Author Topic: New Glenn Centaur?  (Read 5314 times)

Offline ncb1397

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New Glenn Centaur?
« on: 11/26/2019 01:59 am »
So, we all know that the New Glenn upper stage and fairing is very large (somewhat comparable in thrust and size to the Ariane 6 core stage). While this is good for very heavy or high performance payloads, it is questionable if this will be competitive for some smaller missions like smaller NASA science payloads (especially against something like Falcon 9 with a much smaller fairing and upper stage). This led me down the rabbit hole of what sort of smaller upper stage could be fitted and it dawned on me that the company Blue Origin is supplying engines to has a stage in development that is one third to one quarter the size (The Centaur V).

So, what are the road blocks? What sort of payload would this configuration get? Could the Centaur V be fitted with BE-3U or BE-7? Is ULA willing to be a supplier to Blue Origin like Blue Origin is a supplier to ULA (or could ULA operate the New Glenn with their upper stage?).
« Last Edit: 11/26/2019 03:58 am by ncb1397 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #1 on: 11/26/2019 02:35 am »
BE-3U would use way more fuel than the RL-10's on the Centaur V.  BE-3U will need larger tankage. 

Offline Newton_V

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #2 on: 11/26/2019 02:50 am »
BE-3U would use way more fuel than the RL-10's on the Centaur V.  BE-3U will need larger tankage.
Assuming the ISP's are similar (450 sec for example),  100k lbf of thrust burning for 100 sec gives the same impulse of 2 RL10s (50k lbf) burning for 200 sec.  BE-3 would use 222 lb/sec (22,200 lbs propellant).  2 RL10s would use 111 lb/sec (22,200 lbs) propellant.

BE-3 would be better for heavy LEO missions, but worse performance for high energy missions, as the engine probably weighs a bit more than 2 RL10s.  Just like current Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) is worse for GTO performance that SEC.  Performance-wise it's a wash (higher thrust helps to get into the park orbit, overcoming gravity losses), but for the transfer orbit burn the extra engine does nothing.  You're just carrying 400 lbs of dead weight along.  So the cost of one less engine overcomes the small-to-almost-nothing performance gain.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2019 03:07 am by Newton_V »

Offline Tywin

Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #3 on: 11/26/2019 06:09 am »
Yes I think so something like this is possible...the BE-7 and the BE-3U are right there...

And If they want have her own "ride share program" something like this make sense...

pd: ULA I think so, prefer have her too like customers...they are allies...
« Last Edit: 11/26/2019 06:11 am by Tywin »
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #4 on: 11/26/2019 09:25 am »
@ncb1397: You are writing about smaller Nasa science missions. Can you clarify what mass of missions you have in mind.
I think that what you are proposing is already a heavy launch vehicle, capable of launching 10mT/20000lb to GTO -1500m/s. I do like the concept though.

AFAIK if BlueOrigin makes a Small NewGlenn with 7x BE-7 on the First stage and one on the second stage I guess they'll be able to orbit about 1000 lb to SSO.

Edit to add:
I've posted before that I would really like BO to develop New Shephard  into a small launch vehicle. The simplest approach is expandable. A single BE-4 on the First stage and a BE-3U (or RL-10) on the second stage. A reusable first stage would require the development of a hydrocarbon BE-3 derivative. I think this would be capable of launching >5000lb to SSO. A Delta II replacement.
If you would ask me, I find Falcon 9 already oversized for most SSO science satellites.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2019 09:57 am by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline hkultala

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #5 on: 11/26/2019 09:42 am »
New Glenn first stage is designed to stage much lower than Atlas V or Vulcan first stage.

With much lighter Centaur/Centaur-sized upper stage, it would stage much higher than it normally stages.

The much higher staging would mean much higher drag and heating on re-entry.

So, it would be much riskier for the recovery and would probably need heavier heat shielding.

Not worth the risk and the required modifications.




Offline HeartofGold2030

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #6 on: 11/26/2019 10:26 am »
So, we all know that the New Glenn upper stage and fairing is very large (somewhat comparable in thrust and size to the Ariane 6 core stage). While this is good for very heavy or high performance payloads, it is questionable if this will be competitive for some smaller missions like smaller NASA science payloads (especially against something like Falcon 9 with a much smaller fairing and upper stage). This led me down the rabbit hole of what sort of smaller upper stage could be fitted and it dawned on me that the company Blue Origin is supplying engines to has a stage in development that is one third to one quarter the size (The Centaur V).

So, what are the road blocks? What sort of payload would this configuration get? Could the Centaur V be fitted with BE-3U or BE-7? Is ULA willing to be a supplier to Blue Origin like Blue Origin is a supplier to ULA (or could ULA operate the New Glenn with their upper stage?).

If you really want that extra-performance for high-energy orbits, why not just use a BE-7 powered 3rd stage? Then you donít have to even bother about staging velocities etc.

Offline Bananas_on_Mars

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #7 on: 11/26/2019 12:38 pm »
So, we all know that the New Glenn upper stage and fairing is very large (somewhat comparable in thrust and size to the Ariane 6 core stage). While this is good for very heavy or high performance payloads, it is questionable if this will be competitive for some smaller missions like smaller NASA science payloads (especially against something like Falcon 9 with a much smaller fairing and upper stage). This led me down the rabbit hole of what sort of smaller upper stage could be fitted and it dawned on me that the company Blue Origin is supplying engines to has a stage in development that is one third to one quarter the size (The Centaur V).

So, what are the road blocks? What sort of payload would this configuration get? Could the Centaur V be fitted with BE-3U or BE-7? Is ULA willing to be a supplier to Blue Origin like Blue Origin is a supplier to ULA (or could ULA operate the New Glenn with their upper stage?).

If you really want that extra-performance for high-energy orbits, why not just use a BE-7 powered 3rd stage? Then you don’t have to even bother about staging velocities etc.

Such a stage is already under development AFAIK. For the „National Team“ for Artemis, they (BO/NG) plan to build a transfer stage based on Cygnus and a BE-7.

Offline envy887

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #8 on: 11/26/2019 12:54 pm »
So, we all know that the New Glenn upper stage and fairing is very large (somewhat comparable in thrust and size to the Ariane 6 core stage). While this is good for very heavy or high performance payloads, it is questionable if this will be competitive for some smaller missions like smaller NASA science payloads (especially against something like Falcon 9 with a much smaller fairing and upper stage). This led me down the rabbit hole of what sort of smaller upper stage could be fitted and it dawned on me that the company Blue Origin is supplying engines to has a stage in development that is one third to one quarter the size (The Centaur V).

So, what are the road blocks? What sort of payload would this configuration get? Could the Centaur V be fitted with BE-3U or BE-7? Is ULA willing to be a supplier to Blue Origin like Blue Origin is a supplier to ULA (or could ULA operate the New Glenn with their upper stage?).

If you really want that extra-performance for high-energy orbits, why not just use a BE-7 powered 3rd stage? Then you donít have to even bother about staging velocities etc.

Because the OP was considering price-competitiveness to Falcon 9. Expending the expensive 2nd stage AND a 3rd stage gets a lot of performance, but doesn't help compete on price.

I think Centaur V is still going to be pretty expensive compared to the F9 S2. Centaur V is ~30% bigger by volume, it's LH2-insulated and pressure-stabilized which increase manufacturing and handling costs, and it has at least 2 engines which are only made in small volumes while F9 S2 only has 1 engine that comes off a high-volume production line.
Additionally, it would require modifying the booster interstage, developing new avionics and software, and modifying the ground support equipment for the new stage.

If Blue wants a cheaper stage they might be better off building a ~100 t methalox stage with a BE-3 modified to run methane. Performance would still be quite a bit better than F9 RTLS, but the cost would be similar.

Or figure out a way to get that big upper stage back for reuse...
« Last Edit: 11/26/2019 12:55 pm by envy887 »

Offline GWH

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #9 on: 12/02/2019 08:37 pm »
Something like this really comes back down to the cost of building a rocket specific to the payload versus a one size fits all.

Questions come up like:
- What does it cost to modify the GSE?
- How much does this unique configuration interrupt the process flow? What are the costs there?
- Whats the additional cost to complete the rocket-lego design?
- How much mark up is placed on an externally supplied item?

The fact that most every rocket design out there seems to be moving to a one-size-fits-all direction (the exception being SRBs) suggests that there really isn't much value in going this route. This includes recent variants that were dropped like the Delta IV Small and Atlas V Light. The marginal cost of an oversized upper stage is probably pretty insignificant, all things considered.

A Centaur V 3rd stage on the other hand could have some real potential..... It might even be able to launch Orion to NHRO - if it can stage prior to LEO.

Online ZachF

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #10 on: 12/02/2019 09:38 pm »
As big as the NG second stage is, I'd bet any amount of money that the cost to purchase a centaur stage is more than the marginal cost of producing a new NG upper stage... Nevermind the development costs that would be necessary to make it work. It makes no sense.
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Offline Lemurion

Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #11 on: 12/03/2019 02:56 am »
It just smacks too much of "Rocket LEGO" to me--I can see the advantages of a Centaur but think on a practical level, Blue would be better off with a BE-7 powered third stage for higher energy orbits.

Offline brickmack

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #12 on: 12/04/2019 12:56 pm »
Agreed with the above. Balloon tanks aren't cheap, and external suppliers aren't either.

What might be more interesting is the NG third stage as a second stage, like Saturn INT-20. Blue will already be building it anyway so little added dev cost. We don't know much about its design but its probably going to be pretty conventional, likely just a scaled down single-engine version of the second stage, can probably approach half the hardware cost. Diameter is apparently the same (or at least it fits into a fairing of the same diameter, unclear from renders) so chances are they can support it using the same umbilicals and physical attachments already present on the TE for the normal S2.

Big question is, can New Glenns booster flight profile support this? Shrinking the upper stage means higher velocity reentry, further downrange, when its already at extremes in both metrics. They could add in a reentry and/or boostback burn (heck, maybe even RTLS?), but it seems like Blue thinks thats more trouble than its worth both for engine life and mission risk, so probably no. Same problem for any ideas of increasing BE-4s ISP

Online TorenAltair

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #13 on: 12/04/2019 01:14 pm »
Agreed with the above. Balloon tanks aren't cheap, and external suppliers aren't either.

What might be more interesting is the NG third stage as a second stage, like Saturn INT-20. Blue will already be building it anyway so little added dev cost. We don't know much about its design but its probably going to be pretty conventional, likely just a scaled down single-engine version of the second stage, can probably approach half the hardware cost. Diameter is apparently the same (or at least it fits into a fairing of the same diameter, unclear from renders) so chances are they can support it using the same umbilicals and physical attachments already present on the TE for the normal S2.
[...]

Excuse me, but there is no longer a third stage since two years or so?

Offline tater

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #14 on: 12/04/2019 01:20 pm »
So it could be more expensive?

Offline brickmack

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #15 on: 12/04/2019 02:30 pm »
Excuse me, but there is no longer a third stage since two years or so?

S3 is no longer needed for EELV-class missions. But the users guide still has a space left for the third stage, and the performance numbers they've quoted to NASA LSP (higher performance to TLI than they quoted for GTO with the 2-stage version) require an additional stage

Offline envy887

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #16 on: 12/04/2019 08:23 pm »
Excuse me, but there is no longer a third stage since two years or so?

S3 is no longer needed for EELV-class missions. But the users guide still has a space left for the third stage, and the performance numbers they've quoted to NASA LSP (higher performance to TLI than they quoted for GTO with the 2-stage version) require an additional stage

Is that last confirmed by Blue or NASA, or a deduction? There might be alternative explanation for the performance discrepancies - mainly, the GTO performance is grossly sandbagged.

Offline brickmack

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Re: New Glenn Centaur?
« Reply #17 on: 12/05/2019 03:27 am »
Is that last confirmed by Blue or NASA, or a deduction? There might be alternative explanation for the performance discrepancies - mainly, the GTO performance is grossly sandbagged.

GTO number was publicly stated by company officials (which are usually not subject to any sort of certification sandbagging, and will usually define things as optimistically as possible). TLI number was from the LUVOIR status report a few months ago, and such a high-value unique NASA payload will probably assume all the sandbagging.

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