Author Topic: House Armed Services hearing - Assuring National Security Space - June 26 2015  (Read 75686 times)

Offline woods170

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Could someone spell out to these congresscritters that rockets are not lego and no matter what you do, new engine means pretty much a new rocket. Also it seems to be hard for them to understand that US simply cannot duplicate RD-180 as-is (even if technically US Congress paid for that capability in the past...)


Your statement is in the process of being debunked by Orbital as we speak. The re-engined Antares is anything but an all-new rocket.

..with an engine that was designed, from the ground up, to be NK-33 drop-in replacement. It still means changes to Antares as well. If it were simple "plug and play", it wouldn't take an year between the flights, with extra Atlas flight bought from outside to keep the supplies flowing.

Jarnis point was that a new engine meant a new rocket. And that no longer is true. That was my point.

Online Jarnis

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Could someone spell out to these congresscritters that rockets are not lego and no matter what you do, new engine means pretty much a new rocket. Also it seems to be hard for them to understand that US simply cannot duplicate RD-180 as-is (even if technically US Congress paid for that capability in the past...)


Your statement is in the process of being debunked by Orbital as we speak. The re-engined Antares is anything but an all-new rocket.

..with an engine that was designed, from the ground up, to be NK-33 drop-in replacement. It still means changes to Antares as well. If it were simple "plug and play", it wouldn't take an year between the flights, with extra Atlas flight bought from outside to keep the supplies flowing.

Jarnis point was that a new engine meant a new rocket. And that no longer is true. That was my point.

It is true in most cases.

Launch vehicles are designed around engines.

You *can* design a new engine that is, from the ground up, designed to replace the old one (NK-33 -> RD-193) and it will go in with fairly small mods.

You cannot throw in a pair of new engines that kinda-almost-match (AR-1) without considerable modifications and Aerojet appears incapable of actually duplicating RD-180 because, gasp, russkies know their stuff. If Aerojet could match RD-180 specs they'd probably build a true drop-in replacement... And that is what Congress kinda wants, but it cannot get it. AR-1 is being sold as the closest thing, but it appears that ULA doesn't want it, partly because it is late and they cannot wait.


Offline Prober

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The basic item about choosing the BE-4 over that of AR-1 is as follows:

 #1 FUNDING
The BE-4 has about as high a reliability of funding as there ever has been for space development.
AR-1 is only one step above the worst funding reliability. It is getting funding now but could be cut off every year after when congress appropriates money.

Sorry to say that AR's problems are not just "funding".  Their recent downsizing is going to hurt.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34421.msg1392969#msg1392969

"NASA Stennis will have to modify their E-1 complex, cell 1 test stand over six months in order to reconfigure it to conduct AR1 staged combustion testing. Van Kleeck adds, "

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Offline muomega0

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Guess what happened.  8)   One thing is clear from the hearing: Rogers wants a one-on-one RD-180 replacement. No frickin' new launch system, no frickin' Delta IV, no nothing. Just a straight-on RD-180 replacement for Atlas V. Exactly as I expected.

Rogers' message to USAF was very clear. So it will be very interesting to see what moves ULA and USAF will make next.

Rogers can wish for all he wants, but ULA is a private company and will do what they feel is in the best interests of their company.

For instance, Rogers keeps forgetting that ULA has stated that Atlas V is not price competitive enough, so ULA really doesn't want to have a long-term replacement for the RD-180, only enough to allow them to transition to a lower-cost replacement for Atlas V (i.e. Vulcan).
In the hearing (32:30), ULA confirms there is no drop in replacement for the Atlas as it evolves into a one AR1 or two engine BE-4 Vulcan and this will not be completed until 2020s, with the pair of engines 35% less cost than the single engine.  At 34 min "First do no harm.  Factual Question:  is there a gap?   Do you need need 9 or 29 or more RD-180s to close the gap?  The real gap is the premature decision to retire the Delta V Medium"   The retirement is done in the interests of ULA to be more competitive, but perhaps not the national interests.   So ULA can do what's in the best interests of their company?

At 2:29, it is confirmed that the USG has the legal ability to continue to fly the Delta V medium.  This seems to conflict with ULA building a LV projected to take 10 flights to achieve 100M per flight, raising questions on commercially viability.  So why build this version of Vulcan if does not close the gap and is not really that competitive?  SLS does not meet any DOD needs.

As mentioned by Griffin later, the assured access to space requirement originated in the 1980s when multiple failures occurred with different LVs, todays Falcon failure was is almost serendipitous, not to mention the three cargo flights in a row to ISS.

The debris field of the and the had the vapor cloud enveloping the LVs, but in the latter, the SRBs continue to fly.  .  Note the .

The explosion highlights that fact that launching Class A cargo (crew or $B satellites) needs every uncrewed vehicle in a common configuration it can get, perhaps with a return capsule, to find that unknown failure mode.    When launching cheap payload,  one can take more risks with a less expensive LV (one on its nth re-use flight?) and perhaps without a return capsule with parachutes and LAS for more performance.  Perhaps solids can fly Class D payload instead.

Edit:  New Shepard launches and relands the lower stage and capsule Nov 2015.
"Weíre going to take the same architecture we just validated with New Shepard, but at larger scale with our BE-4 engines, and have a completely reusable vertical-landing booster for the orbital vehicle that weíre going to fly out of Cape Canaveral."
« Last Edit: 11/25/2015 12:34 am by muomega0 »

Offline Prober

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2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline mhlas7

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Agree that the funding risk could be easily offset by the extra $400-$600M for the new methlox stage, integration, etc. 

The Blue venture looks much more sexy, but I believe, and Mr. Bruno's testimony  yesterday confirms, that it  will be much more expensive and risky, too.

Difficult to see how it is any more cost-efficient than the AR-1 option. 

The cheapest option is continuing to use the RD-180 and do all of the same cost reductions as planned to get Future Atlas V to half the cost of Present Atlas V... and hope everyone forgets how much the USG was being charged for the same launch service.

The AR-1 option is cheaper in the short term but I don't believe it will be the cheapest long term option. A re-engined Atlas with AR-1 will cost about the same or more as the current Atlas. At this price point, Atlas will not be able to attract the commercial customers needed to keep their launch rates up. Atlas will then be stuck launching mostly government payloads along with a few commercial payloads. At best, this would get them 5 launches per year. At that launch rate, the per unit cost will increase dramatically making Atlas even more expensive than it is today.

Developing Vulcan with the BE-4 is not without its risks but I believe it is the only way to create cost effective assured access to space. Vulcan will have a cheaper per unit cost which will attract commercial customers increasing the launch rate and keep ULA self sufficient without the $1B/year assured access payments.

Offline AncientU

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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.

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Offline Dante80

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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.

I think that the $600-$800M quote was for re-engining the Atlas instead of bringing to the table a completely new LV like Vulcan.

Having said that, I'm not sure how "new" would Vulcan be in its first iteration anyway, or whether you could call changing the RD-180 for a BE-4 "still an Atlas".
« Last Edit: 06/30/2015 02:02 pm by Dante80 »

Offline Rocket Science

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I donít believe Iíve ever heard of a partial reusability model for the return of the AR-1 engine pod as is being considered for Vulcan with BE-4. Why not study it?
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline AncientU

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I donít believe Iíve ever heard of a partial reusability model for the return of the AR-1 engine pod as is being considered for Vulcan with BE-4. Why not study it?

They studied return of the RD-180 (which would have saved the situation, had they actually implemented it).
They Plan to do it on BE-4.
What would stop them from doing it on AR-1?

I think that the $600-$800M quote was for re-engining the Atlas instead of bringing to the table a completely new LV like Vulcan.

It was an answer for cost difference between re-engining Atlas with AR-1 and changing over to BE-4 -- which, depending on who you believe, is/is not a new launch vehicle.  There is no option to drop-in replace RD-180(kerlox) with BE-4 (methlox).
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Offline mhlas7

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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.

During the hearing, Tory was quoted saying that two AR-1 engines are less efficient than the RD-180 and to lift the same payloads with an AR-1 Atlas, an extra solid would need to be added. This adds cost as well as reduces the mass that can be lifted on the 551. ULA needs to consolidate down to one launch vehicle that can lift every payload that they are capable of lifting today between Atlas and Delta. There are certain payloads that need the lift capacity of the DIV-H however the DIV family is too expensive for ULA to remain competitive. Vulcan gives them the best of both worlds. It allows them to have one launch vehicle that has the lift capability of DIV-H with the lower cost of Atlas. I see Vulcan as more of an upgraded Delta capable of lifting the whole range of payloads with a single stick vehicle.

Offline WindnWar

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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.

During the hearing, Tory was quoted saying that two AR-1 engines are less efficient than the RD-180 and to lift the same payloads with an AR-1 Atlas, an extra solid would need to be added. This adds cost as well as reduces the mass that can be lifted on the 551. ULA needs to consolidate down to one launch vehicle that can lift every payload that they are capable of lifting today between Atlas and Delta. There are certain payloads that need the lift capacity of the DIV-H however the DIV family is too expensive for ULA to remain competitive. Vulcan gives them the best of both worlds. It allows them to have one launch vehicle that has the lift capability of DIV-H with the lower cost of Atlas. I see Vulcan as more of an upgraded Delta capable of lifting the whole range of payloads with a single stick vehicle.

Actually what he said was with only minor changes to Atlas they would need an extra solid to carry the same payloads it does now, that would be the tens of millions figure AR said re-engining Atlas would cost, however for $200 million they would increase the tanks to take advantage of the increased thrust the AR-1's provide and would have similar or better performance to Atlas with the RD-180.

As I said earlier taken straight for Mr. Bruno's testimony the costs for Vulcan don't seem to add up and the risk and complexity is higher.

Atlas re-engine with longer tanks is $200 million with minor changes to ground support infrastructure. There would be additional cost for the engine program itself though as AR can't or won't self fund the engine development itself. Some of it could be covered by taxpayer funds via the RFP's but ULA will be on the hook for the rest. Atlas is a known quantity, and AR has vastly more experience in engine design and integration.

BE-4 will require $600-$800 million to design the new first stage, in addition major modifications have to be done to the ground support systems, while Blue picks up the cost of engine development, which is not part of that $600-$800 million number, something they have much less experience at and have a higher risk for running into complications. The first stage will use a much larger tank, built using Delta tooling, but will use mostly Atlas systems with it and debut with Atlas upper stages. How can Delta's tanks be cheaper than Atlas tanks? Both engines are similar in cost according to Bruno. Both will need ACES to retire Delta Heavy, and Vulcan adds a third fuel into the mix. Vulcan requires them to support three different rockets with three different fuels at the pad, versus Atlas with AR-1 could most likely operate alongside Atlas till certified. Again more complex. Anything being done to Vulcan's first stage to reduce costs has to be in the tanks itself, which being larger and using Delta tooling I can't see how it can't be done to better and cheaper with Atlas.

Will ACES cost more or less than Centaur? Maybe that is where the cost competition of Vulcan arrives, but nothing else suggests it is actually cheaper than Atlas.



Offline Rocket Science

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Need some heavy lift ULA?  How about a tri-core AR-1 engined Atlas V with cross-feed... Then you can get rid of Delta IV...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline TrevorMonty

Need some heavy lift ULA?  How about a tri-core AR-1 engined Atlas V with cross-feed... Then you can get rid of Delta IV...
A 6xSRB Vulcan has +30% more lift than D4H. There is payload diagram from ULA on Vulcan thread showing a Vulcan Heavy with even better performance.

Offline WindnWar

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Need some heavy lift ULA?  How about a tri-core AR-1 engined Atlas V with cross-feed... Then you can get rid of Delta IV...
A 6xSRB Vulcan has +30% more lift than D4H. There is payload diagram from ULA on Vulcan thread showing a Vulcan Heavy with even better performance.

With ACES. Without ACES however its only marginally better than an Atlas V. What does the numbers look like for a Atlas with AR-1 and the tank stretch with ACES?


Online jongoff

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I never cease to be amazed by commenters who think that companies like ULA didn't run the numbers... They may not have explained themselves all the way, or given us enough data to duplicate their conclusions, but do people really think they'd be betting their company on Vulcan if they weren't pretty darned sure that Aerojet's solution was  uncompetitive?

~Jon

Offline clongton

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Aerojet's engine would just about drop into the Atlas airframe and get that LV back flying. That's what the Congress wants. But the Congress is not known for its intellectual prowess. ULA would not survive if they took that route and apparently our legislators are not smart enough to know that. I would rather think that about our legislators than the alternative, which would lead me to choice words for them that would get me banned here.

Atlas-Aerojet is a ULA death sentence.
Vulcan-BE4 is the *only* solution that gives ULA a shot at surviving long term.
« Last Edit: 07/01/2015 12:48 am by clongton »
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Offline Rocket Science

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Need some heavy lift ULA?  How about a tri-core AR-1 engined Atlas V with cross-feed... Then you can get rid of Delta IV...
A 6xSRB Vulcan has +30% more lift than D4H. There is payload diagram from ULA on Vulcan thread showing a Vulcan Heavy with even better performance.
Did you not watch the hearing? ULA got toldĒ we donít new a new rocket, we need a new rocket engineĒ... So far Congress is not buying what ULA is trying to sell them no matter how good it is...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Dante80

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Actually what he said was with only minor changes to Atlas they would need an extra solid to carry the same payloads it does now, that would be the tens of millions figure AR said re-engining Atlas would cost, however for $200 million they would increase the tanks to take advantage of the increased thrust the AR-1's provide and would have similar or better performance to Atlas with the RD-180.

Yes, that was what I understood too. ARJ said that re-engining the Atlas would cost some tens of $M, and Bruno said that reworking the gimbaling system and lengthening the tanks would cost about $200M. If that is done then there is no need for an extra solid (the pair of AR-1s will have more thrust than the RD-180, and the extra propellant takes care of the slightly worse efficiency).

Both AR-1 and BE-4 options are quoted to be much cheaper (as per propulsion pack cost) than the current RD-180 used. I don't really know whether that is fully justified at this point in time. I thought that one of the reasons for Atlas being a lot more competitive than Delta was due to the fact RD-180 was a pretty solid AND cheap option.

I never cease to be amazed by commenters who think that companies like ULA didn't run the numbers... They may not have explained themselves all the way, or given us enough data to duplicate their conclusions, but do people really think they'd be betting their company on Vulcan if they weren't pretty darned sure that Aerojet's solution was  uncompetitive?

~Jon

That is a very valid argument. If it is true though then why would ULA secure a partnership with ARJ too for the Vulcan? If AR-1 is a priori not competitive then they wouldn't consider it, even as a backup. Remember, the quote given about the two engines was that the main difference was design maturity (With BO being about 16months ahead of ARJ, although both companies pledge to be ready for the 2019 timeframe). ULA is going to downselect sometime in 2016.


[edit: typos]
 
« Last Edit: 07/01/2015 02:35 am by Dante80 »

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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And this entire argument further justifies the need to privatize, as quickly as possible, the market that is space.  You have elected officials (one identified himself as a "recovering attorney") playing rocket scientist.  This is a problem.  It doesn't matter that the people who do this for a living say you cannot play legos with rockets - yet - our elected officials insist on it.

We played legos with Constellation.  We play legos with Space Launch System.  We are now playing legos with ULA and Atlas V.  I ask myself out loud how many times do we have to watch congress eff up our space program?  ULA is not the problem.  SpaceX is not the problem.   Orbital ATK is not the program.

Its Congress, Mommy, and Daddy... or "the parents".

I know my good friends inside the 495 see this.  You all claim to want to solve the problem.  Don't just give us lip service - do it.  I will remind everyone here - especially decision makers who lurk - of the following:

Commercial Market Assessment for Crew and Cargo Systems
http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Section403(b)CommercialMarketAssessmentReportFinal.pdf

Just read the last page friends...  This was verified again by congress later that year.

Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle NAFCOM Cost Estimates
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/586023main_8-3-11_NAFCOM.pdf

I am not sure how many times people on The Hill need to hear that you cannot play legos with rockets.  However, they have not got the memo.  You cannot plug and play Mr. Congressman.  It doesn't work like that.  If you want to rid yourselves of the Russian addiction then you will have to build a new rocket.  It really is that simple.

Many of you know I am on the right side of the political spectrum.  The political grandstanding has to stop.  Both sides do it.  I am simply saying its time to stop living off the legacy of Apollo and Shuttle.  Its time for us, US, to do something.  We can start by realizing that once a new engine is strapped on to an Atlas V it is no longer an Atlas V.

Release ULA from the shackles of Mommy and Daddy.  ULA is like a 23 year old who graduated number one with multiple PhDs that is being forced to "live at home" with dysfunctional, alcoholic parents.  They want to go out and live but are grounded in their bedroom.  They have bills and cannot even get a job at McDonalds.  There are amazing people inside ULA who know what needs to be done...

So let them do it.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser

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