Author Topic: Orbital ATK reviews SRB plans and competitiveness for SLS EM-1 and beyond  (Read 8187 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Very interesting interview by Chris Gebhardt. Even manages to get a reference about SLS vs the commercial SHLVs....

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/11/orbital-atk-srb-plans-competitiveness-em-1-beyond/

Offline SteveSpace

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Great article! Good update on the boosters and I like the path of saying just because SLS is a HLV it doesn't mean it is some sort of competitor. It's not. ITS is a tourist carrier to Mars. SLS is for serious astronauts.

Offline Stardust9906

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Very interesting article thank you very much.  Glad to see they are looking at reusability again.

Offline TomH

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In all, Orbital ATK noted that enough SRB casings exist for 18 total motors, with a tentative plan to use two motors for additional ground tests and 16 motors for the first eight flights of SLS.

The flight motors will ditch in the ocean, but is there any reason the two flight test motors could not be refurbished and then fly, yielding up to nine sets of flight motors? Of course, this assumes the program actually survives.

Offline TomH

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Glad to see they are looking at reusability again.

Technically, the casings will not be reused after SLS flights. I take it, however, that you are pleased all the remaining casings will get one final use before they move to advanced boosters.

While I think SLS's days are severely limited by the rise of ITS, were SLS actually to see a modicum of launches, I wonder whether the price per Kg to TMI would be more economical via these old boosters or with Dark Knights.

Offline Proponent

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Great article! Good update on the boosters and I like the path of saying just because SLS is a HLV it doesn't mean it is some sort of competitor. It's not. ITS is a tourist carrier to Mars. SLS is for serious astronauts.

Please explain.  Why can "serious" astronauts travel only on SLS?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Great article! Good update on the boosters and I like the path of saying just because SLS is a HLV it doesn't mean it is some sort of competitor. It's not. ITS is a tourist carrier to Mars. SLS is for serious astronauts.

Please explain.  Why can "serious" astronauts travel only on SLS?
Elon Musk might give a humorous astronaut Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart a ride on ITS so serious astronauts will probably want to avoid it. :o ::)  I don't know if serious astronauts would avoid CST-100 though.  :D :o
« Last Edit: 11/05/2016 03:47 AM by Eric Hedman »

Online brickmack

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While I think SLS's days are severely limited by the rise of ITS, were SLS actually to see a modicum of launches, I wonder whether the price per Kg to TMI would be more economical via these old boosters or with Dark Knights.

IIRC refurbishment costs per booster on the Shuttle were on the order of 25 million dollars each. With the extra segment, and new development for upgrades necessary on SLS, it'll be a bit more. ~30 million a set sounds like a reasonable lower bound. Most estimates I've seen for Castor 1200 are 50-75 million dollars. And that will only add a few tons of extra payload capacity to Mars, so its probably not worth switching until/if the existing boosters are used up

Offline FireJack

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Well one thing the SLS could do is take very large payloads (like spacestation modules) to orbit since the ITS looks like it will only be used to launch the BFR to mars. It's possible that as more and more people go to space the demand for such things would increase.

Of course at 500+ million a launch they would have to be well worth it.

Offline Stardust9906

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Glad to see they are looking at reusability again.

Technically, the casings will not be reused after SLS flights. I take it, however, that you are pleased all the remaining casings will get one final use before they move to advanced boosters.

While I think SLS's days are severely limited by the rise of ITS, were SLS actually to see a modicum of launches, I wonder whether the price per Kg to TMI would be more economical via these old boosters or with Dark Knights.

For sure I would like to see the old boosters fly one last time but I was specifically talking about the possible evolving of the design as mentioned in the final few paragraphs.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Well one thing the SLS could do is take very large payloads (like spacestation modules) to orbit since the ITS looks like it will only be used to launch the BFR to mars. It's possible that as more and more people go to space the demand for such things would increase.

Of course at 500+ million a launch they would have to be well worth it.
At a launch cost of 500+ million it would only be worth it if one or two such launches occur. If more than that it would be more cost effective to get SpaceX to design a heavy payload deployer version of ITS. That is because the ITS heavy large single payload deployment version design work + incremental launch costs / the number of such launches compared to the incremental SLS launch cost for such payloads is the decider for which becomes the reasonable direction.

Anything that can reduce costs for the near term SLS launches is a good thing. Back in shuttle days the cost of a used SRB was estimated to be 80% that of a new SRB set. Elsewhere I discussed the reasons congress would keep funding SLS even at its high incremental launch costs as the benefit that such high tech government spending can generate almost enough GDP increase to pay for the spending in returned taxes. So congress attitude (both parties agreement) for such spending is different than for other government spending.

This means that the threat of ITS replacing SLS is low. But the prospect of BO's New Shepard is a different problem for SLS. But here again NS is not even defined or has a scheduled first flight. Making it a concern for SLS for sometime mid 2020's.


Offline envy887

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BO's New Shepard isn't any kind of threat to SLS  ;D ;D

New Glenn will be too late to compete with Block 1 and too small to compete with 1B or Block 2.

Offline Robotbeat

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Great article! Good update on the boosters and I like the path of saying just because SLS is a HLV it doesn't mean it is some sort of competitor. It's not. ITS is a tourist carrier to Mars. SLS is for serious astronauts.

Please explain.  Why can "serious" astronauts travel only on SLS?
ITS isn't for tourists. It doesn't even have a LAS. Takes some gonads to ride that thing.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline PahTo

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Thanks for the article, ChrisG.  I think this is the first time I've seen definitively that there are 9 boosters' worth of casings (may have missed it in L2 or otherwise, but there you have it).  I'm glad to see this, as it offers HLV supported "deep space" (manned or otherwise) exploration a nice insurance policy against the trails and tribulations that are spaceflight, at least for a few more flights.  Remind me again how many other HLVs are actually bending metal and testing LUT hardware...

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Considering that there is also 4 sets of RS-25's, then other than tanks and electronics plus a few other items a launch rate of 1 /yr starting in 2021/2022 through to 2023/24 is entirely possible. Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Fortunately the funding for RS-25's has been programmed in as well as the SRB casings (hopefully). But still is dependent on out year budgets which are at this point a big ? mark. Funding increase to start manufacturing flight hardware elements, new RS-25s and SRB casings, would start at about 3-5 years prior to expected launch usage. So the funding for doing these new elements would start at around 2019 to 2022 depending on lead times.

Offline TomH

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Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Correct on the RS-25. Re. the casings, there are over 90 extant usable casings. The original contract with ATK was to refurbish only SOME of those for the 5 segment boosters. This article assumes that almost ALL of them will fly again on either Block I or Block IB.

Offline Khadgars

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Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Correct on the RS-25. Re. the casings, there are over 90 extant usable casings. The original contract with ATK was to refurbish only SOME of those for the 5 segment boosters. This article assumes that almost ALL of them will fly again on either Block I or Block IB.

Oh, I didn't catch that.  So that is saying, there really is no need to move to a new design as there are plenty of casings to use for the next 2 decades?  Performance upgrades not withstanding.

Offline Calphor

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Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Correct on the RS-25. Re. the casings, there are over 90 extant usable casings. The original contract with ATK was to refurbish only SOME of those for the 5 segment boosters. This article assumes that almost ALL of them will fly again on either Block I or Block IB.

Oh, I didn't catch that.  So that is saying, there really is no need to move to a new design as there are plenty of casings to use for the next 2 decades?  Performance upgrades not withstanding.
This is not accurate. As stated in the article:
Quote
In all, Orbital ATK noted that enough SRB casings exist for 18 total motors, with a tentative plan to use two motors for additional ground tests and 16 motors for the first eight flights of SLS.
The other cases that were remaining from Shuttle were excessed by NASA.

Offline TomH

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Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Correct on the RS-25. Re. the casings, there are over 90 extant usable casings. The original contract with ATK was to refurbish only SOME of those for the 5 segment boosters. This article assumes that almost ALL of them will fly again on either Block I or Block IB.

Oh, I didn't catch that.  So that is saying, there really is no need to move to a new design as there are plenty of casings to use for the next 2 decades?  Performance upgrades not withstanding.
This is not accurate. As stated in the article:
Quote
In all, Orbital ATK noted that enough SRB casings exist for 18 total motors, with a tentative plan to use two motors for additional ground tests and 16 motors for the first eight flights of SLS.
The other cases that were remaining from Shuttle were accessed by NASA.

Five segments per booster, two boosters per flight = 10 segments per flight. With 4 years between flights 1 and two, then one flight every other year, that is indeed enough casings for almost 2 decades. There was nothing incorrect about what Khadgars said. When you note that NASA decided to access the remainder of segments not included in their first SLS contract, that is not in disagreement with what Khadgars noted about it either.

Offline Mark S

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The other cases that were remaining from Shuttle were accessed by NASA.

Five segments per booster, two boosters per flight = 10 segments per flight. With 4 years between flights 1 and two, then one flight every other year, that is indeed enough casings for almost 2 decades. There was nothing incorrect about what Khadgars said. When you note that NASA decided to access the remainder of segments not included in their first SLS contract, that is not in disagreement with what Khadgars noted about it either.

I'm pretty sure that he meant to write "excessed", not "accessed". Excessed, as in NASA deemed them to be excess inventory and scrapped them. Because if NASA ever needs more segment casings, such as due to a re-invigorated SLS manifest because of a change in Administrations (like that would ever happen!), NASA can just pay out the wazoo to build some new ones.

Cheers!

Offline Calphor

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Once you get past these first 4 flights though the new RS-25's are needed plus new casings. This would cause a spike in funding required.

Correct on the RS-25. Re. the casings, there are over 90 extant usable casings. The original contract with ATK was to refurbish only SOME of those for the 5 segment boosters. This article assumes that almost ALL of them will fly again on either Block I or Block IB.

Oh, I didn't catch that.  So that is saying, there really is no need to move to a new design as there are plenty of casings to use for the next 2 decades?  Performance upgrades not withstanding.
This is not accurate. As stated in the article:
Quote
In all, Orbital ATK noted that enough SRB casings exist for 18 total motors, with a tentative plan to use two motors for additional ground tests and 16 motors for the first eight flights of SLS.
The other cases that were remaining from Shuttle were accessed by NASA.

Five segments per booster, two boosters per flight = 10 segments per flight. With 4 years between flights 1 and two, then one flight every other year, that is indeed enough casings for almost 2 decades. There was nothing incorrect about what Khadgars said. When you note that NASA decided to access the remainder of segments not included in their first SLS contract, that is not in disagreement with what Khadgars noted about it either.


When you quote someone, please do not change the quote to fit your argument without clearly stating that you did so. I explicitly and purposefully said that NASA excessed the steel cases remaining after removing the 18 boosters worth of hardware. This was done with the expectation that the Advanced Booster competition would be complete and the Advanced Boosters ready to fly before the steel cases were expended.

I do like your manipulation of the future flight rate to match your argument. Current planning is for 3 years to the second flight (i.e., 2021) with a flight rate of 1 per annum thereafter (That rational exists in the current GR&A, I am not making up facts...). That would cause the existing inventory to be depleted roughly a decade from now. That is somewhat less than the two decades stated by you and Khadgers. Plans may change between now and then, but the current outlook does not have steel case boosters flying beyond the remaining inventory. Additional boosters, if requested by NASA, would need need new casings which could be either steel or composite, at the discretion of NASA.

Offline TomH

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I'm pretty sure that he meant to write "excessed", not "accessed". Excessed, as in NASA deemed them to be excess inventory and scrapped them. Because if NASA ever needs more segment casings, such as due to a re-invigorated SLS manifest because of a change in Administrations (like that would ever happen!), NASA can just pay out the wazoo to build some new ones.

Cheers!

Got it! I learned a new usage of a familiar word! (as in furloughed, set aside as excess) I guess they re-accessed that which previously had been excessed. Thanks!

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Remind me again how many other HLVs are actually bending metal and testing LUT hardware...

ITS is not bending metal but it is winding carbon fibre. The Chinese CZ-9 has also made some 10 m diameter rings. Dragon 2 has been testing its LUT hardware.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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It's on the move! The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage test article makes it way to the @NASA_Marshall test stand! 

http://go.nasa.gov/2fTtkq7
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