Author Topic: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA  (Read 62692 times)

Online kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8654
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1124
  • Likes Given: 244
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #140 on: 10/17/2014 03:52 PM »
I would argue it would be cheaper to convert the existing Delta IV pad to support the new LV than it would be to build a second VIF.

The problem with building large RL-10 batches is you end up putting a large number of engines into inventory. Bean counters do not like that. ULA got caught in that trap during the formation of ULA. They inherited a large number of DeltaIV RL-10's from Boeing. It also leads to an unhealthy relationship between you and your engine supplier. If you order a large batch of RL-10's every five years, what do they do in the meantime? Do you continue to offer them? Is it worth it? That is part of the overhead problem...
« Last Edit: 10/17/2014 03:54 PM by kevin-rf »
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline rpapo

  • Cybernetic Mole
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1198
  • Michigan, USA
  • Liked: 631
  • Likes Given: 486
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #141 on: 10/17/2014 04:10 PM »
Add to that the problems involved with retro-fitting engines when a known design flaw surfaces.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12985
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 4084
  • Likes Given: 769
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #142 on: 10/17/2014 04:40 PM »
If the consolidate on a single rocket that's half the pads, building, probably just one third of the production lines, tec.
But is it? True they are running single shift on four pads, but they are pretty much tapped out on the Atlas pads. Reducing the number of pads would reduce the number of missions they can fly a year. While this may work for Vandenberg, They would be hard pressed to meet the flight rate with only one east coast pad. Didn't a planetary mission recently get manifested for Vandenberg?

I suspect the savings come from cheaper first stage engines, single assembly line in a single location, ditching the Hydrogen first stage, and he didn't say it, but they must be looking to reduce the upper stage costs. That would mean a low cost RL-10 replacement and cheaper tankage. 
Remember that this is for 2019 and later - for the next round of EELV competition assuming that ULA wins.  The company appears ready to do whatever is necessary to compete on costs, including apparently slimming down to one launch vehicle and two core stages from its current two launch vehicles and five core stages.  I expect that it would close launch pads, or build new pads, or close and/or build new factories, among other things to compete.  (When they say "cut costs by 50%", BTW, what they are really saying is cut overall number of employees involved (not just at ULA but among all contractors combined)  by 50%).  SpaceX really has changed the playing field, and ULA clearly intends to play on that field.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/17/2014 05:01 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32469
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11235
  • Likes Given: 333
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #143 on: 10/17/2014 04:40 PM »
There is also the longstanding claim that SpaceX costs would rise to match the market as set by ULA.


They are

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32469
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11235
  • Likes Given: 333
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #144 on: 10/17/2014 04:43 PM »


Nice to see that Jim is finally proven wrong with regards to ULA.
He has stated a number of times that developing all new launch systems is off limits for ULA. Supposedly, the ULA charter allows ULA to only work on Atlas V and Delta IV, including improvements, but nothing else.
Example of improvements is the common avionics suite now under development for Atlas V and Delta IV.

However, now we have the new ULA CEO (no less) clearly stating that ULA is actively working on an all new rocket, with new engines. Not an Atlas V, not a Delta IV, but an all new rocket.
Under Jim's reasoning that would be a violotion of ULA's charter.
 
I see two possible explanations for this:
1. Jim was wrong all the time because ULA's own charter did not actually prevent them from working on anything but Atlas V and Delta IV.
2. ULA's charter was recently changed to allow for work on a new launcher.

My guess is Jim will pick the second option for his bail out. ;)


It isn't a "new" rocket.  It is a vehicle derived from Atlas and Delta. "a new line of rockets blending the best features of ULA's Atlas V and Delta IV rocket families."  The charter said ELV's and their derivatives.
« Last Edit: 10/17/2014 05:35 PM by Jim »

Offline Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2560
  • Canada
  • Liked: 401
  • Likes Given: 598
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #145 on: 10/17/2014 04:46 PM »
...
The problem with building large RL-10 batches is you end up putting a large number of engines into inventory. Bean counters do not like that. ULA got caught in that trap during the formation of ULA. They inherited a large number of DeltaIV RL-10's from Boeing. It also leads to an unhealthy relationship between you and your engine supplier. If you order a large batch of RL-10's every five years, what do they do in the meantime? Do you continue to offer them? Is it worth it? That is part of the overhead problem...
That is why I think the RL-10 will be retired after the current inventory is reduced. With something like the Blue BE-3 (in-house production). CEO Bruno will have to make a call on this soon.

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7437
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1447
  • Likes Given: 4501
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #146 on: 10/17/2014 05:32 PM »
...
The problem with building large RL-10 batches is you end up putting a large number of engines into inventory. Bean counters do not like that. ULA got caught in that trap during the formation of ULA. They inherited a large number of DeltaIV RL-10's from Boeing. It also leads to an unhealthy relationship between you and your engine supplier. If you order a large batch of RL-10's every five years, what do they do in the meantime? Do you continue to offer them? Is it worth it? That is part of the overhead problem...
That is why I think the RL-10 will be retired after the current inventory is reduced. With something like the Blue BE-3 (in-house production). CEO Bruno will have to make a call on this soon.
If they can keep their cadence, they will need 10 to 15 engines per year. That's not a bad number. You do a 60 engine order for delivery during 5 years and that can get you a reasonable price (like in 12M or so). Boeing did ordered a 100 engines because they knew LM prices and expected to win them all... and then got caught and are still sitting on 70 or so engines. But they actually expected to use them all fast.
And if they can simplify some things, like 3D printed MCC and regen nozzle, then they will be able to significantly reduce costs. More significantly, you can mothball a 3D printer for 5 years. But I'm pretty sure it can be used for other things in the mean while. The wooden mandrels and the machinists that know how to lay and weld the tubes, are a whole different and costly overhead compared to that.
By the way, I understand it is easier to get the 3D dusted metal supplier to do custom batches of material than the tube contractor (its a two step: material plus tubes).

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32469
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11235
  • Likes Given: 333
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #147 on: 10/17/2014 05:38 PM »

That is why I think the RL-10 will be retired after the current inventory is reduced.

 You are talking many years,  not with the current work on the C version and the use of the A's for commercial crew.  The new booster will fly before considering a new upper stage.

Offline Mader Levap

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 495
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #148 on: 10/17/2014 06:26 PM »
There is also the longstanding claim that SpaceX costs would rise to match the market as set by ULA.
They are
...roughly with inflation (from 56,5 mln$ to 61.2 mln$). But hey, spin is spin.

Behaviour of ULA shows they do not assume that this empty claim is true. I hope you will not try to pull "ULA lowers price, so they matches prices of SpaceX, so I was right". ::)
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Online butters

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1774
  • Liked: 398
  • Likes Given: 149
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #149 on: 10/17/2014 06:48 PM »
I'm not sure that ULA can reduce their costs so dramatically, but it will be interesting to see how their relationship with the U.S. government evolves as they try to compete in the commercial market. They can't afford to cater to every whim of the government if they're locked in a battle with SpaceX for market share.

Offline GalacticIntruder

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 457
  • PPPPPPP
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Liked: 176
  • Likes Given: 61
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #150 on: 10/17/2014 07:01 PM »
There is also the longstanding claim that SpaceX costs would rise to match the market as set by ULA.
They are
...roughly with inflation (from 56,5 mln$ to 61.2 mln$). But hey, spin is spin.

Behaviour of ULA shows they do not assume that this empty claim is true. I hope you will not try to pull "ULA lowers price, so they matches prices of SpaceX, so I was right". ::)

Plus SpaceX adds 30-40 million for playing with the AF systems. And no telling what its payload processing costs are to actually put a satellite into the fairing and on the rocket and testing, etc. Either way, SpaceX will always be cheaper than ULA and AS, but that does not matter that much, as we see, ULA and AS still have their customers, for the foreseeable future. Though the idea of ULA winning commercial launches is laughable, especially when SpaceX opens TX.

Even if ULA had to really compete in the government sat market, which they don't, it is not even clear how long SpaceX wants to be be in the commercial or government sat market once they get their human BLEO missions going.

I do find it amusing that SpaceX will not get the FH AF certified until 2019, and that is when ULA expects to be more price competitive.
« Last Edit: 10/17/2014 07:17 PM by GalacticIntruder »
Watch out for those pesky corners, they have teeth.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32469
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11235
  • Likes Given: 333
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #151 on: 10/17/2014 07:39 PM »

1.  ...roughly with inflation (from 56,5 mln$ to 61.2 mln$). But hey, spin is spin.

2.  Behaviour of ULA shows they do not assume that this empty claim is true. I hope you will not try to pull "ULA lowers price, so they matches prices of SpaceX, so I was right". ::)

1.  Those aren't actual prices, so yes, spin is spin

2.  ULA has making moves to lower costs for as long as they were in existence, some areas of cost increases was due shuttle shutdown and the effect on the engine industry. 
« Last Edit: 10/17/2014 07:40 PM by Jim »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #152 on: 10/17/2014 07:51 PM »
ULA don't have to be cheaper than SpaceX to be competitive but they do have to be in same ballpark eg 20-50% not %100-200% dearer as case is at present.
 ULA are good at delivering reliably and that is more important in a lot of cases.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2783
  • Whatcha gonna do when the Ghost zaps you?
  • Liked: 2907
  • Likes Given: 2249
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #153 on: 10/17/2014 09:13 PM »
... More significantly, you can mothball a 3D printer for 5 years.
You sell/forgo the lease. They improve every 18 months.  That's three generations.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2783
  • Whatcha gonna do when the Ghost zaps you?
  • Liked: 2907
  • Likes Given: 2249
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #154 on: 10/17/2014 09:48 PM »
This guy is the right guy to do this. What he claims to do, sounds about right. What about timing and resources?

To shrink down to 1/3, you must address near term demand (both DIV/H and AV) and new designs, shutdown facilities/lines EOLing what you are launching as you launch them for years, discharge staff while bringing up a new line with a differently assembled staff. In essence, stuff unheard of in past incarnation(s).

All the above is strictly survival. Will get you to competitive company position, and retain current customers.

Where do you get the cash/investment to accomplish this? From unsplit profits not returned to shareholders revenue share? From "block buy" upfront? From JV earnest monies of some kind? From a friendly loan?

One can "cost reduce" existing product to make it both attractive to existing customers, and while still a premium performance vehicle (as also is Ariane 5 and H II A/B and likely even Angara A5), it may be attractive and cheap enough to garner commercial market share. Is that competitive enough as a goal for the new CEO?

If not, he's got a considerably larger job and game plan than is yet revealed. As well as needs well beyond what likely can fit within the bounds of the firm he's described.

What does he not have? A base economical vehicle from the lowest cost, fewest/most used components, smallest manufacturing and test footprint.

Does he need this? Sooner or later? What happens if someone crawls under his costs relentlessly hammering? One with seemingly endless financial resources?

Offline IslandPlaya

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
  • Outer Hebrides
  • Liked: 163
  • Likes Given: 166
Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #155 on: 10/17/2014 10:21 PM »
This guy is the right guy to do this. What he claims to do, sounds about right. What about timing and resources?

To shrink down to 1/3, you must address near term demand (both DIV/H and AV) and new designs, shutdown facilities/lines EOLing what you are launching as you launch them for years, discharge staff while bringing up a new line with a differently assembled staff. In essence, stuff unheard of in past incarnation(s).

All the above is strictly survival. Will get you to competitive company position, and retain current customers.

Where do you get the cash/investment to accomplish this? From unsplit profits not returned to shareholders revenue share? From "block buy" upfront? From JV earnest monies of some kind? From a friendly loan?

One can "cost reduce" existing product to make it both attractive to existing customers, and while still a premium performance vehicle (as also is Ariane 5 and H II A/B and likely even Angara A5), it may be attractive and cheap enough to garner commercial market share. Is that competitive enough as a goal for the new CEO?

If not, he's got a considerably larger job and game plan than is yet revealed. As well as needs well beyond what likely can fit within the bounds of the firm he's described.

What does he not have? A base economical vehicle from the lowest cost, fewest/most used components, smallest manufacturing and test footprint.

Does he need this? Sooner or later? What happens if someone crawls under his costs relentlessly hammering? One with seemingly endless financial resources?
What happens is goodbye ULA and thanks for all the fish.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Mike Gass out as CEO of ULA
« Reply #156 on: 10/17/2014 11:59 PM »
Time to lock this thread.

Tags: