Author Topic: House Armed Services hearing - Assuring National Security Space - June 26 2015  (Read 75938 times)

Offline woods170

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House Armed Services hearing - Assuring National Security Space: Investing in American Industry to End Reliance on Russian Rocket Engines.
Rayburn HOB - 2118

June 26 2015, 9:00 AM


Witnesses:
Panel 1 (industry panel):

Mr. Salvatore T. “Tory” Bruno
President and Chief Executive Officer
United Launch Alliance

Mr. Rob Meyerson
President
Blue Origin

Ms. Julie Van Kleeck
Vice President, Advanced Space and Launch Programs
Aerojet Rocketdyne
 
Mr. Frank Culbertson
President of Space Systems Group
Orbital ATK

Mr. Jeff Thornburg
Senior Director of Propulsion Engineering
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation

Panel 2 (government panel):

The Honorable Katrina G. McFarland
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition
Department of Defense
 
General John E. Hyten, USAF
Commander
Air Force Space Command
 
Lieutenant General Samuel A. Greaves, USAF
Commander
Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center
 
Dr. Michael D. Griffin
Deputy Chair
RD-180 Availability Risk Mitigation Study

Preview: http://www.spacenews.com/hearing-on-u-s-space-launch-strategy-could-get-testy/
« Last Edit: 06/23/2015 08:45 am by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

Offline Star One

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

I'm not sure where you get that idea from. It's in everyone's interests to let them continue with Vulcan.

Online Brovane

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

I'm not sure where you get that idea from. It's in everyone's interests to let them continue with Vulcan.

Well it certainly isn't in Rocketdyne's interest.
"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 Star One

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

I'm not sure where you get that idea from. It's in everyone's interests to let them continue with Vulcan.

Well it certainly isn't in Rocketdyne's interest.

Fair enough but everyone else's.

Offline woods170

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

I'm not sure where you get that idea from. It's in everyone's interests to let them continue with Vulcan.
It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.

Also, some members of both the House and the Senate are concerned over the recent statements by ULA that Delta IV is on it's way out, and that Atlas V won't last forever either. And particularly the fact that Vulcan is, thus far, privately funded by ULA and Blue, without any government influence (read: pork), is unsettling to some political figures as well.

So yeah, I fully expect the House Armed Services committee to do some extensive grilling of (particularly) Bruno et al. and to a slightly lesser extent Hyten et al.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2015 01:34 pm by woods170 »


Offline Coastal Ron

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Michael Griffin should excuse himself from the hearing since he has a conflict of interest - he's part of the group trying to get the rights to clone the Atlas V and compete with ULA.  How is he supposed to provide non-biased information about the RD-180 situation?
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 Kansan52

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IMO, there is never an unbiased person testifying in these hearings.

Offline georgesowers

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It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.


There are several myths we have to dispel:

First.  There is no such thing as a "drop-in" replacement.  US technology can get somewhat close (like the AR1), but there are still vehicle mods required.

Second.  The "drop-in" approach is not lower cost or quicker.  If it had been, we would have selected it last year when we conducted extensive studies on all the potential options.  The fact is that the option we selected, Vulcan/BE4, is the lowest cost and quickest option due to Blue's head start and investment.

That being said, all rocket development programs are risky and we continue to carry AR1 as a back-up option.

Offline muomega0

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It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.


There are several myths we have to dispel:

First.  There is no such thing as a "drop-in" replacement.  US technology can get somewhat close (like the AR1), but there are still vehicle mods required.

Second.  The "drop-in" approach is not lower cost or quicker.  If it had been, we would have selected it last year when we conducted extensive studies on all the potential options.  The fact is that the option we selected, Vulcan/BE4, is the lowest cost and quickest option due to Blue's head start and investment.

That being said, all rocket development programs are risky and we continue to carry AR1 as a back-up option.
Vulcan may be the Lowest cost *and* quickest option, but its not the lowest cost option especially if one considers the NASA 'market'. 

It is not clear how carrying solid product lines cut costs when one can top off at the ZBO depot for various payload sizes  --   Boeing's Amplification Factor.  A common configuration for cargo and crew likely pays much larger dividends since the unknown failure mode has a chance to happen on the cargo flight, and crew will fly without solids.   Reuse may be engines only.

Finally, all *investments* must be repaid, especially for companies that want a return on their investment, so what is good for a company is not necessary good for the USG.

Offline clongton

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This one is going to be interesting. I expect the committee to start leaning on ULA to abandon their plans for Vulcan and participate in a one-on-one replacement of RD-180 instead.

I'm not sure where you get that idea from. It's in everyone's interests to let them continue with Vulcan.

From the linked statement:
Quote
Rogers’ statement appears to be a shot across the bow not only of the Air Force but also of ULA, whose main rocket making facility is in Decatur, Alabama. Some industry experts view ULA’s strategy as risky and believe the surest and quickest way to wean the Air Force off the RD-180 is to immediately begin developing a replacement that, unlike Blue Origin’s BE-4, can plug into the aft end of the Atlas 5. - See more at: http://spacenews.com/hearing-on-u-s-space-launch-strategy-could-get-testy/#sthash.1eKaKrWA.dpuf

It really couldn't be clearer that the intent is not a new launch system (Vulcan), but a new engine to replace the RD-180 on the Atlas-V. I'm not saying that is or is not the best way to go. Just pointing out (answering your question) that that is the clear intent of Mr. Rogers' statement.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2015 08:19 pm by clongton »
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I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline TrevorMonty


It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.


There are several myths we have to dispel:

First.  There is no such thing as a "drop-in" replacement.  US technology can get somewhat close (like the AR1), but there are still vehicle mods required.

Second.  The "drop-in" approach is not lower cost or quicker.  If it had been, we would have selected it last year when we conducted extensive studies on all the potential options.  The fact is that the option we selected, Vulcan/BE4, is the lowest cost and quickest option due to Blue's head start and investment.

That being said, all rocket development programs are risky and we continue to carry AR1 as a back-up option.
Vulcan may be the Lowest cost *and* quickest option, but its not the lowest cost option especially if one considers the NASA 'market'. 

It is not clear how carrying solid product lines cut costs when one can top off at the ZBO depot for various payload sizes  --   Boeing's Amplification Factor.  A common configuration for cargo and crew likely pays much larger dividends since the unknown failure mode has a chance to happen on the cargo flight, and crew will fly without solids.   Reuse may be engines only.

Finally, all *investments* must be repaid, especially for companies that want a return on their investment, so what is good for a company is not necessary good for the USG.
Muomega do you realise George is ULA lead engineer and is in charge of designing Vulcan.

Offline woods170

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It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.


There are several myths we have to dispel:

First.  There is no such thing as a "drop-in" replacement.  US technology can get somewhat close (like the AR1), but there are still vehicle mods required.

Second.  The "drop-in" approach is not lower cost or quicker.  If it had been, we would have selected it last year when we conducted extensive studies on all the potential options.  The fact is that the option we selected, Vulcan/BE4, is the lowest cost and quickest option due to Blue's head start and investment.

That being said, all rocket development programs are risky and we continue to carry AR1 as a back-up option.

Mr. Sowers, I'm all very much aware of this, but my post was about how US Congress sees things. They probably know that Atlas V requires changes on the vehicle side to accept an RD-180 replacement. But that's just a detail, from their perspective. The 'grand' issue is the engine, not the vehicle.

That's one of the reasons why I expect that Mr. Bruno will get grilled over ULA doing Vulcan.

Also, again as seen from the perspective of US Congress (not mine), there is doubt that Vulcan can in fact be cheaper than doing a one-on-one RD-180 replacement. US Congress is not quite considering the big picture here. They are limiting themselves to viewing the NSL market and Atlas V in particular. They have no consideration for the (lack of) commercial potential of Atlas V and/or Vulcan.
ULA may have considered the big picture when it concluded that doing an all-new launch system (Vulcan) would in the end be cheaper than sticking a new engine underneath Atlas V. But US Congress has most certainly not.

I already mentioned the 'pork' factor. Blue may be in an advanced state of developing BE-4, but what 'bacon' has been brought home by this private development, to benefit what state - and thus what Senator or Representative?
Answer: none.
And that doesn't go too well with some folks at the Hill.

Finally: the parent companies of ULA show a lackluster support for Vulcan. Funding development one 3-month-period at the time isn't exactly re-assuring in the long run. Particularly not since some House representatives (and some folks in the Senate as well) seen hell-bent on upholding the RD-180 ban. Both parent companies of ULA have already issued public statements that if the RD-180 ban holds unchanged, then Vulcan goes nowhere.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 09:43 am by woods170 »

Offline Star One

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It's not in the interest of US Congress. They specifically stipulated that the AirForce should develop an RD-180 replacement ASAP.
USAF is not doing that. Instead USAF has entered a three-step path to develop an all-new launch system. Not just an engine, but an all-new launch system. See the recent RFP's issued by USAF. Some Congress critters have already displayed their dismay over this, knowing that an all-new launch system will cost considerably more than 'just an engine' and will also take considerably longer to realize.


There are several myths we have to dispel:

First.  There is no such thing as a "drop-in" replacement.  US technology can get somewhat close (like the AR1), but there are still vehicle mods required.

Second.  The "drop-in" approach is not lower cost or quicker.  If it had been, we would have selected it last year when we conducted extensive studies on all the potential options.  The fact is that the option we selected, Vulcan/BE4, is the lowest cost and quickest option due to Blue's head start and investment.

That being said, all rocket development programs are risky and we continue to carry AR1 as a back-up option.

Mr. Sowers, I'm all very much aware of this, but my post was about how US Congress sees things. They probably know that Atlas V requires changes on the vehicle side to accept an RD-180 replacement. But that's just a detail, from their perspective. The 'grand' issue is the engine, not the vehicle.

That's one of the reasons why I expect that Mr. Bruno will get grilled over ULA doing Vulcan.

Also, again seen from the perspective of US Congress (not mine), there is doubt that Vulcan can in fact be cheaper than doing an one-on-one RD-180 replacement. US Congress is not quite considering the big picture here. They are limiting themselves to viewing the NSL market and Atlas V in particular. They have no consideration for the (lack of) commercial potential of Atlas V and/or Vulcan.
ULA may have considered the big picture when it concluded that doing an all-new launch system (Vulcan) would in the end be cheaper than sticking a new engine underneath Atlas V. But US Congress has most certainly not.
I already mentioned the 'pork' factor. Blue may be in an advanced state of developing BE-4, but what 'bacon' has been brought home by this private development, to benefit what state - and thus what Senator or Representative?
Answer: none.
And that doesn't go too well with some folks at the Hill.

Finally: the parent companies of ULA show a lackluster support for Vulcan. Funding development one 3-month-period at the time isn't exactly re-assuring in the long run. Particularly not since some House representatives (and some folks in the Senate) as well seen hell-bent on upholding the RD-180 ban. Both parent companies of ULA have already issued public statements that if the RD-180 ban holds unchanged, then Vulcan goes nowhere.

In other words mostly supposition on your part. I especially have to take issue with your statement about lacklustre support for Vulcan, I've seen nothing in the parent companies support to suggest it's lacklustre but rather that it is measured as might be expected by a program at this stage.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 08:46 am by Star One »

Offline woods170

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In other words mostly supposition on your part. I especially have to take issue with your statement about lacklustre support for Vulcan, I've seen nothing in the parent companies support to suggest it's lacklustre but rather that it is measured as might be expected by a program at this stage.
Interpret my post(s) any way you like, that is your privilege.

I however do not agree with your interpretation of lackluster-or-not. Both the fact that financing is deliberately supplied in a measured way AND the fact that they are willing to pull the plug on Vulcan over some politically motivated ban on RD-180's, are very clear indicators that the parent companies of ULA are not 'going' for Vulcan in an all-out way.
Their support for Vulcan is carefully measured at best and can be pulled at a moments notice. They've stated so, in public, themselves. And this is not because Vulcan is in early stage of development but because the parent companies are faced with a difficult commercial/government/political playing field. Conditions on the government/political side are in a high state of flux, and that makes the parent companies uncertain/unsure about whether-or-not to commit to Vulcan for an extended period of time. The result is the '3-months-at-a-time' financing structure. That, IMO, shows lackluster support from the parent companies.

The result is that there is no guaranteed multi-year support for the Vulcan program. That's a shaky base to build a new launch system on.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 01:40 pm by woods170 »

Offline Rocket Science

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I’m looking forward to this hearing and the attempts to “wag the dog”... My only advice in today’s climate where ULA isn’t the only game in town anymore is to “not bite the hand that feeds you”... (I know full of clichés but none the less true)...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline woods170

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I’m looking forward to this hearing and the attempts to “wag the dog”... My only advice in today’s climate where ULA isn’t the only game in town anymore is to “not bite the hand that feeds you”... (I know full of clichés but none the less true)...
Oh absolutely. But by introducing Vulcan, in stead of doing a co-op-with-USAF on a straight RD-180 replacement, ULA has already bitten the hand that feeds it. IMO Tory will be made to understand this thoroughly during the hearing.
But then again, I could be wrong. IMO Friday will be an exciting day.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 01:43 pm by woods170 »

Online JBF

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I’m looking forward to this hearing and the attempts to “wag the dog”... My only advice in today’s climate where ULA isn’t the only game in town anymore is to “not bite the hand that feeds you”... (I know full of clichés but none the less true)...
Oh absolutely. But by introducing Vulcan, in stead of doing a co-op-with-USAF on a straight RD-180 replacement, ULA has already bitten the hand that feeds it. IMO Tory will be made to understand this thoroughly during the hearing.
But then again, I could be wrong. IMO Friday will be an exciting day.

ULA is in a difficult situation. Their primary engine has been outlawed by the US government and they have apparently determined that the Atlas V is not financially viable in the long run.  Any money they invested in it rather than in a replacement can be considered wasted.
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Offline Rocket Science

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I’ve said this before that I don’t blame them for trying to leverage the situation to gain a foothold in the commercial launch field with Vulcan and if I were the head of the company I would try the same thing. However ULA exists for the sole reason to serve the needs of the US government with Delta and Atlas. From their own webpage (before it disappears)...

“On May 2, 2005, The Boeing Company and the Lockheed Martin Corporation announced their intention to form a joint venture called the United Launch Alliance (ULA), combining the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with U.S. government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets - providing world-class space launch services for the U.S. government at lower cost.”

http://www.ulalaunch.com/history.aspx

No future commercial venture or new rocket family. They might get reminded of this at the hearing...
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 03:22 pm by Rocket Science »
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