Author Topic: The National Team (Blue Origin etc) lunar lander for HLS SLD (App P)  (Read 16539 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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New thread for the lunar lander proposed by the Blue Origin lead ‘National Team’ for HLS Option B contract:

https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1600233901833695232

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The National Team has submitted its proposal for NASA’s SLD program to help the US establish a sustained lunar presence. The National Team partners are @BlueOrigin, @LockheedMartin, @DraperLab, @Boeing, @Astrobotic, and @Honeybee_Ltd.

https://www.blueorigin.com/blue-moon/sld-national-team/

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Sustaining Lunar Development

The National Team of Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics is competing for a NASA Sustaining Lunar Development contract to develop a human landing system for the Artemis program. In partnership with NASA, this team will achieve sustained presence on the Moon.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 01:05 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline butters

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Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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twitter.com/lockheedmartin/status/1600235077279313920

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#Artemis is an inspiration to our world and the next generation of explorers. We are bringing our rich history of deep space exploration and human spaceflight to the National Team to develop a lander that will usher in the new, lunar economy.

https://twitter.com/draperlab/status/1600235783469744128

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Draper is ready to go back to the Moon! This time we will go with the National Team, led by Blue Origin and with teammates Astrobotic, Boeing, Honeybee Robotics and Lockheed Martin.

twitter.com/boeingspace/status/1600236707281915906

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The Moon holds a special place in humanity’s imagination. We are excited to help drive a new generation of exploration that will learn more about our cosmic neighbor and, ultimately, about all of us. The National Team's focus on teamwork will make the dream work for all.

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1600237902729924608

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We’re heading to the Moon (again)! Astrobotic is continuing to make space accessible to the world by supporting the SLD National Team led by @blueorigin. We bring 15 years of focus and lunar experience with us – and a whole lot of #Pittsburgh & #Mojave grit! #ToTheMoon #Artemis

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.

Offline jadebenn

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Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?
It's probably my own bias but I can't shake the feeling that they might be getting Boeing to literally slot into NG's old role as transfer element provider. In that case, could we be looking at some kind of EUS-derived stage?
« Last Edit: 12/06/2022 09:48 pm by jadebenn »

Offline deadman1204

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

Offline aperh1988

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Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?
It's probably my own bias but I can't shake the feeling that they might be getting Boeing to literally slot into NG's old role as transfer element provider. In that case, could we be looking at some kind of EUS-derived stage?

Would be interesting for sure but EUS is 8.4m in diameter like the SLS CS, how would they even launch that? Could a minimally modified EUS-based transfer stage keep enough LH2 on its way to the moon and while loitering around waiting for crew?

Offline su27k

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https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1600236438846640128

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This is noteworthy because Blue Origin has a healthy internal effort to develop a fully reusable lunar lander concept, on its own. But it does not look like the company bid that option to NASA for this round of contracts.

So Blue is choosing political expediency over technical excellency a 2nd time, I hope they get taught a lesson on why this is a bad idea a 2nd time as well...

Offline TrevorMonty



Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?
It's probably my own bias but I can't shake the feeling that they might be getting Boeing to literally slot into NG's old role as transfer element provider. In that case, could we be looking at some kind of EUS-derived stage?

Would be interesting for sure but EUS is 8.4m in diameter like the SLS CS, how would they even launch that? Could a minimally modified EUS-based transfer stage keep enough LH2 on its way to the moon and while loitering around waiting for crew?

Given its Boeing & LM in team they may use Centaur.

Sent from my SM-T733 using Tapatalk


Offline lrk

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Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?
It's probably my own bias but I can't shake the feeling that they might be getting Boeing to literally slot into NG's old role as transfer element provider. In that case, could we be looking at some kind of EUS-derived stage?

Would be interesting for sure but EUS is 8.4m in diameter like the SLS CS, how would they even launch that? Could a minimally modified EUS-based transfer stage keep enough LH2 on its way to the moon and while loitering around waiting for crew?

Given its Boeing & LM in team they may use Centaur.

Sent from my SM-T733 using Tapatalk

That would be interesting, but if it were the case I would expect ULA to be a subcontractor in the team, since they own Centaur.  Boeing and LM own ULA but have no special technical insight or ownership of ULA tech. 

Edit: Also Dynetics was previously partnered with ULA for their Centaur-based refueling tanker, which I would expect to continue in this round.  Also partnering with the National Team would be a potential conflict of interest. 
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 03:25 am by lrk »

Offline jadebenn

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Yeah if this was Centaur I would expect to see ULA. Boeing and Lockheed still own certain rights and IP from what I've heard, but it's really a paperwork thing at this point: They don't actually have any people who are familiar with them.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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So Blue is choosing political expediency over technical excellency a 2nd time, I hope they get taught a lesson on why this is a bad idea a 2nd time as well...

Yes, as we saw with the first HLS award to SpaceX, it’s NASA that makes the choice. So they need to address the weaknesses in their original proposal.

However, political expediency may well help to ensure funding. May be Blue is worried that such funding is at risk and are looking to bolster the program.

Offline Eric Hedman

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What are the odds that they have gotten creative with more of a clean sheet design for a fully reusable lander from the beginning?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Boeing in, Northrop Grumman out. Last time, Boeing was bidding their own SLS-class lander, and Northrop Grumman was to be responsible for the National Team's transfer stage. The Appendix P lander will certainly not launch on SLS and is not likely to be a three-stage design. How Big Blue, Little Blue, and Lockheed divvy up the work will be interesting. Maybe Blue Origin is the propulsion supplier and overall prime, while Boeing and Lockheed do the lander stages?
It's probably my own bias but I can't shake the feeling that they might be getting Boeing to literally slot into NG's old role as transfer element provider. In that case, could we be looking at some kind of EUS-derived stage?
I wonder if it might be based on Blue's reusable upper stage for New Glenn.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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The very prominent map of suppliers spread across the whole of the US tells us what their main selling point is going to be....

Online kevinof

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Little bit of cynicism there.. but exactly what came into my mind when I saw that page. It wasn't the lander or the tech that was prominent but "look how we touch every state" that was front and center.

One of the reasons why it's hard to like Blue management.

The very prominent map of suppliers spread across the whole of the US tells us what their main selling point is going to be....
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 12:20 pm by kevinof »

Offline woods170

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The very prominent map of suppliers spread across the whole of the US tells us what their main selling point is going to be....

Little bit of cynicism there.. but exactly what came into my mind when I saw that page. It wasn't the lander or the tech that was prominent but "look how we touch every state" that we front and center.

One of the reasons why it's hard to like Blue management.

Your cynicism is entirely justified. Last time, Blue lost out to SpaceX for two reasons:
- The National Team propopal was sub-optimal
- NASA was not appropriated enough funding to select TWO contractors for HLS option A.

The SLD solicitation exists because US Congress was not happy with Option A going to SpaceX only. So, additional funding was found to select a second contractor for HLS.
That second HLS contractor/provider is therefore mainly a political creation, much like SLS is. Naturally the providers vying for those Congressionally provided taxpayer's dollars will focus their attention primarily on pleasing the politicians. Which means just one thing: showing how much bacon they can bring home to the USA (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!").

Blue et al. know very well that NASA selecting the "wrong" contractor would not sit well with certain people in US Congress. Because that is exactly what happened last time, and it got Blue et al. exactly what they wanted: another chance at winning a contract.

If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, than it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Offline tbellman

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New thread for the lunar lander proposed by the Blue Origin lead ‘National Team’ for HLS Option B contract:

https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1600233901833695232

Quote
The National Team has submitted its proposal for NASA’s SLD program to help the US establish a sustained lunar presence. The National Team partners are @BlueOrigin, @LockheedMartin, @DraperLab, @Boeing, @Astrobotic, and @Honeybee_Ltd.

https://www.blueorigin.com/blue-moon/sld-national-team/

This is not Option B.  Option B (of Appendix H) has already been awarded, to SpaceX Starship, and SpaceX Starship only.  This is Appendix P.

Can we get a thread rename?  As the thread starter, I guess you can make that change.

(Edit: fix quoting.)
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 12:14 pm by tbellman »

Offline clongton

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Little bit of cynicism there.. but exactly what came into my mind when I saw that page. It wasn't the lander or the tech that was prominent but "look how we touch every state" that we front and center.

One of the reasons why it's hard to like Blue management.

The very prominent map of suppliers spread across the whole of the US tells us what their main selling point is going to be....

Agree. Look at the map. Their core support is not the excellence of their design, but how many senators and congressional representatives will actually be "on their team". Call me old fashoned but just for that reason alone I hope they get nothing. Politics over design, politics over excellence, politics over accomplishment. And of course it will be expensive. Lots of reelection campaign contributions to fund (with our taxpayer dollars). I hate this crap. Why can't they just try to do a good job and deliver a superior product at a reasonable price? Let THAT be their submission.

Look at the map. Ask yourself why that footprint is so important. It's as if they are saying; "Look how politically powerful we will be. Lander? Oh, that. Don't worry. We'll figure that out later.". They appear to be prouder of their footprint than they are of their product submission. It's the 1st thing they made public. Poor North Dakota, and Arkansas. They're the only ones that don't get a piece of the pie.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 12:51 pm by clongton »
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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, then it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Quite possibly, but they would lose again unless such ‘diversity of sourcing’ was a high enough priority evaluation criterion. I haven’t looked at NASA’s RFP docs to know for this contract whether that is a key criterion?

Offline yg1968

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If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, then it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Quite possibly, but they would lose again unless such ‘diversity of sourcing’ was a high enough priority evaluation criterion. I haven’t looked at NASA’s RFP docs to know for this contract whether that is a key criterion?

It isn't. There is some incentives for using small businesses as contractors but jobs in key districts doesn't give you bonus points.

Offline yg1968

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As pointed out by Alex, if you click on Colorado, you see that Sierra Space is a partner on the National Team but they don't seem to be a major partner.

https://www.blueorigin.com/blue-moon/sld-national-team/
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 01:44 pm by yg1968 »

Offline deadman1204

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As a US citizen, I'm embarrassed by this team's bid. Also frakked off at it
Looking at the website, the ONLY content is how many congressional districts and subcontractors it touches. Its NOTHING about going to the moon, their ideas, their tech, cool things that they will try and do. There isn't even a throw away rendering of what it might look like.
Its 100% congressional pork.


I don't think Blue has changed in the slightest. I fully expect lawsuits and temper tantrums if they fail to win the bid.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 02:18 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline yg1968

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I am guessing that the National Team's lander will resemble the prior version of their lander. If that is the case, I am a little disappointed. Hopefully, Blue/National Team and Dynetics have found ways to reduce the price of their lander.

Offline primer_black

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While the immediate information available from Blue contains a lot of 'companies in these districts' flavor, it's also important to remember the intense secrecy that all of the primes have been working App-N  and App-P under for the last year.

App-P is considered a must-win by pretty much every member of every prime team, and every last piece of information that constitutes any sort of competitive edge (whether technical, business case, schedule, etc) has been jealously guarded. Even the *teaming* arrangements were considered competition-sensitive info--see how we just now today received confirmation that NG is working with Dynetics.

This is why there has been complete radio silence from Blue NT, Dynetics, and all of the others for quite a while on the technical side. When the final submission deadline has passed and everyone has submitted proposals, we can likely expect to see a lot more info about the various architecture changes for all of the primes since App-H. And there are a lot of them.

So, right now the only thing Blue has for release is congress-feeding charts. But the technical info will be hot on the heals of pencils-down by all the competitors.

Offline AU1.52

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If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, then it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Quite possibly, but they would lose again unless such ‘diversity of sourcing’ was a high enough priority evaluation criterion. I haven’t looked at NASA’s RFP docs to know for this contract whether that is a key criterion?

It isn't. There is some incentives for using small businesses as contractors but jobs in key districts doesn't give you bonus points.


Well I think they have a great name for their jobs program I mean lander - Footprint.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.

Offline woods170

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2023 07:23 pm by woods170 »

Offline TrevorMonty

I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
LOX makes up bulk of fuel mass for Hydrolox lander so National Team will benefit from lower fuel costs from SS tankers.


Offline yg1968

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (the HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (previously an Associate Director and the Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2022 02:03 pm by yg1968 »

Offline deadman1204

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (Associate Director and Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
This 2 providers is a myth created by blue origin. NASA never "always wanted" two. They said it would be nice to get 2. After only spaceX one and blue started spending tons of money in congress, the tune changed to "wanted 2" and then "always wanted 2" because that statement played nice with all the pressure from congress.

Offline yg1968

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (Associate Director and Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
This 2 providers is a myth created by blue origin. NASA never "always wanted" two. They said it would be nice to get 2. After only spaceX one and blue started spending tons of money in congress, the tune changed to "wanted 2" and then "always wanted 2" because that statement played nice with all the pressure from congress.

NASA always said that they had a preference for 2. They said so verbally on a number of occasions. One was a possibility but it wasn't their preference. The BAA reflects that too (see below). The base period could have up to 4 providers but Options A and B had a maximum of 2. It's possible that Appendix P will have no awards if the bids are too high or if Congress doesn't provide enough funding for HLS. Incidentally, Option B and Appendix P have a lot of optional CLINs which makes it possible for NASA to drop a provider if they are unhappy with their performance.

Quote from: page 8 of the BAA
While NASA reserves the right to change its HLS acquisition strategy at any time, NASA is currently planning to award Base Contract Line Item Numbers (CLINs) to up to four contractors; exercise Option A CLINs for up to two of those contractors; and later exercise Option B CLINs for either one or two Option A contractors.

Offline clongton

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IMO I don't think an Administrator like a James Webb would have stood for the machinations of senators like Shelby et al. He would have told him that he worked at the pleasure of the President, not the Senate and if he wanted his state to get a piece of the pie then he better find a way for his state to contribute to the program the way HE designed it. My opinion of course, but Webb had bigger gonads than any senator I've ever met, including Shelby. I sadly doubt we will ever see the likes of him again.
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Online VSECOTSPE

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Politics over design, politics over excellence, politics over accomplishment. And of course it will be expensive.

I hold out a little hope that National Team has developed something innovative this round, maybe leveraging New Glenn work, that has some promise of being operationally competitive with Lunar Starship.  But the National Team’s pork map strongly indicates otherwise.

Unless they totally stumble technically, I assume Bezos will contribute enough billions to buy the Appendix P competition for National Team.  Given that Steve Cook, one of the MSFC PowerPoint engineers who architected and led the Ares I fiasco, is running Dynetics and their bid, that may not be a bad thing.  But so far, it looks like NASA’s choices for a second lander are between bad and worse, and I’m not sure which is which, yet.  Either way, it looks like the second lander will be little more than an expensive backup (if it gets that far) to Lunar Starship.

Thpppt...

Offline DanClemmensen

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

I'm not sure this is right.  BO/NT would absolutely have to state how they were getting their prop to NRHO, but it could have a third-party relationship with SpaceX as a simple subcontractor.

The overlapping sources problem is indeed the sticking point here.  However, there's a solution:  SpaceX could contract with BO/NT to deliver prop at $xx/t.  It would then have four ways, in ascending order of cost, of achieving that contract:

1) Starship tankers filling a depot, and the depot filling up the BO/NT components.
2) Starship tankers with depot-like attachments to directly fill BO/NT.
3) If Starship is grounded but the depot's on station, FHE's or FH2R's filling a depot.
4) If Starship is grounded and the depot's offline, FHE's of FH2R's directly filling the BO/NT stuff.

SpaceX can then do the actuarial jiggery-pokery to decide what their risk-adjusted cost is for all of these items, and then apply whatever markup they're going to provide.  I can't imagine that, even with the risk-adjustment, this wouldn't result in a 10x reduction in methalox costs.

Of course, if BO/NT is still planning on using the BE-7, then they need hydrolox, and that's a whole 'nother story.  But Dynetics might be interested in the same deal.

A necessary condition for this working is that SpaceX commit to supporting the docking and refueling interfaces as an open standard, which slows them down a bit.  But what they get in return is first-mover advantages in open-market cislunar refueling, which will be quite lucrative if Artemis is successful, and even more lucrative if the other SLT winner can make a go of its own private tourist biz.  In addition, staging NASA interplanetary missions from such a depot would be quite handy, with the reduced prop costs more than covering the extra 400ish m/s needed to get the probe into an HEEO departure orbit.

Offline butters

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NASA always said that they had a preference for 2. They said so verbally on a number of occasions. One was a possibility but it wasn't their preference. The BAA reflects that too (see below). The base period could have up to 4 providers but Options A and B had a maximum of 2. It's possible that Appendix P will have no awards if the bids are too high or if Congress doesn't provide enough funding for HLS. Incidentally, Option B and Appendix P have a lot of optional CLINs which makes it possible for NASA to drop a provider if they are unhappy with their performance.
HLS wasn't even a commercial fixed-cost program at first. It seemed obvious that NASA was going to select one HLS provider, presumably an integrated lander system to launch on SLS, until they surprisingly announced that this was going to be a commercial contract. Only then did it become plausible to select two providers.

There's a ton of revisionist history on this topic. The same is true for EELV. The Air Force was going to select one provider and pay them $1.5B to support development. It was a late-breaking decision to select two providers and pay them $500M each. But to this day, the argument goes that the Air Force always wanted two providers with dissimilar redundancy. They did not. Not always at least.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

There are three different constraints here:

1) Congress appropriates NASA's budget, at varying degrees of granularity.  It is unseemly, but probably legal, for one or more congresscritters to take the administrator or one of his minions aside and say, "If you do x, then next year I'm going to cut your funding for y.  Do z instead."

2) The administrator can choose to participate in the source selection at whatever level he wants.  However...

3) Everybody at NASA has to adhere to FAR, and be seen as not only adhering to FAR but supporting the spirit as well as the letter of the regulations.

Now let's look at how this works in practice:

a) Congresscritters dangle various carrots and sticks in front of the administrator and his minions.

b) The administrator makes sure everybody knows what's at stake, but needs to get his minions to set objective source selection criteria, with as few of his fingerprints on them as possible, so that various Inspectors General don't show up with a colonoscope.

c) Then, because fingerprints are politically embarrassing at all levels of the process, he picks a panel to do the selection, but he stays as far away from it as possible.  The panel knows its marching orders, but also wishes to avoid contact with the aforementioned colonoscope.

So there is congressional pressure at the top of the process, but it undergoes a certain amount of head loss as it percolates down to the actual source selection.  This probably means that Congress's favorite contractor probably has an advantage, but not so much of an advantage that they'll get selected even if they screw the pooch.  Democracy:  the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I'm sure Cantwell and Wicker are pushing hard, but they have considerably less power than Shelby did, because they can't unilaterally zero out programs with a sharpie during markup.

As for Shelby getting Bridenstine to recant on the Frankenrocket:  My interpretation of that is that Jim was playing a considerably longer game than Shelby was.  The Frankenrocket was a brush-back pitch (for non-Americans, that's when a baseball pitcher throws the ball at the batter's head, to get him to stop crowding the plate), both to put Boeing on notice that they had to be somewhat less rapacious in milking cost-plus for all it was worth, and simultaneously subjecting SLS to yet another slash in a death-of-a-thousand-cuts strategy to marginalize SLS to nothing more than transit to and from NRHO.  I would judge both efforts as partially successful.

Offline deadman1204

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

I'm not sure this is right.  BO/NT would absolutely have to state how they were getting their prop to NRHO, but it could have a third-party relationship with SpaceX as a simple subcontractor.

The overlapping sources problem is indeed the sticking point here.  However, there's a solution:  SpaceX could contract with BO/NT to deliver prop at $xx/t.  It would then have four ways, in ascending order of cost, of achieving that contract:

1) Starship tankers filling a depot, and the depot filling up the BO/NT components.
2) Starship tankers with depot-like attachments to directly fill BO/NT.
3) If Starship is grounded but the depot's on station, FHE's or FH2R's filling a depot.
4) If Starship is grounded and the depot's offline, FHE's of FH2R's directly filling the BO/NT stuff.

SpaceX can then do the actuarial jiggery-pokery to decide what their risk-adjusted cost is for all of these items, and then apply whatever markup they're going to provide.  I can't imagine that, even with the risk-adjustment, this wouldn't result in a 10x reduction in methalox costs.

Of course, if BO/NT is still planning on using the BE-7, then they need hydrolox, and that's a whole 'nother story.  But Dynetics might be interested in the same deal.

A necessary condition for this working is that SpaceX commit to supporting the docking and refueling interfaces as an open standard, which slows them down a bit.  But what they get in return is first-mover advantages in open-market cislunar refueling, which will be quite lucrative if Artemis is successful, and even more lucrative if the other SLT winner can make a go of its own private tourist biz.  In addition, staging NASA interplanetary missions from such a depot would be quite handy, with the reduced prop costs more than covering the extra 400ish m/s needed to get the probe into an HEEO departure orbit.
Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

I tend to agree.  But Dynetics would be more than happy to share.  And they could clean BO/NT's clock with a descent-ascent system with a liberal prop budget.

Offline TrevorMonty

Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

I tend to agree.  But Dynetics would be more than happy to share.  And they could clean BO/NT's clock with a descent-ascent system with a liberal prop budget.
NASA is looking redundant lander systems so would expect alternative LV to SS for supply of Dynetic's landers fuel. Vulcan was LV of choice as it can deliver fuel directly to lunar orbit.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

I tend to agree.  But Dynetics would be more than happy to share.  And they could clean BO/NT's clock with a descent-ascent system with a liberal prop budget.
NASA is looking redundant lander systems so would expect alternative LV to SS for supply of Dynetic's landers fuel. Vulcan was LV of choice as it can deliver fuel directly to lunar orbit.

Yup, and I had a solution to that problem up-thread:  SpaceX bids prop on a $/t basis, not on a per-launch basis.  If Starship's down for whatever reason, they have to use FH and eat the cost difference.  Setting the price includes the risk that they might have to do that.

Offline yg1968

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NASA always said that they had a preference for 2. They said so verbally on a number of occasions. One was a possibility but it wasn't their preference. The BAA reflects that too (see below). The base period could have up to 4 providers but Options A and B had a maximum of 2. It's possible that Appendix P will have no awards if the bids are too high or if Congress doesn't provide enough funding for HLS. Incidentally, Option B and Appendix P have a lot of optional CLINs which makes it possible for NASA to drop a provider if they are unhappy with their performance.
HLS wasn't even a commercial fixed-cost program at first. It seemed obvious that NASA was going to select one HLS provider, presumably an integrated lander system to launch on SLS, until they surprisingly announced that this was going to be a commercial contract. Only then did it become plausible to select two providers.

There's a ton of revisionist history on this topic.

That is not true. HLS (Appendix H) was always a commercial fixed price program. There was discussions as part of Appendix E of having a 3 element lander where one of the elements (the ascent stage) was possibly not going to be commercial but that never made it very far. 

https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep/humanlander2 (Appendix H)

https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep/humanlander (Appendix E)
« Last Edit: 12/09/2022 02:05 pm by yg1968 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

I tend to agree.  But Dynetics would be more than happy to share.  And they could clean BO/NT's clock with a descent-ascent system with a liberal prop budget.
NASA is looking redundant lander systems so would expect alternative LV to SS for supply of Dynetic's landers fuel. Vulcan was LV of choice as it can deliver fuel directly to lunar orbit.

Yup, and I had a solution to that problem up-thread:  SpaceX bids prop on a $/t basis, not on a per-launch basis.  If Starship's down for whatever reason, they have to use FH and eat the cost difference.  Setting the price includes the risk that they might have to do that.
As is FH can't delivery propellant to lunar orbit . Upperstage can't  survive 4 day without extensive modification. Might be able to build tanker based on Dragon XL bus but why would they if SS is their future.

Most US only have life of few hours, Centuar and SS are about only stages capable of multiday missions. Photon is more of kick stage/OTV than US.

Offline deadman1204

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Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

I tend to agree.  But Dynetics would be more than happy to share.  And they could clean BO/NT's clock with a descent-ascent system with a liberal prop budget.
NASA is looking redundant lander systems so would expect alternative LV to SS for supply of Dynetic's landers fuel. Vulcan was LV of choice as it can deliver fuel directly to lunar orbit.
Technically NASA is being directed to "look for another system". The entire "redundancy" thing is 100% blue origin propaganda and fud. There is NO redundancy in artimis - SLS/Orion have no back up, and congress won't allow one either. Its just a talking point to try and give legitimacy to congressional pork because blue and lockheed own so many people in congress.

Online VSECOTSPE

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Ever since COTS, NASA human space flight has been moving in the direction of programs that maintain at least two competitors in major mission/program elements:  COTS, CCDev, ISS follow-on, and now the human lunar landers.  So the argument for alternates and backups has been made, and made successfully, for years, long before Blue protested the HLS award.

It’s also true that sole-sourced legacy programs on the critical path, especially Orion/SLS, do not have competition and alternatives when they and NASA really should.  But that doesn’t invalidate the argument for having competition and options, nor does it mean that the argument originated with Blue’s hamfisted lobbying.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The primary reasoning for 2 contracts for a provider of a service was that due to goals of the project it was not that realistic to believe that both would deliver or even 1 would. HLS is no different. SLS/Orion after it's first launch is a lower risk than any effort that would replace or compete with it. That does not mean that there would not be one anyway.

For App P there is highly likely only funds for 1 selected and it is also possible that the funds may be less than expected requiring a renegotiation and lengthening of the scheduled delivery date on the selected provider. Thus the bidder's price still holds a very significant position in the decision as long as the lowest cost bidder can do the job!

Schedule wise I do not expect an award for App P to occur before April. A source selection process on these size contracts are slow. And thus the official award date may even end being summer of 2023. That being last quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. 1 Oct 2023 would need a new budget passed by congress.

Offline yg1968

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The primary reasoning for 2 contracts for a provider of a service was that due to goals of the project it was not that realistic to believe that both would deliver or even 1 would. HLS is no different. SLS/Orion after it's first launch is a lower risk than any effort that would replace or compete with it. That does not mean that there would not be one anyway.

For App P there is highly likely only funds for 1 selected and it is also possible that the funds may be less than expected requiring a renegotiation and lengthening of the scheduled delivery date on the selected provider. Thus the bidder's price still holds a very significant position in the decision as long as the lowest cost bidder can do the job!

Schedule wise I do not expect an award for App P to occur before April. A source selection process on these size contracts are slow. And thus the official award date may even end being summer of 2023. That being last quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. 1 Oct 2023 would need a new budget passed by congress.

The latest version of the BAA says that the anticipated date for the award is June 6, 2023.

The BAA has a bunch of optional milestones in case that NASA doesn't receive the requested funding. So no renegotiation should be necessary. As of now, both the House and Senate proposed FY23 Appropriations bills fully fund HLS.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2022 05:05 pm by yg1968 »

Offline deadman1204

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The primary reasoning for 2 contracts for a provider of a service was that due to goals of the project it was not that realistic to believe that both would deliver or even 1 would. HLS is no different. SLS/Orion after it's first launch is a lower risk than any effort that would replace or compete with it. That does not mean that there would not be one anyway.

For App P there is highly likely only funds for 1 selected and it is also possible that the funds may be less than expected requiring a renegotiation and lengthening of the scheduled delivery date on the selected provider. Thus the bidder's price still holds a very significant position in the decision as long as the lowest cost bidder can do the job!

Schedule wise I do not expect an award for App P to occur before April. A source selection process on these size contracts are slow. And thus the official award date may even end being summer of 2023. That being last quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. 1 Oct 2023 would need a new budget passed by congress.

The latest version of the BAA says that the anticipated date for the award is June 6, 2023.

The BAA has a bunch of optional milestones in case that NASA doesn't receive the requested funding. So no renegotiation should be necessary. As of now, both the House and Senate proposed FY23 Appropriations bills fully fund HLS.
How likely is this congress to pass a budget before it ends? Cause I have zero faith in one passing next year with divided chambers.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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As is FH can't delivery propellant to lunar orbit . Upperstage can't  survive 4 day without extensive modification. Might be able to build tanker based on Dragon XL bus but why would they if SS is their future.

Most US only have life of few hours, Centuar and SS are about only stages capable of multiday missions. Photon is more of kick stage/OTV than US.

That's a fair point, and it would be a problem that SpaceX would have to be willing to solve if they wanted to sell a "guaranteed prop in NRHO" kind of contract--for an App. P bidder or anybody else.

However, it's only about 60-80m/s from a BLT to NRHO.  That's not nuthin', but a couple of Dracos and 400kg of prop would handle it easily.  I don't think that Starlink bus propulsion has enough thrust or delta-v to work on a 15t payload as-is, but maybe there's a Draco adaptation that could piggyback on its bus?  (Remember, this is likely the kind of thing that SpaceX will have to do to market Starshield effectively.  This wouldn't be a terrible demonstration project.)

Obviously, SpaceX would rather not build a slightly maneuverable 15t wet methalox tank for FH.  But being the sole provider of methalox in cislunar is a pretty big deal, likely with multiple customers (NASA, SLD/SLT providers, USSF, and probably other allied agencies like ESA, JAXA, CSA, etc.), and extremely good profit margins--as long as Starship is doing the delivery.  If the price of that is a guarantee to get prop to cislunar on an FHE if something goes horribly wrong with Starship, that might be worth the cost.

Offline sdsds

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[...] being the sole provider of methalox in cislunar is a pretty big deal, likely with [...] extremely good profit margins

Being the customer of a monopoly provider involves some pretty extreme tolerance to price distortions. The "market price" of a commodity tends to be just above the cost level of the second most efficient provider....
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Offline TheRadicalModerate

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[...] being the sole provider of methalox in cislunar is a pretty big deal, likely with [...] extremely good profit margins

Being the customer of a monopoly provider involves some pretty extreme tolerance to price distortions. The "market price" of a commodity tends to be just above the cost level of the second most efficient provider....

If the monopoly provider can gouge pretty hard and still be 5-10x cheaper than any other alternative, that's still a pretty good deal.

Offline DanClemmensen

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[...] being the sole provider of methalox in cislunar is a pretty big deal, likely with [...] extremely good profit margins

Being the customer of a monopoly provider involves some pretty extreme tolerance to price distortions. The "market price" of a commodity tends to be just above the cost level of the second most efficient provider....

If the monopoly provider can gouge pretty hard and still be 5-10x cheaper than any other alternative, that's still a pretty good deal.
If there are two providers, it's not a monopoly. It's a market with a dominant provider. It's not gouging to charge just barely less than the second provider, it's market economics. A monopoly picks a price that maximizes net revenue. If the market is elastic, lower prices result in higher sales but lower profit per sale, and there is a point on this curve that maximizes total profit. The existence of a second provider puts a cap on the price the first provider can charge.

Offline yg1968

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The primary reasoning for 2 contracts for a provider of a service was that due to goals of the project it was not that realistic to believe that both would deliver or even 1 would. HLS is no different. SLS/Orion after it's first launch is a lower risk than any effort that would replace or compete with it. That does not mean that there would not be one anyway.

For App P there is highly likely only funds for 1 selected and it is also possible that the funds may be less than expected requiring a renegotiation and lengthening of the scheduled delivery date on the selected provider. Thus the bidder's price still holds a very significant position in the decision as long as the lowest cost bidder can do the job!

Schedule wise I do not expect an award for App P to occur before April. A source selection process on these size contracts are slow. And thus the official award date may even end being summer of 2023. That being last quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. 1 Oct 2023 would need a new budget passed by congress.

The latest version of the BAA says that the anticipated date for the award is June 6, 2023.

The BAA has a bunch of optional milestones in case that NASA doesn't receive the requested funding. So no renegotiation should be necessary. As of now, both the House and Senate proposed FY23 Appropriations bills fully fund HLS.
How likely is this congress to pass a budget before it ends? Cause I have zero faith in one passing next year with divided chambers.

They are usually able to work it out. The Senate already needed bipartisan support since you need 60 Senators for appropriations bill. A CR for an entire year is very rare. 

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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If there are two providers, it's not a monopoly. It's a market with a dominant provider. It's not gouging to charge just barely less than the second provider, it's market economics. A monopoly picks a price that maximizes net revenue. If the market is elastic, lower prices result in higher sales but lower profit per sale, and there is a point on this curve that maximizes total profit. The existence of a second provider puts a cap on the price the first provider can charge.

If SpaceX could sell prop in cislunar, then there would be:

1) Two HLS providers (LSS Option B and whoever wins SLD).
2) One cislunar methalox provider (SpaceX).
3) One primary platform (Starship tanker) for sending the methalox to cislunar, and a secondary platform (FH with a ~15t methalox tank and some RCS as a payload), in case the primary is unavailable.  Whether they'd actually build the FH tanks ahead of time or just guarantee they'd be available if there's a problem...  I don't know.

That's a SpaceX monopoly on cislunar prop.  But it still has full redundancy.

This is probably off-topic for a BO/NT thread, because getting Blue to be dependent, even briefly, on SpaceX prop would probably cause Jeff's head to explode.  There's also the issue that the Blue Moon lander runs on hydrolox, but even if they only took LOX from SpaceX and shipped their own LH2, they could make a much bigger system that would actually be semi-useful, instead of a toy.  And it would cost less.

BTW, I agree with you that there's still price elasticity in a monopoly market.  And if there's one company that benefits from increased BEO traffic, it's SpaceX.  So I'd guess that they start out being fairly generous on pricing.  After a while, when they've created a bunch of demand, if nobody steps up to compete, then things might get ugly.

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Politics over design, politics over excellence, politics over accomplishment. And of course it will be expensive.

I hold out a little hope that National Team has developed something innovative this round, maybe leveraging New Glenn work, that has some promise of being operationally competitive with Lunar Starship.  But the National Team’s pork map strongly indicates otherwise.


Rumors and information tidbits pointed to Blue using a refueable and reusable tanker to ferry propellant to a transfer stage and single stage lander in NHRO. A simplified version of National Teams architecture.  New Glenn upper stage = tanker.  Transfer stage is lander without legs and a crew cab. The simplest solution is to use all common Blue Origin hardware.

With this many chefs in the kitchen I have a REAL hard time seeing a simple and innovative solution come about.  Far more likely that the proposal be constructed of 3 unique vehicles, just like the last proposal, with each of the big contractors looking to carve out the largest peice of the pie for themselves.

Lockheed "Orion derived" ascent stage, Blue moon derived descent stage, Boeing using what hardware they can to build a transfer stage.

I can't see any other breakdown where the 3 major contractors would be content with having a smaller role for the sake of offering a less complex solution.




Offline TheRadicalModerate

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Rumors and information tidbits pointed to Blue using a refueable and reusable tanker to ferry propellant to a transfer stage and single stage lander in NHRO. A simplified version of National Teams architecture.  New Glenn upper stage = tanker.  Transfer stage is lander without legs and a crew cab. The simplest solution is to use all common Blue Origin hardware.

With this many chefs in the kitchen I have a REAL hard time seeing a simple and innovative solution come about.  Far more likely that the proposal be constructed of 3 unique vehicles, just like the last proposal, with each of the big contractors looking to carve out the largest peice of the pie for themselves.

Lockheed "Orion derived" ascent stage, Blue moon derived descent stage, Boeing using what hardware they can to build a transfer stage.

I can't see any other breakdown where the 3 major contractors would be content with having a smaller role for the sake of offering a less complex solution.

The use of New Glenn for prop transport and the AE/DE/TE triumvirate can both be true.  But it requires betting the farm on New Glenn.  Maybe that's a good reason for Blue to be the prime; if things go pear-shaped, they're on the hook to pay their subs.

Offline TrevorMonty

Rumors and information tidbits pointed to Blue using a refueable and reusable tanker to ferry propellant to a transfer stage and single stage lander in NHRO. A simplified version of National Teams architecture.  New Glenn upper stage = tanker.  Transfer stage is lander without legs and a crew cab. The simplest solution is to use all common Blue Origin hardware.

With this many chefs in the kitchen I have a REAL hard time seeing a simple and innovative solution come about.  Far more likely that the proposal be constructed of 3 unique vehicles, just like the last proposal, with each of the big contractors looking to carve out the largest peice of the pie for themselves.

Lockheed "Orion derived" ascent stage, Blue moon derived descent stage, Boeing using what hardware they can to build a transfer stage.

I can't see any other breakdown where the 3 major contractors would be content with having a smaller role for the sake of offering a less complex solution.

The use of New Glenn for prop transport and the AE/DE/TE triumvirate can both be true.  But it requires betting the farm on New Glenn.  Maybe that's a good reason for Blue to be the prime; if things go pear-shaped, they're on the hook to pay their subs.
They would be silly not to have Vulcan as backup.

Offline niwax

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Politics over design, politics over excellence, politics over accomplishment. And of course it will be expensive.

I hold out a little hope that National Team has developed something innovative this round, maybe leveraging New Glenn work, that has some promise of being operationally competitive with Lunar Starship.  But the National Team’s pork map strongly indicates otherwise.


Rumors and information tidbits pointed to Blue using a refueable and reusable tanker to ferry propellant to a transfer stage and single stage lander in NHRO. A simplified version of National Teams architecture.  New Glenn upper stage = tanker.  Transfer stage is lander without legs and a crew cab. The simplest solution is to use all common Blue Origin hardware.

With this many chefs in the kitchen I have a REAL hard time seeing a simple and innovative solution come about.  Far more likely that the proposal be constructed of 3 unique vehicles, just like the last proposal, with each of the big contractors looking to carve out the largest peice of the pie for themselves.

Lockheed "Orion derived" ascent stage, Blue moon derived descent stage, Boeing using what hardware they can to build a transfer stage.

I can't see any other breakdown where the 3 major contractors would be content with having a smaller role for the sake of offering a less complex solution.

This seems very sensible, but it also tickles me that every architecture for landing on the moon now incorporates depots and in-orbit refueling.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline su27k

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I think he's talking about National Team, although the principle applies to other projects such as SLS as well:

https://twitter.com/SpaceAbhi/status/1601270513019387905

Quote
My personal observation having worked on more than one large (>$1B) successful aerospace program and large failures: The bigger your "team" of companies when tackling a contract, the more likely you are to fail to achieve the technical objectives of the program.



A system where the customer (NASA) owns the requirements and are the sole arbiters of whether/how they can be modified, just doesn't lend itself well (in our times) to multiple partners and subcontractors.  It fosters an unworkable bureaucracy and culture of infighting.



Overcoming these forces requires near "limitless" money and focused national will. Minimizing subcontracts and interface requirement documents between companies maximizes your chance for technical success. Key metric: How many weeks does it take to modify a requirement

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The use of New Glenn for prop transport and the AE/DE/TE triumvirate can both be true.  But it requires betting the farm on New Glenn.  Maybe that's a good reason for Blue to be the prime; if things go pear-shaped, they're on the hook to pay their subs.

Betting the farm on New Glenn? No disrespect but if they cant execute on New Glenn by 2028+ then BO has no business bidding on any kind of contract like this.

They should be betting the farm, they seem to need the motivation.

This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.

God I hope not. BE-7 may be the best project Blue had; building an actually useful/needed engine in a field they have experience.
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline jdon759

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[Replying to methalox delivery discussions upthread - couldn't seem to quote on mobile]

Alternatively, if Dynetics wins, their architecture (as of Humans to Mars summit 2022) already includes starship as a refuelling option alongside Vulcan.
That eliminates monopoly; provides redundancy; and increases commonality: both landers use methalox, and if ALPACA can be refilled from either SS or Centaur, then there is (probably) a standardised refuelling interface on each of them - allowing vastly increased flexibility for both ALPACA and Starship (and anyone else).

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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The use of New Glenn for prop transport and the AE/DE/TE triumvirate can both be true.  But it requires betting the farm on New Glenn.  Maybe that's a good reason for Blue to be the prime; if things go pear-shaped, they're on the hook to pay their subs.

Betting the farm on New Glenn? No disrespect but if they cant execute on New Glenn by 2028+ then BO has no business bidding on any kind of contract like this.

They should be betting the farm, they seem to need the motivation.

There's a difference between depending on NG eventually, and making its smooth operation a condition of convincing NASA that your source selection scores shouldn't be dinged because you have to build a rocket.¹

Of course, SpaceX bid something where they had to build a rocket, but they had the advantage of having built three orbital-class rockets before, and a pretty hefty head start on building the fourth.  Blue, not so much.

___________
¹Akin's Law #39: Any exploration program which "just happens" to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.


Offline TheRadicalModerate

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[Replying to methalox delivery discussions upthread - couldn't seem to quote on mobile]

Alternatively, if Dynetics wins, their architecture (as of Humans to Mars summit 2022) already includes starship as a refuelling option alongside Vulcan.
That eliminates monopoly; provides redundancy; and increases commonality: both landers use methalox, and if ALPACA can be refilled from either SS or Centaur, then there is (probably) a standardised refuelling interface on each of them - allowing vastly increased flexibility for both ALPACA and Starship (and anyone else).

Interesting--didn't know that.  This is a big chunk of what I was driving at.

However, there's still a remaining question:  Because the likely crop of medium-to-heavy, non-refuelable launchers will give you 12-15t of prop to NRHO, and a Starship tanker might give you as much as 530t with full refueling,¹ do you bias your design for higher performance and assume a large prop load, or do you design for the lowest common denominator?  If you bet big and win, you clean up.  But if you bet big and Starship has a problem or is more expensive than you thought, the extra launch costs may kill you.

___________
¹But that takes a whole bunch of tanker launches to LEO, and you don't know how much a Starship tanker launch is going to cost.  Just for reference, three tanker launches will give you about 60t of usable prop in NRHO, if you want to send the tanker that carries it back to EDL.

Offline DanClemmensen

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[Replying to methalox delivery discussions upthread - couldn't seem to quote on mobile]

Alternatively, if Dynetics wins, their architecture (as of Humans to Mars summit 2022) already includes starship as a refuelling option alongside Vulcan.
That eliminates monopoly; provides redundancy; and increases commonality: both landers use methalox, and if ALPACA can be refilled from either SS or Centaur, then there is (probably) a standardised refuelling interface on each of them - allowing vastly increased flexibility for both ALPACA and Starship (and anyone else).
We have a very long thread (97 pages) dedicated to in-orbit refuelling:
   https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=50157.0
After following this thread, I conclude that it's hard. A "standardized refuelling interface" comprises a whole lot more than connectors that transfer fuel. This may be the most complex part of the HLS mission.

Offline sdsds

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[Replying to methalox delivery discussions upthread - couldn't seem to quote on mobile]

Alternatively, if Dynetics wins, their architecture (as of Humans to Mars summit 2022) already includes starship as a refuelling option alongside Vulcan.

That potentially mis-characterizes what Andy Crocker (Dynetics Human Landing Systems Program Manager) said and showed at the H2M presentation. He said Vulcan or Starship could launch the Dynetics propellant tankers. He did not say A Dynetics vehicle could transfer propellant from (or to) a SpaceX vehicle. This is mentioned at 27 min 58 sec into

Could a Blue Origin lander accept propellant transferred from a SpaceX vehicle? It seems ... unlikely.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2022 04:25 am by sdsds »
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Offline jdon759

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[Replying to methalox delivery discussions upthread - couldn't seem to quote on mobile]

Alternatively, if Dynetics wins, their architecture (as of Humans to Mars summit 2022) already includes starship as a refuelling option alongside Vulcan.

That potentially mis-characterizes what Andy Crocker (Dynetics Human Landing Systems Program Manager) said and showed at the H2M presentation. He said Vulcan or Starship could launch the Dynetics propellant tankers. He did not say A Dynetics vehicle could transfer propellant from (or to) a SpaceX vehicle.

Thanks, I misremembered.

However, there's still a remaining question:  Because the likely crop of medium-to-heavy, non-refuelable launchers will give you 12-15t of prop to NRHO, and a Starship tanker might give you as much as 530t with full refueling, do you bias your design for higher performance and assume a large prop load, or do you design for the lowest common denominator?  If you bet big and win, you clean up.  But if you bet big and Starship has a problem or is more expensive than you thought, the extra launch costs may kill you.

What I'd do is attach some very large tanks to Gateway, and then have NASA pay anyone who can to deliver fuel to those tanks.  If they do it for cheap/kg, they get more profit, otherwise, they get less profit.  Landers can refuel at Gateway (logical, but NASA would have to sell them fuel), and the amount of fuel delivered per tanker is no longer a relevant part of the lander's design nor operations.  It also makes it easier to evntually *siphon* lunar or other extraterrestrial fuel into the system.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2022 11:53 pm by jdon759 »

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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However, there's still a remaining question:  Because the likely crop of medium-to-heavy, non-refuelable launchers will give you 12-15t of prop to NRHO, and a Starship tanker might give you as much as 530t with full refueling, do you bias your design for higher performance and assume a large prop load, or do you design for the lowest common denominator?  If you bet big and win, you clean up.  But if you bet big and Starship has a problem or is more expensive than you thought, the extra launch costs may kill you.

What I'd do is attach some very large tanks to Gateway, and then have NASA pay anyone who can to deliver fuel to those tanks.  If they do it for cheap/kg, they get more profit, otherwise, they get less profit.  Landers can refuel at Gateway (logical, but NASA would have to sell them fuel), and the amount of fuel delivered per tanker is no longer a relevant part of the lander's design nor operations.  It also makes it easier to evntually *siphon* lunar or other extraterrestrial fuel into the system.

I don't want NASA in the business of selling prop, and that's certainly not how the HLS contracts are set up currently.  NASA wants the HLS provider to take the risk on the cost of prop to NRHO.  If they can only count on VC6/FH/NG-sized systems, prop is really expensive, but likely low risk.  But if they count on Starship, prop is much, much cheaper--but there's a redundancy risk that could take both HLS designs out simultaneously if there's a problem with Starship.

There are actuarial solutions to managing between those two possible risk profiles.  The solution almost certainly results in substantially lower prop costs, which can be rolled into substantially larger HLS systems.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I keep asking this question on other threads, but maybe de-zombifying this one is closer to on-topic:

What the hell is Boeing doing on National Team Mark II?

Some possible hypotheses:

1) The flippant answer:  They're just there for their lobbying power.  However amusing this might be, I doubt it's the only reason.

2) They're not really contributing anything other than being joint owner of ULA with LockMart, and ULA is going to repurpose a second stage (possibly the DCSS 5 but more likely a Centaur III or 5) as a TE.¹  This hypothesis seems wrong, given that ULA is supposedly now up for sale.

3) Boeing is the buyer for all of ULA, and they plan to create a variant of either Centaur 5 or Centaur III to be the TE.

4) Boeing plans to buy only the DCSS/ICPS intellectual property, tooling, and enough staff to reconstruct the (now mostly dismantled) line from ULA, and turn the DCSS into a TE. It's a lot of work to reconstruct the line and DCSS would need to be heavily modified to have the mission life needed for a TE, but nobody else will want this tech and they could get it for cheap.  It's also a nice hedge in case either EUS or ML2 goes sideways and they need another ICPS to create an Artemis III.5 Block 1 mission.

5) Boeing has something tricky planned with the EUS.  I find this extremely unlikely, but we always have to remember that a lot of what Boeing does in human spaceflight is oriented around protecting SLS.

None of these hypotheses make sense if the new architecture is only an AE/DE or DAE, but that seems unlikely to me.  I'm still betting that it's a reusable AE (from LockMart, based on some Orion tech), an expendable DE (Blue Moon), and an expendable TE.²

And an expendable TE with a lot of delta-v has some real advantages.  Chief among them is that it can be a "crasher," which takes the stack not only to LLO but does some portion of the descent orbit insertion and powered descent.  This would allow a fixed-size expendable Blue Moon to carry a heavier payload, which would be the AE for SLD/SLT flights.  The bigger the AE can be, the more capable it is in handling crews of 4 for longer lunar surface missions, which is what SLD/SLT is all about.

I don't know if any of the hypotheses is correct.  Can anybody else think of something useful that Boeing could be doing on the Nat Team?

______________
¹As a refresher:

AE = Ascent Element (likely reusable)
DE = Descent Element (likely expendable)
TE = Transfer Element, which gets the stack from NRHO to LLO--or even lower.
DAE = Descent/Ascent Element (likely reusable, but very big).

²The Nat Team Mark I architecture ostensibly had a reusable TE, likely based on NorGrumm Cygnus, but that was nonsense.  To reuse a TE, you'd have to get it back to NRHO to refuel.  And what would you use to refuel it?  Another Cygnus, which would have to be expended.  Makes more sense just to throw the old one away and use the new one.

Offline Hug

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What the hell is Boeing doing on National Team Mark II?
Quote
larger tanks using a new manufacturing technique

Above quote is from Option A source selection and while the design there is probably a fair bit different from they have now, the principle of needing lighter tanks remains. Now large hydrolox composite tanks is something Boeing has a fair bit of experience with and is something Blue presumably needs. So in the best world I imagine that's what they're doing. Maybe a couple extra systems associated with that as well. Please don't give them an element Blue.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2022/03/boeing-all-composite-cryo-tank/

I'm still hoping my architecture prediction is close to accurate.

Offline Coastal Ron

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What the hell is Boeing doing on National Team Mark II?
Quote
larger tanks using a new manufacturing technique

...Now large hydrolox composite tanks is something Boeing has a fair bit of experience with and is something Blue presumably needs...

OK, but why are they are singled out as being part of the "team", and not just being a contractor?

I would imagine that everyone on the team is sharing the risk of the program (and any reward), but if you are a contractor then you get paid for whatever you do, regardless if the end result is successful or not.

Not sure we still understand...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Hug

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OK, but why are they are singled out as being part of the "team", and not just being a contractor?

Draper, Astrobotic and Honeybee are also all identified as major contractors. Drapers doing avionics, Astrobotic will probably just demo hardware like sensors on their landings and Honeybee idk. I feel like tanks + maybe a couple other associated systems would be good enough to justify a mention. In addition, the page is still just a supplier map, providing additional attention to a company like Boeing would fit in.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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Above quote is from Option A source selection and while the design there is probably a fair bit different from they have now, the principle of needing lighter tanks remains. Now large hydrolox composite tanks is something Boeing has a fair bit of experience with and is something Blue presumably needs. So in the best world I imagine that's what they're doing. Maybe a couple extra systems associated with that as well. Please don't give them an element Blue.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2022/03/boeing-all-composite-cryo-tank/

I'm still hoping my architecture prediction is close to accurate.

Your architecture has a TE and a DAE.  Blue wants a Blue Moon lander--their business is predicated on its existence.  Blue has no experience with crew-rating deep space systems, so they need LockMart to do build the crew module.  But LockMart wants to leverage a bunch of Orion tech.  Neither is going to be happy with a DAE.¹

So, just from the corporate politics, you're back to an AE/DE/TE architecture, and the question still remains:  Who's building the TE?

_____________
¹You can certainly do a fully reusable DAE/TE architecture.  But it's a lot heavier than an AE/DE/TE architecture with the DE and TE expendable.  I've attached a couple of examples below, assuming that the crew module needs to be 7.0t to handle 4 people for 5 days. 

Note how aggressive the DAE/TE structural coefficients are (I doubt composite tanks alone will get you this kind of ε) vs. the AE/DE/TE ones.  And everything here assumes hydrolox with zero boil-off, which... probably isn't realistic.

For reference, I've also attached what the NASA launch services program thinks various launchers can deliver to C3=-1.5km²/s², which is roughly what you need for a BLT to NRHO.  Note that New Glenn only has a reusable version here.  I'm guessing that it might take 16t to NRHO if it's expended.

NOTE:  The spreadsheet has the wrong delta-v for the DAE/TE architecture.  I posted a version with this fixed down-thread.
« Last Edit: 03/06/2023 06:04 pm by TheRadicalModerate »

Offline Hug

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I believe you made an error in the ΔV values for the DAE LLO to LS and LS to LLO. 2,855 and 2,810 I think are your values for NRHO to LS and LS to NRHO, whereas it should be 2,060 and 2,015 because TE does NRHO to LLO. Although when I did it I got roughly similar propellant mass to NRHO (40 tons), but that was with 6 tons of propulsion stage masses instead of 0.88 and 2.97 tons. If you want to see my math and be baffled check out (and hopefully not find errors)  . (please ignore the fact that it's a graphing software)

This brings up the question of subLLO trajectory vs docking in LLO, because if you don't do either (like in the diagram); TE uses like 1/3 of the propellant the DAE does. SubLLO means that if DAE has issues starting engines you only have maybe an hour to solve before the rapid breaking manoeuvre occurs. Docking introduces LLO mission critical docking. I naturally lean towards subLLO because that's the first one I thought of, but docking could easily be safer (and better mass wise). alt math

It is certainly more mass to NRHO. But if you have a fully reusable launch solution; more dumb propellant mass to NRHO is probably cheaper than the expendable hardware. The ultimate question here is how much do Blue believe in themselves? Because that's what dictates what's acceptable.

This is the most mentally simulated I've been for a while so cheers for replying
« Last Edit: 03/06/2023 10:39 pm by Hug »

Offline chopsticks

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What the hell is Boeing doing on National Team Mark II?
Quote
larger tanks using a new manufacturing technique

Above quote is from Option A source selection and while the design there is probably a fair bit different from they have now, the principle of needing lighter tanks remains. Now large hydrolox composite tanks is something Boeing has a fair bit of experience with and is something Blue presumably needs. So in the best world I imagine that's what they're doing. Maybe a couple extra systems associated with that as well. Please don't give them an element Blue.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2022/03/boeing-all-composite-cryo-tank/

I'm still hoping my architecture prediction is close to accurate.

That architecture looks immensely complicated and high risk.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I believe you made an error in the ΔV values for the DAE LLO to LS and LS to LLO. 2,855 and 2,810 I think are your values for NRHO to LS and LS to NRHO, whereas it should be 2,060 and 2,015 because TE does NRHO to LLO. Although when I did it I got roughly similar propellant mass to NRHO (40 tons), but that was with 6 tons of propulsion stage masses instead of 0.88 and 2.97 tons. If you want to see my math and be baffled check out (and hopefully not find errors)  . (please ignore the fact that it's a graphing software)

This brings up the question of subLLO trajectory vs docking in LLO, because if you don't do either (like in the diagram); TE uses like 1/3 of the propellant the DAE does. SubLLO means that if DAE has issues starting engines you only have maybe an hour to solve before the rapid breaking manoeuvre occurs. Docking introduces LLO mission critical docking. I naturally lean towards subLLO because that's the first one I thought of, but docking could easily be safer (and better mass wise). alt math

It is certainly more mass to NRHO. But if you have a fully reusable launch solution; more dumb propellant mass to NRHO is probably cheaper than the expendable hardware. The ultimate question here is how much do Blue believe in themselves? Because that's what dictates what's acceptable.

This is the most mentally simulated I've been for a while so cheers for replying

Yup, you're right, that was a big error.  Corrected in the attached.

However, while I was at it, I changed the epsilons to be consistent across the two different architectures:  14% for DAEs and DEs, and 10% for TEs.  I also switched over to your "ascend straight to NRHO" conops for the DAE, with the TE coming back empty--I'd misread your chart.

The DAE/TE architecture prop requirements are now a bit above what you could carry with two VC6es.  It might be worth doing the exercise to get them down to exactly two.  It would likely necessitate reducing the size of the crew module a bit.

PS:  Here's a link to the model.
« Last Edit: 03/06/2023 12:45 pm by TheRadicalModerate »

Online Phil Stooke

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"That architecture looks immensely complicated and high risk."

It does, and frankly the SpaceX version is also troublingly complex and high risk, it seems to me.  How it makes one long for Apollo's one-shot approach.  What Apollo couldn't (or rather didn't) do was to pre-land equipment and supplies, which could be done now with the larger CLPS landers.  It would be really good to see a plan using one of our big sparkly new launchers to fly a one-shot mission augmented with pre-landed payloads.

Online Robotbeat

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A dozen launches for one mission sounds insane if your launcher can only do like 1 launch per year (even Saturn V only did 4 during its peak year 1969). But… if you’re already doing 61 launches the previous year and are shooting for 100 this year… 12 launches just isn’t so crazy any more.

High launch rate is enabling for reuse. It’s a logistical nightmare for expendable. People keep trying to apply the latter lessons to the former. It’s just not the same thing.
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 wannamoonbase

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"That architecture looks immensely complicated and high risk."

It does, and frankly the SpaceX version is also troublingly complex and high risk, it seems to me.  How it makes one long for Apollo's one-shot approach.  What Apollo couldn't (or rather didn't) do was to pre-land equipment and supplies, which could be done now with the larger CLPS landers.  It would be really good to see a plan using one of our big sparkly new launchers to fly a one-shot mission augmented with pre-landed payloads.

The HLS demo flight can take care of a lot of this.

I recall that NASA requires a landing and a demonstration of a take off, but that it could land again with payload on board waiting for use. 

I also recall that they did not require a landing at the intended South Pole location.  But if SpaceX did land at the south pole they'd have 10's of tons of supplies readily available.

The on orbit depot and the high number of tanker flights is going to be, I think, the hardest thing SpaceX has to develop for HLS. 

I would also like to make a plug for a Cis-Lunar depot that takes a long slow road to the moon and back with propellant to refuel the HLS.  This is ways down the road, but could really open up landing frequency.
Superheavy + Starship the final push to launch commit!

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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"That architecture looks immensely complicated and high risk."

It does, and frankly the SpaceX version is also troublingly complex and high risk, it seems to me.  How it makes one long for Apollo's one-shot approach.  What Apollo couldn't (or rather didn't) do was to pre-land equipment and supplies, which could be done now with the larger CLPS landers.  It would be really good to see a plan using one of our big sparkly new launchers to fly a one-shot mission augmented with pre-landed payloads.

By definition, any HLS architecture with even one reusable component requires refueling in NRHO.  That's an irreducible minimum of complexity.

The real question is whether there's something that has to happen in LEO that can cause the whole mission to fail.  As a practical matter, the NRHO refueling tanker has to be loaded via one or more refuelings in LEO.

Note that SpaceX is not an exception here.  In sustaining operations, lift tankers will refuel a depot in LEO, and then either one lift tanker or the depot itself will fly to NRHO to refuel the LSS.

Tankers have cheap payloads--propellant.  So the real risk is losing one during launch or during RPOD with the depot or the tanker that's going on to NRHO.  If you have cheap launch and high cadence, that risk in LEO is minimal.  If you lose one, you just launch another.  On the other hand, if launchers are expensive or have low cadence, loss of a tanker is a big deal.

I worry more about low cadence for any non-Starship CLV than I do about cost.  The risk of a failed launch is easy to actuarially average into the bid for the SLD/SLT service.  But if low cadence following a failure makes the prop already in LEO boil away, that's a problem.

Offline yg1968

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What the hell is Boeing doing on National Team Mark II?
Quote
larger tanks using a new manufacturing technique

...Now large hydrolox composite tanks is something Boeing has a fair bit of experience with and is something Blue presumably needs...

OK, but why are they are singled out as being part of the "team", and not just being a contractor?

I would imagine that everyone on the team is sharing the risk of the program (and any reward), but if you are a contractor then you get paid for whatever you do, regardless if the end result is successful or not.

Not sure we still understand...

Blue is the principal, everyone else is a subcontractor. That is why the Base Period and Option A Source Selection
Statements speak of Blue Origin's proposal.

Offline TrevorMonty

"That architecture looks immensely complicated and high risk."

It does, and frankly the SpaceX version is also troublingly complex and high risk, it seems to me.  How it makes one long for Apollo's one-shot approach.  What Apollo couldn't (or rather didn't) do was to pre-land equipment and supplies, which could be done now with the larger CLPS landers.  It would be really good to see a plan using one of our big sparkly new launchers to fly a one-shot mission augmented with pre-landed payloads.

By definition, any HLS architecture with even one reusable component requires refueling in NRHO.  That's an irreducible minimum of complexity.

The real question is whether there's something that has to happen in LEO that can cause the whole mission to fail.  As a practical matter, the NRHO refueling tanker has to be loaded via one or more refuelings in LEO.

Note that SpaceX is not an exception here.  In sustaining operations, lift tankers will refuel a depot in LEO, and then either one lift tanker or the depot itself will fly to NRHO to refuel the LSS.

Tankers have cheap payloads--propellant.  So the real risk is losing one during launch or during RPOD with the depot or the tanker that's going on to NRHO.  If you have cheap launch and high cadence, that risk in LEO is minimal.  If you lose one, you just launch another.  On the other hand, if launchers are expensive or have low cadence, loss of a tanker is a big deal.

I worry more about low cadence for any non-Starship CLV than I do about cost.  The risk of a failed launch is easy to actuarially average into the bid for the SLD/SLT service.  But if low cadence following a failure makes the prop already in LEO boil away, that's a problem.
Dynetics will use Vulcan to deliver fuel directly to NRHO so no LEO operations required. Long term storage of fuel at NRHO is requirements as they need multiple fuel launches. The delays from losing one shouldn't be problem.


Offline TheRadicalModerate

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Dynetics will use Vulcan to deliver fuel directly to NRHO so no LEO operations required. Long term storage of fuel at NRHO is requirements as they need multiple fuel launches. The delays from losing one shouldn't be problem.

But that means that you have to risk your expensive reusable vehicle doing multiple risky RPODs in NRHO, where any mishap is a loss of mission, as opposed to doing one risky RPOD in NRHO and multiple low-stakes ones in LEO.

I think Dynetics has decided that this trade is worth it, because they're probably going to be using drop tanks.  But they've also decided on a single DAE architecture that does NRHO-LS-NRHO all by itself (albeit losing the drop tanks a bit before landing).  Even with the drop tanks, though, the crew module that can be landed and returned to NRHO is extremely small for a crew of 4 for 5 days--much smaller than Nat Team could deliver for the same number of VC6 launches.

This is why I still think that Dynetics' best bet is to plan to use Starship to deliver prop, but size all of the delivery tanks so multiple tanks can be stacked in the Starship payload bay, or individual ones can be launched on a VC6.  If Starship works, they're golden.  If Starship fails completely, they're toast.  But they're also toast if their crew module is so small that NASA doubts it can fulfill the requirements.

Offline TrevorMonty



Dynetics will use Vulcan to deliver fuel directly to NRHO so no LEO operations required. Long term storage of fuel at NRHO is requirements as they need multiple fuel launches. The delays from losing one shouldn't be problem.

But that means that you have to risk your expensive reusable vehicle doing multiple risky RPODs in NRHO, where any mishap is a loss of mission, as opposed to doing one risky RPOD in NRHO and multiple low-stakes ones in LEO.

I think Dynetics has decided that this trade is worth it, because they're probably going to be using drop tanks.  But they've also decided on a single DAE architecture that does NRHO-LS-NRHO all by itself (albeit losing the drop tanks a bit before landing).  Even with the drop tanks, though, the crew module that can be landed and returned to NRHO is extremely small for a crew of 4 for 5 days--much smaller than Nat Team could deliver for the same number of VC6 launches.

This is why I still think that Dynetics' best bet is to plan to use Starship to deliver prop, but size all of the delivery tanks so multiple tanks can be stacked in the Starship payload bay, or individual ones can be launched on a VC6.  If Starship works, they're golden.  If Starship fails completely, they're toast.  But they're also toast if their crew module is so small that NASA doubts it can fulfill the requirements.

If Dynetics aren't designing to meet NASA requirements then they are in wrong business.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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If Dynetics aren't designing to meet NASA requirements then they are in wrong business.

That's why I think Dynetics will make it bigger and prefer to use Starship for propellant transport, while parceling the prop up into VC6-launchable units in case something bad happens with Starship.  They got thrown out of Option A because NASA didn't believe their mass margins made any sense.  But if they're not substantially changing the architecture this time, then they need more prop to fix the margin problem.  Quite a bit more.

NASA seemed to believe that the National Team's Option A proposal would have worked.  It was just too expensive.  That's an easy problem to solve with Jeff (presumably) now willing to low-ball the bid.  He was stupid not to do it the first time.

But they still need somebody to build the TE, because NorGrum has defected to the competition.  So is it Boeing?
« Last Edit: 03/08/2023 04:11 am by TheRadicalModerate »

Offline Hug

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But that means that you have to risk your expensive reusable vehicle doing multiple risky RPODs in NRHO, where any mishap is a loss of mission, as opposed to doing one risky RPOD in NRHO and multiple low-stakes ones in LEO.
I think Dynetics has decided that this trade is worth it, because they're probably going to be using drop tanks

Ok so at a baseline, it's 4 or 5 (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1424) launches of Vulcan + the associated propellant spacecraft to deliver the 40 tons (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1817) of methalox. Droptanks got dropped in August 2020 (which is why they had issues with the mass margins; they didn't have time to mature the design). The whole 4/5 RPOD with Alpaca is presumably part of the reason why Dynetics want the NRHO depot (+presumably reducing boiloff to help with launch timeframes). Starship gets ~4 launches to do same. That's because you have to move all that Starship dry mass; it's better at scale, delivering 200 tons only requires 8 launches (so it would like a depot as well).
« Last Edit: 03/09/2023 06:28 am by Hug »

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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But that means that you have to risk your expensive reusable vehicle doing multiple risky RPODs in NRHO, where any mishap is a loss of mission, as opposed to doing one risky RPOD in NRHO and multiple low-stakes ones in LEO.
I think Dynetics has decided that this trade is worth it, because they're probably going to be using drop tanks

Ok so at a baseline, it's 4 or 5 (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1424) launches of Vulcan + the associated propellant spacecraft to deliver the 40 tons (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1817) of methane liquid oxygen propellant. Droptanks got dropped in August 2020 (which is why they had issues with the mass margins; they didn't have time to mature the design). The whole 4/5 RPOD with Alpaca is presumably part of the reason why Dynetics want the NRHO depot (+presumably reducing boiloff to help with launch timeframes). Starship gets ~4 launches to do same. That's because you have to move all that Starship dry mass; it's better at scale, delivering 200 tons only requires 8 launches (so it would like a depot as well).

I didn't know they'd lost the drop tanks.  Kinda too bad, but it does indeed lower complexity.

With no drop tanks, and 4 VC6 tanker launches, the crew module gets really small.  I get something like 4.4t, which will be pretty cozy for a crew of 4 and a mission duration of 5 days.  (I'm doing the mission duration from memory; is that right for the SLD specs?)

Offline TrevorMonty

But that means that you have to risk your expensive reusable vehicle doing multiple risky RPODs in NRHO, where any mishap is a loss of mission, as opposed to doing one risky RPOD in NRHO and multiple low-stakes ones in LEO.
I think Dynetics has decided that this trade is worth it, because they're probably going to be using drop tanks

Ok so at a baseline, it's 4 or 5 (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1424) launches of Vulcan + the associated propellant spacecraft to deliver the 40 tons (youtu.be/RUchpnV2Uq0?t=1817) of methane liquid oxygen propellant. Droptanks got dropped in August 2020 (which is why they had issues with the mass margins; they didn't have time to mature the design). The whole 4/5 RPOD with Alpaca is presumably part of the reason why Dynetics want the NRHO depot (+presumably reducing boiloff to help with launch timeframes). Starship gets ~4 launches to do same. That's because you have to move all that Starship dry mass; it's better at scale, delivering 200 tons only requires 8 launches (so it would like a depot as well).

I didn't know they'd lost the drop tanks.  Kinda too bad, but it does indeed lower complexity.

With no drop tanks, and 4 VC6 tanker launches, the crew module gets really small.  I get something like 4.4t, which will be pretty cozy for a crew of 4 and a mission duration of 5 days.  (I'm doing the mission duration from memory; is that right for the SLD specs?)
I thought 4 crew capacity was more for ferrying them back fore to habitat.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I thought 4 crew capacity was more for ferrying them back fore to habitat.

You're looking for Attachment A01 from Appendix P.

Offline TrevorMonty

I thought 4 crew capacity was more for ferrying them back fore to habitat.

You're looking for Attachment A01 from Appendix P.
Still ferrying crew just allows few days for it. Is that 5days the typical time in lander or worst case scenerio.

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I thought 4 crew capacity was more for ferrying them back fore to habitat.

You're looking for Attachment A01 from Appendix P.
Still ferrying crew just allows few days for it. Is that 5days the typical time in lander or worst case scenerio.

"Surface habitation duration" doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.  And habitation volume is drastically reduced in a gravity field than in microgravity.

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