Author Topic: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program  (Read 379843 times)

Offline meekGee

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #900 on: 01/24/2020 03:05 am »
Wow, who could have predicted such an outcome back when the final contract was announced?
Oh wait! I did:
Same old defense contractors all over again. Wake me up when this actually gets somewhere, which I predict, it will not. This will be cancelled before anything ever flies.

I just wished the US government could ask their money back and give it to Masten. Unfortunately XCOR is not around anymore :(

It’s pretty unedifying to see someone just come on here to pat themselves on the back. And it certainly doesn’t add to the discussion.

I imagine this decision has much to do with the huge financial hit Boeing have taken in the commercial airline business recently, and no doubt continue to take a hit on.
Given that many observers still don't get it (see the continuation of your post for example) it is not a bad idea to show how predictable this was.

As in actually predicted, by multiple people, down  to a T, years ahead of time.
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Offline ncb1397

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #901 on: 01/24/2020 04:02 am »
Wow, who could have predicted such an outcome back when the final contract was announced?
Oh wait! I did:
Same old defense contractors all over again. Wake me up when this actually gets somewhere, which I predict, it will not. This will be cancelled before anything ever flies.

I just wished the US government could ask their money back and give it to Masten. Unfortunately XCOR is not around anymore :(

It’s pretty unedifying to see someone just come on here to pat themselves on the back. And it certainly doesn’t add to the discussion.

I imagine this decision has much to do with the huge financial hit Boeing have taken in the commercial airline business recently, and no doubt continue to take a hit on.
Given that many observers still don't get it (see the continuation of your post for example) it is not a bad idea to show how predictable this was.

As in actually predicted, by multiple people, down  to a T, years ahead of time.

It is a binary outcome. If you randomly selected an outcome, 50% would be right. That doesn't mean the outcome was predictable.

Offline meekGee

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #902 on: 01/24/2020 04:28 am »
Wow, who could have predicted such an outcome back when the final contract was announced?
Oh wait! I did:
Same old defense contractors all over again. Wake me up when this actually gets somewhere, which I predict, it will not. This will be cancelled before anything ever flies.

I just wished the US government could ask their money back and give it to Masten. Unfortunately XCOR is not around anymore :(

It’s pretty unedifying to see someone just come on here to pat themselves on the back. And it certainly doesn’t add to the discussion.

I imagine this decision has much to do with the huge financial hit Boeing have taken in the commercial airline business recently, and no doubt continue to take a hit on.
Given that many observers still don't get it (see the continuation of your post for example) it is not a bad idea to show how predictable this was.

As in actually predicted, by multiple people, down  to a T, years ahead of time.

It is a binary outcome. If you randomly selected an outcome, 50% would be right. That doesn't mean the outcome was predictable.

Somebody describing the future unfolding of a contract is not exactly binary...   And even if it were, a binary outcome doesn't mean the two options are each 50% likely.

If I tell you that if you take the curve too fast you'll skid out and crash, and then you do and you do, you can't tell me that "hey it was 50-50 because it's binary", right?

Enough people looked at this, and based on familiarity with Boeing and the contracting system foretold what will happen.  That's worth noting - especially since the same scenario is sure to recur in the future unless government procurement starts listening to these people.
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Offline Danderman

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #903 on: 01/24/2020 07:34 am »
I can't remember a DARPA program in the last 25 years that resulted in anything useful.

Offline woods170

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #904 on: 01/24/2020 07:39 am »


Competitors won't emerge if the people who decide contracts pretend that they don't exist. (Like you did with Masten, intentional or not) They have to start somewhere, and the scope of this was the PERFECT opportunity to do so and widen the potential contractor pool for the bigger leagues.

I know potential competitors exist, but the attitude of those involved with these contracts is only the largest companies can handle the job, and a smaller firm expanding to meet needs is more risky than using the big 3.

Now effectively proven wrong by companies like SpaceX and Rocket Lab.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #905 on: 01/24/2020 12:54 pm »
I can't remember a DARPA program in the last 25 years that resulted in anything useful.
I thought the DARPA Grand Challenge did a pretty good job of fostering development in self driving vehicles.  I think that ran through 2007.

Here is a list of other projects in the works:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:DARPA_projects

Offline ncb1397

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #906 on: 01/24/2020 01:01 pm »
I can't remember a DARPA program in the last 25 years that resulted in anything useful.
I thought the DARPA Grand Challenge did a pretty good job of fostering development in self driving vehicles.  I think that ran through 2007.

Here is a list of other projects in the works:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:DARPA_projects

Their website is far more comprehensive...

https://www.darpa.mil/our-research?ppl=viewall

Here is a "useful"(I guess it depends if you count military projects as useful) project they flew just recently - an air launched and recovered drone.



But DARPA is never tasked with actually building an operational capability. It is pure research and demonstration that the services either replicate, integrate, adapt, learn what not to do, etc. If you only care about civilican applications, arguably Spot Mini evolved from BigDog.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2020 01:06 pm by ncb1397 »

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #907 on: 01/24/2020 06:03 pm »
I know potential competitors exist, but the attitude of those involved with these contracts is only the largest companies can handle the job, and a smaller firm expanding to meet needs is more risky than using the big 3.
Clearly SpaceX has demonstrated that this is false. Masten is the company with the most VTOL rocket flights of any of them. They won the NASA lunar lander challenge. They are considered "good enough" for many high profile NASA contracts. Their design was pretty good and a lot more scalable than Boeing's. Blue could have done something on their own too with most likely better results than what Boeing did. Clearly looking at the results of a lot of contracts awarded to the "big 3" in recent years, the size of a company does not improve the chance of a positive outcome _at_ _all_.
If anything I see a negative effect lately.

Offline RotoSequence

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #908 on: 01/24/2020 06:08 pm »
Wasn't Boeing contributing something like $100 million of their own money into this project? With $6 billion in loans to continue operations while the 737-MAX debacle is worked out, this kind of cancellation was probably a budgetary inevitability.

Offline Comga

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #909 on: 01/28/2020 02:35 am »
Are they just ditching it because it wasn't expected to turn a *big enough* profit?
Probably.

Or more accurately they've already extracted as much of the profit without having to build much of the vehicle.

Honestly I'm amazed "How to game the cost plus contracting system" isn't a standard first semester MBA exercise.

When you're a multi 10s of $Bn mega corporation like Boeing you have a huge tail to teeth ratio.

Profit levels that would turn SME's into Fortune500 entrants are simply too small for them.

I don’t understand your “tail to teeth ratio” analogy but agree with your description of the problem of scale.

My employer teamed us with Boeing on an Air Force project. We built almost all of the flight hardware, but once again “subbed” to Boeing, who took a big cut for not much contribution. Then, when it was a big success and the Air Force asked for another, Boeing offered them a measly 10% price reduction from the prototype. We had all the facilities, designs, tooling, procedures, and even some spares, and the work would have meant a great deal to us, but it was not sufficiently profitable for Boeing to make an honest effort.

That was a great disappointment to me. A marvelous system that would have been a pleasure to build again.  Workload our people needed.

I love (most of) their jets, but I despise the organization and their management.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #910 on: 01/28/2020 06:23 pm »


Quote
Published on 27 Jan 2020
The XS-1 program was a DARPA project to develop a rapidly reusable launch vehicle which could also be used for hypersonic research. Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems were seen as the main contenders, but Boeing eventually won with a design based on the RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engine.
After 2 years working on the project Boeing stopped, essentially killing the project and leaving another hypersonic aircraft project unfinished.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #911 on: 01/30/2020 07:42 pm »

I don’t understand your “tail to teeth ratio” analogy but agree with your description of the problem of scale.
The ratio of actual staff making it directly to everyone else.

And large aerospace contractors (especially ones who do lots of military work have lots of support staff.

There is an old aerojet report from the 70's that listed 1 inspector per every two direct staff making the thing.

From there costs just spiral.  :(
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Offline jbenton

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #912 on: 01/31/2020 12:01 am »
[youtube video]

Quote
Published on 27 Jan 2020
The XS-1 program was a DARPA project to develop a rapidly reusable launch vehicle which could also be used for hypersonic research. Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems were seen as the main contenders, but Boeing eventually won with a design based on the RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engine.
After 2 years working on the project Boeing stopped, essentially killing the project and leaving another hypersonic aircraft project unfinished.

The wing design that Mr. Manley called a "split wing" or "space bi-plane" layout that is part of the Masten design is a type of "closed wing" or "boxed wing" design as it is commonly known. It's a neat idea with some advantages:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_wing

China is making a spy drone with something like this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guizhou_Soar_Dragon

Offline jbenton

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #913 on: 01/31/2020 12:01 am »
I can't remember a DARPA program in the last 25 years that resulted in anything useful.
I thought the DARPA Grand Challenge did a pretty good job of fostering development in self driving vehicles.  I think that ran through 2007.

Here is a list of other projects in the works:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:DARPA_projects

Their website is far more comprehensive...

https://www.darpa.mil/our-research?ppl=viewall

Here is a "useful"(I guess it depends if you count military projects as useful) project they flew just recently - an air launched and recovered drone.

[X-61 video]

...
If you only care about civilian applications, arguably Spot Mini evolved from BigDog.

I think DoD considers these 3 results very useful:

   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM-160_MALD
   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Hunter
   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-158C_LRASM

But DARPA is never tasked with actually building an operational capability. It is pure research and demonstration that the services either replicate, integrate, adapt, learn what not to do, etc.

This project seemed different, though. Didn't it start with a higher than normal TRL? And they have been trying to build this capability multiple times now: ALASA, SALVO and XS-1

Does anything stop DARPA from coming back in a few years (doing it too soon would require them to cancel other programs to free up room in their budget) and giving Northrop Grumman and Masten something like a RFP saying, essentially 'same requirements, new competition, go.'?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #914 on: 02/02/2020 12:18 am »
I can't remember a DARPA program in the last 25 years that resulted in anything useful.
I thought the DARPA Grand Challenge did a pretty good job of fostering development in self driving vehicles.  I think that ran through 2007.

Here is a list of other projects in the works:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:DARPA_projects

Their website is far more comprehensive...

https://www.darpa.mil/our-research?ppl=viewall

Here is a "useful"(I guess it depends if you count military projects as useful) project they flew just recently - an air launched and recovered drone.

[X-61 video]

...
If you only care about civilian applications, arguably Spot Mini evolved from BigDog.

I think DoD considers these 3 results very useful:

   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM-160_MALD
   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Hunter
   - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-158C_LRASM

But DARPA is never tasked with actually building an operational capability. It is pure research and demonstration that the services either replicate, integrate, adapt, learn what not to do, etc.

This project seemed different, though. Didn't it start with a higher than normal TRL? And they have been trying to build this capability multiple times now: ALASA, SALVO and XS-1

Does anything stop DARPA from coming back in a few years (doing it too soon would require them to cancel other programs to free up room in their budget) and giving Northrop Grumman and Masten something like a RFP saying, essentially 'same requirements, new competition, go.'?
I don't really see the point. Given that SpaceX is frequently landing medium lift boosters now and will soon have a fully reusable LV, anything short of a SSTO or at least a fully reusable TSTO with a medium lift capability will be outperformed by existing technology by then.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #915 on: 02/02/2020 12:44 am »
I don't really see the point. Given that SpaceX is frequently landing medium lift boosters now and will soon have a fully reusable LV, anything short of a SSTO or at least a fully reusable TSTO with a medium lift capability will be outperformed by existing technology by then.

Yeah, I think this is one of those ideas that made sense at the time it was originally formulated a couple of decades ago, but was overtaken by events.  The state of the commercial launcher market today removes the justification for XS-1, and particularly for government funding of something like XS-1.

Online Lars-J

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #916 on: 02/02/2020 01:06 am »
I don't really see the point. Given that SpaceX is frequently landing medium lift boosters now and will soon have a fully reusable LV, anything short of a SSTO or at least a fully reusable TSTO with a medium lift capability will be outperformed by existing technology by then.

Yeah, I think this is one of those ideas that made sense at the time it was originally formulated a couple of decades ago, but was overtaken by events.  The state of the commercial launcher market today removes the justification for XS-1, and particularly for government funding of something like XS-1.

I wouldn't say it removes the justification, but it does (or should) emphasize the reuse turnaround if re-awarded. 10 flights in 10 days - SpaceX is not even close to that. (yet) Properly managed, I think there is a place for this kind of smaller reusable booster, winged or not.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #917 on: 02/02/2020 02:29 am »
Yeah, I think this is one of those ideas that made sense at the time it was originally formulated a couple of decades ago, but was overtaken by events.  The state of the commercial launcher market today removes the justification for XS-1, and particularly for government funding of something like XS-1.

I wouldn't say it removes the justification, but it does (or should) emphasize the reuse turnaround if re-awarded. 10 flights in 10 days - SpaceX is not even close to that. (yet) Properly managed, I think there is a place for this kind of smaller reusable booster, winged or not.

It seems to me that the 10 flights in 10 days requirement applies to one vehicle, but Starship will be built in volume, so they would be able to fly multiple flights every day, maybe just not with the same vehicle, but certainly an identical one in capabilities.
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 ChrisWilson68

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Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #918 on: 02/02/2020 05:16 am »
I don't really see the point. Given that SpaceX is frequently landing medium lift boosters now and will soon have a fully reusable LV, anything short of a SSTO or at least a fully reusable TSTO with a medium lift capability will be outperformed by existing technology by then.

Yeah, I think this is one of those ideas that made sense at the time it was originally formulated a couple of decades ago, but was overtaken by events.  The state of the commercial launcher market today removes the justification for XS-1, and particularly for government funding of something like XS-1.

I wouldn't say it removes the justification, but it does (or should) emphasize the reuse turnaround if re-awarded. 10 flights in 10 days - SpaceX is not even close to that. (yet) Properly managed, I think there is a place for this kind of smaller reusable booster, winged or not.

I don't care about wings or not, whatever works.

The problem I have with XS-1 is that it's only addressing the first stage.  The upper stage is still expendable.  Today, two different companies are hard at work on fully-reusable vehicles.

To me, going to fully reusable is a much more fundamental next step than making the reusable first stage fly 10 times in 10 days with 10 brand new expendable upper stages.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: DARPA Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) Program
« Reply #919 on: 02/02/2020 09:32 am »
I don't really see the point. Given that SpaceX is frequently landing medium lift boosters now and will soon have a fully reusable LV, anything short of a SSTO or at least a fully reusable TSTO with a medium lift capability will be outperformed by existing technology by then.

Yeah, I think this is one of those ideas that made sense at the time it was originally formulated a couple of decades ago, but was overtaken by events.  The state of the commercial launcher market today removes the justification for XS-1, and particularly for government funding of something like XS-1.

I wouldn't say it removes the justification, but it does (or should) emphasize the reuse turnaround if re-awarded. 10 flights in 10 days - SpaceX is not even close to that. (yet) Properly managed, I think there is a place for this kind of smaller reusable booster, winged or not.

I don't care about wings or not, whatever works.

The problem I have with XS-1 is that it's only addressing the first stage.  The upper stage is still expendable.  Today, two different companies are hard at work on fully-reusable vehicles.

To me, going to fully reusable is a much more fundamental next step than making the reusable first stage fly 10 times in 10 days with 10 brand new expendable upper stages.
Fully RLV in XS1 class is not that practical, payload penalty is too high. Reuseable boosters is best we can hope for in small LV class.

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