Author Topic: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement  (Read 35569 times)

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.

Offline sdsds

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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 »

Online gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #115 on: 02/28/2024 10:41 pm »
https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/28/rocket-lab-has-misrepresented-neutron-launch-readiness-congressional-memo-says/
Quote
...This memo, which was written by Congressional staffers and circulated on Wednesday to other offices, including those in the Senate Armed Services Committee, states that Rocket Lab has “repeatedly assured” these staffers that the company has a credible path to launch by Dec. 15.

That is the date by which the Space Force’s Space Systems Command said launch providers must be ready to fly in order to qualify for launch contracts under a program called National Space Security Launch (NSSL) Phase 3.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #116 on: 02/29/2024 12:25 am »
I'm surprised that lane 1 has on-ramp opportunities only yearly (i.e. the deadline Neutron is trying to meet). That's a lot more frequent on-ramps than the ~5 year cadence for lane 2 but it still means companies may have to wait almost a year after they're ready before being eligible for launches. Why artificially put lane 1 on a yearly schedule? Why not set a separate deadline for each lane 1 payload a certain number of months before the desired launch date?

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #117 on: 03/01/2024 04:16 am »
https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/28/rocket-lab-has-misrepresented-neutron-launch-readiness-congressional-memo-says/

According to the NSSL phase 3 industry day slides last year (https://govtribe.com/file/government-file/nsslph3indday2-nssl-phase-3-industry-day-2-briefing-for-sam-dot-pdf slide 30) lane 1 providers need a credible plan to launch within a year to bid for IDIQ contracts but to bid for actual task orders one year later they need to have actually launched. Assuming the final RFP has similar rules, if Neutron doesn't launch in time it won't be assigned any payloads. According to https://payloadspace.com/clean-up-in-nssls-lane-1/ SpaceX, ULA and Blue Origin have also bid for lane 1 so the lane 1 payloads will get other rides. If the only lane 1 providers that are eligible for task orders the first year are the three lane 2 providers that doesn't quite match the Space Force's intent to help new entrants but that seems like the appropriate outcome if no one else is ready yet. It seems the Space Force has done a good job protecting themselves against over-optimistic providers - the only harm Neutron's delay can cause seems to be wasting Space Force time processing their IDIQ application a year earlier than it should have been. So why is Neutron's schedule worthy of Congressional staffer attention?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #118 on: 03/01/2024 05:32 am »
<snip>
......So why is Neutron's schedule worthy of Congressional staffer attention?
Think that staffer's district don't have a RocketLab footprint or is in Virginia or Maryland. But has the presences of other space industry entities.

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #119 on: 03/01/2024 03:32 pm »
<snip>
......So why is Neutron's schedule worthy of Congressional staffer attention?
Think that staffer's district don't have a RocketLab footprint or is in Virginia or Maryland. But has the presences of other space industry entities.

I guess one possibility is Rocked Lab's unrealistic optimism isn't directly consequential but a competitor is pointing it out to hurt their reputation.

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