Author Topic: Northrop teams with Firefly  (Read 74121 times)

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #160 on: 12/30/2022 04:18 pm »
Upperstage improvements make more sense, but would require some other vendor to supply the engine, probably at least methalox, if not hydrolox, to be worth it. Otherwise just optimize their own solid upper stage or add a third stage.

Firefly have RP1 US engine called Virandax in development.
Yeah, but not a huge improvement over an optimized NG-developed solid stage.

Even if we presuppose that 30-ish seconds of isp is not on its own enough to make a switch from solids to RP1 worthwhile, and that's far from clear to me, the increase in final orbit accuracy of switching to a liquid upper stage would probably still make the change worthwhile for everything but Cygnus flights.
Agreed… with the caveat that, at that point, it’s literally just Firefly’s Beta without any changes.

Agreed. I've been looking at this moreso as NG becoming Beta's anchor customer, plus providing a pad and investment.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #161 on: 12/30/2022 04:32 pm »


Upperstage improvements make more sense, but would require some other vendor to supply the engine, probably at least methalox, if not hydrolox, to be worth it. Otherwise just optimize their own solid upper stage or add a third stage.

Firefly have RP1 US engine called Virandax in development.
Yeah, but not a huge improvement over an optimized NG-developed solid stage.
Not to LEO, but probably would offer useful improvement for beyond-LEO missions.  Plus, a restartable liquid stage would mean only flying one upper stage versus at least two if solid propellant.

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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #162 on: 03/22/2023 03:23 pm »
https://fireflyspace.com/news/firefly-aerospace-completes-risk-reduction-testing-for-critical-miranda-engine-components/

Quote
March 22, 2023
Firefly Aerospace Completes Risk Reduction Testing for Critical Miranda Engine Components

Cedar Park, Texas, March 22, 2023 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, recently completed risk reduction testing for critical Miranda engine components ahead of the first hot fire scheduled this summer. As a larger, scaled-up version of the company’s Reaver engines, Miranda will power the Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) Firefly is co-developing with Northrop Grumman.

“We are making significant progress in the development of our Miranda engines that started less than a year ago,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “By leveraging our flight-proven engine architecture and our team’s propulsion expertise, we are conducting a hot fire test in just a few months.”

The risk reduction testing was successfully completed for Miranda’s main fuel valve and the throttle valve hot seal design. The hot seal was tested several times during routine Reaver engine hot fires. Due to the commonalty of Firefly’s engine designs, the team can conduct robust flight-like testing and validate performance for both Alpha and MLV.

“We built prototypes and successfully tested Miranda’s most complicated components first, and now we’re in the final stages of building the first development engines,” said Brigette Oakes, Ph.D., Director of Propulsion at Firefly. “Our engines are designed to allow for the natural evolution to considerably higher thrust.”

With 230,000 pounds of thrust (lbf), Miranda is building on the success of Lightning (15,759 lbf) and Reaver (45,000 lbf) with proven engine scalability. Miranda uses the same engine architecture, injector design, and patented tap-off cycle as the Reaver and Lightning engines that power Firefly’s orbital Alpha vehicle. Miranda also incorporates a scaled-up version of Reaver’s turbopump, fluid systems, and valve technology. The company used extensive data from more than 500 Reaver and Lightning engine tests, accounting for more than two hours of run-time, to scale the Miranda engines and improve reliability.

Following Miranda’s first hot fire test this summer, Firefly will start engine qualification this fall. The company’s culture of rapid design, iteration, and agility further enables Firefly to meet MLV’s schedule with a cost-effective, high-performing solution.

Photo caption:


Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #163 on: 03/22/2023 04:06 pm »
Relativity, Firefly and RL all seem to be developing their new 200-300klbs class engines at record pace. Typically its 5 years they are all targetting 2-3years. See Relativity and RL threads for their progress.
All 3 engines are expected to be on test stand in 2023.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2023 04:06 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #164 on: 03/22/2023 06:29 pm »
Relativity, Firefly and RL all seem to be developing their new 200-300klbs class engines at record pace. Typically its 5 years they are all targetting 2-3years. See Relativity and RL threads for their progress.
All 3 engines are expected to be on test stand in 2023.

Modern manufacturing methodology and technologies coupled with rapid iteration prototyping are only part of recipe to make it increasingly possible.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2023 08:25 pm by russianhalo117 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #165 on: 03/22/2023 07:49 pm »


Relativity, Firefly and RL all seem to be developing their new 200-300klbs class engines at record pace. Typically its 5 years they are all targetting 2-3years. See Relativity and RL threads for their progress.
All 3 engines are expected to be on test stand in 2023.

Modern manufacturing methodology and technologies coupled with rapid iteration prototyping make it increasingly possible.

Also knowledge base of engineers involved. Lot have worked for Blue and SpaceX plus developed smaller engines for small LVs. SW simulation tools have also become lot more powerful.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #166 on: 04/20/2023 03:08 pm »
https://twitter.com/firefly_space/status/1649047405621542913

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MLV hardware and testing is underway for our engines, propellant tanks, and more, as we concurrently more than double the size of our facilities and test stands in Texas.

Offline lightleviathan

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #167 on: 04/21/2023 01:05 am »
https://twitter.com/firefly_space/status/1649047405621542913

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MLV hardware and testing is underway for our engines, propellant tanks, and more, as we concurrently more than double the size of our facilities and test stands in Texas.

Great news! But I hope they fix the fairing...
« Last Edit: 04/21/2023 01:05 am by lightleviathan »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #168 on: 07/06/2023 06:02 pm »
https://twitter.com/firefly_space/status/1677014648350990367

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Sneak peek of our Miranda chamber standing more than 7 feet tall. More to come as we get closer to our first engine hot fire for the medium launch vehicle we're co-developing with @northropgrumman.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #169 on: 07/31/2023 04:11 am »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1685770418211196928

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NG-19 will also be the last launch of the Antares 230+ launch as Northrop works with Firefly on the Antares 330 with a new first stage. First launch of that has slipped from late 2024 to summer 2025.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #170 on: 08/02/2023 04:36 am »
Article covering the history of Cygnus launch vehicles, why the switch to Antares 330 and current state of the collaboration with Firefly:

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/07/end-of-the-line-for-russia-and-ukraines-partnership-in-rocketry/

Quote
End of the line for Russia and Ukraine’s partnership in rocketry
Northrop Grumman just can't seem to settle on a rocket for its Cygnus supply ships.

by Stephen Clark - Jul 31, 2023 10:31pm GMT
95

A last gasp in a long-standing link between Russia and Ukraine in the field of rocketry could come this week in an unlikely place—the rural wetlands of eastern Virginia—halfway around the world from the battlefields where the nations' military forces are locked in a deadly conflict.

Offline deltaV

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #171 on: 08/03/2023 01:50 am »
From that article:
Quote
The new Antares 330 rocket will be able to loft heavier payloads into orbit, nearly 30 percent more than the soon-to-be-retired Antares 230 rocket. Ultimately, Northrop and Firefly want to evolve the Antares rocket into a still-unnamed medium-lift launch vehicle with a more powerful upper stage. The goal is to field a launch vehicle that can compete for military and commercial launch contracts with medium to large rockets being developed by Relativity Space and Rocket Lab.

"That’s going to really crank up the capability to around 16,000 kilograms (about 35,000 pounds) to low-Earth orbit, so that’s a doubling of the capability of the rocket that we’re currently flying," Eberly said.

Firefly has said the medium-lift rocket it's developing with Northrop Grumman "will evolve into a reusable vehicle" after initial flights as an expendable launcher.

It struck me as odd that Northrop and Firefly were developing two similar launch vehicles, Antares and Firefly's MTV, with the same first stage engine. The text I quoted suggests that Northrop and Firefly may have combined their efforts and now be planning a single reusable launch vehicle. If true that's nice news. However I'm a little skeptical that there will be enough business to make both this vehicle and Neutron viable since they're too small for the main national security business (NSSL lane 2), large LEO constellations will probably be more cost effective launching fewer times on larger launchers such as New Glenn and Starship, and there isn't much other launch business. I'm glad that only private money, not taxpayer money, is at risk here.

Offline trimeta

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #172 on: 08/03/2023 03:55 am »
From that article:
Quote
The new Antares 330 rocket will be able to loft heavier payloads into orbit, nearly 30 percent more than the soon-to-be-retired Antares 230 rocket. Ultimately, Northrop and Firefly want to evolve the Antares rocket into a still-unnamed medium-lift launch vehicle with a more powerful upper stage. The goal is to field a launch vehicle that can compete for military and commercial launch contracts with medium to large rockets being developed by Relativity Space and Rocket Lab.

"That’s going to really crank up the capability to around 16,000 kilograms (about 35,000 pounds) to low-Earth orbit, so that’s a doubling of the capability of the rocket that we’re currently flying," Eberly said.

Firefly has said the medium-lift rocket it's developing with Northrop Grumman "will evolve into a reusable vehicle" after initial flights as an expendable launcher.

It struck me as odd that Northrop and Firefly were developing two similar launch vehicles, Antares and Firefly's MTV, with the same first stage engine. The text I quoted suggests that Northrop and Firefly may have combined their efforts and now be planning a single reusable launch vehicle. If true that's nice news. However I'm a little skeptical that there will be enough business to make both this vehicle and Neutron viable since they're too small for the main national security business (NSSL lane 2), large LEO constellations will probably be more cost effective launching fewer times on larger launchers such as New Glenn and Starship, and there isn't much other launch business. I'm glad that only private money, not taxpayer money, is at risk here.
I always interpreted Antares 330 as a stepping-stone towards MLV. The plan wouldn't be to operate Antares 330 and MLV concurrently: rather, it is believed that Antares 330 can be brought online faster (since it's "just" replacing the first stage while using the same second stage as Antares 230+), but once Firefly is ready to build the second stage as well, MLV would completely take over.

Whether the "not-SpaceX" launch market has room for Vulcan, Neutron, New Glenn, Ariane 6, Terran R, and MLV is a separate question. It certainly seems like both Neutron and MLV would be directly competing in the "medium but not heavy lift" lane.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #173 on: 08/09/2023 05:41 pm »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1689330614581743616

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Following the final flight of the Antares 230+, Northrop Grumman (NG) and Firefly Aerospace are moving towards the readiness of the Antares 330/Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV), set to debut in 2025.

nasaspaceflight.com/2023/08/northr… - by Justin Davenport.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2023/08/northrop-grumman-mlv/

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #174 on: 08/09/2023 06:38 pm »
Wallops is going to become rather busy between MLV, Neutron and Electron.

I like Firefly and NG staged approached to MLV development.
Using Antare's Castor US, avionics, pad and fairing greatly reduces development time. Firefly only need to concentrate on booster engines and stage.

By time MLV US is ready booster should have some flight heritance and maybe some practice landing in the ocean. Repurposing Alpha US as 3rd stage is also nice feature.

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #175 on: 08/17/2023 04:19 pm »
Fantastic article. I was particularly interested in this paragraph:
Quote
The MLV is also set to be offered with an optional third stage based on one Firefly Lightning-based engine. Lightning has been successfully used on the Firefly Alpha rocket, while work that had gone into the Firefly Beta concept will now be used with MLV. NG had offered three optional third stage choices for earlier Antares vehicles, but those vehicles never saw other customers besides NASA for anything more than small CubeSats.

A kick stage! You love to see it.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #176 on: 08/21/2023 06:57 pm »
From that article:
Quote
The new Antares 330 rocket will be able to loft heavier payloads into orbit, nearly 30 percent more than the soon-to-be-retired Antares 230 rocket. Ultimately, Northrop and Firefly want to evolve the Antares rocket into a still-unnamed medium-lift launch vehicle with a more powerful upper stage. The goal is to field a launch vehicle that can compete for military and commercial launch contracts with medium to large rockets being developed by Relativity Space and Rocket Lab.

"That’s going to really crank up the capability to around 16,000 kilograms (about 35,000 pounds) to low-Earth orbit, so that’s a doubling of the capability of the rocket that we’re currently flying," Eberly said.

Firefly has said the medium-lift rocket it's developing with Northrop Grumman "will evolve into a reusable vehicle" after initial flights as an expendable launcher.

It struck me as odd that Northrop and Firefly were developing two similar launch vehicles, Antares and Firefly's MTV, with the same first stage engine. The text I quoted suggests that Northrop and Firefly may have combined their efforts and now be planning a single reusable launch vehicle. If true that's nice news. However I'm a little skeptical that there will be enough business to make both this vehicle and Neutron viable since they're too small for the main national security business (NSSL lane 2), large LEO constellations will probably be more cost effective launching fewer times on larger launchers such as New Glenn and Starship, and there isn't much other launch business. I'm glad that only private money, not taxpayer money, is at risk here.
I always interpreted Antares 330 as a stepping-stone towards MLV. The plan wouldn't be to operate Antares 330 and MLV concurrently: rather, it is believed that Antares 330 can be brought online faster (since it's "just" replacing the first stage while using the same second stage as Antares 230+), but once Firefly is ready to build the second stage as well, MLV would completely take over.

Whether the "not-SpaceX" launch market has room for Vulcan, Neutron, New Glenn, Ariane 6, Terran R, and MLV is a separate question. It certainly seems like both Neutron and MLV would be directly competing in the "medium but not heavy lift" lane.
The medium and heavy launch markets are huge, though. Over 100 launches per year.

15 to 20ton payload doesn’t make a huge difference because most payloads are megaconstellation satellites. What matters is cost per kg.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #177 on: 08/21/2023 07:13 pm »
From that article:
Quote
The new Antares 330 rocket will be able to loft heavier payloads into orbit, nearly 30 percent more than the soon-to-be-retired Antares 230 rocket. Ultimately, Northrop and Firefly want to evolve the Antares rocket into a still-unnamed medium-lift launch vehicle with a more powerful upper stage. The goal is to field a launch vehicle that can compete for military and commercial launch contracts with medium to large rockets being developed by Relativity Space and Rocket Lab.

"That’s going to really crank up the capability to around 16,000 kilograms (about 35,000 pounds) to low-Earth orbit, so that’s a doubling of the capability of the rocket that we’re currently flying," Eberly said.

Firefly has said the medium-lift rocket it's developing with Northrop Grumman "will evolve into a reusable vehicle" after initial flights as an expendable launcher.

It struck me as odd that Northrop and Firefly were developing two similar launch vehicles, Antares and Firefly's MTV, with the same first stage engine. The text I quoted suggests that Northrop and Firefly may have combined their efforts and now be planning a single reusable launch vehicle. If true that's nice news. However I'm a little skeptical that there will be enough business to make both this vehicle and Neutron viable since they're too small for the main national security business (NSSL lane 2), large LEO constellations will probably be more cost effective launching fewer times on larger launchers such as New Glenn and Starship, and there isn't much other launch business. I'm glad that only private money, not taxpayer money, is at risk here.
I always interpreted Antares 330 as a stepping-stone towards MLV. The plan wouldn't be to operate Antares 330 and MLV concurrently: rather, it is believed that Antares 330 can be brought online faster (since it's "just" replacing the first stage while using the same second stage as Antares 230+), but once Firefly is ready to build the second stage as well, MLV would completely take over.

Whether the "not-SpaceX" launch market has room for Vulcan, Neutron, New Glenn, Ariane 6, Terran R, and MLV is a separate question. It certainly seems like both Neutron and MLV would be directly competing in the "medium but not heavy lift" lane.
The medium and heavy launch markets are huge, though. Over 100 launches per year.

15 to 20ton payload doesn’t make a huge difference because most payloads are megaconstellation satellites. What matters is cost per kg.
Most payloads currently are few tons. While mega constellations will require 100s of tons to orbit, most won't require that tonnage to a particular orbit.
« Last Edit: 08/26/2023 10:33 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #178 on: 08/21/2023 07:26 pm »
My point is that the payloads are easily divisible, so you can look mostly at cost per kg. Neutron has some advantages there over F9, potentially, if they somehow got the flightrate up. Not sure what advantage Antares 300 or MLV would have.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #179 on: 08/21/2023 07:53 pm »
My point is that the payloads are easily divisible, so you can look mostly at cost per kg. Neutron has some advantages there over F9, potentially, if they somehow got the flightrate up. Not sure what advantage Antares 300 or MLV would have.
SpaceX agrees with you: it's about cost per kg. You will be competing with Starship, not F9. F9/FH will retire except for specialty missions like Dragon and NSSL. If SpaceX succeeds, Starship will enter service before any of those other LVs (Vulcan, Neutron, NG, Antares 300, ...).

As you said: "mostly". For a few missions you compete on cost per launch, not cost per kg.

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