Author Topic: Antares General Discussion Thread  (Read 260701 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #680 on: 10/01/2015 08:42 pm »

Should we trust a company that apparently can't find the cause of its last failure (*) with more public funding for more launches?

(*) If it won't announce a root cause, what else can we assume?

 - Ed Kyle

It found what it believes is the root cause of the failure.
Did it?  How do you know?  You must have access to information not available to the rest of us.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline robertross

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #681 on: 10/01/2015 10:20 pm »
This is not looking good.

Report: Orbital faces risks in resuming space station runs
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/report-orbital-faces-risks-resuming-160305210.html

"The space agency's inspector general said Thursday that Orbital Sciences Corp. faces significant risks in its effort to recover from last October's launch explosion."



The actual report
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY15/IG-15-023.pdf
...


I find the financial issues quite disheartening.

The whole point is to reduce cost, right?
So what does NASA do? They elect to keep dishing out money.

I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop. I hope the IG's recommendations will be followed (but I'm not holding my breath), because as noted: it took money away from other areas, and NASA has a habit of always needing more money.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline a_langwich

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #682 on: 10/02/2015 03:01 am »
This is not looking good.

Report: Orbital faces risks in resuming space station runs
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/report-orbital-faces-risks-resuming-160305210.html

"The space agency's inspector general said Thursday that Orbital Sciences Corp. faces significant risks in its effort to recover from last October's launch explosion."



The actual report
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY15/IG-15-023.pdf
...


I find the financial issues quite disheartening.

The whole point is to reduce cost, right?
So what does NASA do? They elect to keep dishing out money.

I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop. I hope the IG's recommendations will be followed (but I'm not holding my breath), because as noted: it took money away from other areas, and NASA has a habit of always needing more money.

What took money from other areas?  NASA's contract with Orbital-ATK was fixed price, and they are staying inside of that fixed price, as the OIG acknowledges.

The point is to reduce cost, but the fair and honest way is to do that through the bid/contract mechanism.  One of the cost measures the OIG was recommending was to switch from payments calculated by trip to payments calculated per pound.  This apparently is possible within the terms of the contract, but would represent a break with the practice followed throughout the contract, and probably contravene a substantial amount of communication between NASA and Orbital-ATK. 

The only reason for doing it would be to essentially screw Orbital-ATK out of a small bit of money.  IF you were dissatisfied with Orbital-ATK's plans to purchase flights from a competing LV to make things good, and source a new propulsion source at no cost to you, and work up a new version of their LV at no cost to you, and re-work the schedule to allow this to happen albeit at a frantic pace; then screw away.  But, realize this, and this is why these beancounter arguments infuriate me:  the screw you apply to others will be applied back to you, with interest.  Penny wise, pound foolish.   

Compare what Orbital is doing with transitioning away from the AJ-26 engine, to ULA transitioning from the RD-180 engine.  AJR is asking for a billion dollars of government money and four years minimum for a new engine.  ULA is planning on spending about a billion dollars and four years, and at least one major board member is lobbying to get the government to pay for that in multiple ways.  Orbital-ATK has asked for NO additional government money, and is working to get its replacement engine and partially redesigned rocket orbiting payloads inside of one year.  On top of that, they've bought two commercial flights to help meet their contract.  Now, I'm not suggesting these are directly comparable; Atlas -> Vulcan is a far more extensive change, AR-1 would be developed from scratch, national security EELV flights vs Tang and toilet paper, yada yada yada.  What I'm suggesting is that Orbital-ATK is busting its past to give the government great service after a failure, and looking at the Atlas V/RD-180 transition illustrates how fast they are moving, and how a commercial fixed-price contract is saving the government enormous amounts of money. 

Offline robertross

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #683 on: 10/03/2015 01:33 am »
This is not looking good.

Report: Orbital faces risks in resuming space station runs
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/report-orbital-faces-risks-resuming-160305210.html

"The space agency's inspector general said Thursday that Orbital Sciences Corp. faces significant risks in its effort to recover from last October's launch explosion."



The actual report
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY15/IG-15-023.pdf
...


I find the financial issues quite disheartening.

The whole point is to reduce cost, right?
So what does NASA do? They elect to keep dishing out money.

I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop. I hope the IG's recommendations will be followed (but I'm not holding my breath), because as noted: it took money away from other areas, and NASA has a habit of always needing more money.

What took money from other areas?  NASA's contract with Orbital-ATK was fixed price, and they are staying inside of that fixed price, as the OIG acknowledges.


"Further, the Space Act Agreement between NASA and VCSFA specified that VCSFA was required to obtain insurance at no cost to NASA to cover claims for liability and damage to NASA property, have insurance for its own property, and waive all claims against the Government for any damage arising under the Agreement. However, although NASA officials stated that VCSFA intended to self-insure for damages resulting from launch operations, it is not clear from correspondence between VCSFA and NASA that this issue was understood or agreed upon by both parties. As a result, $5 million of NASA funds intended for other space operations projects were used to help fund the repairs."
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline robertross

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #684 on: 10/03/2015 01:48 am »
This is not looking good.

Report: Orbital faces risks in resuming space station runs
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/report-orbital-faces-risks-resuming-160305210.html

"The space agency's inspector general said Thursday that Orbital Sciences Corp. faces significant risks in its effort to recover from last October's launch explosion."



The actual report
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY15/IG-15-023.pdf
...


I find the financial issues quite disheartening.

The whole point is to reduce cost, right?
So what does NASA do? They elect to keep dishing out money.

I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop. I hope the IG's recommendations will be followed (but I'm not holding my breath), because as noted: it took money away from other areas, and NASA has a habit of always needing more money.

The point is to reduce cost, but the fair and honest way is to do that through the bid/contract mechanism.  One of the cost measures the OIG was recommending was to switch from payments calculated by trip to payments calculated per pound.  This apparently is possible within the terms of the contract, but would represent a break with the practice followed throughout the contract, and probably contravene a substantial amount of communication between NASA and Orbital-ATK. 


And to this point, the IG said this:

"In addition, although NASA will not pay Orbital more than the fixed price of $1.9 billion agreed to for the original eight flights, the Agency did not take advantage of provisions in the contract that could have reduced its costs by up to $84 million.  Specifically, when flight schedules slipped such that Orbital was making multiple flights in a year, NASA did not invoke a contract provision allowing for an adjustment to the mission pricing worth as much as $21 million, but 1 On June 28, 2015, a mission by NASA’s other commercial cargo provider, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, exploded shortly after takeoff.  This report does not examine the impact of that loss, which occurred after we had completed our audit work; however, we plan to conduct a similar audit on NASA’s response to this loss. WHY WE PERFORMED THIS REVIEW WHAT WE FOUND instead received other nonmonetary considerations with an assessed value of only $2 million.

"Agency officials contend that invoking this provision may have reopened negotiations on pricing and potentially given Orbital the opportunity to press for higher prices, which could have resulted in the Agency ultimately paying more.  However, negotiations and modifications to the contract were already underway as a result of the schedule delays, and we believe it would have been in NASA’s interest to at least broach the issue with Orbital. Further, when calculating the cost to NASA for the remaining four flights, Orbital did not use the per- kilogram pricing in the original contract and instead divided the price for the cancelled eighth mission by its contractual upmass requirement to arrive at a revised price per- kilogram. By accepting this pricing structure, NASA committed to paying $65million more for these missions than the Agency would have paid if the original pricing had been used. While Orbital offered NASA some consideration in exchange for the adjustments made in its Return to Flight Plan, we question the value of these services. In addition, NASA recently took actions that will limit its ability to slow milestone payments caused by schedule delays for future cargo resupply missions, effectively increasing the Agency’s financial risk for its follow- on commercial resupply contract."

NASA had a chance to save some money. But no, mustn't put any additional burden on a space provider...

Again, I'm not anti-Orbital. I'm a big supporter of them, and SpaceX, and JAXA, and ESA, and so on (and to an extent - Boeing, for Commercial Crew). I believe all in the space community have something to gain from the great unknown.

However, if the whole point is to save money, then damn it do it! This is taxpayer money - your money (I'm Canadian). If don't have to spend additional monies for the same result, you can use that money for other things (or more of the same, IE: more spaceflight). But I have the same beliefs north of the border, so it's not just for you. These companies are in business to make money, and to do that they will ensure their own interests are met to make that happen. To provide additional incentives when none are required is foolish.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #685 on: 10/03/2015 01:51 am »
This is not looking good.

Report: Orbital faces risks in resuming space station runs
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/report-orbital-faces-risks-resuming-160305210.html

"The space agency's inspector general said Thursday that Orbital Sciences Corp. faces significant risks in its effort to recover from last October's launch explosion."



The actual report
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY15/IG-15-023.pdf
...


I find the financial issues quite disheartening.

The whole point is to reduce cost, right?
So what does NASA do? They elect to keep dishing out money.

I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop. I hope the IG's recommendations will be followed (but I'm not holding my breath), because as noted: it took money away from other areas, and NASA has a habit of always needing more money.

What took money from other areas?  NASA's contract with Orbital-ATK was fixed price, and they are staying inside of that fixed price, as the OIG acknowledges.


"Further, the Space Act Agreement between NASA and VCSFA specified that VCSFA was required to obtain insurance at no cost to NASA to cover claims for liability and damage to NASA property, have insurance for its own property, and waive all claims against the Government for any damage arising under the Agreement. However, although NASA officials stated that VCSFA intended to self-insure for damages resulting from launch operations, it is not clear from correspondence between VCSFA and NASA that this issue was understood or agreed upon by both parties. As a result, $5 million of NASA funds intended for other space operations projects were used to help fund the repairs."

First you said "I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop."  In reply, a_langwich pointed out OrbitalATK's contract is fixed cost and the government is spending no additional money on it.  But then you replied about money NASA is paying because Virginia didn't self-insure and NASA decided to cover the costs Virginia was supposed to cover.

NASA covering Virginia has nothing to do with Orbital ATK or any other company.  So your point about "money rolling to corporations" is invalid and a_langwich rightly points that out.

Edit: I agree with your points in your subsequent post that there were other ways in which NASA was too lenient with Orbital ATK and wasted taxpayer money to help Orbital ATK.  My comment is limited to your point about the money NASA spent on the Virginia spaceport, which helped the spaceport authority, not Orbital ATK or any other company.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2015 02:17 am by ChrisWilson68 »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #686 on: 10/03/2015 12:29 pm »
As a result, $5 million of NASA funds intended for other space operations projects were used to help fund the repairs."
Wait, IG said that? Congress specifically appropriated an additional 20 Million in windfall for Wallops, that money didn't come out of any other NASA fund. Not only did NASA not spend 5 million out of pocket, but they had an additional 15 million in free cash afterwards.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2015 12:30 pm by rayleighscatter »

Offline robertross

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #687 on: 10/03/2015 01:05 pm »
...

First you said "I'm all for Orbital, but this plays out like political interference (from other programs) to keep the money rolling to the corporations. It really needs to stop."  In reply, a_langwich pointed out OrbitalATK's contract is fixed cost and the government is spending no additional money on it.  But then you replied about money NASA is paying because Virginia didn't self-insure and NASA decided to cover the costs Virginia was supposed to cover.

NASA covering Virginia has nothing to do with Orbital ATK or any other company.  So your point about "money rolling to corporations" is invalid and a_langwich rightly points that out.

Edit: I agree with your points in your subsequent post that there were other ways in which NASA was too lenient with Orbital ATK and wasted taxpayer money to help Orbital ATK.  My comment is limited to your point about the money NASA spent on the Virginia spaceport, which helped the spaceport authority, not Orbital ATK or any other company.


I guess my comments were misinterpreted by my mixed-up wording.

I apologize for that.
However the basic fact is that attempts to reduce costs for spaceflight by using commercial entities is not being fully or properly handled.

Again, I hope the IG's report will affect change, but I'm not holding my breath. (plus there's too much money being sunk in other non-commercial areas of spaceflight that also needs fixing, but that's OT).
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #688 on: 10/28/2015 10:02 pm »
OA made an update recently about Antares return to flight.

Pad repairs complete

100% Hotfire still scheduled for January

Antares modified over summer for RD-181: New thrust adapter structure, modified core tanks, modified control avionics, new propellant feedlines

Hardware now being received for return flight. Next set of engines expected to reach Wallops in December

Online Lars-J

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #689 on: 10/28/2015 10:41 pm »
OA made an update recently about Antares return to flight.

Pad repairs complete

100% Hotfire still scheduled for January

Antares modified over summer for RD-181: New thrust adapter structure, modified core tanks, modified control avionics, new propellant feedlines

Hardware now being received for return flight. Next set of engines expected to reach Wallops in December

And then there is this: http://spacenews.com/space-profit-soars-at-orbital-atk/
Space Profit Soars at Orbital ATK
Quote
... Despite the October 2014 Antares failure on a station-supply mission – tentatively blamed on the older Russian engines Orbital has now scrapped in favor of different Russian engines – Orbital said its NASA station-resupply contract profitability is improving. ...

Who knew failure was so good for business? What the state didn't cover for them, NASA picked up the rest of the tab.  So they have to purchase additional launch services to cover for Antares mark I that they already had parts for, and they *still* are more profitable?!?!? ::) How does this even add up?
« Last Edit: 10/28/2015 10:43 pm by Lars-J »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #690 on: 10/28/2015 11:08 pm »
How does this even add up?
Just as your link says it does:
Quote
As is typical of companies managing small-series projects with technology risk, Orbital maintains a management reserve to be used in the event it encounters problems in development. As the program proceeds without incident, companies at their discretion can book portions of this reserve as profit.

Online Lars-J

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #691 on: 10/28/2015 11:36 pm »
How does this even add up?
Just as your link says it does:
Quote
As is typical of companies managing small-series projects with technology risk, Orbital maintains a management reserve to be used in the event it encounters problems in development. As the program proceeds without incident, companies at their discretion can book portions of this reserve as profit.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but they certainly HAD an incident. A pretty significant one. Which forced them to buy two Atlas V launches. $200 million at a minimum right there. It still doesn't add up.

Offline woods170

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #692 on: 10/29/2015 07:31 am »
How does this even add up?
Just as your link says it does:
Quote
As is typical of companies managing small-series projects with technology risk, Orbital maintains a management reserve to be used in the event it encounters problems in development. As the program proceeds without incident, companies at their discretion can book portions of this reserve as profit.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but they certainly HAD an incident. A pretty significant one. Which forced them to buy two Atlas V launches. $200 million at a minimum right there. It still doesn't add up.
In fact it does. What saved them is the entry of the enlarged Cygnus. They are now planning to fly one flight less for the same amount of upmass, and thus the same payment from NASA. That nicely off-sets the additional cost of Atlas V over their own Antares. Throw in that Orbital now has to launch not two, but three Antares' less then previously planned (resulting in significant savings in procurement, assembly, integration and operations) and the picture starts firming-up nicely.

Offline Jim

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #693 on: 10/29/2015 09:49 am »

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but they certainly HAD an incident. A pretty significant one. Which forced them to buy two Atlas V launches. $200 million at a minimum right there. It still doesn't add up.

a.  Their space sector is much larger than just CRS and Antares.  They have income from other sources
b.  The 200 million is closer to the cost of both Atlas together than apiece.
c.  The cost of the Atlas is offset by not supplying an Antares.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #694 on: 10/29/2015 12:00 pm »

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but they certainly HAD an incident. A pretty significant one. Which forced them to buy two Atlas V launches. $200 million at a minimum right there. It still doesn't add up.

a.  Their space sector is much larger than just CRS and Antares.  They have income from other sources
b.  The 200 million is closer to the cost of both Atlas together than apiece.
c.  The cost of the Atlas is offset by not supplying an Antares.

Basically 3 x Antares + 3 x Cygnus was roughly the same as 2 x Atlas V + 2 x Cygnus.

Online Lars-J

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #695 on: 10/29/2015 03:13 pm »

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but they certainly HAD an incident. A pretty significant one. Which forced them to buy two Atlas V launches. $200 million at a minimum right there. It still doesn't add up.

a.  Their space sector is much larger than just CRS and Antares.  They have income from other sources
b.  The 200 million is closer to the cost of both Atlas together than apiece.
c.  The cost of the Atlas is offset by not supplying an Antares.

A. Yes - But that's not I was reacting to. Let me quote again: "Orbital said its NASA station-resupply contract profitability is improving". Not the entire company. Just this NASA station-resupply contract. That's the surprising part.
B. Yes, that's what I wrote. I was generously assuming $100m for each Atlas V.
C. It seems doubtful, when the engines were already delivered and tested, and they would have most (or all) of the other hardware in hand for the next 3 launches.

Basically 3 x Antares + 3 x Cygnus was roughly the same as 2 x Atlas V + 2 x Cygnus.

I'm skeptical, but if their costs really are that high, then Orbital should just close up shop on the whole Antares operation.
« Last Edit: 10/29/2015 03:19 pm by Lars-J »

Offline Jim

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #696 on: 10/29/2015 05:39 pm »

A. Yes - But that's not I was reacting to. Let me quote again: "Orbital said its NASA station-resupply contract profitability is improving". Not the entire company. Just this NASA station-resupply contract. That's the surprising part.


Just throwing out numbers

A loss of 25 million to a gain of 1 million is an improvement.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #697 on: 10/29/2015 06:04 pm »
Not trying to be negative, but the project to re-engine Antares started before the mishap. It was part of their plans on competing for additional resupply flights plus commercial launches since the AJ-26 supply was limited. So it has taken them more than a year to get here. Still, to go from thinking about it to writing contracts, receiving engines, modding, ect, ect does seem impressive from my vantage point.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #698 on: 10/29/2015 06:05 pm »
Basically 3 x Antares + 3 x Cygnus was roughly the same as 2 x Atlas V + 2 x Cygnus.

I'm skeptical, but if their costs really are that high, then Orbital should just close up shop on the whole Antares operation.
Now that I came to think of it, the Enhanced Cygnus was supposed to do 2,700kg of cargo on an Antares 130, but it will do 3,200kg on an Antares 230 and 3,500kg on an Atlas V. So you would have to take into consideration all the flights cost, the RD-181 adaptation cost would probably go into the Antares business unit and not the CRS and then you have to account for the AeroJet 50M of compensation. All that apparently gives about the same profit as the original contract.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Antares General Discussion Thread
« Reply #699 on: 11/23/2015 06:47 pm »
I missed this.  Yuzhmash delivered "two basic constructions of the first stage of the launch vehicle Antares" on October 2, 2015.
http://www.yuzhmash.com/presscenter/news/new?id=209

Meanwhile, a NASA delegation visited the factory last week.
http://strataforum.org/nasa-and-ukraine-discuss-expansion-of-bilateral-cooperation-in-space/

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 11/23/2015 06:49 pm by edkyle99 »

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