Poll

Is the upcoming Vulcan LV a "new LV" or an upgraded Atlas V?

The Vulcan is an upgraded Atlas V--the USAF will say so and it's using the same Centaur stage after all!  
The Vulcan's a new LV no matter what the USAF or ULA says.  It's too different to be an upgraded Atlas V!  
I'm not sure.  
The Vulcan will only truly be a new LV when it ditches the Centaur stage for the ACES second stage.

Author Topic: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle  (Read 492532 times)

Offline Hyperion5

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ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« on: 09/30/2014 10:36 pm »
Given that Jim's thread on the new Blue Origin engine for ULA has a tough time discussing things like solids in relation to the new LV, I thought I'd start a general thread for the new ULA launch vehicle.  In the opening post, I hope to put all of the materials we've gotten on the LV and its core engines together. 

What we know so far is that Blue Origin will be supplying United Launch Alliance (ULA) two 250 tf Liquid natural gas/oxygen BE-4 engines to power an all-new, Delta IV-diameter (5.1 m) core.  The engine's likely Isp is believed to be roughly 309 seconds at sea level and 342 seconds in a vacuum (estimate by R7).  These engines will power a stage that will be about 28 meters tall.  According to Dr. Sowers of ULA, this stage will likely be mated to the existing Centaur stage of the Atlas V.  There is also the possibility of an upgraded upper stage eventually being built called the ACES.  Possible engines for such a stage include the hydrolox RL-10C, the hydrolox BE-3U, and a hydrolox XCOR engine. 

NSF's resident LV simulator, Dmitry Vorontsov, has generously taken his time to simulate the possible capabilities of this new LV with various upper stages.  His first simulation was of a fully-upgraded LV with a large upper stage and a core stage with a mass-saving common bulkhead.  He has also simulated the possible performance of this LV with the 3 existing ULA upper stages.  The simulation numbers are listed below:

BE-3U version of VULCAN

RocketVulcan II
Total Gross Mass430 Mt
Payload to GTO8.85 mt
Payload to LEO20.2 mt (all figures below are for GTO launch)
SI Gross Mass362.36 mt
SI Propellant Mass340.30
SI Separation Mass22.06 mt
SI Diameter5.1 meters
SI Engine(s)2xBE-4 LNG/oxygen engines
SI SL Thrust500 tf
SI Vac Thrust557 tf
SI Isp SL/Vac307/342 seconds
SII Gross Mass56.30 mt
SII Propellant Mass49.87 mt
SII Separation Mass6.43 mt
SII Engine1xBE-3U hydrogen/oxygen engine
SII Thrust (Vacuum)50 tf
SII Engine Isp450 Seconds
PLF Mass2.478 mt
PLF Diameter5.1 meters
Separation time220 seconds
LV with existing ULA upper stages:
Vulcan I w/Centaur: 7.2 mt to GTO (SEC)
Vulcan I w/4 m DCSS: 7.9 mt to GTO
Vulcan I w/5 m DCSS: 7.4 mt to GTO

The future remains uncertain for this LV, with many questions about it remaining.  We do know that it is intended to be man-rated, will eventually be rated to launch nuclear payloads, will attempt to reuse its booster engines, and that the backup engine option is the Aerojet-Rocketdyne AR-1. Will ULA be able to shut down all but a handful of pads moving to this new LV?  When should we expect to see the six SRB variant replace the Delta IV Heavy?  Will this LV be enough to drastically cut ULA's costs and get them back into the commercial launch market?  Will there be a universal PLF for the family? (Apparently the goal is to only use the Atlas 5.4 m PLF) There are plenty more things to discuss with regards to this family, so feel free to bring up any you think relevant.   
« Last Edit: 04/30/2015 11:40 pm by Hyperion5 »

Offline Jim

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2014 10:48 pm »

There have been all sorts of things mentioned in connection with this LV.  Like what SRBs, if any, will ULA mount on it IF it is to replace even the Delta IV Heavy rocket?  Will they use the Delta IVís GEM-60s, which are meant for use with this core size, or will they use the Atlas Vís SRBs?  Will ULA be able to shut down all but a handful of pads moving to this new LV?  Will this be enough to drastically cut ULA's costs and get them back into the commercial launch market?  Will there be a universal PLF for the family?  Will it be man-rated and launch the CST-100?  There are plenty more things to discuss with regards to this family, so feel free to bring up any you think relevant.   


The vehicle using Atlas pads will use AJ SRB's.  The vehicle using 4m DCSS would use the DIV 4m fairing, the 5m DCSS would use the DIV 5m fairing.  The vehicle using the Centaur would use the 4 and 5m Atlas fairings.

Offline robertross

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2014 10:53 pm »
I selected the Centaur on top. Why? Reduce the number of variables.
This is a first flight, and that is by essence a 'test flight'.

But of course the real driver will be the payload selection. Unless we know what that is, it really could be any of the top 3.

If I had a 'second guess', it would be the all new RL-10C upper stage.

Offline Hyperion5

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #3 on: 09/30/2014 11:00 pm »

There have been all sorts of things mentioned in connection with this LV.  Like what SRBs, if any, will ULA mount on it IF it is to replace even the Delta IV Heavy rocket?  Will they use the Delta IVís GEM-60s, which are meant for use with this core size, or will they use the Atlas Vís SRBs?  Will ULA be able to shut down all but a handful of pads moving to this new LV?  Will this be enough to drastically cut ULA's costs and get them back into the commercial launch market?  Will there be a universal PLF for the family?  Will it be man-rated and launch the CST-100?  There are plenty more things to discuss with regards to this family, so feel free to bring up any you think relevant.   


The vehicle using Atlas pads will use AJ SRB's.  The vehicle using 4m DCSS would use the DIV 4m fairing, the 5m DCSS would use the DIV 5m fairing.  The vehicle using the Centaur would use the 4 and 5m Atlas fairings.

Interesting insight on launchpads affecting the SRB selection.  Any opinion as to which upper stage would be the most likely, Jim? 

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #4 on: 09/30/2014 11:03 pm »
Could this LV be make reusable by adding a couple of 50Klb engines. One of the main engines could be used for boost back stage at reduced throttle, NB F9 uses 3 engines ie 33% thrust for this.
For landing it would use the 2 50klb engines. These 2 smaller engines would also give another 10% of thrust at takeoff.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2014 11:03 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline Jim

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #5 on: 09/30/2014 11:25 pm »

Interesting insight on launchpads affecting the SRB selection.  Any opinion as to which upper stage would be the most likely, Jim? 

Why bother with the small Delta 60" GEMs?  It is an Atlas upgrade, so it will use everything Atlas.

What ever happens the Delta IV family will be determined after this one is up and running.   Anyways, Delta IV is becoming more Atlas V with common upper stage engine, common payload adapters, common avionics, etc.  There is no sense in converting Delta IV into using this engine, by that time a new upper stage would be a better investment*. 

New upper stage with 5 SRB might replace the DIV Heavy.

Didn't see that this was a poll.   There really isn't no other choices, it will fly with the Centaur stage from the Atlas V on top.  Sowers was just being coy.   Just think about it.  They want/need an RD-180 replacement; Atlas is their cheapest product line; Atlas is the most versatile product line; Atlas legacy is permeating into the Delta product line: what do you think will fly?
« Last Edit: 09/30/2014 11:42 pm by Jim »

Offline Lobo

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #6 on: 09/30/2014 11:54 pm »

Interesting insight on launchpads affecting the SRB selection.  Any opinion as to which upper stage would be the most likely, Jim? 

Why bother with the small Delta 60" GEMs?  It is an Atlas upgrade, so it will use everything Atlas.

What ever happens the Delta IV family will be determined after this one is up and running.   Anyways, Delta IV is becoming more Atlas V with common upper stage engine, common payload adapters, common avionics, etc.  There is no sense in converting Delta IV into using this engine, by that time a new upper stage would be a better investment*. 

New upper stage with 5 SRB might replace the DIV Heavy.

Didn't see that this was a poll.   There really isn't no other choices, it will fly with the Centaur stage from the Atlas V on top.  Sowers was just being coy.   Just think about it.  They want/need an RD-180 replacement; Atlas is their cheapest product line; Atlas is the most versatile product line; Atlas legacy is permeating into the Delta product line: what do you think will fly?

Good insight Jim.  Thanks for sharing.

I think some of the questions come from the diameter of the core, probably being 5m?  And thus produced with the Delta IV tooling?  So would that make GEM-60 a better choice?  Or would Atlas SRB's be better because this would be at Atlas pads that are already set up to handle Atlas SRB's.  You seem to have answered that question.

However, on the upper stage, I think the question come from the 5m core being built with Delta tooling, would there be advantage to continuing to build and fly the 5m DCSS which uses common LH2 domes and barrel sections with the core?  Or Centaur which would be made on it own separate line.  Is there any advantage to using the 5m DCSS in the interim until a new dedicated upper stage is developed, because of that?  It seems to have slightly better performance anyway.

Quote
Anyways, Delta IV is becoming more Atlas V with common upper stage engine, common payload adapters, common avionics, etc.  There is no sense in converting Delta IV into using this engine, by that time a new upper stage would be a better investment*. 

I thought Centaur would fly the RL-10C-1 engine, and Delta the RL-10C-2 engine?  Common upper stage engine?

Also, I think the thought is that whichever upper stage is retained, 5m DCSS or otherwise, it'd retain the RL-10 engine and fly until a new stage is developed, whcih would either use a new engine (like BE-3) or Rl-10 or derivative.  Not that a 5m DCSS would be converted to some other different engine.

Quote
New upper stage with 5 SRB might replace the DIV Heavy.

It should be able to, as you've said that Atlas V-55x with a new upper stage could match D4H.  This new LNG LV's core would have a little better performance than Atlas V.  Not sure why they'd still want to fly D4/D4H at that point.  Especially since the Delta 5m tooling would presumably be used to build the new core...there might be an issue with trying to build two cores off the same line?



Offline mmeijeri

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #7 on: 09/30/2014 11:55 pm »
What ever happens the Delta IV family will be determined after this one is up and running.   Anyways, Delta IV is becoming more Atlas V with common upper stage engine, common payload adapters, common avionics, etc.  There is no sense in converting Delta IV into using this engine, by that time a new upper stage would be a better investment*. 

Why wouldn't they go straight to Delta IV tooling for the new first stage? That was the plan for Atlas Phase 1 anyway, and it makes even more sense with LOX/LNG than with kerolox, doesn't it?
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Offline Hyperion5

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #8 on: 10/01/2014 01:23 am »
...
Didn't see that this was a poll.   There really isn't no other choices, it will fly with the Centaur stage from the Atlas V on top.  Sowers was just being coy.   Just think about it.  They want/need an RD-180 replacement; Atlas is their cheapest product line; Atlas is the most versatile product line; Atlas legacy is permeating into the Delta product line: what do you think will fly?

I agree that Centaur is most likely, but I still feel that the 5-m DCSS has a lot of good points to it.  From what I've heard its PLF is wide enough to accept pretty much any commercial & DoD payload flown so far.  Plus any upgraded upper stage ought to be about the same diameter, so you could keep using that PLF.  I suppose it might require more expensive changes at first, as you'd have to renovate the pad to accept it.  However once renovated it would be easier to transition over to a larger, same diameter new upper stage with two RL-10C engines or one BE-3U engine.  I'm also guessing it would be more expensive than the Centaur stage, which along with this being "Atlas heritage", is why we probably won't see the 5-m DCSS up top.  Still I think it's not a bad option. 

As for heritage, I really don't think it's fair to the "Delta heritage" in this rocket to say it is of "Atlas heritage".  At least not of pure Atlas heritage.  The core stage is of true "Delta heritage" and the upper stage, at least initially, is of "Atlas heritage".  Thus it should be regarded as a child of both rockets.  It may be called an Atlas, but in truth its parents will be both the Delta IV & Atlas V.  Also, when it comes to "Atlas heritage", the Atlas V today is almost as much of Energia/Zenit heritage (thanks to its RD-180 engine) as it is of Atlas heritage.  Its staging is not at all like that of the original Atlas rocket.  So I suppose you could call it an Atlas, but it's one that blasts off the pad with a distinctive "Russian accent". 
« Last Edit: 10/01/2014 01:26 am by Hyperion5 »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #9 on: 10/01/2014 01:50 am »
And the Able option?
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #10 on: 10/01/2014 02:05 am »
What performance with 6x Aerojet solids and a 2x RL-10 upper stage? Is a 3x core configuration as with Delta IV-H a viable option? Clustered 5x stages a cost-effective SLS replacement? (not trying to restart old arguments etc - just curious about the performances).
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Offline Hyperion5

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #11 on: 10/01/2014 02:05 am »
And the Able option?

Isn't that going back all the way past the current generation?  Could you explain what you mean? 

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #12 on: 10/01/2014 02:10 am »
I still have a hard time believing a Blue Origin engine is going to power a new vehicle.  It doesn't seem they've done enough to warrant interest from ULA when ULA has to be extremely cautious with mission success.

This could be tactics by ULA to get a better deal on other engines.

Regardless I'm happy to see a commitment to US built propulsion.  Migration, regardless of engine provider and fuel will be very close to Jim's summary above.  Great job Jim.
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Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #13 on: 10/01/2014 02:22 am »
Opinion

BE-4 with 5m core launch with Centaur with RL-10C ( upgrade to ACES and or other such as use of BE-3 )

Replaces Atlas V.

Blue Origin to use BE-4 for it's RLV ( replaces Delta IV ).
Would ULA manage the launches?
I think it would use a new pad or Delta IV pad infrastructure replaced with new infrastructure.

New launcher replacing Atlas V ( RD-180 ) with BE-4 would need to be human rated from day one in order to launch commercial crew vehicle(s).

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #14 on: 10/01/2014 02:25 am »
It will fly with centaur initially.

Wrt this thread, I may continue my debate about SRM first stage here later on.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #15 on: 10/01/2014 02:28 am »
It will fly with centaur initially.

Wrt this thread, I may continue my debate about SRM first stage here later on.
I think you a flogging a dead horse. ULA seems to have made their decision.

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #16 on: 10/01/2014 02:35 am »
It will fly with centaur initially.

Wrt this thread, I may continue my debate about SRM first stage here later on.
I think you a flogging a dead horse. ULA seems to have made their decision.

Nothing has been said about a new upper stage in the near term just the first stage motor.  But I think you were referring to the other issue. And yes I saw George sower's posts.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2014 02:36 am by FinalFrontier »
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Offline Jim

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #17 on: 10/01/2014 02:36 am »
I thought Centaur would fly the RL-10C-1 engine, and Delta the RL-10C-2 engine?  Common upper stage engine?

That is what those are.

Offline Jim

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Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #18 on: 10/01/2014 02:39 am »

Nothing has been said about a new upper stage in the near term just the first stage motor. 

There is no new upper stage in the near term

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: ULA's new Launch Vehicle
« Reply #19 on: 10/01/2014 02:41 am »
It will fly with centaur initially.

Wrt this thread, I may continue my debate about SRM first stage here later on.
I think you a flogging a dead horse. ULA seems to have made their decision.

Nothing has been said about a new upper stage in the near term just the first stage motor.  But I think you were referring to the other issue. And yes I saw George sower's posts.
A SRM new Antares is a definite possibility. Orbital plan to announce the new engine choice in next few weeks.

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