Author Topic: ULA Vulcan Launch Vehicle (as announced/built) - General Discussion Thread 3  (Read 1004790 times)

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(Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., June 24, 2023) - The team completed the data review following the recent Flight Readiness Firing and all test objectives were successfully achieved. In parallel, we have determined the root cause and corrective action for the Centaur V structural test stand anomaly at Marshall Space Flight Center on March 29. Centaur's thin-walled pressure stabilized tanks require minor reinforcement at the top of the forward dome prior to flight. We plan to de-stack the Vulcan rocket and return the Centaur V to Decatur for modifications. The booster is healthy and ready to support the first launch and will be stored horizontally in the Horizontal Integration Facility until we are ready to resume mission processing. ULA has several Centaur V flight articles in production in Decatur and one will be identified as the test article to complete qualification testing. Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, will provide an update at a media telecon in the next few weeks. A media advisory will be sent with information as well as how to RSVP.

Not sure where to discuss this, but . . . just looking at the schedule for Vulcan next year, there are multiple government missions, both USSF and NRO, that are scheduled to go up in 2024. Now that we know that Vulcan will likely not be certified this year, and will probably only fly once in 2023 (and even that is not a certainty), at what point does the Space Force take the most time sensitive missions and reassign them to FH or F9? I assume they need a good bit of lead time (maybe 8-12 months) in order to prep everything, but still. I know this was an optioned mentioned by the GAO in a report a while back.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2023 03:45 pm by spacenuance »

Offline Jim

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at what point does the Space Force take the most time sensitive missions and reassign them to FH or F9?

Not really needed to happen.  There is a backlog of them and they keep delaying.  Need to fly off a bunch of them.

Offline Jim

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I assume they need a good bit of lead time (maybe 8-12 months) in order to prep everything, but still.

Much more.

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twitter.com/astro_angry/status/1672661650623569920

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This could seal @ulalaunch 's fate. It might be better to just launch the thing with a dummy payload and modify the next Centaur.
But that might shatter ULA's perfect record, which would be even worse news.
@torybruno I'm still pulling for you guys.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1672853875630432256

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Our first Ph3 missions are on Atlas. Vulcan’s first one isn’t until 2024.  I’d like to fly our first commercial flight now, & it’s possible that the CV would be OK, but we’ll take a little time to slightly thicken its ultra high performance dome, and be confident of delivering.

twitter.com/m00rton/status/1672929018461446146

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How is the extra mass impacting performance of CV? Is it negligible?

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1672930852622438403

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Yes, negligible

twitter.com/dbslarsson/status/1672887630848208898

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And the needing to thicken, was the failure just because of a material / tooling defect on the first couple domes? Or was that all in spec, just the specification turned out to be too thin?

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1672896619455426560

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Think about it this way. Centaur III is the highest performance upper stage ever flown. CV takes this to a whole new level. Paper thin steel tanks are a part of that. Loads are complex at the top. Testing was a bit more severe than flight.  It was just a little too thin.

twitter.com/firstla11736473/status/1672911609109401600

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To thicken the dome, do you just modify the grinder head to not take off as much material or do you make it from a thicker material?

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1672922548806483969

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We’ll weld in some doublers.

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at what point does the Space Force take the most time sensitive missions and reassign them to FH or F9?

Not really needed to happen.  There is a backlog of them and they keep delaying.  Need to fly off a bunch of them.

Jim, please clarify your "them" and "they".
Are you saying there is a backlog of NSSL SpaceX launches that SpaceX keeps delaying?
Or that there is a backlog of NSSL payloads whose delivery the manufacturers keep delaying?

Offline Comga

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It was just a little too thin.

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We’ll weld in some doublers.

How can they “weld in .. doublers” onto the “paper thin“ stainless steel dome?

Would that be “brazing” on thin sheets or welding something to more solid parts of CV?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Newton_V

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How can they “weld in .. doublers” onto the “paper thin“ stainless steel dome?

Would that be “brazing” on thin sheets or welding something to more solid parts of CV?
At the/a welded gore joint.  It's not one big steel dome.

Offline Jim

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at what point does the Space Force take the most time sensitive missions and reassign them to FH or F9?

Not really needed to happen.  There is a backlog of them and they keep delaying.  Need to fly off a bunch of them.

Jim, please clarify your "them" and "they".
Are you saying there is a backlog of NSSL SpaceX launches that SpaceX keeps delaying?
Or that there is a backlog of NSSL payloads whose delivery the manufacturers keep delaying?

Them and they is NSSL
there is a backlog of DOD, Space Force and NRO launches that keep delaying.  Causes are unknown to us.
« Last Edit: 06/26/2023 01:32 pm by Jim »

Offline JAFO

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Sh*&%t!!!

Quote from: ARS technica
ULA shipping Vulcan upper stage back to factory for more work ULA's Vulcan rocket is likely at least a year away from becoming operational.

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/06/ula-shipping-vulcan-upper-stage-back-to-factory-for-more-work/
« Last Edit: 06/29/2023 06:48 pm by JAFO »
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Sh*&%t!!!

Quote from: ARS technica
ULA shipping Vulcan upper stage back to factory for more work ULA's Vulcan rocket is likely at least a year away from becoming operational.

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/06/ula-shipping-vulcan-upper-stage-back-to-factory-for-more-work/
But I think the article uses "operational" to mean that USSF can launch NSSL payloads, which cannot be launched on Vulcan until after two successful non-NSSL launches. The article quotes Tory Bruno as still hoping for the initial launch before the end of 2023.

Offline JAFO

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Sh*&%t!!!

Quote from: ARS technica
ULA shipping Vulcan upper stage back to factory for more work ULA's Vulcan rocket is likely at least a year away from becoming operational.

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/06/ula-shipping-vulcan-upper-stage-back-to-factory-for-more-work/
But I think the article uses "operational" to mean that USSF can launch NSSL payloads, which cannot be launched on Vulcan until after two successful non-NSSL launches. The article quotes Tory Bruno as still hoping for the initial launch before the end of 2023.

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ULA confirms Vulcan debut will launch NET 4Q 2023. It seems almost certain now that some NSSL Phase 2 missions will move from Vulcan to Falcon.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1674711512496078848

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Very unlikely

Offline Nomadd

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 I know I should probably stick to my goal of causing a world Guinness shortage, but to just "weld in some doublers" which seems like it would alter load paths on a structure that's too thin to start, just isn't sitting well in my brain.
 Maybe if I asked politely if the error was the issue was from loads not being where they anticipated or something being weaker than calculated, they'd be happy to tell me.
 I know that you test above the point that the stage should ever see, but you don't test right up to the end of the margin unless you mean it to be test to pop. It wasn't a tiny design error and a quick fix just doesn't seem like these guys' style.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2023 03:40 pm by Nomadd »
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Offline DaveS

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I know I should probably stick to my goal of causing a world Guinness shortage, but to just "weld in some doublers" which seems like it would alter load paths on a structure that's too thin to start, just isn't sitting well in my brain.
 Maybe if I asked politely if the error was the issue was from loads not being where they anticipated or something being weaker than calculated, they'd be happy to tell me.
 I know that you test above the point that the stage should ever see, but you don't test right up to the end of the margin unless you mean it to be test to pop. It wasn't a tiny design error and a quick fix just doesn't seem like these guys' style.
Didn't affect the STS ETs with substandard aluminum material for the intertank stringers when they added the doublers and radius blocks to them. The two affected ETs (ET-133 and ET-134) just got better and brought in line with the actual specifications with them added.
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Online LouScheffer

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I know I should probably stick to my goal of causing a world Guinness shortage, but to just "weld in some doublers" which seems like it would alter load paths on a structure that's too thin to start
It would be a poor engineer indeed who did not consider the redistribution of load paths after changing any structure (not just adding doublers).  ULA may be criticized on many grounds, but they deserve their reputation as competent.  I'm sure they've considered this.
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It wasn't a tiny design error and a quick fix just doesn't seem like these guys' style.
Considering that rockets necessarily work right at the margins, it doesn't take a big error to lead to failure.  And I suspect that in terms of style, the doublers are only for the stages already built (which would likely be OK to fly with no changes at all).  Ones built from now on will have the thicker steel in place and no need for kludgy doublers.  (Again, this is all my speculation.  I have no inside knowledge.)

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https://twitter.com/alexphysics13/status/1677052290169987074

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The FAA has issued today the launch license for ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Not a surprise:

https://twitter.com/free_space/status/1677351364899348486

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Despite delays w/ @ulalaunch Vulcan  rocket, Space Force SSC reaffirms 2 flights required prior to first nat'l security space mission.  “ULA and Space Force developed a detailed certification plan for the Vulcan which ULA is still accountable to meeting. SSC is not planning any additional objectives or combining objectives into a single mission,” SSC tells  @AviationWeek

Offline Vahe231991

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https://twitter.com/alexphysics13/status/1677052290169987074

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The FAA has issued today the launch license for ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.
What is the chief motivation for the FAA issuing the launch license for the Vulcan Centaur?

Offline Newton_V

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https://twitter.com/alexphysics13/status/1677052290169987074

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The FAA has issued today the launch license for ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.
What is the chief motivation for the FAA issuing the launch license for the Vulcan Centaur?
What is the chief motivation for the DMV issuing a drivers license to anybody that comes in?

Offline russianhalo117

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https://twitter.com/alexphysics13/status/1677052290169987074

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The FAA has issued today the launch license for ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.
What is the chief motivation for the FAA issuing the launch license for the Vulcan Centaur?
There is not a motivation. It is their congressional and executive duty to approve or deny licence applications as they are the mandated legal governing body for all new US flown and select foreign launch vehicles.

 

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