Author Topic: End of U.S. Launch Year  (Read 27321 times)

Online edkyle99

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #20 on: 12/31/2007 02:24 pm »
Quote
Frediiiie - 30/12/2007  12:02 AM

A lot of what you say is true.
National governments do set a lot of the ground rules.
But commercial launches owe allegiance to no one and will go (generally) with the lowest price.
The inability of US launchers to attract commercial customers has got to be worrying.
What is being done about it?
I don't mean COTS. As people are fond of pointing out here SpaceX is at best a long shot.
It's the majors who are bleeding here. Ariane 5 had 6 launches at $211M each
All commercial.
As ESA said they have 80% of the c ommercial market.
(figures from http://www.astronautix.com/articles/costhing.htm)
that's a lot of bucks ULA is not getting.
What are their plans to get some of this in future, or don't they care?

Arianespace launch prices aren't published, to the best of my knowledge, so I have no way of knowing if that $211 million (US or Eurodollars, there is a BIG difference these days) is accurate.  Regardless, commercial customers only pay for a portion of the cost to fly each of those Ariane 5 rockets.  European governments subsidize the program to the tune of perhaps $100 million or more (US$) per flight.  You need to add the $100-ish million subsidy to the $211 million (or $309 million US dollars if the $211 million is in Euros) to find out how much the launch really costs.

Of course the U.S. government does the same thing.  It is reportedly paying something like $0.8 billion or so per year for EELV "infrastructure".  Dividing that by the five EELV launches performed in 2007 gives $160 million per launch, just for the infrastructure!  Building and launching the rockets cost extra - a lot extra!

So the ugly truth here is that governments, at least Western governments, subsidize each of these so-called "commercial" launches with massive sums of Dollars and Euros.  The taxpayers are the ones stuck with the losses.  It appears that the U.S. government has decided to cut its losses on the commercial flights, leaving that part of the suffering to European taxpayers.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline JIS

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #21 on: 12/31/2007 02:48 pm »
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edkyle99 - 31/12/2007  3:24 PM

Eurodollars

??? I wasn't aware of this currency.
'Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' - Old Greek experience

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #22 on: 12/31/2007 02:59 pm »
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JIS - 31/12/2007  10:14 AM

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And national policy decisions that force costs up, exemplified by the strange decision to keep and fund two EELV programs when the market should only bear one

This looks as a standard DoD policy - see F-35 engines or refueling tankers.

The dual engine source for the F-35 was porked down the DOD's throat by congress over DOD objections.

The F-35 is to replace AF F-16's, A-10's, Navy F-18's, and Marine Harriers. The last time they did that was the F-111, and we all know how many of those the Navy bought.

The refueling contract is still being competed and the AF has said it is winner take all, they will not buy two different airframes to replace the aging mixed fleet.

How this applies to spaceflight I do not know... The DOD wants assured acess to space and that justifies the extra cost that they are not willing to see in the F-35 or refueling programs.
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Online edkyle99

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #23 on: 12/31/2007 03:14 pm »
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JIS - 31/12/2007  9:48 AM

Quote
edkyle99 - 31/12/2007  3:24 PM

Eurodollars

??? I wasn't aware of this currency.

Oops.  I meant to say Euros, but there is such a thing as a "Eurodollar", believe it or not.

http://wfhummel.cnchost.com/eurodollars.html

 - Ed Kyle

Online edkyle99

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RE: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #24 on: 12/31/2007 05:35 pm »
FYI, I have now updated the all-time Space Launch Report summaries, incorporating 2007 results,  at:

http://geocities.com/launchreport/logsum.html
http://geocities.com/launchreport/logdec.html
http://geocities.com/launchreport/lvsum.html

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Antares

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #25 on: 12/31/2007 06:54 pm »
There are so many half-truths in this thread I don't even know where to start.

D-IV, Taurus, etc not being available to commercial customers: Not true.  If someone came along and wanted to launch on them, they certainly would not be turned away.  They just aren't marketed to commercial customers.  If you think I'm splitting hairs, this is a precise industry where we use precise words.  Learn them.

EELV Launch Capability "ELC" infrastructure subsidy: Not true.  Read the fine print.  As part of the ELC contract, USAF requires reimbursement on commercial EELV launches.  It doesn't help the price, but the subsidy isn't without strings.

EELV vs Ariane market share: Naive.  Since the number of employees are not prescribed by politics a la STS, EELV is about as cheap as it can get.  ULA/Boeing/LockMart aren't going to go chop prices and lose money.  They might try to politic for lower ESA subsidies and to pursue enhancements to make a better product, but the price in USD is not going down.  Maybe the exchange rates can help like they are for the airliner market.

And, WHAP has already corrected the mischaracterization of Atlas's schedule being "wrecked."
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Offline William Graham

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #26 on: 12/31/2007 07:19 pm »
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Antares - 31/12/2007  7:54 PM
If someone came along and wanted to launch on them, they certainly would not be turned away.

In the case of Minotaur, I believe this is illegal under US law. See the OSC Q&A thread.

Online edkyle99

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #27 on: 12/31/2007 11:56 pm »
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JIS - 31/12/2007  9:14 AM

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edkyle99 - 31/12/2007  4:39 AM
In the end, orbital space flight largely remains under government control.  Government budgets determine how many launches there will be - even of commercial satellites.  Budgets are determined by national defense needs and by a desire to enhance national prestige.      

 - Ed Kyle

It's not about national prestige. American commsats don't fly american rockets because they can get better deal somewhere else.

They can get a better deal somewhere else because the U.S. Govt. can no longer afford to compete  in the launch subsidy game.  And why do those foreign entities pour out public monies to fly rockets?  Phrases like "assured access" come into play, code words for national defense needs.  And yes, national prestige.  The countdowns from Kourou's Jupiter Control Center, broadcast across the planet, are proudly spoken in French.

As for the U.S., the decision to give up on commercial launch means fewer launches and decreased U.S. prestige in the technology arena.  Some of those American comsats might not come back to fly on EELVs even if the dollar fell enough to make it affordable, so comfortable have they become with prestigious Arianespace.  

 - Ed Kyle

Offline meiza

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #28 on: 01/01/2008 12:12 am »
It's a fact that Europe wants an independent spaceflight capability.
Arianespace would make so few flights with the pure defence and science payloads that it would be a costly system per flight if it only flew those. I don't know about the exact subsidy structure, and someone can clarify, but I'd assume that the whole budget wouldn't be that much better (and could be worse) if the commercial missions with subsidies wouldn't be flown.

Offline Jim

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #29 on: 01/01/2008 12:48 am »
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edkyle99 - 31/12/2007  7:56 PM
 broadcast across the planet, are proudly spoken in French.
 Some of those American comsats might not come back to fly on EELVs even if the dollar fell enough to make it affordable, so comfortable have they become with prestigious Arianespace.  

 - Ed Kyle

Not true.  Money talks.  "Comfortable" doesn't do anything for the bottom line.  Plus there are more disadvantages vs "comfortability"

Offline Frediiiie

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #30 on: 01/01/2008 01:17 am »
The $211M per flight figure for Ariare 5 is given at  
http://www.astronautix.com/articles/costhing.htm
I have no idea how accurate it is.
As well the cost is split 3 ways as Ariane 5 has been launching 3 sats per flight.
that's $70M per sat.
But you're right. All these figures can get very rubbery depending on the specifics of the flight, the subsidy, the number of sats per launch. The mass fraction of each sat and so on.
But in the end none of this really matters.
If I am going to launch a sat. I go out and get a quote from each of the rocket suppliers.
The quote includes real costs, subsidies and any schedule restrictions due to govt launches.
Fitting in with other sats on the same launch
And anything else the parties think important.
Then based on their quotes, my needs and so on, I negotiate a deal.
My board are going to be unimpressed if I don't get a good price.
And that's where Ariane 5's 80 percent market share becomes a damning metric.
This is a real commercial outcome which shows the US launch market is loosing heaps of business to its competitors.
This is real income lost.
Are there any plans to turn this around?????

Offline Frediiiie

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #31 on: 01/01/2008 01:32 am »
I should add that the whole point of ULA was gto turn this around.
It hasn't

Online edkyle99

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #32 on: 01/01/2008 04:32 am »
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Frediiiie - 31/12/2007  8:17 PM
... that's where Ariane 5's 80 percent market share becomes a damning metric.
This is a real commercial outcome which shows the US launch market is loosing heaps of business to its competitors.
This is real income lost.
Are there any plans to turn this around?????

It may be income lost, but that income doesn't cover costs.  Each launch loses money, remember?  That means that it is a *good* thing that the U.S. launch market is not handling these launches and losing money on them.  

The only way to "turn this around" would be for the U.S. Government to fork over even more billions of taxpayer money than it already is, in the form of direct or indirect subsidies, to the folks who build and fly these launch vehicles.  

Oddly enough, that free money would filter down the EELV supplier chain to end up in unexpected places like Russia (RD-180 engines), Japan (Delta IV tanks and engine parts), and Europe (payload fairings, etc.).

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Frediiiie

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #33 on: 01/01/2008 06:58 am »
So it's a "good thing" that the US doesn't do commercial launches as they loose money?
I was wondering what the US launchers - essentially ULA - are going to do to turn this situation around.
You're saying "nothing"?
Seriously?
I appreciate a lot of this is an economic and marketing problem rather than strictly an engineering problem.
but I was hoping that there might be something in the pipeline someone could give a hint about.
Surely the inductry can't be happy to just let this issue slide.

Offline Frediiiie

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #34 on: 01/01/2008 06:58 am »
So it's a "good thing" that the US doesn't do commercial launches as they loose money?
I was wondering what the US launchers - essentially ULA - are going to do to turn this situation around.
You're saying "nothing"?
Seriously?
I appreciate a lot of this is an economic and marketing problem rather than strictly an engineering problem.
but I was hoping that there might be something in the pipeline someone could give a hint about.
Surely the inductry can't be happy to just let this issue slide.

Offline JIS

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #35 on: 01/01/2008 06:58 am »
Quote
kevin-rf - 31/12/2007  3:59 PM

Quote
JIS - 31/12/2007  10:14 AM

Quote
And national policy decisions that force costs up, exemplified by the strange decision to keep and fund two EELV programs when the market should only bear one

This looks as a standard DoD policy - see F-35 engines or refueling tankers.

.....

How this applies to spaceflight I do not know... The DOD wants assured acess to space and that justifies the extra cost that they are not willing to see in the F-35 or refueling programs.

F-35 has two similar engines from two different producers F135 and F136.
'Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' - Old Greek experience

Online edkyle99

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #36 on: 01/01/2008 05:23 pm »
Quote
Frediiiie - 1/1/2008  1:58 AM

So it's a "good thing" that the US doesn't do commercial launches as they loose money?
I was wondering what the US launchers - essentially ULA - are going to do to turn this situation around.
You're saying "nothing"?
Seriously?
I appreciate a lot of this is an economic and marketing problem rather than strictly an engineering problem.
but I was hoping that there might be something in the pipeline someone could give a hint about.
Surely the inductry can't be happy to just let this issue slide.

ULA was formed to perform EELV launches for the U.S. Government.  As I understand the process, commercial flights are sold by Boeing and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, who then subcontract the launch services to ULA.  Boeing has only sold Delta II commercial launches to date - and Delta II will soon be phased out.

It is not a good thing that the U.S. is unable to compete in the commercial launch arena, but that is the way things are in the free trade era.  Ultimately, Europe and even Russia may have trouble competing with low-wage China and India for this business.  Subsidies, the pouring of billions of free taxpayer dollars into the coffers of U.S. military-industrial-complex giants who don't need the money, are the only way to keep the U.S. in the game.  

In my opinion, it isn't worth it.  In my opinion, the U.S. should spend what is necessary for national and civil defense space needs and let the free market handle the rest.  

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Antares

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #37 on: 01/01/2008 07:36 pm »
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Frediiiie - 31/12/2007  8:32 PM
I should add that the whole point of ULA was to turn this around.
It hasn't
No.  If you think that, you need to read more threads.  ULA was meant to decrease the fixed costs of having two separate rivals, effectively to decrease the amount that has to be spent on the "ELC" subsidy contract.  It was to save the taxpayers more money while keeping both fleets alive, not to make EELV more price competitive with foreign launchers.  Without ULA, one of the fleets would likely have quit.  For Boeing and Lockheed shareholders, rockets just don't return the profit margins that the other lines of business do.
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #38 on: 01/02/2008 01:54 am »
Quote
JIS - 1/1/2008  2:58 AM

Quote
kevin-rf - 31/12/2007  3:59 PM

Quote
JIS - 31/12/2007  10:14 AM

Quote
And national policy decisions that force costs up, exemplified by the strange decision to keep and fund two EELV programs when the market should only bear one

This looks as a standard DoD policy - see F-35 engines or refueling tankers.

.....

How this applies to spaceflight I do not know... The DOD wants assured acess to space and that justifies the extra cost that they are not willing to see in the F-35 or refueling programs.

F-35 has two similar engines from two different producers F135 and F136.

The DOD wanted to terminate the second engine as a cost saving measure, congress made them (and funded) continue development of the second engine. Two launchers are assured access, the second F-35 engine supplier is an attempt to keep costs down through competition.
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Offline Frediiiie

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Re: End of U.S. Launch Year
« Reply #39 on: 01/05/2008 01:59 am »
Antares said;
"ULA was meant to decrease the fixed costs of having two separate rivals, effectively to decrease the amount that has to be spent on the "ELC" subsidy contract. It was to save the taxpayers more money while keeping both fleets alive"
That alone made the launches more compeatative. but clearly not enough.
Besides the more launches you can get the more you defray your fixes costs and lower your overall costs.
If LM & Boeing really didn't care about getting other customers they would never have bothered trying to cut costs by setting up ULA in the first place.
I'll concede all Jim wants to say about the problems of the industry making it undesirable for US launchers to stay in business. Even though it's exactly the same market (global) that ESA, India, Russia, China & Japan compete in.
What I'm saying is that something needs to be done in the interests of keeping ANY sort of US launch industry going.
What is being done?
SO far all I've heard back from the posters here is
"Nothing. It's too hard."
By the way I live in Australia and this mornings papers carried an article
http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,23007241-911,00.html
where the new government here is considering dumping about $11Bil (Aust) in defence procurement contracts, (a lot of them from Boeing) because they are all years behind schedule.
No doubt it will never happen.
But it is, perhaps, indicative or a deeper malaise.
I don't think LM & Boeing can rely forever on the need for an "assured national launch capability."
What if SpaceX actually get's their act together?
It might not be just Delta II that gets retired.
Personally I would rather see a more diversified launch capability.
So I ask again. What is being done about it?

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