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General Discussion => Space Policy Discussion => Topic started by: yg1968 on 03/03/2014 06:17 pm

Title: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/03/2014 06:17 pm
COMMITTEE on APPROPRIATIONS

Appropriations Committee Schedule for the Week of March 3, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Defense Subcommittee (Chairman Durbin)
Time and Location: 10:00 a.m., in Room SD-192 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building
Agenda: National Security Space Launch Programs

Witnesses: Cristina Chaplain
Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management
Government Accountability Office

Michael Gass
President and Chief Executive Officer
United Launch Alliance

Elon Musk
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Designer
Space Exploration Technologies

Dr. Scott Pace
Director, Space Policy Institute
Elliott School of International Affairs
George Washington University

*All hearings are webcast live at www.appropriations.senate.gov

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=88344636-71d8-47bf-aa5e-1106aef29aab
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robert Thompson on 03/04/2014 01:06 am
I hope someone drops some bass on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U44geuM6iQ0
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: rcoppola on 03/04/2014 01:32 am
Re-posted from another thread:

I guarantee they will be asked about what they would deem as an appropriate response to the current tensions with regards to keeping our domestic access to space with limited to no foreign dependencies.

I suspect Commercial Crew will be touched upon in that context. Elon can be quite forthright and I think he'll be more then happy to point out that Falcon and Dragon remain completely domestic in nature with no foreign (Russian, Ukraine) dependancies (engines, stages).

This could get very interesting, very quickly. (If it hasn't already)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/04/2014 01:51 am
Re-posted from another thread:

I guarantee they will be asked about what they would deem as an appropriate response to the current tensions with regards to keeping our domestic access to space with limited to no foreign dependencies.

I suspect Commercial Crew will be touched upon in that context. Elon can be quite forthright and I think he'll be more then happy to point out that Falcon and Dragon remain completely domestic in nature with no foreign (Russian, Ukraine) dependancies (engines, stages).

This could get very interesting, very quickly. (If it hasn't already)
I might go out and buy extra popcorn for watching this one... ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: rsnellenberger on 03/04/2014 01:53 am
Is the recent EELV contract extension/revision/(whatever) by DOD going to be up for discussion?  Or the current status of SpaceX's qualification to bid for EELV launches?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/04/2014 03:14 am
This could get very interesting, very quickly. (If it hasn't already)
If nothing else, it might put the Russian/US space interdependence problems into the primary news.   It would be good for the general public to ponder these issues.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/04/2014 02:04 pm
This could get very interesting, very quickly. (If it hasn't already)
If nothing else, it might put the Russian/US space interdependence problems into the primary news.   It would be good for the general public to ponder these issues.

 - Ed Kyle

Especially when there are still people who think the Shuttle is still flying, in reaction to "Gravity".
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/04/2014 07:24 pm

...not just education, but awareness and curiosity.  Real forehead slappers!

But this thread will really heat up once the hearing is underway--glad to see it happening.  At least someone is aware there are issues/concerns with US access to space, especially in the HSF arena.  Sad that it has to take events like those unfolding to make it happen...
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Star One on 03/04/2014 08:27 pm


...not just education, but awareness and curiosity.  Real forehead slappers!

But this thread will really heat up once the hearing is underway--glad to see it happening.  At least someone is aware there are issues/concerns with US access to space, especially in the HSF arena.  Sad that it has to take events like those unfolding to make it happen...

Has ULA done much work if any at all into looking for alternative engines for their launchers?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/04/2014 08:38 pm

Has ULA done much work if any at all into looking for alternative engines for their launchers?

An excellent question, and one that I suppose can be refined to "...alternative engines for the core stage of Atlas V" or "...alternative kerolox engines for core" since the Delta IV family uses U.S. engines for core and upper stage.

EDIT:  noted core stage for Atlas V since we all know the Centaur is RL-10...
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 12:31 pm
So if we can all keep an eye on this one today, it'd be appreciated. I can't transcribe, real busy week with the jobs that put food on my table this week, but I will be aiming to write an article on what's said....probably more so Elon (I know, I know, but he usually comes out with the best quotes.)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 01:55 pm
Maybe if I post "Elon's speaking" in the SpaceX section, we'll be overrun by people wanting to cover this? ;)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 01:59 pm
Webcast started.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:01 pm
I can't find a link to the stream. Link?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:01 pm
Sen Durban speaking now.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:02 pm
I can't find a link to the stream. Link?

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/streama.cfm - on the first post!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:02 pm
I can't find a link to the stream. Link?

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/streama.cfm - on the first post!

Thanks, apparently missed that.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:03 pm
Senator Shelby likes ULA! :) 100 percent success rate.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:05 pm
"Competition may not result in lower costs". This after the cost went up 60 percent over the last three years.

Elon's going to have to battle him.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:05 pm
So if we can all keep an eye on this one today, it'd be appreciated. I can't transcribe, real busy week with the jobs that put food on my table this week, but I will be aiming to write an article on what's said....probably more so Elon (I know, I know, but he usually comes out with the best quotes.)

I'd help transcribe but I have a flight off to Arizona in 3 hours to interview with Oribtal. *fingers crossed*
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:05 pm
Shelby. mentions 68 consecutive EELV missions, not just cause he's from Alabama, etc. Competition "typically" is good but launch market is not typical. Competition is not the problem, buying EELV en bloc will make a greater savings.




Supposedly represents a party that stands for free market economy, evedence notwithstanding. 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:06 pm
GAO lady:
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:11 pm
Chairman and Mr. Gass - who looks buoyant!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:12 pm
Gass claims his rockets are the only rockets capable of carrying out the sat launches reliably.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:14 pm
ULA looking at dual sat launches like Ariane.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:14 pm
ULA expanding customer base.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:14 pm
Gass claims his rockets are the only rockets capable of carrying out the sat launches reliably.

Gass seems to be heavily implying that competition will increase costs because of oversupply.

(I keep coughing on some of the stuff he's saying...)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:17 pm
Gass was impressive.

Elon up...

5 billion dollars of orders on SpaceX's books.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:18 pm
Elon Musk is going direct for the throat picking on ULA being overpriced.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:18 pm
"You're paying too much" - paraphrased. Notes monopoly etc.

ULA have one billion dollars fixed cost, even if they don't launch!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Borklund on 03/05/2014 02:19 pm
Elon is not mincing his words
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:20 pm
SpaceX would have saved 11.6 billion dollars, had they had the EELV contacts.

Hope to complete certification this year.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 02:20 pm
Gass claims his rockets are the only rockets capable of carrying out the sat launches reliably.

You can only use that argument for a limited amount of time. Once SpaceX launches reliably 10 times in a row (the Falcon 9 version 1.1), it stops being an argument.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:22 pm
RD-180 Made in Russia. Yep, Musk went there. :D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:22 pm
Elon jabbing Atlas V over not being fully American - and references the Ukrainian situation.

Holy crap, he's really going after them!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:22 pm
Elon Musk mentioning that their rockets are 100% American and ULA uses pieces built in Ukraine and depends on Putin's permission.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:22 pm
Well there's my article for today! ;D

Scott Pace now up:
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: AJW on 03/05/2014 02:26 pm
Key message is that Musk is asking for a reexamination of the ULA block purchase.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:28 pm
Wow.. Musk and Gass will be cross examining each other. Holy crap.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:31 pm
Here come the Russia questions!

Two years of safety stock in country on the engines. We are not at any risk of supporting national needs - Gass.

Business deal with NPO - have all the blueprints and specs, written in Russian and translated. Can build the engines in house.

There were things the Russians were doing that our textbooks said were impossible.

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:33 pm
Musk: ULA should phase out the Atlas 5 and concentrate on Delta IV.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:33 pm
Musk saying ULA is a good track record, but the first Delta IV failed and another was partial. 

ULA doesn't need both rocket families. They should phase out the Atlas V.

Should look at Delta IV and Falcon going forward.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:36 pm
Gass arguing from the past on why ELC (subsidy) is needed and claims its not a subsidy.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:37 pm
Gass envies SpaceX's cargo contract?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:37 pm
Gass fighting back!!

They don't get what they see as a subsidy. Then went off on a tangent it seems.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:41 pm
Gass questioning on what should be the qualification on when you stop accepting new companies into EELV. Claims there should be a limit.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: AJW on 03/05/2014 02:41 pm
Did Gass really just ask how do you prevent competitors from coming in and wanting a piece of the market?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:43 pm
Musk says when ULA formed as a merger of Boeing and LM, the costs doubled.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:43 pm
If our rockets are good enough for NASA, why aren't they good enough for USAF? - Musk.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 02:45 pm
I'm having a hard time telling whether Dr. Scott Pace is against competition or for it. He apparently just seems to want consistency across government.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:46 pm
Whoops. Costs on the rise chart:
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: M129K on 03/05/2014 02:47 pm
Whoops. Costs on the rise chart:
Some real shots fired there.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:48 pm
USAF is working against competition, claim.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:49 pm
Musk says certification is going well and no red flags.

Punches ULA again over two years of engines and a five year contract.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 03/05/2014 02:50 pm
I'm having a hard time telling whether Dr. Scott Pace is against competition or for it. He apparently just seems to want consistency across government.

He keeps talking about how complicated it is to change things.  Since change would hurt ULA and help SpaceX, I'd say he's effectively arguing for ULA.  He also directly undercut Musk's argument that NASA's willingness to use Falcons should mean that the USAF should be happy with Falcon.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:50 pm
HA! Elon's face when Sen. Shelby started talking!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:52 pm
Shelby going after Elon. Saying SpaceX will have to comply with cost insight like ULA, which they apparently don't.

Elon says they do already to NASA.

US Gov does not buy launch insurance, so there's more mission assurance costs. 50 percent more cost than commercial missions. But still is much cheaper than ULA.

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: veblen on 03/05/2014 02:53 pm
Musk: It may be wise for the A.F. to re-consider buying AtlasV's in light of the current international situation (assurance of U.S. access to space).
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:54 pm
Anyone want to photoshop Gass and Musk in boxing gloves? ;) Or Altas V and F9 in boxing gloves - I'm thinking Rocky 4! ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 02:55 pm
Elon said that SpaceX's costs would be 50% more (i.e., $90M instead of $60M) for DOD flights because of the addditional overhead imposed by DOD.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 02:57 pm
Musk: by ULA's definition of success our mission was perfect !(love it!)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 02:57 pm
Shelby going after the Merlin failure leading to ORBCOMM not getting to orbit.

"By ULA's definition of success, it was perfect" ;D Musk.

Notes ORBCOMM Option objective not part of the primary mission.

Gass: "It would not be classed as successful if a contracted satellite with us."

FIGHT!!!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Borklund on 03/05/2014 02:58 pm
Senator Shelby just twisted Elon's word, making it seem like that according to Elon, by Elon's standards, despite the failure of the secondary payload on the CRS-1 mission it was a perfect success, when he was referring to ULA's criterion. Astonishing.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JBF on 03/05/2014 02:59 pm
Musk got mixed up, Shelby was referring to the COTS mission.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: AJW on 03/05/2014 02:59 pm
Elon said that SpaceX's costs would be 50% more (i.e., $90M instead of $60M) because of the addditional overhead imposed by DOD.
Amazing that the auditing adds 30 million to the cost.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/05/2014 03:01 pm
Interesting comment from Dr. Pace regarding "magic going on with some of SpaceX's costs" ... but they were "willing to accept the results."

CONTEXT:  From the Government's perspective, that says a lot without saying a lot of words. What it really does is inject a little bit of risk into the considerations because without fully understanding costs, it's hard to justify price OR gain satisfaction that a supplier (in this case SpaceX) will remain viable long-term.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:02 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:02 pm
Gass claiming all Musk's numbers are categorically wrong! O_O

Edit: What numbers is he talking about, only number's Elon mentioned are his own launch prices. Unless I misheard.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:03 pm
Gass says Elon mentioned numbers that are all kinds of wrong.

Gass says the chart is misrepresentative.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:04 pm
Gass going off on a tangent when asked about why competition is bad.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:05 pm
Gass fighting back well. Using lots of things I don't understand, but he's fighting.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Elvis in Space on 03/05/2014 03:07 pm
Gass fighting back well. Using lots of things I don't understand, but he's fighting.

I think he's counting on a lot of people to feel that way.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:07 pm
Gass claiming Musk doesn't have same requirements.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 03/05/2014 03:08 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.

Yeah, and he's actually arranged a real debate.  This is a great hearing.  In retrospect, one of the signs up front was his inclusion of a GAO witness.

Hats off to Sen. Durbin!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:09 pm
ULA is ready and able to compete with SpaceX - Gass.

But SpaceX doesn't have all the capabilities or the requirements. Need to get to a level playing field.

Musk: SpaceX can manage all of the requirements. Fixed price competition is the best way to go.

Gass asked to agree. He didn't.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: veblen on 03/05/2014 03:09 pm
Feinstein, Rep from California,  uses Musk's word for ULA: monopoly.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:10 pm
Gass claiming nitrogen purges of fairings are not standard commodities?

Don't many normal missions require this?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Bargemanos on 03/05/2014 03:10 pm
Mr. Gass doesn't seem te like the fixed price idea.. :D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:12 pm
Ooh, Gass gets one over on Elon. Elon now saying the rocket should be fixed price. The payload should be cost plus.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/05/2014 03:12 pm
Gass fighting back well. Using lots of things I don't understand, but he's fighting.

A very confrontational hearing.   8)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 03:16 pm
Pace brings up a good point that commercialization and loss of the Atlas 5 could create a new sort of monopoly system where Falcon IX handles most most launches with some Deltas remaining for the rest.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 03/05/2014 03:17 pm
Supposedly represents a party that stands for free market economy, evidence notwithstanding.

Shelby's free market principals have always been suspect.

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:18 pm
Well that was BRILLIANT! ;D

Ok, so got to do some day job work and then I'll write an article.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/05/2014 03:19 pm
Supposedly represents a party that stands for free market economy, evidence notwithstanding.

Shelby's free market principals have always been suspect.

~Jon

I lived in Alabama when Shelby changed party - from my perspective as a then-registered Alabama voter, ALL his principles have been suspect.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 03/05/2014 03:19 pm
Musk saying ULA is a good track record, but the first Delta IV failed and another was partial. 

ULA doesn't need both rocket families. They should phase out the Atlas V.

Should look at Delta IV and Falcon going forward.

Of course Elon would want them to get rid of Atlas V--it's the more competitive of the two rocket families...

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: veblen on 03/05/2014 03:19 pm
Musk: Using an example: fixed price for lvs, late changes to missions would be cost plus. "Logical".
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:21 pm
Supposedly represents a party that stands for free market economy, evidence notwithstanding.

Shelby's free market principals have always been suspect.

~Jon

He used to be a Democrat. But he is more of a populist than anything else.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: AJW on 03/05/2014 03:21 pm
On multiple occasions Gass spoke of reducing EELV costs, but gave no examples and the evidence belies this claim.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:22 pm
Musk: Using an example: fixed price for lvs, late changes to missions would be cost plus. "Logical".

Late changes and items that are specific to the mission.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Silmfeanor on 03/05/2014 03:22 pm
Ooh, Gass gets one over on Elon. Elon now saying the rocket should be fixed price. The payload should be cost plus.

Not quite that extreme - special accomodations for a specific payload - be they on the launch vehicle or on the mission proces - could be cost-plus, because they might be unique - but the biggest part of the contract - ie the normal rocket, the normal processes - should all be fixed price.

You buy a rocket. Fixed price.
You want a ultra-special-candy-flavoured-nitrogen purge? cost plus for only that part and the equipment needed for it because it is so unique.

This will be for a small subset of launches.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/05/2014 03:22 pm
Musk saying ULA is a good track record, but the first Delta IV failed and another was partial. 

ULA doesn't need both rocket families. They should phase out the Atlas V.

Should look at Delta IV and Falcon going forward.

Of course Elon would want them to get rid of Atlas V--it's the more competitive of the two rocket families...

~Jon

Yeah but with the current political climate in Russia, people calling for sanctions and Putin threatening to seized U.S. assets in reprisal for any sanctions, he has a point regarding the engine supply. Two years' worth is one thing but who's to say that's enough? How competitive would their prices be if they are forced to actually build engines in quantity rather than a few manufacturing tech-demos?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: veblen on 03/05/2014 03:23 pm
Musk: Using an example: fixed price for lvs, late changes to missions would be cost plus. "Logical".

Late changes and items that are specific to the mission.

yes
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/05/2014 03:23 pm
As an American, I was proud to watch that hearing.  Most confrontational, informative, constructive defense related hearing I have seen in years.

Having 2 contractors, GAO, and a wonk as witnesses, and endorsing cross examination was brilliant.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 03/05/2014 03:24 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.

Yeah, and he's actually arranged a real debate.  This is a great hearing.  In retrospect, one of the signs up front was his inclusion of a GAO witness.

Hats off to Sen. Durbin!

Agreed. Having a congressional hearing on space where there's real, honest-to-goodness debate is all too rare these days.

That said, being a fan of both SpaceX and ULA, it's like watching a boxing fight where you're fans of both boxers.

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:24 pm
On multiple occasions Gass spoke of reducing EELV costs, but gave no examples and the evidence belies this claim.

He said that since 2012, ULA prices are being reduced because of the new acquisition strategy. I imagine that he means the block buy acquisition strategy.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 03/05/2014 03:25 pm
I have to admire the way Shelby played Musk on the secondary payload failure.  After Musk's reply, Shelby managed to hand off to Gass and Pace in such a way as to create the impression, without anybody actually saying anything untrue, that Musk was glossing over a major failure.  Shelby plays hardball, and he's good at it.  I'll bet the questions he said he'd submit for the record are pretty tricky too.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:28 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.

Yeah, and he's actually arranged a real debate.  This is a great hearing.  In retrospect, one of the signs up front was his inclusion of a GAO witness.

Hats off to Sen. Durbin!

Agreed. Having a congressional hearing on space where there's real, honest-to-goodness debate is all too rare these days.

That said, being a fan of both SpaceX and ULA, it's like watching a boxing fight where you're fans of both boxers.

~Jon

I agree. But I am still hoping that ULA finds better ways to control its costs. I don't know if phasing out the Atlas V is a good idea (as Musk is advocating). The Atlas V is generally more competitive than the Delta IV.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Elvis in Space on 03/05/2014 03:29 pm
I have to admire the way Shelby played Musk on the secondary payload failure.  After Musk's reply, Shelby managed to hand off to Gass and Pace in such a way as to create the impression, without anybody actually saying anything untrue, that Musk was glossing over a major failure.  Shelby plays hardball, and he's good at it.  I'll bet the questions he said he'd submit for the record are pretty tricky too.

Agreed. Elon is a bit out of his league at times with such people. You almost wish that Ms. Shotwell was there.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:29 pm
Anyone know if the written statements are online?

The Q&A was more interesting, but I want to get everything in one place. I've got a dodgy recording for quoting the Q&A, but that'll be on as an archive soon anyway.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/05/2014 03:30 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.

Yeah, and he's actually arranged a real debate.  This is a great hearing.  In retrospect, one of the signs up front was his inclusion of a GAO witness.

Hats off to Sen. Durbin!

Agreed. Having a congressional hearing on space where there's real, honest-to-goodness debate is all too rare these days.

That said, being a fan of both SpaceX and ULA, it's like watching a boxing fight where you're fans of both boxers.

~Jon

I agree. But I am still hoping that ULA finds better ways to control its costs. I don't know if phasing out the Atlas V is a good idea (as Musk is advocating). The Atlas V is generally more competitive than the Delta IV.

As we all know that is subject to change with the price and supply of RD-180's. Which Elon pointed out, which was why he suggested ULA phase out Atlas V and keep building Delta IV.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:31 pm
I have to admire the way Shelby played Musk on the secondary payload failure.  After Musk's reply, Shelby managed to hand off to Gass and Pace in such a way as to create the impression, without anybody actually saying anything untrue, that Musk was glossing over a major failure.  Shelby plays hardball, and he's good at it.  I'll bet the questions he said he'd submit for the record are pretty tricky too.

Hard ball but disingenuous hard ball. That's not the way to run a hearing.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/05/2014 03:34 pm
I don't know if phasing out the Atlas V is a good idea (as Musk is advocating). The Atlas V is generally more competitive than the Delta IV.

I think he's looking at things from a different perspective. He's not seeing two complete rockets with independent ways of doing things and independent systems. He sees the system as a whole, one not dependent on Russia, one dependent on Russia. If you take it at that then in an ideal situation then the Delta IV could have its cost reduced by itself to be a cheaper rocket.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Elvis in Space on 03/05/2014 03:34 pm
I have to admire the way Shelby played Musk on the secondary payload failure.  After Musk's reply, Shelby managed to hand off to Gass and Pace in such a way as to create the impression, without anybody actually saying anything untrue, that Musk was glossing over a major failure.  Shelby plays hardball, and he's good at it.  I'll bet the questions he said he'd submit for the record are pretty tricky too.

Hard ball but disingenuous hard ball. That's not the way to run a hearing.

Like most politicians Sen. Shelby is only interested in bringing home the bacon and getting the votes in return.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:36 pm
I have to admire the way Shelby played Musk on the secondary payload failure.  After Musk's reply, Shelby managed to hand off to Gass and Pace in such a way as to create the impression, without anybody actually saying anything untrue, that Musk was glossing over a major failure.  Shelby plays hardball, and he's good at it.  I'll bet the questions he said he'd submit for the record are pretty tricky too.

Agreed. Elon is a bit out of his league at times with such people. You almost wish that Ms. Shotwell was there.

There is nothing Musk could have done. The question wasn't addressed to him. But that's typical of politicians. They often stack the deck with witnesses that they know will answer what they want to hear. Fortunatelly, this wasn't done here. I throught that Pace did a good job. People often associate him with Mike Griffin but I think that he has his own ideas that are different from Griffin. He seems more open to alternate ideas and seems less dogmatic in his views.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 03:37 pm
I thought Elon did well. Didn't get a TKO, but certainly won on points.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 03:39 pm
Elon going after ULA's two families rockets - and Atlas' Russian accent - again.

I like this Chairman. Seems informed and fair.

Yeah, and he's actually arranged a real debate.  This is a great hearing.  In retrospect, one of the signs up front was his inclusion of a GAO witness.

Hats off to Sen. Durbin!

Agreed. Having a congressional hearing on space where there's real, honest-to-goodness debate is all too rare these days.

That said, being a fan of both SpaceX and ULA, it's like watching a boxing fight where you're fans of both boxers.

~Jon

I agree. But I am still hoping that ULA finds better ways to control its costs. I don't know if phasing out the Atlas V is a good idea (as Musk is advocating). The Atlas V is generally more competitive than the Delta IV.

As we all know that is subject to change with the price and supply of RD-180's. Which Elon pointed out, which was why he suggested ULA phase out Atlas V and keep building Delta IV.

They could domesticate the RD-180s.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/05/2014 03:41 pm
Hard ball but disingenuous hard ball. That's not the way to run a hearing.

These hearings are used as fodder for future hearings.  The point of the disingenuous comment is to get someone to say a sentence that can quoted back slightly out of context in future hearings.  Disingenuous comments are a tool of debate to get the opponent to convict themselves. 

Thanks to the wise setup of this hearing, Gass and Musk both generated many quotes that will be useful in future hearings.  No one's minds are changed in modern hearings.

That being said, it is amazing how differently SpaceX was spoken of in this hearing verses the past hearings where SpaceX was treated with much more disdain. 

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Welcome to Phase 3 SpaceX.


Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JBF on 03/05/2014 03:41 pm
My biggest disappointment was that Elon misheard the engine out question.  Shelby was talking about CRS-1 not Cassiopeia.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: clongton on 03/05/2014 03:51 pm
Shelby is an experienced, hardball playing backwoods southern lawyer with one client only - Alabama. He has no interest that I have been able to see over the years of watching him, and the 2 times that I have talked to him,  of doing what's best for America if it shaves *anything* off the pork he can bring home to Alabama. Truth be told, that's his job and that's why the good people of Alabama keep re-electing him because he's so good at bringing home the bacon. So I am not surprised at the tenacity in the way he went after Elon. SpaceX represents a genuine threat to ULA and all the space-related spinoff businesses in Alabama and Senator Shelby is going for the juggler because he knows how credible a threat SpaceX is.
 
I'll bet you dimes to shoelaces that Elon will go home and sharpen his pencil real hard just so he can play his own brand of hardball. ULA needs to get off the easy chair they've been lounging in for so long and actually do what they said they were going to do; reduce their prices. If they don't SpaceX could actually eat their lunch. The most telling jab I heard was about only 2 years supply of Russian RD-180 engines when ULA has a 5-year contract, and ULA needing Russian "permission" to buy more. OUCH! Yes, we can build the RD-180 ourselves, but it *will* cost considerably more than buying them from the Russians. ULA doesn't want to go there but it seems like Musk is intent on taking them there anyway. He wants their DoD business!
 
And yes, Gass did effectively say that competition is not good for business.  :o
 
Wow! Just wow!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: AJW on 03/05/2014 03:56 pm
It appears that Feinstein had a chart of overall EELV expenditures by year, but a chart showing costs of each individual launch might be more telling.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/05/2014 03:58 pm
They could domesticate the RD-180s.

Yeah, I know we keep seeing that repeated. And sure, they did some manufacturing tech demos (HOW many years ago, now?). Musk knows that. The question is, how would ULA's Atlas costs compare if they ACTUALLY DID IT? That is Elon's point.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: veblen on 03/05/2014 03:59 pm
Shelby - I had my browser with the meeting minimized so I only got the audio - reminded me of Charles Laughton in Advice and Consent.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 04:03 pm
Webcast is now archived:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=9e2eaa52-fcb3-42e5-b9f0-a7874d591791

Still REALLY want to know if the statements are online or should be online soon?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: tigerade on 03/05/2014 04:05 pm
Steve Jurvetson's comments on the hearing:

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000252930

Please delete if this is a repost.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 04:05 pm
They could domesticate the RD-180s.

Yeah, I know we keep seeing that repeated. And sure, they did some manufacturing tech demos (HOW many years ago, now?). Musk knows that. The question is, how would ULA's Atlas costs compare if they ACTUALLY DID IT? That is Elon's point.

That's a good point. But it would seem strange to phase out the Atlas V given that it is the LV that will used by DC and the CST-100.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Mark S on 03/05/2014 04:05 pm

.... Senator Shelby is going for the juggler because he knows how credible a threat SpaceX is.
 

Those darn jugglers, always keeping their balls up in the air. Almost as bad as mimes, really.  ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 04:07 pm
Webcast is now archived:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=9e2eaa52-fcb3-42e5-b9f0-a7874d591791

Still REALLY want to know if the statements are online or should be online soon?

Here are the statements:
http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-defense.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=c79ea7af-1e67-4de7-967b-95b4a78e3e35
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 04:09 pm
Webcast is now archived:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=9e2eaa52-fcb3-42e5-b9f0-a7874d591791

Still REALLY want to know if the statements are online or should be online soon?

Here are the statements:
http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-defense.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=c79ea7af-1e67-4de7-967b-95b4a78e3e35

Super! Thanks! :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 04:13 pm
Gass:

"I’ve also experienced  some of the launch  industry’s  darkest  days, such as in the late
1990s  when  the  U.S. suffered  a  series of  six  major  launch failures  over a  10-month
period. "

Pop quiz. Name all six....
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/05/2014 04:24 pm
Gass:

"I’ve also experienced  some of the launch  industry’s  darkest  days, such as in the late
1990s  when  the  U.S. suffered  a  series of  six  major  launch failures  over a  10-month
period. "

Pop quiz. Name all six....
Three Titan IV missions (two were upper stage phases), two Delta III flights, and one amazing Delta II explosion right above the launch pad - although the timeline of the Delta II failure might not be right.  There was an Athena failure in 1999 that might be a better fit for the 10 month interval.

UPDATE:  It was the Athena.  Here's a list.


08/12/98  Titan 401A       A20/TC?   Vortex 2 (NRO)      CC 41     (FTO)(a)
08/27/98  Delta 8930       D259      Galaxy 10           CC 17B    (FTO)(b)
04/09/99  Titan 402B       B27/IUS21 DSP 19              CC 41     (GTO)(1)
04/27/99  Athena-2         LM005     Ikonos 1            VA 6      (FTO)(2)
04/30/99  Titan 401B       B32/TC14  Milstar 2 F1        CC 40     (EEO)(3)
05/05/99  Delta 8930-13.1C D269      Orion 3             CC 17B    (EEO)(4)

(a) Exploded at T+41.3s after power glitch caused loss of guidance and pitchover
(b) First Delta 3; exploded at T+75s; guidance failure (algorithm)
(1) IUS SRM-2 apogee failed due SRM-1 bad sep
(2) Fairing no sep (electrical) 
(3) Bad Centaur attitude control software, improper final orbit
(4) RL10B-2 chamber rupture at transfer burn start


 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/05/2014 04:25 pm
Fantastic thread, coverage and comments.  Thanks all!  I hope to find time this evening to review the links.
As for phasing out AtlasV:  I think it more likely AtlasV would be phased out than the RD-180 being fabricated in the U.S. due to development cost (and thus cost increase of the booster).  Remember, even if/when the Ukraine deal resolves (peacefully we hope), the question of the AtlasV core propulsion will still be valid.  CST100 and DC better consider a different option (Delta IV M4+2?, Falcon?).
I think ultimately this (attention on U.S. spaceflight) is good for us.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/05/2014 04:32 pm
Gass:

"I’ve also experienced  some of the launch  industry’s  darkest  days, such as in the late
1990s  when  the  U.S. suffered  a  series of  six  major  launch failures  over a  10-month
period. "

Pop quiz. Name all six....

Delta II 1997 01-17
Delta II 1998 08-27
Titan IV 1998 08-12
Titan IV 1999 4-9
Titan IV 1999 4-30

I am missing one.

04/27/99  Athena-2  Good Job Ed.  I never remember Athena

I will take a second place to Ed in this one and frame it on my wall :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 04:39 pm
Gass:

"I’ve also experienced  some of the launch  industry’s  darkest  days, such as in the late
1990s  when  the  U.S. suffered  a  series of  six  major  launch failures  over a  10-month
period. "

Pop quiz. Name all six....
Three Titan IV missions (two were upper stage phases), two Delta III flights, and one amazing Delta II explosion right above the launch pad - although the timeline of the Delta II failure might not be right.  There was an Athena failure in 1999 that might be a better fit for the 10 month interval.

UPDATE:  It was the Athena.  Here's a list.


08/12/98  Titan 401A       A20/TC?   Vortex 2 (NRO)      CC 41     (FTO)(a)
08/27/98  Delta 8930       D259      Galaxy 10           CC 17B    (FTO)(b)
04/09/99  Titan 402B       B27/IUS21 DSP 19              CC 41     (GTO)(1)
04/27/99  Athena-2         LM005     Ikonos 1            VA 6      (FTO)(2)
04/30/99  Titan 401B       B32/TC14  Milstar 2 F1        CC 40     (EEO)(3)
05/05/99  Delta 8930-13.1C D269      Orion 3             CC 17B    (EEO)(4)

(a) Exploded at T+41.3s after power glitch caused loss of guidance and pitchover
(b) First Delta 3; exploded at T+75s; guidance failure (algorithm)
(1) IUS SRM-2 apogee failed due SRM-1 bad sep
(2) Fairing no sep (electrical) 
(3) Bad Centaur attitude control software, improper final orbit
(4) RL10B-2 chamber rupture at transfer burn start


 - Ed Kyle

HA! I knew you'd be all over that question! :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/05/2014 04:44 pm
Fantastic thread, coverage and comments.  Thanks all!  I hope to find time this evening to review the links.
As for phasing out AtlasV:  I think it more likely AtlasV would be phased out than the RD-180 being fabricated in the U.S. due to development cost (and thus cost increase of the booster).  Remember, even if/when the Ukraine deal resolves (peacefully we hope), the question of the AtlasV core propulsion will still be valid.  CST100 and DC better consider a different option (Delta IV M4+2?, Falcon?).
I think ultimately this (attention on U.S. spaceflight) is good for us.
I disagree about phasing out Atlas 5, because the Atlas 5 propulsion problem is also for all practical purposes the Antares propulsion problem.  This problem needs to be resolved, either by guaranteed access to RD-180, or by replacing the engine entirely.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: bad_astra on 03/05/2014 04:59 pm
final thought from that meeting. At one poing Gass went on about buying RD-180 because the Russians were doing things that "our textbooks said were impossible" and then deriding domestic engine development. Also does not favor fix price competitive contracts that might further improve future editions of whatever textbook he's been reading.


The head of ULA complaining about a lack of US rocket engine development is like the CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken complaining abuot American fried chicken technology. How can you be that educated and make these statements with a straight face?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/05/2014 05:42 pm
I was aggravated by the repetitive "100 percent success" claims made by all participants.  They should know better.  Each rocket (Delta 4, Atlas 5, and Falcon 9) has failed once, and Delta 4 almost suffered a second failure.

Otherwise it was maybe my favorite Congressional committee hearing ever!

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2014 05:43 pm
ULA contracts are fixed price
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: tigerade on 03/05/2014 05:44 pm
Elon Musk's written statement pulls no punches:

Quote
Mr. Chairman, we appreciate this Committee’s timely review of the EELV Program. We commend the
Air Force and NRO efforts to reintroduce competition into the EELV Program as a means to counter the
rising costs of national security space launch and the stagnant innovation in this critical sector. In order
for true, meaningful competition to occur, we respectfully suggest the EELV Program be further reformed
to adopt contracting practices and other acquisition reforms consistent with a competitive procurement
environment, as follows:
1) Most importantly, every single mission capable of being launched by qualified new entrants
should be competed this year and every year moving forward. There should be no reason that a
mission is sole-sourced to ULA, whether as part of the recent 36-core deal or any other
arrangement. And if competition opportunities are being delayed, we should understand why that
is so, and we should fix it immediately;

2) Introduce a FAR Part 12 commercial contract structure that creates rational incentives for both
the contractors and the government to achieve reliable, cost effective on-time launches;
3) Leverage commercial practices wherever possible – a philosophy and acquisition approach that
NASA has successfully employed in its launch programs. Fundamentally, the Air Force should
establish clear requirements for launch services and associated activities, but it should not dictate
how those requirements are implemented. Rather, contractors should be empowered to meet
requirements in a manner best suited to their organization’s strengths; and
4) Eliminate payments—more properly called subsidies—under the EELV Launch Capability (ELC)
contract line item that are exclusively in support of the incumbent provider
. And when
conducting competitions for launches, properly account for the subsidies that the incumbent
enjoys so that an even playing field is created. The long-term elimination of the ELC is
paramount if an efficient acquisition approach is to be created. As was noted in DOD’s
recertification of the EELV program after its 2012 “critical” Nunn-McCurdy breach, cost-plus
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/05/2014 05:45 pm
I disagree about phasing out Atlas 5, because the Atlas 5 propulsion problem is also for all practical purposes the Antares propulsion problem.  This problem needs to be resolved, either by guaranteed access to RD-180, or by replacing the engine entirely.

 - Ed Kyle

But that's the rub.  There is no such thing as guaranteed access to the RD-180 outside of fabricating it here in the U.S.  And replacing the RD-180 means development of a SC (likely oxy rich) kerolox engine.  Either way, huge development time and cost (seems that the domestic RD-180 might be the better option, but I don't know enough about true domestic progress on other kerolox options, including AJ26).  Either way, per comments from Mr. Gass, it seems unlikely ULA will go down that road.  And even if they did, the affordability of the AtlasV (the big selling point) goes away with said development and fabrication costs.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 06:06 pm
ULA contracts are fixed price

Musk was talking about the ELC contract. The more than $1B per year that ULA gets whether it launches or not.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: billh on 03/05/2014 06:09 pm
Thanks to all for capturing this on the NSF thread. I was most struck by the comment about two years of engine inventory and a five year contract. That sounds pretty scary to me, if things with Russia keep deteriorating. I'm sure they could build the RD-180 here if they had to. But the issue is not just the cost, it's the time it would take to get them into production. Any educated guesses on that? And do we even have the proper alloys available domestically?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 06:11 pm
Elon Musk's written statement pulls no punches:

You know what. Mr. Gass pretty much read from his statement. Elon went way past his statement! I'm 900 words into the article and I'm pretty much quoting from the video now.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 06:19 pm
Some help if anyone's willing:

Half the "airframe" of the Atlas V is from overseas?

They keep talking about an uncompeted 36 core EELV block buy....as if that's already a done deal? Is that what SpaceX want a piece of the pie over?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: rst on 03/05/2014 06:23 pm
I disagree about phasing out Atlas 5, because the Atlas 5 propulsion problem is also for all practical purposes the Antares propulsion problem.  This problem needs to be resolved, either by guaranteed access to RD-180, or by replacing the engine entirely.

Well, there are enough NK-33s already in Aerojet's American inventory for Orbital to fulfill their commitments to NASA.  Musk at least seemed to be claiming (in the summaries here, at least) that this is not the case for the RD-180.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2014 06:25 pm
ULA contracts are fixed price

Musk was talking about the ELC contract. The more than $1B per year that ULA gets whether it launches or not.

It still is a fixed price.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: USFdon on 03/05/2014 06:27 pm
But that's the rub.  There is no such thing as guaranteed access to the RD-180 outside of fabricating it here in the U.S.  And replacing the RD-180 means development of a SC (likely oxy rich) kerolox engine.  Either way, huge development time and cost (seems that the domestic RD-180 might be the better option, but I don't know enough about true domestic progress on other kerolox options, including AJ26).

Maybe restart work on the RS-84? I'm pretty sure that the engine had reached PDR and that Boeing/Rocketdyne had begun component (albeit sub-scale) testing at Marshall before the program was zeroed out 10 years ago.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/05/2014 06:29 pm
I disagree about phasing out Atlas 5, because the Atlas 5 propulsion problem is also for all practical purposes the Antares propulsion problem.  This problem needs to be resolved, either by guaranteed access to RD-180, or by replacing the engine entirely.

 - Ed Kyle

But that's the rub.  There is no such thing as guaranteed access to the RD-180 outside of fabricating it here in the U.S.  And replacing the RD-180 means development of a SC (likely oxy rich) kerolox engine.  Either way, huge development time and cost (seems that the domestic RD-180 might be the better option, but I don't know enough about true domestic progress on other kerolox options, including AJ26).  Either way, per comments from Mr. Gass, it seems unlikely ULA will go down that road.  And even if they did, the affordability of the AtlasV (the big selling point) goes away with said development and fabrication costs.

This isn't the late 1990's, we understand SC and we understand both these engines.   The real question is "HOW" we could manufacture these engines?   The same complex system in place now, or a SpaceX type system?

The 2nd real question is how are you going to fix the real problem ..."launch rates".   The hearing brought out the facts.  We have 2 years worth of RD-180's. why would you start production?

Did a research project on how to make a RL-10 clone with modern manufacturing cheap.  Looked at it again ...why bother?   Warehouses are full of a supply that will take years to use up.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 06:34 pm
Yeah, what is that other product past the RD-180, which Mr. Gass spoke of over the Russian supply question?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 06:48 pm
The partial Atlas V failure was AEHF-1, right?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 03/05/2014 06:53 pm
The partial Atlas V failure was AEHF-1, right?

Nope, it's the NROL-30 launch in June 2007.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2014 06:53 pm
The partial Atlas V failure was AEHF-1, right?

That was a spacecraft and not ULA.  It was a NROL mission.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JBF on 03/05/2014 06:56 pm
Some help if anyone's willing:

Half the "airframe" of the Atlas V is from overseas?

They keep talking about an uncompeted 36 core EELV block buy....as if that's already a done deal? Is that what SpaceX want a piece of the pie over?

Fairing is RUAG, Swiss. 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 07:00 pm
Thanks chaps!
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 07:03 pm
ULA contracts are fixed price

Musk was talking about the ELC contract. The more than $1B per year that ULA gets whether it launches or not.

It still is a fixed price.

Maybe so but it's not a per launch fixed price. His point was that most of the contract should be a fixed price per mission. If there is an element that is specific to one mission, it should be cost plus. Delays to other flights could also be cost plus.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2014 07:08 pm

Maybe so but it's not a per launch fixed price. His point was that most of the contract should be a fixed price per mission. If there is an element that is specific to one mission, it should be cost plus. Delays to other flights could also be cost plus.

ELC covers DOD unique requirements and launch delays.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: WindnWar on 03/05/2014 07:12 pm
From what I can find, the EELV proposed contract was for 50 launches with 36 being sole sourced to ULA and the other 14 to be competed with ULA being allowed to contract on those launches as well if no other competitor can meet the requirements for those missions. As of January 2014 14 of the 36 launch block buy has been contracted with ULA. Since its moving forward I would assume it was approved.

It sounds like in addition to the 14 launches that are suppose to be competed, SpaceX wants the 36 launch block buy opened for competition too.

In addition to the block buy the ELC continues to be contracted on an annual basis, with the current cost at about $1 billion a year.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 07:16 pm
Some help if anyone's willing:
They keep talking about an uncompeted 36 core EELV block buy....as if that's already a done deal? Is that what SpaceX want a piece of the pie over?

Under the Air Force's plan to reduce EELV costs, 36 missions will be block buys which will be sole-sourced to ULA. SpaceX will compete for 14 flights which will be competed. SpaceX is not guaranteed to win those.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 07:18 pm

Maybe so but it's not a per launch fixed price. His point was that most of the contract should be a fixed price per mission. If there is an element that is specific to one mission, it should be cost plus. Delays to other flights could also be cost plus.

ELC covers DOD unique requirements and launch delays.

Yes but Musk's point is that this isn't worth $1B per year. You would be better off doing a cost plus contract for those.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/05/2014 07:40 pm
Emergency took me away; do we have an archived link?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/05/2014 07:43 pm
Webcast is now archived:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=9e2eaa52-fcb3-42e5-b9f0-a7874d591791

See Chris' post above.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/05/2014 07:46 pm
Ask and ye shall receive... Thanks Guys! :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 08:06 pm
Up to 2,000 words on the article. You need to get the popcorn out for this one Robert! ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/05/2014 08:56 pm
Up to 2,000 words on the article. You need to get the popcorn out for this one Robert! ;D

remember no drama  ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/05/2014 09:29 pm
I'll give this a standalone thread:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/03/spacex-and-ula-eelv-contracts/

Obviously, as the hearing showed, Elon won it. For balance I gave Mr. Gass the last word in the article.

Covered as much as I could. I know there were other contractual elements discussed, but had to go for the highlights.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/05/2014 09:55 pm
Up to 2,000 words on the article. You need to get the popcorn out for this one Robert! ;D
Thank you for the super article Chris! :) It provided the delicious seasoning that made for a tasty meal...munch, munch... :D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/05/2014 09:57 pm
Gass says Elon mentioned numbers that are all kinds of wrong.

Gass says the chart is misrepresentative.
Err, those figures are labelled "GAO." They are not therefor Spacex's figures, except insofar as Spacex provided some of them.

In which case how would he know they are wrong?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/05/2014 10:24 pm
Gass says Elon mentioned numbers that are all kinds of wrong.

Gass says the chart is misrepresentative.
Err, those figures are labelled "GAO." They are not therefor Spacex's figures, except insofar as Spacex provided some of them.

In which case how would he know they are wrong?
I think that his objection was that the chart did not normalize to the number of launches.  If you look at the numbers, the per-launch cost (if taken as a simple division of launch number divided by total annual cost) is actually flat or slightly declining as time passes.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/05/2014 10:39 pm
It still is a fixed price.
As is the cost of the LV's. However the launch services contract, IE everything else is IIRC cost plus.
And I think the bulk of that 60% price in the per launch cost is due to the rise in those annual cost rises.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2014 10:55 pm
It still is a fixed price.
As is the cost of the LV's. However the launch services contract, IE everything else is IIRC cost plus.

No, everything is fixed price.  Non standard services are additive but also fixed price.

Edit: Tried fixing the quotes but I am not sure who said the following "Musk was talking about the ELC contract. The more than $1B per year that ULA gets whether it launches or not." so my fix is imperfect.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/05/2014 11:16 pm
This isn't the late 1990's, we understand SC and we understand both these engines.   The real question is "HOW" we could manufacture these engines?   The same complex system in place now, or a SpaceX type system?
Not really. The US has never built a large oxidizer rich staged combustion engine (or AFAIK a small one either).
Quote
The 2nd real question is how are you going to fix the real problem ..."launch rates".   The hearing brought out the facts.  We have 2 years worth of RD-180's. why would you start production?
Because they have 5 years of launches planned? Effectively the next 3 years are then on Putin's choice.   :(

The "real" problem is that ULA only deals with the US govt in various parts. I'm still not sure why 1 comm sat is going to to be launched on an EELV.

If ULA were generally competitive on the world market they would not need an ELC.

But as Gass said if ULA were operating commercially during the period that brought in the ELC they would have probably shut down entirely as the US Govt (effectively their only customer) did not have any payloads ready to fly (as they were all having development problems apparently)  :( :(

An interesting question is if the level playing field is competitive then should ULA lose the ELC or should Spacex also be paid something equivalent?

Keep in mind that all Musk is suggesting that if DoD is serious about "assured access" IE all major systems are under US control or have 2nd sources within the US that they can be swapped for.  That's either mfg an RD180 in the US or a new 3rd party design (wasn't there an USAF contract for a big new LOX/Kero engine?)

Although in practice most ULA launches have been Atlas launches.  :(  :(

[EDIT BTW wasn't one of the stated goal of the merger that produced ULA to (finally) decide on phasing out one or other of the LV's? In any business but the launch services business this would have happened years ago and the customers would have gotten over it by now.  :( :( ]
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/05/2014 11:27 pm
The 2nd real question is how are you going to fix the real problem ..."launch rates".   The hearing brought out the facts.  We have 2 years worth of RD-180's. why would you start production?
Because they have 5 years of launches planned? Effectively the next 3 years are then on Putin's choice.
Mr. Gass pointed out that ULA's contingency involves two-plus years worth of RD-180 inventory plus Delta 4 plus domestic RD-180 production already having proved itself viable for key elements.  Delta 4 is the ultimate backup to an RD-180 cutoff if domestic production doesn't pan out.

Shutting down Atlas 5 was mentioned repeatedly during the hearing, which surprised me.  Mr. Gass mentioned it in the above context.  Mr. Pace mentioned Atlas 5 replacement by Falcon 9 being a potential outcome.  And, of course, Mr. Musk practically begged for Atlas 5 to end.   

Atlas 5 isn't going away, of course.  I wouldn't be surprised to see it outlive all of the other rockets discussed in the hearing today.  I'm not predicting that, just saying that it wouldn't surprise me.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/05/2014 11:51 pm
Gass "GN2 purges are "very unique" needs" for national security payloads. ????
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/06/2014 07:44 am
On multiple occasions Gass spoke of reducing EELV costs, but gave no examples and the evidence belies this claim.

He said that since 2012, ULA prices are being reduced because of the new acquisition strategy. I imagine that he means the block buy acquisition strategy.

It's an age-old retail ploy -- jack up prices so you can lower them and claim the customer is saving money.  ULA jacked up the prices ahead of the block buy so they could claim the government was saving money by being locked into a huge buy.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/06/2014 08:08 am
Shelby [...] has no interest [...] of doing what's best for America if it shaves *anything* off the pork he can bring home to Alabama. Truth be told, that's his job and that's why the good people of Alabama keep re-electing him because he's so good at bringing home the bacon.

No, that's not his job.  His job is to follow the priorities of the people of Alabama, and I'll wager most people in Alabama care about the good of the country as a whole.  They want what's good for Alabama, but also what's good for America.

The problem is that most people in Alabama just don't follow the details closely enough to realize what's going on with space policy and/or don't care too much about space policy.  There is a minority that depends directly on government contracts in the space industry, and they are the ones who vote and spend their campaign money based on space policy.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 03/06/2014 11:10 am
I disagree about phasing out Atlas 5, because the Atlas 5 propulsion problem is also for all practical purposes the Antares propulsion problem.  This problem needs to be resolved, either by guaranteed access to RD-180, or by replacing the engine entirely.

 - Ed Kyle

But that's the rub.  There is no such thing as guaranteed access to the RD-180 outside of fabricating it here in the U.S.  And replacing the RD-180 means development of a SC (likely oxy rich) kerolox engine.  Either way, huge development time and cost (seems that the domestic RD-180 might be the better option, but I don't know enough about true domestic progress on other kerolox options, including AJ26).  Either way, per comments from Mr. Gass, it seems unlikely ULA will go down that road.  And even if they did, the affordability of the AtlasV (the big selling point) goes away with said development and fabrication costs.

BTW, of note re the ORSC problem:-

Reuters now reporting that they have the name of the company buying PWR:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/us-unitedtech-rocketdyne-gencorp-idUSBRE86H1NN20120718

Gencorp, who also own Aerojet...

...It also means that Aerojet will have the rights to Mondaloy, which is a big deal.


What's the big deal about Mondaloy?

uber-awesome heat-resistant super alloy, which has great potential in staged combustion rocket engines.

And highly oxidation resistant while maintaining high temperature strength...

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 03/06/2014 11:12 am
BTW, re RD-180 supply...

Weren't Russia being arsey about transferring rights to RD-180 into Aerojet's control?

Has that situation been resolved, yet? If not, that seems to be another lever that Russia has over this situation.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: baldusi on 03/06/2014 11:42 am
Doesn't Delta IV needs a 36month lead time, due to RS-68A's long production schedule? If so, they couldn't ramp it up fast enough.
And ULA is seriously working on merging their lines. They are doing the new true Common Aviationics, they are transitioning to a common upper stage engine, they have common logistics and are working on common upper stage. They have already simplified the fairing issues, and I believe they are working on a common offering.
The problem with Delta IV is the engine leadtime, and that they failed at pad logiatics. It's horizontally integrated, but vehicle checkout is done vertically at the pad. So you need an HIF and an Integration tower pad. Atlas IV was done right. Everything is done verticaly at the VAB and then moved to the pad by MLP. If you need to increase launch rate, use a second MLP.
Besides, I understand that it currently is the only nuclear certified LV.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: baldusi on 03/06/2014 11:48 am
BTW, re RD-180 supply...

Weren't Russia being arsey about transferring rights to RD-180 into Aerojet's control?

Has that situation been resolved, yet? If not, that seems to be another lever that Russia has over this situation.

cheers, Martin
The transfer of the half ownership of AMROSS from P&W to Aerojet has to pass to the Russian equivalent of the ITAR review. It's a hassle, bureaucratic and slow process. That's why they made a separate agreement, so they could close the rest of the deal. But there were no issues  expected with the transfer itself. It was rather about not delaying the merger because that part of the deal might take three years to close.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2014 12:15 pm

It's an age-old retail ploy -- jack up prices so you can lower them and claim the customer is saving money.  ULA jacked up the prices ahead of the block buy so they could claim the government was saving money by being locked into a huge buy.


Wrong, the prices were set long before the block buy conceived.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/06/2014 02:08 pm
Quote from: Elon Musk
...possibly land on the Moon... although I'm not super interested in the Moon personally, because obviously we've done that... and you know we uhhh...

That's when I gave him a quick little kick under the table.  'Cuz he knows that a waystation would be quite necessary, particularly if the idea of "millions" of people is to happen.

The little rockets go back and forth to the Moon, ferrying passengers and cargo to the martian mamaship, which never lands.  Every two years, the mamaship shuttles to and from cis-lunar to cis-martian space, where the passengers and cargo are shuttled to the surface, probably from some kind of ring station perhaps manufactured from Phobos or Deimos, metallurgy available.

Hard to imagine the mamaship carrying 10,000 passengers.  You'd have to call it big-mamaship for one thing.  For another, there would have to be more than one, which seems unlikely, in the rosiest scenario.

10K people every two years, is 50K in ten years.  Done right, self sustenance would be within the large realm of my credibility.  So he needs to tighten up a bit on that suggested  timeframe.  But hey.

Except I'm not sure what you mean by "bass".  The instrument or the fish?

I hope someone drops some bass on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U44geuM6iQ0
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/06/2014 02:14 pm
RD-180 Made in Russia. Yep, Musk went there. :D

Truth sometimes hurts, specially for those who'd rather it not be widely known.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/06/2014 02:33 pm
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Welcome to Phase 3 SpaceX.

Excellent!  I liked it!  You channelling Ghandi, or somethin? 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2014 02:50 pm

And if ULA were to be launching 18 times a year, that argument would make sense.  For two years.  In a non-fluid global situation.  I commented over on AmericaSpace:


It makes sense.  They are not all Atlas.  There are at least 12 Delta cores (4 Delta IV heavies).
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/06/2014 02:58 pm
Here come the Russia questions!

Two years of safety stock in country on the engines. We are not at any risk of supporting national needs - Gass.

Business deal with NPO - have all the blueprints and specs, written in Russian and translated. Can build the engines in house.

There were things the Russians were doing that our textbooks said were impossible.
I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2014 03:20 pm

I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)

Textbooks were developed during Apollo.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: clongton on 03/06/2014 04:05 pm
The problem is that most people in Alabama just don't follow the details closely enough to realize what's going on with space policy and/or don't care too much about space policy.  There is a minority that depends directly on government contracts in the space industry, and they are the ones who vote and spend their campaign money based on space policy.

Have you spent any time with the man?
Notice that I did not limit the "bacon" to only space industries.
He does a fabulous job of bringing it home to all of Alabama's industries, not just MSFC & Decataur. I stand by my statement.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/06/2014 04:41 pm

And if ULA were to be launching 18 times a year, that argument would make sense.  For two years.  In a non-fluid global situation.  I commented over on AmericaSpace:


It makes sense.  They are not all Atlas.  There are at least 12 Delta cores (4 Delta IV heavies).

How does this make sense, my noble interlocutor?

If ULA has a sufficient number of RD-180 engines on hand for two years supporting a five year contract, which was the claim, then ULA is not susceptible to Mr. Putin's supposedly whimsical "permission" for new RD-180's as mentioned above.

It is certainly to Putin's economic advantage to continue selling engines to ULA.  Mr. Obama has been photographed brandishing his phone (but not his pen) at him for ninety minutes.  It is by no means certain that the political situation between the US and Russia is to be stable, although I acknowledge that these diplomats all like tough talk when the TV cameras are rolling.

What am I missing?  Please elaborate.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/06/2014 04:46 pm
The problem is that most people in Alabama just don't follow the details closely enough to realize what's going on with space policy and/or don't care too much about space policy.  There is a minority that depends directly on government contracts in the space industry, and they are the ones who vote and spend their campaign money based on space policy.

Have you spent any time with the man?
Notice that I did not limit the "bacon" to only space industries.
He does a fabulous job of bringing it home to all of Alabama's industries, not just MSFC & Decataur. I stand by my statement.

He's not refuting your statement, AIUI.  He's merely pointing out the obvious issue that it really is a small minority of the people in Alabama who are knowledgeable about the details of spatial pork, and the overriding national issue which would call for a more rational HSF policy from the government.  The local spatial pork is very arguably not helping the nation as a whole, as you earlier pointed out.

For this, Shelby can be faulted.

The only time necessary to spend with the man, is on the receiving end of a flat screen, anyhow.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: R7 on 03/06/2014 05:04 pm
There were things the Russians were doing that our textbooks said were impossible.
I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)

Intelligence gathering failure. Someone neglected to gain access, microfilm and translate the Russian textbooks ;)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: butters on 03/06/2014 05:51 pm
There were things the Russians were doing that our textbooks said were impossible.
I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)

Yet he also claimed that they can build the RD-180 in the US if necessary, so the Russians must not be doing anything *that* impossible...

And L2 insight into the SpaceX propulsion roadmap also suggests a grasp of certain (historically) Russian engine technologies.

Maybe when he said "our textbooks said", he really meant "Rocketdyne said"?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/06/2014 05:57 pm

I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)

Textbooks were developed during Apollo.
That was me being funny... or not... :D

Exactly Jim, we were writing the books that got us to the Moon before the Russians, so I don’t get our good friend from ULA saying that they were doing things we could not possibly do...
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/06/2014 07:04 pm
Yet he also claimed that they can build the RD-180 in the US if necessary, so the Russians must not be doing anything *that* impossible...

And L2 insight into the SpaceX propulsion roadmap also suggests a grasp of certain (historically) Russian engine technologies.

Maybe when he said "our textbooks said", he really meant "Rocketdyne said"?
Same thing really. :( :(
The standard text book on rocket engine design the subject was written by 2 Rockedyne engineers.  :( :(

Darn Russians! Writing all this up in a language (and alphabet) that's not English and using that confusing metric system.

Admittedly they are available on Amazon but that's not the point. They are clearly making no effort to share what they know.
<mutter mutter>
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/07/2014 01:35 pm

I guess we were reading better textbooks during Project Apollo...  ::)

Textbooks were developed during Apollo.
That was me being funny... or not... :D

Exactly Jim, we were writing the books that got us to the Moon before the Russians, so I don’t get our good friend from ULA saying that they were doing things we could not possibly do...

No, the point is we stagnated by sitting on our laurels and didn't move past Apollo, while the Russians still were innovating.   Apollo text books are OBE.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/07/2014 01:52 pm
Darn Russians! Writing all this up in a language (and alphabet) that's not English and using that confusing metric system.

Admittedly they are available on Amazon but that's not the point. They are clearly making no effort to share what they know.
<mutter mutter>
Of course you have to put yourself back into the Cold War and early post-Cold War era, back when Lockheed Martin first contemplated the idea of Russian rocket engines.  Back then Amazon was just a South American river, and Russian oxygen rich kerosene staged combustion rocket engine metallurgy was still a state secret.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/07/2014 05:20 pm
South American river, and Russian oxygen rich kerosene staged combustion rocket engine metallurgy was still a state secret.

I have talked to people involved with securing the RD-180 deal. There is one aspect of the interior coating of the engine that the Russians have never shared. It has something to do with preventing the erosion of the parts (the engine runs oxygen rich, if I remember correctly).

It is my impression that this coating is not necessary for the engines to work--thus, the U.S. could manufacture them and they would still work--but it probably has something to do with their efficiency, such as the fuel mixture ratio. Put another way, the coating enables them to run the engines with a better fuel mixture ratio and without it they don't produce as much thrust. The Russians never shared that, and the U.S. was not able to replicate it. I got that from a person who was one of the Americans whose signature is on the deal. When he told us this story about three years ago, I believe he said that the American engineers had still not figured out how to make that coating despite a lot of effort.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/07/2014 05:31 pm

Thanks Blackstar, good stuff.

Taking a step back, I have been operating under the assumption congress will require U.S. launch service providers remove reliance on Russia (all foreign sources?) as a result of these hearings/the Ukraine situation.  Perhaps that is makng an incorrect leap?  If congress does in fact mandate that, Atlas V is in a bind.  Even if not, and Putin gets mad, Atlas V is in a bind.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 03/07/2014 05:56 pm
It's too bad ULA never took their first-stage engine recovery concept to fruition (the one from here: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/EELVPartialReusable2010.pdf). If they had something like that working it would either:

1- Allow them to stretch their 2-year RD-180 supply out to 5-10yrs
2- Dilute the cost of a US produced RD-180 by allowing it to be reused a few times.

I wonder if they've put any work into this since then. At least for modest flight rates, that might help them be more competitive with SpaceX as well.

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/07/2014 08:06 pm
I have talked to people involved with securing the RD-180 deal. There is one aspect of the interior coating of the engine that the Russians have never shared. It has something to do with preventing the erosion of the parts. It is my impression that this coating is not necessary for the engines to work--thus, the US could manufacture them and they would work--but it probably has something to do with their efficiency. The Russians never shared that, and the U.S. was not able to replicate it. I got that from a person who was one of the Americans whose signature is on the deal.
Interesting.

It recalls the description of how the Control Data Corp mfg hard drives in "A Few Good Men from Univac." While they were happy to buy in circuit boards, motors and cases the actual disk platter coating process never left the factory and was IIRC held as a trade secret, not a patent.  :( :(

This suggests that any assurances that an RD180 can be duplicated in the US are void, since it implies you'd have to send the chambers to Russia to get the coating, as presumably that information should have been included in the information package sent by the Russians.  :( :(

I'll note that Agena used a silicone oil added to the propellant mix when Bell upgraded the mix over the life of the engine. Outside of that engine I'm not aware of any other operational US engine that used a coating, although I'm pretty sure NASA have tested various coatings over the years. "Thermal Barrier Caotings" are SOP for gas tu

This is moving OT but can you give any more details of what was coated?

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: USFdon on 03/07/2014 08:30 pm
Then couldn't AR substitute the trade-secret Russian process for Mondaloy? Or complete the RS-84 or AJ-1-E6? They have options.... just need the bucks / reason to commit.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: rsnellenberger on 03/07/2014 09:17 pm
BTW, re RD-180 supply...

Weren't Russia being arsey about transferring rights to RD-180 into Aerojet's control?

Has that situation been resolved, yet? If not, that seems to be another lever that Russia has over this situation.

cheers, Martin
The transfer of the half ownership of AMROSS from P&W to Aerojet has to pass to the Russian equivalent of the ITAR review. It's a hassle, bureaucratic and slow process. That's why they made a separate agreement, so they could close the rest of the deal. But there were no issues  expected with the transfer itself. It was rather about not delaying the merger because that part of the deal might take three years to close.
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/07/2014 09:48 pm
BTW, re RD-180 supply...

Weren't Russia being arsey about transferring rights to RD-180 into Aerojet's control?

Has that situation been resolved, yet? If not, that seems to be another lever that Russia has over this situation.

cheers, Martin
The transfer of the half ownership of AMROSS from P&W to Aerojet has to pass to the Russian equivalent of the ITAR review. It's a hassle, bureaucratic and slow process. That's why they made a separate agreement, so they could close the rest of the deal. But there were no issues  expected with the transfer itself. It was rather about not delaying the merger because that part of the deal might take three years to close.
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Let me be provocative for a sec... What if we just started knocking them off anyway, what are they going to do sue us?  :o
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/07/2014 10:10 pm
I have talked to people involved with securing the RD-180 deal. There is one aspect of the interior coating of the engine that the Russians have never shared. It has something to do with preventing the erosion of the parts. It is my impression that this coating is not necessary for the engines to work--thus, the US could manufacture them and they would work--but it probably has something to do with their efficiency. The Russians never shared that, and the U.S. was not able to replicate it. I got that from a person who was one of the Americans whose signature is on the deal.

This suggests that any assurances that an RD180 can be duplicated in the US are void, since it implies you'd have to send the chambers to Russia to get the coating, as presumably that information should have been included in the information package sent by the Russians.  :( :(



Reread what I wrote. It is my impression that it DOES NOT prevent the use of the engines, it only reduces their efficiency.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Avron on 03/07/2014 10:20 pm

Thanks Blackstar, good stuff.

Taking a step back, I have been operating under the assumption congress will require U.S. launch service providers remove reliance on Russia (all foreign sources?) as a result of these hearings/the Ukraine situation.  Perhaps that is makng an incorrect leap?  If congress does in fact mandate that, Atlas V is in a bind.  Even if not, and Putin gets mad, Atlas V is in a bind.

Altas V is in a Bind..  then they are not the only ones.. The EU Rolls have been great over they years.. time to step up..  don't look to the north.. we do Arms. 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: rsnellenberger on 03/07/2014 10:39 pm
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Let me be provocative for a sec... What if we just started knocking them off anyway, what are they going to do sue us?  :o
I'm sure they would, starting in one of the Federal District courts.  AMROSS's website says they are a limited liability corp located in Florida (no idea where it's incorporated)...

What made me ask the question was thinking that any trade sanctions might legally prevent us from using RD-180 (even if we might have the technical capability of starting up a production line) if the sanctions prevent payment of licensing fees.  In that case, having the plans for the engine might function more like the source code escrows used to guarantee that a critical application remains available even if the vendor goes bankrupt.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/07/2014 11:24 pm
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Let me be provocative for a sec... What if we just started knocking them off anyway, what are they going to do sue us?  :o
I'm sure they would, starting in one of the Federal District courts.  AMROSS's website says they are a limited liability corp located in Florida (no idea where it's incorporated)...
If this all turned nastily political, Boeing has sued its former Sea Launch partners for about a half-billion dollars that it says it loaned them that hasn't been paid back.  That includes Russia's RSC Energia.  Maybe the Navy could park a destroyer behind Odyssey at Long Beach.

- Ed Kyle
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/08/2014 12:55 pm
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Let me be provocative for a sec... What if we just started knocking them off anyway, what are they going to do sue us?  :o
I'm sure they would, starting in one of the Federal District courts.  AMROSS's website says they are a limited liability corp located in Florida (no idea where it's incorporated)...

What made me ask the question was thinking that any trade sanctions might legally prevent us from using RD-180 (even if we might have the technical capability of starting up a production line) if the sanctions prevent payment of licensing fees.  In that case, having the plans for the engine might function more like the source code escrows used to guarantee that a critical application remains available even if the vendor goes bankrupt.
Russia will try to seek relief in a U.S. court; I want to sit in on that one... Our supposed allies copied our B-29 bolt by bolt as they did with the Rolls Royce Nene engine... Let’s not even talk about the A-Bomb spies... Call it more than even... Cry me a Volga River... ::) (BTW rolls eyes for them, not you) :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/08/2014 01:36 pm
Russia will try to seek relief in a U.S. court; I want to sit in on that one... Our supposed allies copied our B-29 bolt by bolt as they did with the Rolls Royce Nene engine... Let’s not even talk about the A-Bomb spies... Call it more than even... Cry me a Volga River... ::) (BTW rolls eyes for them, not you)

Interesting exchange.  Who'd the Russians use to plead their case?  Judge Judy?

We won't build them.  It's not profitable enough.  We can't be 'flooding' the US market with low cost engines,  can we?  And like Gass mentioned, competition is a bad thing for U*A.

*  'S' ... 'L'  ... whatever.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: clongton on 03/08/2014 01:58 pm
And like Gass mentioned, competition is a bad thing for U*A.

*  'S' ... 'L'  ... whatever.

I thought that while Musk was hammering him pretty good, that Gass was holding his own fairly well until he made that comment. My initial reaction was "No- he didn't really say that, did he?". But he did. That was really pretty petty. Did you see Musk's expression when he said that? I don't think he believed what he heard either. To his credit, he didn't eat his lunch for that, although I believe he should have. That was a really dumb thing to say and he deserved to have his hat handed to him.

I agree that because launch service stability does have value that you can't be constantly switching launch providers based on somebody giving a lower bid, even a substantially lower bid. But competition is the heartbeat of American business. If Gass wants to continue in the launch service provider business he will have to get used to the idea that he no longer presides over a monopoly. Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Avron on 03/08/2014 01:59 pm
Russia will try to seek relief in a U.S. court; I want to sit in on that one... Our supposed allies copied our B-29 bolt by bolt as they did with the Rolls Royce Nene engine... Let’s not even talk about the A-Bomb spies... Call it more than even... Cry me a Volga River... ::) (BTW rolls eyes for them, not you)

Interesting exchange.  Who'd the Russians use to plead their case?  Judge Judy?

We won't build them.  It's not profitable enough.  We can't be 'flooding' the US market with low cost engines,  can we?  And like Gass mentioned, competition is a bad thing for U*A.

*  'S' ... 'L'  ... whatever.

One needs to separate state and law in any case. What nation state do is independent of the  laws within each state. Things between states have a different process. A judge is required to uphold the law, so if  a suite is brought before the courts, unless there is a change of law, the Judge cannot play foreign affairs. Not yet.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Elvis in Space on 03/08/2014 02:11 pm
Does the license granted to AMROSS provide them with the unrestricted right to produce as many RD-180 engines (and derivatives) as they want with no additional payments to Energomash, or would there be some kind of per-engine licensing fee?
Let me be provocative for a sec... What if we just started knocking them off anyway, what are they going to do sue us?  :o
I'm sure they would, starting in one of the Federal District courts.  AMROSS's website says they are a limited liability corp located in Florida (no idea where it's incorporated)...

What made me ask the question was thinking that any trade sanctions might legally prevent us from using RD-180 (even if we might have the technical capability of starting up a production line) if the sanctions prevent payment of licensing fees.  In that case, having the plans for the engine might function more like the source code escrows used to guarantee that a critical application remains available even if the vendor goes bankrupt.
Russia will try to seek relief in a U.S. court; I want to sit in on that one... Our supposed allies copied our B-29 bolt by bolt as they did with the Rolls Royce Nene engine... Let’s not even talk about the A-Bomb spies... Call it more than even... Cry me a Volga River... ::) (BTW rolls eyes for them, not you) :)

Regardless of the legalities involved the Russians could easily use such a thing as an excuse to begin breaking all manner of copyright and patent laws. They could begin making anything of ours they wished and this would be their excuse. Who has more to lose on that one?

It's not going to happen anyway for several reasons. It's not worth it and the US isn't going to do anything beyond the most minor wrist slap.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Avron on 03/08/2014 02:47 pm
NPO Energomash is mostly owned by the federal gov of Russia. I understand that the agreement is to supply 101 engines. Now what would legal, if say part of  NPO Energomash was privatized, with that part that is privatized takes with it the RD-180. As NPO Energomash  is a partner in AMROSS, that partnership would then need to make a new deal with this new entity. Or would the existing agreements stand?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/08/2014 04:22 pm
And like Gass mentioned, competition is a bad thing for U*A.

*  'S' ... 'L'  ... whatever.

I thought that while Musk was hammering him pretty good, that Gass was holding his own fairly well until he made that comment. My initial reaction was "No- he didn't really say that, did he?". But he did. That was really pretty petty. Did you see Musk's expression when he said that? I don't think he believed what he heard either. To his credit, he didn't eat his lunch for that, although I believe he should have. That was a really dumb thing to say and he deserved to have his hat handed to him.

I agree that because launch service stability does have value that you can't be constantly switching launch providers based on somebody giving a lower bid, even a substantially lower bid. But competition is the heartbeat of American business. If Gass wants to continue in the launch service provider business he will have to get used to the idea that he no longer presides over a monopoly. Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I beg to differ.    Your thinking would have worked a month or so ago.   Events in the Ukraine have opened the eyes of many in Congress and if anything the "Strong" links will be maintained for national security.
 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/08/2014 05:01 pm
Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

2-The same applies to SpaceX. There seems to be this common assumption that they're so superior to everybody else (and ULA) that they're a shoe-in to win. But their low launch rate to date has undercut them and they have not yet demonstrated either the ability to do a large number of annual launches, or the ability to be reliable over a large number of launches (or time). There's more to the competition than simply price. They may get there, but they're going to have to earn it.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Star One on 03/08/2014 05:09 pm

Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

2-The same applies to SpaceX. There seems to be this common assumption that they're so superior to everybody else (and ULA) that they're a shoe-in to win. But their low launch rate to date has undercut them and they have not yet demonstrated either the ability to do a large number of annual launches, or the ability to be reliable over a large number of launches (or time). There's more to the competition than simply price. They may get there, but they're going to have to earn it.

Generally keeping out of this debate. But there does seem to be an absolute love of running down ULA whilst ignoring what they have achieved. It seems to some the on paper aspirations of Space X are more important than the actual achievements of ULA.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/08/2014 05:18 pm

Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

2-The same applies to SpaceX. There seems to be this common assumption that they're so superior to everybody else (and ULA) that they're a shoe-in to win. But their low launch rate to date has undercut them and they have not yet demonstrated either the ability to do a large number of annual launches, or the ability to be reliable over a large number of launches (or time). There's more to the competition than simply price. They may get there, but they're going to have to earn it.

Generally keeping out of this debate. But there does seem to be an absolute love of running down ULA whilst ignoring what they have achieved. It seems to some the on paper aspirations of Space X are more important than the actual achievements of ULA.
Not everybody, I call their rockets the "ULA Express" as they always leave the station on time... ;)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: clongton on 03/08/2014 05:58 pm
Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

2-The same applies to SpaceX. There seems to be this common assumption that they're so superior to everybody else (and ULA) that they're a shoe-in to win. But their low launch rate to date has undercut them and they have not yet demonstrated either the ability to do a large number of annual launches, or the ability to be reliable over a large number of launches (or time). There's more to the competition than simply price. They may get there, but they're going to have to earn it.

I was referring specifically to cost. That's what I was referring to about sharpening his pencil, and about "him" - not ULA - being replaced.


Generally keeping out of this debate. But there does seem to be an absolute love of running down ULA whilst ignoring what they have achieved. It seems to some the on paper aspirations of Space X are more important than the actual achievements of ULA.

Absolutely not running ULA down. Just pointing out how a *much* less expensive launch service provider has fundamentally changed the rules of the game. Gass *has* to adapt, which his comments seemed to indicate he did not want to do, preferring instead to have the competition locked out. If he doesn't adapt he will likely be replaced at the helm.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/08/2014 06:54 pm
I was referring specifically to cost.

And I'd note that cost is not necessarily the highest priority for DoD when it purchases launch vehicles.

Also, see the new article in Space News concerning USAF cutting in half its remaining launch services buy, from 14 launches to 7, probably not to be awarded until 2017. That reduces the number of launches that SpaceX could win during the next competition. I'd add that if SpaceX had been reliably launching rockets 2-3 years ago, they might have been able to win big during the most recent round for USAF.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/08/2014 08:24 pm

Generally keeping out of this debate. But there does seem to be an absolute love of running down ULA whilst ignoring what they have achieved. It seems to some the on paper aspirations of Space X are more important than the actual achievements of ULA.

I've rarely seen ULA being run down, although I have seen a lot of SpaceX fandom that probably shows a noticeable contrast compared to every other company.

Elon Musk has a lot to do with that. I mean "OMG, he's like Tony Stark", etc :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: mlindner on 03/08/2014 09:35 pm
South American river, and Russian oxygen rich kerosene staged combustion rocket engine metallurgy was still a state secret.

I have talked to people involved with securing the RD-180 deal. There is one aspect of the interior coating of the engine that the Russians have never shared. It has something to do with preventing the erosion of the parts (the engine runs oxygen rich, if I remember correctly).

It is my impression that this coating is not necessary for the engines to work--thus, the U.S. could manufacture them and they would still work--but it probably has something to do with their efficiency, such as the fuel mixture ratio. Put another way, the coating enables them to run the engines with a better fuel mixture ratio and without it they don't produce as much thrust. The Russians never shared that, and the U.S. was not able to replicate it. I got that from a person who was one of the Americans whose signature is on the deal. When he told us this story about three years ago, I believe he said that the American engineers had still not figured out how to make that coating despite a lot of effort.

That's odd. You should be able to sample the coating and run it through mass spectrum analyzer to figure out what it is. Then its a process of applying some chemical engineering to it to reverse engineer it. U.S. chemical engineering is rather good.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Avron on 03/08/2014 10:09 pm
Not everybody, I call their rockets the "ULA Express" as they always leave the station on time... ;)

like in gravy train
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: QuantumG on 03/08/2014 11:18 pm
Guess I'll post on this thread too..

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/senate-hearing-on-national-security-space-launch-programs-with-elon-musk-2014-03-05

Do PM me any errors you see.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/09/2014 12:22 am
... "constantly" ...  (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34170.msg1169424#msg1169424)

Means, in this context one rudimentary lunar campground?  Not even a week hang time?  Scattered over the surface without a nodal transportation system?

I know, you were talking about launch services, which point I'm avoiding in toto.

We're not "constantly" doing much in LEO; some small experiments; repairing all sorts of stuff; going up and down a lot, which would certainly qualify as "constantly"; at least two nations are launching up there; everybody knows the drill.

We're even, by a most strict definition, constantly launching SLS.  By a less strict definition, we are "constantly" launching stuff to Mars.  I'm talking about the subject, not a person.  Anyhow:

"... "the Judge cannot play foreign affairs" ...  (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?toic=34170.msg1169426#msg1169426)

Which is why, in part, Judge Judy was brought up.  And a television judge would not be qualified to hear a case on fair costing and pricing. 

Everybody's price seems fair to them.  But your (as in the impersonal 'you'.  Sheesh.)   price?  You're way too expensive:

 ... "I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time" ...  (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34170.msg1169474#msg1169474)

What is being suggested here?  Musk doesn't think his price is fair?  Were business competition thought to be a good thing, then the casual observer would think that it's about cost.  One would hope. 

And if DoD should have a different set of rules regarding a lesser valuation of cost, does that prove something about the prices and costs of the larger commercial market, where there are three other players minimum?  Or rather, are policymakers not going to increase the broader economy? 

So as to ensure that it should not get larger than the DoD's market?  Or is rather the game to be early downselecting, so as to eliminate possible competitors?  I thought not, but hey.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Star One on 03/09/2014 09:02 am


Generally keeping out of this debate. But there does seem to be an absolute love of running down ULA whilst ignoring what they have achieved. It seems to some the on paper aspirations of Space X are more important than the actual achievements of ULA.

I've rarely seen ULA being run down, although I have seen a lot of SpaceX fandom that probably shows a noticeable contrast compared to every other company.

Elon Musk has a lot to do with that. I mean "OMG, he's like Tony Stark", etc :)

I'll await his flying suit of armour with interest then.:)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/09/2014 10:50 am
That's odd. You should be able to sample the coating and run it through mass spectrum analyzer to figure out what it is. Then its a process of applying some chemical engineering to it to reverse engineer it. U.S. chemical engineering is rather good.
True. There is also an instrument called an electron microprobe that can do atomic resolution.

This is important because typically composition is part of the problem. The actual morphology (dense, porous, layered, needle like) is usually equally (if not more) important.  :( :(

The problem is Russia may use some coating techniques that are unfamiliar with in the US.  :(
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: baldusi on 03/09/2014 11:16 am
Sometimes the problem is not the product but the process.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/09/2014 03:12 pm
That's odd. You should be able to sample the coating and run it through mass spectrum analyzer to figure out what it is. Then its a process of applying some chemical engineering to it to reverse engineer it. U.S. chemical engineering is rather good.

Yeah, you'd think that. I'm trying to remember a conversation that happened three years ago (while we were touring the rocket testing facilities at Edwards AFB, as a matter of fact). I believe that the person who discussed this (who, like I said, was one of the people whose signature was on the final engine deal contract) said that they had tried to reverse-engineer the coating without success. He was discussing all of this with a smile, his point being that the Russians had something precious and they had protected it, and he was impressed by that.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Blackstar on 03/09/2014 03:15 pm
I should also add that the issue of the coating was not exactly a secret. I had heard it from somebody else sometime before this conversation, and it would not surprise me if it is mentioned in an Aviation Week article or some other media source. But they probably have no more detail than I do.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/09/2014 05:05 pm
That's odd. You should be able to sample the coating and run it through mass spectrum analyzer to figure out what it is. Then its a process of applying some chemical engineering to it to reverse engineer it. U.S. chemical engineering is rather good.

Yeah, you'd think that. I'm trying to remember a conversation that happened three years ago (while we were touring the rocket testing facilities at Edwards AFB, as a matter of fact). I believe that the person who discussed this (who, like I said, was one of the people whose signature was on the final engine deal contract) said that they had tried to reverse-engineer the coating without success. He was discussing all of this with a smile, his point being that the Russians had something precious and they had protected it, and he was impressed by that.

Was reading the old setup of the Soyuz in South America and the Russians wouldn't share the fuel formula.
 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: deltaV on 03/09/2014 07:11 pm
Absolutely not running ULA down. Just pointing out how a *much* less expensive launch service provider has fundamentally changed the rules of the game. Gass *has* to adapt, which his comments seemed to indicate he did not want to do, preferring instead to have the competition locked out. If he doesn't adapt he will likely be replaced at the helm.

ULA has two options: adapt or die. I'm not convinced that adaptation is the best choice. It may be that adaptation would cost more than it is worth, in which case ULA's best course of action would be to continue business as usual and close up shop once its business stops being profitable.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 03/09/2014 08:18 pm
Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

I think it's reasonable to point out cost vs value. IE that DOD expects to get more value from these payloads than the price they pay.

In critical situations (I'd think the current crisis in Ukraine is a good example), I can imagine DOD relying heavily on the payloads they launch. When F9 V1.1 has only launched three times so far (eight if you include v1.0), it's easy to understand them being risk-averse. Allowing SpaceX to compete for the payloads outside the bulk buy seems a reasonable way for them to on-ramp.

Will be interesting to see how things change *if* SpaceX manages to fulfil all the launches they currently manifest for 2014 before the end of 2014, and all the launches they currently manifest for 2015 before the end of 2015. (I'll give them a pass on FH into 2015.)

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: QuantumG on 03/09/2014 08:33 pm
Does anyone have an opinion (hopefully somewhat informed) on the effect on the Boeing-Lockheed consent decree, or more generally, the restrictions under which ULA currently works, should SpaceX be successful in gaining the right to compete for Air Force / NRO launches?

I wonder if overall this could be a good thing for ULA. (Which is not necessarily the same as being a good thing for Boeing/Lockheed).
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2014 09:50 pm
ULA only exists to operate Delta IV and Atlas V related vehicles.  They don't get to work on projects outside of these product lines.  For example, they would not have been able to work on the USAF Reusable Booster System (RBS) project and that is why LM was working on it.  That is why they also can't work on any cargo type vehicle for station logistics.  When there is no longer a market for Delta IV and Atlas V related vehicles, ULA will cease to exist much like its sister company, USA with the shuttle (actually, a portion of USA still exists at JSC to operate the ISS).
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: QuantumG on 03/09/2014 10:02 pm
Are they required to cease to exist?

But I'm more interested in whether those restrictions could be relaxed if they were no longer seen as a monopoly.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2014 11:36 pm
Are they required to cease to exist?

But I'm more interested in whether those restrictions could be relaxed if they were no longer seen as a monopoly.


It isn't up to the US gov't, it is up to Boeing and LM.  They are the ones that aren't going to allow ULA to compete outside of the EELV family.  Boeing and LM want to compete outside of ULA so they don't have split the money.  The shuttle processing part of USA was told that it was not to look for more work and it was not to bid on the KSC Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) which replaced the Boeing CAPPS and USA SFOC contracts.  Boeing and LM bid individually for the TOSC.  ULA isn't Boeing or LM at the worker level but "Board of Directors" are all executives from Boeing and LM.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 03/10/2014 02:44 am
Are they required to cease to exist?

But I'm more interested in whether those restrictions could be relaxed if they were no longer seen as a monopoly.


It isn't up to the US gov't, it is up to Boeing and LM.  They are the ones that aren't going to allow ULA to compete outside of the EELV family.  Boeing and LM want to compete outside of ULA so they don't have split the money.  The shuttle processing part of USA was told that it was not to look for more work and it was not to bid on the KSC Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) which replaced the Boeing CAPPS and USA SFOC contracts.  Boeing and LM bid individually for the TOSC.  ULA isn't Boeing or LM at the worker level but "Board of Directors" are all executives from Boeing and LM.

I wish there was a way of changing that. I think ULA could adapt and compete with SpaceX if its parent companies would let it. Barring someone coming in with enough money to make Boeing and LM an offer they don't want to refuse, I just don't see the situation changing any time soon. It's sad, because there's a lot of talent at ULA that's being wasted by them having their hands tied like this.

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2014 05:17 am
Are they required to cease to exist?

But I'm more interested in whether those restrictions could be relaxed if they were no longer seen as a monopoly.


It isn't up to the US gov't, it is up to Boeing and LM.  They are the ones that aren't going to allow ULA to compete outside of the EELV family.  Boeing and LM want to compete outside of ULA so they don't have split the money.  The shuttle processing part of USA was told that it was not to look for more work and it was not to bid on the KSC Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) which replaced the Boeing CAPPS and USA SFOC contracts.  Boeing and LM bid individually for the TOSC.  ULA isn't Boeing or LM at the worker level but "Board of Directors" are all executives from Boeing and LM.
Then SpaceX has already won, long-term.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: woods170 on 03/10/2014 06:17 am
Are they required to cease to exist?

But I'm more interested in whether those restrictions could be relaxed if they were no longer seen as a monopoly.


It isn't up to the US gov't, it is up to Boeing and LM.  They are the ones that aren't going to allow ULA to compete outside of the EELV family.  Boeing and LM want to compete outside of ULA so they don't have split the money.  The shuttle processing part of USA was told that it was not to look for more work and it was not to bid on the KSC Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) which replaced the Boeing CAPPS and USA SFOC contracts.  Boeing and LM bid individually for the TOSC.  ULA isn't Boeing or LM at the worker level but "Board of Directors" are all executives from Boeing and LM.
Then SpaceX has already won, long-term.
I think that is a bit too strong a conclusion.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: beancounter on 03/10/2014 06:57 am
Whether he likes it or not, ULA will now have to *earn* its launch contracts, and it will never again get them all. He's just going to have to suck it up, sharpen his pencils and do his job - or get replaced.

I'm not terribly interested in jumping into the perennial ULA/SpaceX fight, but I'd just note two things:

1-I'm sure that he thinks that they have been earning their launch contracts by producing highly reliable rockets that launch on time. The fact that nobody has competed with them is probably besides the point to them.

I think it's reasonable to point out cost vs value. IE that DOD expects to get more value from these payloads than the price they pay.

In critical situations (I'd think the current crisis in Ukraine is a good example), I can imagine DOD relying heavily on the payloads they launch. When F9 V1.1 has only launched three times so far (eight if you include v1.0), it's easy to understand them being risk-averse. Allowing SpaceX to compete for the payloads outside the bulk buy seems a reasonable way for them to on-ramp.

Will be interesting to see how things change *if* SpaceX manages to fulfil all the launches they currently manifest for 2014 before the end of 2014, and all the launches they currently manifest for 2015 before the end of 2015. (I'll give them a pass on FH into 2015.)

cheers, Martin

Er part of the qualifying criteria are 3 successful consecutive launches.  Note that's 3 not 6 or 4 or 12 or 56 but 3 and only 3.  Why does some people think that this is insufficient?  If it was seen as insufficent, then I imagine that it would have been higher but well geez, it ain't.
Sorry but I get sick of some people continuing on about lots of launches to prove reliability.  And they may be right but not in this context.
Anyway, by the time they get to fly one of these contested payloads, they will no doubt have more than 3 under their belt.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 03/10/2014 09:37 am
Er part of the qualifying criteria are 3 successful consecutive launches.  Note that's 3 not 6 or 4 or 12 or 56 but 3 and only 3.  Why does some people think that this is insufficient?  If it was seen as insufficent, then I imagine that it would have been higher but well geez, it ain't.
Sorry but I get sick of some people continuing on about lots of launches to prove reliability.  And they may be right but not in this context.
Anyway, by the time they get to fly one of these contested payloads, they will no doubt have more than 3 under their belt.

Just to be clear, are you sure these three flights (plus additional insight) get them certified as a Category 3 launch vehicle, able to launch Class A payloads? (BTW, it looks like only two of the launches need to be consecutive, according to below.)

In order for them to gain Category 3 certification, have they undertaken the Full Vehicle Fishbone integrated analysis? I know they have offered a lot of insight into their vehicle.

I must admit, I'd assumed their three flights would only bring them to Category 2 level using the Alternative 2 process, and the 14 contestable payloads were only those which were in the B, C or D payload classes? Apologies if I've misunderstood that.

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-317R
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=27077.0;attach=332836

Note that's 3 not 6 or 4...

Did you mean 14 here? If so, then you clearly are saying they will be certified to Category 3.

cheers, Martin

Edit: quotes clipped to reduce size of post.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 03/10/2014 05:42 pm
Er part of the qualifying criteria are 3 successful consecutive launches.  Note that's 3 not 6 or 4 or 12 or 56 but 3 and only 3.  Why does some people think that this is insufficient?  ...

Just to be clear, are you sure these three flights (plus additional insight) get them certified as a Category 3 launch vehicle ...

No, BeanCounter just said that three flights are necessary, as "part" of the "qualifying criteria".  He didn't get into all them thar categories.

Gass and company have a great track record, which is obviously why he toots that horn with every bit of lungpower he has.

People think around here that three launches is insignificant, but they hold that thought because they have a favorite LV, which has launched more than three times.  In the case of SLS, those proponents hold that zero launches is already a sufficient track record.  How weird is that?

Watch somebody now post about "legacy" launch systems, as if to prove something about SLS.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/10/2014 06:18 pm
No, BeanCounter just said that three flights are necessary, as "part" of the "qualifying criteria".  He didn't get into all them thar categories.

Gass and company have a great track record, which is obviously why he toots that horn with every bit of lungpower he has.
True.
Quote
People think around here that three launches is insignificant, but they hold that thought because they have a favorite LV, which has launched more than three times.  In the case of SLS, those proponents hold that zero launches is already a sufficient track record.  How weird is that?
Good point.

There is an issue with the small number of launches that the confidence of the next one being OK is limited. I think Robotbeat pointed out you need something like 53-54 launches to have 95% confidence the next launch is going to be OK.

However every successful launch improves that likelyhood. The question of course is how many Spacex launches will take place this year.  :(
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 03/10/2014 06:27 pm
Er part of the qualifying criteria are 3 successful consecutive launches.  Note that's 3 not 6 or 4 or 12 or 56 but 3 and only 3.  Why does some people think that this is insufficient?  ...

Just to be clear, are you sure these three flights (plus additional insight) get them certified as a Category 3 launch vehicle ...

No, BeanCounter just said that three flights are necessary, as "part" of the "qualifying criteria".  He didn't get into all them thar categories.

Gass and company have a great track record, which is obviously why he toots that horn with every bit of lungpower he has.

People think around here that three launches is insignificant, but they hold that thought because they have a favorite LV, which has launched more than three times.  In the case of SLS, those proponents hold that zero launches is already a sufficient track record.  How weird is that?

Watch somebody now post about "legacy" launch systems, as if to prove something about SLS.

BTW, just because F9 becomes certified, it doesn't mean that it then has to be chosen for every payload after that point. Is it not reasonable to expect some sort of value judgement in terms of criticality of payload vs history of the LV?

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2014 08:00 pm
No, BeanCounter just said that three flights are necessary, as "part" of the "qualifying criteria".  He didn't get into all them thar categories.

Gass and company have a great track record, which is obviously why he toots that horn with every bit of lungpower he has.
True.
Quote
People think around here that three launches is insignificant, but they hold that thought because they have a favorite LV, which has launched more than three times.  In the case of SLS, those proponents hold that zero launches is already a sufficient track record.  How weird is that?
Good point.

There is an issue with the small number of launches that the confidence of the next one being OK is limited. I think Robotbeat pointed out you need something like 53-54 launches to have 95% confidence the next launch is going to be OK.

However every successful launch improves that likelyhood. The question of course is how many Spacex launches will take place this year.  :(
That confidence is with the pessimistic assumption (but perhaps warranted! given how easy it is to tilt the rest of the analysis) that you can only gain insight into the likelihood of a launch failure by the past history. There are processes and technologies that can be employed to improve the odds and give better confidence than you would get just by looking at historically similar launch vehicles.

Also, you can examine near-misses to examine how likely a failure will be, however you need to take into account robustness of the launch vehicle... for instance, a "brittle" architecture will have far fewer "near misses" for the same actual launch failure rate as a more resilient architecture (like engine-out capability or larger delta-v margins), so by looking at near-misses alone, you might exaggerate the reliability of brittle architectures.

But in general, if push comes to shove, I would put more weight on flight history than "process" or design features (like engine-out capability) when deciding on which vehicle is the most reliable. But as you get past 10 or 20 launches, you're essentially pretty close to 30 or 40 launches (understood logarithmically), and so things like process, near-misses, vehicle complexity, and engine-out capability would become more important (assuming that both systems have a nearly perfect launch history). Thus ULA is definitely ahead at this point (and has very good "process"), though I could certainly see SpaceX becoming essentially even with them in the next 3 or 4 years. And poor SLS will always suffer from a low launch history, having to rely entirely on process (without any advantage in complexity), thus likely to keep costs high (especially while launching crew) while definitely having inferior reliability confidence. Well, that's my take.

..as far as how many launches SpaceX will have this year... I voted 6, but nearly voted 5. SpaceX is doing well, but ramping up to ULA launch rates takes a significant amount of time.

It really is too bad that ULA doesn't have more flexibility. While I'm sure they'll be successful in reducing the EELV price if they stick at it, a small reduction in cost won't be enough to compete with SpaceX (especially once they have flight history) and the foreign launch providers who will and are fielding much less expensive launch vehicles. It's a real shame, because ULA has great people, and they could give SpaceX and Airbus Defense (fka Ariane) a run for the money if they weren't hampered by just being operator of the EELVs. Speaking long-term (i.e. a decade out), of course.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Remes on 03/10/2014 11:12 pm
That's odd. You should be able to sample the coating and run it through mass spectrum analyzer to figure out what it is. Then its a process of applying some chemical engineering to it to reverse engineer it. U.S. chemical engineering is rather good.

Just knowing which molecules are in the coating might not be enough. Chemicals might be involved, which are supporting the process, but are not part of the coating (acids e.g., are washed away). The process to create the coating might take hours and involve different heat treating cycles, different chemicals at different times, atmosphere with different gases. Metal itself has different inner states (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martensite e.g.), everything in combination with cryogenics and oxidation processes and so on... just the molecule description from a mass spectrometer will not bring the answer.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/11/2014 09:05 pm
That confidence is with the pessimistic assumption (but perhaps warranted! given how easy it is to tilt the rest of the analysis) that you can only gain insight into the likelihood of a launch failure by the past history. There are processes and technologies that can be employed to improve the odds and give better confidence than you would get just by looking at historically similar launch vehicles.

Also, you can examine near-misses to examine how likely a failure will be, however you need to take into account robustness of the launch vehicle... for instance, a "brittle" architecture will have far fewer "near misses" for the same actual launch failure rate as a more resilient architecture (like engine-out capability or larger delta-v margins), so by looking at near-misses alone, you might exaggerate the reliability of brittle architectures.

But in general, if push comes to shove, I would put more weight on flight history than "process" or design features (like engine-out capability) when deciding on which vehicle is the most reliable. But as you get past 10 or 20 launches, you're essentially pretty close to 30 or 40 launches (understood logarithmically), and so things like process, near-misses, vehicle complexity, and engine-out capability would become more important (assuming that both systems have a nearly perfect launch history). Thus ULA is definitely ahead at this point (and has very good "process"), though I could certainly see SpaceX becoming essentially even with them in the next 3 or 4 years. And poor SLS will always suffer from a low launch history, having to rely entirely on process (without any advantage in complexity), thus likely to keep costs high (especially while launching crew) while definitely having inferior reliability confidence. Well, that's my take.
Yes that's my thinking. For the time being until FH is certified for DOD payloads there will be payloads that Spacex simply cannot launch and will not be able to for (I'd guess) 2-3 years.

It has to be admitted that a longlaunch history pretty much beats "process" hands down, and SLS's projected launch rate is a long way from building that. Of course it might pick up a bit.  :( .
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2014 09:48 pm

Yes that's my thinking. For the time being until FH is certified for DOD payloads there will be payloads that Spacex simply cannot launch and will not be able to for (I'd guess) 2-3 years.

more like 4-6 years.  The launch have to be competed and then the integration cycle.

Edit.   It will be longer.  Spacex has to set up vertical integration at the pad first.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2014 10:06 pm
It takes longer than 3-6 years to build vertical integration capability?

Also, do ALL DoD payloads need vertical integration? Considering many payloads (like defense comm sats) share platforms with commercial satellites, surely there must be some that can use horizontal integration, right?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2014 10:11 pm
It takes longer than 3-6 years to build vertical integration capability?


Vertical capability would have to be available or maybe demonstrated at the time of contract competition.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2014 10:13 pm

Also, do ALL DoD payloads need vertical integration? Considering many payloads (like defense comm sats) share platforms with commercial satellites, surely there must be some that can use horizontal integration, right?

Still doesn't account for access to the fairing while vertical
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/13/2014 03:58 pm
Thanks.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/13/2014 07:19 pm
Reliability and cost make up 2 criteria for DOD contacts but there are others. Launching on time is also very important and so far Spacex has had a poor record in this regards. Having a dedicated launch pad for DOD missions will help address this.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: vulture4 on 03/17/2014 06:08 pm
Reliability and cost make up 2 criteria for DOD contacts but there are others. Launching on time is also very important and so far Spacex has had a poor record in this regards. Having a dedicated launch pad for DOD missions will help address this.
The problem from my perspective is not that SpaceX ignores schedule, it's that DOD ignores cost. The current DOD budget isn't sustainable, and DOD has funded some studies that start with that very premise.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/17/2014 06:34 pm
Reliability and cost make up 2 criteria for DOD contacts but there are others. Launching on time is also very important and so far Spacex has had a poor record in this regards. Having a dedicated launch pad for DOD missions will help address this.
The problem from my perspective is not that SpaceX ignores schedule, it's that DOD ignores cost. The current DOD budget isn't sustainable, and DOD has funded some studies that start with that very premise.

The problem from my perspective is making "political theatre" out of a commercial contract :(
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: vulture4 on 03/17/2014 07:46 pm
Reliability and cost make up 2 criteria for DOD contacts but there are others. Launching on time is also very important and so far Spacex has had a poor record in this regards. Having a dedicated launch pad for DOD missions will help address this.
The problem from my perspective is not that SpaceX ignores schedule, it's that DOD ignores cost. The current DOD budget isn't sustainable, and DOD has funded some studies that start with that very premise.

The problem from my perspective is making "political theatre" out of a commercial contract :(
Theater, yes, but getting everything out in the open is the only way I know to (possibly) get a decision made that has some rationale, rather than just the usual process of whoever can pay the largest bribe (sorry, legal campaign contribution), or offer the cushiest job to the government decisionmakers when they retire, getting their way. In this case it will be harder to exclude SpaceX from the next round, which will not only help SpaceX but will actually be good for ULA, because it can tell its owners that it needs to actually control costs, which it is perfectly capable of doing if it had any real incentive.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 01:14 am
Reliability and cost make up 2 criteria for DOD contacts but there are others. Launching on time is also very important and so far Spacex has had a poor record in this regards. Having a dedicated launch pad for DOD missions will help address this.
The problem from my perspective is not that SpaceX ignores schedule, it's that DOD ignores cost. The current DOD budget isn't sustainable, and DOD has funded some studies that start with that very premise.

The problem from my perspective is making "political theatre" out of a commercial contract :(
Theater, yes, but getting everything out in the open is the only way I know to (possibly) get a decision made that has some rationale, rather than just the usual process of whoever can pay the largest bribe (sorry, legal campaign contribution), or offer the cushiest job to the government decisionmakers when they retire, getting their way.

Yeah, I'd like to see how much in campaign contributions the Chairman from Ill. received from aerospace if at all  ::)
 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/19/2014 01:22 am
whoever can pay the largest bribe (sorry, legal campaign contribution), or offer the cushiest job to the government decisionmakers when they retire, getting their way.

Not applicable to ULA and there are no former law makers working for ULA
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 01:43 am
ULA is ready and able to compete with SpaceX - Gass.


In hindsight this is decent comment by Gass.

Just found this statement in http://tinyurl.com/koxe7gb

If ULA wants they could super mass produce the RD-180 and have a Falcon Heavy killer!

"The RD-180 engine has been test-certified not only for the current Atlas V launch vehicle, but also for the tri-booster Atlas V heavy launch vehicle (HLV)"
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/19/2014 01:53 am

If ULA wants they could super mass produce the RD-180 and have a Falcon Heavy killer!

"The RD-180 engine has been test-certified not only for the current Atlas V launch vehicle, but also for the tri-booster Atlas V heavy launch vehicle (HLV)"


No, ULA is going to build the Atlas V HLV since it has the Delta IV heavy.  And also, it would still have less performance than the Falcon Heavy.

And ULA does not produce the RD-180, Aerojet would
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: beancounter on 03/19/2014 07:01 am

If ULA wants they could super mass produce the RD-180 and have a Falcon Heavy killer!

"The RD-180 engine has been test-certified not only for the current Atlas V launch vehicle, but also for the tri-booster Atlas V heavy launch vehicle (HLV)"


No, ULA is going to build the Atlas V HLV since it has the Delta IV heavy.  And also, it would still have less performance than the Falcon Heavy.

And ULA does not produce the RD-180, Aerojet would

When is this going to happen?  I must have missed the news.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MATTBLAK on 03/19/2014 07:28 am
I think Jim means ULA is not going to build the Atlas V-H, because they have Delta IV-H - he may have left the word 'not' out due to a typo. And the only way Atlas V could beat the cross-feed Falcon Heavy would be if ULA built a 5x core stage configuration.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 03/19/2014 08:34 am
Yeah, I'd like to see how much in campaign contributions the Chairman from Ill. received from aerospace if at all  ::)

The relevant page on opensecrets.org (https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00004981&cycle=2014#fundraising) lists Lockheed Martin and Boeing as his two largest donors in 2009-14.  He received quite a bit more moola from law firms as a whole than he did from aerospace firms, however.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 11:49 am
Yeah, I'd like to see how much in campaign contributions the Chairman from Ill. received from aerospace if at all  ::)

The relevant page on opensecrets.org (https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00004981&cycle=2014#fundraising) lists Lockheed Martin and Boeing as his two largest donors in 2009-14.  He received quite a bit more moola from law firms as a whole than he did from aerospace firms, however.

To be fair to both parties, did he receive any donations from Solar City, Tesla Motors, SpaceX etc?
 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 11:58 am

If ULA wants they could super mass produce the RD-180 and have a Falcon Heavy killer!

"The RD-180 engine has been test-certified not only for the current Atlas V launch vehicle, but also for the tri-booster Atlas V heavy launch vehicle (HLV)"


No, ULA is going to build the Atlas V HLV since it has the Delta IV heavy.  And also, it would still have less performance than the Falcon Heavy.

And ULA does not produce the RD-180, Aerojet would

Right Jim, wrote ULA when I should have written AeroJet company.

My thinking was more toward the idea that it might be better to keep the RD-180 production under a new company with Some AeroJet ownership.   That might help with any "possible" conflicts with the AJ26 engine program.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 03/19/2014 12:25 pm
Yeah, I'd like to see how much in campaign contributions the Chairman from Ill. received from aerospace if at all  ::)

The relevant page on opensecrets.org (https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00004981&cycle=2014#fundraising) lists Lockheed Martin and Boeing as his two largest donors in 2009-14.  He received quite a bit more moola from law firms as a whole than he did from aerospace firms, however.

To be fair to both parties, did he receive any donations from Solar City, Tesla Motors, SpaceX etc?

You can check, but if he did, they would have been much smaller.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/19/2014 12:54 pm

My thinking was more toward the idea that it might be better to keep the RD-180 production under a new company with Some AeroJet ownership.   That might help with any "possible" conflicts with the AJ26 engine program.


why?  And there are no other equivalent companies to handle it.  And RD-180 is just as much Aerojet's as is AJ-26.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 04:28 pm

My thinking was more toward the idea that it might be better to keep the RD-180 production under a new company with Some AeroJet ownership.   That might help with any "possible" conflicts with the AJ26 engine program.


why?  And there are no other equivalent companies to handle it.  And RD-180 is just as much Aerojet's as is AJ-26.

Why?  thinking ahead now.....the Orbital lawsuit regarding the RD-180
                                           The Russian issue of manufacture RD-180 & AJ-26

I could go on...but you get the idea
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/19/2014 04:57 pm


Why?  thinking ahead now.....the Orbital lawsuit regarding the RD-180
                                           The Russian issue of manufacture RD-180 & AJ-26

I could go on...but you get the idea

Those have no bearing on Aerojet as the only manufacturer of the RD-180.  There is nobody else in the US who can.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: PahTo on 03/19/2014 06:36 pm

Just thought I'd toss this in per Chris's article on the European Solar Orbiter mission on Atlas V 411 in 2017:

"Tuesday’s announcement of a contract award for a launch three years away at least shows NASA LSP confidence in Atlas V’s medium term future."
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/19/2014 08:17 pm

Just thought I'd toss this in per Chris's article on the European Solar Orbiter mission on Atlas V 411 in 2017:

"Tuesday’s announcement of a contract award for a launch three years away at least shows NASA LSP confidence in Atlas V’s medium term future."

Yep, well done  ;)

Just goes to show NASA wants more than "cheap"
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: sublimemarsupial on 03/19/2014 08:24 pm

Just thought I'd toss this in per Chris's article on the European Solar Orbiter mission on Atlas V 411 in 2017:

"Tuesday’s announcement of a contract award for a launch three years away at least shows NASA LSP confidence in Atlas V’s medium term future."

Yep, well done  ;)

Just goes to show NASA wants more than "cheap"

Or that maybe SpaceX decided to not bid? Jeff Foust tweeted that NASA's Jim Green was asked why it was riding on an Atlas as opposed to the cheaper F9, and the answer was "Its about competition and who proposes"

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/445701165779812352

Anyways, getting a bit OT here
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 03/19/2014 11:29 pm
Atlas as opposed to the cheaper F9

What says the F9 was cheaper?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: asmi on 03/20/2014 12:43 am
What says the F9 was cheaper?
Musk said so - so it must be the truth ;)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/20/2014 03:35 am
I doubt Atlas V was cheaper, but there are a lot of metrics were Atlas V is comfortably ahead of Falcon 9 (for the time being). For instance, launch history and ability to launch on a tight schedule. Also, payload processing flow (which could increase costs for Falcon 9).
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 03/20/2014 01:40 pm
I doubt Atlas V was cheaper, but there are a lot of metrics were Atlas V is comfortably ahead of Falcon 9 (for the time being). For instance, launch history and ability to launch on a tight schedule. Also, payload processing flow (which could increase costs for Falcon 9).

Like Jim has said somewhere, the money isn't made in the launch.   Watching CRS-3 a low cost flight can turn into higher costs very quick.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: beancounter on 03/21/2014 06:15 am
I doubt Atlas V was cheaper, but there are a lot of metrics were Atlas V is comfortably ahead of Falcon 9 (for the time being). For instance, launch history and ability to launch on a tight schedule. Also, payload processing flow (which could increase costs for Falcon 9).

Like Jim has said somewhere, the money isn't made in the launch.   Watching CRS-3 a low cost flight can turn into higher costs very quick.
How?  Srike that.

Rather delays occur to all vehicles and if I remember rightly ULA suffered one not all that long ago - engine issue which saw the vehicle sit on the pad for what 3 or 4 months.
So if delays happen then they are an accepted part of the business.

Do we know if SpaceX bid for it or if it was even open to a bid?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: WulfTheSaxon on 04/03/2014 04:49 am
A bit more action on this: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/04/spacex-turns-up-heat-on-ula-sen-feinstein-writes-secdef/

(The Senate Appropriations Committee website appears to be down now, or I’d link straight there.)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/03/2014 12:04 pm
Here's the full text of Feinstein's letter:

http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=9e2e8ba6-b6a9-4d3a-9a45-b2199b84e22b

April 1, 1814

The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We write to express our concern regarding the Air Force’s proposed reduction in competition opportunities for new entrants in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. We strongly believe this proposal undermines the Air Force’s previous plan to begin to compete launches in 2015 and urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure the Air Force fulfills its commitment to provide meaningful competition opportunities this year for award in fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

As you know, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum on November 27, 2012, directing the Air Force to “aggressively introduce a competitive procurement environment” for the EELV program, and identify “up to 14 missions that should be competed as early as 2015.”

However, the Air Force’s recent budget proposal includes plans to compete zero Air Force missions in 2015 and to reduce the total number of missions to be competed from 14 to 7 during fiscal years 2015 - 2017. We believe this action does not comply with the 2012 Acquisition Decision Memorandum and should be immediately reviewed.

The lack of competition in the EELV program comes at a time when the cost of national security space launches has greatly increased. The EELV program has incurred massive cost overruns since the United Launch Alliance was formed in 2006. Since 2011 alone, the amounts budgeted by the Air Force for an average of six satellite launches per year has grown by 60 percent. The President’s fiscal year 2015 budget request revealed that the unit price to the Air Force had risen nearly $200 million since fiscal year 2014 at a time when the previous plan promised serious savings to the Air Force. These increased costs in a difficult budget environment are a clear indication as to why these launches should be competed.

We understand from recent public statements from the Air Force that new entrants to the EELV program may be certified this year. If there is more than one certified provider capable of executing any Air Force launch, we believe that those missions should be competed.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator
Barbara Boxer, United States Senator
Tom Udall, United States Senator
Martin Heinrich, United States Senator
Mark Warner, United States Senator
Roger Wicker, United States Senator
Claire McCaskill, United States Senator

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/03/2014 12:07 pm
...ULA, an unholy combination of defense giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing. (http://breakingdefense.com/2014/04/spacex-turns-up-heat-on-ula-sen-feinstein-writes-secdef/)

Hah!  Their words, not mine.

Pretty good article.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/03/2014 03:43 pm
The lack of competition in the EELV program comes at a time when the cost of national security space launches has greatly increased. The EELV program has incurred massive cost overruns since the United Launch Alliance was formed in 2006. Since 2011 alone, the amounts budgeted by the Air Force for an average of six satellite launches per year has grown by 60 percent. The President’s fiscal year 2015 budget request revealed that the unit price to the Air Force had risen nearly $200 million since fiscal year 2014 at a time when the previous plan promised serious savings to the Air Force. These increased costs in a difficult budget environment are a clear indication as to why these launches should be competed.
So that's an average "inflation rate" in USG launch prices of about 20% a year?

That seems kind of steep.

Looking at  http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/ (http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/) suggest the worst normal rate was 3.9% in Aug 2011. :o

Does anyone think there might be a bit of a "market failure" occurring here?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/03/2014 06:15 pm
The lack of competition in the EELV program comes at a time when the cost of national security space launches has greatly increased. ...
So that's an average "inflation rate" in USG launch prices of about 20% a year?

That seems kind of steep.

Looking at  http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/ (http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/) suggest the worst normal rate was 3.9% in Aug 2011. :o

Does anyone think there might be a bit of a "market failure" occurring here?

There's an interesting discussion on aerospace inflation here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21348.msg777569#msg777569

I've heard a figure of %30 percent annually being arbitrarily added to estimates.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/04/2014 09:45 am
There's an interesting discussion on aerospace inflation here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21348.msg777569#msg777569

I've heard a figure of %30 percent annually being arbitrarily added to estimates.
Perhaps I have it wrong but I've always thought that "inflation" is the rate of price rise because things are in more demand.

But my impression is that in USG terms demand is pretty flat. Same customers buying same stuff to same spec.

Which would suggest that any price inflation would be a reflection of the rise in prices from the things that are inputs from the wider economy (IE < 4% maximum in the period 2011-2013).

Whereas this "inflation" looks to be more like "because we can."

I don't call that inflation. I call that greed.  :(
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/04/2014 12:24 pm
...I've heard a figure of %30 percent annually being arbitrarily added to estimates.

Perhaps I have it wrong but ... this "inflation" looks to be more like "because we can."

I don't call that inflation. I call that greed.

What are you saying?  That Vlad can't practice capitalism and charge what the market can bear?  That our aerospace industries shouldn't be rewarded for the innovation of creating the next BFR on such an accelerated schedule?  That Americans shouldn't have jobs?  How many launch vehicles have you designed, BTW?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: baldusi on 04/04/2014 12:52 pm
Inflation is a generalized increase in prices. Nothing more. It has no cause attached.
And the specs are not the same, Atlas II, Titan and Delta Ii are not same spec as EELV. And even then, we lack the necessary information to understand the causes. Even GAO doesn't have the necessary info.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/04/2014 03:08 pm
Inflation is a generalized increase in prices. Nothing more. It has no cause attached.
And the specs are not the same, Atlas II, Titan and Delta Ii are not same spec as EELV. And even then, we lack the necessary information to understand the causes. Even GAO doesn't have the necessary info.

I refuse to accept a causeless explanation.  However the various types of inflation are defined, some are intentional, and some have rational explanations.  Inflation is not a random activity.  It has causes, whether or not we understand them, or acknowledge the known causes.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: baldusi on 04/04/2014 09:51 pm

Inflation is a generalized increase in prices. Nothing more. It has no cause attached.
And the specs are not the same, Atlas II, Titan and Delta Ii are not same spec as EELV. And even then, we lack the necessary information to understand the causes. Even GAO doesn't have the necessary info.

I refuse to accept a causeless explanation.  However the various types of inflation are defined, some are intentional, and some have rational explanations.  Inflation is not a random activity.  It has causes, whether or not we understand them, or acknowledge the known causes.
It's a semantic issue. It's a descriptive verb. It can have many causes. Thus, by saying inflation is just the price increase. You have to add a "caused by" to attach a cause.
In the EELV case, there might be many reasons. One is non homogeneous goods (i.e. You are adding requirement, like OSHA and FAR and payload specs). Other might be payload weight (or performance) increase. Another might be that you didn't took into account some subsidies that evaporated. Or the first bid was a money losing bet and now they can increase prices to recoup the initial losses. Or whatever. That's why talking about price inflation for too narrow set of prices is not a good idea. It's too close to single industry (or even single good) process. Which is exactly why NASA speaks of Project Start Index and not project start inflation rate.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/05/2014 03:39 am
... Or whatever. That's why talking about price inflation for too narrow set of prices is not a good idea. It's too close to single industry (or even single good) process. Which is exactly why NASA speaks of Project Start Index and not project start inflation rate.

Sorry, too facile a dodge for my simple tastes.

Of course, in general, there are many causes for inflation, and it is important to list them correctly and to understand them accurately.

We are in a time of "officially" low inflation.  As is well understood by the American proletariat, the official inflation rate excludes many of the things which cost so much.  Housing, the so-called volatile energy sector.  Heck even food, in some tellings, isn't included.

The real, out of real people's pockets rate of inflation is a good bit higher, maybe not dangerously higher, but still, it is much higher than the official rate.

John Smith 19 made the comment above that the aerospace inflation rate has a distinctive scent of "Arbitraire", a new perfume based on the byproduct of the male bovine.  The Russians recently raised their prices to NASA based on the same principle.  ULA came up with some pretty hefty price increases of its own for the latest "block buy", which, ostensibly, was to have controlled costs.

We really don't care about the cognitive subtleties regarding a "narrow set of prices", "Project Start Indexes", and all that hokey pokey, which serve to deliberately distract from the costs and prices that raise almost at escape velocity.

The industry appears to be arbitrarily pricing itself out of work.  Keep on defending their practices if you wish.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/05/2014 11:57 am
What are you saying?  That Vlad can't practice capitalism and charge what the market can bear? 
Heaven forbid. I wouldn't want to be thought of as, y'know, some kind of Communist.  :)
Quote
That our aerospace industries shouldn't be rewarded for the innovation of creating the next BFR on such an accelerated schedule?
Not at all. I just find the inflation rate a mite hard to figure out over and above the usual US rate. Unless of course the RD180 is that big a chunk of the cost that putting up it's cost slaps 20% on the launch price automatically?
Quote
  That Americans shouldn't have jobs?  How many launch vehicles have you designed, BTW?
Wouldn't a "Made in the USA" engine create more jobs?

And I've probably designed as many engines as you have.  :)

Actually I can think of another example which could have NS space implications.

Antares uses 2 rebuilt NK33's for its first stage. There are a finite number of these left and I don't think there's any talk of re opening production. In 2009 the Soyuz-2-1v started launching with an NK33 in its first stage.

Orbital knew there were only so many of these engines built, yet it claims it wants to move into the market the Delta II used to serve. AFAIK Aerojet has enough to finish the NASA COTS contract so if Orbital want to build more than that what's the new price going to be? AFAIK there is a new Russian engine that superseded the NK33, but again it's Russian, and likely to need some 1st stage re design. 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/05/2014 12:27 pm
Wouldn't a "Made in the USA" engine create more jobs?

Seriously, you realize I'm teasing you, right? 

Because that's a big part of the issue here.  For some reason, a skilled American work force which would be building the new infrastructure, according to the principles of Intelligent Design, is not seen as even a nice-to-have.  Forty some odd years later, they haven't improved the F-1 engine.  Not because they can't, but because they won't.  The list of the sensible stuff that they won't do is very long.

Quote
And I've probably designed as many engines as you have.

Fah real?  You've designed zero engines too?  Hit me up and let's kickstart a new company.  The "X" is taken.  How about SpaceY?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/05/2014 03:41 pm
Seriously, you realize I'm teasing you, right? 
I do.  :) I also like that you get there's more to this stuff than just the technology.
Quote
Because that's a big part of the issue here.  For some reason, a skilled American work force which would be building the new infrastructure, according to the principles of Intelligent Design, is not seen as even a nice-to-have.  Forty some odd years later, they haven't improved the F-1 engine.  Not because they can't, but because they won't.  The list of the sensible stuff that they won't do is very long.
<sigh>
And that's rather less funny.  :( TBF if you're hell bent on reviving a 40 year old design it would seem to be a good first step to make sure you can revive it "as is," so that any problems are proved to be associated with the revival process and not upgrades. It does add another iteration but you start from solid foundations, although the F1A had never been flown I think it's got enough stand time to be pretty sure it will work.

I think the big problem with engine design is the ratio of engineers (and their range of skillsets) needed to build a new engine versus the team size needed to update / fault find an existing engine.

The (management) assumption seems to be that they cannot afford to keep the additional staff around as they will be "doing nothing"  because (obviously) the design is complete. My instinct is that this "common sense" is in fact nonsense but management considers it too risky to try.

Musk has been smart to keep his team together and keep their momentum up. I wonder how many more designs and design iterations Spacex can keep it up for but I hope they will as long as possible.  :(

Returning to the topic of this thread it would seem there is an argument that there should be some shared government organization that should support "pre competitive" research for advanced engine features like gas tap off or oxidizer rich staged which would allow mfgs to take the basics and develop their own (proprietary) engines from them.

Except I thought that was what NASA was for.  :(

My personal bugbear has always been that after 60 years (including the 30 odd years of Shuttle operations of GH2 and GO2 on orbit for up to 2 weeks) NASA has still not run a mission for LO2/LH2 on orbit propellant handling despite their belief that this is the only propellant combination for big payloads and/or human BEO flight.  :(

I cannot work out the logic of why you would not do this.
Quote
Fah real?  You've designed zero engines too?  Hit me up and let's kickstart a new company.  The "X" is taken.  How about SpaceY?
Well almost.  :)

I thought about designing an engine one time, but I had a lie down for a bit and the idea went away.  :)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/05/2014 08:08 pm
I thought about designing an engine one time, but I had a lie down for a bit and the idea went away.

Istarted a nozzle design two years ago. Spent about two or three full days on an initial iteration.  Real life got in the way, I dropped it and never picked it up again.  One lesson learned:  Rocket science may be hard for guys like me, but the texts are accessible, in general.  However.  There are bits and pieces missing in the text, probably considered basic to engineers and engineering students, but crucial to primitive man, who is looking for a recipe book that leaves nothing out.

Anyhow, back to regular programming...
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/06/2014 01:28 pm
Istarted a nozzle design two years ago. Spent about two or three full days on an initial iteration.  Real life got in the way, I dropped it and never picked it up again.  One lesson learned:  Rocket science may be hard for guys like me, but the texts are accessible, in general.  However.  There are bits and pieces missing in the text, probably considered basic to engineers and engineering students, but crucial to primitive man, who is looking for a recipe book that leaves nothing out.
That's tricky. Some of the original papers by Rao describe an approximation method for the throat and the bell of a pair of parabolas, and of course there's SP8120 on nozzle design.

Personally I always found the trouble was inter converting between all those ridiculous Imperial units ("now should I divide by 12 or 144 to get square feet or inches?")

Of course you could just cheat and buy a nozzle design program and dial in the size you need with one of the "pre baked" propellant combos.  :)

But I'll admit that returning to topic this is probably not a problem for either ULA or Spacex, although I've seen people comment that Russian bell nozzles are not the same shape as American bell nozzles, (possibly due to different design assumptions and/or ability to solve the equations in a reasonably efficient manner).

Subtle but possibly important when every second (of Isp) counts.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/06/2014 01:45 pm
... Some of the original papers by Rao describe an approximation method for the throat and the bell of a pair of parabolas...

Interestingly enough, I was fiddling with a parabola, and trying to understand the net force implications of varying the algebraic expression of the curve, with an eye towards understanding the Isp trend lines for various iterations of the expression.

But we digress.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Lar on 04/06/2014 04:33 pm
Inflation and nozzle designs are off topic. By very wide margins. Don't make me stop this car and turn around.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/07/2014 02:36 pm
Returning to topic would it be fair to say that

a) Monopolies eliminate the chance for competition based on price.

b) ULA has such a monopoly on large US government launches.

c) That monopoly is at least partly of the USG's own making. There are other LV's with as good a track record in  other countries but the USG refuses to use them.

d) There is an "Economical batch quantity" for launch vehicles, as there is for most manufactured goods.

e) 36 cores is likely to be much bigger than this level, but 1 is likely to be much smaller.

f) The USG needs new LV service providers, but not another monopoly situation.

g) Part of the justification for the ULA merger was the lack of market for 2 LV's and the acceptance that one of them would have to be retired. This situation does not appear to have radically changed.

h) It is time to a) retire a design whose core subsystems are manufactured in a country the US is presently in dispute with or b) Implement indigenous manufacturing of the RD180, not necessarily at full rate but enough to keep the pipeline filling and in a way that could be ramped up in future.

i)With complete RD180's being made in the US and a supplier cutoff no longer a possibility the question of which is the better design should be reviewed and one or other finally phased out (which I think is what the stockholders want  :( ).

[EDIT re-lettered as there was no g in OP. Ooops]
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/07/2014 02:51 pm
Returning to topic would it be fair to say that ...

A thru E: Yes.

F: Perhaps, but the monopolists, even in congressional testimony, do not like competition.

G: Reply hazy.

H thru J:  Subject to much debate, which this wall of text (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33812.msg1180235#msg1180235) touches upon.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: vulture4 on 04/07/2014 04:59 pm
Although ULA is required to bid on EELV launch services and provide data to justify cost increases, in reality it is not difficult to let cost increase if that is your goal.  Boeing was having difficulty getting enough business for the Delta IV it because users preferred the cheaper (and less profitable) Delta II. I have it on good authority that both accounting practice (i.e. charging of overhead for the combined program to Delta II) and supplier costs (shifting intentionally to more expensive vendors) were utilized to justify increasing user charges on the Delta II. Moreover, while some in that program wanted to bid on using the Delta II for the next gen GPS (would have required using the Delta III SRBs and a larger fairing, but still a major cost saving) the company chose not to propose this, cutting customers for the Delta II until it could justify halting the program.

So, being effectively a monopoly, it was logical for ULA to use the minimum cost supplier for the RD-180 while also raising the launch cost. Although keeping both the Atlas and Delta in production is more expensive, this was successfully justified to the "customer" on the basis that a failure in one program would not ground both.

Adding SpaceX to the field will change strategies. ULA will have to reduce costs to avoid losing business,and there may no longer be a justification for keeping both the Atlas and Delta operational. I suspect Russia will continue to supply the RD-180 however, as it brings in income and can be used as leverage.

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/07/2014 05:15 pm
I have it on good authority that both accounting practice (i.e. charging of overhead for the combined program to Delta II) and supplier costs (shifting intentionally to more expensive vendors) were utilized to justify increasing user charges on the Delta II.

False, the bulk of the cost increases was due to the USAF removing the GPS 60 day callup requirement.  That subsided a large portion of the Delta II program manpower. 
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/07/2014 05:22 pm
Moreover, while some in that program wanted to bid on using the Delta II for the next gen GPS (would have required using the Delta III SRBs and a larger fairing, but still a major cost saving) the company chose not to propose this, cutting customers for the Delta II until it could justify halting the program.


 Wrong, it was a USAF decision to use direct insertion for GPS that reduced customer base for Delta II.  This had nothing to do with Boeing or ULA.  The decision happened early in the EELV program when the USAF eliminated the small versions of the EELV's.  The GPS spacecraft that are now flying on Delta IV's are too heavy for any configuration of Delta II's ( and Delta III for the that matter). 

Your "good" authority is otherwise.

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/07/2014 10:57 pm
A thru E: Yes.
That sounds like a good start.
Quote
F: Perhaps, but the monopolists, even in congressional testimony, do not like competition.
I do hope people have archived that particular item. It's rare to hear such unguarded comments.
Quote

G: Reply hazy.

H thru J:  Subject to much debate,
The context is a bit different but I think the thrust is broadly similar.

I wonder. Assuming Spacex does start to fly payloads on the EELV contract wheather ULA will still fight to retain both Delta and Atlas vehicles because of the parts of the payload envelope F9 (or F9H?) can't cover and you still need a back up if one of the designs suffers a failure.  :(

Something tells me they probably will.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/07/2014 11:03 pm

I wonder. Assuming Spacex does start to fly payloads on the EELV contract wheather ULA will still fight to retain both Delta and Atlas vehicles because of the parts of the payload envelope F9 (or F9H?) can't cover and you still need a back up if one of the designs suffers a failure.  :(



They have been planning a down select for awhile.  Common Avionics, RL-10C and  Common Upperstage are all steps in that direction.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: USFdon on 04/07/2014 11:26 pm
Crawling towards a wide-body Atlas?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: vulture4 on 04/08/2014 03:29 am
Perhaps I went a little far afield. However there was a lot of discussion regarding whether the increase in EELV costs was inflation-driven, and I just wanted to point out that while costs to the supplier are inflation-driven, market price is determined by the curves of supply and demand, which are affected more directly by the question of whether the market is competitive, monopoly-supplier, or something else.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/08/2014 06:54 am
They have been planning a down select for awhile.  Common Avionics, RL-10C and  Common Upperstage are all steps in that direction.
I would suggest that until at least 1 complete RD180 has been mfg in the US, fitted to an Atlas and flown that subject is irrelevant.

If the common upper stage is such a good idea, and is common to both designs, why has it not been done already?

Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/08/2014 01:30 pm
Although ULA is required to bid on EELV launch services and provide data to justify cost increases, in reality it is not difficult to let cost increase if that is your goal.

Shocked.  Shocked I am that you would suggest this. 

How many EELV's have you designed and launched?  What do you know about costs?

You know the drill.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/08/2014 01:31 pm
I have it on good authority that both accounting practice (i.e. charging of overhead for the combined program to Delta II) and supplier costs (shifting intentionally to more expensive vendors) were utilized to justify increasing user charges on the Delta II.

False, the bulk of the cost increases was due to the USAF removing the GPS 60 day callup requirement.  That subsided a large portion of the Delta II program manpower.

I'm sure that it would be highly unlikely to have the true accounting costs laid out in a verifiable manner for the public to review.  Just sayin'.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/08/2014 01:31 pm

I wonder. Assuming Spacex does start to fly payloads on the EELV contract wheather ULA will still fight to retain both Delta and Atlas vehicles...

They have been planning a down select for awhile.  Common Avionics, RL-10C and  Common Upperstage are all steps in that direction.

I was aware of the several areas of commonality that you refer to.  Theoretically, that would have resulted in lower costs, making the arbitrary inflation of the block buy even more questionable from the taxpayer's viewpoint, while quite understandable from the viewpoint of increasing quarterly profits per Moore's Sales Quota.

Grab the money while they can, while quietly hedging their bets on the future chances of a seemingly inevitable downselect, because of the new commercial provider.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 04/08/2014 01:37 pm
Crawling towards a wide-body Atlas?

If they can solve the RD-180 supply issues a widebody Atlas with a widebody Centaur would be awesome.

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/08/2014 01:38 pm

If the common upper stage is such a good idea, and is common to both designs, why has it not been done already?


Time and money.  ULA has only existed for 7 years.  Also, items like common avionics come first.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 04/08/2014 01:39 pm
Perhaps I went a little far afield. However there was a lot of discussion regarding whether the increase in EELV costs was inflation-driven, and I just wanted to point out that while costs to the supplier are inflation-driven, market price is determined by the curves of supply and demand, which are affected more directly by the question of whether the market is competitive, monopoly-supplier, or something else.

I was hearing that a big cost driver is the propulsion. The rocket engines they get from Aerojet/Rocketdyne (or whatever they're calling the combination now) have been going up in price much faster than inflation. Part of why monopoly/monopsony arrangements suck (even if the technical quality of the engines is great).

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/08/2014 01:40 pm

I was aware of the several areas of commonality that you refer to.  Theoretically, that would have resulted in lower costs, making the arbitrary inflation of the block buy even more questionable from the taxpayer's viewpoint, while quite understandable from the viewpoint of increasing quarterly profits per Moore's Sales Quota.


No, those are outside the block buy timeframe
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: jongoff on 04/08/2014 01:41 pm

If the common upper stage is such a good idea, and is common to both designs, why has it not been done already?


Time and money.  ULA has only existed for 7 years.  Also, items like common avionics come first.

Once again, not knowing the nitty-gritties of their corporate finance, all the indications I've seen are that ULA doesn't actually have a lot of free cash available for upgrades. And they limited cash they have had has gone to things like replacing obsolete avionics (I think part of the common avionics upgrades includes replacing vendors who've now gone out of business).

~Jon
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/08/2014 02:44 pm

I was aware of the several areas of commonality that you refer to.  Theoretically, that would have resulted in lower costs, making the arbitrary inflation of the block buy even more questionable ...

No, those are outside the block buy timeframe

I don't understand.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Jim on 04/08/2014 02:51 pm

I was aware of the several areas of commonality that you refer to.  Theoretically, that would have resulted in lower costs, making the arbitrary inflation of the block buy even more questionable ...

No, those are outside the block buy timeframe

I don't understand.

The cut in for those mods is after all the vehicles of the block buy have flown (and even then some more)
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: JohnFornaro on 04/08/2014 03:02 pm

I was aware of the several areas of commonality that you refer to.  Theoretically, that would have resulted in lower costs, making the arbitrary inflation of the block buy even more questionable ...

No, those are outside the block buy timeframe

I don't understand.

The cut in for those mods is after all the vehicles of the block buy have flown (and even then some more)

Jeezy peezies.  It's going to take that long to implement commonality?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/08/2014 08:37 pm
I was hearing that a big cost driver is the propulsion. The rocket engines they get from Aerojet/Rocketdyne (or whatever they're calling the combination now) have been going up in price much faster than inflation. Part of why monopoly/monopsony arrangements suck (even if the technical quality of the engines is great).
It always struck me as odd that XCOR were funded to work on an LO2/LH2 engine when PWR was part of the same group IE that they were buying the RL10 from another part of the same group.  :(

That suggested there was something seriously amiss with engine pricing.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/08/2014 08:45 pm
The cut in for those mods is after all the vehicles of the block buy have flown (and even then some more)
You mean not even the common avionics suite will fly until after the block buy?
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Proponent on 04/24/2014 01:54 pm
Space News is providing ULA's and SpaceX's answers to each others written questions (http://spacenews.com/article/military-space/40302musk-and-gass-go-toe-to-toe-in-qa) (attached).

In my view, ULA answers SpaceX's questions competently; neither side scores a knock-out blow.

ULA's questions, on the other hand, seem almost to have been written by SpaceX's marketing department: they allow SpaceX to score some significant points in its replies.
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: Prober on 04/25/2014 04:20 pm
Space News is providing ULA's and SpaceX's answers to each others written questions (http://spacenews.com/article/military-space/40302musk-and-gass-go-toe-to-toe-in-qa) (attached).

In my view, ULA answers SpaceX's questions competently; neither side scores a knock-out blow.

ULA's questions, on the other hand, seem almost to have been written by SpaceX's marketing department: they allow SpaceX to score some significant points in its replies.

Makes for great press but isn't a professional way to run a business. ;D
Title: Re: March 5, 2014 Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs (Musk and Gass)
Post by: MP99 on 04/25/2014 04:37 pm
Space News is providing ULA's and SpaceX's answers to each others written questions (http://spacenews.com/article/military-space/40302musk-and-gass-go-toe-to-toe-in-qa) (attached).

In my view, ULA answers SpaceX's questions competently; neither side scores a knock-out blow.

ULA's questions, on the other hand, seem almost to have been written by SpaceX's marketing department: they allow SpaceX to score some significant points in its replies.

Makes for great press but isn't a professional way to run a business. ;D

Agreed. Both of them come across as petulant teenagers.

Honestly - "sic"?!

cheers, Martin