Author Topic: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion  (Read 15141 times)

Offline Eric Hedman

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New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« on: 07/08/2020 07:21 pm »
New Glenn hasn't flown yet, but like other rockets it will have the potential to evolve.  It may get a reusable second stage.  It may get a tanker version for refueling.  It may be fly a crewed capsule.  The engines could be upgraded.  This thread is to discuss what is likely to happen, when and why.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2020 07:30 pm »
Payload could potentially increase if the engines are gradually up-rated and sub-chilled propellants are used.
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Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #2 on: 07/08/2020 09:17 pm »
Payload could potentially increase if the engines are gradually up-rated and sub-chilled propellants are used.
How much could payload to LEO be increased by doing both?

Offline GWH

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #3 on: 07/08/2020 09:57 pm »
Could also get a 3rd stage.
I'd be really excited to see it evolve to Block 1 SLS capacity to TLI.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #4 on: 07/09/2020 12:59 am »
Could also get a 3rd stage.
I'd be really excited to see it evolve to Block 1 SLS capacity to TLI.
As RLV not likely but as ELV maybe especially with addition of few SRBs. Better option is do distributed launch, one launch for Orion and another for EDS (Be7 powered).

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #5 on: 07/09/2020 02:35 pm »
Could also get a 3rd stage.
I'd be really excited to see it evolve to Block 1 SLS capacity to TLI.
As RLV not likely but as ELV maybe especially with addition of few SRBs. Better option is do distributed launch, one launch for Orion and another for EDS (Be7 powered).
Not too different from the Ares I and Ares V setup. Or Gemini/Agena. It's funny to me that people forget so quickly that we've actually done this before...
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Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #6 on: 07/09/2020 03:43 pm »
I see a couple of possibilities for a reusable second stage.  Start with a payload bay doors on the nose so no need to dispose of fairings (some loss of payload capacity I know).  Then you have the choice of propulsive vertical landing or adding wings and gliding home.  Both would require adding some form of a heat shield.  Does anyone know of any other practical way without losing too much payload capacity of returning an upper stage from orbital speeds?

Offline Steve G

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #7 on: 07/09/2020 04:16 pm »
Blue Origin has made it clear they don't intend to make the second stage reusable, and they went from a three stage version and in Jan 2019 dropped it. But, they have invested hugely into ground infrastructure, factories, etc, so they are in it for the long haul, and would expect some form of evolution. If Starship/Super Heavy is successful, they may have no choice but to compete. But that's still a big if.

I would suspect a third stage would be based on the BE-7 using the Blue Moon propulsion system and not the BE-3U as originally envisioned as it is already being developed.

A reusable second stage? Either a mini Starship or SpaceX's earlier designs for a Falcon 9 reusable design. Or, a great big biconic capsule carrying both humans and cargo. Just a wild guess, guys.

They are so secretive we can only guess, but a lot has to do with demand for lunar flights, and that's all politically-dependant.

Offline GWH

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #8 on: 07/09/2020 05:38 pm »
Could also get a 3rd stage.
I'd be really excited to see it evolve to Block 1 SLS capacity to TLI.
As RLV not likely but as ELV maybe especially with addition of few SRBs. Better option is do distributed launch, one launch for Orion and another for EDS (Be7 powered).
Not too different from the Ares I and Ares V setup. Or Gemini/Agena. It's funny to me that people forget so quickly that we've actually done this before...

Yeah that's true that even with a 3rd stage New Glenn probably still can't match SLS B1 to TLI. It would be enough for Blue Moon and larger integrated payloads however.


Its too bad that distributed launch with only the existing 2nd stage as a departure stage and no refueling isn't a good for for New Glenn as designed.
Distributed launch with refueling would be enough to send Orion (or a similarly sized payload) through to TLI. Distributed launch using just residual propellants in dedicated departure stage (of New Glenn's 2nd stage) to LEO isn't enough though. Even assuming a full 45 tonnes of propellant to LEO for the departure stage it can't quite manage the 3.15km/s to TLI... assuming 0.9 propellant mas fraction of that 2nd stage.

New Glenn's S2 is just too big and stages too low to open up the more exciting distributed launch architectures - based on my crappy spreadsheet estimates that could be way off base.


That's why I think a good path forward is to get a reasonable sized 3rd stage going to open up options first - but don't stop there.  Make that 3rd stage refuelable (basically ACES) and then work on uprating the booster, stretching the 2nd stage, probably propellant densification, and achieving 2nd stage reuse so that a fully reusable architecture is achieved.

Basically copy SpaceX's path go going fast and expendable (upper stages) at first, then make a series of iterative improvements to increase reuse. A true in-space reusable 3rd stage is key there. One COULD try to achieve 2nd stage reuse for missions out to cislunar space, but one will always be fighting with that high dry mass (made worse through recovery hardware) and having to refuel more than necessary - which isn't great on a low cadence booster that has to land on a ship. A lot can be done in a single flight by utilizing a mass optimized reusable 3rd stage and only refueling that.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2020 05:59 pm by GWH »

Online TrevorMonty

Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #9 on: 07/09/2020 06:34 pm »
They may use NGIS TE as 3rd stage. Why reenvent wheel when one of their team mates can supply it. That frees up Blue's resources for developing other technology on their road map.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #10 on: 07/09/2020 06:47 pm »
Blue Origin has made it clear they don't intend to make the second stage reusable, and they went from a three stage version and in Jan 2019 dropped it. But, they have invested hugely into ground infrastructure, factories, etc, so they are in it for the long haul, and would expect some form of evolution. If Starship/Super Heavy is successful, they may have no choice but to compete. But that's still a big if.

I think you are interpreting absence of evidence as evidence of absence. They have made no such thing clear. We only see what they let us see.

Offline GWH

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #11 on: 07/09/2020 08:58 pm »
They may use NGIS TE as 3rd stage. Why reenvent wheel when one of their team mates can supply it. That frees up Blue's resources for developing other technology on their road map.

Trying to scale it from the renders and new info with the common bulkhead I get a total propellant mass of 18 tonnes for the transfer stage based off a 4.46 meter diameter. and 7.6 meter tank length.
They'd want to stretch the thing out to almost double that length to make for a real useful 3rd stage/tug, which pretty well occupies the entirety of New Glenn's payload fairing.
Good for distributed launch but rules out integrated launch options without an extended fairing.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #12 on: 07/10/2020 12:32 am »
Blue Origin has made it clear they don't intend to make the second stage reusable, and they went from a three stage version and in Jan 2019 dropped it. But, they have invested hugely into ground infrastructure, factories, etc, so they are in it for the long haul, and would expect some form of evolution. If Starship/Super Heavy is successful, they may have no choice but to compete. But that's still a big if.

I think you are interpreting absence of evidence as evidence of absence. They have made no such thing clear. We only see what they let us see.
Have there been any developments from their VP saying it wasn't even on their roadmap last year? That seemed pretty clear to me...

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #13 on: 07/10/2020 02:46 am »
Have there been any developments from their VP saying it wasn't even on their roadmap last year? That seemed pretty clear to me...
If no S2 reuse is in the cards for now, then the focus for improvements will be the usual suspects: lighter more robust structures, lower cost (especially to manufacture S2), improved engines, fuel densification,a possible third stage, and in space refueling.  That's still plenty of options to tackle in the next five or six years.

Also if S2 reuse is off the table for now due to technical difficulty, I would suspect any significant work on New Armstrong is off the table for now.  I can't imagine them designing New Armstrong without S2 reuse.  They need to get this rocket flying reliably and affordably.  Anything else other than Blue Moon is a distraction.  In the long haul Jeff Bezos is going to want a positive cashflow so he can do a lot more with the money he is investing.

Offline Comga

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #14 on: 07/10/2020 05:04 am »
New Glenn hasn't flown yet, but like other rockets it will have the potential to evolve.  It may get a reusable second stage.  It may get a tanker version for refueling.  It may be fly a crewed capsule.  The engines could be upgraded.  This thread is to discuss what is likely to happen, when and why.

What’s the point of this thread?
Look at the data point we have, the SpaceX Falcon 9
Who among us foresaw legs, grid fins, entry burns, cold gas thrusters on the first stage AND fairing halves, the parafoils, the octograbber, even the octoweb?  Even Musk had little idea how each of the problems would be solved, and he’s proud of that.
My guess is that there will be substantial changes necessary for success at the baseline capability. Once they make those changes and achieve that goal, flying mass to orbit and recovering the first stage, then we might see what opportunities exist and how BO might persue them.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #15 on: 07/10/2020 05:16 am »
What’s the point of this thread?
Speculation on what Blue might do.  Half the threads on this site are speculation on what might be done by the companies being followed.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #16 on: 07/10/2020 04:57 pm »
Blue Origin has made it clear they don't intend to make the second stage reusable, and they went from a three stage version and in Jan 2019 dropped it. But, they have invested hugely into ground infrastructure, factories, etc, so they are in it for the long haul, and would expect some form of evolution. If Starship/Super Heavy is successful, they may have no choice but to compete. But that's still a big if.

I think you are interpreting absence of evidence as evidence of absence. They have made no such thing clear. We only see what they let us see.
Have there been any developments from their VP saying it wasn't even on their roadmap last year? That seemed pretty clear to me...
Yes, we know for a fact that Blue Origin has considered reuse of the 2nd stage in the past and is firmly committed to full reuse in the long term.

That it's not in the immediate roadmap most certainly does NOT mean they don't intend to ever make the 2nd stage reusable. In fact, given the wording in that tweet (speaking of the technical difficulty), it seems clear to me they're
considering the possibility.

They've never launched anything to orbit. New Glenn is a massive challenge even expendably, and just getting first stage booster reuse to work will be a challenge for them and probably won't occur immediately. But they've repeatedly mentioned the possibility of 2nd stage reuse for New Glenn, so it is absolutely appropriate to discuss it here.
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Offline GreenShrike

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #17 on: 07/10/2020 05:04 pm »
New Glenn's S2 is just too big and stages too low to open up the more exciting distributed launch architectures - based on my crappy spreadsheet estimates that could be way off base.

That's why I think a good path forward is to get a reasonable sized 3rd stage going to open up options first - but don't stop there.  Make that 3rd stage refuelable (basically ACES) and then work on uprating the booster, stretching the 2nd stage, probably propellant densification, and achieving 2nd stage reuse so that a fully reusable architecture is achieved.

So, what you're saying is that Blue's first design for New Glenn, with the BE-4U methalox second stage and optional small BE-3U hydrolox third stage -- was more optimal? And that the current design is more of a kludge just to get New Glenn flying soonest? ;-)


I wonder if once the time pressure is off, they'll move back to the original architecture. I would imagine that a second stage that's a small copy of the booster with a single vac-optimized booster engine (e.g. Falcon 9) would be cheaper than a twin-engined hydrolox stage with dissimilar tankage to the booster and, absent full reuse, the reusable cost of the rocket will be governed by the cost of the expended equipment. In that case, a cheaper New Glenn second stage would improve their value versus the Falcon family, with their smaller Falcon upper stage expending less hardware than New Glenn's relatively larger second stage.


A fully reusable New Glenn would, of course, easily beat Falcon on pricing, but does Blue see the experience gained in the development a fully reusable NG as necessary (or at least valuable) in informing the design of New Armstrong? Or might they look at Starship and think they'll need NA soonest to compete?

Their "gradatim ferociter" thing makes guessing what Blue will do hard. When BE-4 ran into problems, they apparently just shrugged, changed the NG design to not require BE-4's follow-on, the BE-4U, and carried on carrying on. But does that mean they're willing to accept good enough? If so, Blue may steal a page from SpaceX and, once the current, only partially reusable New Glenn is finished development, focus on just flying New Glenn while directing all their development efforts on a fully reusable New Armstrong.

In that case, there will never be any evolution of New Glenn.
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Offline envy887

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #18 on: 07/10/2020 07:38 pm »
New Glenn's S2 is just too big and stages too low to open up the more exciting distributed launch architectures - based on my crappy spreadsheet estimates that could be way off base.

That's why I think a good path forward is to get a reasonable sized 3rd stage going to open up options first - but don't stop there.  Make that 3rd stage refuelable (basically ACES) and then work on uprating the booster, stretching the 2nd stage, probably propellant densification, and achieving 2nd stage reuse so that a fully reusable architecture is achieved.

So, what you're saying is that Blue's first design for New Glenn, with the BE-4U methalox second stage and optional small BE-3U hydrolox third stage -- was more optimal? And that the current design is more of a kludge just to get New Glenn flying soonest? ;-)


I wonder if once the time pressure is off, they'll move back to the original architecture. I would imagine that a second stage that's a small copy of the booster with a single vac-optimized booster engine (e.g. Falcon 9) would be cheaper than a twin-engined hydrolox stage with dissimilar tankage to the booster and, absent full reuse, the reusable cost of the rocket will be governed by the cost of the expended equipment. In that case, a cheaper New Glenn second stage would improve their value versus the Falcon family, with their smaller Falcon upper stage expending less hardware than New Glenn's relatively larger second stage.


A fully reusable New Glenn would, of course, easily beat Falcon on pricing, but does Blue see the experience gained in the development a fully reusable NG as necessary (or at least valuable) in informing the design of New Armstrong? Or might they look at Starship and think they'll need NA soonest to compete?

Their "gradatim ferociter" thing makes guessing what Blue will do hard. When BE-4 ran into problems, they apparently just shrugged, changed the NG design to not require BE-4's follow-on, the BE-4U, and carried on carrying on. But does that mean they're willing to accept good enough? If so, Blue may steal a page from SpaceX and, once the current, only partially reusable New Glenn is finished development, focus on just flying New Glenn while directing all their development efforts on a fully reusable New Armstrong.

In that case, there will never be any evolution of New Glenn.

The 3-stage version offers more performance per launch, but less performance per dollar. The 2 stage system with hydrolox upper is fine for distributed launch and refueling, if you can solve the LH2 storage hurdles.

While something like ACES or the Blue Moon DE as a reuseable-in-space tug or transfer vehicle is a good idea, it's not easy to reuse in LEO unless you go to the effort of aerobraking.

So if Blue goes to a 3 stage fully reusable system, I think it will be a methalox VTVL booster, a hydrolox VTVL upper stage (much like Starship), and a hydrolox transfer vehicle/lunar lander that stays above GTO.
« Last Edit: 07/10/2020 07:39 pm by envy887 »

Offline GWH

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Re: New Glenn Evolution Speculation and Discussion
« Reply #19 on: 07/12/2020 07:53 pm »
The 3-stage version offers more performance per launch, but less performance per dollar. The 2 stage system with hydrolox upper is fine for distributed launch and refueling, if you can solve the LH2 storage hurdles.

While something like ACES or the Blue Moon DE as a reuseable-in-space tug or transfer vehicle is a good idea, it's not easy to reuse in LEO unless you go to the effort of aerobraking.

So if Blue goes to a 3 stage fully reusable system, I think it will be a methalox VTVL booster, a hydrolox VTVL upper stage (much like Starship), and a hydrolox transfer vehicle/lunar lander that stays above GTO.


Good points.

I ran through some fantasy rocket scenarios and changed my mind. If Blue Origin were to stick to payloads of existing sizes (such as the Blue Moon components) then a fully reusable system with a 3rd stage would be great.

If instead they decided to use in space refueling of their existing 2nd stage and try to maximize the payload to TLI or Gateway  they could really move some large masses. I am thinking of things like their wetlab space station like the one proposed in NASA's LEO commercialization studies.

One cargo launch of 33 tonnes to LEO with ~12 tonnes of residual propellants and refueled by a single tanker delivering 45 tonnes of propellant and they can put that cargo through to TLI.  Or 29 tonnes direct to Gateway using residual propellant from the cargo launch + 45 tonne top up.
Even better launch 45 tonnes to LEO then do 2 45 tonne tanker refuels and that mass can hauled to Gateway. 3 launches isn't bad.

If that's the case then New Glenn S2 functions as a minimum viable product to loft "traditional"payloads such as NSSL, GEO sats and NASA payloads to various destinations - then later in space refueling comes online and they look to establish propellant depots and space stations out at NHRO. Utilize New Glenn's performance to LEO and focus on dropping recurring production costs of expendable second stages.
There would be some significant work to be done to turn the second stage into a true refuelable space tug, but it would make for a good way to boot strap some infrastructure into deep space.
« Last Edit: 07/12/2020 08:21 pm by GWH »

 

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