Author Topic: USAF RFP for new EELV Launch Service Agreements (2017-10-05)  (Read 57496 times)

Offline OccasionalTraveller

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Air Force soon to announce decision on future launch vehicles

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WASHINGTON — The Air Force is expected to sign deals with three, possibly four, space launch companies as it seeks to capitalize on private investments and fast-moving technology.

Launch Service Agreement (LSA) contracts are projected to be announced in September, according to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

...

None of the companies would comment for this story due to the sensitivity of the competition. The Air Force first planned to announce LSA awards in July. Industry sources told SpaceNews that the decision was delayed as the Air Force needed more time to evaluate Blue Origin’s bid.

Offline GWH

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Reading between the lines it seems like the Blue Origin bid showed up quite late, throwing a wrench into the works.
How this plays out regarding Vulcan's engine choice will be interesting, and I expect the source of some hot, hot drama.

Offline speedevil

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Reading between the lines it seems like the Blue Origin bid showed up quite late, throwing a wrench into the works.
How this plays out regarding Vulcan's engine choice will be interesting, and I expect the source of some hot, hot drama.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/11/blue-origin-2020-debut-new-glenn-rocket/ - is there any progress on a date, other than the above articles 'sometime in 2020' for NG launch?
This would put the first launch very shortly before the first contract awards sometime in 2020, for a launch in Oct 2021.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2018 09:58 am by speedevil »

Offline vaporcobra

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Reading between the lines it seems like the Blue Origin bid showed up quite late, throwing a wrench into the works.
How this plays out regarding Vulcan's engine choice will be interesting, and I expect the source of some hot, hot drama.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/11/blue-origin-2020-debut-new-glenn-rocket/ - is there any progress on a date, other than the above articles 'sometime in 2020' for NG launch?
This would put the first launch very shortly before the first contract awards sometime in 2020, for a launch in Oct 2021.

There have been a few unofficial but sourced updates. A Reuters author spoke unofficially with employees as well as officially with customers and the general story was a new realistic NET of 2021, potentially 2022.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-blueorigin/bezos-throws-cash-engineers-at-rocket-program-as-space-race-accelerates-idUSKBN1KO0HN
« Last Edit: 09/01/2018 10:42 am by vaporcobra »

Offline dasmoth

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September is all but over, and as far as I can tell, there’s been nothing more.  Anybody heard anything?

Offline rockets4life97

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September is all but over, and as far as I can tell, there’s been nothing more.  Anybody heard anything?

A hint on twitter from Eric Berger to expect more rocket news today. It is possible it refers to this announcement  coming this afternoon.

Offline Lar

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September is all but over, and as far as I can tell, there’s been nothing more.  Anybody heard anything?

A hint on twitter from Eric Berger to expect more rocket news today. It is possible it refers to this announcement  coming this afternoon.
I think not... unless he tweeted that after the SLS stuff?

He did. Wrong I was.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1050132892796502018
« Last Edit: 10/10/2018 09:27 pm by Lar »
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Offline AncientU

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A race for second place.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline TrevorMonty

Thats a surprise SpaceX missing out. I'd assumed SpaceX and ULA were sure thing with Blue and NG fighting for 3rd place.


Offline Targeteer

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Details of the awards

United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $967,000,000 other-transaction agreement for the development of a Launch System Prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.  This award is part of a portfolio of three agreements that leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that meet National Security Space requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads.  This agreement requires shared cost investment for the development of the Vulcan Centaur launch system.  Work will be performed in Centennial, Colorado; and Decatur, Alabama, with launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2025.  This award is the result of a full and open competition. This agreement will be incrementally funded with fiscal 2018 through 2024 research, development, test and evaluation funds totaling a maximum of $967,000,000. Fiscal 2018 funds in the amount of $109,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.  The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity (FA8811-19-9-0003).

Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, Arizona, has been awarded a $791,601,015 other-transaction agreement for the development of a Launch System Prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.  This award is part of a portfolio of three agreements that leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that meet National Security Space requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads. This agreement requires shared cost investment for the development of the OmegA launch system.  Work will be performed in Chandler, Arizona; Magna and Promontory, Utah; Iuka, Mississippi; West Palm Beach, Florida; Sandusky, Ohio; and Michoud, Louisiana, with launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center, Florida; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.  The work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2024. This award is the result of a full and open competition. This agreement will be incrementally funded with fiscal 2018 through 2024 research, development, test and evaluation funds totaling a maximum of $791,601,015.  Fiscal 2018 funds in the amount of $109,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.  The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity (FA8811-19-9-0002). 

Blue Origin LLC, Kent, Washington, has been awarded a $500,000,000 other-transaction agreement for the development of a Launch System Prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.  This award is part of a portfolio of three agreements that leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that meet National Security Space requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads.  This agreement requires shared cost investment for the development of the New Glenn launch system. Work will be performed in Kent, Washington; Huntsville, Alabama; and Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, with launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.  The work is expected to be completed by July 31, 2024. This award is the result of a full and open competition. This agreement will be incrementally funded with fiscal 2018 through 2024 research, development, test and evaluation funds totaling a maximum of $500,000,000. Fiscal 2018 funds in the amount of $109,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.  The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity (FA8811-19-9-0001). 
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline speedevil

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Thats a surprise SpaceX missing out. I'd assumed SpaceX and ULA were sure thing with Blue and NG fighting for 3rd place.
I wonder if they were unable to bid without compromise and other things being required of them.

BFS almost certainly can't get to GEO without retanking. A requirement to develop a third stage, or ... may be too onerous.
I note that by the time of the first BFS test flights, this contract would only be worth some $200M perhaps.

It would be nice to know if SpaceX put in any sort of bid.

Offline Markstark

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USAF RFP for new EELV Launch Service Agreements (2017-10-05)
« Reply #91 on: 10/11/2018 12:55 am »
Thats a surprise SpaceX missing out. I'd assumed SpaceX and ULA were sure thing with Blue and NG fighting for 3rd place.
I wonder if they were unable to bid without compromise and other things being required of them.

BFS almost certainly can't get to GEO without retanking. A requirement to develop a third stage, or ... may be too onerous.
I note that by the time of the first BFS test flights, this contract would only be worth some $200M perhaps.

It would be nice to know if SpaceX put in any sort of bid.

Not a confirmation but something I guess.

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050169561444696064
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 02:48 am by gongora »

Offline rockets4life97

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If SpaceX bid BFR, which has been my though for awhile (see upthread), it isn't surprising to me that the Air Force didn't fund them. We shouldn't be surprised that the Air Force is funding the institutional players (ULA and Orbital).

Can you imagine the Air Force giving 1B to ULA for an expendable rocket and 500M to SpaceX for a much larger fully re-usable system? The contrast would be striking. BO is unproven and so in a different league that SpaceX.

The question now is whether SpaceX can develop BFR faster than their competitors. If they can that is a game changer. The rockets the Air Force just funded are more akin to FH and then BFR. That means all the competitors are at least a rocket generation behind.

Offline edkyle99

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I'm surprised.  I wonder if this means the end for Falcon Heavy.  This seems to be the Air Force ruling New Glenn a better option than Falcon Heavy.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 02:27 am by edkyle99 »

Offline envy887

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I'm surprised.  I wonder if this means the end for Falcon Heavy.  This seems to be the Air Force ruling New Glenn a better option than Falcon Heavy.

 - Ed Kyle

Falcon Heavy is already certified by the USAF for EELV missions, and can already hit all the required reference orbits. Why would the USAF need to pour massive amounts of cash into it for further development? At most it needs a longer fairing and VI, but that's a very minor cost compared to new vehicle development.

Or are you assuming that because Atlas and Delta were not funded, that the USAF is no longer planning on using them for EELV?

The competition for development money was always Vulcan vs Omega vs New Glenn vs BFR. Falcon Heavy doesn't need development money beyond what it's already getting.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 02:32 am by envy887 »

Offline edkyle99

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I'm surprised.  I wonder if this means the end for Falcon Heavy.  This seems to be the Air Force ruling New Glenn a better option than Falcon Heavy.

 - Ed Kyle

Falcon Heavy is already certified by the USAF for EELV missions, and can already hit all the required reference orbits. Why would the USAF need to pour massive amounts of cash into it for further development? At most it needs a longer fairing and VI, but that's a very minor cost compared to new vehicle development.

Or are you assuming that because Atlas and Delta were not funded, that the USAF is no longer planning on using them for EELV?

The competition for development money was always Vulcan vs Omega vs New Glenn vs BFR. Falcon Heavy doesn't need development money beyond what it's already getting.
Yes, of course, this is EELV-2.  Atlas 5 and Delta 4 are being phased out in favor of two alternatives.  It looks like Vulcan, Omega, and New Glenn are the options.

My impression was that Falcon Heavy was built for and proposed for this EELV-2 contract.  But, if it was BFR that SpaceX proposed, I'll restate to say that the decision endangers BFR.   One of them lost big today.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline envy887

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Thats a surprise SpaceX missing out. I'd assumed SpaceX and ULA were sure thing with Blue and NG fighting for 3rd place.
I wonder if they were unable to bid without compromise and other things being required of them.

BFS almost certainly can't get to GEO without retanking. A requirement to develop a third stage, or ... may be too onerous.
I note that by the time of the first BFS test flights, this contract would only be worth some $200M perhaps.

It would be nice to know if SpaceX put in any sort of bid.

Direct to GEO is a hard and fast requirement, I believe. BFR can't do that without multiple refuelings or an orbital fuel depot, or an expendable third stage which kind of defeats the purpose since that basically makes it a bigger Falcon Heavy.

Direct to GEO makes no sense if lift to LEO is super cheap and reliable. But the USAF isn't in that world. Yet.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 02:42 am by envy887 »

Offline envy887

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I'm surprised.  I wonder if this means the end for Falcon Heavy.  This seems to be the Air Force ruling New Glenn a better option than Falcon Heavy.

 - Ed Kyle

Falcon Heavy is already certified by the USAF for EELV missions, and can already hit all the required reference orbits. Why would the USAF need to pour massive amounts of cash into it for further development? At most it needs a longer fairing and VI, but that's a very minor cost compared to new vehicle development.

Or are you assuming that because Atlas and Delta were not funded, that the USAF is no longer planning on using them for EELV?

The competition for development money was always Vulcan vs Omega vs New Glenn vs BFR. Falcon Heavy doesn't need development money beyond what it's already getting.
Yes, of course, this is EELV-2.  Atlas 5 and Delta 4 are being phased out in favor of two alternatives.  It looks like Vulcan, Omega, and New Glenn are the options.

My impression was that Falcon Heavy was built for and proposed for this EELV-2 contract.  But, if it was BFR that SpaceX proposed, I'll restate to say that the decision endangers BFR.   One of them lost big today.

 - Ed Kyle

Falcon Heavy was built for EELV, not EELV-2. It's in the same boat as Atlas and Delta, though for different reasons: it's going to be superseded by BFR for pretty much everything, including, eventually, USAF launches (in my opinion).

BFR likely lost. It doesn't meet some of the requirements that the USAF was looking for in EELV-2, such as direct insertion and low technical risk (e.g. very high probability of flying by 2022).

There's a reason why "win EELV competition" was never one of the funding ideas that SpaceX threw out there for BFR.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 02:45 am by envy887 »

Offline gongora

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These contracts are for vehicle development.  There was supposed to be another round after this to pick a couple winners to split a certain amount of launch contracts around 2020, for which F9/FH should still be eligible to compete.

Offline gongora

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Air Force awards launch vehicle development contracts to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, ULA
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The Air Force plans to issue a solicitation for phase 2 in 2019 and make its selections in 2020. Only two will be selected to continue to receive OTA funds. Of the three winners of this phase, the one that does not win phase 2 will not be able to get the full amount of OTA funding that the Air Force announced it would commit.

Asked why SpaceX did not make the cut, Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisitions, said the company is an “important member of our launch team” and can choose to bid again in phase 2.

“Not getting LSA funds does not prevent them from competing,” Roper told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

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