Author Topic: DARPA Launch Challenge  (Read 17910 times)

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.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

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.
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 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.
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 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).
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 gongora

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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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