Author Topic: Horizontal Launch Study  (Read 15322 times)

Offline rdale

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Horizontal Launch Study
« on: 09/16/2011 11:22 pm »
A study of horizontal launch concepts has been conducted. This study,   
jointly sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was tasked to estimate the economic and technical viability of horizontal launch approaches. The study team identified the key parameters and critical technologies which determine mission viability and reported on the state of the art of critical technologies, along with objectives for technology development.

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015353_2011016245.pdf

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #1 on: 09/17/2011 12:01 am »
This study is an interesting read.  I just wonder what the odds are of this ever going beyond the study stage.  My guess is that it probably won't primarily because of the current budget mess.  I would be curious as to what the White Knight XX concept would look like.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #2 on: 09/19/2011 02:07 pm »
At first this looks like they are hoping for another go at the OSC Pegasus approach. However this is about 15x bigger, presumably they are hoping they won't end up with the price per lb they got from Pegasus.

RASCAL was IIRC the last time DARPA visited this notion so let's see if this one works out any better.

Surprise surprise it finds the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is quite useful. Other amusing details were they included a twin fuselage C5 (a paper aircraft) but not the Antonov 124 (which definitely is not). It would seem someone thinks knocking up a dual fuselage version of the C5 would require no more than finding a couple of surplus C5 fuselages and some quick work with a welding torch.

Costs are based on cost+ and the NAFCOM model. The one that priced the Spacex *total* development plan at a *minimum* of 3.58x its actual cost. 

Obvious (real) places to start (if you're not NASA) would be the Antonov 225, the C17 or the White Knight. The C17 demonstrated air drop of a 65000lb rocket stage from the now defunct AirLaunch company already. although I'd expect it to allow something *much* bigger.

It's just a weird document. If you wanted *creativity* you'd expect them to issue a RFP and a *performance* spec, then see what people came up with. *no* limits on carrier vehicle, propellants, stage number etc.

Here they've decided *ahead* of such a process what they are prepared to believe *possible*. This appears to be a superb way to ensure that people will perform *down* to their preconceptions.

We'll have to see if goes to an RFP, but seem to think Spacex (operating under cost+ and full oversight) will be a lot cheaper Spacex may feel they have no choice but to enter.

I really hope they don't. If they do set up a subsidiary to quarantine the effects of cost plus. 



« Last Edit: 09/19/2011 03:50 pm by john smith 19 »
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Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #3 on: 09/19/2011 09:20 pm »
Surprise surprise it finds the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is quite useful. Other amusing details were they included a twin fuselage C5 (a paper aircraft) but not the Antonov 124 (which definitely is not). It would seem someone thinks knocking up a dual fuselage version of the C5 would require no more than finding a couple of surplus C5 fuselages and some quick work with a welding torch.
AN-124 is Russian is the main issue with using it. :)

The twin-C5 actually has an extensive study history with some in-depth work done as a possible Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and then as a possible Air-Launch Carrier. Note the graphic on page-17, The Duel-C5 is THE highest costing option, but only a little bit more than the "custom" WK-XX.

None of them can touch the savings using an OTS 747 hull though. Still, that the study somehow comes to the conclusion that the Pegasus-style "lifting, wing-borne" model is somehow the "only" logical choice for launching?

Lets go here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/TechPapers.html

Then here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

Page-4, section C "Captive on-Top Launch" which pretty much gives you ever reason possible WHY you would not want to do this. Of course since LV sizing is a MAJOR factor for "Captive On-Bottom" launch and the ONLY concpet that could fit under a similarly modified 747 hull is concept one which has ALL the disadvantages of the Pegasus LV. (Meaning the overall payload-to-orbit really suffers due to those wings and other systems requiered for the LV to perform an automated aerodynamic pitch-up maneuver)

The study seems to be more 'biased' to showing all the worst issues for air-launch with none of the good.

Randy

Costs are based on cost+ and the NAFCOM model. The one that priced the Spacex *total* development plan at a *minimum* of 3.58x its actual cost. 

Obvious (real) places to start (if you're not NASA) would be the Antonov 225, the C17 or the White Knight. The C17 demonstrated air drop of a 65000lb rocket stage from the now defunct AirLaunch company already. although I'd expect it to allow something *much* bigger.

It's just a weird document. If you wanted *creativity* you'd expect them to issue a RFP and a *performance* spec, then see what people came up with. *no* limits on carrier vehicle, propellants, stage number etc.

Here they've decided *ahead* of such a process what they are prepared to believe *possible*. This appears to be a superb way to ensure that people will perform *down* to their preconceptions.

We'll have to see if goes to an RFP, but seem to think Spacex (operating under cost+ and full oversight) will be a lot cheaper Spacex may feel they have no choice but to enter.

I really hope they don't. If they do set up a subsidiary to quarantine the effects of cost plus. 




[/quote]
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline intlibber

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #4 on: 09/19/2011 11:59 pm »
the study I believe was trying to use COTS equipment as case studies rather than having to design a whole new vehicle.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #5 on: 09/20/2011 07:18 am »
AN-124 is Russian is the main issue with using it. :)
True but as a *production* aircraft you can buy one or (AFAIK) lease it.
The An-225 was designed to carry Buran on its back, so it's got the strong points included. But it's 1 off nature (I thought they were building a 2nd?) and ownership issues would have ruled it out.
Quote
The twin-C5 actually has an extensive study history with some in-depth work done as a possible Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and then as a possible Air-Launch Carrier. Note the graphic on page-17, The Duel-C5 is THE highest costing option, but only a little bit more than the "custom" WK-XX.
I was just quite surprised it made it through the 1st round.
Quote
None of them can touch the savings using an OTS 747 hull though. Still, that the study somehow comes to the conclusion that the Pegasus-style "lifting, wing-borne" model is somehow the "only" logical choice for launching?
I'm not a big fan of special 1 off components either. It puts another big chunk of hardware on the critical path.
Quote
Lets go here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/TechPapers.html

Then here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

Page-4, section C "Captive on-Top Launch" which pretty much gives you ever reason possible WHY you would not want to do this. Of course since LV sizing is a MAJOR factor for "Captive On-Bottom" launch and the ONLY concpet that could fit under a similarly modified 747 hull is concept one which has ALL the disadvantages of the Pegasus LV. (Meaning the overall payload-to-orbit really suffers due to those wings and other systems requiered for the LV to perform an automated aerodynamic pitch-up maneuver)

The study seems to be more 'biased' to showing all the worst issues for air-launch with none of the good.
Thanks for pointing me at Air Launch. I thought they'd gone out of business. It's good to see they are still making some progress. When you know an 89000lb Minuteman was dropped out of a C5 in 1974 and lit successfully the argument seems pretty much over. Especially if you have a limited budget to go around buying (and the modifying) cargo aircraft. The problem then becomes *what* cargo aircraft you can get regular access to and how to make the best use of the space.

I think the bit that *does* push the envelope is the 15000lb minimum payload.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #6 on: 09/20/2011 04:10 pm »
AN-124 is Russian is the main issue with using it. :)
True but as a *production* aircraft you can buy one or (AFAIK) lease it.
The An-225 was designed to carry Buran on its back, so it's got the strong points included. But it's 1 off nature (I thought they were building a 2nd?) and ownership issues would have ruled it out.
Quote
The twin-C5 actually has an extensive study history with some in-depth work done as a possible Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and then as a possible Air-Launch Carrier. Note the graphic on page-17, The Duel-C5 is THE highest costing option, but only a little bit more than the "custom" WK-XX.
I was just quite surprised it made it through the 1st round.
Quote
None of them can touch the savings using an OTS 747 hull though. Still, that the study somehow comes to the conclusion that the Pegasus-style "lifting, wing-borne" model is somehow the "only" logical choice for launching?
I'm not a big fan of special 1 off components either. It puts another big chunk of hardware on the critical path.
Quote
Lets go here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/TechPapers.html

Then here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

Page-4, section C "Captive on-Top Launch" which pretty much gives you ever reason possible WHY you would not want to do this. Of course since LV sizing is a MAJOR factor for "Captive On-Bottom" launch and the ONLY concpet that could fit under a similarly modified 747 hull is concept one which has ALL the disadvantages of the Pegasus LV. (Meaning the overall payload-to-orbit really suffers due to those wings and other systems requiered for the LV to perform an automated aerodynamic pitch-up maneuver)

The study seems to be more 'biased' to showing all the worst issues for air-launch with none of the good.
Thanks for pointing me at Air Launch. I thought they'd gone out of business. It's good to see they are still making some progress. When you know an 89000lb Minuteman was dropped out of a C5 in 1974 and lit successfully the argument seems pretty much over. Especially if you have a limited budget to go around buying (and the modifying) cargo aircraft. The problem then becomes *what* cargo aircraft you can get regular access to and how to make the best use of the space.

I think the bit that *does* push the envelope is the 15000lb minimum payload.


To clarify AirLaunch's status: We ended all work on the DARPA contract in late 2008.  The company is in existence, but not "active" at the moment.  We maintain the core team prepared to compete for future government programs that may require our technology, and we keep our patents current.

We did respond to the RFI that NASA Dryden issued which led to the HLS study.  At this point, we await future decisions by NASA/DARPA on a path forward.

We're not fans of top launch, however, and it seems obvious to me that was the implied "right answer" for this study.  We're also not supportive of solid propulsion solutions for orbital missions performed by air-launch.  When the carrier aircraft is payload limited, one wants to reduce, not increase, the gross weight of the LV.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #7 on: 09/21/2011 11:49 am »


To clarify AirLaunch's status: We ended all work on the DARPA contract in late 2008.  The company is in existence, but not "active" at the moment.  We maintain the core team prepared to compete for future government programs that may require our technology, and we keep our patents current.
Good to know you're still together. Putting stages in parallel to met the ground clearance limits is very neat. It's definitely one of those why-was'nt-it-thought-of-years-ago moments.

Quote
We did respond to the RFI that NASA Dryden issued which led to the HLS study.  At this point, we await future decisions by NASA/DARPA on a path forward.
It seemed an odd thing to fund, unless they had some leftover cash in the years budget and followed the rule of "Use it or loose it."

Quote
We're not fans of top launch, however, and it seems obvious to me that was the implied "right answer" for this study. 
I noticed both exemplars were in that mode.
Quote
We're also not supportive of solid propulsion solutions for orbital missions performed by air-launch.  When the carrier aircraft is payload limited, one wants to reduce, not increase, the gross weight of the LV.
Which again seems like common sense but is partly countered by the OSC Pegasus being the only *actual* LV using this mode successfully.
However AFAIK the OSC decision to go solid was driven by hardware availability and pricing. 

Liquids are the way to go for performance but they have to *exist* when you need them in the size needed.

I've often wondered what would happen if someone took a price/lb and just worked *backward* to see what the *maximum* costs of any expendable hardware could be, how much staff time a launch could afford and how many would you have to launch before you made a profit.

At present it seems space launch is not even at the ticket stage on say a ferry. It's more like a ticket to a Broadway show. You *might* get the Tony award winning cast on the night, or half the parts are their understudies There are *no* refunds and the experience is *unique*, because the ensemble will be different every time.

BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #8 on: 09/21/2011 06:22 pm »
Two points -

XCOR's Jeff Greason has mentioned a post-Lynx 2 project - a TSTO system that takes off from a runway.  Mr. Greason and his team know their stuff, so....

SNC's Dream Chaser will be fitted to be captive-carried by WK-2 for drop-tests in 2012. Presumably they will also be doing tests of its dual RM2 hybrid rockets, which IIRC are each ~4x as powerful as SS2's single engine (they can serve as a launch abort system.)  Should be interesting to see how high/far it goes if they do a full LAS burn..
« Last Edit: 09/21/2011 06:26 pm by docmordrid »
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Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #9 on: 09/26/2011 02:28 pm »
the study I believe was trying to use COTS equipment as case studies rather than having to design a whole new vehicle.
Maybe, but there are a LOT of "assumed" requirments and such even given that constraint. And really once you begin putting together an LV in the size range studied you're STILL basically going to be putting together a "whole-new-vehicle" either way.

RAndy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #10 on: 09/26/2011 03:03 pm »
Putting stages in parallel to met the ground clearance limits is very neat. It's definitely one of those why-was'nt-it-thought-of-years-ago moments.
Annoyingly, according to this study it STILL isn't being "thought" about apparently ;)

Quote
It seemed an odd thing to fund, unless they had some leftover cash in the years budget and followed the rule of "Use it or loose it."
I'd thought of that too, but the fact this is an "interim" report makes me think this is still an "on-going" project.

There is also the "fact" that the report states that DARPA is "planning" on proceeding with more in depth studies of Horizontal Launch AND building a test vehicle and launch system. (Page i, first paragraph)

Though the idea of using the already existing Shuttle-Transport Aircraft as a "test" aircraft makes sense in some ways, limiting the "concept" to solid-fueled LVs even for a "test" program is rather self-limiting.
(Page ii, last paragraph)

I suspect that your "reasoning" here:
Quote
Which again seems like common sense but is partly countered by the OSC Pegasus being the only *actual* LV using this mode successfully.
However AFAIK the OSC decision to go solid was driven by hardware availability and pricing.

Makes me think they will actually be "using" modifications of the Pegasus LV for the test program as well.

Not that you don't have a point though, as both the C-5/MinuteMan test and most current air-launched "target" vehicles for Anti-Missile defense tests are also solid motors.

Quote
Liquids are the way to go for performance but they have to *exist* when you need them in the size needed.
Yes, but.... How do you GET those liquids if you never actually get around to testing or developing them :)

Quote
I've often wondered what would happen if someone took a price/lb and just worked *backward* to see what the *maximum* costs of any expendable hardware could be, how much staff time a launch could afford and how many would you have to launch before you made a profit.
Hmmm, interesting thought. At a guess I'd figure you'd have to have a good number of launches period to get any good results but it would be interesting to try variuos price points and see.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #11 on: 09/26/2011 08:11 pm »

There is also the "fact" that the report states that DARPA is "planning" on proceeding with more in depth studies of Horizontal Launch AND building a test vehicle and launch system. (Page i, first paragraph)

Though the idea of using the already existing Shuttle-Transport Aircraft as a "test" aircraft makes sense in some ways, limiting the "concept" to solid-fueled LVs even for a "test" program is rather self-limiting.
(Page ii, last paragraph)
It's intriguing, but somehow not quite the almost super human level of difficulty you'd expect from a DARPA plan (although the payload is challenging, especially if they feel solid is the way to go).

Quote
Quote
Liquids are the way to go for performance but they have to *exist* when you need them in the size needed.
Yes, but.... How do you GET those liquids if you never actually get around to testing or developing them :)
The classic chicken and egg situation. AFAIK only Xcorp and General Kinetics have small(ish) thrusters or pumped engines available from which a *small* prototype could be constructed. I'd guess Armadillo Aerospace has worked at this scale but I'm not sure if they'll sell stuff. Note also the LANL patents from John Whitehead's team would probably have a bearing on this.

The trouble is the *very* limited range of sizes (big to enormous) of engines outside LH2/LO2.
Quote
Quote
I've often wondered what would happen if someone took a price/lb and just worked *backward* to see what the *maximum* costs of any expendable hardware could be, how much staff time a launch could afford and how many would you have to launch before you made a profit.
Hmmm, interesting thought. At a guess I'd figure you'd have to have a good number of launches period to get any good results but it would be interesting to try variuos price points and see.
Generally speaking high launch rate spreads the fixed costs across more launches. Of course lowering the fixed costs to *begin* with might lower them even further.

AFAIK the case for reusables has always *seemed* to cut in around the 50+ launches level.

However this disregards an interesting fact.

An RLV (even one which could launch say 10 payloads before falling apart) *if* sold as a product like an executive jet (We'll train your people but you launch it when *you* want with whatever payload you want. You don't launch it sits in your back lot) becomes an *asset*.

You can use it, rent it, sell it. It has *resale* value.

That could change how people raise funds to buy a ride (or rather buy one) on it *substantially*.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #12 on: 09/26/2011 08:32 pm »

There is also the "fact" that the report states that DARPA is "planning" on proceeding with more in depth studies of Horizontal Launch AND building a test vehicle and launch system. (Page i, first paragraph)

Though the idea of using the already existing Shuttle-Transport Aircraft as a "test" aircraft makes sense in some ways, limiting the "concept" to solid-fueled LVs even for a "test" program is rather self-limiting.
(Page ii, last paragraph)
It's intriguing, but somehow not quite the almost super human level of difficulty you'd expect from a DARPA plan (although the payload is challenging, especially if they feel solid is the way to go).
Heh, well they "originally" envision a payload of around 5,00lbs using the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and a "COTS" set of solids... We'll see :)

(And besides, don't you think they are "pushing" the envelope on difficulty with the "100-year Starship" Program? :) )

Quote
Quote
Liquids are the way to go for performance but they have to *exist* when you need them in the size needed.
Yes, but.... How do you GET those liquids if you never actually get around to testing or developing them :)
Quote
The classic chicken and egg situation. AFAIK only Xcorp and General Kinetics have small(ish) thrusters or pumped engines available from which a *small* prototype could be constructed. I'd guess Armadillo Aerospace has worked at this scale but I'm not sure if they'll sell stuff. Note also the LANL patents from John Whitehead's team would probably have a bearing on this.
Which GK engines are you thinking? (As a side-note I've often wondered if they {GK} reverse engineered the RMI engine for Blue Origin... Since they have neither said if the RE program worked or who the customer was :) )
Quote
The trouble is the *very* limited range of sizes (big to enormous) of engines outside LH2/LO2.
Yep that would be an "issue" all right :) still, the study DOES address (sort of) using Merlin-2C's and an RL-10 for the liquid fueled vehicle. And those engines ARE available...

Quote
Quote
I've often wondered what would happen if someone took a price/lb and just worked *backward* to see what the *maximum* costs of any expendable hardware could be, how much staff time a launch could afford and how many would you have to launch before you made a profit.
Hmmm, interesting thought. At a guess I'd figure you'd have to have a good number of launches period to get any good results but it would be interesting to try various price points and see.
Quote
Generally speaking high launch rate spreads the fixed costs across more launches. Of course lowering the fixed costs to *begin* with might lower them even further.
True that, and everything I've seen says if you launch without using a "fixed" range with all it's attendent costs your looking at a savings of a couple of million per launch. That is IF you can do so, part of the "problem" with the Pegasus is that as far as I can tell they ALWAYS use a "range" of some type and I'm not sure that you CAN actually get away with not "using" one. (Then again there IS Sea Launch...)

There is also the fact that your expending the launch vehicle in this scenerio which begs the question do you STILL get to "spread" the costs?

Quote
AFAIK the case for reusables has always *seemed* to cut in around the 50+ launches level.
That IS the generally stated 'break-point' though I've not seen a lot of references to where that number comes from either....

Quote
However this disregards an interesting fact.

An RLV (even one which could launch say 10 payloads before falling apart) *if* sold as a product like an executive jet (We'll train your people but you launch it when *you* want with whatever payload you want. You don't launch it sits in your back lot) becomes an *asset*.

You can use it, rent it, sell it. It has *resale* value.

That could change how people raise funds to buy a ride (or rather buy one) on it *substantially*.
There IS that...

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #13 on: 09/26/2011 08:38 pm »
Actually I'm going to have to actually sit down and READ the whole study now as I'm noting that one concept notion they have it Aerial fueling of both or either the carrier aircraft AND/OR the LV in flight....

Shades of "Blackhorse"...

::::grin::::

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #14 on: 10/10/2011 06:06 pm »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #15 on: 10/10/2011 09:20 pm »
Heh, well they "originally" envision a payload of around 5,00lbs using the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and a "COTS" set of solids... We'll see :)
My apologies for not getting back to this sooner. I thought it was 25 000Klb that made it quite challenging?

Quote
(And besides, don't you think they are "pushing" the envelope on difficulty with the "100-year Starship" Program? :) )
Now *that* is more like the usual completely-bonkers-but-just-might-work description of a proper DARPA project.

Quote
Liquids are the way to go for performance but they have to *exist* when you need them in the size needed.
Quote
Yes, but.... How do you GET those liquids if you never actually get around to testing or developing them :)
Quote
The classic chicken and egg situation. AFAIK only Xcorp and General Kinetics have small(ish) thrusters or pumped engines available from which a *small* prototype could be constructed. I'd guess Armadillo Aerospace has worked at this scale but I'm not sure if they'll sell stuff. Note also the LANL patents from John Whitehead's team would probably have a bearing on this.
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Which GK engines are you thinking? (As a side-note I've often wondered if they {GK} reverse engineered the RMI engine for Blue Origin... Since they have neither said if the RE program worked or who the customer was :) )
Calling them engines might have been putting it a bit strongly. They are thrusters but are lacking a source for high pressure propellant. I'd guess you'd have to team them with something like the Flometrics or Xcorp reciprocating pumps, unless you fancied building your own.
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The trouble is the *very* limited range of sizes (big to enormous) of engines outside LH2/LO2.
Yep that would be an "issue" all right :) still, the study DOES address (sort of) using Merlin-2C's and an RL-10 for the liquid fueled vehicle. And those engines ARE available...

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I've often wondered what would happen if someone took a price/lb and just worked *backward* to see what the *maximum* costs of any expendable hardware could be, how much staff time a launch could afford and how many would you have to launch before you made a profit.
Hmmm, interesting thought. At a guess I'd figure you'd have to have a good number of launches period to get any good results but it would be interesting to try various price points and see.
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Generally speaking high launch rate spreads the fixed costs across more launches. Of course lowering the fixed costs to *begin* with might lower them even further.
True that, and everything I've seen says if you launch without using a "fixed" range with all it's attendent costs your looking at a savings of a couple of million per launch. That is IF you can do so, part of the "problem" with the Pegasus is that as far as I can tell they ALWAYS use a "range" of some type and I'm not sure that you CAN actually get away with not "using" one. (Then again there IS Sea Launch...)

There is also the fact that your expending the launch vehicle in this scenerio which begs the question do you STILL get to "spread" the costs?

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AFAIK the case for reusables has always *seemed* to cut in around the 50+ launches level.
That IS the generally stated 'break-point' though I've not seen a lot of references to where that number comes from either....

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However this disregards an interesting fact.

An RLV (even one which could launch say 10 payloads before falling apart) *if* sold as a product like an executive jet (We'll train your people but you launch it when *you* want with whatever payload you want. You don't launch it sits in your back lot) becomes an *asset*.

You can use it, rent it, sell it. It has *resale* value.

That could change how people raise funds to buy a ride (or rather buy one) on it *substantially*.
There IS that...

Randy
[/quote]
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Offline RanulfC

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #16 on: 10/27/2011 01:34 pm »
DARPA ALASA Industry day is the 4th of November:

https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=31a8f08f9a65098f2dfe5e15d985cb58&tab=core&_cview=0

The question is however is it the same 'study' or another approach? Note one thing in the Indsutry Day .pdf, the project manager is Mitchell Burnside Clapp:
https://www.fbo.gov/download/f91/f91ff9368438960947726348d834ac04/DARPA_ALASA_Industry_Day_Notice.pdf

And the program description:
"PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The goal of ALASA is to develop a significantly less expensive approach for launching small satellites routinely, with a goal of at least threefold reduction in costs compared to current military and US commercial launch costs. Currently, small satellite payloads cost over $30,000 per pound to launch. ALASA seeks to launch satellites on the order of 100 lbm for less than $10,000 per pound, or $1M total including range support costs.

ALASA seeks to develop and employ radical advances in launch systems, to include the development of an on-the-shelf complete launch vehicle requiring no recurring maintenance or support, and no specific integration to prepare for launch. The ALASA demonstration system will draw upon emerging technologies to provide increased specific impulse propellants, stable propellant formulations, hybrid propellant systems, potential “infrastructure free” cryogen production, new motor case materials, new flight controls and mission planning techniques, new nozzle designs, improved thrust vectoring methods, and new throttling approaches.

Launch costs are driven in part today by fixed site infrastructure, integration, checkout and flight rules. The timeline at the launch site for small payloads is at least a month. Fixed launch sites limit the direction and timing of the orbits that can be achieved. Current launch sites can be rendered idle by something as innocuous as rain. ALASA will be launched from an airborne platform, allowing performance improvement, reducing range costs, and flying more frequently, which combine to reduce cost per pound. The ability to relocate and launch quickly from virtually any major runway around the globe substantially reduces the time needed to execute a launch mission. Launch point offset permits essentially any possible orbit direction to be achieved without concerns for launch direction limits imposed by geography. Finally, launchpoint offset allows the entire operation to be moved should a particular fixed airfield come under threat.

Challenges include development of alternatives to current range processes, control of weight and margin under a hard gross weight limit, creation of a low-cost launch vehicle compatible with an existing aircraft, and development of a concept of operations capable of achieving a cost goal of $1M per launch in this small satellite class.

ALASA will demonstrate a launch system that works without the need for extensive maintenance, preparation, or inspection in advance of launch. This capability will enable a one day interval between call-up and launch, a rapid mission planning demonstration where the intended orbit is selected after takeoff of the launch assist aircraft, and a demonstration of the ability to depart rapidly from a threatened airfield and execute a launch mission from a remote site. These demonstrations are designed to address the main ALASA program goals of affordability, responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience."

Which begs the question, are you folks "interested" Gary or is this another program with the "answer" already in hand?

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #17 on: 10/27/2011 10:10 pm »
DARPA ALASA Industry day is the 4th of November:

https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=31a8f08f9a65098f2dfe5e15d985cb58&tab=core&_cview=0

The question is however is it the same 'study' or another approach? Note one thing in the Indsutry Day .pdf, the project manager is Mitchell Burnside Clapp:
https://www.fbo.gov/download/f91/f91ff9368438960947726348d834ac04/DARPA_ALASA_Industry_Day_Notice.pdf

And the program description:
"PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The goal of ALASA is to develop a significantly less expensive approach for launching small satellites routinely, with a goal of at least threefold reduction in costs compared to current military and US commercial launch costs. Currently, small satellite payloads cost over $30,000 per pound to launch. ALASA seeks to launch satellites on the order of 100 lbm for less than $10,000 per pound, or $1M total including range support costs.

ALASA seeks to develop and employ radical advances in launch systems, to include the development of an on-the-shelf complete launch vehicle requiring no recurring maintenance or support, and no specific integration to prepare for launch. The ALASA demonstration system will draw upon emerging technologies to provide increased specific impulse propellants, stable propellant formulations, hybrid propellant systems, potential “infrastructure free” cryogen production, new motor case materials, new flight controls and mission planning techniques, new nozzle designs, improved thrust vectoring methods, and new throttling approaches.

Launch costs are driven in part today by fixed site infrastructure, integration, checkout and flight rules. The timeline at the launch site for small payloads is at least a month. Fixed launch sites limit the direction and timing of the orbits that can be achieved. Current launch sites can be rendered idle by something as innocuous as rain. ALASA will be launched from an airborne platform, allowing performance improvement, reducing range costs, and flying more frequently, which combine to reduce cost per pound. The ability to relocate and launch quickly from virtually any major runway around the globe substantially reduces the time needed to execute a launch mission. Launch point offset permits essentially any possible orbit direction to be achieved without concerns for launch direction limits imposed by geography. Finally, launchpoint offset allows the entire operation to be moved should a particular fixed airfield come under threat.

Challenges include development of alternatives to current range processes, control of weight and margin under a hard gross weight limit, creation of a low-cost launch vehicle compatible with an existing aircraft, and development of a concept of operations capable of achieving a cost goal of $1M per launch in this small satellite class.

ALASA will demonstrate a launch system that works without the need for extensive maintenance, preparation, or inspection in advance of launch. This capability will enable a one day interval between call-up and launch, a rapid mission planning demonstration where the intended orbit is selected after takeoff of the launch assist aircraft, and a demonstration of the ability to depart rapidly from a threatened airfield and execute a launch mission from a remote site. These demonstrations are designed to address the main ALASA program goals of affordability, responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience."

Which begs the question, are you folks "interested" Gary or is this another program with the "answer" already in hand?

Randy

We will have to wait and see what the Industry Day reveals.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #18 on: 11/08/2011 12:15 am »
DARPA ALASA Industry day is the 4th of November:

https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=31a8f08f9a65098f2dfe5e15d985cb58&tab=core&_cview=0

The question is however is it the same 'study' or another approach? Note one thing in the Indsutry Day .pdf, the project manager is Mitchell Burnside Clapp:
https://www.fbo.gov/download/f91/f91ff9368438960947726348d834ac04/DARPA_ALASA_Industry_Day_Notice.pdf

And the program description:
"PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The goal of ALASA is to develop a significantly less expensive approach for launching small satellites routinely, with a goal of at least threefold reduction in costs compared to current military and US commercial launch costs. Currently, small satellite payloads cost over $30,000 per pound to launch. ALASA seeks to launch satellites on the order of 100 lbm for less than $10,000 per pound, or $1M total including range support costs.

ALASA seeks to develop and employ radical advances in launch systems, to include the development of an on-the-shelf complete launch vehicle requiring no recurring maintenance or support, and no specific integration to prepare for launch. The ALASA demonstration system will draw upon emerging technologies to provide increased specific impulse propellants, stable propellant formulations, hybrid propellant systems, potential “infrastructure free” cryogen production, new motor case materials, new flight controls and mission planning techniques, new nozzle designs, improved thrust vectoring methods, and new throttling approaches.

Launch costs are driven in part today by fixed site infrastructure, integration, checkout and flight rules. The timeline at the launch site for small payloads is at least a month. Fixed launch sites limit the direction and timing of the orbits that can be achieved. Current launch sites can be rendered idle by something as innocuous as rain. ALASA will be launched from an airborne platform, allowing performance improvement, reducing range costs, and flying more frequently, which combine to reduce cost per pound. The ability to relocate and launch quickly from virtually any major runway around the globe substantially reduces the time needed to execute a launch mission. Launch point offset permits essentially any possible orbit direction to be achieved without concerns for launch direction limits imposed by geography. Finally, launchpoint offset allows the entire operation to be moved should a particular fixed airfield come under threat.

Challenges include development of alternatives to current range processes, control of weight and margin under a hard gross weight limit, creation of a low-cost launch vehicle compatible with an existing aircraft, and development of a concept of operations capable of achieving a cost goal of $1M per launch in this small satellite class.

ALASA will demonstrate a launch system that works without the need for extensive maintenance, preparation, or inspection in advance of launch. This capability will enable a one day interval between call-up and launch, a rapid mission planning demonstration where the intended orbit is selected after takeoff of the launch assist aircraft, and a demonstration of the ability to depart rapidly from a threatened airfield and execute a launch mission from a remote site. These demonstrations are designed to address the main ALASA program goals of affordability, responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience."

Which begs the question, are you folks "interested" Gary or is this another program with the "answer" already in hand?

Randy

We will have to wait and see what the Industry Day reveals.

Here's the key industry day slide (if the link doesn't work, google DARPA ALASA BAA, go to the FBO site, and its one of the attached files under amendment 1:

https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=2a4885846ae99490a7d1b455531e07b7

Did anyone here have a chance to go?  I was out in the area, but had a NASA meeting at the same time, so I couldn't attend.

Any new thoughts?  Looks pretty intriguing.  If Altius wasn't already so focused on Sticky Boom (and enabling ALASA-type launchers to serve a much wider market), this looks like it would've been a pretty interesting one for us.

~Jon

Offline launch-dude

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #19 on: 11/08/2011 12:36 am »
The Minuteman air launch in 1974 had an extracted weight of just over 85,000 lb including the pallet and associated parachutes. The missile itself weighed approximately 70,000 lb.


AN-124 is Russian is the main issue with using it. :)
True but as a *production* aircraft you can buy one or (AFAIK) lease it.
The An-225 was designed to carry Buran on its back, so it's got the strong points included. But it's 1 off nature (I thought they were building a 2nd?) and ownership issues would have ruled it out.
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The twin-C5 actually has an extensive study history with some in-depth work done as a possible Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and then as a possible Air-Launch Carrier. Note the graphic on page-17, The Duel-C5 is THE highest costing option, but only a little bit more than the "custom" WK-XX.
I was just quite surprised it made it through the 1st round.
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None of them can touch the savings using an OTS 747 hull though. Still, that the study somehow comes to the conclusion that the Pegasus-style "lifting, wing-borne" model is somehow the "only" logical choice for launching?
I'm not a big fan of special 1 off components either. It puts another big chunk of hardware on the critical path.
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Lets go here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/TechPapers.html

Then here:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

Page-4, section C "Captive on-Top Launch" which pretty much gives you ever reason possible WHY you would not want to do this. Of course since LV sizing is a MAJOR factor for "Captive On-Bottom" launch and the ONLY concpet that could fit under a similarly modified 747 hull is concept one which has ALL the disadvantages of the Pegasus LV. (Meaning the overall payload-to-orbit really suffers due to those wings and other systems requiered for the LV to perform an automated aerodynamic pitch-up maneuver)

The study seems to be more 'biased' to showing all the worst issues for air-launch with none of the good.
Thanks for pointing me at Air Launch. I thought they'd gone out of business. It's good to see they are still making some progress. When you know an 89000lb Minuteman was dropped out of a C5 in 1974 and lit successfully the argument seems pretty much over. Especially if you have a limited budget to go around buying (and the modifying) cargo aircraft. The problem then becomes *what* cargo aircraft you can get regular access to and how to make the best use of the space.

I think the bit that *does* push the envelope is the 15000lb minimum payload.


Offline jongoff

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #20 on: 11/08/2011 01:33 am »
I still like the concept I was noodling last year in the spring involving air launching a partially reusable TSTO off of UAV using Kirk Sorensen's "gamma maneuver" trick.  Basically, at launch, the rocket first stage lights while still attached to the aircraft (liquids are much safer for this than solids), the lift from the aircraft's wings and the thrust of the rocket stage allows the aircraft/rocket stack to pitch up into a good flight path angle (gamma), at which point the rocket "drops" the aircraft off its back.  With the aircraft having lots of lift and suddenly losing lots of weight, separation should be very quick and positive (though you want to make sure the wings can take the loading).  Net result was a significant delta-V improvement over drop-and-light ideas, and you get to verify the rocket engines are lit before you let the rocket go.

Aircraft guys are scared because a) they're afraid of the rocket blowing up and taking out the aircraft (though UAV guys tend to be a little more willing to take risks), b) they're afraid of the dynamics of the separation maneuver, and c) they're afraid of the plume impingement.  If I were independently wealthy, and not in the middle of a startup, I'd love to do a demonstration of the idea using a remote controlled aircraft and an HPR...

~Jon
« Last Edit: 11/08/2011 01:35 am by jongoff »

Offline kfsorensen

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #21 on: 11/08/2011 02:50 am »
If I were independently wealthy, and not in the middle of a startup, I'd love to do a demonstration of the idea using a remote controlled aircraft and an HPR...

Thanks for the love Jon, as you know, I find myself in the same situation...

Offline jongoff

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #22 on: 11/08/2011 03:18 am »
If I were independently wealthy, and not in the middle of a startup, I'd love to do a demonstration of the idea using a remote controlled aircraft and an HPR...

Thanks for the love Jon, as you know, I find myself in the same situation...

In some ways it's kind of sad this BAA didn't come out exactly 1 year ago.  I probably would've put a proposal in then.  As it is we're too busy making an improvement on one of your other hairbrained ideas work.  :-)

~Jon

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #23 on: 11/08/2011 12:24 pm »
The Minuteman air launch in 1974 had an extracted weight of just over 85,000 lb including the pallet and associated parachutes. The missile itself weighed approximately 70,000 lb.
I stand corrected. It's still quite a bench mark

The key point for me was that now it'd been demonstrated this is *known* to work, rather than *possible*.  Anything that checks off one more piece of the puzzle seemed like a pretty good way to go.


BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline sanman

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #24 on: 11/09/2011 03:22 am »
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=39015

When they talk about "infrastructure-free" cryogen production, what exactly does that mean? So you'd have equipment for oxygen liquefaction to make LOX while you're flying? Is this efficient? Is the mass penalty for this low?

Do they only mean LOX, or do they mean LH2 also?

Offline simonbp

Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #25 on: 11/09/2011 07:27 pm »
The air-launched Falcon 1e looked pretty neat; apparently with the right nozzle, you get a 60% improvement in mass to orbit. And, all it requires is a SCA 747, which are going for cheap these days.

Kirk & Jon: I'm trying to mentally picture what sort of UAV you would use for the gamma manoeuver vehicle. A nice big delta-shaped flying wing (low wing loading, slow loaded landing speeds in an emergency, but still controllable at high speeds) would seem good. Having the rocket on top of the wing would help for the landing gear, but would the gamma trick still work?

Offline jongoff

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #26 on: 11/09/2011 11:50 pm »
The air-launched Falcon 1e looked pretty neat; apparently with the right nozzle, you get a 60% improvement in mass to orbit. And, all it requires is a SCA 747, which are going for cheap these days.

Kirk & Jon: I'm trying to mentally picture what sort of UAV you would use for the gamma manoeuver vehicle. A nice big delta-shaped flying wing (low wing loading, slow loaded landing speeds in an emergency, but still controllable at high speeds) would seem good. Having the rocket on top of the wing would help for the landing gear, but would the gamma trick still work?

Methinks I need to do a blog post.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #27 on: 01/30/2012 06:51 pm »

Offline simonbp

Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #28 on: 01/31/2012 04:39 am »
Good find, relevant now in the context of Stratolaunch.

Interesting to see that the RP-1 design is the costliest per performance of the three concepts, with the all-cryo 1x SSME vehicle being the cheapest.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2012 04:40 am by simonbp »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Horizontal Launch Study
« Reply #29 on: 02/10/2012 03:36 pm »
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=39015

When they talk about "infrastructure-free" cryogen production, what exactly does that mean? So you'd have equipment for oxygen liquefaction to make LOX while you're flying? Is this efficient? Is the mass penalty for this low?

Do they only mean LOX, or do they mean LH2 also?

It's DARPA.

You tell *them* what you mean by it. :)
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

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