Poll

Is the upcoming Vulcan LV a "new LV" or an upgraded Atlas V?

The Vulcan is an upgraded Atlas V--the USAF will say so and it's using the same Centaur stage after all!  
The Vulcan's a new LV no matter what the USAF or ULA says.  It's too different to be an upgraded Atlas V!  
I'm not sure.  
The Vulcan will only truly be a new LV when it ditches the Centaur stage for the ACES second stage.

Author Topic: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle  (Read 407789 times)

Offline joek

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1160 on: 05/25/2015 06:13 PM »
If there were 2 billion dollars of money for rocket development available ULA wouldn't have any problem closing the business case for Vulcan.

Likely true, but funny you should mention that, as $1.5-2.0B (depending on what numbers you believe) is about what Boeing and LM each invested in the development of Atlas V and Delta-IV way back when (USG contributed $500M each).

And if my accounting is correct, Boeing recently finished recovering $1.86B in Delta-IV inventory acquired circa 1998-2002, sold at  cost to ULA, financed by Boeing, and paid back to Boeing by ULA at $60M/core over 31 Delta-IV cores.  (If I have the numbers right, the final payout and the 31st core subject to that agreement was flown on May-2014).

Harsh lessons and harsh memories, and not so distant.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2015 06:18 PM by joek »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1161 on: 05/25/2015 06:17 PM »
I see we are back to wander the light fantastic again here with various "options".  Unfortunately lots conflated. Can't say that I'm optimistic about it, but here goes ...

Clongton's "double down" on DIV/RS68 does address an entirely domestic supply LV that has heritage, does the job, and is in production / has facilities. It's also the case that SLS SSME / RS-25 follow on share development with RS68, so its not a totally impossible idea. And there are some who might like another crack at fixing DIV's manifest "sins". Really what he's suggesting is "finish the hydrolox game that was selected back in Nixon's time" as follow on to Saturn V ... because you've got it, you use it (til 2022+), and you'll use it again (SLS).

Trying my best here to make that indigenous approach work, lets say you take the parts of AJR/ULA and make a hydrolox EELV that meets the next 7 years of EELV til Vulcan.

So instead of AR-1, lets say you were to have a cost reduced and higher volume RS68, with a refined Delta IV to match, and you finish/refine pad facilities. It's true that from a financial/skills/design leverage position, you'll get the most per buck of new money in terms of improvement, and ... there are long neglected parts of Delta IV stages/GSE/pad/HIF that could be improved, and common US makes sense too. (BTW, AR has no incentive for cheap RS68 ATM, although if SLS was in operation, the engine contracts would, like with Shuttle, theoretically bring down costs.)

So ULA knows this most of all, why are they uninterested? Remember that $0.5B+ RS68 that under performed, the stage/pad/flow economics that didn't work out? Now, all the investments to "improve" that you didn't do, because you got a better "return" on advancing Atlas, get done. And ... you abandon them in 7+ years when you don't fly DIV anymore. And ... you don't get the cost savings for reducing down to two pads and few assembly  lines/steps ... which are considerable. Not to mention not having to wait for SLS to happen for cost sharing ...

Clongton reminds us that Vulcan/"FATlas" is just a variation of Atlas Phase II/III, and that if one EELV can be used to advantage, so can the other.

Could you make this work? Yes. Could you get a cheaper hydrolox LV? Absolutely yes. Would it be financially wise? Almost certainly not. Unless you find someone brilliant who can reassemble these parts into a more effective launch service provider.

Which brings up an odd thought ... offer the AR "team", who wanted to acquire Atlas, Delta instead ... ;)

Online saliva_sweet

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1162 on: 05/25/2015 06:19 PM »
Let ULA have 5 more RD-180s and be done with this charade.

Would that solve the underlying problem?

An RFP for launch services with guaranteed minimums to each awardee achieves essentially the same.  It is not an unusual construct and is the basis for, e.g., CRS and CCP.  Which IMHO is very likely what DoD's future acquisition plan will look like, which DoD is suppose to provide sometime this summer.

Guaranteed minimums would be bad and would allow gaming the system, but CRS could certainly work as a model for DOD. They essentially do block buys where offerors bid from 1 to X launches along with a list of extra toppings and NASA gets to pick the menu they like.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2015 06:40 PM by saliva_sweet »

Offline joek

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1163 on: 05/25/2015 06:53 PM »
Guaranteed minimums would be bad and would allow gaming the system, but CRS could certainly work as a model for DOD. They essentially do block buys where offerors bid from 1 to X launches along with a list of extra toppings and NASA gets to pick the menu they like.

Gaming the system how?  It is not an unusual contracting form and the USG is quite adept at dealing with such; it is exactly how CRS and CCP contracts are structured, among others.

It is the lesser evil if you want to ensure more than one viable provider with guarantees on both sides: provider is guaranteed they will receive $X for delivery of Y; customer is guaranteed they will receive Y for $X (generally expressed as not-to-exceed $X, so provider knows the minimum and customer knows maximum).

A guaranteed minimum is a form of block buy with, in this case, delivery requirements attached.  Either that or you simply write the provider a check for $X whether or not they deliver Y to ensure they remain viable.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2015 07:09 PM by joek »

Offline dante2308

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1164 on: 05/25/2015 08:04 PM »
Guaranteed minimums would be bad and would allow gaming the system, but CRS could certainly work as a model for DOD. They essentially do block buys where offerors bid from 1 to X launches along with a list of extra toppings and NASA gets to pick the menu they like.

Gaming the system how?  It is not an unusual contracting form and the USG is quite adept at dealing with such; it is exactly how CRS and CCP contracts are structured, among others.

It is the lesser evil if you want to ensure more than one viable provider with guarantees on both sides: provider is guaranteed they will receive $X for delivery of Y; customer is guaranteed they will receive Y for $X (generally expressed as not-to-exceed $X, so provider knows the minimum and customer knows maximum).

A guaranteed minimum is a form of block buy with, in this case, delivery requirements attached.  Either that or you simply write the provider a check for $X whether or not they deliver Y to ensure they remain viable.

I agree with saliva_sweet. Unless you have a down-select, there are no competitive pressures. CRS worked, in part because there were down-selects, forcing companies to compete their products. CCtCap begins an unproven phase of the CCP program so we can't use it as a blueprint yet. The similarity between DoD missions and CCP specifically is the prohibitive barrier to entry so watching how that evolves will be important.

It seems to me that ULA's strategy here is to clap a gun to its own head, shout "Give us what we want or the hostage gets it!" and hope that no-one in the government calls their bluff.

This brings up an interesting point. ULA is fragile to well-timed suggestive comments from Russian entities and are one appropriations bill from throwing in the towel. They cannot independently respond to a RD-180 ban five or even 8 years in the future despite guaranteeing that they could do so. This is instructive.

Also instructive is that the EELV program was broken and unraveled by the attempted certification of SpaceX as a provider. Since the program is now obsolete and each of its rockets has an expiration date, it's clearly time for a clean-slate approach to the transition period and future procurements. All vestiges of EELV need to be reevaluated from the ground up and more options need to be on the table.

This may include smaller DoD satellites with simpler processing requirements, running (funded) development and affordability targets with clear milestones, and greater investment and access to public infrastructure. The problems with EELV are not constrained to the RD-180 so holistic solutions need to be explored.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2015 08:32 PM by dante2308 »

Online saliva_sweet

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1165 on: 05/25/2015 08:47 PM »
Gaming the system how?  It is not an unusual contracting form and the USG is quite adept at dealing with such; it is exactly how CRS and CCP contracts are structured, among others.

What I meant is that for CRS, CCtCAP and CRS2 NASA was/is free to pick zero launches from any bidder. No one is guaranteed anything and this keeps the providers honest. If they don't want to bother with contracts for one or two launches for various reasons, that's fine too. It's not a guaranteed minimum.

Offline arachnitect

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1166 on: 05/25/2015 09:03 PM »
Gaming the system how?  It is not an unusual contracting form and the USG is quite adept at dealing with such; it is exactly how CRS and CCP contracts are structured, among others.

What I meant is that for CRS, CCtCAP and CRS2 NASA was/is free to pick zero launches from any bidder. No one is guaranteed anything and this keeps the providers honest. If they don't want to bother with contracts for one or two launches for various reasons, that's fine too. It's not a guaranteed minimum.

CRS2 and CCtCap have  minimum orders (6 and 2, respectively).

Offline joek

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1167 on: 05/25/2015 09:43 PM »
I agree with saliva_sweet. Unless you have a down-select, there are no competitive pressures. CRS worked, in part because there were down-selects, forcing companies to compete their products. CCtCap begins an unproven phase of the CCP program so we can't use it as a blueprint yet. The similarity between DoD missions and CCP specifically is the prohibitive barrier to entry so watching how that evolves will be important.

Unproven how?  I chose CRS and CCP as examples as they should be familiar to many on this forum.  They are not unique in the history of federal acquisitions.  In simple terms, there is competitive pressure in any acquisition for which the the number of awards is potentially less the number of offerers, or for which the total delivery quantity (e.g., missions) is less than the potential provided by all prospective offerers.

Quote
Also instructive is that the EELV program was broken and unraveled by the attempted certification of SpaceX as a provider. ...

The EELV program was "broken" by some measures long ago (starting circa 2000); it was not "unravelled" by SpaceX's arrival.  If you want to push for broader-based NSS reform, fine (I have done the same).  Just don't use such hyperbole to do so; it is embarrassing and counter-productive.

Offline dante2308

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1168 on: 05/25/2015 10:32 PM »
The EELV program was "broken" by some measures long ago (starting circa 2000); it was not "unravelled" by SpaceX's arrival.  If you want to push for broader-based NSS reform, fine (I have done the same).  Just don't use such hyperbole to do so; it is embarrassing and counter-productive.

Unnecessary attack of a valid point. EELV's swift exit was absolutely accelerated by the spectre of competition by SpaceX. I am not embarrassed by suggesting it.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2015 10:46 PM by dante2308 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1169 on: 05/25/2015 10:57 PM »
I said what I said about SpaceX surpassing ULA or the Russians because this year and next year they are on par to surpass ULA.  Also IMHO, maybe the Air Force should fund AR-1 and Orbital or ULA could either use this engine or even SpaceX for that matter.  However ULA should continue funding Vulcan and BE-4.  This would assure SpaceX, ULA, Orbital, and even Blue Origin could go into the launch business. 

Offline Jim

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Re: ULA's new Vulcan Launch Vehicle
« Reply #1170 on: 05/26/2015 12:17 AM »

Delta IV was designed as a modular rocket, and uses Common Booster Cores (CBC),

It didn't end up that way, there were 6 unique CBC versions.  Now with RS-68A, there are only 4 now.

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