Author Topic: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC  (Read 18058 times)

Offline Proponent

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #20 on: 01/15/2017 07:35 am »
Firefly switched to RP1 because they couldn't make pressure fed Methane work.

To nuance this a bit, I believe the issue it wasn't that pressure-fed methane flat out couldn't be made to work, but rather that analyzing the cooling was going to be a research project all by itself.

EDIT:  Eliminated erroneous "it was going to"
« Last Edit: 01/24/2017 08:23 am by Proponent »

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #21 on: 01/15/2017 12:14 pm »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.

The Trailblazer is totally different, LOX Alcohol , aluminium tank, conventional nozzle.

This launcher is more likely a fiction added over real buisness projects. Similar buisness PR may become ubiqous in the world after SpaceX claimed ITS.

There's no evidence that ITS is fiction over real business projects, and lots of evidence it is not fiction at all.

I also see no evidence that this company's real business is radiation testing.  Is that just speculation because some of the key people have experience in that area or is there any actual evidence?

If "fiction" does not accurately describe the situation, both projects are exaggerating bonus beyond basic business model, though on extremely different scale. Those projects could fail / delay / cancel at any time without harm to business survival.

For radiation testing:
http://www.aphelionorbitals.com/space-environment-testing/

Space environment testing is becoming increasingly more important in the nanosatellite market due to demand for radiation tolerant components and rising expectations for in-orbit longevity. The use of commercial off-the-shelf parts necessitates their characterization under in-orbit radiation environments. However, this is rarely performed by competitor manufacturers, resulting in unoptimized designs and unpredictable lifespans during mission-critical applications. Aphelion's radiation testing facility, which consists of a thermal vacuum target chamber and a 20MeV linear accelerator at its core, allows for rigorous testing of all our designs before they are finalized for flight. As of now, we are going through the procedures for installing and bringing online the facility which will be operational to provide the following services by 2017:

    Radiation testing for satellite components
    Free electron laser based high intensity beam
    Beam time on the linear accelerator for material testing and research

Moreover, our company has facilities in New York and Indiana dedicated to the development of ion sources, electron guns, accelerating cavities, and particle source. This allows for a unique opportunity for in-house radiation testing of satellites; this vacuum experience as well as the systems alongside them compliment our electrical propulsion capabilities. Our previous works include a number of fast neutron sources, 20 W class hall effect thrusters, and thermionic electron guns.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2017 12:46 pm by Katana »

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #22 on: 01/15/2017 12:21 pm »

Note the Japanese JAXA SS-520-4 Cubesat launcher, 4kg/2.6t, $250k, even not a commercial one.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40509.0

There may be 5~10 more tiny launchers emerging in this category, since the average success rate of VC is around 10%, suppose 1 success.

http://www.spaceflightinider.com/organizations/jaxa/smallest-orbital-class-rocket-launch-ends-failure/
The failure won't discourage potential players, even may attract more.
As tiny launcher becomes a "proven" market concept without strong competitors.
SS-520-4 is very coarse, no active control during engine firing, only turning control after stage 1 and before stage 2.

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #23 on: 01/15/2017 12:32 pm »
Firefly switched to RP1 because they couldn't make pressure fed Methane work.

To nuance this a bit, I believe the issue it wasn't that pressure-fed methane flat out couldn't be made to work, but rather that . it was going to analyzing the cooling was going to be a research project all by itself.

Warm gas is different from autogenous.
Tridyne (He+H2+O2 mixture) catalyst system works more simple.
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/warm_gas_press_of_propellant_tanks.pdf

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #24 on: 01/15/2017 01:24 pm »
Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.
And attract investors from electronics industry?
It is quite doubtful how much does investors from electronics industry knows about rocktary.

I think their only hope of getting funded is to find investors who don't know much about rocketry.  And who don't know much about business in general, actually.  Even investors who know nothing about rocketry should be able to see this crew is among the weakest in an overcrowded field.  They need to find people with a lot of money, a romantic desire to own a rocket company, and no investment sense.

Excalibur Almaz was able to find some such investors, so it's not impossible.
Aphelion's budget may be 1/10 of Firefly-class, lots of potential investors want to invest on rocket company but could not afford them could be interested.

The weakness of Aphelion and SS-520-4 may in turn become low hanging fruit, attracting more professional workers (i.e. laid off workers of Firefly) to build new teams.

...And a major bubble situation of the rocket industry.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #25 on: 07/29/2017 12:31 pm »
http://aphelionorbitals.com/ has just announced $500k in angel funding:

TITUSVILLE, Fla., July 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Aphelion Orbitals, Inc., an innovative nanosatellite manufacturer and launch services provider, announced today it has successfully closed on $500K in seed funding from an international group of angel investors. With the brightest young talent in the aerospace industry, Aphelion Orbitals operates from offices in New York City, NY and Titusville, FL as well as an R&D facility in Union City, NJ. Aphelion Orbitals was founded to dramatically reduce the costs of getting to space for nano-satellites and revolutionize access to space.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aphelion-orbitals-secures-seed-funding-announces-plans-to-revolutionize-low-cost-space-access-300496189.html

Launcher is a low cost orbital LV that looks to undercut Vector's business model I guess, at $550k per launch:-

Feynman is a dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle capable of delivering payloads of up to 11kg into sun-synchronous orbit. Its low cost is enabled by our innovations in manufacturing and nanolauncher technology. Each orbital launch is priced starting at $550,000*.

- Extremely fast turnover rate: first routinely launched orbital delivery service
- Missions tailored to customer profile special payload accomodations and irregular envelopes
- Provides launch services for 1U, 3U, 6U, and other Cubesat configurations
- To polar orbit, SSO, and highly eccentric orbits.

*Tentative. Prices are subject to change.


Love the asterisk.

USA cube/smallsat launch market is looking mighty crowded. Firefly Aerospace, Virgin Orbit, Relativity Space, Stratolauncher, Go Launcher, Vector Space, Bagaveev, Spaceflight + Spacex, ULA's Cubesat programme, Arca...

Offline Kryten

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #26 on: 11/13/2018 09:02 am »

Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #27 on: 11/13/2018 11:46 am »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

http://www.aphelionorbitals.com/blog/2018/11/12/successful-main-propulsion-test-fire

They are claiming a successful full-duration test fire ("Notably, the engine ran smoothly with steady combustion for the entire burn"), even though they detonated the chamber and were just flowing burning propellants onto the ground. Personally, I would call it a failed hotfire with a successful full-duration flow test of their injector, but that's just my opinion.
« Last Edit: 11/13/2018 11:49 am by Gliderflyer »
I tried it at home

Offline envy887

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #28 on: 11/13/2018 04:27 pm »
You can see the nozzle flying towards the camera at 1:27 in the video.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #29 on: 11/13/2018 05:02 pm »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

What do we know about the density and Isp of that combination?  How green is it (figuratively, not literally!) if it is spewing copper compounds into the atmosphere?

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #30 on: 11/13/2018 10:52 pm »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

What do we know about the density and Isp of that combination?  How green is it (figuratively, not literally!) if it is spewing copper compounds into the atmosphere?

Both of the densities are slightly higher than water, and Aphelion claims an Isp similar to LOX and RP-1 (although that doesn't really narrow it down). Don't know how green it is (I wouldn't call it green, but I'm in the "if I can't spill it on my hands, it isn't green" camp). It doesn't look like it gives you instant cancer, so it is probably better than most alternatives. The MSDS recommends a face shield, gloves and respirator.
I tried it at home


Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #32 on: 12/13/2018 03:36 pm »
I think they would have had a better luck if they focused on CubeSat systems given their personnel background.

Offline Craftyatom

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #33 on: 12/13/2018 05:31 pm »
For me, the most interesting part of that release was the last slide: a log-log plot of launch cost vs. launch mass.  Definitely an interesting way to compare potential launch services with existing ones.  I do wonder where they got those numbers - they seem to have an awful lot of data points with slightly different costs and masses - but it was interesting that high-energy orbits didn't completely ruin the plot, just spread a given company's cloud out.

I did some pixel-counting to find the values their regression uses, and then de-logged it to find the real numbers.  Based on their calculations, in today's launch market, the cost (in dollars) of a launch is equal to [payload mass in kg].716 x 142889 - that is, a 1kg payload should cost about $143k, and each time the payload mass grows by a factor of 10, the cost increases by a factor of 5.2.  Whether this regression is valid, especially for extrapolation, is up for debate (I still see a curve in the data), but those are the numbers they came up with.

Here's hoping this graph becomes outdated sooner rather than later!
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #34 on: 12/14/2018 07:41 am »
From the tank volumes, looks like they are using HTP. Also looks like there is a third kick stage, like on Electron.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #35 on: 12/14/2018 11:41 am »
From the tank volumes, looks like they are using HTP. Also looks like there is a third kick stage, like on Electron.
*Were* using HTP. They are now out of business according to the LinkedIn posts of the ex-CTO (see the sister post to this one with the slides).
« Last Edit: 12/14/2018 11:41 am by ringsider »

Offline brickmack

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #36 on: 12/14/2018 08:59 pm »
So what went wrong? The last update I can find is his "Aphelion Orbitals Journey" post also on LinkedIn, from only about 2 weeks earlier, and it seems pretty optimistic still, no mention of any trouble or of any contracts/grants/investment rounds that could have been at risk. Were they expecting some investment contingent on that static fire, and the investor wasn't satisfied with "it blew up, but look how easy the cleanup was!"?

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #37 on: 12/14/2018 09:30 pm »
So what went wrong? The last update I can find is his "Aphelion Orbitals Journey" post also on LinkedIn, from only about 2 weeks earlier, and it seems pretty optimistic still, no mention of any trouble or of any contracts/grants/investment rounds that could have been at risk. Were they expecting some investment contingent on that static fire, and the investor wasn't satisfied with "it blew up, but look how easy the cleanup was!"?
I guess they ran out of money. The note to the slides says pretty much that:-

"Here are the slides from Aphelion Orbitals' last pitch deck before winding down operations. We had a good plan, ambitious yet competent. It's so sad we just ran out of time."
« Last Edit: 12/14/2018 09:30 pm by ringsider »

Offline eeergo

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #38 on: 01/24/2019 11:13 am »
More information on this former founder's GoFundMe page. Also shows the ugly, but more common than not, side of "startups".

https://www.gofundme.com/i-lost-everything-when-my-business-closed
-DaviD-

Offline IanO

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #39 on: 01/27/2019 06:10 pm »
More information on this former founder's GoFundMe page. Also shows the ugly, but more common than not, side of "startups".

https://www.gofundme.com/i-lost-everything-when-my-business-closed
Ugly indeed! The building flooding problems made made me think this was some third-world country. My condolences.
psas.pdx.edu

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