Author Topic: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?  (Read 82941 times)

Offline GraniteHound92

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An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« on: 05/11/2015 11:24 pm »
Came across this article.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/11/us-usa-military-space-idUSKBN0NW28W20150511

Highlights-

Quote
Aerojet Rocketdyne and two other firms on Monday said they are exploring options for obtaining the data rights to the Atlas 5 launch vehicle and swapping out its Russian-built engine with the AR1 engine that Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing.

and...

Quote
Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Rocketdyne's vice president for advanced space and launch systems, said adapting a new U.S.-built engine to the Atlas 5 rocket was the "lowest risk, most rapid and affordable" way to end U.S. reliance on Russian engines. She said it made no sense to retire the most capable and flexible launch system available today.

Could this actually happen?

Offline Jim

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #1 on: 05/11/2015 11:31 pm »
Depends on Lockheed Martin and ULA.

Offline GraniteHound92

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #2 on: 05/11/2015 11:40 pm »
Would the DoD have any say in this?  Is there precedent for this kind of thing?  I couldn't imagine why LM/ULA would give up the rights for the entire LV if they weren't profiting from it.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #3 on: 05/11/2015 11:49 pm »
To be cost effective they would have to get more than data rights. ULA/Lockheed would have to hand over the tooling along with transferring key people.
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Offline Remes

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #4 on: 05/12/2015 12:11 am »
I couldn't imagine why LM/ULA would give up the rights for the entire LV if they weren't profiting from it.
Because they would create competition for Vulcan?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #5 on: 05/12/2015 12:20 am »
Quote
Mike Gruss (@Gruss_SN) tweeted at 7:54 PM on Mon, May 11, 2015:
[email protected] says they have "no intention of selling or transferring" rights to Atlas 5 rocket.
(https://twitter.com/Gruss_SN/status/597912810123833344?s=03)
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #6 on: 05/12/2015 12:55 am »
Even if Aerojet obtain rights to Atlas V they would still need a factory to build it and the launch facilities to use it. Neither of which are cheap to develop or operate. Once operational they would be competing against a lower cost Vulcan and F9 for limited DOD and NASA launches. The commercial satellite market is even more competitive especially with Ariane 6 entering market around 2020.

 

Offline Antares

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #7 on: 05/12/2015 01:40 am »
There is definitely a case to be made for, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Whatever happened to the idea of keeping Russian rocketeeers making stuff for us instead of the axis of evil?  Surely Putin wants some of Iran's $50B signing bonus.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #8 on: 05/12/2015 01:44 am »
There is definitely a case to be made for, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Whatever happened to the idea of keeping Russian rocketeeers making stuff for us instead of the axis of evil?

In case ya didn't notice, it didn't work.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #9 on: 05/12/2015 01:52 am »
Aviation Week has this story.

"Industry Team Hopes To Resurrect Atlas V Post RD-180"
Aviation Week — 7:44 pm ET (2344 GMT)
http://www.spacetoday.net/getarticle.php3?id=269314

The "team" consists of Aerojet Rocketdyne (Scott Seymour), Dynetics (David King), and Shafer Engineering (Mike Griffin).  It recently "requested information from DoD "on what intellectual property the government and facilities the government may own ... in an effort to understand whether the trio can make a business case to sell a re-engined Atlas V to the government ...."    They would power it with AR-1 and build it in Alabama. 

Their concern is that highly-successful Atlas 5 is being hastily retired in an unneeded "radical" change toward a bigger rocket.  Their argument will be that it shouldn't be up to ULA alone to abruptly retire this valuable national asset.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 01:55 am by edkyle99 »

Offline Antares

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #10 on: 05/12/2015 02:25 am »
The irony of that team is painfully sour.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline Steam Chaser

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #11 on: 05/12/2015 02:41 am »
I wonder what Griffin's interest in this is?  Could he be concerned that if Vulcan goes forward, and doesn't select Aerojet Rocketdyne engines, SLS will find its engine costs spiking because it won't be able to share infrastructure costs for its engines as much as expected?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #12 on: 05/12/2015 02:47 am »
I wonder what Griffin's interest in this is?

I expect it's this thing called a "pay check". Griffin is available for parties too.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #13 on: 05/12/2015 04:22 am »
AR thinks an RD-180 replacement possible in record time (which they can do), and that ULA won't accept it but the AF will.

I don't follow your logic. How could the Air Force make ULA keep Atlas V flying and "accept" the AR-1? Especially when ULA is convinced that AR-1 would cost them 1-2 years delay vs BE-4?

Or conversely, how could the Air Force make ULA transfer their rights to Atlas V?

Either way, ULA is in the driver's seat, no?
« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 04:24 am by Kabloona »

Offline Jim

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #14 on: 05/12/2015 04:31 am »

If this were to come off, AV would continue operating through engine certification with certain advantages ahead of Vulcan. Vulcan would take years to certify for certain missions. If both continued, likely they'd share pad/infrastructure for an indefinite period.

It would make it very hard on ULA to do Vulcan, because Vulcan would seriously compete with AV. But would potentially give AF a necessary "fall back" option it desires.

No, it can't work. 
1.. there is no AR-1 Atlas V and Vulcan operating at the same time, with ULA supporting both and that is not object of these contractors.  They are looking for cut.
b.  Another company can't operate Atlas V while ULA doe Vulcan.  Most of the facilities are ULA;s or the parent companies.  The pad real estate is the gov't but the facilities are ULA's or Space Florida (especially the factory).  Items like common avionics and many of the vehicle upgrades are propriety and not the gov't.  I believe IP for vehicles is owned by the parent companies.

The "team" doesn't have a chance to pull this off. 

« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 04:32 am by Galactic Penguin SST »

Offline Jim

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #15 on: 05/12/2015 04:31 am »
Does ULA "own" all of Atlas? Answer - no.

Yes it does.  There is little GFE remaining.  Most has been turned over to ULA and no longer the gov't
« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 04:32 am by Jim »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #16 on: 05/12/2015 04:45 am »
This sure looks like a solution looking for a problem.  Usually you enter into a market by addressing an underserved portion of the market or by providing a better service to existing customers.  I'm not sure what they think they are doing.

For instance, do they think that reusability needs to be any part of their solution?  Apparently not, since the Atlas V was not built with reusability in mind.  And if that's true, then why would anyone invest money in them when it sure looks like SpaceX is about to dramatically lower costs.

Sure ULA isn't keeping pace with SpaceX on costs, but they already have the infrastructure in place to build and launch rockets, so their burden is to just build a new 1st stage, not a 1st stage, 2nd stage, manufacturing facility and launch facility like this group wants to do.  ULA should be able to beat this group on price and still retain a significant portion of the USG payload market (no more monopolies for the USG).

They want to build a company to be permanently in 3rd place in the market.  I'm not getting this...
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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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #17 on: 05/12/2015 04:51 am »

True, but contracts have interesting clauses in them in case the operator won't/can't. Perhaps these matter?


The USAF doesn't buy hardware.  It doesn't have real say.  ULA could push back and say go secure RD-180 deliveries for us.  If the USAF wants to "force" the AR-1 on ULA, it would take a different contract. 

At any rate, this is not what the "team" wants.  They don't want to force ULA to use the AR-1.  They want to take the Atlas away from ULA and operate it themselves.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #18 on: 05/12/2015 04:55 am »
This sure looks like a solution looking for a problem.  Usually you enter into a market by addressing an underserved portion of the market or by providing a better service to existing customers.  I'm not sure what they think they are doing.

No, this is Aerojet Rocketdyne looking for a way to survive. They need to get a large chunk of Gov't funding for AR-1 development, and they seem to be hoping that they'll get a bigger piece of the pie if they can convince the Air Force that there's a realistic way to keep Atlas V flying.

Quote
Meanwhile, the Air Force collected industry input from a draft request proposals for risk-reduction work in developing a replacement for the Atlas V’s Russian RD-180. Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of space and launch for Aerojet Rocketdyne, says the Air Force should focus its funding efforts – service officials plan to spend $150-160 million for risk reduction for various options for new rocket systems. She contends the problem at hand is replacing the Russian RD-180, not necessarily developing an all-new rocket. “We believe there is an engine problem, not a launch vehicle problem,” she tells Aviation Week. At issue is whether this funding could be “spread too thin,” according to one industry source, if it supports not only an RD-180 replacement but other systems critical to an entirely new rocket, such as solid boosters or a new upper stage.

http://aviationweek.com/space/industry-team-hopes-resurrect-atlas-v-post-rd-180

So Aerojet is trying to prevent the funding from getting "spread too thin" (ie being spent on anything except AR-1 development) by giving the Air Force a potential path, however unlikely, to keeping Atlas V flying.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 05:10 am by Kabloona »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: An Aerojet Rocketdyne Atlas V?
« Reply #19 on: 05/12/2015 05:43 am »
This sure looks like a solution looking for a problem.  Usually you enter into a market by addressing an underserved portion of the market or by providing a better service to existing customers.  I'm not sure what they think they are doing.

No, this is Aerojet Rocketdyne looking for a way to survive. They need to get a large chunk of Gov't funding for AR-1 development, and they seem to be hoping that they'll get a bigger piece of the pie if they can convince the Air Force that there's a realistic way to keep Atlas V flying.

Quote
Meanwhile, the Air Force collected industry input from a draft request proposals for risk-reduction work in developing a replacement for the Atlas V’s Russian RD-180. Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of space and launch for Aerojet Rocketdyne, says the Air Force should focus its funding efforts – service officials plan to spend $150-160 million for risk reduction for various options for new rocket systems. She contends the problem at hand is replacing the Russian RD-180, not necessarily developing an all-new rocket. “We believe there is an engine problem, not a launch vehicle problem,” she tells Aviation Week. At issue is whether this funding could be “spread too thin,” according to one industry source, if it supports not only an RD-180 replacement but other systems critical to an entirely new rocket, such as solid boosters or a new upper stage.

http://aviationweek.com/space/industry-team-hopes-resurrect-atlas-v-post-rd-180

So Aerojet is trying to prevent the funding from getting "spread too thin" (ie being spent on anything except AR-1 development) by giving the Air Force a potential path, however unlikely, to keeping Atlas V flying.

Yeah, you nailed it there.

It's obviously never going to happen that this team is going to start producing and launching Atlas V.

Aerojet wants that big pile of cash that was pushed through Congress specifically for them.  In addition to giving them revenue directly for the development program, they probably feel they have a shot at getting ULA to eventually change their mind and go with their engine if the development is already funded.

I think it's also about making people question ULA's decision to go with Blue Origin and pressuring ULA on that.

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