Author Topic: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers  (Read 58857 times)

Online lrk

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #340 on: 03/22/2019 04:13 pm »

The only main issue with this is I think there's only 2 D4H vehicles left (if I've read the comments correctly), and I'm not sure if they can make more at this point as they are trying to retire them.  And both of those already have payloads.  Adding a new one is probably impossible in 15 months, so one of those payloads would need to be bumped until later when a 3rd D4H could be constructed, or moved to a FH.  So there's political/organizational issues with this.

Delta IV medium (single core) is one launch away from retirement.

I think ULA has 4 NRO launches booked for Delta IV-H

Ahhh, thanks for that clarification arachnitect.

Could one of those payloads be bumped and delayed, and could ULA build another D4H for it?  Is the D4H heavy production line still active with those 4 NRO vehicles?  Or are they already built and the line shut down?

The last few D4Hs haven't been built yet, also Vulcan is not yet certified so D4H is still available to bid for future NRO missions, so there is nothing to prevent them from building more at this point.  But whether a national security mission would be OK with being bumped back to the next available D4H, and how soon ULA could get caught up with building another one is a seperate question. 

Offline Patchouli

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #341 on: 03/22/2019 05:08 pm »


The last few D4Hs haven't been built yet, also Vulcan is not yet certified so D4H is still available to bid for future NRO missions, so there is nothing to prevent them from building more at this point.  But whether a national security mission would be OK with being bumped back to the next available D4H, and how soon ULA could get caught up with building another one is a seperate question. 

I don't think core production rate is as big an issue as some people are making it out be as since the Delta IV was supposed to be a rocket that would be produced in large numbers to off set it's high fixed costs.
The real issue I think is the production line is supposed to change to Vulcan cores at some point which use a larger diameter.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2019 05:13 pm by Patchouli »

Offline Lobo

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #342 on: 03/22/2019 05:09 pm »
Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.
« Last Edit: 03/22/2019 05:12 pm by Lobo »

Offline freddo411

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #343 on: 03/22/2019 05:28 pm »
If I put on my tinfoil hat: I wonder if back in early 2017 the SLS crowd made a promise to the administration to have a spectacular EM-1 before the election. I mean they even tried to add astronauts to EM-1. The administration believed them and thus didn't take up SpaceX's offer for a FH/Dragon lunar free return mission. Now the big date is approaching, it's time for SLS to pay up, but they couldn't deliver, which probably frakked off a whole bunch of people, especially given SpaceX seems to be well posed to fulfill their promise, had it been accepted back then.

Now go back and read Wayne Hale's interesting blog article last year: Careful What You Ask For, which basically says NASA has always complained they don't have president's attention, now this administration is paying attention to them, NASA got their wish, but is it necessarily a good thing? I guess they found out now...

Yeah, I don't think you need to wear a tinfoil hat ... that was the program of record, that was what was promised by NASA and the SLS contractors.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #344 on: 03/22/2019 05:29 pm »
I don't think core production rate is as big an issue as some people are making it out be as since the Delta IV was supposed to be a rocket that would be produced in large numbers to off set it's high fixed costs.
The real issue I think is the production line is supposed to change to Vulcan cores at some point which use a larger diameter.

I remember a while back that NSF member Jim pointed to some info about the Common Booster Cores (CBC) production rate. IIRC, the factory was sized for 40 CBC per year, but they likely never bought all of the tooling and fixtures to support that (and certainly wouldn't have trained up the personnel either).

Also, it's not just the factory size that determines production rates, other important factors include:

- There is always a physical production bottleneck in a factory (i.e. a machine, fixture, etc.), and it may be too expensive to change it.

- It can sometimes take years to train new factory workers, and since the announcement of the end of Delta IV they may not have enough qualified workers to increase production.

- The supply chain for Delta IV was likely given final production orders last year, and the supply chain may not have the ability or willingness to make more Delta IV specific components.

Money might be able to solve some or all of those problems, but the longer they wait to make the decision the more money it will take. And at some point, it won't be worth the money to buy an extra Delta IV Heavy...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Lobo

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #345 on: 03/22/2019 08:07 pm »
I don't think core production rate is as big an issue as some people are making it out be as since the Delta IV was supposed to be a rocket that would be produced in large numbers to off set it's high fixed costs.
The real issue I think is the production line is supposed to change to Vulcan cores at some point which use a larger diameter.

I remember a while back that NSF member Jim pointed to some info about the Common Booster Cores (CBC) production rate. IIRC, the factory was sized for 40 CBC per year, but they likely never bought all of the tooling and fixtures to support that (and certainly wouldn't have trained up the personnel either).

Also, it's not just the factory size that determines production rates, other important factors include:

- There is always a physical production bottleneck in a factory (i.e. a machine, fixture, etc.), and it may be too expensive to change it.

- It can sometimes take years to train new factory workers, and since the announcement of the end of Delta IV they may not have enough qualified workers to increase production.

- The supply chain for Delta IV was likely given final production orders last year, and the supply chain may not have the ability or willingness to make more Delta IV specific components.

Money might be able to solve some or all of those problems, but the longer they wait to make the decision the more money it will take. And at some point, it won't be worth the money to buy an extra Delta IV Heavy...

Probably the larger problem than -if- a D4H could be allocated for the job in the next 15 months, would be is there a reason to?

A 2-launch mission would pretty much have to be one D4H and one FH.  However, Orion doesn't have a docking adapter yet, and even if it could get one in 15 months, the FUS has too much thrust for it, so it can't be used as the EDS.  The iCPS would have to be.  So the mission would be Orion on FH, and just the iCPS with no payload on D4H, and a docking adapter fitted to the iCPS.

But...if the Orion CSM is going to launch on FH, then is it worth the cost and issues with using a D4H as wel to launch the iCPS, when the FH can throw Orion into a free-return lunar flyby that would accomplish most of EM-1 goals.  How much more cost and effort is worth being able to do lunar orbit insertion?  A flyby mission should meet all of the functional test goals of Orion.

So a 1-launch FH version of EM-1 seems the most likely to me, if they are indeed serious about moving EM-1 to Commercial (I don't think they are).
but that would require a crane installed on the FSS and maybe a FSS swing arm to allow payload integration vertically.  As well as an adapter to mount Orion CSM on FUS.
Sot that option isn't without some issues. 

A 1-launch D4H only mission could be done in a basic repeat of EFT-1, but that's about all it could do, which would be a pretty truncated mission.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #346 on: 03/23/2019 03:20 am »
....A 2-launch mission would pretty much have to be one D4H and one FH.  However, Orion doesn't have a docking adapter yet, and even if it could get one in 15 months, the FUS has too much thrust for it, so it can't be used as the EDS. ...
That's not true. The Falcon upper stage, if fitted out with the version of the Merlin 1D Vac they had on their payload user guide from 2015-2017, could definitely throttle low enough.
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #347 on: 03/23/2019 03:55 am »
A 2-launch mission would pretty much have to be one D4H and one FH.

I would agree that this would be an ideal solution, but if a Delta IV Heavy were not available I would think SpaceX could get two Falcon Heavy ready. Though there would obviously be some time between two Falcon Heavy launches, they could probably get off two launches within 10 days if all the hardware is ready - which is a complete guess on my part, but they have done that with single stick Falcon 9.

However we're all assuming that Congress will see this effort as worth spending lots of extra money, and we don't know if they will want to do that without a clear long-term value proposition...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online lrk

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #348 on: 03/23/2019 04:59 am »
Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.

The FSS never had LH2 plumbing, the shuttle was fueled via TSMs on the MLP, which were supplied via a seperate connection between the MLP and the ground.  The only umbilicals on the FSS were the GOX/LH2 vent arms, IIRC (not counting the crew access arm or service platforms.) 

Online daedalus1

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #349 on: 03/23/2019 06:25 am »
Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.

The FSS never had LH2 plumbing, the shuttle was fueled via TSMs on the MLP, which were supplied via a seperate connection between the MLP and the ground.  The only umbilicals on the FSS were the GOX/LH2 vent arms, IIRC (not counting the crew access arm or service platforms.)

It's good English to write words in full before using abbreviations. Then people can understand what you are talking about.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #350 on: 03/23/2019 06:49 am »
https://twitter.com/13ericralph31/status/1109222654249037824

Quote
Another excellent render from @brickmack, showing what SpaceX's Falcon Heavy might look like in the (unlikely but not impossible) event that NASA decides to launch Orion's EM-1 test flight on commercial rockets instead of SLS. Looks... sorta normal, tbh.
https://www.deviantart.com/brickmack/art/Semi-Commercial-Crew-789834268

Offline su27k

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #351 on: 03/23/2019 01:28 pm »
NASA rocket becomes Boeing’s latest headache as Trump demands moon mission

Quote
Boeing senior executives arrived at NASA headquarters two weeks ago for what they knew would be a tense meeting. The rocket they’ve been building for NASA was behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Worse yet, there was no way it was going to be ready for a scheduled maiden launch in June 2020.

One estimate had the rocket launch as late as November 2021, and NASA’s leaders were furious, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about sensitive negotiations. President Trump and Vice President Pence wanted NASA to pull off something big and bold with human spaceflight before the 2020 election: sending a crewless capsule around the moon in a precursor to an eventual return of American astronauts to the lunar surface.

But the latest delays would push the flight well past the election.

“We’re not doing this,” a dismayed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the Boeing team. “We’re going to create an alternative solution. All options are on the table.”

Online lrk

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #352 on: 03/23/2019 04:39 pm »
Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.

The FSS never had LH2 plumbing, the shuttle was fueled via TSMs on the MLP, which were supplied via a seperate connection between the MLP and the ground.  The only umbilicals on the FSS were the GOX/LH2 vent arms, IIRC (not counting the crew access arm or service platforms.)

It's good English to write words in full before using abbreviations. Then people can understand what you are talking about.

Sorry.
TSM = Tail Service Mast
MLP = Mobile Launch Platform

Offline TrevorMonty

Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.

The FSS never had LH2 plumbing, the shuttle was fueled via TSMs on the MLP, which were supplied via a seperate connection between the MLP and the ground.  The only umbilicals on the FSS were the GOX/LH2 vent arms, IIRC (not counting the crew access arm or service platforms.)

It's good English to write words in full before using abbreviations. Then people can understand what you are talking about.

Sorry.
TSM = Tail Service Mast
MLP = Mobile Launch Platform
FSS?

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #354 on: 03/23/2019 09:48 pm »
Does anybody know for a fact that LH2 handling facilities have been dismantled at 39A?  I read that plumbing for "a variety of rocket liquids and gases" was retained in the context of the 20 year lease to SpaceX, but I might have misunderstood that.

Is the LH2 tank still there?  Or did they remove it?  I remember an LH2 tank being removed, but maybe that was 39B to put a larger one in for SLS's additional LH2 capacity?
Don't know about the LH2 piping but one would think with all of their refurbishment to the FSS, that they'd have removed LH2 lines if they had no plans for them at that time.

The FSS never had LH2 plumbing, the shuttle was fueled via TSMs on the MLP, which were supplied via a seperate connection between the MLP and the ground.  The only umbilicals on the FSS were the GOX/LH2 vent arms, IIRC (not counting the crew access arm or service platforms.)

It's good English to write words in full before using abbreviations. Then people can understand what you are talking about.

Sorry.
TSM = Tail Service Mast
MLP = Mobile Launch Platform
FSS?
Fixed Service Structure

Offline Patchouli

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #355 on: 03/24/2019 07:59 pm »

I remember a while back that NSF member Jim pointed to some info about the Common Booster Cores (CBC) production rate. IIRC, the factory was sized for 40 CBC per year, but they likely never bought all of the tooling and fixtures to support that (and certainly wouldn't have trained up the personnel either).

Also, it's not just the factory size that determines production rates, other important factors include:

- There is always a physical production bottleneck in a factory (i.e. a machine, fixture, etc.), and it may be too expensive to change it.

- It can sometimes take years to train new factory workers, and since the announcement of the end of Delta IV they may not have enough qualified workers to increase production.

- The supply chain for Delta IV was likely given final production orders last year, and the supply chain may not have the ability or willingness to make more Delta IV specific components.

Money might be able to solve some or all of those problems, but the longer they wait to make the decision the more money it will take. And at some point, it won't be worth the money to buy an extra Delta IV Heavy...

Not sure if anyone outside of ULA knows the details.
But flying EM-1 on commercial probably will not be any faster than getting SLS back on track unless they're willing to accept a much reduced mission.
As someone said in another thread you can't quickly engineer your way out of nearly a decade and a half of bad decisions that have been made since the beginning of CxP.
« Last Edit: 03/25/2019 12:03 am by Patchouli »

Offline daveklingler

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #356 on: 03/24/2019 08:12 pm »
I've got a question for anyone who knows the topic well enough.  Is there any technical reason that a Centaur couldn't ride without a fairing on top of a Falcon 9/FH?  I'm not sure of the reason Centaur 5 rides under a fairing on Atlas.

I've been curious about this for a while. Last year I played a bit with distributed launch to see whether it would be possible to put a crew on the Moon within the next couple of years. I used a Centaur with a Xeus kit as the lander - to the best of my knowledge there's no other lander closer to being available near-term with OTS parts.  The whole thing almost closes, and I suspect that the Block 5 FH might actually have enough capability to make up the gap. 

It's a lot easier to do if you can put a Centaur on a FH. Needless to say, an EM-1 mission gets a lot easier if you can use a Centaur.

Regarding lack of gantry capability, IMO SpaceX is going to have to begin using LH sooner or later. I don't see it as much of an obstacle for them, and adding LH capability to 39A won't be that big an ordeal for them either when the time comes.

Online Slarty1080

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #357 on: 03/24/2019 09:25 pm »
I've got a question for anyone who knows the topic well enough.  Is there any technical reason that a Centaur couldn't ride without a fairing on top of a Falcon 9/FH?  I'm not sure of the reason Centaur 5 rides under a fairing on Atlas.

I've been curious about this for a while. Last year I played a bit with distributed launch to see whether it would be possible to put a crew on the Moon within the next couple of years. I used a Centaur with a Xeus kit as the lander - to the best of my knowledge there's no other lander closer to being available near-term with OTS parts.  The whole thing almost closes, and I suspect that the Block 5 FH might actually have enough capability to make up the gap. 

It's a lot easier to do if you can put a Centaur on a FH. Needless to say, an EM-1 mission gets a lot easier if you can use a Centaur.

Regarding lack of gantry capability, IMO SpaceX is going to have to begin using LH sooner or later. I don't see it as much of an obstacle for them, and adding LH capability to 39A won't be that big an ordeal for them either when the time comes.
I don't see why SpaceX would want to use LH any time soon. None of their existing engines   use LH and neither does the Raptor and it would take them many years to develop one and there's no sign they are. Maybe in the more distant future but not for ten years or more.
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Offline daveklingler

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #358 on: 03/24/2019 10:31 pm »
I've got a question for anyone who knows the topic well enough.  Is there any technical reason that a Centaur couldn't ride without a fairing on top of a Falcon 9/FH?  I'm not sure of the reason Centaur 5 rides under a fairing on Atlas.

I've been curious about this for a while. Last year I played a bit with distributed launch to see whether it would be possible to put a crew on the Moon within the next couple of years. I used a Centaur with a Xeus kit as the lander - to the best of my knowledge there's no other lander closer to being available near-term with OTS parts.  The whole thing almost closes, and I suspect that the Block 5 FH might actually have enough capability to make up the gap. 

It's a lot easier to do if you can put a Centaur on a FH. Needless to say, an EM-1 mission gets a lot easier if you can use a Centaur.

Regarding lack of gantry capability, IMO SpaceX is going to have to begin using LH sooner or later. I don't see it as much of an obstacle for them, and adding LH capability to 39A won't be that big an ordeal for them either when the time comes.
I don't see why SpaceX would want to use LH any time soon. None of their existing engines   use LH and neither does the Raptor and it would take them many years to develop one and there's no sign they are. Maybe in the more distant future but not for ten years or more.

If mining water on the Moon for H2 becomes a thing, or prop depots with LH2 become a thing, then it would behoove SpaceX to learn how to handle and truck LH2, regardless of whether they ever choose to burn it. As to how long it would take them to develop the capability, I would be very surprised if they haven't already done a certain amount of experimentation. And as to difficulty, according to Dick Mulready, LH2 is not that difficult to handle and burns very nicely, and Pratt spent little time modifying an old jet engine to burn LH2 in the 1950's.

But I was really hoping someone might be able to address my question, and this particular point isn't topical.  :)
« Last Edit: 03/24/2019 10:49 pm by daveklingler »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: NASA Considering Flying EM-1 With Commercial Launchers
« Reply #359 on: 03/25/2019 12:06 am »

If mining water on the Moon for H2 becomes a thing, or prop depots with LH2 become a thing, then it would behoove SpaceX to learn how to handle and truck LH2, regardless of whether they ever choose to burn it. As to how long it would take them to develop the capability, I would be very surprised if they haven't already done a certain amount of experimentation. And as to difficulty, according to Dick Mulready, LH2 is not that difficult to handle and burns very nicely, and Pratt spent little time modifying an old jet engine to burn LH2 in the 1950's.

But I was really hoping someone might be able to address my question, and this particular point isn't topical.  :)

Getting off track but it probably would be possible to make Merlin or Raptor run on LH2 as Aerojet did something very similar with the LR-87.

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