Author Topic: House Armed Services hearing - Assuring National Security Space - June 26 2015  (Read 75932 times)

Offline Dante80

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 887
  • Athens : Greece
  • Liked: 810
  • Likes Given: 505
I don't care who made the first move to get access to yet more government funding.. what matters is that ULA shouldn't be allowed to compete with SpaceX by taking it. They shouldn't get the reward without the risk. All these little games to say "it wasn't me, it was my co-conspirators!" is just semantics. If the good folks at ULA want to compete with SpaceX they should quit and start a new company, that way they can be their own masters. That'd be "fair".

I don't really understand this part of your post. ULA might use funds taken from the USAF dev program to make Vulcan happen, the same way as SpaceX used funds from the NASA CCdev or COTS phases to fund F9 (which then certified for the EELV payloads). Also, its not like they are not putting their own skin into it, BE-4 has reached the dev stage it has now with private funds by BO and LM/Boeing ARE funding Vulcan dev on a quarterly basis.

Remember, the four phase USAF dev program is not going to a sole contractor but to everyone in the industry that applies and has a good plan to deliver. For example, now that we know the phase 2 text (and the fact that they are not only talking about an engine) its not inconceivable that SX might bid for getting some dev funds for Raptor/mBFR.

I really don't get why so many people think that ULA are "the bad guys". Especially after Bruno took over and presented the plan to transform the company.


[edit:typos]
« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 08:28 am by Dante80 »

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8804
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3803
  • Likes Given: 903
ULA might use funds taken from the USAF dev program to make Vulcan happen, the same way as SpaceX used funds from the NASA CCdev or COTS phases to fund F9 (which then certified for the EELV payloads).

The dev program only exists because ULA/Boeing/LM/Aerojet have been completely disinterested in competing in the international launch market. It's completely disingenuous to compare it to the COTS/CRS/CCDev alphabet soup.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Dante80

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 887
  • Athens : Greece
  • Liked: 810
  • Likes Given: 505
The dev program only exists because ULA/Boeing/LM/Aerojet have been completely disinterested in competing in the international launch market. It's completely disingenuous to compare it to the COTS/CRS/CCDev alphabet soup.

The result in funding appropriation and use is the exact same though. Moreover, it is known that ULA wants to compete in the international launch market (thats why Bruno wants the Vulcan after all, it is known that DoD launch rates will be greatly diminished after the current round of DoD/USAF satellites goes up by 2020). Also don't forget that Boeing is acting to compete on the CRS-2 and CCT programs.

The dev program (especially phase 1, before USAF gave politicians the shaft) exists because Congress wants to assign pork money. That does not mean its ULAs fault though. And - in the end - its money that anyone can bid for and money that will go into active LV development in US industry. Is that such a bad thing?
« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 08:47 am by Dante80 »

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8954
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 6179
  • Likes Given: 2091
I'm sorry that's BS. ULA hasn't pocketed any of their profits--as a joint venture, Boeing and LM have sucked most of the profits out leaving them with only a pittance (in the past) to roll back into IRAD and deal with hardware obsolescence.

Well duh! When I say "they" have pocketed their profits instead of reinvesting to remain competitive I obviously am referring to the owners of ULA.
Nice try Trent, but you don't get away with that. It was not obvious. To you perhaps, but not necessarily other folks.
When using the reference 'they' in a sentence where the only subject is 'ULA' you cannot automatically expect people to read 'Boeing and LockMart' in stead.



I think many at LM and Boeing would've been fine running ULA into the ground and sucking profits out until it was dead. Tory is trying to turn that around, and wasn't asking for a handout to do it. Aerojet was the one trying to get their paws in the cookie jar (and then get Congress to force ULA to keep buying from them). I think blaming ULA for Aerojet's lobbying, and Boeing and LM's unwillingness to reinvest is completely unfair.

I don't care who made the first move to get access to yet more government funding.. what matters is that ULA shouldn't be allowed to compete with SpaceX by taking it. They shouldn't get the reward without the risk. All these little games to say "it wasn't me, it was my co-conspirators!" is just semantics. If the good folks at ULA want to compete with SpaceX they should quit and start a new company, that way they can be their own masters. That'd be "fair".
In case you had not noticed: the only company, so far, to have openly vied for the USAF funds for an RD-180 replacement is Aerojet. Neither Boeing, nor LockMart, nor ULA have done so up to now. For now, their bets (Boeing, LockMart and ULA) is on getting the RD-180 ban lifted. That's a different thing. Accusing ULA, or it's parent-companies, of going after those funds to fund Vulcan, without actually having proof for it, is a questionable practice.
And even if Boeing/Lockmart/ULA would actually make a run for that money... what stops SpaceX from doing the same? After all, the money is earmarked for a replacement engine, not a replacement launch system. USAF got grilled over this little distinction by some US Congress folks just last week.
« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 09:52 am by woods170 »

Offline JBF

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1412
  • Liked: 424
  • Likes Given: 783
I'm afraid I have to agree with QuantumG here.  ULA/Boeing/Lockheed  did not apparently use any of the money to make sure they had access to a primary rocket component and eventually asked and got a waiver on the requirement to produce it in the US.  That is a huge failure of management and unless ULA's owners are willing to invest money should sink the company.
"In principle, rocket engines are simple, but thatís the last place rocket engines are ever simple." Jeff Bezos

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9325
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 3155
  • Likes Given: 8772
Ukraine crisis caused RD-180 ban for national security payloads, ULAís back-up plan was move them to Delta, now itís you canít because weíre killing Delta to make Vulcan... So the solution to losing access to a Russian rocket engine is to kill an ďall AmericanĒ rocket family Delta... Their response is we need Vulcan to go commercial...ULAís answer to a crisis is to seemingly create another crisis... My 2 cents...YMMV
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8954
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 6179
  • Likes Given: 2091
I'm afraid I have to agree with QuantumG here.  ULA/Boeing/Lockheed  did not apparently use any of the money to make sure they had access to a primary rocket component and eventually asked and got a waiver on the requirement to produce it in the US.  That is a huge failure of management and unless ULA's owners are willing to invest money should sink the company.

Sorry, but I disagree. You really ought to look at the history behind all this. RD-180 was introduced on the Atlas III EELV and was inherited by Atlas V, long before ULA came into existence.

You find fault at a Russian engine being on Atlas V? Then I suggest you take aim at the US government.

Back in the late 1990's it was a high-level agreement between the Russian government and the US government that led to the introduction of a Russian engine on a US rocket. Notably a rocket (Atlas III) that was being developed in close cooperation with USAF for NSL purposes (an act that was repeated on Atlas V). So, back then, neither the US government, nor USAF had any problems with using a Russian engine. They even facilitated the use of RD-180 by having a government-to-government agreement in place with Russia to allow for use of a Russian engine on a US rocket. Also, the US government did away with import limitations,  and furnished government-owned test-facilities for test-firing RD-180. Heck, even NASA was involved in this.

There is no failure in ULA management. They simply inherited the legacy of late 1990's horse-trading between the US and Russia. Up until 18 months ago nobody was concerned about a Russian engine powering Atlas V, much like it was no concern for Atlas III back in the 1990's. You can't expect ULA management to have foreseen Russia's actions in Ukraine years in advance.

All those folks here crying foul over ULA/Boeing/LockMart management really ought to read up on history first.
« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 02:38 pm by woods170 »

Offline Kansan52

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1232
  • Hutchinson, KS
  • Liked: 398
  • Likes Given: 433
woods170 makes a great point. This was the era that the government policy was to prop up the weak economy in Russia. We paid much of the final work for Mir 2 to be the Russian part of the ISS. The government had NASA buy a tank for the DC-Xa that, if memory serves, NASA didn't want.

So decisions made years and decades ago brought us these problems.

We are seeing a revolution in launch services. When the dust settles, we will see less expensive launches or not.

I'm voting less expensive launch services because Bigelow, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, ULA, Space X and others have discovered there is pent up demand at lower price points. There's money to be made.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3584
  • Florida
  • Liked: 2019
  • Likes Given: 243
What feature of the BE-4 option is cheaper.
$600-$800M vs. $200M for launcher/infrastructure changes.
Same number of pads in the end.
Same staff cuts/efficiencies needed.
Same upper stage(s) and avionics.
Same retirement date for Delta family.
Possibly increased certification costs/delays.

I'm not seeing it.

Engine development cost: BE-4 << AR-1
Total development cost (engine + vehicle): BE-4 < AR-1
Recurring cost of engine: BE-4 < AR-1
Schedule to first engine delivery: BE-4 16 months ahead
Schedule risk:  BE-4 < AR-1  (private versus government)

That is our unbiased assessment. We have access to all the data from each company and have done detailed excruciating deep dive evaluations of everything technical, cost and schedule.  We have also brought in independent teams of experts who have validated our assessment.

You left off one more item: Performance ISP 340 BE-4>>280 AR-1 = up to 6 mt more payload for same GLOW being that both are 500klbf engines. Meaning that with solids attached the Vulcan BE-4 >25mt payload and the Atlas V AR-1 < 18mt max.

The Vulcan with BE-4 replaces the DIVH but the AR-1 Atlas V does not!

BTW this means that a AR-1 powered Vulcan would require 3 AR-1 to be able to be a replacement for the DIVH.
No mater whether the RD-180 is switched out to AR-1 on the Atlas V or not the Atlas V's life ends in 2022. Meaning a AR-1 engined Atlas V would fly about only 2-3 years. Followed by the Vulcan anyway. ULA will never get their costs down if they continue to manufacture 2 different cores and operate 4 pads when they only need 2.

« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 04:24 pm by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline TrevorMonty

Where did you get the ISP numbers for BE4 and AR1?
The AR1 ISP280 seems a bit low.

Offline Dante80

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 887
  • Athens : Greece
  • Liked: 810
  • Likes Given: 505
It really does sound a little low. After all, the AR-1 is designed as a oxygen rich staged combustion engine. For reference, the RD-180 has a SL Isp of 311s and a vac. Isp of 338s. The somewhat more comparable  RD-191 gets 311 and 337 respectively.

Moreover, it seems (from a quote in the hearing at least) that blue are designing the BE-4 to run on LNG, not pure CH4. That makes the engine a little less efficient, with probably the same Isp characteristics of designs like the RD-0162. I assume that the target Isp for BE-4 is something like SL325s/vac.355s.
« Last Edit: 07/02/2015 11:43 pm by Dante80 »

Offline WindnWar

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
  • South Carolina
  • Liked: 267
  • Likes Given: 1405
Hell Merlin 1D gets 282 at sea level and 311 in vacuum and its a gas generator. I can't believe AR-1 would only have a 280 ISP, if so AR really screwed up somewhere.

The rep at the hearing stated it would have the same efficiency as RD-180, Bruno countered it would have lower efficiency and need a tank stretch, so either its ISP is lower or most likely its thrust to weight ratio is lower than RD-180, but its doubtful its ISP is that low.

BE-4 should have a higher ISP but it also will have worse mass fractions due to methane requiring larger tanks, if the ISP is high enough to offset the extra weight it doesn't matter, but I guess we'll have to see some hard numbers.

Right now everything is a guess.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3584
  • Florida
  • Liked: 2019
  • Likes Given: 243
It doesn't take much of a ISP difference to make a significant difference in performance (payload). ULA statement on the performance of the Vulcan with BE-4 is that even with the current Centaur as upper stage it can be used to replace the DIVH. An Atlas V with AR-1 cannot do that. From Bruno's statements it will be a "stretch" to get it to be as good as the performance of the Atlas V with RD-180.

If the AR-1 is used on the Atlas V for a few years then to recoup some of the AR-1 spending ULA would be prudent to use AR-1 on Vulcan but 2 engines might not produce the payload capability that ULA is looking for. Using 3 engines instead of 2 increases the price per flight even if the engines can be recovered and reused. The AR-1 and BE-4 even if they can be produced both at approximately the same price, the BE-4 ends up being a more economical solution.

ULA is a business and they are looking beyond the US gov for commercial customers. Anything that would lower the price increasing its competitveness with say the Ariane 6 on the global market.

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8804
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3803
  • Likes Given: 903
ULA is a business and they are looking beyond the US gov for commercial customers. Anything that would lower the price increasing its competitveness with say the Ariane 6 on the global market.

Which they haven't done for a long long time.. gee, I wonder what changed.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3111
  • Liked: 853
  • Likes Given: 428
I'm afraid I have to agree with QuantumG here.  ULA/Boeing/Lockheed  did not apparently use any of the money to make sure they had access to a primary rocket component and eventually asked and got a waiver on the requirement to produce it in the US.  That is a huge failure of management and unless ULA's owners are willing to invest money should sink the company.

It was a failure of ULA's handlers--the US government; in particular, the USAF.  ULA did what they were told and paid to do.

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3111
  • Liked: 853
  • Likes Given: 428
ULA is a business and they are looking beyond the US gov for commercial customers. Anything that would lower the price increasing its competitveness with say the Ariane 6 on the global market.

ULA is not a commercial "business" as commonly understood, and never has been.  ULA is a US government construct which exists solely to serve US government NSS needs.

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1124
  • United States
  • Liked: 613
  • Likes Given: 1180
I'm afraid I have to agree with QuantumG here.  ULA/Boeing/Lockheed  did not apparently use any of the money to make sure they had access to a primary rocket component and eventually asked and got a waiver on the requirement to produce it in the US.  That is a huge failure of management and unless ULA's owners are willing to invest money should sink the company.

For National Security reasons, the US govt cannot allow the company to sink.  ULA/Boeing and LM also know this.  Right now we are watching a high stakes game of poker being played and ULA/Boeing/LM, USAF and Congress.  The spoiler was SpaceX but the latest mishap just gave ULA/Boeing/LM a even stronger hand that shows the importance of having two different EELV launch vehicles.  ULA/Boeing/LM are well versed in how to play you are putting American Troops lives at risk card. 
« Last Edit: 07/04/2015 03:54 am by brovane »
"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 QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8804
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3803
  • Likes Given: 903
For National Security reasons, the US govt cannot allow the company to sink.  ULA/Boeing and LM also know this.

ULA won't sink even if both RD-180 use remains banned and they don't get their largesse to do Vulcan. Either an RD-180 replacement would be magically found or they'd just fly Delta (which is probably the more sensible option, especially if they improve on the 1960s-era manufacturing.) ULA hasn't ever been about being competitive. There's no national security need for them to be now.


Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1124
  • United States
  • Liked: 613
  • Likes Given: 1180
For National Security reasons, the US govt cannot allow the company to sink.  ULA/Boeing and LM also know this.

ULA won't sink even if both RD-180 use remains banned and they don't get their largesse to do Vulcan. Either an RD-180 replacement would be magically found or they'd just fly Delta (which is probably the more sensible option, especially if they improve on the 1960s-era manufacturing.) ULA hasn't ever been about being competitive. There's no national security need for them to be now.

Which will the make ULA dependent on Govt subsidies if SpaceX is allowed to bid on DOD launches, because we know that ULA will not beat SpaceX on price for competitive launch contracts. 

So Congress either gives ULA what they need to become competitive (more RD-180 engines) or they accept that they will have to prop-up ULA with government funding in the future if they want assured access to space with two separate launch vehicles.  The cheaper route is to just give ULA what they need now but that will mean that Congress will loose some control over the process of ULA shifting to a new launch vehicle.  If they want to maintain control then they can continue the route they are currently on which is forcing the development of a new RP-1 engine that ULA doesn't want to use. 
"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 QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8804
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3803
  • Likes Given: 903
Which will the make ULA dependent on Govt subsidies if SpaceX is allowed to bid on DOD launches, because we know that ULA will not beat SpaceX on price for competitive launch contracts. 

make? They have been since the beginning. That's why they exist.

Quote from: brovane
So Congress either gives ULA what they need to become competitive (more RD-180 engines)

Ahhh.. Vulcan is what they hope will make them competitive. Even with all the RD-180s they can eat they won't be competitive.

Quote from: brovane
or they accept that they will have to prop-up ULA with government funding in the future if they want assured access to space with two separate launch vehicles.

That was never a question. ULA exists to service the government. Always has.

Quote from: brovane
The cheaper route is to just give ULA what they need now

No it's not. Boeing/LM will just eat the profits, let ULA starve as they have for years and then send them back for more funding when they're uncompetitive again - assuming they even make Vulcan work.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Tags: