Author Topic: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement  (Read 32969 times)

Offline su27k

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USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« on: 02/10/2022 12:19 pm »
Space Force asks launch companies for insight on where the industry is going

Quote from: SpaceNews
The U.S. Space Force is polling the space launch industry as it tries to identify what companies might challenge United Launch Alliance and SpaceX when their current contracts are re-competed in 2024.

“The government is identifying sources capable of providing NSSL-class launch services beginning in fiscal year 2025 and is requesting more detailed information on each provider’s capabilities, launch systems, to include when those capabilities will be available,” says a Jan. 27 request for information from the Space Systems Command’s launch enterprise. Responses are due Feb. 24.

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #1 on: 04/29/2022 04:12 am »
Space Force sees room for more competitors in national security launch

Quote from: SpaceNews
Two space launch companies – United Launch Alliance and SpaceX – currently are under contract to launch military and intelligence satellites for the U.S. Space Force. But when these contracts are up for recompete in 2024, the Space Force might consider working with more than two companies, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond told lawmakers April 27.

“We are really at a transformation point in space,” Raymond said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of the Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) pressed Raymond to shed light on the Space Force’s future plans to buy space launch services as more companies enter the market. Smith has been a longtime critic of the military launch program, arguing that it does not provide enough opportunities for new entrants.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #2 on: 04/29/2022 06:48 am »
Space Force sees room for more competitors in national security launch

Quote from: SpaceNews
Two space launch companies – United Launch Alliance and SpaceX – currently are under contract to launch military and intelligence satellites for the U.S. Space Force. But when these contracts are up for recompete in 2024, the Space Force might consider working with more than two companies, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond told lawmakers April 27.

“We are really at a transformation point in space,” Raymond said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of the Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) pressed Raymond to shed light on the Space Force’s future plans to buy space launch services as more companies enter the market. Smith has been a longtime critic of the military launch program, arguing that it does not provide enough opportunities for new entrants.
Rep. Adam Smith have a lost cause in trying to get new entrants (really means Below Orbit) into the military launch program. The Juggernaut from Hawthorne effectively can offer launch on demand with a small increase in their boosters fleet size for any potential DoD/NRO payloads. Only with the light orbital launchers can there be new entrants. However the business case don't appear to close for them, IMO. Otherwise why is almost all US launch providers moving up to at least the medium class launchers.

The meme from the first Highlander movie of "There can be Only One!" seems applicable.

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #3 on: 06/19/2022 03:48 am »
House Armed Services chairman calls on Space Force to change how it buys launch services

Quote from: SpaceNews
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in a draft version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act pushes for changes in military launch services procurement, calling on the Space Force to replace the current two-vendor strategy with an open competition model.

<snip>

The language in the 2023 NDAA urges the Space Force to consider other procurement approaches in Phase 3 of the NSSL program in 2024 so more than two companies can win launch contracts.

“It is the sense of Congress that the acquisition approach for Phase 3 of the National Security Space Launch program should account for changes in the launch industry and planned architectures of the Space Force,” according to a draft version of the chairman’s mark, a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews.

The Space Force should “explore new and innovative acquisition approaches to leverage launch competition within the commercial market,” says the draft bill.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #4 on: 06/19/2022 09:58 am »
There definitely opportunities in &lt;1200kg LEO missions given number small LVs in this class. DoD are more likely to need a dedicated launch in this class than rideshare. They are also using more smaller cheaper satellites.

SpaceX and ULA should be save from competition with GEO as these are high value satellites and sometimes complicated missions. Blue's NG is only new LV going after this market and they will have tough time breaking into.

RL, Firefly and Relativity with their future reuseable medium class LVs are all contenders for &lt;8000kg LEO missions. Should be able to match or better F9R on price.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2022 11:34 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #5 on: 06/19/2022 01:45 pm »
House Armed Services chairman calls on Space Force to change how it buys launch services

Quote from: SpaceNews
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in a draft version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act pushes for changes in military launch services procurement, calling on the Space Force to replace the current two-vendor strategy with an open competition model.

<snip>

The language in the 2023 NDAA urges the Space Force to consider other procurement approaches in Phase 3 of the NSSL program in 2024 so more than two companies can win launch contracts.

“It is the sense of Congress that the acquisition approach for Phase 3 of the National Security Space Launch program should account for changes in the launch industry and planned architectures of the Space Force,” according to a draft version of the chairman’s mark, a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews.

The Space Force should “explore new and innovative acquisition approaches to leverage launch competition within the commercial market,” says the draft bill.
The "Sense of congress" (i.e., Congressman Smith of Washington) is supposed to be interpreted as "buy stuff from BO" and specifically "use New Glenn when it is available." I would hope that USSF can re-interpret this to mean they can change the percentage split (currently 60% ULA 40% SpaceX is a stated policy) to a model that allows competition on price for each launch. The big problem with NSSL phase 3 is that the industry is changing so rapidly that any sort of stable contractual arrangement will be obsolete by the time of the last launch and possibly by the time of the first launch. Starship is the elephant in the room.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #6 on: 06/19/2022 03:28 pm »
The "Sense of congress" (i.e., Congressman Smith of Washington) is supposed to be interpreted as "buy stuff from BO" and specifically "use New Glenn when it is available."

Well Blue Origin did bid for NSSL, but didn't win. So just from a fairness standpoint I think it makes sense to use American taxpayer money to onboard more American launch capability.

Quote
I would hope that USSF can re-interpret this to mean they can change the percentage split (currently 60% ULA 40% SpaceX is a stated policy) to a model that allows competition on price for each launch.

DoD launches have a wider variety of payload requirements than NASA launches, which is really where the variable costs come in. And though DoD may not use the launch costs negotiated by the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract, the U.S. Government is not going to allow for much variance regarding the basic launch costs.

Plus, there are some DoD payloads that could be lifted by New Glenn, but Blue Origin doesn't have the launch pad capabilities to handle the payloads - which is also a challenge for SpaceX, and the reason they are building new Pad 39A infrastructure for Falcon 9/H launches.

Quote
The big problem with NSSL phase 3 is that the industry is changing so rapidly that any sort of stable contractual arrangement will be obsolete by the time of the last launch and possibly by the time of the first launch.

Yeah, something should probably change. I would hope there could be some sort of yearly onboarding of new providers. So that the percentage split is always being adjusted.

Quote
Starship is the elephant in the room.

I think everyone has a better idea about Starship now that we've seen what the true pace of development is, but it is the payloads that drive the launch needs, and Starship will need to become operational before DoD truly invests in Starship-only payloads. And until then the U.S. Government will try to spread the launch work around to keep the existing launch providers available.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #7 on: 06/19/2022 04:58 pm »
The "Sense of congress" (i.e., Congressman Smith of Washington) is supposed to be interpreted as "buy stuff from BO" and specifically "use New Glenn when it is available."
Well Blue Origin did bid for NSSL, but didn't win. So just from a fairness standpoint I think it makes sense to use American taxpayer money to onboard more American launch capability.
Yeah, that was in 2019, and BO protested after they lost. The procurement was for launches starting in 2022 and apparently USSF did not believe BO would be flying New Glenn by 2022.

NSSL needs more launch companies. As of now they have ULA with Atlas V and Delta IV heavy. both being retired, and SpaceX with F9 and FH. The first and only NSSL launch for Atlas V will be in Q4 2022. The remaining three Delta IV heavy launches one per year in (2022, 2023, 2024) are NRO launches (do those count as NSSL?) NSSL is counting on ULA having Vulcan qualified for NSSL, and until that happens they are basically dependent on a single company and a single rocket family.

I disagree about "fairness". It's not fair to the American taxpayer to pay a bunch of extra money for a highly questionable return. It looks more like corporate welfare and zipcode subsidy to me. I feel that alternatives to SpaceX need to be reasonably competitive on price. I suppose I would tolerate a 10% premium to support an alternative provider, but not a 100% premium. If I were SpaceX and confronted with the "alternate provider" argument, I would spin off the F9 business and bid Starship as the competitor.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #8 on: 06/20/2022 12:53 am »
The "Sense of congress" (i.e., Congressman Smith of Washington) is supposed to be interpreted as "buy stuff from BO" and specifically "use New Glenn when it is available."
Well Blue Origin did bid for NSSL, but didn't win. So just from a fairness standpoint I think it makes sense to use American taxpayer money to onboard more American launch capability.
Yeah, that was in 2019, and BO protested after they lost. The procurement was for launches starting in 2022 and apparently USSF did not believe BO would be flying New Glenn by 2022.

And apparently they were right...  :D

Quote
NSSL needs more launch companies.

There is likely a diminishing return as the number of launch companies goes over a certain number, and that number may be 2 or 3.

Plus, some DoD payloads require specialized handling that is not cheap to implement, so it may not make economic sense to have more than 2 or 3 certified to handle those.

Quote
I disagree about "fairness". It's not fair to the American taxpayer to pay a bunch of extra money for a highly questionable return. It looks more like corporate welfare and zipcode subsidy to me.

The USAF has a job to do, and they are always looking for ways to do that job as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, while trying to achieve very high success rates. Of course political influence does get in the way sometimes, but from a non-political view competition should be good, but too much competition for such a small amount of launch "demand" may not be good. It's a balance thing that I don't think we have achieved yet.

But the USAF should be allowed to pursue onboarding new launch entrants, regardless their political connections.

Quote
I feel that alternatives to SpaceX need to be reasonably competitive on price. I suppose I would tolerate a 10% premium to support an alternative provider, but not a 100% premium. If I were SpaceX and confronted with the "alternate provider" argument, I would spin off the F9 business and bid Starship as the competitor.

SpaceX will continue to be the low cost launch provider, and ULA will be the high cost launch provider. So we need someone in the middle that can provide a good enough launch success record that allows the U.S. to have redundancy and "reasonable costs".

Make no mistake though, any new launch entrant is going to be taking away business from ULA, and that is a concern for the USAF, since ULA is the only launch provider CURRENTLY certified to launch all of the payloads USAF needs launched.

And while I think ULA's owners have botched their future by sticking with expendable rockets, the reality is that America needs ULA, so we need to find a way to keep them in business. Horrible as that might sound.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #9 on: 06/20/2022 03:08 am »
Make no mistake though, any new launch entrant is going to be taking away business from ULA, and that is a concern for the USAF, since ULA is the only launch provider CURRENTLY certified to launch all of the payloads USAF needs launched.
ULA has two "certified" launch vehicles and both are out of production and are being retired. All 23 remaining Atlas V and the three remaining Delta IV heavies are already allocated to launches, so they cannot launch all of those payloads. They cannot launch any payloads that are not already contracted for, which appears to be three USSF Atlas V launches, one NRO Atlas V launch, and three NRO Delta IV Heavy launches.

Vulcan is not yet certified.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy are both "certified" for NSSL payloads. does USSF have payloads that cannot be launched on these?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #10 on: 06/20/2022 04:46 am »
Make no mistake though, any new launch entrant is going to be taking away business from ULA, and that is a concern for the USAF, since ULA is the only launch provider CURRENTLY certified to launch all of the payloads USAF needs launched.
ULA has two "certified" launch vehicles and both are out of production and are being retired. All 23 remaining Atlas V and the three remaining Delta IV heavies are already allocated to launches, so they cannot launch all of those payloads. They cannot launch any payloads that are not already contracted for, which appears to be three USSF Atlas V launches, one NRO Atlas V launch, and three NRO Delta IV Heavy launches.

Vulcan is not yet certified.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy are both "certified" for NSSL payloads. does USSF have payloads that cannot be launched on these?

Jim could better explain, but you are just focused on the rockets, and forgetting about the infrastructure it takes to mount the payloads and provide "unique" services that commercial payloads don't need. Remember we're talking about USAF & NRO payloads here, with national security hardware.

ULA was built to handle ALL of those payloads, but SpaceX is just now getting ready to build some of the infrastructure needed to handle some of those payloads - not sure if they will be able to handle all of them though.

Maybe Blue Origin is taking those infrastructure needs into account as they build out their launch facilities, but even so they need to get certified by the USAF - or have a plan to get there when they are bidding, like SpaceX was able to do.

So no, it isn't just the rockets that are the concern, but the launch infrastructure.
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 butters

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #11 on: 06/20/2022 05:11 am »
In 2026, is NSSL a significant enough sliver of the launch market to matter? Why should launch providers care about NSSL requirements when there's Kuiper and other megaconstellations driving the vast majority of demand growth? Why should Blue Origin support direct-to-GEO missions with a reusable Jarvis upper stage? Why should Rocket Lab scale Neutron to cover the range of NSSL payload classes?

The US military is talking about buying *maybe* 30-34 launches over a five year period. It could be significantly less than that. There could be six missions one year and two missions the next. Amazon placed a firm order for 83 launches over a five year period, and there will be more where that came from. Whose requirements are more important? Who has more clout to drive requirements for launch providers?

ULA supports NSSL requirements. SpaceX had already developed FH and was all but forced to promise a vertical integration tower and a special expendable payload fairing. That's enough providers bending over backwards for a vanishingly small number of snowflake payloads. Other providers should be able to bid on the missions that they are capable of executing.

Blue Origin, in particular, needs to resist the urge to make any more pivots to win a government contract. Forget about the stodgy military customers and skate to where the puck is going.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #12 on: 06/20/2022 05:23 am »
Make no mistake though, any new launch entrant is going to be taking away business from ULA, and that is a concern for the USAF, since ULA is the only launch provider CURRENTLY certified to launch all of the payloads USAF needs launched.
ULA has two "certified" launch vehicles and both are out of production and are being retired. All 23 remaining Atlas V and the three remaining Delta IV heavies are already allocated to launches, so they cannot launch all of those payloads. They cannot launch any payloads that are not already contracted for, which appears to be three USSF Atlas V launches, one NRO Atlas V launch, and three NRO Delta IV Heavy launches.

Vulcan is not yet certified.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy are both "certified" for NSSL payloads. does USSF have payloads that cannot be launched on these?

Jim could better explain, but you are just focused on the rockets, and forgetting about the infrastructure it takes to mount the payloads and provide "unique" services that commercial payloads don't need. Remember we're talking about USAF & NRO payloads here, with national security hardware.

ULA was built to handle ALL of those payloads, but SpaceX is just now getting ready to build some of the infrastructure needed to handle some of those payloads - not sure if they will be able to handle all of them though.

Maybe Blue Origin is taking those infrastructure needs into account as they build out their launch facilities, but even so they need to get certified by the USAF - or have a plan to get there when they are bidding, like SpaceX was able to do.

So no, it isn't just the rockets that are the concern, but the launch infrastructure.
Thanks for the explanation. However, even if ULA has all of the infrastructure that USSF, USAF, and/or NRO will ever need, it is of no use unless they also have a certified launch vehicle. Let's hope Vulcan launches soon and gets certified quickly.

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #13 on: 06/21/2022 12:41 am »
Thanks for the explanation. However, even if ULA has all of the infrastructure that USSF, USAF, and/or NRO will ever need, it is of no use unless they also have a certified launch vehicle. Let's hope Vulcan launches soon and gets certified quickly.

Right, Atlas V and Delta IV M/H are end of life, so Vulcan is the only way forward for ULA. And Tory Bruno's job, and reputation, is on the line with his decision to rely on Blue Origin.

And yes, I do hope Vulcan launches soon. It looks like a fine expendable rocket, but unfortunately it is an expendable rocket...  :(

Quote
To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

I don't know what situation is with that, but I would have to imagine that Blue Origin worked how things would work with the USAF many years ago, and we just don't know what was decided.

Plus, remember that SpaceX will be launching USAF/NRO payloads from Pad 39A, which is KSC, so maybe this isn't an insurmountable problem?
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 Jim

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #14 on: 06/21/2022 01:46 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #15 on: 06/21/2022 01:53 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?
Based on a misunderstanding on my part. I thought USSF (or NRO or whoever makes these decisions) preferred to launch from SLC. I now know I was wrong. I should have made it part of the question, not an assertion.

Offline Jim

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #16 on: 06/21/2022 02:07 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?
Based on a misunderstanding on my part. I thought USSF (or NRO or whoever makes these decisions) preferred to launch from SLC. I now know I was wrong. I should have made it part of the question, not an assertion.

Salt Lake City?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #17 on: 06/21/2022 02:34 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?
Based on a misunderstanding on my part. I thought USSF (or NRO or whoever makes these decisions) preferred to launch from SLC. I now know I was wrong. I should have made it part of the question, not an assertion.

Salt Lake City?
I meant a pad whose abbreviation starts with "SLC" (e.g., SLC-40) , which I think means "Space Launch Complex". What I should have said was "Cape Canaveral Space Force Station", which under control of USSF, in contrast to a pad whose abbreviation starts with "LC" (e.g., LC-39A) which is part of "Kennedy Space Center" and is under control of NASA.

Offline Jim

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #18 on: 06/21/2022 02:50 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?
Based on a misunderstanding on my part. I thought USSF (or NRO or whoever makes these decisions) preferred to launch from SLC. I now know I was wrong. I should have made it part of the question, not an assertion.

Salt Lake City?
I meant a pad whose abbreviation starts with "SLC" (e.g., SLC-40) , which I think means "Space Launch Complex". What I should have said was "Cape Canaveral Space Force Station", which under control of USSF, in contrast to a pad whose abbreviation starts with "LC" (e.g., LC-39A) which is part of "Kennedy Space Center" and is under control of NASA.

DOD Shuttle missions STS 51-C, 51-J, 27, 28, 33, 36, 38, 44 & 53 had no issue with using LC-39.  Same with NROL-108 & 76

Online edzieba

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #19 on: 06/22/2022 02:36 pm »
Or the pads at Wallops/MARS, which like KSC is a NASA site rather than Air Force / Space Force, but has hosted NROL launches before.

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Offline whitelancer64

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #22 on: 06/28/2022 09:25 pm »

To participate, BO would need a launch pad and other infrastructure at SLC, right? Their facilities at KSC are not secure enough.

Based on what?
Based on a misunderstanding on my part. I thought USSF (or NRO or whoever makes these decisions) preferred to launch from SLC. I now know I was wrong. I should have made it part of the question, not an assertion.

Salt Lake City?
I meant a pad whose abbreviation starts with "SLC" (e.g., SLC-40) , which I think means "Space Launch Complex". What I should have said was "Cape Canaveral Space Force Station", which under control of USSF, in contrast to a pad whose abbreviation starts with "LC" (e.g., LC-39A) which is part of "Kennedy Space Center" and is under control of NASA.

Blue Origin does not have a launch site at KSC. They are using LC-36 and LC-11, in CCSFS.

LC-36 was once called SLC-36 (from 1997 to 2010). It is still owned by the Space Force and is part of CCSFS, they leased it to Space Florida, who then leased it to Blue Origin.
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Offline whitelancer64

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #23 on: 06/28/2022 09:46 pm »
In 2026, is NSSL a significant enough sliver of the launch market to matter? Why should launch providers care about NSSL requirements when there's Kuiper and other megaconstellations driving the vast majority of demand growth? Why should Blue Origin support direct-to-GEO missions with a reusable Jarvis upper stage? Why should Rocket Lab scale Neutron to cover the range of NSSL payload classes?

The US military is talking about buying *maybe* 30-34 launches over a five year period. It could be significantly less than that. There could be six missions one year and two missions the next. Amazon placed a firm order for 83 launches over a five year period, and there will be more where that came from. Whose requirements are more important? Who has more clout to drive requirements for launch providers?

ULA supports NSSL requirements. SpaceX had already developed FH and was all but forced to promise a vertical integration tower and a special expendable payload fairing. That's enough providers bending over backwards for a vanishingly small number of snowflake payloads. Other providers should be able to bid on the missions that they are capable of executing.

Blue Origin, in particular, needs to resist the urge to make any more pivots to win a government contract. Forget about the stodgy military customers and skate to where the puck is going.

Yes, it matters. Why should they do those things, you ask?

It's not about the volume of launches, but the high value of the contracts. The military / US gov tends to pay very well.

As an example, the company I work for assembles circuit boards. We have a few high volume customers for which we produce several tens of thousands of completed circuit boards per year. In spite of that, we get the most money per year from our military and aerospace contracts, even though they are for a much smaller number of completed circuit boards, just a few thousand per year. And we do bend over backwards to keep that money coming in, for example, by maintaining our AS9100  and ITAR certifications.
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"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #24 on: 07/03/2022 04:12 am »
Space Force considering strategy for procuring national security launch services

Quote from: SpaceNews
The Space Force launch procurement command in Los Angeles later this year will send to the Pentagon a proposed strategy for selecting national security launch services providers for the next round of contracts expected to be awarded in 2024.

“The NSSL [National Security Space Launch] team is off working the strategy for Phase 3, but nothing has been agreed to yet,” Frank Calvelli, the Space Force’s senior acquisition executive, told reporters June 28.

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #25 on: 09/02/2022 03:03 am »
With billions at stake, lobbying heats up for future rights to Space Force launches

Quote from: breakingdefense.com
Some 25 House members have signed onto a draft letter being circulated by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., pushing restrictions on the contenders. That letter was drafted by current incumbent, United Launch Alliance, according to industry sources; ULA is a joint venture of defense behemoths Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The undated draft, addressed to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and obtained by Breaking Defense, encourages the Space Force to “continue requiring launch providers meet all critical mission requirements.” This would effectively limit the contest to those companies with large, “high energy” rockets that can loft satellites all the way up to Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO, some 36,000 kilometers in altitude) and block out small launch providers who can only reach Low Earth Orbit (LEO, between 100 and 2,000 kilometers) even for missions that only need to reach that lower zone, according to several industry sources.

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #26 on: 09/21/2022 01:37 am »
Draft solicitation for national security space launch services expected in early 2023

Quote from: SpaceNews
The U.S. Space Force is working to finalize a procurement strategy for the next national security launch services contracts expected to be awarded in 2024.

A draft request for industry proposals could be issued as early as February 2023, Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, the Space Force’s program executive officer for assured access to space, told SpaceNews on the sidelines of the Air, Space & Cyber conference.

Before the Space Systems Command can release a draft request for proposals, the strategy has to be approved by the Department of Defense, said Purdy. “We are trying to get everyone at DoD to agree … there are a lot of stakeholders.”

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #27 on: 11/19/2022 06:01 am »
https://twitter.com/ussf_ssc/status/1593800616219901953

Quote
#SpaceSystemsCommand’s Assured Access to Space directorate signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement today, paving the way for @BlueOrigin to compete for the next NSSL launch service competition and is an example of how we foster innovation! https://www.ssc.spaceforce.mil/Portals/3/Documents/PRESS%20RELEASES/Space%20Systems%20Command%20Opens%20the%20Door%20for%20Blue%20Origin%20to%20Provide%20.pdf?ver=RqasqnwR0Vc4WckL8ggAFQ%3d%3d

Offline su27k

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #28 on: 12/24/2022 03:06 am »
Op-ed | Space Force faces key questions ahead of next launch services procurement

Quote from: SpaceNews
The U.S. Space Force is in the process of defining the framework for Phase 3 of the National Security Space Launch program (NSSL).

The follow-on from the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, NSSL ensures that the Department of Defense has access to launch services to put the most critical military and intelligence collection assets into orbit — assets like GPS, space-based early warning, and other classified payloads. Right now the program’s requirements are being met by two providers: United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX.

The decisions that will shape Phase 3 are being made against an evolving geopolitical and commercial landscape, which are critical considerations for ensuring the United States has the launch services it needs now and in the future.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #29 on: 01/14/2023 01:42 am »
Space Force weighing new approach for selecting national security launch providers

Quote from: SpaceNews
“A dual-lane contracting approach is being considered,” he said. One would be an IDIQ contract, short for indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity “with an unlimited number of providers.”

An IDIQ contract would allow the government to purchase launch services on an as-needed basis without committing to a specific amount. Pentecost said this vehicle would be used for less complex NSSL launches where there is likely to be more competitors. “This allows annual on-ramping of new capabilities for the less stressing NSSL missions.”

The second lane would be like Phase 2, or an indefinite delivery requirements contract with two selected providers for the more demanding NSSL missions.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #30 on: 02/17/2023 03:43 am »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1626400068868661249

Quote
Big changes are coming in how the US military buys launch. DOD will still require its two big contractors to hit all orbits (SpaceX and ULA, most likely) but will open another procurement lane for more risk tolerant missions. Big win here for Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, others.

Quote
Space Systems Command Releases National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Draft Request for Proposals

Summary: SC NSSL RFP release reflects Command's acquisition strategy of dual-lane approach for access to diverse commercial systems for greater resilience, integration, affordability and more.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Space Systems Command released two National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3 Draft Requests for Proposals (RFP) based on a dual-lane acquisition approach to solicit industry feedback on the RFPs prior to finalization.

"Today's draft RFP release builds upon the historic successes of the NSSL program and responds to our nation's need to address the pacing challenge," said Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer, Assured Access to Space. "We developed an acquisition strategy consisting of a dual-lane approach that provides access to diverse commercially available systems, increases resiliency through alternate launch sites and streamlined integration timelines, allows annual on-ramping of emerging launch providers and systems, secures launch capacity, enables supply chain stability, and enhances affordability for the most stressing National Security Space missions."

Lane 1 will use a multiple Firm Fixed Price Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract open to all qualified bidders. Bidders are not required to meet all NSSL orbits to compete in Lane 1. Lane 1 will have annual on-ramping opportunities as emerging providers or systems are ready. Lane 1 covers procurements from FY25 to FY34 consisting of a five-year base ordering period plus a five-year option. Lane 1 serves more risk-tolerant space vehicles launching to commercially addressable orbits. Task orders for launch services are competed on an annual basis among all IDIQ awardees. The government may order missions individually or in blocks. Launch providers must propose fully-burdened launch service prices that include all applicable launch service support. Lane 1 also incorporates tiered mission assurance as required by each mission's risk tolerance.

The government will select two awardees for Lane 2. The competitively awarded FFP Indefinite
Delivery Requirements contracts will be awarded to the best value and next best value launch service providers who meet all NSSL orbits and unique mission capabilities. The contracts will have a five-year ordering period from FY25 to FY29. Lane 2 includes missions that require full mission assurance with certified launch vehicles. Lane 2 payloads require launches to more stressing orbits, necessitating higher performance
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 03:44 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline Jim

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #31 on: 02/17/2023 01:39 pm »
Just following NASA's lead.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #32 on: 02/24/2023 05:27 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1629182133510995969

Quote
As the military prepares to buy more launches with NSSL Phase 3, @USSF_SSC's Col. Douglas Pentecost says in a briefing they expect "a greater than 50% increase" in missions.

Phase 2 expected ~35 (but is now targeting ~40), whereas Phase 3 is expected to have over 60 to 70.

twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1629182750832852993

Quote
After a solicitation period, SSC is targeting summer 2024 to announce contract awards under NSSL Phase 3.

https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1629185616192626688

Quote
Expected NSSL Phase 3 breakdown:

Lane 1
- 30 missions
- designed for flexibility, for both new missions and launch vehicles

Lane 2
- 40 missions
- 60%/40% split between two companies
- "hardest orbit" requirements

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #33 on: 02/24/2023 05:46 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1629190538908893189

Quote
Col. Douglas Pentecost of the Air Force has referred to companies including Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, Blue Origin, and ABL Space as "Lane 1" entrants for national security launch. He revealed that ABL is also working on larger rocket, which the company hasn't talked about.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #34 on: 02/25/2023 09:45 am »
Can ULA and SpaceX compete for Lane #1 missions?.

Offline VSECOTSPE

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #35 on: 02/25/2023 11:47 pm »
Can ULA and SpaceX compete for Lane #1 missions?.

Yup, per last sentence below:

Quote
For Phase 3 the Space Force projects anywhere from 60 to 70 missions. About 30 of those will be less demanding “Lane 1” launches that could be performed by emerging launch providers flying medium-size vehicles. The other 40 in “Lane 2” would be heavy-lift missions to high orbits carrying the most sensitive military and intelligence satellites.

— Lane 1 will run from 2025 to 2034, with a five-year base period plus a five-year option. Bids will be solicited annually throughout the contract period, so will be opportunities to “on ramp” new companies. These launches could be performed from nontraditional spaceports.

— Lane 2 requires certified national security launch vehicles that fly from the Eastern and Western ranges. The contract period will run from 2025 to 2029. As in NSSL Phase 2, two winners will be selected, with the top scorer getting 60% of the missions.

— Based on market research and conversations with launch providers, Pentecost said, there could be at least four new competitors in Phase 3: Rocket Lab, ABL Space, Relativity Space and Blue Origin. These companies would compete in the more “risk tolerant” Lane 1, although Blue Origin could have a shot at Lane 2 if New Glenn completes three flights and gets certified.

— Incumbents ULA and SpaceX would be eligible to compete in either lane.

https://spacenews.com/space-force-looks-to-energize-industry-with-next-round-of-launch-contracts/

Another summary:

https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/space-force-reimagining-launch-service-procurement/
« Last Edit: 02/25/2023 11:51 pm by VSECOTSPE »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #36 on: 03/06/2023 12:37 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1632736456379715586

Quote
The US military is finally leaning heavily into the nation's commercial launch industry. It's a pretty big deal.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/03/the-gold-rush-for-the-next-round-of-military-launch-contracts-has-started/

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #37 on: 03/06/2023 04:22 pm »
 

"As we talk to the Rocket Labs, Relativities, the ABLs, they all talk about how they’re expanding from their smaller launch focus into medium lift," Pentecost said. "And everybody has plans to go even higher."

This bit interested me especially plans to go even higher.
Don't necessarily need bigger LV,  inorbit refuelling will also give same result, something that is mention later in article.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #38 on: 03/07/2023 07:48 pm »
https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-very-happy-with-space-force-plan-to-procure-launch-services/

Quote
Rocket Lab ‘very happy’ with Space Force plan to procure launch services
CEO Peter Beck says the company played an active role reshaping the government’s approach to buying launch services

Sandra Erwin
March 7, 2023

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab’s chief executive Peter Beck is candid about his company’s role in reshaping the U.S. government’s approach to buying launch services.

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” Beck says of the recent draft solicitation for the next round of national security space launch contracts.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #39 on: 03/08/2023 03:31 pm »
twitter.com/free_space/status/1633502198570143744

Quote
Boeing is interested in offering commercial Space Launch System flight services under the National Security Space Launch Phase 3 program. "We believe the proven SLS capabilities can be an asset for the ... [NSSL] Phase 3 contract," Boeing tells @AviationWeek

I’m with Eric:

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1633505686503170049

Quote
I would love to see the Space Launch System in a real, actual competition for launch contracts. I think that would be fun.
« Last Edit: 03/08/2023 03:32 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #40 on: 03/15/2023 07:08 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1636095723425988608

Quote
Bruno: NSSL Lane 2, for demanding national security missions, "is for grownups." Government will need to do block buys or else funding they have trouble getting on manifests.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #41 on: 03/15/2023 07:31 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1636095723425988608

Quote
Bruno: NSSL Lane 2, for demanding national security missions, "is for grownups." Government will need to do block buys or else funding they have trouble getting on manifests.

This is so self-serving it's disgusting.  I am sure that SpaceX is more than willing to accommodate them on their manifest.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #42 on: 03/15/2023 07:52 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1636095723425988608

Quote
Bruno: NSSL Lane 2, for demanding national security missions, "is for grownups." Government will need to do block buys or else funding they have trouble getting on manifests.

This is so self-serving it's disgusting.  I am sure that SpaceX is more than willing to accommodate them on their manifest.

Oh don't worry ULA (or whatever it is by then) will also accommodate them block buy or not.

But he still wants a block buy, can't blame him.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #43 on: 04/14/2023 03:02 pm »
twitter.com/free_space/status/1646883653413224449

Quote
Space Force plans to award sole-source study contract to on-ramp Blue Origin for National Security Space Launch Phase 3 contract -- Lane 2 (which, if for New Glenn, certainly indicates Lane 2 not just for small satellite launchers ). SLS next?   

https://sam.gov/opp/bc16bbbd24074a7b9d715b341a0aa567/view

https://twitter.com/free_space/status/1646889447839916033

Quote
Oops -- got my lanes mixed up . lane 2 for full-range of NSSL missions , not small sat launchers .

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #44 on: 04/21/2023 03:58 am »
https://twitter.com/wehavemeco/status/1649152079150354433

Quote
Something else that came up during the live shows yesterday: @Peter_J_Beck of @RocketLab pointed out that vehicles bidding for NSSL Phase 3 Lane 1 need to be able to lift 10 tons to LEO at a minimum:

https://www.youtube.com/live/wmmNuU8-Tr8

Quote
I hadn’t gone back to check, but the NSSL Phase 3 Industry Day Briefing is up on SAM.gov now, where that info is disclosed: https://sam.gov/opp/e5d778c9278a47c9a759927901e35bf6/view

https://twitter.com/wehavemeco/status/1649153131790635008

Quote
Quite an interesting limit. It excludes vehicles like @Firefly_Space’s Alpha, @ablspacesystems’ RS1, @RocketLab’s Electron, whatever @Astra ends up working on, etc. Relying on basically an entire new generation of vehicles—Neutron, Terran R, Firefly MLV—is a bit…interesting.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #45 on: 05/08/2023 02:06 pm »
“Relying on an entire new generation of vehicles…”?  Last I recall lane one is open to all bidders including SpaceX, which seems likely to clean up in this category.

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #46 on: 05/08/2023 07:22 pm »
Interesting.

One observation: the Lane-1 requirement is 10 short tons, or approximately 9 metric tons. That threshold might be just low enough to let Antares 330 bid.

It looks like smaller rockets (400lb/180kg+ LEO) are covered by OSP-4 (Orbital Services Program). https://sam.gov/opp/324d7a776a8f8ce29d9369ab8684a5be/view


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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #47 on: 07/14/2023 05:45 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1679902235998793749

Quote
From a Space Force release about a new draft RFP for National Security Space Launch Phase 3: "The most substantive change since the U.S. Space Force released the first draft Request for Proposals is that the U.S. Space Force will add a third provider to the Lane 2 construct." 🤔

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #48 on: 07/14/2023 05:47 pm »
https://spacenews.com/senate-defense-panel-leaves-national-security-space-launch-unsecured/

Quote
Opinion
Senate defense panel leaves National Security Space Launch unsecured
Erik Seedhouse
July 13, 2023

Erik Seedhouse, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Spaceflight Operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

In the misguided effort to promote increased competition, the U.S. Senate Armed Service Committee has proposed changes to how the U.S. Space Force selects providers of national security launch services. Their attempted legislative override of the U.S. Space Force’s proposed contractor standards is reckless, and U.S. space leaders fear that it may compromise the success of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) — the government program intended to assure access to space for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #49 on: 07/14/2023 06:35 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1679902235998793749

Quote
From a Space Force release about a new draft RFP for National Security Space Launch Phase 3: "The most substantive change since the U.S. Space Force released the first draft Request for Proposals is that the U.S. Space Force will add a third provider to the Lane 2 construct." 🤔

I hope the Space Force waits until the bids are submitted before making a final decision about whether they'll accept 0, 1, 2 or 3 bids. Retaining this sort of flexibility got NASA a better deal with HLS then they would have gotten if they'd accepted 2 bids during the first competition.

Offline Jim

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #50 on: 07/14/2023 06:37 pm »

I hope the Space Force waits until the bids are submitted before making a final decision about whether they'll accept 0, 1, 2 or 3 bids. Retaining this sort of flexibility got NASA a better deal with HLS then they would have gotten if they'd accepted 2 bids during the first competition.

No, they have to make their intentions known at the beginning of the procurement.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #51 on: 07/14/2023 08:41 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1679952920396066818

Quote
Space Force is expanding "Lane 2" of the NSSL Phase 3 to three rocket companies, from two – specifically calling out "the pacing challenge" of China as part of the need for more launches and providers.

SSC press release (highlights mine):
« Last Edit: 07/14/2023 08:41 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #52 on: 07/18/2023 06:12 am »
https://twitter.com/ussf_ssc/status/1681097641889857536

Quote
#SpaceSystemsCommand released a 2nd round of National Security Space Launch Phase 3 draft Requests for Proposals that incorporate industry comments from the first draft RFPs. SSC is seeking additional industry feedback.

Learn more and submit feedback:

https://www.ssc.spaceforce.mil/Portals/3/Documents/PRESS%20RELEASES/Space%20Systems%20Command%20Releases%20National%20Security%20Space%20Launch%20Phase%203%20Draft%202%20Request%20for%20Proposals.pdf

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #53 on: 07/18/2023 09:01 am »
Neutron maybe contender if 3rd awardee doesn't have to meet maximum payload requirements for each mission. DoD has help fund Neutron's US development, this maybe to meet all NSSL Phase 3 complex mission requirements eg direct GEO insertion.

Neutron should mean low launch costs for lighter payloads compared to F9 and Vulcan.

Neutron can't compete with New Glenn for performance but RL has launch record that Blue is long way from matching.
« Last Edit: 07/28/2023 05:06 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #54 on: 07/18/2023 02:21 pm »
It looks like they quietly lowered the Lane-1 requirements. The new standard calls for 6.8 tons to 926km (15,000 lbm to 500 nmi), but now allows that to be split over multiple launches, 1ton minimum per launch.

Lane 2 requirements are fuzzier.
Quote
The Government will award three contracts for the NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2 Launch Service
70 Procurement for “Requirement 1”, “Requirement 2”, and “Requirement 3.” The “Requirement
71 1” or “Requirement 2” launch service distributions will be as described in Table 1 in 52.212-4
72 (z) Ordering, in the model contract. The “Requirement 3” launch service distribution portion of
73 the NSSL manifest is described in Table 2 in 52.212-4 (z) Ordering, in the model contract.
That does sort of sounds like the 3rd place may have different requirements than the others. Probably still created just for New Glenn, but Neutron might have a chance.

https://sam.gov/opp/bd1fa759be3c4b8285575337fa166d0b/view#attachments-links



Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #55 on: 07/19/2023 12:00 am »
Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #56 on: 07/19/2023 12:44 am »
Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?
There was zip file download with half dozen documents but none containing orbits or mass requirements.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #57 on: 07/21/2023 11:05 am »
Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?

Anthony Colangelo has done some analysis:

https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/255

Quote
After the most recent show, I found a few nuggets of information in the NSSL Phase 3 documents, plus some more updates came out in a call that the Space Force had with some reporters.

What Anthony found:

58 launches total for the 3 winners, but only 7 to the 3rd winner (5 GPS satellites and 2 direct to GSO).

The remaining 51 are split 60/40 between the other 2 winners. So very heavily biased to main 2 winners, presumably to ensure a minimum number of launches per annum (the speculation being to guarantee that ULA remains in business whatever else happens in the launch market).

Also although a winner does not need a current launch vehicle, they must have (successfully?) launched by 1st October 2026. Furthermore, they need an operational West Coast launch site by that date too.

So, as currently written, not as beneficial to Blue Origin as some headlines might suggest.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #58 on: 07/21/2023 02:43 pm »


Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?

Anthony Colangelo has done some analysis:

https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/255

Quote
After the most recent show, I found a few nuggets of information in the NSSL Phase 3 documents, plus some more updates came out in a call that the Space Force had with some reporters.

What Anthony found:

58 launches total for the 3 winners, but only 7 to the 3rd winner (5 GPS satellites and 2 direct to GSO).

The remaining 51 are split 60/40 between the other 2 winners. So very heavily biased to main 2 winners, presumably to ensure a minimum number of launches per annum (the speculation being to guarantee that ULA remains in business whatever else happens in the launch market).

Also although a winner does not need a current launch vehicle, they must have (successfully?) launched by 1st October 2026. Furthermore, they need an operational West Coast launch site by that date too.

So, as currently written, not as beneficial to Blue Origin as some headlines might suggest.

If they specified GPS and GSO orbits for winner 3, why would they require a west coast launch site?

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #59 on: 07/21/2023 03:08 pm »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #60 on: 07/21/2023 08:49 pm »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
SpaceX doesn’t have VI and ULA doesn’t have a rocket (that can fly all missions).

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #61 on: 07/21/2023 09:12 pm »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
SpaceX doesn’t have VI and ULA doesn’t have a rocket (that can fly all missions).
ULA will not have an LV for Phase 3 until Vulcan is certified, but that is planned for NET Q1 2024.

SpaceX cannot currently do Vertical Integration, but I thought VI capability was planned for CCSFS SLC-40 and for  VSFB SLC-4. Is this incorrect?

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #62 on: 07/21/2023 10:08 pm »
VI capability has been planned for 39A at least

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #63 on: 07/22/2023 12:25 am »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
Well SpaceX is choosing for F9/FH VI, at least initially, to use existing newly surplus infrastructure with MST's i.e  SLC-6 (announced) and some discussions about SLC-37's soon to be available Bravo Pad (yet to be officially confirmed) with the Alpha pad ready for new builds.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 12:26 am by russianhalo117 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #64 on: 07/22/2023 04:09 am »
Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?

Anthony Colangelo has done some analysis:

https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/255

Quote
After the most recent show, I found a few nuggets of information in the NSSL Phase 3 documents, plus some more updates came out in a call that the Space Force had with some reporters.

What Anthony found:

58 launches total for the 3 winners, but only 7 to the 3rd winner (5 GPS satellites and 2 direct to GSO).

The remaining 51 are split 60/40 between the other 2 winners. So very heavily biased to main 2 winners, presumably to ensure a minimum number of launches per annum (the speculation being to guarantee that ULA remains in business whatever else happens in the launch market).

Also although a winner does not need a current launch vehicle, they must have (successfully?) launched by 1st October 2026. Furthermore, they need an operational West Coast launch site by that date too.

So, as currently written, not as beneficial to Blue Origin as some headlines might suggest.
NG and maybe Terran R are only HLVs in pipeline that could compete. There is possibility Firefly &amp; Northrop Grumman Corporation could add SRBs to new Antares with liquid US.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 04:09 am by TrevorMonty »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #65 on: 07/22/2023 03:55 pm »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1682746189358198785

Quote
More launch providers are encouraged as the United States Space Force (USSF) released a second draft of a request for proposals (RFP) for the forthcoming phase three of the national security space launch (NSSL) program.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2023/07/nssl-phase-three-update/ - By Danny Lentz.

The NSSL program provides most of the space launch contracts for the United States Department of Defense (DOD), including flights for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

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Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #67 on: 07/22/2023 08:09 pm »
The GEO semi-major axis in that tweet is wrong (GEO != LEO). It should be 22,767 nmi.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 08:14 pm by deltaV »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #68 on: 07/22/2023 09:45 pm »
Of those orbits GEO 2 (14,500 lb to GEO) looks like it should be the hardest for most launch vehicles. Vulcan is just about the perfect size for this - it can get 15,400 lb to GEO. This good fit is unsurprising since Vulcan was designed for an earlier version of the DOD requirements.

Falcon Heavy looks like it can also do all these missions.

New Glenn and Terran R can probably handle all these missions (they have more LEO performance than Vulcan) but only with an additional expendable upper stage to boost their performance to high energy orbits. However it's unclear if Terran R can meet the Oct 2026 deadline for first flight and pads on both coasts since they're currently planning to have first flight in 2026. Meeting that deadline would be especially challenging since they'd also need to spend resources building or buying an additional upper stage, maybe using the AeonVac from Terran 1's upper stage.

Firefly's MTV, Neutron, and Antares all have around half the LEO capacity of Vulcan, which is way too small for the GEO 2 mission. Edit: a three-core heavy upgrade of these vehicles could possibly do it.

With only $100M/year available for fixed costs and AFAICT no money for development costs I don't think anyone will bid for Lane 2 unless they already have a rocket under development for other applications. So I expect SpaceX's Falcon, ULA's Vulcan, Blue Origin's New Glenn, and maybe Relativity's Terran R to be the only bidders for Lane 2. Terran R may or may not bid and if they do bid they're a long shot to win anything.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 09:56 pm by deltaV »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #69 on: 07/23/2023 06:14 am »
For those curious, these are the 9 reference orbits that a rocket needs to be able to hit to be eligible to win under Lane 2 in NSSL Phase 3

Here's the metric version.

Orbit     Mass (kg)   Orbit (km)  Inclination (°)
-------------------------------------------------
LEO           6,800          926  63.4
Polar 1       7,030          834  98.2
Polar 2      17,010          834  98.2
MEO Direct    9,070       18,178  50
MEO Transfer  4,080  1000x20,368  55
GEO Transfer  8,160   185x35,786  27
Molinya       5,220  1204x39,170  63.4
GEO 1         3,630       35,786   0
GEO 2         6,580       35,786   0
« Last Edit: 07/23/2023 06:15 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #70 on: 07/23/2023 06:37 pm »
For those curious, these are the 9 reference orbits that a rocket needs to be able to hit to be eligible to win under Lane 2 in NSSL Phase 3

Here's the metric version.

Orbit     Mass (kg)   Orbit (km)  Inclination (°)
-------------------------------------------------
LEO           6,800          926  63.4
Polar 1       7,030          834  98.2
Polar 2      17,010          834  98.2
MEO Direct    9,070       18,178  50
MEO Transfer  4,080  1000x20,368  55
GEO Transfer  8,160   185x35,786  27
Molinya       5,220  1204x39,170  63.4
GEO 1         3,630       35,786   0
GEO 2         6,580       35,786   0

Do requirements allow for in orbit refuelling of US?.
« Last Edit: 07/23/2023 06:37 pm by TrevorMonty »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #71 on: 07/24/2023 05:23 am »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #72 on: 07/24/2023 06:33 am »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.
Seems kind of moot, since Slot 3 will almost certainly be won by Blue Origin, who aren't likely to cancel New Glenn any time soon. And while in theory Lane 2 requires a plan to build a West Coast launch site, I don't know if Blue Origin would be bound to execute that plan should they get Slot 3. They'd still be on the hook for VI infrastructure, but if there's one thing Blue Origin is good it it's building lots and lots of ground infrastructure.

In the event that Relativity did somehow win Slot 3, they might be obligated to build or buy a third stage to enable GEO 2 orbits, an expense they wouldn't otherwise have, but since they should know that they cannot realistically expect to get Slots 1 or 2, presumably they'd base their prices exclusively on Slot 3.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #73 on: 07/24/2023 02:33 pm »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.
My simplistic view of the original NSSL (phases 1 and 2) was that the Government knew it needed to support all of the launch scenarios, so the bidders were required to support all of them. They did not get to pick and choose, because that would have left the government with no way to address the more difficult ones. For NSSL phase 3, they split it into lane 1 and lane 2, so Lane 1 provides opportunities for bidders who cannot meet all the lane 2 requirements. But lane 2 remains "all or nothing", just like Phase 2 and for the same reasons. Providing more flexibility might make life easier for bidders but it would not meet all of the government's requirements. If the third bidder did not need to provide the sophisticated capabilities, then they would be at an unfair competitive advantage against the bidders that did have to pay for those capabilities.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #74 on: 07/24/2023 02:49 pm »
In a way, it's almost kind of moot. If they're drawing such a distinction between the number (and type) of launches given to Slot 2 and Slot 3, a company gunning for Slot 3 is basically not even trying to compete with the Slot 1 or Slot 2 companies. So really, the competition is between ULA and SpaceX to see which of them gets Slot 1 vs. Slot 2, and then totally separately Blue Origin gets handed Slot 3 uncontested (unless Relativity makes a play).

(And yes, Blue Origin can't explicitly say "we're only 'competing' for Slot 3," but they can propose a plan for how they'd perform the Slot 1 or Slot 2 missions, knowing full well that they absolutely won't get Slot 1 or Slot 2 and can abandon that plan once they win Slot 3. And then ultimately only pay for the infrastructure and development needed to serve those Slot 3 missions.)

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #75 on: 07/25/2023 09:01 am »
As I see it, if the Firefly Beta/Northrop Grumman MLV booster don't work out. NG still have a shot at getting the NSSL slot 3. If they can build or buy an upper stage to put on top of a stack of Castor 120 solid motors. Launching out of pad SLC-39B. Maybe NG can do something like the early PPH Ariane 6 configuration using GEM 63XL as strapped-on solid boosters.

Yes, resurrecting the "Stick". I will see myself out. :P
« Last Edit: 07/30/2023 05:31 am by Zed_Noir »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #76 on: 07/28/2023 08:02 pm »
Tory Bruno regards Relativity as nothing. By saying "It’s not competition if everybody wins", with everybody = ULA, SpaceX and Blue Origin.

https://spacenews.com/ula-has-concerns-about-a-third-competitor-in-national-security-space-launch/

He is a smart man, and I agree.
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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #77 on: 07/28/2023 09:03 pm »
I don’t think ULA will stay a winner for long. There will be Blue, Relativity, Rocket Lab, and Firefly all vying for the second & third spot. All of them have the advantage of a design with a highly reusable first stage. So ULA has just a few years at most before they either do a Hail Mary with a better-than-SMART recovery system for their first stage (which is my pure speculation) or they become increasingly irrelevant; most likely I don’t think they’ll be even 3rd by 2030; they likely will be gone (acquired/merged) by then. And it’s not clear who will have spots 2 and 3.

Tory should be careful what he wishes for.

I think people are underestimating how well Terran-1 flew, given it had 9 novel engines. It really is a big accomplishment that speaks well of the team.

IMHO, it’s a toss up between Blue, Relativity, Firefly, and Rocket Lab. (Less likely for Firefly?) Each has their strengths and weaknesses and I distrust anyone who is certain they know which will succeed.
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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #78 on: 07/29/2023 10:48 am »
https://spacenews.com/ula-has-concerns-about-a-third-competitor-in-national-security-space-launch/

Quote
ULA has concerns about a third competitor in national security space launch
CEO Tory Bruno: ‘It’s not competition if everybody wins’
Sandra Erwin
July 28, 2023

WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno said he has “a bunch of questions” about the latest changes announced by the Space Force for the procurement of national security space launch services.

Speaking on the CNBC “Manifest Space with Morgan Brennan” podcast that aired July 27 […]
.

Podcast links:

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/13/manifest-space-with-morgan-brennan.html

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/manifest-space-with-morgan-brennan/id1680523433?i=1000622555771
« Last Edit: 07/29/2023 10:49 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #79 on: 07/29/2023 12:23 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.
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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 »

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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; don’t take his reasoning without a grain of salt.
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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 don’t 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 don’t 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

“If the government determines there are less than three awardable offerors, the government may award less than three contracts,” 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 »

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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. 

Online abaddon

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #92 on: 11/18/2023 09:20 pm »
I don’t remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If it’s 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 don’t remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If it’s 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.  ;)

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #94 on: 11/19/2023 06:34 am »
I don’t remember if NSSL 3 is going to be a different model from NSSL 2.  If it’s 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.

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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?
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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.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #100 on: 01/03/2024 05:57 am »
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?

Maybe it's $19 each for 49,211 satellites in a new mega constellation. Until the integration studies are done the DOD won't know exactly how many launches they need so they're paying for the studies per satellite, not per launch.

Just kidding. I doubt studying the prime factors of 935,009 will accomplish anything since the total contract value is probably a sum, not a product.

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #101 on: 01/03/2024 06:39 am »
Anyone know where to find the reference orbit and the associated requirements? They were in a table in the draft RFP but I can't find them in the latest one.

The table from the the LSA RFP matches what's in the pricing table from Attachment 8 of the LSP RFP but adds options for 9,000 pounds to "MEO Direct 2," 11,200 pounds to "MEO Transfer 2," and 8,000 pounds to "GEO 1.5."

I count 16 "X" marks in the table below, plus the 3 mentioned above. That gets me 19.
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Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #102 on: 01/04/2024 03:38 am »
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)

That sam.gov link includes an attachment, a heavily redacted "justification and approval for other that full and open competition". That attachment includes information on which missions are covered, which rules out sdsds's theory of 19 missions for $49,211 each. It includes "The government did not receive any SOI submittals, and no other company has expressed interest in conducting EIS", which seems to confirm DeimosDream's conclusion that SpaceX, ULA, and Blue are the only phase 3 lane 2 bidders.

Offline sdsds

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #103 on: 01/04/2024 10:20 pm »
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.

It's somewhat old news, but
Quote from: Sandra Erwin on July 19, 2023
Pentecost said a launch company with a new rocket in development can still be selected if it submits a credible plan showing its vehicle will be ready to fly by October 2026, Pentecost said. That is the start of fiscal year 2027 when Phase 3 missions have to be ordered.

If any of the selected launch companies are not able to fly by that date, the missions will be reassigned to one of the other Lane 2 providers.

A new entrant like Blue Origin, for example, could be awarded a Lane 2 contract on the assumption that its New Glenn rocket will be operational and certified by October 2026.
https://spacenews.com/space-force-changed-launch-procurement-plan-due-to-concerns-about-capacity/

So Blue submitted a "credible plan" showing New Glenn will be operational and certified by October 2026.
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Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #104 on: 01/05/2024 02:55 am »
So Blue submitted a "credible plan" showing New Glenn will be operational and certified by October 2026.

I don't think we can conclude that yet. The Space Force is probably still evaluating Blue's plan. They probably made the recent contract with Blue as a cheap way to hedge their bets in case they find Blue's plan credible when they finish evaluating it later this year. When they do evaluate it they will likely find it credible since Blue can afford to take almost three times the scheduled time and still make October 2026 and if the Space Force rejects Blue's plan they won't be able to make the planned three awards.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #105 on: 01/05/2024 03:19 am »
So Blue submitted a "credible plan" showing New Glenn will be operational and certified by October 2026.

I don't think we can conclude that yet. The Space Force is probably still evaluating Blue's plan. They probably made the recent contract with Blue as a cheap way to hedge their bets in case they find Blue's plan credible when they finish evaluating it later this year. When they do evaluate it they will likely find it credible since Blue can afford to take almost three times the scheduled time and still make October 2026 and if the Space Force rejects Blue's plan they won't be able to make the planned three awards.
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months. The current guess for BE-4 production rate is 2/mo, so seven months of production, while Vulcan would optimistically like to consume all of the production with one flight/mo. I think this means they must convince NSSL that they can ramp up the BE-4 production. But from NSSL's perspective, they will see two of their providers competing for the BE-4 resource.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #106 on: 01/05/2024 03:03 pm »
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months.

Good point, I forgot that multiple launches are required for "operational and certified". Blue has quite a bit of margin but not the 3x I said.

Offline joek

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #107 on: 01/05/2024 03:42 pm »
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months.
Good point, I forgot that multiple launches are required for "operational and certified". Blue has quite a bit of margin but not the 3x I said.

Depends on whether you are talking about what is required for contract award vs. flight. Contract award does not require certification. Flight does require that the vehicle be certified. In short, contract can be awarded prior to certification if there is a credible plan (as determined by DoD, NASA, whoever) to achieve certification prior to flight of a mission requiring certification. Hope that makes sense?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #108 on: 01/05/2024 04:00 pm »
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months.
Good point, I forgot that multiple launches are required for "operational and certified". Blue has quite a bit of margin but not the 3x I said.

Depends on whether you are talking about what is required for contract award vs. flight. Contract award does not require certification. Flight does require that the vehicle be certified. In short, contract can be awarded prior to certification if there is a credible plan (as determined by DoD, NASA, whoever) to achieve certification prior to flight of a mission requiring certification. Hope that makes sense?
It does indeed, and that is where we started. We are discussing the factors the NSSL team (not NASA) must consider to determine the credibility of the plan. Will the NSSL team believe that BO can fly and evaluate two certification flights prior to 1 October 2026, and presumably also build a third NG by then to actual undertake an NSSL mission?

This really depends on their internal rules. The industry's track record for meeting schedules for new hardware is a complete joke, but the NSSL team has historically bought into the shared fantasy. ULA was allowed to bid on Phase 2 because they had a "credible plan" for Vulcan to be fully certified before October 2021. A case can be made that it would be unfair to BO for the team to suddenly change the implicit rules and start doing realistic evaluations for NSSL Phase 3.

Offline AndrewM

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #109 on: 01/13/2024 08:47 pm »
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months.
Good point, I forgot that multiple launches are required for "operational and certified". Blue has quite a bit of margin but not the 3x I said.

Depends on whether you are talking about what is required for contract award vs. flight. Contract award does not require certification. Flight does require that the vehicle be certified. In short, contract can be awarded prior to certification if there is a credible plan (as determined by DoD, NASA, whoever) to achieve certification prior to flight of a mission requiring certification. Hope that makes sense?
It does indeed, and that is where we started. We are discussing the factors the NSSL team (not NASA) must consider to determine the credibility of the plan. Will the NSSL team believe that BO can fly and evaluate two certification flights prior to 1 October 2026, and presumably also build a third NG by then to actual undertake an NSSL mission?

This really depends on their internal rules. The industry's track record for meeting schedules for new hardware is a complete joke, but the NSSL team has historically bought into the shared fantasy. ULA was allowed to bid on Phase 2 because they had a "credible plan" for Vulcan to be fully certified before October 2021. A case can be made that it would be unfair to BO for the team to suddenly change the implicit rules and start doing realistic evaluations for NSSL Phase 3.

ULA only has to complete 2 Vulcan flights for DoD certification since the DoD was heavily involved in the design of it. It's quite likely New Glenn would require more than 2 certification flights.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #110 on: 01/13/2024 09:36 pm »
Are we sure of that time? "Operational and certified" requires two successful "certification" missions. Those are not NSSL missions. For example Vulcan Centaur is using the Peregrine mission and a Dream chaser mission, and those mission must fly and then be evaluated. Realistically, I think this means the first NG flight must occur by Q1 2026, and then everything must work perfectly. That's two years from now: 24 months.
Good point, I forgot that multiple launches are required for "operational and certified". Blue has quite a bit of margin but not the 3x I said.

Depends on whether you are talking about what is required for contract award vs. flight. Contract award does not require certification. Flight does require that the vehicle be certified. In short, contract can be awarded prior to certification if there is a credible plan (as determined by DoD, NASA, whoever) to achieve certification prior to flight of a mission requiring certification. Hope that makes sense?
It does indeed, and that is where we started. We are discussing the factors the NSSL team (not NASA) must consider to determine the credibility of the plan. Will the NSSL team believe that BO can fly and evaluate two certification flights prior to 1 October 2026, and presumably also build a third NG by then to actual undertake an NSSL mission?

This really depends on their internal rules. The industry's track record for meeting schedules for new hardware is a complete joke, but the NSSL team has historically bought into the shared fantasy. ULA was allowed to bid on Phase 2 because they had a "credible plan" for Vulcan to be fully certified before October 2021. A case can be made that it would be unfair to BO for the team to suddenly change the implicit rules and start doing realistic evaluations for NSSL Phase 3.

ULA only has to complete 2 Vulcan flights for DoD certification since the DoD was heavily involved in the design of it. It's quite likely New Glenn would require more than 2 certification flights.
Alternatively ULA had to be considered "credible" for NSSL Phase 2 because that was the only way to avoid a sole source to SpaceX. Since it's nearly certain that both ULA and SpaceX really are credible for NSSL 3, there is no particular reason to be lenient for a third vendor for lane 2. Let new rockets including NG compete for lane 1.

Lane 2 caveats:   SpaceX has not yet demonstrated vertical integration, and Vulcan Centaur has not yet flown two demo flights, but I think their plans are still quite credible.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #111 on: 01/18/2024 05:01 pm »
From another thread:

Another example of space tug domination...

https://twitter.com/GoToImpulse/status/1747646045549744318

Impulse Space's Helios kick stage seems like it could be used by LEO-optimized launchers such as New Glenn, Terran R and/or Starship for the NSSL lane 2 direct GEO mission. The owners of those launchers may prefer to build their own kick stages so I'm not sure how likely this is but it seems worth mentioning.

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #112 on: 01/21/2024 12:21 pm »
Quote from: impulsespace
GEO
4,000 kg* 4,500 kg‡
GTO
7,500kg* 10,500 kg‡

* Assumes launch to LEO (300km circular) on SpaceX F9-5500 (Reusable)
‡ Assumes launch to LEO (300km circular) on Relativity Terran R (Reusable)

Very impressive! …but not quite NSSL GEO standard. Maybe a Terran-R (expended) would hit the 6.6t target, but even then the kick stage probably takes up too much space to still hit the payload fairing payload volume specifications.

Maybe for New Glenn / Starship.
« Last Edit: 01/21/2024 12:23 pm by DeimosDream »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #113 on: 01/21/2024 11:06 pm »
Quote from: impulsespace
GEO
4,000 kg* 4,500 kg‡
GTO
7,500kg* 10,500 kg‡

* Assumes launch to LEO (300km circular) on SpaceX F9-5500 (Reusable)
‡ Assumes launch to LEO (300km circular) on Relativity Terran R (Reusable)

Very impressive! …but not quite NSSL GEO standard. Maybe a Terran-R (expended) would hit the 6.6t target, but even then the kick stage probably takes up too much space to still hit the payload fairing payload volume specifications.

Maybe for New Glenn / Starship.
At least for the standard Falcon payload fairing. Don't think the Helios module with just 14 tonnes of propellant will take up much volume as long as the payload is no bigger than current 5 tonnes comsats. Plus there is the optional stretched Falcon payload fairing.

Should have no issues in either the Vulcan or the Ariane 6 with a long payload fairing from Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG) producing a common payload fairing family for both launchers.

Impulse can increase the propellants capacity in the Helios to meet the NSSL GEO standard.


Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #114 on: 01/23/2024 12:45 am »
Very impressive! …but not quite NSSL GEO standard. Maybe a Terran-R (expended) would hit the 6.6t target, but even then the kick stage probably takes up too much space to still hit the payload fairing payload volume specifications.

Expending Terran R boosts its LEO performance by 43% (23.5 to 33.5 tonnes). Reuse usually hurts performance by a much larger factor at higher energies so I bet Terran R would get at least the 47% boost it needs (4.5 to 6.6 tonnes) from expendability. I don't know if the payload fairing issue would be difficult to solve. Too bad Relativity hasn't talked about their NSSL lane 2 plans AFAIK.

Edit: maybe not, the reuse penalty from Terran R + Helion may differ from the reuse penalty of Terran R alone.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2024 12:46 am by deltaV »

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