Author Topic: Reuse business case  (Read 251872 times)

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #760 on: 04/14/2022 01:34 pm »

Recover is about far more than just saving money. In the past, ULA ignored the other advantages when they weren't needed. A major one is launch cadence. ULA is looking at SMART again because it will help support the much higher launch cadence the amazon contract will allow. Look at Faclon 9, ignoring money spaceX can turn around a booster much faster than it can make a new one from scratch.
If you are an accountant, you convert this cadence into money for the comparison. If you can manufacture and deliver boosters fast enough at lower cost than recovery, then recovery is uneconomic. In fact, higher production tends to reduce unit cost.  I'm  not arguing against reuse: F9 shows that it can be cost-effective, but it comes down to money.

This is far to simplistic. Its not just money.
A higher cadence not only means they can make more sales and do more launches, but that they have more margin. This isn't a straight dollars calculation.

There is no chart an accountant can go to in order to calculate this, especially since Blue doesn't even know what its production rate is gonna be in the next few years. They are still figuring things out and the engine is still in development. Its surely gonna keep changing over the next few years.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #761 on: 04/14/2022 04:57 pm »
I'm just saying that ULA is composed of some of the most knowledgeable managers and engineering on the world of aerospace. And they can see the writing on the wall.
I'm not sure they can. To fix the problem you first have to admit you have a problem, I see no sign that they think being expendable is a problem. A good first step would be recant the Sowers excel and the whole "first stage needs 10 flights to break even" non-sense, i.e. the thing started this thread in the first place, they're not doing that. In fact I think the Amazon deal would embolden them to stick to "expendable is best" camp, from their POV they won that with expendable, and reusable Falcon 9 didn't get any launches.
Tory Bruno is an engineer and a very smart guy. He will understand the situation well. The question is how much support he can drum up from his parent companies.

Unfortunately while Tory Bruno may hold the title of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Launch Alliance, he does not control what gets funded by ULA - ULA's parents control that money.

I would agree that ULA has great engineers, and I cite their papers and presentations frequently. I truly believe that if Congress would have directed NASA to return to the Moon back in 2010, didn't impose the SLS and Orion MPCV, and allowed NASA to solicit the best industry ideas, that ULA could have been a big contributor to that effort and we could have been back on the Moon by now.

But great ideas don't get funded, great potential businesses do. And it is not clear to me that implementing SMART on Vulcan makes good business sense.

Every company in the world has a board of directors that is separate from the executive team, and represents the interests of whoever put them there.

Meanwhile the execs and rank-and-file of ULA used to work for Boeing or LMCO before the corporate merger.

In other words, that distinction between ULA and "the parents" is meaningless. ULA *IS* Boeing and LMCO.  It's just conveniently incorporated the way it is to resolve a legal dispute from more than a decade ago.

Had ULA not happened, we would have been facing the exact same situation, but with two separate organizations... Except they'd have been even MORE risk averse... Partnerships like ULA are supposed to allow companies to hedge their risks.

They won't admit to the problem, they won't change a thing, they'll continue to bravely look a quarter and a half forward and wait for support from their "customer".

They now found a new rich customer that chooses their rocket for all the wrong reasons and will continue to do so for at least a few more years, so they're happy as clams.

What happens afterwards?  They'll burn that bridge when they get to it.
 
« Last Edit: 04/15/2022 06:26 pm by meekGee »
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Offline ericgu

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #762 on: 04/18/2022 12:09 am »

Had ULA not happened, we would have been facing the exact same situation, but with two separate organizations... Except they'd have been even MORE risk averse... Partnerships like ULA are supposed to allow companies to hedge their risks.


If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #763 on: 04/18/2022 12:13 am »

Had ULA not happened, we would have been facing the exact same situation, but with two separate organizations... Except they'd have been even MORE risk averse... Partnerships like ULA are supposed to allow companies to hedge their risks.


If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.
Yup, 'tis a tale twice told...
« Last Edit: 04/18/2022 12:13 am by meekGee »
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Offline woods170

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #764 on: 04/18/2022 07:11 pm »
If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.

Emphasis mine.

That's putting it mildly. ULA is the result of a shotgun wedding. DoD basically forced LockMart and Boeing into creating ULA.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #765 on: 04/18/2022 09:29 pm »
If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.

Emphasis mine.

That's putting it mildly. ULA is the result of a shotgun wedding. DoD basically forced LockMart and Boeing into creating ULA.
Point being though, that the narrative of a nimble ULA being stifled by the evil parents is entirely made up.

ULA is the parents.  Together or apart, it is the same organization(s) and work force only 15 years older, with a board that represents the same interests, and is what defines the org.

When we talk about what an organization can or cannot do, it is about everything from the board to the employee culture, and very little about the corporate structure.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #766 on: 04/19/2022 01:47 am »
If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.

Emphasis mine.

That's putting it mildly. ULA is the result of a shotgun wedding. DoD basically forced LockMart and Boeing into creating ULA.
Point being though, that the narrative of a nimble ULA being stifled by the evil parents is entirely made up.

ULA is the parents.  Together or apart, it is the same organization(s) and work force only 15 years older, with a board that represents the same interests, and is what defines the org.

When we talk about what an organization can or cannot do, it is about everything from the board to the employee culture, and very little about the corporate structure.

That's not how big corporations work. Each sub company/division/subsidiary/etc has it's own culture, objectives and ambitions. It's the corporate top management that then tames, plays or manipulates each subgroup through its managers. I have yet to meet an engineer that does not wants to make the greatest product. And managers that are engineers at heart (and probably as original trade), also want to succeed. It's the VPs of the corporate owners who decide which limits they will impose to each division. You probably just need to look at the revenue, ROI and P/L of Orion and SLS's contracts vs ULA's to understand which division probably calls the shots and which has to bow its head.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #767 on: 04/19/2022 02:00 am »
If ULA had not happened, all we would have is LM and Atlas V, perhaps with Atlas V Heavy. After Boeing got caught spying on LM, the resulting sanctions led Boeing to decide that they were going to get out of the business as commercial launch could not support Delta.

ULA essentially came out because DoD exerted influence on both companies to create ULA.

Emphasis mine.

That's putting it mildly. ULA is the result of a shotgun wedding. DoD basically forced LockMart and Boeing into creating ULA.
Point being though, that the narrative of a nimble ULA being stifled by the evil parents is entirely made up.

ULA is the parents.  Together or apart, it is the same organization(s) and work force only 15 years older, with a board that represents the same interests, and is what defines the org.

When we talk about what an organization can or cannot do, it is about everything from the board to the employee culture, and very little about the corporate structure.

That's not how big corporations work. Each sub company/division/subsidiary/etc has it's own culture, objectives and ambitions. It's the corporate top management that then tames, plays or manipulates each subgroup through its managers. I have yet to meet an engineer that does not wants to make the greatest product. And managers that are engineers at heart (and probably as original trade), also want to succeed. It's the VPs of the corporate owners who decide which limits they will impose to each division. You probably just need to look at the revenue, ROI and P/L of Orion and SLS's contracts vs ULA's to understand which division probably calls the shots and which has to bow its head.
I largely agree about the individuals, but my observation is that culture is bigger than the individuals.

And yes, the problem usually starts with non-tech managers.
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Offline AJW

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #768 on: 04/20/2022 05:57 pm »
There are strong arguments that the easiest first-step in reuse is fairing recovery.  Proven.  Only requires changes to one independent system.  No HIAD.  No Helicopter recovery.  No need to experiment with nets.   Reports are that ULA did use SpaceX's success as leverage to renegotiate their fairing price, but to date they have not made a single attempt to recover or reuse a fairing.

Same with SMART.   Sowers claim was that SpaceX would require ten launches in order to break even, but SMART would be profitable in just two.   That would be great, if the organization actually had any interest in reducing costs and staying competitive, but to date, nothing.   

A comment was made upthread that all engineers want to do great things, and that may be what they tell themselves and others, but the truth is that many just want the status quo.  Come in each day and pretty much do the same thing they did the day before.  Across multiple industries, I learned that 90% of innovative work is done by 10% of the engineers, and the trick was to identify and hire that 10%.   During a stint working for a company acquired by Microsoft I met one senior engineer who proudly displayed all of his failed projects around his office like this was something to be proud of.  He was living in the fantasy world of what could have been, not what was.  Same as ULA engineers living in the fantasy that they could do recovery five times better than SpaceX, but the truth is within six months of arriving there, they should have realized that reuse is not a goal of the organization, and if they have the chops needed to work with the best engineers really breaking ground, they should get the hell out.  Take a risk.  Maybe take a pay cut.  Prove they have a commitment to changing the world, not just embrace the status quo.   Perhaps the best already have.
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Offline deadman1204

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #769 on: 04/20/2022 06:51 pm »
There are strong arguments that the easiest first-step in reuse is fairing recovery.  Proven.  Only requires changes to one independent system.  No HIAD.  No Helicopter recovery.  No need to experiment with nets.   Reports are that ULA did use SpaceX's success as leverage to renegotiate their fairing price, but to date they have not made a single attempt to recover or reuse a fairing.

Same with SMART.   Sowers claim was that SpaceX would require ten launches in order to break even, but SMART would be profitable in just two.   That would be great, if the organization actually had any interest in reducing costs and staying competitive, but to date, nothing.   

A comment was made upthread that all engineers want to do great things, and that may be what they tell themselves and others, but the truth is that many just want the status quo.  Come in each day and pretty much do the same thing they did the day before.  Across multiple industries, I learned that 90% of innovative work is done by 10% of the engineers, and the trick was to identify and hire that 10%.   During a stint working for a company acquired by Microsoft I met one senior engineer who proudly displayed all of his failed projects around his office like this was something to be proud of.  He was living in the fantasy world of what could have been, not what was.  Same as ULA engineers living in the fantasy that they could do recovery five times better than SpaceX, but the truth is within six months of arriving there, they should have realized that reuse is not a goal of the organization, and if they have the chops needed to work with the best engineers really breaking ground, they should get the hell out.  Take a risk.  Maybe take a pay cut.  Prove they have a commitment to changing the world, not just embrace the status quo.   Perhaps the best already have.

Alot of this sadly. Boeing and Lockheed's business model's are to BE expensive. They spread money around too soo many congressional districts that congress loves them. Reuse means they won't be spending as much to do things, which means closing facilities down. It also means investing money in something that doesn't give ULA parents profit.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #770 on: 04/20/2022 08:28 pm »
ULA may yet do fairing recovery with Vulcan. Not worth do with Atlas as it is end of life product.


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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #771 on: 04/20/2022 11:16 pm »
There are strong arguments that the easiest first-step in reuse is fairing recovery.  Proven.  Only requires changes to one independent system.  No HIAD.  No Helicopter recovery.  No need to experiment with nets.   Reports are that ULA did use SpaceX's success as leverage to renegotiate their fairing price, but to date they have not made a single attempt to recover or reuse a fairing.

Same with SMART.   Sowers claim was that SpaceX would require ten launches in order to break even, but SMART would be profitable in just two.   That would be great, if the organization actually had any interest in reducing costs and staying competitive, but to date, nothing.   

A comment was made upthread that all engineers want to do great things, and that may be what they tell themselves and others, but the truth is that many just want the status quo.  Come in each day and pretty much do the same thing they did the day before.  Across multiple industries, I learned that 90% of innovative work is done by 10% of the engineers, and the trick was to identify and hire that 10%.   During a stint working for a company acquired by Microsoft I met one senior engineer who proudly displayed all of his failed projects around his office like this was something to be proud of.  He was living in the fantasy world of what could have been, not what was.  Same as ULA engineers living in the fantasy that they could do recovery five times better than SpaceX, but the truth is within six months of arriving there, they should have realized that reuse is not a goal of the organization, and if they have the chops needed to work with the best engineers really breaking ground, they should get the hell out.  Take a risk.  Maybe take a pay cut.  Prove they have a commitment to changing the world, not just embrace the status quo.   Perhaps the best already have.

Alot of this sadly. Boeing and Lockheed's business model's are to BE expensive. They spread money around too soo many congressional districts that congress loves them. Reuse means they won't be spending as much to do things, which means closing facilities down. It also means investing money in something that doesn't give ULA parents profit.
I thought that ULA cannot spend money on stuff like this without permission from the boards of both Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.
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Offline bstrong

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #772 on: 04/21/2022 03:50 am »
It seems to me that RUAG is the one with the strong business case for developing fairing recovery. If they do it themselves, they can sell fairings as a service to both ULA and Arianespace. If they wait for the launch providers to develop it, then they just sell fewer fairings.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #773 on: 04/21/2022 02:11 pm »
It seems to me that RUAG is the one with the strong business case for developing fairing recovery. If they do it themselves, they can sell fairings as a service to both ULA and Arianespace. If they wait for the launch providers to develop it, then they just sell fewer fairings.

How does this make RUAG more money than they already do? They'll burn piles of cash to still be the ones supplying something to customers that wasn't asked for. They won't increase their prices for reused fairings, so they would never make the money back they spent.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2022 02:12 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Redclaws

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #774 on: 04/21/2022 02:22 pm »
It seems to me that RUAG is the one with the strong business case for developing fairing recovery. If they do it themselves, they can sell fairings as a service to both ULA and Arianespace. If they wait for the launch providers to develop it, then they just sell fewer fairings.

How does this make RUAG more money than they already do? They'll burn piles of cash to still be the ones supplying something to customers that wasn't asked for. They won't increase their prices for reused fairings, so they would never make the money back they spent.

Avoiding loss.  This is a “our market will be eaten badly by this, we should at least try to be the one’s doing the eating” situation.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #775 on: 04/21/2022 02:29 pm »
It seems to me that RUAG is the one with the strong business case for developing fairing recovery. If they do it themselves, they can sell fairings as a service to both ULA and Arianespace. If they wait for the launch providers to develop it, then they just sell fewer fairings.

How does this make RUAG more money than they already do? They'll burn piles of cash to still be the ones supplying something to customers that wasn't asked for. They won't increase their prices for reused fairings, so they would never make the money back they spent.

Avoiding loss.  This is a “our market will be eaten badly by this, we should at least try to be the one’s doing the eating” situation.
Who is gonna eat the market? How? All fairings are specific to a rocket, they don't transfer. For RUAG to have competition, some new company would need to spend giant piles of cash to design a fairing for an existing rocket, and then try to sell it to that company for less money than RUAG does.
Even if that happened, ULA or Ariane or whoever would also need to trust this new company enough to replace RUAG.

Ariane 6, New Glenn, Vulcan, and H3 already have their new fairings figured out. There aren't any big new rockets on the horizon that don't have a fairing setup already.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2022 02:32 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline edzieba

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #776 on: 04/21/2022 02:47 pm »
Even if we look at the problem from the point of view of delivery rate (rather than sticker price) with the assumption that RUAG's current peak production rate could not meet the demand for projected flight rate among Vulcan, Ariane, H3, and New Glenn, it's not a clear-cut win. What is a smaller and lower risk investment: a second vacuum oven and winding/layup station (double rate capacity), or embarking on a programme of development and testing for fairing recovery and refurbishment, alongside convincing customers to bear some of that risk (changing the fairing design and conducting flight tests on a customer vehicle, as RUAG operates no vehicles of their own)?

Offline JayWee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #777 on: 04/21/2022 05:09 pm »
+ who is fishing the fairings out of the ocean? Customer or RUAG?

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #778 on: 04/21/2022 05:21 pm »
Business model goes from selling fairings to leasing them. RUAG could lease for 1/2-2/3 of new price, make same or more profit per launch while saving customer money. RUAG can also reduce production line saving even more money while being more responsive to demand.

We've already seen this with F9R where production is now handful of boosters per year but flightrate is 50+.

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Offline ericgu

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #779 on: 04/22/2022 12:21 am »

A comment was made upthread that all engineers want to do great things, and that may be what they tell themselves and others, but the truth is that many just want the status quo.  Come in each day and pretty much do the same thing they did the day before.  Across multiple industries, I learned that 90% of innovative work is done by 10% of the engineers, and the trick was to identify and hire that 10%. 

Companies are designed to do specific things - to play in a specific market. ULA was set up to take Atlas V and Delta IV and keep launching them, along with trying to achieve some management economies.

That optimizes for an approach that is very much "status quo", and if you happen to hire people who want to be fast moving and innovative, they tend to leave for other opportunities. So you end up with a lot of engineers who just want to come in and do the same old stuff.

Now you want to do something fast an innovative. Who do you get to lead the effort? If you find somebody, how do you keep them from being driven crazy by the existing company practices?

There's a reason LM set up Skunk Works.

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