability for Falcon Heavy is 26.7mT to GTO on an expendable version, and we know from Elon Musk that expending a Falcon Heavy costs $150M.

Back to the pricing for NASA launches, unlike most commercial launch customers NASA wants additional services for their launches, and those cost money.

But if we are going to make apples-to-apples comparisons, we have to use launch costs only, and ignore additional services that are unrelated to moving mass to space. Especially because the SLS will have the same additional services, but those costs will be buried in other parts of NASA's budget, and impossible to separate out.

So if all we looking at is how much mass a launcher can move to LEO, regardless of payload size, the SLS can move 95mT for $2B, and Falcon Heavy expendable would need two launches to meet or exceed that amount, which would cost $300M. Or, for $2B NASA would be able to have 819mT of mass in LEO vs the 95mT if they used the Falcon Heavy expendable vs the SLS Block 1.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline su27k

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6414
  • Liked: 9101
  • Likes Given: 885
My hobby horses:

1. FH with 3rd stage: Use a shortened 2nd stage as 3rd stage, conservatively can push 18.7 metric tons through TLI, minimal change to GSE comparing to Raptor upper stage and any other FH mods that can increase TLI performance.

2. Partially reusable Starship: SuperHeavy downrange landing, expendable upper stage based on Starship tank section. This should be able to push 60 metric tons through TLI, a drop-in replacement for SLS cargo, and a good choice in case it's hard to convince NASA to believe in upper stage reuse/in orbit refueling/landing Starship on the Moon.

Both would be for HLS, not Orion, because in the short term I think the plan where SLS launching Orion while commercial launching the rest is a good compromise. In the long term I'm not sure Orion is worth keeping, given its delta-v shortfall.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2020 02:30 am by su27k »

Offline spacenut

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5189
  • East Alabama
  • Liked: 2591
  • Likes Given: 2903
Yes, Musk mentioned he could strip a Starship of landing gear, fins, re-entry tiles to make it an expendable second stage and get 250 tons to LEO.  TLI would probably be close to 100 tons in this configuration.  I almost wish he would build this first to get something going, then make the Starship from the expendable second stage. 

Offline soyuzu

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 272
  • Liked: 404
  • Likes Given: 217
Discussion on Alternative Launchers to SLS for Artemis Program
« Reply #11 on: 03/05/2020 04:15 am »
Is alternative of Orion talkable here?

If so, I would suggest a modified 2-stages lander system for powered transfer both way between Commercial vehicle in LEO and LOP-G in NRHO. As the total delta-V is only a bit more than TLI->NRHO->moon surface->NRHO of the PL08 architecture above, while many equipments for landing and exploration can be omitted.

As the tug and modified lander will only need to be launched to LEO, one Vulcan Heavy can do it at once, FH/NG send lander and tug to NRHO separately, plus one launch for commercial crew.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2020 04:19 am by soyuzu »

Offline TheRadicalModerate

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4519
  • Tampa, FL
  • Liked: 3372
  • Likes Given: 647
Here are the ones I've played with:

1) The Frankenrocket:  basically launching an ICPS + OSA + Orion as an FHE payload.

Pros:
a) It's the only one-launch solution.

Cons:
i) Requires crew-certifying a nightmare.
ii) Much, much longer than a standard FH payload, so all kinds of structural and aero issues.
iii) Also requires stretching the entire LC-39A service architecture to handle boarding crew much higher up.
iv) Hydrolox prop load for the DCSS or ICPS.

Note that all other options below are distributed launch.

2) Orion/Vulcan and no-payload FHE: Vulcan launches OSA+Orion to LEO.  FHE launches with no payload, and remaining S2 prop is almost enough to take the OSA+Orion to TLI after rendezvous and docking.  (Orion needs about 200 m/s of delta-v to get all the way to TLI.)  Note that you can swap the Vulcan for a D4H, but then you have to crew-certify the D4H, which is... unlikely.

Pros:
a) Ostensibly easy to crew-rate Vulcan, at least according to ULA propaganda.
b) A Vulcan N62 would do the trick for Orion.  Vertical integration will exist from the git-go.
c) Almost no mods needed for the FHE.
d) No problem with the crew sitting in LEO waiting for rendezvous.

Cons:
i) Vulcan doesn't exist yet, so there's hefty schedule risk.
ii) No clue on the abortable trajectory for the crewed Orion.  I wouldn't have worried about this before the Starliner OFT, but now I assume that you want an awful lot of extra delta-v to play with...
iii) The FH S2 is too hot a stage for Orion right now.  The NDS has a compressive limit of 300 kN, which would be 37% throttle on an MVac.  The most recent SpaceX PUG (1/2019) limits MVac to 64% throttle.  I think this is workable, but it's hard to tell.
iv) You need even lower thrust to keep the Orion solar array wings deployed through TLI.  I think this turns into a requirement to redesign the SAWs on the ESM, which is a decent-sized issue.
v) Rendezvous, dock, and checkout time is an issue.  FH S2 stage life is maybe 8 hours.  The Russians have done 4-hour rendezvous and dock with the ISS, but it'd be something new for American spacecraft.

3) Orion/FH3R and no-payload FHE:  Orion goes to LEO on an FH3R, then launch a second no-payload FHE and use the remaining S2 prop for TLI.

Pros:
a) Single vendor launch.
b) You can put the Orion into a higher-energy orbit if you want, allowing the FH S2 to take Orion all the way to TLI without an Orion OME burn.

Cons:
i) Have to crew-certify FH.
ii) Have to provide vertical integration for Orion (this is happening for NSSL, though).
iii) Same problems with the S2 being a bit too hot, thrust-wise.
iv) Pad turnaround time is a big, big issue.  It's probably OK to waste maybe 4 days of Orion life in LEO, but that's still a very aggressive LC-39A turnaround.  Maybe take advantage of the Starship pad?

4) Orion/FHE and no-payload Delta-IVH:  FHE takes Orion to a very high-energy HEEO, then the D4H's DCSS docks and takes Orion to TLI.

Pros:
a) Gets around the pad turnaround problem.
b) DCSS is lower thrust and likely doesn't require Orion mods.

Cons:
i) Crew certification and vertical integration requirements for FH.
ii) The huge green weanie in this one is that for DCSS to have anywhere near enough delta-v to get Orion to TLI, you have to put the Orion in something like a 200 x 23,000 km HEEO, which is easy for an FHE to do, but it leaves the crew in a very high radiation environment for however long the launch, rendezvous, dock, and checkout takes with the DCSS.

5) The minimally-certified Starship and D2/F9 option:  It's easiest just to show you the CONOPS here:
A) Launch Starship with crew module but no crew to LEO.
B) Refuel Starship with 6 tankers' worth of prop.
C) Launch crew to LEO on a D2/F9.
D) D2 rendezvous, dock, crew transfer to Starship crew module.
E) D2 detaches, goes into low-consumption mode, awaiting the return of the crew from NRHO.
F) Starship does TLI and NRHO insertion, rendezvous with whatever Artemis elements are there, and crew uses those elements to do the lunar surface sortie.
G) Upon return from the lunar surface, Starship takes crew back to LEO, using a powered orbit insertion.
H) Crew uses D2 to do EDL.  Starship does EDL uncrewed.

Pros:
a) This is the absolute easiest Starship profile to crew-certify, because there's no crew for launch, Starship never goes to the lunar surface, and there's no EDL or even aerobraking to deal with.
b) Not threatening to the HLS and Gateway architecture, at least for a while.
c) Cheap!  (Well, relatively cheap...)

Cons:
i) You still have to crew-certify a Starship crew system, which is a non-trivial task.  I keep thinking that maybe a couple of nose-to-nose D2 pressure vessels in the Starship payload bay, some extra consumables and ECLSS, and some thermal management could make this pretty easy, but it's still a brand-new spacecraft.
ii) Pretty complex CONOPS with lots of rendezvous and docking that could go wrong.
iii) Some question about D2 on-orbit life here.  It doesn't have crew for very long, but it has to stay in LEO for the duration of the lunar mission.
iv) Guaranteed to maximize fear and loathing from both Boeing and Lockheed.

6) Orion/Vulcan with New Glenn transfer stage:  I strongly suspect that the New Glenn third stage will actually be a TLI transfer stage with a pair of BE-7's.  If you figure this will be a 45 tonne wet step mass stage with a PMF of 94%, that's a bit more than 3900 m/s of delta-v when applied to an eyeballs-out Orion.

Pros:
a) Very gentle TLI insertion.  Burnout acceleration will be about 2.7 m/s˛, which makes the force on the NDS about 73 kN.  a 2.7 m/s˛ acceleration is considerably less than what the solar array wings experience with the ICPS, so no mods are necessary there.
b) Avoids all forms of SpaceX fear and loathing.

Cons:
i) A bit later than Vulcan.
ii) Same Vulcan crew-certification and abortable trajectory issues as option #2.

I think that the Starship option (#5) is likely the logical endpoint, with Starship then evolving to slowly eat HLS and the Gateway as it crew-certifies more of its profile, but SpaceX has to get it to the point where they can rub Congress's nose in it before it'll be approved.

If SLS suffers some hideous reversal of fortune (green run or Artemis I blows up, SpaceX surreptitiously installs a tiny man in Jody Singer's brain, photos emerge of Richard Shelby performing unnatural acts with a DCSS LOX fill pipe, etc.), then the thing that enables the most pork to keep flowing is the Orion/Vulcan rendezvousing with a no-payload FHE (option #2).  LockMart is happy, and Boeing at least gets some of the Vulcan money through ULA.

In terms of cost:

0) Orion/SLS:  $1500M Orion + charitably $1500M SLS = $3000M.
1) Frankenrocket: $1500M Orion + ~$200M ICPS + $150M FHE = $1850M + huge, unquantifiable NRE
2) Orion/Vulcan and FHE: $1500M Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $150M FHE = $1900M, modest NRE
3) Orion/FH3R and FHE: $1500M Orion + $90M FH3R + $150M FHE = $1740M, medium NRE.
4) Orion/FHE and D4H: $1500M Orion + $150M FHE + ~$450M D4H = $2100M, medium NRE.
5) Minimal Starship + D2/F9: $200M Starship crew module + 7*$50M Starship launches + $170M D2/F9 = $720M, unquantifiable-but-likely-100%-SpaceX-funded NRE.  (Don't like $50M/Starship launch?  Pick a number...)
6) Orion/Vulcan and New Glenn transfer stage: $1500 Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $100M New Glenn + $50M NG Stage 3 = $1900M.  Modest NRE.

Update:  Added option #6
« Last Edit: 03/05/2020 08:35 pm by TheRadicalModerate »

In an old thread about improving New Glenn's performance (specifically, this post), it was pointed out that an expendable New Glenn with 8x GEM-63s would be comparable in performance to SLS block 1.

While it wouldn't be nearly as cheap or efficient as other LV options, it would still be much cheaper than SLS, could likely be developed relatively quickly and easily, and doesn't affect the overall program architecture too much, all of which makes this interesting to me as an interim Orion LV.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2020 02:16 pm by JEF_300 »
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 39284
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 25279
  • Likes Given: 12125
In an old thread about improving New Glenn's performance (specifically, this post), it was pointed out that an expendable New Glenn with 8x GEM-63s would be comparable in performance to SLS block 1.

While it wouldn't be nearly as cheap or efficient as other LV options, it would still be much cheaper than SLS, could likely be developed relatively quickly and easily, and doesn't affect the overall program architecture too much, all of which makes this interesting to me as an interim Orion LV.
Im not sure I agree. Blue hasn’t shown to be much faster than Oldspace, and they’ve been using like $1 billion a year lately, maybe more. Without orbital launches. It honestly may be better just to let SLS happen and Blue to focus on reusable New Glenn.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline jadebenn

  • Professional Lurker
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1147
  • Orbiting the Mun
  • Liked: 1219
  • Likes Given: 3539
In terms of cost:

0) Orion/SLS:  $1500M Orion + charitably $1500M SLS = $3000M.
1) Frankenrocket: $1500M Orion + ~$200M ICPS + $150M FHE = $1850M + huge, unquantifiable NRE
2) Orion/Vulcan and FHE: $1500M Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $150M FHE = $1900M, modest NRE
3) Orion/FH3R and FHE: $1500M Orion + $90M FH3R + $150M FHE = $1740M, medium NRE.
4) Orion/FHE and D4H: $1500M Orion + $150M FHE + ~$450M D4H = $2100M, medium NRE.
5) Minimal Starship + D2/F9: $200M Starship crew module + 7*$50M Starship launches + $170M D2/F9 = $720M, unquantifiable-but-likely-100%-SpaceX-funded NRE.  (Don't like $50M/Starship launch?  Pick a number...)
6) Orion/Vulcan and New Glenn transfer stage: $1500 Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $100M New Glenn + $50M NG Stage 3 = $1900M.  Modest NRE.

Update:  Added option #6
Sorry, but you're SWAGing a lot more than just the Starship number here.

The SLS figure you're using was the differential of the entire yearly program plus one launch with the cost of a Delta IV subtracted out, and even doing the very crude costing method of  divvying up the Orion Production and Operations contract by number of spacecraft ordered gets you nowhere near $1.5B per Orion.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2020 11:51 pm by jadebenn »

Offline freddo411

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Liked: 1198
  • Likes Given: 3428
How many successful flights will Crew Dragon have before the expected first flight of SLS/Orion?   Including DM-1, I'm guessing it will be 5 or 6.      Granted, Crew Dragon would need some upgrades to serve as a one to one replacement for Orion.

High cadence makes for SAFER spacecraft.

I'm sure that the politics will keep Orion/SLS going as a program.   In a more perfect world we'd use cheaper, safer, more proven capsules.

Offline spacenut

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5189
  • East Alabama
  • Liked: 2591
  • Likes Given: 2903
Blue Origin was working on their rocket engines first.  Then they have built a new building in Huntsville, and another new one at the Cape.  Now they are gearing up to make New Glenn.  Seems like the fairing has already been built.  The other thread shows the new factories inside and they are making the tankage and domes.  They may be slow, but they have built the manufacturing infrastructure first.  At first I thought they were slow, but they are on track to launch next year also. 

The booster can do 3.8 million lbs thrust.  7m diameter is fairly large.  Second stage is around 200,000 lbs thrust.  Adding the 8 Gem solids would give it a boost.  However, this would be something NASA would want.  It could get Orion to the moon, it would cost more, but still probably less than half SLS cost as expendable.  Or, like someone said, putting Orion + a 3rd stage of some kind could also do it and maybe save the reusable first stage. 

With New Glenn options and FH options, all being lower cost than SLS, it proves SLS is not the only kid on the block.

If a reusable lander is developed and has less mass than Orion, and if a habitat module is sent to orbit the moon that has less mass than Orion.  All three could be sent to the moon with expendable New Glenn or FH's without SLS being needed.  SLS is no real good without a decent upper stage. 

Why not just shorten the SLS core somewhat and build a big upper stage using a Blue Origin BE-3U upper stage to actually get some decent payload to TLI or just use distributed launch as these alternatives suggest.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4519
  • Tampa, FL
  • Liked: 3372
  • Likes Given: 647
In terms of cost:

0) Orion/SLS:  $1500M Orion + charitably $1500M SLS = $3000M.
1) Frankenrocket: $1500M Orion + ~$200M ICPS + $150M FHE = $1850M + huge, unquantifiable NRE
2) Orion/Vulcan and FHE: $1500M Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $150M FHE = $1900M, modest NRE
3) Orion/FH3R and FHE: $1500M Orion + $90M FH3R + $150M FHE = $1740M, medium NRE.
4) Orion/FHE and D4H: $1500M Orion + $150M FHE + ~$450M D4H = $2100M, medium NRE.
5) Minimal Starship + D2/F9: $200M Starship crew module + 7*$50M Starship launches + $170M D2/F9 = $720M, unquantifiable-but-likely-100%-SpaceX-funded NRE.  (Don't like $50M/Starship launch?  Pick a number...)
6) Orion/Vulcan and New Glenn transfer stage: $1500 Orion + SWAG $250M Vulcan N62 + $100M New Glenn + $50M NG Stage 3 = $1900M.  Modest NRE.

Update:  Added option #6
Sorry, but you're SWAGing a lot more than just the Starship number here.

The SLS figure you're using was the differential of the entire yearly program plus one launch with the cost of a Delta IV subtracted out, and even doing the very crude costing method of  divvying up the Orion Production and Operations contract by number of spacecraft ordered gets you nowhere near $1.5B per Orion.

I don't have a clue what you're driving at wrt the Europa Clipper stuff.  And yes, Orion marginal costs come down over time.  There are any number of ways to play accounting tricks with this.  Given that, I usually just look at the budget request and the out-years (which have to have the Orion contracts factored into them), add 'em all up and divide by the expected number of missions.  Given the FY2021 budget request, we have:

SLS 2021-2025: $10,923.5M
EGS 2021-2025: $2,165.9M
Orion 2021-2025: $6,438.4M

This is what NASA plans to spend.  You can massage the numbers all you want, but this is what comes out of the general fund to pay for 5 Artemis launches and Europa Clipper.  Note:  I'm assuming that the EC SLS gets paid for out of ESD funds, which probably isn't true.  So I'm going to use my methodology more strictly, and less charitably, than I did above.

That's 6 SLS launches, so we're at $2.2B per launch.  Five Orion launches for Artemis I-V comes to $1.3B per Orion.  I estimated $3B per Orion/SLS above and called it charitable.  At $3.3B/launch using the above methodology, I stand by that number.

If you'd like to argue that that's not the marginal cost of each SLS and Orion, I'll completely agree with you.  But we don't budget with marginal costs.  To be fair, I didn't budget in NRE for any of the options I listed, so let's take a stab at that to get apples-to-apples.

0) Orion/SLS: Per the budget numbers, the fully burdened number (marginal + NRE) is $3300M/mission.

1) Frankenrocket:
a) Structural/aero modes for FH S2: $500M
b) Crew-rate  FH: $1000M.
c) Vertical integration: $500M.
d) Stretch LC-39A service system and add hydrolox: $1000M
e) Adapt DCSS or ICPS to FH S2: $750M
Total NRE: $3750M, amortized over 5 missions: $750M/mission
I'm also gonna throw in $200M per mission extra marginal cost for ground ops in all of these.
Amortized NRE + Marginal cost from above (including ground ops): $2800M/mission (83% of Orion/SLS)

2) Orion/Vulcan and FHE:
a) Crew-rate Vulcan: $1000M
b) OSA for Vulcan: $200M
c) MVac work to throttle to 37%: $100M
d) Orion ESM work to strengthen SAW masts: $1500M
e) Prove launch/rendezvous/dock/checkout/TLI in <8 hours (needs two F9R's and a passive D2): $250M
Total NRE: $3050M, $610M amortized
NRE + Marginal + ground ops: $2710M (82% of Orion/SLS)

3) Orion/FH3R and FHE
a) Crew-rate FH: $1000M
b) Vertical integration for Orion: $100M (additional work after NSSL)
c) OSA with boat tail to FH S2: $200M
d) MVac work to throttle to 37%: $100M
e) Orion ESM work for SAW masts: $1500M
f) Rapid turnaround (new FH pad or process improvements): $500M
g) Rendezvous test: $250
Total NRE: $3650M, $730 amortized
NRE + Marginal + ground ops: $2670M (81% of Orion/SLS)

4) Orion/FHE and D4H:
a) Crew-rate FH: $1000M
b) Vertical integration for Orion: $100M (additional work after NSSL)
c) OSA with boat tail to FH S2: $200M
d) MVac work to throttle to 37%: $100M
e) Orion ESM work for SAW masts: $1500M
g) Rendezvous test (let's assume that the F9 work is transferrable): $250M
Total NRE: $3150M, $630M amortized
NRE + Marginal + ground ops: $2930M  (89% of Orion/SLS)

5) Minimal Starship:
a) Most NRE paid for by SpaceX, because the Feds will never give them public funds until the architecture works.
b) NASA blessing of SpaceX crew certification: $1500M
Total NRE: $1500M, $300M amortized
NRE + Marginal + ground ops: $1220M (37% of Orion/SLS)

6) Orion/Vulcan and New Glenn Stage 3:
a) Crew-rate Vulcan: $1000M
b) OSA for Vulcan: $200M
c) Make whatever BO is thinking about for stage 3 work with Orion eyeballs-out: $500M
d) Test rendezvous/dock (D2/F9R + NG + stage 3): $300M
Total NRE: $2000M, $400M amortized
NRE + Marginal + ground ops: $2500M (76% of Orion/SLS)

These are, IMO, very conservative SWAGs on the NRE costs, but when you factor in those costs, you only save 20% over what Orion/SLS provides.  And, as usual, Starship destroys the universe, price-wise.

There are two hefty flies in the methodological ointment here:

i) I'm assuming that SLS gets shot tomorrow.  As SLS development costs accrue, the NRE for any of these options stays the same, so we amortize it over fewer missions, and the costs go higher.  Point to team SLS--at least to the extent that they (you) can brag, "Yeah, but we were able to mess everything up until all other architectures were impossible!"

ii) On the other hand, I'm just doing the FY2021 request and the out-years to 2025 as a baseline.  What happens after that is anybody's guess, but obviously the NRE costs get amortized over more missions, which helps the distributed launch options.  I believe that both SLS and Orion will have reduced marginal costs and much less NRE, so it's a jump-ball who wins in that case.  Of course, at some point, Starship will be real, so both Orion and SLS are doomed in the long run.  But you can make an argument that the long run could be 7-8 years out.

Online TrevorMonty

If we are going back to moon to stay maybe its time to reconsider Buzz's lunar cycler.

Use CC vehicle for getting to and from LEO. Use OTV for LEO -Cycler-LEO and lander for  Cycler -Moon-Cycler.
Fuels tankers (SS or NG) would initial supply Cycler from earth but later could be from lunar ISRU water, with Cycler converting water to LH and LOX.
Start with 5m cycler habitat and 0.5-1m of water shielding, with time had 7m-9m habitat and more water shielding.

The Cycler removes a lot of radiation risk of travelling back and fore to moon. Long term maybe little artifical gravity by rotation could be added for crew comfort. Can also carry backup rescue vehicles eg spare fuelled lander.

SS maybe good initial Cycler, has loads of room, for comfort, shielding and fuel.

Tags:
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
1