Author Topic: Funding for a domestic liquid engine in the National Defense authorization bill  (Read 156566 times)

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13170
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 4442
  • Likes Given: 805
The cost of an EELV launch was discussed here
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34785.msg1201070#msg1201070
where it was shown that the cost of an average EELV launch was somewhere between "less than $100 million" (ULA claim) and $420 million (GAO statement). 

I have thrown up my hands on this issue.  It seems clear that the real EELV cost is invisible, even to those who think they know.  Only one thing is absolutely apparent:  ULA itself thinks that its own rockets cost too much, which is why it is replacing them with NGLV.

I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/14/2014 05:39 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline muomega0

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Liked: 65
  • Likes Given: 1
The cost of an EELV launch was discussed here
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34785.msg1201070#msg1201070
where it was shown that the cost of an average EELV launch was somewhere between "less than $100 million" (ULA claim) and $420 million (GAO statement). 

I have thrown up my hands on this issue.  It seems clear that the real EELV cost is invisible, even to those who think they know.  Only one thing is absolutely apparent:  ULA itself thinks that its own rockets cost too much, which is why it is replacing them with NGLV.

I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

 - Ed Kyle
Thanks.
The 2014 summary: NASA postpones BEO to spend $6.2B to launch crew to ISS until 2024; develop new LV.
- NASA also begins new LV development but needs new engines
- DOD will fund the new domestic engine
- DOD bans Atlas.  NASA also will use the remaining Atlas engines and LVs banned by DOD to launch crew to ISS
- NASA will shift from one supplier to three suppliers to ISS (1 to 2 for decades)
- The new LV "negates all the benefits of the established reliability of the existing Altas LV" recert. required
- NASA will spend $4.2B on the CST-100 + part of the new LV;  2.6B for the other provider, 3.1B/yr SLS/Orion

The domestic engine is very important going forward.   Multiple awards with test (not paper) downselect + economics of the LV would be the best path forward.

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1046
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 487
  • Likes Given: 230
- DOD bans Atlas.  NASA also will use the remaining Atlas engines and LVs banned by DOD to launch crew to ISS
DoD didn't ban the Atlas V. Congress banned the use of Russian supplied engines beyond what is already on hand or contracted. Until the current supply plus the 50 or so engines on order are used up, they may be used for DoD launches (through 2019).
« Last Edit: 12/14/2014 08:15 pm by rayleighscatter »

Offline Rummy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • CA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 20
The cost of an EELV launch was discussed here
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34785.msg1201070#msg1201070
where it was shown that the cost of an average EELV launch was somewhere between "less than $100 million" (ULA claim) and $420 million (GAO statement). 

I have thrown up my hands on this issue.  It seems clear that the real EELV cost is invisible, even to those who think they know.  Only one thing is absolutely apparent:  ULA itself thinks that its own rockets cost too much, which is why it is replacing them with NGLV.

I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

 - Ed Kyle
Thanks.
The 2014 summary: NASA postpones BEO to spend $6.2B to launch crew to ISS until 2024; develop new LV.
- NASA also begins new LV development but needs new engines
- DOD will fund the new domestic engine
- DOD bans Atlas.  NASA also will use the remaining Atlas engines and LVs banned by DOD to launch crew to ISS
- NASA will shift from one supplier to three suppliers to ISS (1 to 2 for decades)
- The new LV "negates all the benefits of the established reliability of the existing Altas LV" recert. required
- NASA will spend $4.2B on the CST-100 + part of the new LV;  2.6B for the other provider, 3.1B/yr SLS/Orion

The domestic engine is very important going forward.   Multiple awards with test (not paper) downselect + economics of the LV would be the best path forward.

Can you, or someone else, please elaborate on what this means: "Multiple awards with test (not paper) downselect + economics of the LV would be the best path forward."

This issue is near and dear to me.

Online Tea Party Space Czar

  • President, Tea Party in Space
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 359
  • TEA Party in Space Czar
  • Washington DC
  • Liked: 229
  • Likes Given: 271
The cost of an EELV launch was discussed here
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34785.msg1201070#msg1201070
where it was shown that the cost of an average EELV launch was somewhere between "less than $100 million" (ULA claim) and $420 million (GAO statement). 

I have thrown up my hands on this issue.  It seems clear that the real EELV cost is invisible, even to those who think they know.  Only one thing is absolutely apparent:  ULA itself thinks that its own rockets cost too much, which is why it is replacing them with NGLV.

Very true statement.  There are "sets" of numbers depending on "how" you want to cost or price a program.  It is frustrating.  This just isn't with shuttle, or Apollo, or CxP, or SLS, or Commercial Crew.  Moreover, there are legitimate claims to how one "accounts" for dollars.  What matters is consistency and the use of GAAP and FASB. 

However, when involving the US Government there is nothing consistent.  Things change and it is really difficult to get straight answers on things.  Even the GAO numbers are sometimes "disputed" with partisan lenses.

I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

Depends how you want to price it in my opinion.  Do we include DDT&E or no?  As we know Kyle the actual hardware for Falcon 1, launch 1 was about $8 million.  As we also both know a lot more time and money went into it.  Fortunately for you, I, the American taxpayer, and the rest of the world that was "mostly" Elon's money.  How much was really spent up to that point?

I think you bring valid questions to the plate and until we get away from governments being the primary consumer of launch vehicles we never will get a real price on things. 

I share in your frustration.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser

Offline muomega0

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Liked: 65
  • Likes Given: 1
Can you, or someone else, please elaborate on what this means: "Multiple awards with test (not paper) downselect + economics of the LV would be the best path forward."
Re-stated:  Potential to offer multiple (not a single) awards to build fabricate and test the new engine, parallel paths.  compare performance and costs rather than down select to one provider from the (paper) proposal.     Reuse must be considered at the LV level, which introduces more factors in the reliability/cost trade.

The issue of course is costs.  'Competition' means duplication, and that would require more funding (multiple awards).    For example, 2.6B and 4.2B for commercial crew.

I think you bring valid questions to the plate and until we get away from governments being the primary consumer of launch vehicles we never will get a real price on things. 
A stable source of government demand will be necessary for quite some time, IMHO, and funding to further reduce launch costs to develop these markets.... shifting the great talent to payloads and technology development would provide part of this demand.

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4488
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 3149
  • Likes Given: 4375
I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

Could very well be, for a couple of reasons.  In no particular order:

A.  SpaceX wants to under-cut the market to achieve market share, or drive competitors out of the market.  But as the old saying goes, if you lose money on every unit you sell, you can't make it up in volume.  However if this were true, where is the money coming from to do all the work they are doing?

B.  The first production units of any product invariably cost more than what the company wants to sell them for, but the average price drops as more units are built.  And if things work out as planned, they achieve profitability before they run out of money.  This does require an investment up front, but for commercial launches SpaceX customers usually pay for their launches upfront - and that provides a lot of capital.

C.  SpaceX really can make a profit on the Falcon 9 v1.1 because of their intense focus on lowering the cost of building the Falcon 9.

Likely the only scenario that will allow us to find out would be "A", and that would be because they acknowledge they have run out of money.  However since they just got $1B in investment that likely wouldn't happen for a while...
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 rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1046
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 487
  • Likes Given: 230

A.  SpaceX wants to under-cut the market to achieve market share, or drive competitors out of the market.  But as the old saying goes, if you lose money on every unit you sell, you can't make it up in volume.  However if this were true, where is the money coming from to do all the work they are doing?

By using future contracts to pay for current work. It's not a secret that SpaceX likely lacks the assets to meet their current obligations. This also isn't as bad as it sounds since it's a pretty common business practice. You just have to make sure your orders stay ahead of your liabilities.

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4488
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 3149
  • Likes Given: 4375

A.  SpaceX wants to under-cut the market to achieve market share, or drive competitors out of the market.  But as the old saying goes, if you lose money on every unit you sell, you can't make it up in volume.  However if this were true, where is the money coming from to do all the work they are doing?

By using future contracts to pay for current work.

Yes, but if you'll never make money on a launch (i.e. scenario "A" above), then it doesn't matter if you use the launch deposits for current operations plus new stuff, because you will run out of money.  I doubt this is the situation with SpaceX.

Quote
It's not a secret that SpaceX likely lacks the assets to meet their current obligations.

How would anyone outside of SpaceX know this unless SpaceX leadership told us?  And unless I've missed something, SpaceX leadership has not admitted such a thing.

So at most this would be rumor.

Quote
This also isn't as bad as it sounds since it's a pretty common business practice. You just have to make sure your orders stay ahead of your liabilities.

My scenario "B" is common business practice for companies that have a future.  For companies that don't have a future scenario "A" is pretty common.

For the record, I think SpaceX is either scenario "B" or "C", but in no way would be "A".
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 nadreck

SpaceX has not have nearly enough private investment, or progress payments from NASA to pay for all the future launches on it's manifest, but it probably has managed to stay ahead of costs to date on what has been built before you account for the $1B in new investment.  SpaceX actually went a very long way on its first $200M, in terms of margin on launches, so far anything that is costing them unexpected dollars that reduce or eliminate their margins on launches are the variable costs involved in each launch and those are hurt by each scrub and schedule delay. The Dragon 2 and the F9 1.1 developments are all well funded, FH and the efforts  the land the first stage may be a short term drain on cash flow and in reality, yes probably some cash flow from progress payments keeps all the balances in place to continue activity without having to seek some sort of extra investment to continue those developments, however they total revenue stream they have planned looks more than adequate to handle all the commitments on their manifest and fully fund the first stage return/re-use efforts. Their prices are not static, and at no time have I ever had the impression that Elon wanted to use the avalanche method of business growth that people like Donald Trump, Peter Poklington, Robert Campeau etc use to build a bigger and bigger empire of volume of business growth driving volume of credit growth. Those real estate tycoons built by getting involved in larger and larger volumes of development projects all funded by 80 or 90% borrowed (not invested) funds.

Note that this does not examine the business case for their R&D on the Raptor, the BFR, SkyNet etc. nor building new facilities. Which BTW, in normal companies would be where the $1B in new investment would be going.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline CommercialSpaceFan

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 175
  • Liked: 12
  • Likes Given: 1
The cost of an EELV launch was discussed here
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34785.msg1201070#msg1201070
where it was shown that the cost of an average EELV launch was somewhere between "less than $100 million" (ULA claim) and $420 million (GAO statement). 

I have thrown up my hands on this issue.  It seems clear that the real EELV cost is invisible, even to those who think they know.  Only one thing is absolutely apparent:  ULA itself thinks that its own rockets cost too much, which is why it is replacing them with NGLV.

I also believe that Falcon 9 costs more than is widely believed, regardless of the advertised "price".

 - Ed Kyle

I think Lockheed and Boeing would have loved it if ULA had 2014 revenue of $5.88B (14 launches times $420m).  You might be able to determine ULA's revenues from Lockheed and Boeing annual statements to shareholders.

With regard to what ULA said the cost of a rocket is:
http://www.ulalaunch.com/faqs-launch-costs.aspx

"The average price of a mission, accounting for all current firm contracts for Atlas and Delta launch services, is $225 million, not $460 million as has been claimed. This includes all missions, Department of Defense (DoD), NASA, commercial, Atlas V 401 through Delta IV Heavy.

The incremental price of a lower-end mission, that is, the cost to the U.S. government to increase the block buy one addition mission, is less than $100 million. The full price for a lower-end mission utilizing the Atlas V is $164 million. The most capable mission (three times the performance/thrust needed) costs around $350 million.

These prices are not from a marketing brochure, but committed, negotiated prices backed by full transparency to the U.S. government into all aspects of the cost. While these are the current prices, ULA is embarked on an aggressive cost reduction program with very challenging future targets."

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4488
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 3149
  • Likes Given: 4375
SpaceX has not have nearly enough private investment, or progress payments from NASA to pay for all the future launches on it's manifest...

You are right, private investment up to this year and progress payments from NASA probably would not have been enough to pay for everything they are doing.  But you are leaving out a huge source of their working capital - launch deposits from non-NASA customers.
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 nadreck

SpaceX has not have nearly enough private investment, or progress payments from NASA to pay for all the future launches on it's manifest...

You are right, private investment up to this year and progress payments from NASA probably would not have been enough to pay for everything they are doing.  But you are leaving out a huge source of their working capital - launch deposits from non-NASA customers.

Which is what I said in the rest of the paragraph (along with some other stuff that I thought was equally important).

I ended with the fact that the $1B should mostly go for Raptor, Boca Chica and other facilities, ElonNet and other new endeavours.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline nadreck

Copy of my post to a ULA thread, but when I read the article from the 2nd link on there I realized it is not a ULA delay but an USAF delay as in, they need all too much time to study the options:

Quote
Likely to be 2 or 3 years further out than the 2019 deadline:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/usa-airforce-rockets-idUSL1N0VZ20M20150225

Edit: in light of this with ULA's comment: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/usa-airforce-rockets-idUSL1N0VZ20M20150225 I should probably have posted this on the appropriate thread in Space Policy. I will actually put a post there.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1124
  • United States
  • Liked: 613
  • Likes Given: 1179

Also, the next engine under development by SpaceX is raptor. Much bigger and much more powerfull than anything needed as an RD-180 replacement. Not gonna fit the profile, regardless of the cromnibus lacking any specifics on engine power and performance.

I partly agree with you on that, which is why I said SpaceX might go for the money, not that it definitely would.  But it's possible that SpaceX would take on the RD-180 replacement development in addition to Raptor.  It depends on the money.

I have seen assumptions of Raptor performance all over the charts.  However this quote from Musk's Reddit session last month tells me that it could very well be around 500 klbf. 
Quote
thrust to weight is optimizing for a surprisingly low thrust level, even when accounting for the added mass of plumbing and structure for many engines. Looks like a little over 230 metric tons (~500 klbf) of thrust per engine, but we will have a lot of them :)

Couldn't two 500 klbf Raptor engine's be a replacement for the RD-180?
« Last Edit: 02/26/2015 08:00 pm by brovane »
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1124
  • United States
  • Liked: 613
  • Likes Given: 1179
Copy of my post to a ULA thread, but when I read the article from the 2nd link on there I realized it is not a ULA delay but an USAF delay as in, they need all too much time to study the options:

Quote
Likely to be 2 or 3 years further out than the 2019 deadline:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/usa-airforce-rockets-idUSL1N0VZ20M20150225

Edit: in light of this with ULA's comment: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/usa-airforce-rockets-idUSL1N0VZ20M20150225 I should probably have posted this on the appropriate thread in Space Policy. I will actually put a post there.

Well that could be embarrassing if a ULA BE-4 launch vehicle is flying by 2017 and get's EELV certification by 2019. 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline Prober

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10317
  • Save the spin....I'm keeping you honest!
  • Nevada
  • Liked: 702
  • Likes Given: 728

U.S. Air Force says may revisit rocket plan if firms do not respond


http://news.yahoo.com/u-air-force-says-may-revisit-rocket-plan-015819427.html

The U.S. Air Force may have to revisit its strategy to develop a new U.S.-fueled launch vehicle aimed at ending American reliance on Russian rocket engines if U.S. companies fail to bid to build prototypes for the government, a senior general said Tuesday.

2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8940
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 6152
  • Likes Given: 2081

U.S. Air Force says may revisit rocket plan if firms do not respond


http://news.yahoo.com/u-air-force-says-may-revisit-rocket-plan-015819427.html

The U.S. Air Force may have to revisit its strategy to develop a new U.S.-fueled launch vehicle aimed at ending American reliance on Russian rocket engines if U.S. companies fail to bid to build prototypes for the government, a senior general said Tuesday.


Two obvious possible directions:

A. Get rid of the engine ban and continue business-as-usual (not very likely for multiple obvious reasons)
B. Certify existing or in-development US rockets and buy flights as a service (likely, since this is the path chosen by SpaceX (Falcon 9) and ULA (Vulcan))

Nevertheless, it looks like the days of USAF/NRO telling companies how to develop their rockets are over. USAF/NRO will have to make do with what the launch service providers are offering them. No longer will rockets be tailor-made for USAF/NRO purposes first, and anything else second. And personally I think that is a good development. It will give ULA at least a fighting chance to get back into the commercial launch market.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3584
  • Florida
  • Liked: 2018
  • Likes Given: 243
For commercial competitiveness with the expendable F9/FH Vulcan prices for commercial payloads should be close to (within 20%) of SpaceX prices or <$72M/$162M.

But by the time Vulcan starts flying it will need to be competitive with a worst case competitive prices of reusable F9R/FHR (within 20% again) SpaceX prices or <$45M/$75M. This looks to be doable using BO as the engine source for 1st and US (BE-4/BE-3).

NOTE: Competitive pricing is for payloads not for LV performance max. A Vulcan (561) can compete for the foreseeable heavy payloads 25mt to LEO and 7mt to GTO with the FHR prices because these payloads are to heavy for the F9R even thogh this heavy version of Vulcan does not get close to FHR but is significantly more than F9R.

Edit: Sorry about the OT.
SpaceX, BO and now ULA are following the policy of: "We will take your money (government funds) if there are no technical restrictions/directions and no claims on IP". Since the contracts currently offered for engine development have strings attached, SpaceX, BO and ULA is not interested.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2015 01:36 pm by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline WindnWar

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 514
  • South Carolina
  • Liked: 267
  • Likes Given: 1404
Yeah I don't see either Blue or SpaceX wanting to design anything they don't own the rights too. That is not how commercial business works. There are very clearly strings in the current proposal that gives the government ownership rights. As has been seen in other programs, that becomes an issue if the government cancels it and then orders the product line scrapped, not to mention your enabling your competitors with the work you did. They don't want to be part sellers, they want to sell a complete product.

Only Aerojet and possibly Northrop would be willing to sign on to those conditions.

Tags: