Author Topic: ULA restructuring after 2014, with an objective of halving launch costs  (Read 18840 times)

Online Llian Rhydderch

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This article written from an exclusive interview with Tory Bruno, published in the Denver Business Journal, has several aspects.

The Atlas V+ (or Atlas VI, or Atlas V successor, or Delta IV+, whatever) aspects are being discussed in another thread.

But what about the fundamental restructuring of the company, its processes and operations?  I don't see a good thread where that fits? 

How is ULA going to halve their launch costs?  What do NSFers have to say about what might change to enable ULA to achieve this goal, and whether and how soon this is achievable?  How does the company look after, say, five years if they are successful with this restructuring?

For our purposes here, we can assume that the new rocket, the successor to Atlas V is a part of the equation.  But then what?

(Mods feel free to re-title or move this thread if it belongs elsewhere.)
« Last Edit: 10/19/2014 08:27 PM by Llian Rhydderch »
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
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Offline R7

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How is ULA going to halve their launch costs?

Said quite clearly in the article. Why set up a thread asking people repeat it?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Jim

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Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 05:26 PM by Lar »

Online edkyle99

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The restructuring would really happen later, when the current EELV contract runs out in 2019 or so.  What will happen is obvious.  The total number of people working on the EELV contract for ULA and for its entire universe of contractors will be cut by half.  ULA and its contractors currently build five different rocket stages, three or four different payload fairings, and six different primary propulsion systems.  That could, as one example, all be reduced to two stages, one or two payload fairings, and three propulsion systems (including the solid motors).   Consider that Mitsubishi currently builds tanks for Delta IV.  It might not build tanks for the new rocket - or it could end up building all of the tanks.  Contraves builds the biggest Atlas V fairing.  It might build all of the fairings for the new rocket, or none. 

Etc.

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 10/19/2014 10:24 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Coastal Ron

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The advantage that ULA has is that they already have lots of experience and expertise to draw upon for a new system.

One of their disadvantages though is that same organization - they have sustaining cost structures that new companies entering the launch business don't have.  Sure, some of the costs for launch companies may be unavoidable, but ULA has been oriented towards one major customer (i.e. the U.S. Government), and have not been competitive in the commercial marketplace for years.

Some companies in the same situation have split off the new operations from the old, since the existing customers may be satisfied with the current operations, so leaving that operation in place makes sense.  That also allows the new product group to build their new operations with lower cost structures, and focus on a different customer base.

I'd be surprised if ULA split off the new launcher group from the existing ones though, which means ULA has a very difficult positioning problem ahead of them.  Can they lower their overhead costs enough to not only make their new launcher competitive, but also their existing ones competitive against SpaceX?  I guess time will tell...
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 Jim

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A split from ULA? That is the nonsense I was talking about.  ULA is already a split.  The new stage is for the existing market. ULA exists to serve the us govt.  It can't split off the new stage, it isn't a new launcher, it will use the same upper stages, factory, processing facilities and launch pass.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2014 10:59 PM by Jim »

Offline Coastal Ron

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A split from ULA? That is the nonsense I was talking about.

Notice I said I'd be surprised if they split the company?  I don't know your background, but you may not be aware that this does happen - I've been in management at such a company, so I know the advantages.  So me bringing the subject up as one of the many possibilities doesn't merit such a response.

Quote
ULA is already a split.

No, it's a merger - hence the name (i.e. UNITED Launch Alliance).  And if anything you are bolstering my point that it could be split.  Not that it will, but in business EVERYTHING is possible, especially when your future is at stake.

Quote
The new stage is for the existing market. ULA exists to serve the us govt.

Yes, if all one does is look to the past for guidance, then yes, ULA has only existed to serve the government.

However if ULA is only positioning this new launcher for the government market, then they are being shortsighted - that pie will be shrinking significantly in the future so they have to use the new launcher to re-enter the commercial marketplace.  Unless you think Bruno's goal is to shrink their customer backlog while simultaneously decreasing revenue...
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 05:22 PM by Lar »
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

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Could they manage to go from 6 launch complexes to two (east coast and west coast) with long term planning? Could their new rocket be designed to share launch facilities with wither Atlas or Delta?

Online edkyle99

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Could they manage to go from 6 launch complexes to two (east coast and west coast) with long term planning? Could their new rocket be designed to share launch facilities with wither Atlas or Delta?
Right now they have four launch complexes, one for each rocket on each coast.  If ULA ends up with one (essentially new) rocket, they will certainly be able to slim down to only one West Coast launch pad, due to the low launch rate there (two or less per year on average for Atlas and Delta combined).  Where they need the capacity is on the East Coast.  That capacity could be provided either by using two launch pads or by adding another mobile launch platform and assembly building at one pad.  I suspect that ULA would try to launch the rocket from existing pads, modified accordingly.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline rayleighscatter

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Right now they have four launch complexes, one for each rocket on each coast.
6 Technically. They also have pads for Delta II on both coasts, although SLC-17 at CCAFS has no work . I'm not sure if its still being maintained by ULA though. I also have no idea what their plans are for SLC-2W at Vandy in a few years once the last Delta II launches.

Offline Jim

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No, it's a merger - hence the name (i.e. UNITED Launch Alliance).  And if anything you are bolstering my point that it could be split.  Not that it will, but in business EVERYTHING is possible, especially when your future is at stake.


No, it is a split, plain and simple.   The Atlas V, Delta IV and Delta II business were split/carved from the parent companies. The merger is a minor part of it.  The "monopoly" aspect of it is no different than before.  There never was competition in the US launch market, because vehicle capabilities did not overlap.  Delta II did medium class, Atlas II did intermediate and Titan IV did heavy.

And I will use the word here because it actually holds true, it is impossible to split off anything from ULA.
With Delta II going away and with common avionics (with common launch control systems), adapters, upper stage engines,and  practices coming on line and work on common fairings, common upper stage  and a new "common"? booster, there is nothing to split off.  There is no separate business. 

It is just as silly as Ted and Song were for United and Delta airlines.

« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 01:31 AM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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6 Technically. They also have pads for Delta II on both coasts, although SLC-17 at CCAFS has no work . I'm not sure if its still being maintained by ULA though.

5.  SLC-17 was turned back over to the USAF and is being dismantled.

Here is the block being demolished.

http://afspacemuseum.org/ccafs/CX17/20131227_LC17_BH.jpg

Offline Jim

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Could they manage to go from 6 launch complexes to two (east coast and west coast) with long term planning? Could their new rocket be designed to share launch facilities with wither Atlas or Delta?

The "new" rocket is replacing one or both them.  It will use the same facilities.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 01:19 AM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Yes, if all one does is look to the past for guidance, then yes, ULA has only existed to serve the government.

However if ULA is only positioning this new launcher for the government market, then they are being shortsighted - that pie will be shrinking significantly in the future so they have to use the new launcher to re-enter the commercial marketplace.  Unless you think Bruno's goal is to shrink their customer backlog while simultaneously decreasing revenue...

No, just plain no.  There is no "guidance from the past"   It is in the actual charter of the company that states that it exists to serve the gov't.  ULA does not sell launch services on the commercial market, that is for LM Commercial Launch Services Company and Boeing Launch Services Company to do.

This is part of the nonsense I was talking about.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 01:26 AM by Jim »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Could they manage to go from 6 launch complexes to two (east coast and west coast) with long term planning? Could their new rocket be designed to share launch facilities with wither Atlas or Delta?

The "new" rocket is replacing one or both them.  It will use the same facilities.
I suppose what I meant was if it replaced one launch vehicle could it be designed to share the same pad as the other remaining launch vehicle (if they keep two lines). Would that sort of arrangement be feasible?

Online Robotbeat

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...The "monopoly" aspect of it is no different than before.  There never was competition in the US launch market, because vehicle capabilities did not overlap.  Delta II did medium class, Atlas II did intermediate and Titan IV did heavy...
...this is changing, no doubt? You have SpaceX's Falcon 9 which is competitive for small through Atlas 511 (or higher, if you're doing lower energy orbits), then Falcon Heavy for everything else. There finally DOES appear to be competition (or will be sometime in 2016).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online edkyle99

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...The "monopoly" aspect of it is no different than before.  There never was competition in the US launch market, because vehicle capabilities did not overlap.  Delta II did medium class, Atlas II did intermediate and Titan IV did heavy...
...this is changing, no doubt? You have SpaceX's Falcon 9 which is competitive for small through Atlas 511 (or higher, if you're doing lower energy orbits), then Falcon Heavy for everything else. There finally DOES appear to be competition (or will be sometime in 2016).
Unless ULA or SpaceX or some other company win all of the awards, it seems likely to me that one company might end up with, say, Medium payloads, one with Heavy, one with Light, and so on, reverting back to a different form of shared monopoly.  (I myself never understood the reasoning for trying to design a single "EELV" launch vehicle to handle such a wide range of payloads.  Lockheed Martin steered clear of that plan.  Boeing stuck with the idea and suffered as a result.)

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 02:47 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Coastal Ron

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ULA does not sell launch services on the commercial market, that is for LM Commercial Launch Services Company and Boeing Launch Services Company to do.

You are missing the forest for the trees.  ULA does make launchers for commercial launches, and commercial companies would like to buy more launches if the prices were lower.

But because ULA's parents decided to focus ULA's business on just one customer (i.e. the U.S. Government) they are not competitive on the commercial marketplace.  But that business model assumes no competitors, and that soon will not be the case.  SpaceX won't take away all of ULA's business, but over time they will likely be able to take a significant amount - the the U.S. Government wants competition, so there are few barriers to this happening over time.

And of course ULA's new CEO appears to disagree with you too when he said in the BizJournal interview:

"The result will be a smaller ULA in the near term, but one able to grow again and win new kinds of business in the long run, said Tory Bruno, new CEO of the Centennial-based rocket maker in his first interview since being appointed Aug. 12."

Sounds like commercial to me.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 05:25 PM by Lar »
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 edkyle99

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Right now they have four launch complexes, one for each rocket on each coast.
6 Technically. They also have pads for Delta II on both coasts, although SLC-17 at CCAFS has no work . I'm not sure if its still being maintained by ULA though. I also have no idea what their plans are for SLC-2W at Vandy in a few years once the last Delta II launches.
As Jim mentioned, the two East Coast Delta II pads are already being dismantled.  SLC 2W at Vandenberg AFB has three more Delta II launches planned, then it too will be retired.  (Though it has a nice flame trench that would look good with an Antares sitting above.)

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 02:55 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline MP99

ULA does not sell launch services on the commercial market, that is for LM Commercial Launch Services Company and Boeing Launch Services Company to do.

Who would sell Atlas Blue launches commercially?

If this is just another Atlas V, that would imply LM? I guess little demand for Delta IV on the commercial market today, so they're not losing much by not being able to offer Blue.

Cheers, Martin

Offline MP99

It will be interesting to see the nonsense that will come up on this thread

Well, what do you think?

Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.
Is there anything that could be done to streamline pad ops?

Cheers, Martin

Online Llian Rhydderch

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ULA does not sell launch services on the commercial market, that is for LM Commercial Launch Services Company and Boeing Launch Services Company to do.

Who would sell Atlas Blue launches commercially?

If this is just another Atlas V, that would imply LM? I guess little demand for Delta IV on the commercial market today, so they're not losing much by not being able to offer Blue.

Cheers, Martin

That's a good question, Martin.

I don't think we can know for sure on that at this time.  It's clear from recent actions at ULA that they are making initial steps to improve their competitive posture, and contrary to what has been asserted for a long time by many on these forums, they are doing it with the development of a new rocket as a part of the setup to getting their costs somewhat reduced. 

My take is that the same board and ownership that they've had for years will have to streamline a number of the meta-agreements they have in place to allow them to operate a business more efficiently going forward, especially in the commercial market.  So I would expect they will modify any existing restrictions (from the LMCO/Boeing level of governance) and put in place new rules that allow ULA to market/sell the launch services across the full extent of their customer set. 

But that's not the only way it could fall out, so I think we'll have to wait to see how ULA eventually answers that question.
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
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Offline Oli

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It will be interesting to see the nonsense that will come up on this thread

Well, what do you think?

Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.

Atlas V 401 costs $164 million per launch.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140520/DEFREG02/305200034/ULA-Reveals-Pricing-Data-Hits-Back-SpaceX

SpaceX offers approximately the same capability for ~$90m (~50% more than commercial according to Musk), or $97m according to an existing contract.

http://www.spacenews.com/article/spacex-to-launch-two-military-satellites

What do you think explains the price difference, apart from "cheaper engines (rd-180, rs-68 are hardly expensive), unions and overtime"? Customer requirement alone?

« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 01:24 PM by Oli »

Offline Jim

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It will be interesting to see the nonsense that will come up on this thread
It is interesting to see that you are already dismissing the article and thus what the new ULA CEO talked about.

No, I already have pointed out the many other things that they are doing. 

"common avionics (with common launch control systems), common adapters, common upper stage engines, and common practices coming on line and work on common fairings, common upper stage  and a new "common"? booster,"

Most of this was in work before the new CEO.

The bulk of their costs are in people and this is what drives their manpower requirements:
union, paying overtime and customer requirements. 
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 01:51 PM by Jim »

Offline mmeijeri

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Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.

Shouldn't consolidating to a single vehicle lead to substantial savings?
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

Online Zed_Noir

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ULA does not sell launch services on the commercial market, that is for LM Commercial Launch Services Company and Boeing Launch Services Company to do.

Who would sell Atlas Blue launches commercially?
...
IMO, maybe Blue Origin. Since they have a stake in the new launch vehicle.

Offline veblen

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It will be interesting to see the nonsense that will come up on this thread

Well, what do you think?

Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.

Atlas V 401 costs $164 million per launch.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140520/DEFREG02/305200034/ULA-Reveals-Pricing-Data-Hits-Back-SpaceX

SpaceX offers approximately the same capability for ~$90m (~50% more than commercial according to Musk), or $97m according to an existing contract.

http://www.spacenews.com/article/spacex-to-launch-two-military-satellites

What do you think explains the price difference, apart from "cheaper engines (rd-180, rs-68 are hardly expensive), unions and overtime"? Customer requirement alone?



Customer requirements?

Why did NASA take so long to launch DSCOVR, even after Nov 2008? Because it seems they decided that everything else in the pipeline had priority, just a couple of eg launching TDRSS and GOES-P, many other sats that do the job this one will and are probably much more capable, and last but not least science missions to Mars and the outer solar system: if you don't launch in the window the mission gets delayed at least 2 years or you add several years to the time to complete the mission (New Horizons). SpaceX Orbcomm launch experience back in May simply wouldn't have worked for those missions. But with DSCOVR it is different, it is not a "now or never launch window" it is more like now or never for the actual hardware (sticky solar panels? hope not), being made completely obsolete by a bevy of other earth/sun observing sats, and the back and forth political landscape. But I do look forward to the pretty pics of our Earth-Moon system from DSCOVR.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 02:33 PM by veblen »

Offline woods170

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Right now they have four launch complexes, one for each rocket on each coast.
6 Technically. They also have pads for Delta II on both coasts, although SLC-17 at CCAFS has no work . I'm not sure if its still being maintained by ULA though. I also have no idea what their plans are for SLC-2W at Vandy in a few years once the last Delta II launches.
As Jim mentioned, the two East Coast Delta II pads are already being dismantled.  SLC 2W at Vandenberg AFB has three more Delta II launches planned, then it too will be retired.  (Though it has a nice flame trench that would look good with an Antares sitting above.)

 - Ed Kyle
The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.

Offline Jim

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Why did NASA take so long to launch DSCOVR, even after Nov 2008? Because it seems they decided that everything else in the pipeline had priority, just a couple of eg launching TDRSS and GOES-P, many other sats that do the job this one will and are probably much more capable, and last but not least science missions to Mars and the outer solar system: if you don't launch in the window the mission gets delayed at least 2 years or you add several years to the time to complete the mission (New Horizons). SpaceX Orbcomm launch experience back in May simply wouldn't have worked for those missions. But with DSCOVR it is different, it is not a "now or never launch window" it is more like now or never for the actual hardware (sticky solar panels? hope not), being made completely obsolete by a bevy of other earth/sun observing sats, and the back and forth political landscape. But I do look forward to the pretty pics of our Earth-Moon system from DSCOVR.

Because NASA has no requirements for DSCOVR.  NOAA is paying for the spacecraft and the USAF is paying to launch it.   It won't be made obsolete by a bevy of other earth/sun observing sats.  DSCOVR is being launched because the ACE spacecraft is near the end of its life.  ACE is in the position that DSCOVR will be flying to.  ACE provides early warning of solar storm events that are important to NOAA and the USAF.   The original secondary instruments:  Solar Wind Plasma Sensor (Faraday Cup) and Magnetometer (MAG) are now primary and the former primary instruments: National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) and Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are now secondary and will be launched whether working or not.

DSCOVR is being launched on a USAF test flight program for Falcon 9.

Online Lar

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Some trimming, some editing.

No quarterbacking what the mods do. No casting aspersions on other posters. Goodness, peeps...  Need to up the "excellent to each other" level a bit, ok?
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Offline Jim

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  It's clear from recent actions at ULA that they are making initial steps to improve their competitive posture, and contrary to what has been asserted for a long time by many on these forums

Where has that been asserted?  On the contrary, it is has be shown that they have been reducing costs and some of the ways have been documented.

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My take is that the same board and ownership that they've had for years will have to streamline a number of the meta-agreements they have in place to allow them to operate a business more efficiently going forward, especially in the commercial market.  So I would expect they will modify any existing restrictions (from the LMCO/Boeing level of governance) and put in place new rules that allow ULA to market/sell the launch services across the full extent of their customer set. 

The proscription against ULA selling in the commercial market are in place as part of the consent order which allowed formation of ULA.  Neither ULA, Boeing or LM can change them.  The probability of anything changing before the consent order expires (Oct 2016May 2017) is nil.*  Which may be why ULA et. al. are making positioning moves now, in the expectation that things will change in 2017.


* edit: p.s. Which doesn't mean the consent order restrictions automatically disappear May 2017 and ULA et. al. can do whatever it wants.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2014 05:52 PM by joek »

Online Llian Rhydderch

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My take is that the same board and ownership that they've had for years will have to streamline a number of the meta-agreements they have in place to allow them to operate a business more efficiently going forward, especially in the commercial market.  So I would expect they will modify any existing restrictions (from the LMCO/Boeing level of governance) and put in place new rules that allow ULA to market/sell the launch services across the full extent of their customer set. 

The proscription against ULA selling in the commercial market are in place as part of the consent order which allowed formation of ULA.  Neither ULA, Boeing or LM can change them.  The probability of anything changing before the consent order expires (Oct 2016May 2017) is nil.*  Which may be why ULA et. al. are making positioning moves now, in the expectation that things will change in 2017.

* edit: p.s. Which doesn't mean the consent order restrictions automatically disappear May 2017 and ULA et. al. can do whatever it wants.

Yes, I think that makes good sense. 

It is highly likely that ULA can obtain a somewhat relaxed set of the "rules of the game" for how they compete, whether it be by prior court action when the consent decree expires as you say, or whether it be by demonstrating to the court that is administering the consent decree that the "facts on the ground" have changed.

Clearly, with respect to competition within the US launch industry, I think they could easily demonstrate the SpaceX success is just such a factor, and the same court that inveighed against the actions of Boeing/LMCO then, would fairly easily see that impediments to market competition that might (unintentionally) result from the court rulings ought to cease their effect a bit earlier than 2017.
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline TrevorMonty

If Blue develop their own reusable BE4 booster eg 5 x BE4. I can see an opportunity for ULA to operate it with their own upper stage. Reusability will start the LV industry heading towards airline setup where operators lease or buy RLV from manufacturers.

Long term ULA may just become a LV provider and use RLVs built by other companies.


Offline sdsds

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Other than getting cheaper  engines, getting rid of unions and not paying overtime, there is not much they can do.   The rest is driven by customer requirements.  Every vehicle change is reviewed by its customers by participating all the review boarda.
Is there anything that could be done to streamline pad ops?

Jim semi-answered that, since the workers at ULA pads are represented by the machinists' union.
-- sdsds --

Offline Jim

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Long term ULA may just become a LV provider and use RLVs built by other companies.


No, there is no point in that.  ULA exists make money for its owners by building hardware to provide services for other users.  It is not an operator of other's hardware to provide those services.

Online Zed_Noir

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Long term ULA may just become a LV provider and use RLVs built by other companies.


No, there is no point in that.  ULA exists make money for its owners by building hardware to provide services for other users.  It is not an operator of other's hardware to provide those services.

Believe @TrevorMonty predicts poorly and @Jim is correct. But idea pops up that ULA might be more valuable if sold for the owners. Especialy if ULA loses serious marketshare to SpaceX.

Online edkyle99

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/21/2014 01:04 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline russianhalo117

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2014 02:41 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Lobo

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.

Is it strong enough for a ~880klb Antares booster?

Offline woods170

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.
If it required strengthening already for just RS-27, it will require some really serious beefing-up for an Antares. Because that is over three times the amount of power going thru it, in case of Antares.
« Last Edit: 10/22/2014 05:37 PM by woods170 »

Offline russianhalo117

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.
If it required strengthening already for just RS-27, it will require some really serious beefing-up for an Antares. Because that is over three times the amount of power going thru it, in case of Antares.
The Flame deflector would likely need to be replaced with a wider and stronger one since it is only wide enough for thrust from a single RS-27 and cannot handle the SRM thrust. It would need an upgraded deflector like at the demolished SLC-17 pads since they were rebuilt to support several solids, particularly SLC-17B comes into mind. Im not sure what thrust the SLC-2W Liquid engine flame deflector is currently rated for, but it is definitely not wide enough for two engines in any direction. The concrete retaining wall/trench around the flame deflector is also smaller than the one at LP-0A.
« Last Edit: 10/22/2014 06:35 PM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Lobo

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.
If it required strengthening already for just RS-27, it will require some really serious beefing-up for an Antares. Because that is over three times the amount of power going thru it, in case of Antares.
The Flame deflector would likely need to be replaced with a wider and stronger one since it is only wide enough for thrust from a single RS-27 and cannot handle the SRM thrust. It would need an upgraded deflector like at the demolished SLC-17 pads since they were rebuilt to support several solids, particularly SLC-17B comes into mind. Im not sure what thrust the SLC-2W Liquid engine flame deflector is currently rated for, but it is definitely not wide enough for two engines in any direction. The concrete retaining wall/trench around the flame deflector is also smaller than the one at LP-0A.

Maybe a silly question...but...umm...where does the SRB exhaust go if not down the flame trench?

Offline russianhalo117

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The flame trench of SLC 2W only handles the exhaust of the Delta II core stage main engine. None of the exhaust of the solids is channeled thru that flame trench.
I doubt the current flame trench is capable of handling a pair of AJ-26's without major modifications. We're talking over three times the amount of power when an Antares would be firing into it.
True, but when they built this thing back in the day, for Thor originally, they did seem to potentially overbuild this "flame bucket".  It looks like it has a chance to potentially handle higher thrust, especially if it could be modified.

 - Ed Kyle
When solids were introduced they strengthened the top of the flame bucket so that the solids exhaust could be deflected using the top of it. It was also strengthened when the more powerful RS-27 Family was employed on the booster.
Other than that its the same.
If it required strengthening already for just RS-27, it will require some really serious beefing-up for an Antares. Because that is over three times the amount of power going thru it, in case of Antares.
The Flame deflector would likely need to be replaced with a wider and stronger one since it is only wide enough for thrust from a single RS-27 and cannot handle the SRM thrust. It would need an upgraded deflector like at the demolished SLC-17 pads since they were rebuilt to support several solids, particularly SLC-17B comes into mind. Im not sure what thrust the SLC-2W Liquid engine flame deflector is currently rated for, but it is definitely not wide enough for two engines in any direction. The concrete retaining wall/trench around the flame deflector is also smaller than the one at LP-0A.

Maybe a silly question...but...umm...where does the SRB exhaust go if not down the flame trench?
The following ONLY applies to the SLC-2 launcher pads: It goes via the SRM Deflectors, which deflects the SRM exhaust in a 360 degree circle across the pad surface. This is why SLC-2W cant support DII Heavy versions with GEM-46's higher thrust. Paraphrasing in my own words what NASA and ULA said when considering whether to keep SLC-17: the pad would be heavily damaged if not destroyed without being rebuilt to the SLC-17B Flame Trench/Flame Hole configuration. See the attached picture for better understanding
« Last Edit: 10/22/2014 09:33 PM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Jim

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This is why SLC-2W cant support DII Heavy versions with GEM-46's higher thrust.

It was MST mods that prevented it.

Offline russianhalo117

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Here are Pictures of the Flame Holes and Flame Trench from grail at SLC-17B for comparison to the ones from SLC-2W
« Last Edit: 10/22/2014 09:52 PM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Jim

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This is all off topic

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