Author Topic: Have the last Atlas Vs been built, or are they to be built as needed?  (Read 2205 times)

Offline DanClemmensen

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There are 17 more Atlas V launches before retirement. We know the RS-180s are already in hand. Have those 17 boosters already been built, or is the factory still running to build them as needed?

What about the Centaur III stages? Have they been built or will they be built as needed? They plan to use the DEC version for the seven Starliners (Atlas N22) and the SEC version for the other ten launches (Atlas 551, it think).

What about the GEM 63 SRBs? They will need 54 of them. Have then been built?

« Last Edit: 11/25/2023 10:33 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline AmigaClone

There are 17 more Atlas V launches before retirement. We know the RS-180s are already in hand. Have those 17 boosters already been built, or is the factory still running to build them as needed?

What about the Centaur III stages? Have they been built or will they be built as needed? They plan to use the DEC version for the seven Starliners (Atlas N22) and the SEC version for the other ten launches (Atlas 551, it think).

What about the GEM 63 SRBs? They will need 54 of them. Have then been built?

I suspect that while there are several complete Atlas V Common Core Boosters, Centaur III stages, Gem 63 SRBs and Fairings, production has not ended for any of those elements (or for their major components - with the notable exception of the RD-180s and possibly the fairings).

Personally, my guess is that the Fairings are nearly all complete. As for the CCB and Centaur IIIs, the final ones will be in production no later that around the time the last Atlas launch for Project Kuiper.

As for the GEM 63s, that might depend on the answer to the question 'Can GEM 63s be produced on the same assembly line as the GEM 63XL?' If that is possible the SRBs for the last Atlas flight might be the last major element for the launch vehicle in that flight.

Offline DanClemmensen

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There are 17 more Atlas V launches before retirement. We know the RS-180s are already in hand. Have those 17 boosters already been built, or is the factory still running to build them as needed?

What about the Centaur III stages? Have they been built or will they be built as needed? They plan to use the DEC version for the seven Starliners (Atlas N22) and the SEC version for the other ten launches (Atlas 551, it think).

What about the GEM 63 SRBs? They will need 54 of them. Have then been built?

I suspect that while there are several complete Atlas V Common Core Boosters, Centaur III stages, Gem 63 SRBs and Fairings, production has not ended for any of those elements (or for their major components - with the notable exception of the RD-180s and possibly the fairings).

Personally, my guess is that the Fairings are nearly all complete. As for the CCB and Centaur IIIs, the final ones will be in production no later that around the time the last Atlas launch for Project Kuiper.

As for the GEM 63s, that might depend on the answer to the question 'Can GEM 63s be produced on the same assembly line as the GEM 63XL?' If that is possible the SRBs for the last Atlas flight might be the last major element for the launch vehicle in that flight.
These would be my guesses also. I was hoping that someone with actual inside information could reply.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Atlas_launches_(2020%E2%80%932029)#Future_launches
As of now, There are three Atlas V launches scheduled for H1 2024: two are 551 and one is N22. After that, it's just  8 Kuipers (551) and 6 Starliners (N22). We can guess that the Kuipers will start launching in June or July 2024 and will launch at a the quickest rate that ULA and the satellite factory can support. Based on nothing whatsoever, I speculate that this will be about once a month, so all done before about February 2025. It does not really change things if the rate is half that or double that.

After that comes the long slow agony of one Starliner per year, 2025-2030, and it is these six that I am really  interested in. It just does not make sense to (uninformed) me that they would keep the production lines open to produce a total of six Centaur DEC, six Atlas cores, and 12 GEM 63 at a rate of one launch per year.

Offline Jim

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After that comes the long slow agony of one Starliner per year, 2025-2030, and it is these six that I am really  interested in. It just does not make sense to (uninformed) me that they would keep the production lines open to produce a total of six Centaur DEC, six Atlas cores, and 12 GEM 63 at a rate of one launch per year.

They will produce Atlas V at a constant rate until last one is built and store the hardware until used.

Offline Jim

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Personally, my guess is that the Fairings are nearly all complete. As for the CCB and Centaur IIIs, the final ones will be in production no later that around the time the last Atlas launch for Project Kuiper.

As for the GEM 63s, that might depend on the answer to the question 'Can GEM 63s be produced on the same assembly line as the GEM 63XL?' If that is possible the SRBs for the last Atlas flight might be the last major element for the launch vehicle in that flight.

No, they would not have that big of backlog.  No need to produce them that fast, especially Vulcan uses them.

They would produce them and store them too.

Offline Nomadd

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 If they'd produced all the GEM 63s they needed, wouldn't they have a surplus now since the Amazon flight changed from a 551 to a 501?
« Last Edit: 11/25/2023 02:23 am by Nomadd »
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Offline DanClemmensen

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If they'd produced all the GEM 63s they needed, wouldn't they have a surplus now since the Amazon flight changed from a 551 to a 501?
Sure, if they had produced all 59 GEM 63 SRBs prior to that mission. Since we do not yet have any insight into when they will (or did) shut down the GEM 63 line, we do not know. If as Jim thinks they can produce GEM 63 and GEM 63XL on the same line, then there is not as big an incentive to stockpile the GEM 63s and shut down production.

If they do have five spares, maybe they can launch some Starliners on N32 instead of N22 and take bigger payloads to ISS.  ;)

Offline catdlr

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If they'd produced all the GEM 63s they needed, wouldn't they have a surplus now since the Amazon flight changed from a 551 to a 501?
Sure, if they had produced all 59 GEM 63 SRBs prior to that mission. Since we do not yet have any insight into when they will (or did) shut down the GEM 63 line, we do not know. If as Jim thinks they can produce GEM 63 and GEM 63XL on the same line, then there is not as big an incentive to stockpile the GEM 63s and shut down production.

If they do have five spares, maybe they can launch some Starliners on N32 instead of N22 and take bigger payloads to ISS.  ;)

to add, isn't there a limit to how long the Gems are loaded?  Doesn't the propellant start to sag or pull away from the liner if stored for a long time, or do they routinely rotate them to minimize that?
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Arrgh. Now I must expose my ignorance even further.

I know Starliner is provided as a CCP service and not as a product, but does NASA have a say in this? Do they get to evaluate the way Boeing procures Atlas V LVs for Starliner through 2030? NASA may have concerns with how the components are managed. There are potential risks with either stockpiling or with a very low build cadence. However, ULA has demonstrated the ability to provide a quality product at a low build cadence, so I'm probably worrying about a non-problem.

Offline Jim

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Arrgh. Now I must expose my ignorance even further.

I know Starliner is provided as a CCP service and not as a product, but does NASA have a say in this? Do they get to evaluate the way Boeing procures Atlas V LVs for Starliner through 2030? NASA may have concerns with how the components are managed. There are potential risks with either stockpiling or with a very low build cadence. However, ULA has demonstrated the ability to provide a quality product at a low build cadence, so I'm probably worrying about a non-problem.

Not really, no, yes.

« Last Edit: 11/25/2023 10:33 pm by zubenelgenubi »

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