Author Topic: Athena and Minotaur  (Read 29141 times)

Offline AnlaShok

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Athena and Minotaur
« on: 03/01/2007 01:38 pm »
Is the Athena launcher still available? Not accroding to Astronautix, but Athena is still on LockheedMartin's site.

If there's no more Athenas, then Orbital's rockets (Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaurs') are the only small US rockets. After Delta II there's going to be a big gap between Minotaur IV and EELV's, like one between Vega and Ariane, which Soyuz filled.

Is there a stockpile of missles to be used in Minotaurs', and if there is, how many Minotaurs are left?

Offline Jim

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #1 on: 03/01/2007 01:49 pm »
ULA is not offering Athena.  Minotaurs are really Minuteman II's with Pegasus upperstages.  There are hundreds of Minutemans available.  One of the versions of the Minotuar uses the Peacekeeper and there are around 50 of those

Offline edkyle99

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #2 on: 03/01/2007 10:17 pm »
Quote
AnlaShok - 1/3/2007  8:38 AM

If there's no more Athenas, then Orbital's rockets (Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaurs') are the only small US rockets.

They are the only small US launch vehicles currently available, but there are at least two development efforts underway that could add to that number.  SpaceX, of course, is trying to get Falcon 1 into service, and ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

Quote
After Delta II there's going to be a big gap between Minotaur IV and EELV's, like one between Vega and Ariane, which Soyuz filled.

If and when that Delta 2 gap opens up, it seems likely to me that some company would see it as a market opportunity.  And there are options.  For example, Orbital Sciences has, in the past, proposed growth versions of Taurus that would have pushed it into the low-end of the Delta 2 range.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      
Pegasus XL  400 kg to 400 km x 28 deg
Minotaur 1   640 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Falcon 1   570 kg to 200 km x 28 deg
Taurus XL  1,500 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Mintotaur 4  1,734 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

Delta 2-7320  2,796 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Delta 2-7920  5,102 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

Delta 4-M    8,450 kg to 500 km x 51.6 deg
Falcon 9    10,350 kg to 200 km x 28 deg
Atlas 5-402   12,500 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

 - Ed Kyle

Offline CFE

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #3 on: 03/02/2007 02:16 am »
Quote
AnlaShok - 1/3/2007  7:38 AM

Is the Athena launcher still available? Not accroding to Astronautix, but Athena is still on LockheedMartin's site.


Technically, Athena is still available, but nobody is going to want it.  Why's that?  Because it's not very different from the Minotaur IV that's now being offered.  The Castor 120 on the Athena first stage isn't much different from the Peacekeeper first stage on the Minotaur IV, and performance should be similar.  The difference is that the Peacekeeper motors are furnished by DoD, so Minotaur IV is cheaper than the all-commercial Athena.  

A similar example is the Minotaur I: although it shares upper stages with the Pegasus (and has higher performance than Pegasus,) it's cheaper than Pegasus because the first two stages are furnished by the government.  I don't know if these cost savings apply to commercial payloads, as Minotaur has only been used for government launches thus far.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #4 on: 03/02/2007 03:30 am »
Minotaur can only be used for gov't launches

Offline Rocket Guy

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #5 on: 03/02/2007 03:39 am »
COSMIC was not gov't. But all the others so far have been.

Offline hektor

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #6 on: 03/02/2007 04:46 am »
I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #7 on: 03/02/2007 08:48 am »
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Ben - 2/3/2007  5:39 AM

COSMIC was not gov't. But all the others so far have been.

COSMIC was a gov launch. The satellites were built by Taiwan, but as it was a joint project with the USAF, the USAF procured the launch vehicle.


Offline Rocket Guy

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #8 on: 03/02/2007 03:27 pm »
Ok, thanks.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #9 on: 03/02/2007 04:24 pm »
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hektor - 2/3/2007  12:46 AM

I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

There might be avionics, fairing and interstages but the motors would be elsewhere

Offline Danderman

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #10 on: 03/03/2007 10:57 pm »
So, is there another customer for the Orbus 21, or is that particular hardware at a dead end?

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #11 on: 03/04/2007 12:45 am »
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Danderman - 3/3/2007  6:57 PM

So, is there another customer for the Orbus 21, or is that particular hardware at a dead end?

It was the IUS first stage and TOS motor, so Athena was just another use.  As for more uses, unlikely.

Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #12 on: 03/08/2007 02:46 pm »
There IS one more Athena II built and in storage.  That vehicle was first sold to the Air Force as the launcher for the SBIRS Low demo satellite mission that was cancelled.  LM got to keep the LV hardware in the termination.  LM sold that set of hardware again to Idealab's ill-fated Blastoff! venture, which also augered in after pissing away $75M (in private money at least).  LM again got to keep the hardware in the termination.  That's a nice business to be in...

The status of this particular Athena II is that the avionics and structures are fully integrated and in storage at LM.  The motors are fully integrated and in storage at ATK.  The problem is that these motors are approaching 10 years old and ATK will not certify them for flight because ATK would rather sell a new Castor 120.  With UTC out of the solid rocket motor business, the Orbus 21D is also a problem.  You can't get any more for furture flights and would need to do something new.  FYI, the 21D was a low-cost version of the IUS motor developed specifically for Athena.

There are something like 450 sets of Minuteman II motors left and 50 complete Peacekeeper vehicles plus about another 10 sets of spare motors.  At the current launch rate (ie, 1-2 Minotaur I and zero Minotaur IV per year) these motors will be decades past their qualified lifetime before they could be used.   Meanwhile the gov't is paying for storage and aging monitoring.  Aging is a problem on solid rocket motors due to deterioration of nonmetallic parts like nozzle flexseals and even propellant.  That's why there's an ongoing program to recast the propellant in the Minuteman III motors.  One of the Minuteman I vehicles that had been converted to target use in the early 1990s had a flight failure due to an aging problem in a stage 1 nozzle.

As for the Delta II replacement, well, isn't Falcon 5 going to solve that problem?   :-0

Seriously, NASA is about the only Delta II customer and as Boeing continues to threaten to get out of the Delta II business, NASA will likely step up with some sort of sustaining engineering funding the way the AF did for EELV.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #13 on: 03/08/2007 04:31 pm »
Falcon 9 is also replacement for Detla II, just will have some excess performance.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #14 on: 03/08/2007 04:32 pm »
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aero313 - 8/3/2007  10:46 AM

Seriously, NASA is about the only Delta II customer and as Boeing continues to threaten to get out of the Delta II business

might just let them

Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #15 on: 03/08/2007 08:06 pm »
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Jim - 8/3/2007  12:31 PM

Falcon 9 is also replacement for Detla II, just will have some excess performance.

Or not...

Offline just-nick

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #16 on: 03/08/2007 09:02 pm »
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edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  3:17 PM
 ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      

Hey, when did this show up?  I googled it and just gone one photo of some stack on a pad and a press release but nothing else.  Anyone got any more details?

  --Nick

Offline kevin-rf

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #17 on: 03/09/2007 02:08 am »
Quote
just-nick - 8/3/2007  4:02 PM

Quote
edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  3:17 PM
 ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      

Hey, when did this show up?  I googled it and just gone one photo of some stack on a pad and a press release but nothing else.  Anyone got any more details?

  --Nick

previous thead, not much :
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=4759&posts=11&start=1
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Offline antonioe

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #18 on: 08/27/2007 02:25 am »
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edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  5:17 PM
ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".

What a concidence... "ALV" was the original internal Orbital name for Pegasus back in 1987 (ALV = "Air-Launched Vehicle")... I still have some of the original design papers labelled "ALV"...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline wingod

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #19 on: 08/28/2007 06:20 pm »
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hektor - 1/3/2007  11:46 PM

I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

Confirm.  Blastoff was going to use it for their commercial mission and then defaulted on the payments.


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