Author Topic: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement  (Read 37471 times)

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #80 on: 07/29/2023 05:04 pm »
These discussions of NSSL bidders would be better in the NSSL thread, e.g. I listed the main potential bidders in https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=55784.msg2507739#msg2507739.

[zubenelgenubi: Posts split/merged.]
« Last Edit: 07/31/2023 02:55 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #81 on: 07/29/2023 06:16 pm »
Only heavy lifters (> 25 t to LEO) can fully compete on NSSL contracts. This excludes Firefly and Rocket Lab. The candidates are

- SpaceX with Falcon Heavy and Starship
- ULA with Vulcan
- Blue Origin with New Glenn
- Relativity with Terran R

Money will decide who survives, and Relativity has by far the highest near-term bankruptcy risk. They need to raise several hundred million $ by 2024, and about another billion in the years thereafter. I strongly believe that this is the reasoning behind Tory discarding Relativity. ULA is well financed for the upcoming 5+ years by contracted Atlas and Vulcan launches.
ULA is starting over in its flight reliability record with Vulcan and has fundamentally worse costs. Tory is not God; donít take his reasoning without a grain of salt.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #82 on: 09/17/2023 06:13 pm »
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2023/07/nssl-phase-three-update/ says "The final RFP is currently targeted for release by September of this year, with proposals due by December." Also https://spacenews.com/space-force-to-select-three-providers-of-national-security-launch-services/ seems to agree, saying "in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023", which ends at the end of September. Have then been any updates on the schedule during the two months since those articles were written?

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #83 on: 10/01/2023 01:28 am »
I donít think ULA will stay a winner for long. There will be Blue, Relativity, Rocket Lab, and Firefly all vying for the second & third spot.
I agree that ULA is unlikely to stay a winner for long but I don't think Rocket Lab and Firefly are likely competitors for lane 2 since their biggest launch vehicles are Neutron and Antares 300 respectively which are about half the size needed for the 6.6 tonnes to GEO mission. I guess they could do it with a three-core heavy upgrade or a multi-launch mission with propellant transfer or in-orbit rendezvous of stage and payload, but is there any reason to believe they're planning one of these? Also do the NSSL rules allow multiple launches?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #84 on: 10/01/2023 09:57 am »
I donít think ULA will stay a winner for long. There will be Blue, Relativity, Rocket Lab, and Firefly all vying for the second & third spot.
I agree that ULA is unlikely to stay a winner for long but I don't think Rocket Lab and Firefly are likely competitors for lane 2 since their biggest launch vehicles are Neutron and Antares 300 respectively which are about half the size needed for the 6.6 tonnes to GEO mission. I guess they could do it with a three-core heavy upgrade or a multi-launch mission with propellant transfer or in-orbit rendezvous of stage and payload, but is there any reason to believe they're planning one of these? Also do the NSSL rules allow multiple launches?
RL and Firefly would be happy to pick up few lower performance missions a year, why letting ULA and SpaceX fight it out for high performance missions. For both RL and Firefly cost of making HLV and building pads to support high performance missions just isn't worth the return from few possible extra missions a year.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #85 on: 10/05/2023 03:53 pm »
Do we know if NSSL lane 2 allows multi-launch architectures using propellant transfer and/or in-orbit assembly? If so, the hardest orbit is not direct GEO 2 but polar 2, which is 17,010 kg to 834 km 98.2 degrees. Polar 2 is unfortunately too much for Neutron and MLV (which can't get 17 tonnes to any LEO at all) so this wouldn't enable any new competitors. But it could help sometimes, e.g. allowing Terran R to do direct GEO with a low performing kick stage without expending any first stages.

Offline gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #86 on: 10/05/2023 04:15 pm »
Realistically, Phase 3 Lane 2 will probably be Falcon, Vulcan, New Glenn.  Everything else can prove itself in Lane 1 and compete for the harder missions in the next round of contracts.

Offline gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #87 on: 10/05/2023 05:10 pm »
Final RFP released.  Responses due Dec. 15.  Lane 1 contracts awarded in the spring, Lane 2 contracts awarded next fall.  It doesn't sound like there were any major changes from the last draft RFP.

Lane 1: https://sam.gov/opp/14202647513b4da2813235c362e5bcd6/view
Lane 2: https://sam.gov/opp/82c7b90b441f4dbf8df854a87792c2ce/view

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #88 on: 10/06/2023 03:17 am »
Space News article on this:
https://spacenews.com/space-force-releases-final-call-for-bids-for-national-security-launch-services/

Quote
Plans to select a third provider in Lane 2 would open the door to a new entrant like Blue Origin, which is developing its New Glenn rocket. However, if the vehicle is not certified by October 2026, the Space Force may decide to only award two contracts.

ďIf the government determines there are less than three awardable offerors, the government may award less than three contracts,Ē said the final RFP. Lane 2 providers have to demonstrate a capability to perform at least eight national security missions per year.

Seems the Space Force, despite what may have been said previously, has made sure to clarify that only 2 may be selected initially if the value is not certain and/or the 3rd provider cannot meet certain requirements like having a west coast launch site. But the goal is still to have 3 providers fully certified to fulfill every need for the Space Force by the end of NSSL Phase 3, so they will likely onramp Blue or others later in the decade for that 3rd provider.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2023 03:17 am by spacenuance »

Offline gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #89 on: 10/06/2023 01:07 pm »
In that case the later onramp would be Phase 4.  Phase 3 has onramps for Lane 1, not Lane 2.  It sounds like Blue just has to show they'd be certified by 2026.  If the third provider didn't make that certification date, the other providers would just pick up the flights.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2023 01:12 pm by gongora »

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #90 on: 11/17/2023 12:01 am »
https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/sale-of-united-launch-alliance-is-nearing-its-end-with-three-potential-buyers/

Quote
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are close to selecting a buyer for United Launch Alliance, two sources told Ars. The jointly owned rocket company, which was founded in 2006 and for a time had a monopoly on US government launch contracts, has been up for sale most of this year.

The sources say three buyers have emerged for the Colorado-based launch company. These include a private equity fund, the Jeff Bezos-owned space company Blue Origin, and a well-capitalized aerospace firm that is interested in increasing its space portfolio.

If Blue DOES buy ULA, what would be the near and mid-term effects?

I wonder how NSSL Phase 3 lane 2 bidding would be affected by a possible merger of Blue Origin and ULA. Such a merger presumably wouldn't be final (due to anti-trust review) until well after the Dec 15 2023 NSSL phase 3 lane 2 bid submission deadline. So would ULA and Blue submit a single combined bid in hopes that the merger happens or two separate bids in case not? How would the DOD react if they submitted two bids but it looked like they'd probably merge? A merger would frustrate the DOD's goals of competition and redundancy so maybe the DOD would only accept one of the bids even if they'd otherwise have accepted both? How would the DOD react if they submitted one bid but the merger wasn't final when awards were decided?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #91 on: 11/17/2023 04:07 am »


https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/sale-of-united-launch-alliance-is-nearing-its-end-with-three-potential-buyers/

Quote
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are close to selecting a buyer for United Launch Alliance, two sources told Ars. The jointly owned rocket company, which was founded in 2006 and for a time had a monopoly on US government launch contracts, has been up for sale most of this year.

The sources say three buyers have emerged for the Colorado-based launch company. These include a private equity fund, the Jeff Bezos-owned space company Blue Origin, and a well-capitalized aerospace firm that is interested in increasing its space portfolio.



If Blue DOES buy ULA, what would be the near and mid-term effects?

I wonder how NSSL Phase 3 lane 2 bidding would be affected by a possible merger of Blue Origin and ULA. Such a merger presumably wouldn't be final (due to anti-trust review) until well after the Dec 15 2023 NSSL phase 3 lane 2 bid submission deadline. So would ULA and Blue submit a single combined bid in hopes that the merger happens or two separate bids in case not? How would the DOD react if they submitted two bids but it looked like they'd probably merge? A merger would frustrate the DOD's goals of competition and redundancy so maybe the DOD would only accept one of the bids even if they'd otherwise have accepted both? How would the DOD react if they submitted one bid but the merger wasn't final when awards were decided?

Won't make any difference as two primary suppliers are ULA and SpaceX. Having 3rd option is nice to have but not essential. 

Offline abaddon

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #92 on: 11/18/2023 09:20 pm »
I donít remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If itís a similar model (e.g. say a 50/30/20 split versus the 60/40 split of NSSL2) it would make a HUGE difference; Imagine BlueLA winning a 50+20% share of NSSL 3 because they won separate awards and then immediately merged.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #93 on: 11/19/2023 12:22 am »
I donít remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If itís a similar model (e.g. say a 50/30/20 split versus the 60/40 split of NSSL2) it would make a HUGE difference; Imagine BlueLA winning a 50+20% share of NSSL 3 because they won separate awards and then immediately merged.
Then the lawyers will be happy.  ;)

Offline trimeta

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #94 on: 11/19/2023 06:34 am »
I donít remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If itís a similar model (e.g. say a 50/30/20 split versus the 60/40 split of NSSL2) it would make a HUGE difference; Imagine BlueLA winning a 50+20% share of NSSL 3 because they won separate awards and then immediately merged.
I seem to recall that the numbers for the third winner were considerably smaller. I don't remember the specifics offhand (and I'd gladly be corrected), but I thought it was closer to 60/35/5.

Offline gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #95 on: 11/19/2023 04:45 pm »
The third provider in Lane 2 (which doesn't have to be awarded) gets up to 7 flights, the rest of the Lane 2 flights are split 60/40.  I'd guess if ULA is bought by Blue before contracts are awarded then the third slot doesn't end up being used.  At that point New Glenn would really be in the same category as Starship, an alternate vehicle from one of the top two companies.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #96 on: 12/17/2023 10:27 pm »
The proposals were due Dec 15. I was hoping that we'd see some of the bidders announce their plans after the deadline as sometimes happens but it doesn't look like that's happened this time.

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #97 on: 01/02/2024 01:53 pm »
Blue Origin was awarded a contract for "Early Integration studies for NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2".

https://sam.gov/opp/2ed77639ac3d42928bbbc4d1a3372338/view#description

I haven't seen any similar awards to any other new comers, so that looks like confirmation that Blue is the only new company being considered alongside the SpaceX/ULA incumbents.

(Edit: changed link to sam.gov)
« Last Edit: 01/03/2024 08:08 pm by DeimosDream »

Offline sdsds

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #98 on: 01/03/2024 01:16 am »
Blue Origin was awarded a contract for "Early Integration studies for NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2".

From the linked source: "$935,009.00." That's $935k, plus $9 for postage and handling?

Seriously, the prime factors of 935,009 are 19 and 49,211. Is it plausible Space and Missile Systems Center is paying Blue $49,211 each for 19 different early integration studies?
ó 𝐬𝐝𝐒𝐝𝐬 ó

Offline jimvela

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #99 on: 01/03/2024 03:36 am »
From the linked source: "$935,009.00." That's $935k, plus $9 for postage and handling?

Maybe it's six full time folks for half a year to come up with some plausible theory how an organization that has existed for 23 years but never launched a single thing into any orbit will magically be able to support national security launches in anything less than a decade from now.

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