Author Topic: DARPA Launch Challenge  (Read 17876 times)

Offline AlexA

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DARPA Launch Challenge
« on: 04/19/2018 03:24 pm »
http://www.darpalaunchchallenge.org/default.aspx#challenge

Quote
DARPA Launch Challenge

Anywhere. Anytime. The DARPA Launch Challenge aims to demonstrate flexible and responsive launch capabilities in days, not years, for our nation’s defense
 
WHY A CHALLENGE? 

Our nation’s space architecture is built around a limited number of exquisite systems. Typical developments span up to 10 years to build, test, and launch spacecraft.

DARPA wants to demonstrate the ability to launch payloads to orbit on extremely short notice, with no prior knowledge of the payload, destination orbit or launch site, and do it not just once, but twice, in a matter of days.

The commercial industry has embraced advances in manufacturing, microtechnologies, and autonomous launch/range infrastructure, and DARPA seeks to leverage this expertise to transform space system development.


WHAT IS RESPONSIVE LAUNCH?

The launch environment of the future will more closely resemble airline operations — with frequent launches from myriad locations worldwide. DARPA seeks to accelerate capabilities that are unconstrained to allow for flexibility and resilience, rather than one-of-a-kind, fixed infrastructure.

Challenge

Teams will be receive days' notice to first launch site. After successfully delivering their payload to low Earth orbit (LEO), teams will get information about the second launch site. Teams again will be given days to successfully deliver their second payload to LEO.
...

EDIT: Attaching the guidelines (pdf)
« Last Edit: 04/20/2018 11:46 am by AlexA »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #1 on: 04/19/2018 03:39 pm »
From the website:

"TIMELINE
At the end of 2019, teams will rapidly launch a payload into two orbits, with minimal notification, from different launch sites – one just days after the other – for an opportunity to win the $10M first prize."

From the downloadable PDF:

"Competitors will receive information about the launch sites with less than 30 days prior to each launch. Once launch sites are announced, competitors will transport their launch vehicles, equipment, and necessary infrastructure to the locations in an expedient and safe manner.

Teams will receive further requirements for each launch less than 14 days prior to the launch – including specific launch pad, payload and orbit details, as well as the physical payloads to be launched. This is intended to be reflective of future needs for tactical use of space, where the details of the launch requirements are not known until they are dictated by mission needs."

and

"Payloads
To best exercise the performance capabilities of all teams, initial details (including interfaces) of the payload will be released in the launch rules in early 2019."

and

"For initial planning purposes, teams should plan to show calculations at their maximum launch capability for a maximum extent of inclinations from each prospective launch site.
DARPA will work with the FAA to issue further guidance regarding inputs for license applications for the planned orbit and launch trajectories."
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Markstark

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #2 on: 04/19/2018 04:37 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #3 on: 04/19/2018 04:51 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Rocket Crafters, with their Intrepid launch vehicle.
Stealth Space, aka Astra Space, with the mysterious Astra rocket.
Firefly Aerospace, with Firefly Alpha.
Vector, with Vector-R or Vector-H.
Virgin Orbit, with LauncherOne
Rocket Lab, with its Electron rocket, could use this as an excuse to get its US launch sites established.
Orbital ATK, with the Pegasus, or Minotaur I, IV, or C.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Markstark

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DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #4 on: 04/19/2018 05:02 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Rocket Crafters, with their Intrepid launch vehicle.
Stealth Space, aka Astra Space, with the mysterious Astra rocket.
Firefly Aerospace, with Firefly Alpha.
Vector, with Vector-R or Vector-H.
Virgin Orbit, with LauncherOne
Rocket Lab, with its Electron rocket, could use this as an excuse to get its US launch sites established.
Orbital ATK, with the Pegasus, or Minotaur I, IV, or C.


Would the “no prior knowledge of the.... launch site” part exclude the companies that require substantial fixed infrastructure such as Rocket Lab?

Thanks for the reply btw.
« Last Edit: 04/19/2018 05:02 pm by Markstark »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #5 on: 04/19/2018 05:42 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Rocket Crafters, with their Intrepid launch vehicle.
Stealth Space, aka Astra Space, with the mysterious Astra rocket.
Firefly Aerospace, with Firefly Alpha.
Vector, with Vector-R or Vector-H.
Virgin Orbit, with LauncherOne
Rocket Lab, with its Electron rocket, could use this as an excuse to get its US launch sites established.
Orbital ATK, with the Pegasus, or Minotaur I, IV, or C.


Would the “no prior knowledge of the.... launch site” part exclude the companies that require substantial fixed infrastructure such as Rocket Lab?

Thanks for the reply btw.

No, it just means they don't know what launch site they will need to use until less than a month before the launch.

So their launch sites would need to be built and ready to go well before the end of 2019.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Markstark

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #6 on: 04/19/2018 05:42 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Rocket Crafters, with their Intrepid launch vehicle.
Stealth Space, aka Astra Space, with the mysterious Astra rocket.
Firefly Aerospace, with Firefly Alpha.
Vector, with Vector-R or Vector-H.
Virgin Orbit, with LauncherOne
Rocket Lab, with its Electron rocket, could use this as an excuse to get its US launch sites established.
Orbital ATK, with the Pegasus, or Minotaur I, IV, or C.


Would the “no prior knowledge of the.... launch site” part exclude the companies that require substantial fixed infrastructure such as Rocket Lab?

Thanks for the reply btw.

No, it just means they don't know what launch site they will need to use until less than a month before the launch.

So their launch sites would need to be built and ready to go well before the end of 2019.

Okay. That makes a lot more sense to me now. Thanks!


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Online butters

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #7 on: 04/19/2018 06:15 pm »
Peter Beck has commented based on his experiences, however, that "if anyone is thinking about building own pad, I advise against it." So perhaps Rocket Lab would not be so enthusiastic about building new launch sites.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #8 on: 04/19/2018 06:18 pm »
Peter Beck has commented based on his experiences, however, that "if anyone is thinking about building own pad, I advise against it." So perhaps Rocket Lab would not be so enthusiastic about building new launch sites.

RocketLab is already planning on launch sites in Kodiak, Alaska, and Cape Canaveral, Florida.

*edit* and that quote is about building a launch 'range,' not a launch site at an existing range.

"The launch site, and coordination with local officials to clear airspace and seas for the launch, worked as planned, but Beck said in the media teleconference it took a “huge effort” to get everything in place. “If anybody has ever contemplated building a launch range, I’d advise against it, because it’s certainly a lot more involved than even we, four years ago, thought it would be,” he said."

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-reaches-space-but-not-orbit-on-first-electron-launch/
« Last Edit: 04/19/2018 06:23 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #9 on: 04/19/2018 07:47 pm »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline deruch

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #10 on: 04/19/2018 09:21 pm »
Frankly, $12.4M (total winnings for 1st place) seems too low a prize for this.  2 launches plus all the work to be able to support launching from multiple sites on short notice.  For some (many?) of the potential participants that works out to average less per launch than they will likely end up selling launches for without all the hassle of the short notice nonsense.  If DARPA was really serious about seeing this demonstrated, they should offer something like $30M.  Or smaller prize awards on top of the company's launch prices with maybe a total amount cap so the cheaper launchers potentially get a bigger bonus.  I'd hate for some company to make a risky try for this only to have it hurt their chances of staying viable because they counted on winning for it to pay off.
« Last Edit: 04/19/2018 09:24 pm by deruch »
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #11 on: 04/19/2018 10:40 pm »
Vector is targeting for a launch cost of about $3 million for its larger Vector-H rocket. Winning first place would net it about $6 million.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline RDoc

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #12 on: 04/20/2018 02:50 am »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

Offline deruch

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #13 on: 04/20/2018 04:04 am »
Vector is targeting for a launch cost of about $3 million for its larger Vector-H rocket. Winning first place would net it about $6 million.

I don't believe any of the current crop of small launch companies capable of launching from multiple locations will end up routinely selling launches for less than $5M/launch.  I'm willing to be surprised, but am still very doubtful.  (NB- I said routinely.  Early adopter prices don't count)

What's more, it looks like the period of completion is just 1 year, i.e. launches occurring in April 2019.  That will really limit who is capable of competing.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline ThePhugoid

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #14 on: 04/20/2018 05:10 am »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

Aptly put. Agreed.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #15 on: 04/20/2018 05:25 am »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

Aptly put. Agreed.

Just like XS-1. Pretty clear in retrospect. Nothing real & usable will come from XS-1, nothing will come from this. Just funds to certain pockets.

Offline ringsider

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #16 on: 04/20/2018 05:57 am »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

I just had a look at the terms on the website. To qualify, teams have to have an FAA license application accepted by 14 December 2018.

So you can rule out ABL, Relativity, maybe Firefly - they probably won't be ready. Also none of the overseas guys like Expace, Orbex, Gilmour have a shot, too complex / not allowed to bring their gear to the USA.

So that leaves only Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and maybe Vector and Astra at a pinch, but I would say that is an outside chance based on recent performance. Of that group I would guess only Rocket Lab and Virgin have a real shot, but they have bigger fish to fry in that time frame, and Rocket Lab has little to prove. Vector and Astra would seem like the clear candidates with something to gain (if they can get anything into space by then).

Orbital ATK wouldn't bother - it would cost them more to do a single launch than they would gain from the prize.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #17 on: 04/20/2018 06:23 am »
So you can rule out ABL, Relativity, maybe Firefly - they probably won't be ready. Also none of the overseas guys like Expace, Orbex, Gilmour have a shot, too complex / not allowed to bring their gear to the USA.
They'd be allowed to bring their gear to the US.

It's taking it home again (or ITAR contaminating their IPR and stopping them launching whoever they want) that's the problem afterward.  :(
« Last Edit: 04/20/2018 06:24 am by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline speedevil

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #18 on: 04/20/2018 06:26 am »
So that leaves only Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and maybe Vector and Astra at a pinch, but I would say that is an outside chance based on recent performance. Of that group I would guess only Rocket Lab and Virgin have a real shot, but they have bigger fish to fry in that time frame, and Rocket Lab has little to prove. Vector and Astra would seem like the clear candidates with something to gain (if they can get anything into space by then).

Orbital ATK wouldn't bother - it would cost them more to do a single launch than they would gain from the prize.
BFS - SSTO!
It sort of could, if they have indeed stretched it a bit, and early tests worked well.( I consider this vanishingly unlikely.)

This is indeed very odd.
I could see RL doing it, if the comment about 'setting up a range' was not around required technical aspects, but legislative - which DARPA would presumably deal with, especially if they thought it would lead to more contracts.


The electron is not actually very large - I could not actually find the above for sale - just a Scud launcher which is rather too small.



The rocketlabs infrastructure just isn't that large, with the base of the launchpad being some 3.5*3.5*2.5m or so.
It's in the range that you could consider moving it by road in one lump.


Offline ringsider

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #19 on: 04/20/2018 09:19 am »
So you can rule out ABL, Relativity, maybe Firefly - they probably won't be ready. Also none of the overseas guys like Expace, Orbex, Gilmour have a shot, too complex / not allowed to bring their gear to the USA.
They'd be allowed to bring their gear to the US.

It's taking it home again (or ITAR contaminating their IPR and stopping them launching whoever they want) that's the problem afterward.  :(

Europe has the same regulations for export control as ITAR, in reverse, called EC428/2009 - it is basically exactly the same list as ITAR for dual use / military items, but for movement from Europe to somewhere outside Europe. Europe has some secret tech too apparently:-

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:134:0001:0269:en:PDF

So European companies like PLD Space or Ripple or Orbex wishing to export e.g. rocket engines, tanks, GNC, composite vehicles from Europe to e.g. America need an export permit just like American companies need an export permit under ITAR/EAR. To the USA they would probably be granted  a license, but it is a paperwork hassle, then they would have to jump through FAA hoops on launch licensing.

As an MTCR signatory Australia has similar regulations, the DSGL list:

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016C00970

Japan the same, so that applies to e.g. Interstellar.

http://www.meti.go.jp/policy/anpo/englishpage.html

All these ECL control lists are basically the same, controlling movement of potentially dangerous goods from one country to another.

For China, no idea, but I imagine it would be almost impossible to move a Chinese launcher to the USA...
« Last Edit: 04/20/2018 09:32 am by ringsider »

Offline AlexA

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #20 on: 04/20/2018 11:53 am »
Some details on launch sites are in the pdf guidelines:

Quote
7 Launch Sites
Teams will receive exact details on the launch sites with the payload information in the weeks before each launch event. For initial planning purposes, competitors should assume any current or future FAA-licensed spaceport may be used. Launch site services are planned to be austere – primarily a concrete pad with bolt-down fixtures and generator or shore power. DARPA may consider providing additional commonly used resources, dependent upon needs common among competitors.

DARPA will provide a list of potential launch sites in early 2019.


Offline TrevorMonty

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #21 on: 04/20/2018 06:01 pm »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

I just had a look at the terms on the website. To qualify, teams have to have an FAA license application accepted by 14 December 2018.

So you can rule out ABL, Relativity, maybe Firefly - they probably won't be ready. Also none of the overseas guys like Expace, Orbex, Gilmour have a shot, too complex / not allowed to bring their gear to the USA.

So that leaves only Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and maybe Vector and Astra at a pinch, but I would say that is an outside chance based on recent performance. Of that group I would guess only Rocket Lab and Virgin have a real shot, but they have bigger fish to fry in that time frame, and Rocket Lab has little to prove. Vector and Astra would seem like the clear candidates with something to gain (if they can get anything into space by then).

Orbital ATK wouldn't bother - it would cost them more to do a single launch than they would gain from the prize.
$10M is 2xElectron launches so not really much of prize. DOD is an important potential customer, part of reason they are US registered company. Competing could be important for customer relations..

Both LauncherOne and Firefly are about $10M+ a launch so they lose money even if they won. Same again regarding DOD as customer.

Offline brickmack

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #22 on: 04/20/2018 07:28 pm »
Just like XS-1. Pretty clear in retrospect. Nothing real & usable will come from XS-1, nothing will come from this. Just funds to certain pockets.

What do you mean, "in retrospect"? XS-1 is still in development, theres been no indication of delays or cancellation or serious descoping.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #23 on: 04/20/2018 08:33 pm »
Just like XS-1. Pretty clear in retrospect. Nothing real & usable will come from XS-1, nothing will come from this. Just funds to certain pockets.

What do you mean, "in retrospect"? XS-1 is still in development, theres been no indication of delays or cancellation or serious descoping.

Well XS-1 information is hard to come by, so maybe you can point to some updated information? But feel free to quote this again in a few years, and we'll see what happened with the program.

EDIT: To clarify. XS-1 was DOA the moment it was awarded to Boeing and AJR. (and the complete black hole of information about the program since then reinforces it) Those two corporations have close to zero incentive to produce a system that delivers affordable space access. And I fear this program is headed the same direction, if it is awarded to anyone in the "old boys club". But go ahead Boeing and AJR, prove me wrong! ;-)
« Last Edit: 04/20/2018 10:35 pm by Lars-J »

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #24 on: 04/20/2018 10:12 pm »
Just like XS-1. Pretty clear in retrospect. Nothing real & usable will come from XS-1, nothing will come from this. Just funds to certain pockets.

What do you mean, "in retrospect"? XS-1 is still in development, theres been no indication of delays or cancellation or serious descoping.

Well XS-1 information is hard to come by, so maybe you can point to some updated information? But feel free to quote this again in a few years, and we'll see what happened with the program.
I feel like Lars. I have serious doubts about XS-1 and this "challenge" only re- enforces them. If they actually thought that XS-1 was going to work as planned and any time soon, why bother with this? I would assume that XS-1 would make this obsolete (if it works as they want it to).
Quite frankly, they should have rather handled XS-1 in a COTS type of fashion and give multiple companies a shot. Instead, we now get this competition, which seems like a rehash but with less money and less ambitious (and less interesting, if you ask me), goals.

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #25 on: 04/21/2018 12:54 am »
Wasn't old Taurus of Orbital (Minotaur-C) born under exactly the same conditions (and even funded by DARPA too) in the mid-1990s?  ;)

Astronomy & spaceflight geek penguin. In a relationship w/ Space Shuttle Discovery. Current Priority: Chasing the Chinese Spaceflight Wonder Egg & A Certain Chinese Mars Rover

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #26 on: 04/21/2018 06:30 am »
$10M is 2xElectron launches so not really much of prize. DOD is an important potential customer, part of reason they are US registered company. Competing could be important for customer relations..

Both LauncherOne and Firefly are about $10M+ a launch so they lose money even if they won. Same again regarding DOD as customer.
The point is the stimulating value of actual money on the table.

I think prices can help. Let's recall the X-prize stimulated a lot of teams and it meant that teams could go to investors and say "There is money on the table. If we can field a good enough concept you'll get this back and we'll have demonstrated our concept is viable."

Those can be quit attractive.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #27 on: 04/21/2018 06:41 am »
Well XS-1 information is hard to come by, so maybe you can point to some updated information? But feel free to quote this again in a few years, and we'll see what happened with the program.

EDIT: To clarify. XS-1 was DOA the moment it was awarded to Boeing and AJR. (and the complete black hole of information about the program since then reinforces it) Those two corporations have close to zero incentive to produce a system that delivers affordable space access. And I fear this program is headed the same direction, if it is awarded to anyone in the "old boys club". But go ahead Boeing and AJR, prove me wrong! ;-)
Things looked smelly when they swapped Blue for AJR as their engine supplier.

First they bait the hook.

Then they switch the fish.  :(

TBH the DoD only has itself to blame. It's encouragement of endless consolidation within the industry has left it with essentially 3 design bureau that it will accept for large projects (basically because only they can afford the support staff to process their 1200+ page contracts)

Given that 2 of them operate a JV which already has a very large slice of NSS launch business could you trust either of them to execute a programme whose long term goal is cut their revenue?
People were hoping XS-1 would be an improvement on the DC-X programme, which was very successful for it's size. It looks like it's going to end up more like the X-33 programme. The participants paperwork will be immaculate, but sadly nothing has actually gotten built.  :(
X-33 also taught us there are plenty of ways to ensure failure despite the best faith efforts of the people doing the actual work.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2018 06:48 am by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline deruch

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #28 on: 04/21/2018 08:09 am »
So you can rule out ABL, Relativity, maybe Firefly - they probably won't be ready. Also none of the overseas guys like Expace, Orbex, Gilmour have a shot, too complex / not allowed to bring their gear to the USA.
They'd be allowed to bring their gear to the US.

It's taking it home again (or ITAR contaminating their IPR and stopping them launching whoever they want) that's the problem afterward.  :(

Plus this totally ignores the purpose behind the challenge.  How would it help the US DoD to establish that the capability existed but not in a US company?  The goal is to enable potential operationally responsive launches during a conflict.  DARPA isn't interested in this specific feat just as a demonstration that it is technically possible.  It's about potentially enabling actual future capabilities. That requires a domestic launcher. 
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline ringsider

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #29 on: 04/21/2018 09:29 am »
Plus this totally ignores the purpose behind the challenge.  How would it help the US DoD to establish that the capability existed but not in a US company?  The goal is to enable potential operationally responsive launches during a conflict.  DARPA isn't interested in this specific feat just as a demonstration that it is technically possible.  It's about potentially enabling actual future capabilities. That requires a domestic launcher.

DARPA funded Rocket Lab in 2011 when it was still a New Zealand company. It funds globally - there are no restrictions.

Offline AncientU

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #30 on: 04/21/2018 11:02 am »
I must say, this seems absurd to me. Actually, it looks like cheap camouflage to hide some other goal, e.g. a baked in award to a favored vendor.

Aptly put. Agreed.

Just like XS-1. Pretty clear in retrospect. Nothing real & usable will come from XS-1, nothing will come from this. Just funds to certain pockets.

Pretty cheezy for DARPA. 
They are usually way out ahead of the technology curve; this one is sucking exhaust fumes.

Is there really anything the DoD needs* that could/would be launched this way?


* Replacing 'assets' in time of conflict is a non-starter.  Today's 'assets' take billions and years to prepare and won't be launched by one of these tiny rockets.  Tomorrow, when DoD has resilient, dis-aggregated 'assets', one-at-a-time-replacements won't have any impact.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2018 11:13 am by AncientU »
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Offline deruch

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #31 on: 04/21/2018 11:23 pm »
Plus this totally ignores the purpose behind the challenge.  How would it help the US DoD to establish that the capability existed but not in a US company?  The goal is to enable potential operationally responsive launches during a conflict.  DARPA isn't interested in this specific feat just as a demonstration that it is technically possible.  It's about potentially enabling actual future capabilities. That requires a domestic launcher.

DARPA funded Rocket Lab in 2011 when it was still a New Zealand company. It funds globally - there are no restrictions.

Sure.  My comment wasn't about DARPA in general--they are often just interested in technology development/advancement--but rather this specific program.  This program is about demonstrating a specific capability that the US military is interested in adding to their bag of tricks.  As such, it really is only serves that purpose if demonstrated by a domestic company.  The differentiator is that what's being developed in the program isn't a piece of hardware/technology which can be purchased or adopted by the DoD.  It's to establish that such a capability exists within the market that they would have immediate access to in the event of some conflict resulting in degraded space coverage.
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Offline russianhalo117

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #32 on: 04/21/2018 11:44 pm »
Wasn't old Taurus of Orbital (Minotaur-C) born under exactly the same conditions (and even funded by DARPA too) in the mid-1990s?  ;)


Yes. Taurus-1110 (ARPA-Taurus) 3 flights flown under that ARPA programme (TU-903 0-Stage).

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #33 on: 04/22/2018 11:01 am »
Sure.  My comment wasn't about DARPA in general--they are often just interested in technology development/advancement--but rather this specific program.  This program is about demonstrating a specific capability that the US military is interested in adding to their bag of tricks.  As such, it really is only serves that purpose if demonstrated by a domestic company.  The differentiator is that what's being developed in the program isn't a piece of hardware/technology which can be purchased or adopted by the DoD.  It's to establish that such a capability exists within the market that they would have immediate access to in the event of some conflict resulting in degraded space coverage.
Or not, if no one can meet the challenge. which is a possibility.  :(

Actually I  think you have the goal backward.

It's that they want enhanced capability for a specific operating area if they have to be deployed. That (in principle) could be anywhere. This is the more probable scenario.

There are some countries with anti satellite capability, but if they are used that's basically an act of war and the US will have more pressing issues to deal with.
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Offline edzieba

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #34 on: 04/23/2018 10:07 am »
Is there really anything the DoD needs* that could/would be launched this way?
The fast turnaround of a launcher from an unprepared location could stem from an NRO demand: stick a camera on a smallsat, Fly a launcher via cargo to a domestic launch site of the correct latitude, throw it onto the desired trajectory from there, and it only needs to last for one orbit to do its job (so could potentially be battery-operated rather than needing to deploy reflective panels). A hybrid of the rapid-eyes-on-sight capability on an atmospheric surveillance craft with the minimal vulnerability of a satellite, without the need to maintain a dense satellite constellation to ensure timely coverage, and with a reduced risk of assets being moved out of the way of long-term-monitored satellites. The big downside would be the same as putting conventional munitions on ICBMs: they look too much like nuclear-tipped ICBMs for everyone to be comfortable about them, so you end up needing to announce your launch intent anyway.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #35 on: 04/23/2018 11:45 am »
Is there really anything the DoD needs* that could/would be launched this way?
The fast turnaround of a launcher from an unprepared location could stem from an NRO demand: stick a camera on a smallsat, Fly a launcher via cargo to a domestic launch site of the correct latitude, throw it onto the desired trajectory from there, and it only needs to last for one orbit to do its job (so could potentially be battery-operated rather than needing to deploy reflective panels). A hybrid of the rapid-eyes-on-sight capability on an atmospheric surveillance craft with the minimal vulnerability of a satellite, without the need to maintain a dense satellite constellation to ensure timely coverage, and with a reduced risk of assets being moved out of the way of long-term-monitored satellites. The big downside would be the same as putting conventional munitions on ICBMs: they look too much like nuclear-tipped ICBMs for everyone to be comfortable about them, so you end up needing to announce your launch intent anyway.
And as long as it relies on a VTO TSTO  it always will.
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Online gongora

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #36 on: 01/16/2019 02:40 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1085532584342360069
Quote
Todd Master, DARPA: 18 teams in the DARPA Launch Challenge made it through pre-qualification step. Plan to select those that qualified for the competition by late February/early March. Goal of holding the first round of the competition late this year.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #37 on: 01/16/2019 08:33 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1085532584342360069
Quote
Todd Master, DARPA: 18 teams in the DARPA Launch Challenge made it through pre-qualification step. Plan to select those that qualified for the competition by late February/early March. Goal of holding the first round of the competition late this year.
What??
How??
Who????

I didn't know there were even 18 candidates, let alone 18 would survive initial selection.  :o

This suggests
a) The number of ELV/RLV startups is a lot bigger than I thought (can anyone here name 18 US based LV startups of any type?)
b) The bar for entry is pretty low.

Given the bell curve of human endeavors you would expect some of these have a solid chance of pulling this (or something close) off, some are total no hopers and the rest are somewhere in between.

the field is wide enough that there is no obvious winner being picked (although when the list is published that might well change).
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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #38 on: 01/16/2019 09:16 pm »
I'm guessing a number of them are companies we haven't even heard of yet.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 09:17 pm by gongora »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #39 on: 01/16/2019 09:47 pm »
Who would possible be participants in this challenge? I would think Vector, Virgin Orbit and that’s about it. Will anyone else have this type of capability (i.e. launch on demand from various sites,) in the near term?

Rocket Crafters, with their Intrepid launch vehicle.
Stealth Space, aka Astra Space, with the mysterious Astra rocket.
Firefly Aerospace, with Firefly Alpha.
Vector, with Vector-R or Vector-H.
Virgin Orbit, with LauncherOne
Rocket Lab, with its Electron rocket, could use this as an excuse to get its US launch sites established.
Orbital ATK, with the Pegasus, or Minotaur I, IV, or C.

18?!

Yeah I'm hard pressed to think up 11 more.

Let's see... Wikipedia has a list of a bunch of small companies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_private_spaceflight_companies

In addition to the above:

Generation Orbit, with GO Launcher 2
Interorbital, with their OTRAG-like Neptune rocket.
Mishaal Aerospace
Relativity Space, with Terran 1
Rocket Crafters
RocketStar
Stratolaunch could put in a bid, I suppose.

That's 7 more.

I'm guessing we'll see collaborations or new companies for the remainder. But virtually every space-launch company and startup in the US must have thrown their hat in. Wow.
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Offline meberbs

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #40 on: 01/16/2019 11:23 pm »
...
I didn't know there were even 18 candidates, let alone 18 would survive initial selection.  :o

This suggests
a) The number of ELV/RLV startups is a lot bigger than I thought (can anyone here name 18 US based LV startups of any type?)
b) The bar for entry is pretty low.
...
Well, part a is almost certainly true, I had trouble believing it myself when I saw the data I link to below. I gave up keeping track, so I couldn't list them myself, but other people have gone through the effort:

There is this post that links a 2018 survey of small launch vehicles, which lists 20 "operational or under development" U.S. launcher developers (21 counting Rocket Lab). More count as "watch." Notably, Relativity is excluded from the survey due to having a planned launch capacity larger than the scope of the survey.
Tweet from C. G. Niederstrasser:
Quote
Did you know that @SmallSat makes their conference proceedings available online for *free*? 
#smallsat
Copies of my #SmallLVSurvey paper can be found at:
https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/smallsat/2018/TPS09-2018/

Also, relavant, ringsider posted his list of expectations for current U.S. companies, which has a list of 30, obviously with different criteria.

Even with these numbers of possibilities, I am surprised that 18 managed to pre-qualify, so maybe the bar was low, we will see how many qualify in the next step.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #41 on: 01/17/2019 06:41 am »
U.S. companies, which has a list of 30, obviously with different criteria.

Even with these numbers of possibilities, I am surprised that 18 managed to pre-qualify, so maybe the bar was low, we will see how many qualify in the next step.
I find it very hard to believe some of those are beyond the powerpoint stage at present.

OTOH setting a low(ish) bar and letting them in could let them raise more funds because now there is a serious (for a small startup) cash prize on the table, and getting looked at by part of the DoD which might lead to a piece of the very substantial NSS funding pie.

Just shy of 3 decades on from Pegasus it will be interesting to see if anyone can come up with a cheaper development plan than "Buy an old airliner and slap a rocket made up of some Hercules solid stages with wings on".

This might be the time that any companies that have designs but no actual engines might consider buying in their engines from one of the (small) number of companies (Masten and I think that South Korean Kerolox outfit?) who make them for sale.

One little nugget from the past. Near the end of WWII, when the Allies had air supremacy over the skies of Europe, the Germans managed to launch 9 V2 rockets in 1 week.

A lot of this is not about the hardware. It's about the process.
What do you need to turn a flat pad of concrete into a launch site?
How much insight to the payload do you need beforehand to do a Coupled Loads Analysis (these typically take 2-3 iterations to design a payload that won't be destroyed in the launch and whose mechanical characteristics won't destroy the rocket). Or can you just get by with a dial that says "Stiff, Semi-stiff, Floppy"?
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #42 on: 01/17/2019 06:09 pm »
I don't think Rocket Labs are involved in this competition. They already have full manifest so don't need extra business. There is also an element of risk, trying to do back to back launches in short time frame. This is recipe for a launch failure which would set them back months and destroy their current successful launch performance.




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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #43 on: 01/17/2019 06:28 pm »
I own a T-shirt from the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, the first time autonomous vehicles were set loose on streets with each other and manned vehicles.  (I was credentialed as a journalist to cover it for a friend who was editor of a defense magazine.)  I just pulled that shirt out to check and there are 35 teams listed on the back.  Everything from military vehicle companies to three buddies in a garage.  Most of those showed up with a vehicle, no more than half made it through initial qualifying runs.  AFAIK, the only ones still existing are the university departments, everything else folded or was incorporated piecemeal into other companies and products.  Which is fine, because the project was about demonstration of feasibility and helping to jump start the domain.

This is a long winded way of saying that this DARPA project is probably in the same 'let a thousand flowers bloom' phase as the autonomous challenge in 2007.  The capital cost of a flying orbital air frame is rather more than that for sensors, CPUs, software and a second hand car, so we'll get through that stage earlier.  I'd expect culling along milestones like credible simulations, functioning static fired engines, assembled airframe, etc. that will have the weeding out effect.  Meanwhile, they will effectively map out the territory - the real technology, financial, and feasibility tradeoff space - for the benefit of the program officers.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #44 on: 01/20/2019 12:44 pm »
This is a long winded way of saying that this DARPA project is probably in the same 'let a thousand flowers bloom' phase as the autonomous challenge in 2007.  The capital cost of a flying orbital air frame is rather more than that for sensors, CPUs, software and a second hand car, so we'll get through that stage earlier.  I'd expect culling along milestones like credible simulations, functioning static fired engines, assembled airframe, etc. that will have the weeding out effect.  Meanwhile, they will effectively map out the territory - the real technology, financial, and feasibility tradeoff space - for the benefit of the program officers.
That sounds likely. My instinct is a lot of this is in the process rather than the actual hardware used to implement.

Note the conventional wisdom pre DC-X was LH2 was the worst for fast turnaround re-launch. The team did 2 launches within 26 hours (and said they could have done them on the same day if the range had not closed on time for the night). A similar test for SSME was cancelled as they ran out of time on other tests (showing it could throttle down to 16%, operating over 4.5-6.5 MR etc). They were looking to re-fire it within 24hrs and a lot of it was about purging out the water generated by combustion.
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Offline Notaris

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #45 on: 01/21/2019 12:17 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1085532584342360069
Quote
Todd Master, DARPA: 18 teams in the DARPA Launch Challenge made it through pre-qualification step. Plan to select those that qualified for the competition by late February/early March. Goal of holding the first round of the competition late this year.

Interesting!

Looking at Revision 5 of the Darpa Launch Challenge Guide Lines , this means that these 18 companies have passed step 1 (prequalify) and step 2 (submit a Launch Challenge Application). However, the likely first real filter will be step 3: To have FAA-AST accept a launch license application (thus not yet granting a launch licence, which gives contestants some more room to breath!), which is due by February 1, 2019.

I am curious to see how many contestants will remain after February 1st, but would not be surprised if this is a single digit number!

According to the linked document, "DARPA plans to announce successful teams no later than March 2, 2019."

P.S. I only discovered now that, likely in Revision 3 of the Guidelines, the eligibility was reduced from previously (rather) unlimited participation to "United States-based teams" only. Thus the correct assumption that the 18 teams are all US-based.
« Last Edit: 01/21/2019 12:18 pm by Notaris »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #46 on: 01/23/2019 06:19 am »
I am curious to see how many contestants will remain after February 1st, but would not be surprised if this is a single digit number!

According to the linked document, "DARPA plans to announce successful teams no later than March 2, 2019."

P.S. I only discovered now that, likely in Revision 3 of the Guidelines, the eligibility was reduced from previously (rather) unlimited participation to "United States-based teams" only. Thus the correct assumption that the 18 teams are all US-based.
Now on a global scale I could see 18 teams (just about) but I'm still frankly astonished there are 18 teams in the US.

I'm pretty sure some of these aren't much beyond a powerpoint  in someone's home office.  :(

But I agree getting to FAA acceptance will be a major hurdle. It's a real stress test of the business. It seems like something XCOR would have had a crack at if they were still in business. 

[EDIT I'd just realized something.

"Phantom Express" AKA DARPA Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 is still active.

Better operations are a major component of reducing launch costs, so having this programmes funds available would be an incentive for the Boeing effort to move a bit faster. AFAIK first test flight is now expected 2021.

I'd expect the Phantom Express to be on the list and the short list. It would be very interesting if it didn't win, or be one of several candidates to get more substantial funding. ]
« Last Edit: 01/23/2019 07:02 am by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Kryten

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #47 on: 02/01/2019 06:02 pm »
 I've been able to find four companies which say they've entered the prize, two of which have definitely passed the pre-qualification step. One is BlackSky from Australia who will have been disqualified by the rules change. The others are:

Cubecab;
https://twitter.com/cubecab/status/1068555328415920129
Quote
@cubecab
Giving thanks for teamwork: our DARPA Launch Challenge application is in, just in time! Next step: apply for a launch license from the FAA.
https://twitter.com/cubecab/status/1091401648046370816
Quote
@cubecab
FAA launch license app submitted last night, just before DLC deadline. Now to wait. Considering giving Space Access talk about app.
Given the size of their vehicle, they must have just scraped over the minimum size requirement. Dedicated launch for 3U cubesats, storable propellants, launch from an F-104.

Earth to Sky;
https://earthtosky.com/
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181101005791/en/Earth-Sky-Announces-Participation-DARPA-Launch-Challenge
Quote
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Earth to Sky formally announced their participation in the DARPA Launch Challenge.

“Earth to Sky was formed in Huntsville, Alabama in 2008 as an aerospace engineering services company. Currently, we provide subject matter expertise in rocket systems to federal government agencies such as MDA and NASA, but we have a 25-year pedigree of commercial launch vehicles,” said Chris Barker, President at Earth to Sky.

Services Differentiator

Earth to Sky currently offers a series of low cost, small launch vehicles branded Sleek Eagle. We have entered the DARPA Launch Challenge with our small vehicle configuration capable of lofting over 800 kg to Low Earth Orbit.

“We have a unique business model that allows any customer the ‘right to drive’,” said Mr. Barker “The ‘right to drive’ is a product offering that allows any payload position to determine the mission destination and secure its commitment.”

Product Availability

Currently, the small satellite market is underserved in availability of affordable launch vehicle options. “We are poised to unlock this backlog by providing unprecedented flexibility in access to space,” said Mr. Barker.

As a US launch site based option, the Sleek Eagle family will be an FAA licensed launch vehicle allowing US government missions ready access for launching small satellites.

We will be opening manifest positions in early 2020 following the DARPA Launch Challenge.
Very little information given about the rocket, other than payload and price targets (1,200kg to LEO for $14 million) and renders of a slender, triple-core vehicle. There's no further statement about the challenge after this article, so I don't know if they passed pre-qualification.

 Pythom;
https://pythom.com/ps/Its-a-Go-Pythom-approved-for-the-next-step-of-Darpa-Launch-Challenge-2018-12-19-60948
Quote

It’s been a battle. Following months of intense technical development,  challenging meetings, and a nailbiting waiting game, Saturday morning we got the email. “Your Application to the DARPA Launch Challenge has been approved."

No doubt, our proposal has some really exciting parts. But lately, we have watched our fellow challengers get millions of dollars in funding and populate their boardrooms with important names. Would we stand a chance?

Growing up in communist Czechoslovakia and then socialist Sweden, once in a while I’d see people on TV grinning from ear to ear while exclaiming, “only in America.” I moved here and, well, look at us now.

We are not home free yet. The last step of the qualification phase is acceptance by FAA, which has a rigorous technical review process for flight safety. That's our fun over the holidays. At least we have lots of snow in the mountains for quick skiing escapes. And then, of course, we’ll have to build and fly the rockets.

Only two private companies have managed thus far to send a rocket with payload to orbit. SpaceX, which is history now, and Rocketlab, valued at +1 billion dollars already before their first launch.

Make no mistake - Mars is still number one. DARPA only just became a major step to make it happen. 
Their vehicle is a two-stage, ground-launched hypergolically fueled vehicle that can put 100kg to LEO. I don't know if they look entirely serious, their team seems to mostly be made up of polar explorers (?!) and they've only shown off some small 3D prints.
« Last Edit: 02/01/2019 06:12 pm by Kryten »

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #48 on: 02/01/2019 08:13 pm »
I've been able to find four companies which say they've entered the prize, two of which have definitely passed the pre-qualification step. One is BlackSky from Australia who will have been disqualified by the rules change...

I'm sure there are ways around that, like getting a U.S. partner or even moving HQ to the U.S. like Rocket Lab did.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #49 on: 02/02/2019 09:16 am »
Very little information given about the rocket, other than payload and price targets (1,200kg to LEO for $14 million) and renders of a slender, triple-core vehicle. There's no further statement about the challenge after this article, so I don't know if they passed pre-qualification.
Weird. The payload target is well within the mass of a lot of single core designs of the past 4 decades and as we know from both Delta IV H and the FH development efforts it's a lot harder than it looks.
That would suggest either a) Very low performance propellants b)Severe limits on diameter of stage they can make
Quote from: Kryten
Pythom;
https://pythom.com/ps/Its-a-Go-Pythom-approved-for-the-next-step-of-Darpa-Launch-Challenge-2018-12-19-60948

 Their vehicle is a two-stage, ground-launched hypergolically fueled vehicle that can put 100kg to LEO. I don't know if they look entirely serious, their team seems to mostly be made up of polar explorers (?!) and they've only shown off some small 3D prints.
"Hypergols" in this context have to mean HTP for the oxidizer. No one would seriously be talking NTO/UDMH on this scale.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2019 09:54 pm by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #50 on: 02/16/2019 10:14 am »
I've been able to find four companies which say they've entered the prize, two of which have definitely passed the pre-qualification step. One is BlackSky from Australia who will have been disqualified by the rules change. The others are:
If one were a paranoid sort you could imagine that this had been partly done to populate the DoD list of "Persons of Interest" with serious rocket design and mfg skills, and hence potential future WMD suppliers.

Given the phrasing of the competition I didn't think for one moment any outfit that was not mostly inside the US would have a chance.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline ChamberPressure

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #51 on: 02/16/2019 10:46 pm »
Pythom;
https://pythom.com/ps/Its-a-Go-Pythom-approved-for-the-next-step-of-Darpa-Launch-Challenge-2018-12-19-60948

 Their vehicle is a two-stage, ground-launched hypergolically fueled vehicle that can put 100kg to LEO. I don't know if they look entirely serious, their team seems to mostly be made up of polar explorers (?!) and they've only shown off some small 3D prints.
"Hypergols" in this context have to mean HTP for the oxidizer. No one would seriously be talking NTO/UDMH on this scale.

According to their website, it looks like they're going with WFNA and furfuryl alcohol.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #52 on: 02/20/2019 03:57 pm »
Pythom;
https://pythom.com/ps/Its-a-Go-Pythom-approved-for-the-next-step-of-Darpa-Launch-Challenge-2018-12-19-60948

 Their vehicle is a two-stage, ground-launched hypergolically fueled vehicle that can put 100kg to LEO. I don't know if they look entirely serious, their team seems to mostly be made up of polar explorers (?!) and they've only shown off some small 3D prints.
"Hypergols" in this context have to mean HTP for the oxidizer. No one would seriously be talking NTO/UDMH on this scale.

According to their website, it looks like they're going with WFNA and furfuryl alcohol.
Interesting. This is the stuff Copenhagen Suborbitals have been working with and it looks like Orbex might be using it too.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #53 on: 02/20/2019 11:00 pm »
Interesting. This is the stuff Copenhagen Suborbitals have been working with and it looks like Orbex might be using it too.

Copenhagen played with it a while ago, but I'm pretty sure that are using LOX/alcohol now, and Orbex is using LOX/propane. Interorbital is using WFNA, but they are burning it with turpentine instead of furfuryl alcohol.
I tried it at home

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #54 on: 02/21/2019 06:04 am »
Interesting. This is the stuff Copenhagen Suborbitals have been working with and it looks like Orbex might be using it too.

Copenhagen played with it a while ago, but I'm pretty sure that are using LOX/alcohol now, and Orbex is using LOX/propane. Interorbital is using WFNA, but they are burning it with turpentine instead of furfuryl alcohol.
Good point. I had wondered if the benefits of dispensing with an ignition system were outweighed by the trouble of a separate US propellant combination. It seems not.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Kryten

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #55 on: 03/01/2019 03:44 pm »
https://twitter.com/cubecab/status/1101519140009926657
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@cubecab
Dropping our entry to the DARPA Launch Challenge: we launch 5 kg, DLC insists on minimum 10 kg. In talks re: helping another DLC entrant.

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #56 on: 03/01/2019 04:06 pm »
https://twitter.com/cubecab/status/1101519140009926657
Quote
@cubecab
Dropping our entry to the DARPA Launch Challenge: we launch 5 kg, DLC insists on minimum 10 kg. In talks re: helping another DLC entrant.

Given even 3U satellites are now beyond the 5kg range, I wonder if their strategy is sound.

Offline Kryten

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #57 on: 04/10/2019 08:50 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1116069741389467648
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@jeff_foust
Todd Master of DARPA is giving an update on DARPA Launch Challenge at #35SS. First part of the competition will be in Jan/Feb 2020 at a site announced with about 30 days notice from a list of predetermined sites.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1116070906516791296
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@jeff_foust
Master: three teams have qualified for the DARPA Launch Challenge: Vector, Virgin Orbit, and a company in stealth mode (maybe “Stealth Space Company”) #35SS

Offline jamesh9000

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #58 on: 04/10/2019 10:40 pm »
This seems... optimistic.

One thing that doesn't seem to get discussed very often with rocket development is that after any new vehicle flies for the first time (or even during the first half a dozen times), there seems to be quite a long period of sorting out the various unexpected mechanical issues that cropped up during the flight. This happened with Falcon 9, Electron, Ariane 5 and much further back, with the old school Saturn V, Deltas and Atlases (and many more rocket families besides). I can't think of any rocket that just started flying with a high cadence and didn't have issues that necessitated some more complex re-engineering than initially anticipated. Maybe others can think of examples?

Anyway, the point is that even if these companies manage to send up a successful test flight in 2019 (which I think is less than even odds for all of them), the chances that everything goes perfectly and they can immediately send up rockets at a high launch cadence, at one per month is pretty much zero. If it didn't happen for any other rocket company, why should it happen for these ones?

To be clear, I'm not saying none of these companies will eventually attain the ability to launch two rockets in one month, but in less than a year? I'd be really surprised.

Offline Kryten

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #59 on: 04/11/2019 09:34 am »
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/1116213125295026176
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@pbdes
More Peter B. de Selding Retweeted DARPA
Each team, including one that, curiously, is not named, gets $400k now, $2M on first orbital launch delivering payload, and $8-$10M for successful second launch.
Also, in response to a question about the third competitor;
https://twitter.com/jamesncantrell/status/1116164083273744384
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@jamesncantrell
It's Astra out of Alameda CA
« Last Edit: 04/11/2019 09:35 am by Kryten »

Offline Craftyatom

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #60 on: 04/12/2019 12:07 am »
One thing that doesn't seem to get discussed very often with rocket development is that after any new vehicle flies for the first time (or even during the first half a dozen times), there seems to be quite a long period of sorting out the various unexpected mechanical issues that cropped up during the flight.
For what it's worth, when I spoke with Will Pomerantz of Virgin Orbit, he was well aware of how long second flights usually took.  In fact, he mentioned that a successful first launch statistically increased the time to a second flight, when compared to first flights that failed.  In light of this, they were very focused on pre-launch testing and characterization.

Whether such efforts will be fruitful, we can't say.  Of course there will always be lessons learned from the first orbital success, for each company.  But at least one provider (and, one would hope, all three) is aware of the problem, and has mitigation in mind.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline ringsider

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #61 on: 04/12/2019 02:06 pm »
What is the betting on these companies?

Virgin has to be the hot favorite. They are closest to firing something, have huge scale and resources and have a very repeatable concept.

Then it is hard to choose.

Astra probably has the next best chance - they at least have 2-3 suborbital launches from Kodiak Island.

Vector is an outsider - the weak suborbital performance to date, the delays announced recently...

Where can I get a sportsbook price?

Offline Kryten

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #62 on: 10/23/2019 07:34 am »
https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-10-22
VO have quit, it's a one-horse race now.
Quote
The remaining qualifying competitor is a space startup comprising industry veterans currently operating in stealth mode while the company works toward internal technical milestones. The team will receive notification of the first launch site in January 2020 with the first launch window targeted for February. Virgin Orbit, which entered the competition via its wholly owned subsidiary, VOX Space, exited the competition in October to focus on its upcoming commercial launches. A third team, Vector Launch, withdrew from the Challenge in September due to a change in the company’s structure and financial status.

Online matthewkantar

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #63 on: 10/23/2019 03:50 pm »
Seems a poorly designed race that has no winner.

Online gongora

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Re: DARPA Launch Challenge
« Reply #64 on: 10/23/2019 04:30 pm »
Seems a poorly designed race that has no winner.

It has very particular requirements (no fixed launch infrastructure) and was probably started a year or two earlier than it should have been (or at least the actual launches should have been a little farther out).
« Last Edit: 10/23/2019 04:31 pm by gongora »

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