Author Topic: New Glenn "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion  (Read 17414 times)

Offline meekGee

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I'll curate updates in the first and second posts.

This is more about the NG side of things  and honestly it's a giant deal for them.

Opinions will vary, but there's certainly a lot to discuss - a concrete interplanetary payload for NG, this early in its lifetime.

* 02/09/2023  Announcement  NSF post  Berger post  Congratulations
* 02/10/2023  Foust cost  $20M
* 02/24/2023  LSP   NASA Certification
* 03/07/2023  Berger timeline   2025!
* 03/15/2023  Foust timeline  BO's Ariane Cornell: Late 2024 "We'll be ready"
* 04/11/2023  Foust timeline  ESCAPADE's Rob Lillis:  August 2024 "NG Likely will be ready"
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:02 pm by meekGee »
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Offline meekGee

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Placeholder for payload and NG updates
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:02 pm by meekGee »
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Online Bean Kenobi

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #2 on: 04/13/2023 07:12 pm »
* 04/11/2023  Foust timeline  ESCAPADE's Rob Lillis:  June 2024 "NG Likely will be ready"

Not June 2024, he said "Aug. 6-15, 2024".

Offline meekGee

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #3 on: 04/13/2023 07:16 pm »
* 04/11/2023  Foust timeline  ESCAPADE's Rob Lillis:  June 2024 "NG Likely will be ready"

Not June 2024, he said "Aug. 6-15, 2024".

Thx fixed.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #4 on: 04/14/2023 12:15 am »


"He confirmed the $20 million price for the New Glenn, which is “massively oversized” for ESCAPADE."

See https://spacenews.com/escapade-confident-in-planned-2024-new-glenn-launch/

This article suggestse things are even worse than expected.
Quote
“NASA didn’t promise us a ride to Mars ..."

the current launch window ... Aug. 6 through 15 of 2024 ... “is approximate and provisional” and that options for the mission’s trajectory are still being studied.

The launch will place the spacecraft into an Earth orbit with a period of about 1.6 days. ... After launch, the spacecraft will boost themselves into higher Earth orbits before performing a maneuver to go to Mars.

“They were able to bid what they knew the price was going to be, regardless of the cost to them.”

ESCAPADE doesn't have a launch with a TMI.
ESCAPADE doesn't have a defined trajectory.
A very new vehicle will have a ten day launch window.
They can't use the over performance of New Glenn to widen the launch window with a TMI.
If ESCAPADE is launched into a 1.6 day orbit, the perigee better be aligned with the antipode of the Mars trajectory.  This puts additional constraints on the launch.


Blue could have used their "massively oversized" to expand the launch window while keeping the arrival delta V within the capacity of ESCAPADE, one of the few tasks for which the LH2/LOX upper stage is well suited, but that seems to have been explicitly excluded.

But Blue lowballed the launch to win.

It seems like a calamity in the making.

I think you're looking at it wrong.

The way it usually goes for one-of-kind low cost missions, schedule is always at play.

This mission doesn't have a set trajectory, and so if NG is late, or if they are late, it's alllll good.

Compare to the Peregrine Vulcan launch for similar dynamics.

Good for NG that they have this mission, good for ESCAPADE that they got a cheap ride.

Plus, given their size, they can always switch.
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Offline deadman1204

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #5 on: 04/14/2023 12:26 am »


"He confirmed the $20 million price for the New Glenn, which is “massively oversized” for ESCAPADE."

See https://spacenews.com/escapade-confident-in-planned-2024-new-glenn-launch/

This article suggestse things are even worse than expected.
Quote
“NASA didn’t promise us a ride to Mars ..."

the current launch window ... Aug. 6 through 15 of 2024 ... “is approximate and provisional” and that options for the mission’s trajectory are still being studied.

The launch will place the spacecraft into an Earth orbit with a period of about 1.6 days. ... After launch, the spacecraft will boost themselves into higher Earth orbits before performing a maneuver to go to Mars.

“They were able to bid what they knew the price was going to be, regardless of the cost to them.”

ESCAPADE doesn't have a launch with a TMI.
ESCAPADE doesn't have a defined trajectory.
A very new vehicle will have a ten day launch window.
They can't use the over performance of New Glenn to widen the launch window with a TMI.
If ESCAPADE is launched into a 1.6 day orbit, the perigee better be aligned with the antipode of the Mars trajectory.  This puts additional constraints on the launch.


Blue could have used their "massively oversized" to expand the launch window while keeping the arrival delta V within the capacity of ESCAPADE, one of the few tasks for which the LH2/LOX upper stage is well suited, but that seems to have been explicitly excluded.

But Blue lowballed the launch to win.

It seems like a calamity in the making.

I think you're looking at it wrong.

The way it usually goes for one-of-kind low cost missions, schedule is always at play.

This mission doesn't have a set trajectory, and so if NG is late, or if they are late, it's alllll good.

Compare to the Peregrine Vulcan launch for similar dynamics.

Good for NG that they have this mission, good for ESCAPADE that they got a cheap ride.

Plus, given their size, they can always switch.
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #6 on: 04/14/2023 01:16 am »
<snip>
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years
AIUI, the launch window period to Mars is greatly expanded when the launcher have excessive Delta-V available. NASA is lofting about 80 kilograms of cubesats toward Mars on a launcher that nominally sends about 45 tonnes of payload to LEO.

Online ccdengr

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #7 on: 04/14/2023 01:17 am »
As best I can tell from https://escapade.ssl.berkeley.edu/mission-design/ the mission can wait in a 1.6-day elliptic Earth orbit indefinitely and then do TMI on its own.

Offline trimeta

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #8 on: 04/14/2023 01:39 am »
<snip>
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years
AIUI, the launch window period to Mars is greatly expanded when the launcher have excessive Delta-V available. NASA is lofting about 80 kilograms of cubesats toward Mars on a launcher that nominally sends about 45 tonnes of payload to LEO.
Per the article, each "cubesat" is 550kg, and there are two of them, so over one metric ton. Which still does qualify as "small launch" (the threshold is two metric tons), but probably no longer a "cubesat."

And as the article also says, the launcher is putting these satellites into LEO, where they will execute their own TMI burn. Thus the launcher can't use its excess capacity to give them an extra-strong TMI boost and overcome poor timing: the amount of TMI delta V they've got is based on the satellites, not the launcher.

Of course, they could redesign the satellites to carry more propellant, since the launcher has excess capacity, but that's a bit more difficult than just reprogramming the trajectory.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #9 on: 04/14/2023 02:46 am »
<snip>
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years
AIUI, the launch window period to Mars is greatly expanded when the launcher have excessive Delta-V available. NASA is lofting about 80 kilograms of cubesats toward Mars on a launcher that nominally sends about 45 tonnes of payload to LEO.
Per the article, each "cubesat" is 550kg, and there are two of them, so over one metric ton. Which still does qualify as "small launch" (the threshold is two metric tons), but probably no longer a "cubesat."

And as the article also says, the launcher is putting these satellites into LEO, where they will execute their own TMI burn. Thus the launcher can't use its excess capacity to give them an extra-strong TMI boost and overcome poor timing: the amount of TMI delta V they've got is based on the satellites, not the launcher.

Of course, they could redesign the satellites to carry more propellant, since the launcher has excess capacity, but that's a bit more difficult than just reprogramming the trajectory.
A 1.6 day elliptical orbit is most certainly NOT LEO. It's very near escape velocity.
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Offline meekGee

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New Glenn "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #10 on: 04/14/2023 03:11 am »
&lt;snip&gt;
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years
AIUI, the launch window period to Mars is greatly expanded when the launcher have excessive Delta-V available. NASA is lofting about 80 kilograms of cubesats toward Mars on a launcher that nominally sends about 45 tonnes of payload to LEO.
Per the article, each "cubesat" is 550kg, and there are two of them, so over one metric ton. Which still does qualify as "small launch" (the threshold is two metric tons), but probably no longer a "cubesat."

And as the article also says, the launcher is putting these satellites into LEO, where they will execute their own TMI burn. Thus the launcher can't use its excess capacity to give them an extra-strong TMI boost and overcome poor timing: the amount of TMI delta V they've got is based on the satellites, not the launcher.

Of course, they could redesign the satellites to carry more propellant, since the launcher has excess capacity, but that's a bit more difficult than just reprogramming the trajectory.
A 1.6 day elliptical orbit is most certainly NOT LEO. It's very near escape velocity.
Yup.

My reading of the quotes was that they haven't really settled on a trajectory.

The classic minimum energy transfer is every two years but there are a bunch of other ones.

And this payload may also be late, since, well, it's like that. Happens even to flagship missions.

All I'm saying is that I don't see a ton of Drama around the 8/24 date.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:04 pm by meekGee »
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Offline trimeta

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Re: Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #11 on: 04/14/2023 03:40 am »
<snip>
I'm confused. There is a specific launch window to Mars. How can a set schedule not be that important? If you miss the launch window, they gotta wait 2 years
AIUI, the launch window period to Mars is greatly expanded when the launcher have excessive Delta-V available. NASA is lofting about 80 kilograms of cubesats toward Mars on a launcher that nominally sends about 45 tonnes of payload to LEO.
Per the article, each "cubesat" is 550kg, and there are two of them, so over one metric ton. Which still does qualify as "small launch" (the threshold is two metric tons), but probably no longer a "cubesat."

And as the article also says, the launcher is putting these satellites into LEO, where they will execute their own TMI burn. Thus the launcher can't use its excess capacity to give them an extra-strong TMI boost and overcome poor timing: the amount of TMI delta V they've got is based on the satellites, not the launcher.

Of course, they could redesign the satellites to carry more propellant, since the launcher has excess capacity, but that's a bit more difficult than just reprogramming the trajectory.
A 1.6 day elliptical orbit is most certainly NOT LEO. It's very near escape velocity.
Nonetheless, unless they're going to completely change the plan from "launcher puts the payload into elliptical HEO, payload performs TMI burn on its own" to "launcher performs overpowered TMI burn, payload is just along for the ride," it doesn't matter how powerful the launcher is: it can't help overcome suboptimal launch timing, since it isn't contributing to the portion of the mission which cares about timing. And thus missing the appointed launch date isn't something New Glenn can compensate for just because it's much, much larger than this payload needs.

Although I will note that I did some quick searching and it seems like the expected 2024 Earth-Mars launch window is actually a bit later into the year than August. So maybe they're currently planning on hitting very early in the window but have many months of potential launch dates? Which would at least give them time to find another launch option, if/when it becomes clear that New Glenn can't perform.

Offline meekGee

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New Glenn "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #12 on: 04/14/2023 04:28 am »
A 1.6 day elliptical orbit is most certainly NOT LEO. It's very near escape velocity.
Nonetheless, unless they're going to completely change the plan from "launcher puts the payload into elliptical HEO, payload performs TMI burn on its own" to "launcher performs overpowered TMI burn, payload is just along for the ride," it doesn't matter how powerful the launcher is: it can't help overcome suboptimal launch timing, since it isn't contributing to the portion of the mission which cares about timing. And thus missing the appointed launch date isn't something New Glenn can compensate for just because it's much, much larger than this payload needs.

Although I will note that I did some quick searching and it seems like the expected 2024 Earth-Mars launch window is actually a bit later into the year than August. So maybe they're currently planning on hitting very early in the window but have many months of potential launch dates? Which would at least give them time to find another launch option, if/when it becomes clear that New Glenn can't perform.

It would be insane from the PI's perspective not to have a contingency for what happens if NG indeed doesn't fly till 2025.

It's one thing to say "we think NG will fly at least twice in 2024".
It's quite another to actually rely on that.

For a low-budget mission, there's a smaller standing army, and so I'm sure there are more than one "plan B" to support later dates.

For example - "if NG misses 8/24, then BO needs to give us the extra dV for an opposition trajectory" (and the payload needs to be able to do that too),

Or "if NG misses 2025, then NASA needs to support +2 years because we're guinea pigs"

There's just no way that these options are not being considered.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:05 pm by meekGee »
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Online ccdengr

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Re: Vulcan "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #13 on: 04/14/2023 04:45 am »
It would be insane from the PI's perspective not to have a contingency for what happens if NG indeed doesn't fly till 2025.
The PI has no money.  NASA has the money.  The mission will fly or not based on what NASA decides.

See the other SIMPLEX mission, Janus, for an example of how powerless the PI is.

Online Comga

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Re: Vulcan "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #14 on: 04/14/2023 04:56 am »
What are you talking about?

Interplanetary transfer trajectories are defined with "porkchop plots" which have contrours for total C3 (velocity beyond escape velocity squared) as a function of departure and arrival dates.  (The  contrours take the approximate shape of pork chops, with a concave side and a big convex side.) 

Going away from the dates for the minimum, the values rise steeply, and C3 is in energy terms, so it's really hard to climb the walls.

But the plan is to launch into a 1.6 day orbit.  I am sure someone here can calculate the difference from escape velocity,  (I don't have the extra half hour to do so.) but given that NG should have signicant mass capacity beyond C3=0 (minimum escape) the amount of capacity being used is fixed and a lot less.  The great advatage of using a vastly oversized rocket is locked out.  So it can't be used to expand the launch window. 

They build a 4X rocket and sell it for 1/4 the nominal price, then put on it the one requirement they stand the least chance of meeting: launch schedule certainty.

And it's not like a mission to the Moon, for which launch opportunities generally happen every month.

And the PI is not insane to be without a backup.  He has no alternative.  The program is an orphan, and a poor orphan at that.  It can't wait for the (energy and reliability) rich parents to adopt it.  If NG doesn't make it, it will go back into storage and beg for extension funding.

PS  What's wih the "Vulcan" in the thread title? 
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline trimeta

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Re: Vulcan "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #15 on: 04/14/2023 05:06 am »
For example - "if NG misses 8/24, then BO needs to give us the extra dV for an opposition trajectory" (and the payload needs to be able to do that too),
Again, NG giving them more dV can't help for an opposition trajectory because NG isn't giving them any dV for TMI. NG is putting the payload into some Earth orbit (I don't care which one), and regardless of the trajectory from there, it's 100% the payload's responsibility. The launch vehicle having more power doesn't inherently make their chosen Earth orbit higher-energy, because the energy is a function of the orbital parameters, not how much propellent is left over in the tanks after the launcher has pushed this fairly small payload into an orbit with those parameters.

Now, the article does say that the plan of record is for the launch vehicle to put the payload into a 1.6-day orbit, and then the payload itself would perform additional apogee-raising burns before its actual TMI burn. So if the launcher went with an even more elliptical orbit, that would save some energy for the payloads. And of course, it would help if the launcher did some or all of the TMI burn itself, so the payload could reach Mars in opposition but still have enough propellent to enter orbit. But this is more than just "give us the extra dV," it's a completely different mission plan. A different mission plan they've likely thought of and calculated, in fact! But let's not undersell how much would need to change.

I'm wondering if the first Plan B isn't just "we can launch any time between August and February, as long as New Glenn is available then the original plan works," though. It would certainly make things simpler.

Offline meekGee

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New Glenn "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #16 on: 04/14/2023 06:44 am »
For example - "if NG misses 8/24, then BO needs to give us the extra dV for an opposition trajectory" (and the payload needs to be able to do that too),
Again, NG giving them more dV can't help for an opposition trajectory because NG isn't giving them any dV for TMI. NG is putting the payload into some Earth orbit (I don't care which one), and regardless of the trajectory from there, it's 100% the payload's responsibility. The launch vehicle having more power doesn't inherently make their chosen Earth orbit higher-energy, because the energy is a function of the orbital parameters, not how much propellent is left over in the tanks after the launcher has pushed this fairly small payload into an orbit with those parameters.

Now, the article does say that the plan of record is for the launch vehicle to put the payload into a 1.6-day orbit, and then the payload itself would perform additional apogee-raising burns before its actual TMI burn. So if the launcher went with an even more elliptical orbit, that would save some energy for the payloads. And of course, it would help if the launcher did some or all of the TMI burn itself, so the payload could reach Mars in opposition but still have enough propellent to enter orbit. But this is more than just "give us the extra dV," it's a completely different mission plan. A different mission plan they've likely thought of and calculated, in fact! But let's not undersell how much would need to change.

I'm wondering if the first Plan B isn't just "we can launch any time between August and February, as long as New Glenn is available then the original plan works," though. It would certainly make things simpler.
That's not a given.

The way I see it, the HEO plan was their original concept, from before they got NG.

When they got NG, there was no need to change it, so this is where we are today - if the mission flies on time.

But if NG is late, or if ESCAPADE is, then they have the ability to change since NG can provide the extra dv.

Simple really.

Which is why everyone is chill and reciting statements of confidence even though they have no way of being...
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:06 pm by meekGee »
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Re: Vulcan "Early Flight": Mars ESCAPADE updates and discussion
« Reply #17 on: 04/14/2023 07:03 am »
There is a mistake in the thread title : it's a New Glenn early flight, not a Vulcan one ;)

Offline Tywin

Why does this thread have Vulcan in the title, I don't understand....
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Offline meekGee

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Haha because I'm an idiot...  Will fix shortly, thanks.

... Fixed.  I was just reading the other thread and the rocket name stuck...
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:09 pm by meekGee »
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Online LouScheffer

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Nonetheless, unless they're going to completely change the plan from "launcher puts the payload into elliptical HEO, payload performs TMI burn on its own" to "launcher performs overpowered TMI burn, payload is just along for the ride," it doesn't matter how powerful the launcher is: it can't help overcome suboptimal launch timing, since it isn't contributing to the portion of the mission which cares about timing. And thus missing the appointed launch date isn't something New Glenn can compensate for just because it's much, much larger than this payload needs.
It's not clear to me this is that difficult.  What the payload cares about is the relative velocity with which it arrives at Mars.  This is the kind of calculation trajectory geeks can do in their sleep.  Furthermore, if the payload does not need to do TMI itself, it has that much more delta-V for braking into mars orbit.  Combined, launching a little later, with the corresponding higher Mars arrival velocity, might be a plausible tradeoff.  Looking at the Mars launch windows a few month window extension might be possible.

Online TrevorMonty

What are you talking about?

Interplanetary transfer trajectories are defined with "porkchop plots" which have contrours for total C3 (velocity beyond escape velocity squared) as a function of departure and arrival dates.  (The  contrours take the approximate shape of pork chops, with a concave side and a big convex side.) 

Going away from the dates for the minimum, the values rise steeply, and C3 is in energy terms, so it's really hard to climb the walls.

But the plan is to launch into a 1.6 day orbit.  I am sure someone here can calculate the difference from escape velocity,  (I don't have the extra half hour to do so.) but given that NG should have signicant mass capacity beyond C3=0 (minimum escape) the amount of capacity being used is fixed and a lot less.  The great advatage of using a vastly oversized rocket is locked out.  So it can't be used to expand the launch window. 

They build a 4X rocket and sell it for 1/4 the nominal price, then put on it the one requirement they stand the least chance of meeting: launch schedule certainty.

And it's not like a mission to the Moon, for which launch opportunities generally happen every month.

And the PI is not insane to be without a backup.  He has no alternative.  The program is an orphan, and a poor orphan at that.  It can't wait for the (energy and reliability) rich parents to adopt it.  If NG doesn't make it, it will go back into storage and beg for extension funding.

PS  What's wih the "Vulcan" in the thread title?
By my calculations the Escapade satellites have 3-3.2km/s of DV. 

Online Comga

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What are you talking about?

Interplanetary transfer trajectories are defined with "porkchop plots" which have contrours for total C3 (velocity beyond escape velocity squared) as a function of departure and arrival dates.  (The  contrours take the approximate shape of pork chops, with a concave side and a big convex side.) 

Going away from the dates for the minimum, the values rise steeply, and C3 is in energy terms, so it's really hard to climb the walls.

But the plan is to launch into a 1.6 day Earth orbit.  I am sure someone here can calculate the difference from escape velocity,  (I don't have the extra half hour to do so.) but given that NG should have signicant mass capacity beyond C3=0 (minimum escape) the amount of capacity being used is fixed and a lot less.  The great advatage of using a vastly oversized rocket is locked out.  So it can't be used to expand the launch window. 

They build a 4X rocket and sell it for 1/4 the nominal price, then put on it the one requirement they stand the least chance of meeting: launch schedule certainty.

And it's not like a mission to the Moon, for which launch opportunities generally happen every month.

And the PI is not insane to be without a backup.  He has no alternative.  The program is an orphan, and a poor orphan at that.  It can't wait for the (energy and reliability) rich parents to adopt it.  If NG doesn't make it, it will go back into storage and beg for extension funding.

PS  What's wih the "Vulcan" in the thread title?
By my calculations the Escapade satellites have 3-3.2km/s of DV. 

Can someone calculate the deficit of the 1.6 day Earth orbit to C3=0?
What’s the C3 for the optimum trajectory, TMI & MOI?
Any estimate on how much schedule leeway that 3-3.2 km/sec (9.0-10.2 km^2/sec^2) buys ESCAPADE?

(“Engineering is done with numbers.” but numbers without context are not useful)
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 10:49 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online LouScheffer

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Can someone calculate the deficit of the 1.6 day Earth orbit to C3=0?
What’s the C3 for the optimum trajectory, TMI & MOI?
Any estimate on how much schedule leeway that 3-3.2 km/sec (9.0-10.2 km^2/sec^2) buys ESCAPADE?
This requires several steps. 

First generate the porkchop plots for Earth-Mars in 2024.   Go to this pork-chop generator  and enter a time span of 1-Jan-2014 to 1-Jan-2015, and transit times of 100-500 days.  You will get plots like below.  This shows that you will need a C3 of about 11.5 km^2/sec^2 (remember this is the square of the dV shown in the legend) and an arrival C3 of about 7 km^2/sec^2.

Next, an elliptical Earth orbit of about 40 hours has a speed at perigee (where the burn will happen) of LEO + 2930 m/s.  An outgoing trajectory with C3=11.5 has a speed at LEO altitude of LEO + 3739 m/s (these do not add linearly because of the Obereth effect, which is the whole point).  So Escapade will need to add about 809 m/s to be on its way to Mars.

Next consider arrival.  ESCAPADE appears to be targeting a 200x7000 km orbit.  At perigee, this is going at about 4207 m/s relative to Mars.  A body falling in from C3=7 will be going about 5552 m/s relative to Mars.  So ESCAPADE will need about 1345 m/s to slow into its desired orbit.

So at the optimum time, ESCAPADE will need about 2350 m/s to leave Earth orbit and arrive in the final orbit at Mars.

How much later can you go?  If you look at the edge between the blue and the green, you have a departure C3 of about 22 km^2/sec^2, or about 500 m/s more needed.  And you arrive with a C3 of about 14.5, needed about 500 m/s more to slow down.  So getting all the way to the edge of the blue region (roughly another month) might be possible, with the cost rising to about 3350 m/s.

What if you switch to a launch vehicle that can do the TMI by itself?    Then you can afford to use all your 3 km/s for slowing at Mars.  So you can arrive with a C3=28, or Vinf = 5.3 km/sec.  That lets you cover the inner 2-3 green regions, which buys you a few more weeks.


Offline deltaV

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https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/10/jeff-bezos-shows-off-new-moon-lander-design-for-nasa/ by Stephen Clarke is mostly about other things but mentions:
Quote
New Glenn rocket, which is not expected to launch until late next year at the earliest.
It's unclear what "late next year" means and what the latest possible launch date for ESCAPADE is. But if I were part of ESCAPADE I would definitely be looking for a backup plan in case New Glenn isn't ready in time.

Online Comga

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https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/10/jeff-bezos-shows-off-new-moon-lander-design-for-nasa/ by Stephen Clarke is mostly about other things but mentions:
Quote
New Glenn rocket, which is not expected to launch until late next year at the earliest.
It's unclear what "late next year" means and what the latest possible launch date for ESCAPADE is. But if I were part of ESCAPADE I would definitely be looking for a backup plan in case New Glenn isn't ready in time.

The “latest launch date” can be approximated by adding together the values in the two graphs in the post before yours.
Beyond late October (2024.80 = 2024-12*0.8=2024-10-19) at around 340 Days of Flight the total delta-V rises steeply.
By 2024.9=2024-11-26 it has risen from ~7 km^2/sec^2 to ~13.
edit: The minimum looks to be ~6 km^2/sec^2 around 2024.7=2024-09-13, ~3 weeks after 2024-08-25
(Your Eyeballing May Vary)

About the best ESCAPADE could hope for would be getting Blue to honor the $20M maiden launch pricing at the next launch window around the start of 2027.
Even then many issues are apparent.
« Last Edit: 10/29/2023 09:08 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline deltaV

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$20M maiden launch pricing
What's your source for ESCAPADE being New Glenn's maiden launch?

Offline trimeta

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$20M maiden launch pricing
What's your source for ESCAPADE being New Glenn's maiden launch?
If we're already debating whether New Glenn's maiden launch will be early enough to hit the ESCAPADE launch window, it seems even less likely that New Glenn will manage to have two or more launches by the time of said launch window.

Offline deltaV

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If we're already debating whether New Glenn's maiden launch will be early enough to hit the ESCAPADE launch window, it seems even less likely that New Glenn will manage to have two or more launches by the time of said launch window.

True. But I don't think we know enough to rule out ESCAPADE launching on the second flight and within its window. If the critical path for the first flight is construction of something reusable such as the pad, ground infrastructure, booster, software, or procedures then the second flight could happen quickly after the first, especially if ESCAPADE lets Blue do less thorough inspections and data review than one would do if there was more time.

Historically the first orbital launch by a company usually doesn't reach orbit successfully so going on the maiden flight seems like a last resort option that only makes sense if waiting 2.2 years or cutting corners on a second flight won't work.
« Last Edit: 10/29/2023 01:48 am by deltaV »

Offline trimeta

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True. But I don't think we know enough to rule out ESCAPADE launching on the second flight and within its window. If the critical path for the first flight is construction of something reusable such as the pad, ground infrastructure, booster, software, or procedures then the second flight could happen quickly after the first, especially if ESCAPADE lets Blue do less thorough inspections and data review than one would do if there was more time.
I've said it before, and this probably isn't the right thread to begin the discussion anew, but Blue Origin doesn't exactly have a track record of agility and quick turnarounds which suggests they can go from their first New Glenn launch to their second within a three-month (or whatever) period, as would be necessary for a "late 2024" maiden launch to not be their only launch in 2024. And please don't tell me "but clearly they've got like four separate New Glenns already built, so they can roll out one to launch and if the pad isn't damaged they'll just roll out the second one a week later." There will be a mountain of data to review after their first launch, and they'd be fools to launch again before going over it and understanding how to improve the vehicle for its second launch. Especially if the first launch doesn't go 100% perfectly (and that includes successful RTLS as a requirement for perfection, they won't launch a second time without improving recovery systems).

Online TrevorMonty

If these satellites miss 2024 launch window there should be few more LV options for 2026 window. RL would love to use Neutron for this mission.


Offline Robert_the_Doll

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It will be very problematic that Neutron would be ready by 2026, but New Glenn most likely will be, and have at least two or three flights by then. There would be no reason to switch launchers, and ESCAPADE is is considered a high-risk mission as it stands.

Offline meekGee

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It will be very problematic that Neutron would be ready by 2026, but New Glenn most likely will be, and have at least two or three flights by then. There would be no reason to switch launchers, and ESCAPADE is is considered a high-risk mission as it stands.
NG is an unknown. Less than two months ago, senior BO execs were predicting flights this year.

There's an internal disconnect there, and you have no idea what Mr. Limp will find (or already has found) out when he digs.

I (and others) have said before that a single flight in 2025 would be good and is not at all in the bag. 2026 is very much possible for first flight.

Neutron is a whole 'nother bag of unknowns, but it's coming from a company that has a better record of delivering.

I wouldn't call favorites right now.
« Last Edit: 10/29/2023 10:15 pm by meekGee »
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Offline Robert_the_Doll

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It will be very problematic that Neutron would be ready by 2026, but New Glenn most likely will be, and have at least two or three flights by then. There would be no reason to switch launchers, and ESCAPADE is is considered a high-risk mission as it stands.
NG is an unknown. Less than two months ago, senior BO execs were predicting flights this year.

That would be incorrect. They were predicting a launch in 2024. Sources place the goal for July of next year, and were hoping to get complete hardware to LC-36 for the start of testing, culminating static test firings.

Offline meekGee

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It will be very problematic that Neutron would be ready by 2026, but New Glenn most likely will be, and have at least two or three flights by then. There would be no reason to switch launchers, and ESCAPADE is is considered a high-risk mission as it stands.
NG is an unknown. Less than two months ago, senior BO execs were predicting flights this year.

That would be incorrect. They were predicting a launch in 2024. Sources place the goal for July of next year, and were hoping to get complete hardware to LC-36 for the start of testing, culminating static test firings.
Yes, you are correct. I got some predictions mixed up, I've been following this for so many years... 
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Quote
Bradley Smith, director of NASA's Launch Services Program, says the agency's Mars-bound ESCAPADE smallsats will fly on an "incredibly ambitious first launch for (Blue Origin's) New Glenn" rocket "around this time next year."

https://twitter.com/StephenClark1/status/1726684109593010450
Lukas C. H. • Hobbyist Mission Patch Artist 🎨 • Ad Astra Per Aspera ✨️

Offline jstrotha0975

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Quote
Bradley Smith, director of NASA's Launch Services Program, says the agency's Mars-bound ESCAPADE smallsats will fly on an "incredibly ambitious first launch for (Blue Origin's) New Glenn" rocket "around this time next year."

https://twitter.com/StephenClark1/status/1726684109593010450

If this is true, why is Blue interested in buying ULA?

Offline trimeta

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Side-note, if this is confirmation that ESCAPADE will launch on the first flight of a heavy-lift vehicle from a company with zero heritage of orbital rocketry, that's more reason to think that the $20M price tag probably isn't representative of what Blue Origin hopes to charge for New Glenn launches in general.

Offline GWH

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Side-note, if this is confirmation that ESCAPADE will launch on the first flight of a heavy-lift vehicle from a company with zero heritage of orbital rocketry, that's more reason to think that the $20M price tag probably isn't representative of what Blue Origin hopes to charge for New Glenn launches in general.

Was there anyone who actually thought it would be?

Offline GWH

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Space News article:

https://spacenews.com/nasa-mars-smallsat-mission-to-be-on-first-new-glenn-launch/

Quote
At a Nov. 20 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s human exploration and operations committee, Bradley Smith, director of NASA’s Launch Services Office, said he was “incredibly excited” about the ESCAPADE launch, which he said was scheduled for about one year. His charts, though, and past presentations, listed an August 2024 launch for ESCAPADE.


Quote
The company has not provided recent updates about progress towards a first launch of the rocket, although Jarrett Jones, senior vice president for New Glenn at Blue Origin, said at World Satellite Business Week in September that the first flight vehicle would arrive at a Florida integration facility by the end of the year, with the company planning “multiple” launches of New Glenn in 2024.

1st integration, to full stack, 1st integrated test of ground systems, WDR, static fire, etc in 8 months  ???

Offline trimeta

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Space News article:

https://spacenews.com/nasa-mars-smallsat-mission-to-be-on-first-new-glenn-launch/

Quote
At a Nov. 20 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s human exploration and operations committee, Bradley Smith, director of NASA’s Launch Services Office, said he was “incredibly excited” about the ESCAPADE launch, which he said was scheduled for about one year. His charts, though, and past presentations, listed an August 2024 launch for ESCAPADE.


Quote
The company has not provided recent updates about progress towards a first launch of the rocket, although Jarrett Jones, senior vice president for New Glenn at Blue Origin, said at World Satellite Business Week in September that the first flight vehicle would arrive at a Florida integration facility by the end of the year, with the company planning “multiple” launches of New Glenn in 2024.

1st integration, to full stack, 1st integrated test of ground systems, WDR, static fire, etc in 8 months  ???
More incredible is the idea that their first launch will be "about one year" from now (e.g., October or November 2024), but it won't be their only launch in 2024. Because when I think Blue Origin, the one trait that immediately comes to mind is quick turnaround.

Offline Starshipdown

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With New Glenn's delta-V, they have a lot more margin (i.e. the window will be longer) when launching such small payloads on an interplanetary trajectory, and that could open as early as the first week of August and stretch well into November or December.

Also, don't be so absolutely literal. Next August or September would still be "about a year from now" as much as the other.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2023 03:46 am by Starshipdown »

Offline trimeta

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Also, don't be so absolutely literal. Next August or September would still be "about a year from now" as much as the other.
Because launching in August and then again within four months sounds more reasonable? I frankly don't think Blue Origin could finish the mishap investigation in under six months. Although maybe I'm wrong and their simulations are so perfect that nothing unanticipated happens on the maiden launch. After all, in theory there is no difference between theory and practice.

Offline thespacecow

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The real question is, once ESCAPADE is delayed to 2026, will it still end up being on New Glenn's first launch...

Offline Jim

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Bradley Smith, director of NASA's Launch Services Program, says the agency's Mars-bound ESCAPADE smallsats will fly on an "incredibly ambitious first launch for (Blue Origin's) New Glenn" rocket "around this time next year."


BTW, He got the title wrong.  He is director of NASA's Launch Services.  Not the program manager or director.

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https://twitter.com/stephenclark1/status/1727419003667394590

Quote
NASA plans to launch two Mars probes on Blue Origin’s first New Glenn rocket. This mission is relatively modest in cost, so NASA thinks it's worth the risk.

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/nasa-will-launch-a-mars-mission-on-blue-origins-first-new-glenn-rocket/

Quote
NASA will launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s first New Glenn rocket
This Mars mission is relatively modest in cost, so NASA thinks it's worth the risk.

by Stephen Clark - Nov 22, 2023 5:16pm GMT

The first flight of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket seems to have a payload. Instead of launching a sports car, as SpaceX did with its first Falcon Heavy rocket, Jeff Bezos's space company will likely launch a pair of Mars probes for NASA.

Offline Yggdrasill

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I have to admit I worry for ESCAPADE. New launch providers haven't exactly had a great record in getting to orbit on the first try. The failure rate is pretty close to 100%. Now, Blue Origin does have substantial experience wth suborbital spaceflight, which certainly helps, but orbit still adds a lot of complexity.

What are we actually thinking the chance of success will be? 50%?

Offline Purona

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personally, I think it's going to have a much higher percent chance than people are expecting.


Offline Steven Pietrobon

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What are we actually thinking the chance of success will be? 50%?

I think that's a good estimate.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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On the other hand, look at what SX is having to do just to get SS/SH to launch and fly expendably to a planned successful stage 2 orbit and ocean landing of both components. I would consider their being able to get that part right in 5 launches to be an incredible achievement. These are people with more than 200 orbital launches and landings of F9s in their experiential quiver.

Yet the expectation by some of my fellow posters on this thread seems to be that BO has a 50% chance to get (at least) their second stage to the point where they can successfully launch the ESCAPADE probes.

I stand in awe of your confidence.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 06:14 am by seb21051 »

Offline DreamyPickle

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This is very interesting. Has anyone else launched an interplanetary science mission as a first flight? It seems like a weird risk to take because the cost of missing a Mars launch window is quite high.

Just imagine - the window ends and the rocket is still on the pad. What now, replace the payload?

Offline laszlo

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On the other hand, look at what SX is having to do just to get SS/SH to launch and fly expendably to a planned successful stage 2 orbit and ocean landing of both components. I would consider their being able to get that part right in 5 launches to be an incredible achievement. These are people with more than 200 orbital launches and landings of F9s in their experiential quiver.

Yet the expectation by some of my fellow posters on this thread seems to be that BO has a 50% chance to get (at least) their second stage to the point where they can successfully launch the ESCAPADE probes.

I stand in awe of your confidence.

Orbital launches count, landings not so much. ESCAPADE only needs to get to a specific earth orbit. It doesn't know or care if the booster is recovered and re-used. So the case ESCAPADE cares about is a lot simpler. It's an apples/oranges comparison, as far as getting ESCAPADE to Mars goes.

Online jimvela

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What are we actually thinking the chance of success will be? 50%?

Let the pricing tell you something about that.  If you're getting a $100M launch service for $20M, I'd put the Psuccess at somewhere around 20%.


Just imagine - the window ends and the rocket is still on the pad. What now, replace the payload?

If an interplanetary mission misses its launch window, then yes you de-stack the payload and will need to encapsulate and stack a different payload.

Orbital launches count, landings not so much. ESCAPADE only needs to get to a specific earth orbit. It doesn't know or care if the booster is recovered and re-used. So the case ESCAPADE cares about is a lot simpler. It's an apples/oranges comparison, as far as getting ESCAPADE to Mars goes.

Interplanetary missions need to get to a specific earth departure (heliocentric) orbit.  They'll be targeting a specific b-plane arrival at Mars, deliberately offset so that the launch vehicle upper stage misses Mars for planetary protection reasons.  The spacecraft will need to do several TCMs during cruise to reach that b-plane target and will likewise be deliberately in an initial transfer orbit that misses Mars in case the spacecraft is dead on launch or suffers a major fault during cruise.

Depending on the mission design, each of those launch windows will have a unique earth departure trajectory.  The last interplanetary mission I worked deliberately planned each day's attempt in our window such that the arrival at the destination planet always happened at the same time.  This greatly simplified our arrival planning for planetary orbit insertion and also the required analysis for planetary protection reasons as we only had a single arrival scenario to analyze and present to COSPAR.

Offline DeimosDream

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This is very interesting. Has anyone else launched an interplanetary science mission as a first flight? It seems like a weird risk to take because the cost of missing a Mars launch window is quite high.

Just imagine - the window ends and the rocket is still on the pad. What now, replace the payload?

Relativity is promising the same, and in their case admitting they would miss the 2024 window resulted in a schedule slip to 2026 for Terran-R. Unlike Relativity Blue Origin needs to get launching sooner rather than later for Kuiper so I'd guess they would have to de-stack, pick a different maiden flight payload, and give ESCAPADE a discounted launch on a now-proven rocket 2026.

As for why take that risk? I'm guessing a push to one-up Elon Musk (Falcon Heavy: mass simulator to Mars-crossing heliocentric orbit).

Offline Joris

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This is very interesting. Has anyone else launched an interplanetary science mission as a first flight? It seems like a weird risk to take because the cost of missing a Mars launch window is quite high.

Just imagine - the window ends and the rocket is still on the pad. What now, replace the payload?

Molnya 8k78 was a four-stage development of the R-7 whose first few launches were aimed at Mars I think. The R-7 was not new ofcourse, but the upper stages were.

SLS went beyond LEO on its maiden flight, although that's not interplanetary ofcourse.

Falcon Heavy went to escape velocity but didn't aim at a specific planet either on its first flight.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 03:48 pm by Joris »
JIMO would have been the first proper spaceship.

Offline Robotbeat

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personally, I think it's going to have a much higher percent chance than people are expecting.
This is a difficult thing to validate... I think maybe, I dunno, 75% chance of success based on historical launch statistics plus the fact that Blue is putting a real payload on it so they will need to do extra due diligence. But that latter thing also increases the odds the date will slip, possibly to 2026.
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Offline Yggdrasill

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What are we actually thinking the chance of success will be? 50%?

Let the pricing tell you something about that.  If you're getting a $100M launch service for $20M, I'd put the Psuccess at somewhere around 20%.
That doesn't seem like a worthwhile calculation. At full price, New Glenn wouldn't be launching this payload. And we have to assume other launch vehicles were being bid.

What would the second lowest cost option be?

Looking at dedicated launches, the mission could probably be done by two Firefly Alpha, at something like $35 million. That was probably about the maximum Blue could ask for and still get the contract. And that would mean the probability of success using your method would never be over 35%.

I guess you could modify your method, to a percentage of the replacement cost. So something like $20 million / $35 million = 57%

Maybe it's a bit optimistic to think the Alpha could do it. But if you up it to $50 million, they could probably get a Falcon 9 (about the same as IXPE). The probability would then be 40%, using the same method.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 05:57 pm by Yggdrasill »

Offline trimeta

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What are we actually thinking the chance of success will be? 50%?

Let the pricing tell you something about that.  If you're getting a $100M launch service for $20M, I'd put the Psuccess at somewhere around 20%.
That doesn't seem like a worthwhile calculation. At full price, New Glenn wouldn't be launching this payload. And we have to assume other launch vehicles were being bid.

What would the second lowest cost option be?

Looking at dedicated launches, the mission could probably be done by two Firefly Alpha, at something like $35 million. That was probably about the maximum Blue could ask for and still get the contract. And that would mean the probability of success using your method would never be over 35%.

I guess you could modify your method, to a percentage of the replacement cost. So something like $20 million / $35 million = 57%

Maybe it's a bit optimistic to think the Alpha could do it. But if you up it to $50 million, they could probably get a Falcon 9 (about the same as IXPE). The probability would then be 40%, using the same method.

Let's be realistic, though, the "discount to probability of success" function is almost certainly nonlinear. It would be an interesting social science experiment to test a bunch of people and try to find the true shape, but probably beyond the scope of this conversation.

Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Maybe it's just NASA way of putting (altogether) pressure and motivation behind B.O to fly that New Glenn booster sooner rather than never... sorry, I meant later. After all B.O has been chosen for that lunar lander, so they have to demonstrate SOMETHING at last.  Kind of NASA lighting a fire below Jeff Bezos rear end. A not-too-risky fire, but a fire nonetheless.
Plus it helps Rocketlab, and put some pressure on ULA and their Vulcan launcher, which first flight will shoot to the Moon with that Peregrine lander.

It's like an ecosystem.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 06:40 pm by Emmettvonbrown »

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That doesn't seem like a worthwhile calculation. At full price, New Glenn wouldn't be launching this payload. And we have to assume other launch vehicles were being bid.
[...]
I guess you could modify your method, to a percentage of the replacement cost. So something like $20 million / $35 million = 57%

Yeah, it's not a directly applicable calculation.  The takeaway is even NASA considers this a stretch, putting this launch on a New Glenn, which in theory should have massive overperformance for this mission.  More on that below.

For what it is worth, I've seen a Blue Origin launch services proposal for a mission that I'm working on.  I can't comment further but it seemed clear to me they were willing to buy (HEAVILY discount) or otherwise try to convince missions to choose Blue Origin and secure some early launches for New Glenn.  I'm pretty sure most moderate to large budget programs would feel uncomfortable taking the risk even with a very large discount.  I believe Blue are (or at least were) willing to offer a very substantial discount based on risk.

Interplanetary missions need to get to a specific earth departure (heliocentric) orbit.  They'll be targeting a specific b-plane arrival at Mars, deliberately offset so that the launch vehicle upper stage misses Mars for planetary protection reasons. 

I apparently need to correct what I wrote above.  This mission isn't going to use a conventional interplanetary launch.

I've seen in the threads that ESCAPADE may be launching to an eccentric earth orbit- something like 1.6 days in period.  That would mean the spacecraft may be responsible for their own departure burns.  It also means the upper stage probably doesn't need to be well targeted to miss Mars.  This is not exactly a screaming endorsement from NASA in Blue Origin's capabilities as an interplanetary launch services provider.  More like a willingness to throw some risk money to buy a high-risk ride for a stranded mission with some real merit.

But then again, they've never actually put anything, of any size, into a LEO orbit of any kind, let alone a well targeted interplanetary launch.
So, it seems to me NASA is being reasonably prudent in the launch scenario, even with them selecting a risky launch services provider.

I tried to get more info before this post, but the ESCAPADE NASA pages seem still very light on detailed information on the mission plan as it currently stands.

If someone can correct me and point to a definitive plan for the ESCAPADE launch, departure, and cruise plan, I'd appreciate it.

I see the thread has been split, but I think this still is appropriate in this thread.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 10:20 pm by jimvela »

Online Solarsail

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Noting that they aren't aiming the New Glenn directly for Mars, I wonder if they could take another risk-reducing shortcut...  Say, a single engine burn ascent to high orbit.  Analogous to the Ariane 1 through 5, with HM-7 engines.  Those couldn't place their perigees above the equator, and yet they managed to accomplish planetary exploration with it.  Likewise JWST used a single engine burn from a slightly suborbital trajectory out to Sun-Earth L2.  JWST required very good precision from the Ariane, so a well characterized vehicle.  Maybe Escapade has enough dV margin to handle New Glenn being poorly characterized in performance, giving it an approximate apogee range and perigee / apogee ~28 degrees off of equatorial.  That might be a similar technical feat to Firefly Alpha's flight 2.

Offline trimeta

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The impression I've gotten from this thread and others is that the difference between the original August launch window and the new "a year from November" launch window is that the former was using the plan where New Glenn would insert the payload into an eccentric Earth orbit (with the payload itself breaking orbit months later after checkouts and additional burns), while the November launch window is with a direct trans-Mars injection from New Glenn. In other words, while the original plan may have been along the lines of what jimvela suggested, delays in New Glenn's maiden launch mean that NASA may be out of time to afford Blue Origin such risk-reducing measures.

Offline meekGee

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Is this enough confirmation to change the thread title to "First Flight"?
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online LouScheffer

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Noting that they aren't aiming the New Glenn directly for Mars, I wonder if they could take another risk-reducing shortcut...  Say, a single engine burn ascent to high orbit.  Analogous to the Ariane 1 through 5, with HM-7 engines.  Those couldn't place their perigees above the equator, and yet they managed to accomplish planetary exploration with it.
A direct ascent is unlikely to be helpful.  A planetary injection from an elliptical parking orbit requires the perigee to be above some specific spot on Earth.  With direct ascent, you get very little choice in the matter.  What is needed is a parking orbit, where you coast to the right spot and then inject into an elliptical orbit that ensures the returning perigee is in the spot you want for insertion.

The Ariane interplanetary missions worked around this by launching into a 1 year earth-crossing solar orbit.  They get the energy they need from the booster, and do the targeting using the Earth flyby a year later.  Working a year in advance, they can target this flyby to whatever injection point they want.  However, this adds an extra year of flight time to the mission.

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