Author Topic: ULA orders more RD-180's  (Read 15317 times)

Offline Prober

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ULA orders more RD-180's
« on: 12/23/2015 09:29 PM »
With ban lifted, ULA orders Russian-made rocket engines
http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/boosters_bits/2015/12/with-ban-lifted-ula-orders-russian-made-rocket.html?ana=yahoo

"The Centennial-based rocket launch provider said Wednesday it ordered 20 RD-180 rocket engines for use in its Atlas V rockets, calling the purchase a bridge until new American-made rocket engines can be developed for a new line of ULA rockets.

ULA’s last RD-180 order, before the import ban was enacted, was for 29 RD-180s.

All but five of those were committed to launches contract for the military by the U.S. Air Force."
« Last Edit: 12/23/2015 09:34 PM by Prober »
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Offline Star One

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ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #1 on: 12/23/2015 09:33 PM »
With ban lifted, ULA orders Russian-made rocket engines
http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/boosters_bits/2015/12/with-ban-lifted-ula-orders-russian-made-rocket.html?ana=yahoo

"The Centennial-based rocket launch provider said Wednesday it ordered 20 RD-180 rocket engines for use in its Atlas V rockets, calling the purchase a bridge until new American-made rocket engines can be developed for a new line of ULA rockets."

I am sure a certain senator will advise ULA that this should not be used as an excuse to backslide on developing an alternative ASAP.
« Last Edit: 12/23/2015 09:37 PM by Star One »

Offline Prober

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #2 on: 12/23/2015 10:07 PM »
more info in this article

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/lockheed-boeing-venture-orders-20-204804158.html

"ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said deliveries on the new batch of engines would start once ULA received all of the previous order. ULA received eight RD-180 engines this year, she said."
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Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #3 on: 12/23/2015 10:21 PM »

more info in this article

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/lockheed-boeing-venture-orders-20-204804158.html

"ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said deliveries on the new batch of engines would start once ULA received all of the previous order. ULA received eight RD-180 engines this year, she said."

Plenty of well deserved criticism of ULA under that article.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #4 on: 12/23/2015 11:31 PM »
Could we please not head down the path of getting another RD-180 thread locked?


Staying on topic, where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

Offline sdsds

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #5 on: 12/24/2015 12:25 AM »
where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

That could depend on future legislation. ULA will likely face an uncertain regulatory environment, to say the least!
« Last Edit: 12/24/2015 12:25 AM by sdsds »
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Offline WindnWar

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #6 on: 12/24/2015 02:53 AM »
where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

That could depend on future legislation. ULA will likely face an uncertain regulatory environment, to say the least!

I wonder if they are all paid for or paid as delivered. That was the issue with the last batch, they required an exemption for the ones that had been ordered but not paid for. If these haven't been paid for, well its anyone's guess as to what congress may or may not do.

Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #7 on: 12/24/2015 06:22 AM »

Could we please not head down the path of getting another RD-180 thread locked?


Staying on topic, where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

And precisely what is on topic?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #8 on: 12/24/2015 12:19 PM »
I will take a shot in the dark. Only 20?

Considering all the worries about how long importing the RD-180 will stay "legal", does that mean they are taking a calculated risk of only needing 20 more engines before safely transitioning to the BE-4 and Vulcan?

If the plan was to back track on replacing Atlas with Vulcan, I would have expected a much larger order.

(Of course I am in the camp that ULA should be working hardest on ACES first, Vulcan second...)
« Last Edit: 12/24/2015 12:20 PM by kevin-rf »
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Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #9 on: 12/24/2015 12:51 PM »

Could we please not head down the path of getting another RD-180 thread locked?


Staying on topic, where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

And precisely what is on topic?

If I had to make a guess I'd say things that don't involve Senator Shelby, Senator McCain, any other political discussion or speculation, block buy, ELC or any other DoD policy criticism as this forum has a separate policy discussion area and when they're brought up in the ULA section it's usually not long until a moderator steps in and cleans up or locks the discussion.

Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #10 on: 12/24/2015 02:32 PM »


Could we please not head down the path of getting another RD-180 thread locked?


Staying on topic, where does another 20 engines roughly get ULA to? About 2021-2022?

And precisely what is on topic?

If I had to make a guess I'd say things that don't involve Senator Shelby, Senator McCain, any other political discussion or speculation, block buy, ELC or any other DoD policy criticism as this forum has a separate policy discussion area and when they're brought up in the ULA section it's usually not long until a moderator steps in and cleans up or locks the discussion.

Thanks for the clarification. Sorry if my posts above seemed off topic I'm just rather exasperated by this whole situation.

Offline JamesG123

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #11 on: 12/25/2015 12:51 AM »
Because ULA and the RD-180s are inextricably intertwined with politics. You can't talk anything beyond basic technicals without bumping into it.  Sorry the truth hurts.

Offline McDew

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #12 on: 12/25/2015 01:26 AM »
Good timing for another RD-180 engine order.  The strong dollar ruble exchange rate should have allowed ULA to get a good price on these engines.   Helps explain why ULA wanted to get the older/more expensive engines used up as quickly as possible (FIFO) and use the cheaper engines to reach their price targets on future competitions.   Shows why having the restrictions tied to specific engines did not make sense.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #13 on: 12/25/2015 04:01 AM »
Seems like even given the political situation, absolute unconditional cold turkey was needlessly damaging. Transitioning to a competitive market has to be done carefully to ensure a healthy market afterwards, and I don't think we can make the case the previous restrictions would do that.

ULA should continue the transition away from RD-180 but they need to still exist to do so. The method sucks but I don't think it was a wise policy as implemented in the first place.

What remains to be seen is whether ULA continues the transition away from Russian engines or whether funding is halted now that the engine supply extends past the next few years.

Offline Dante80

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #14 on: 12/25/2015 10:45 AM »
The best way out of this situation would be - imo - to keep Atlas V running between 2018 and 2020 but place a firm mandate for the EELV program, stating that competition after 202X for DoD payloads would strictly be between certified vehicles/companies sporting only indigenous major components (like engines).

This does two things. Gives ULA the breathing room to work on Vulcan / transition to EELV phase 2 competition, and makes sure that a mandate is in place for LM/Boeing to adopt Vulcan fully.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2015 10:45 AM by Dante80 »

Offline baldusi

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #15 on: 12/25/2015 03:36 PM »
Yep. Banning the RD-180 outright is a very shortsighted measure. Just look at the GPS 3 situation. If ULA decides not to compete, let them do that. They have a very busy two or three years. But in 2016 they need to seriously get some business for 2019. If they decide to pass up the competitions, they will be in a very tight spot in three years.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #16 on: 12/25/2015 05:16 PM »
Contract awards in 2016 are for launches NET 2019. This order is to support those competitions and the ones occurring in the next few years (2017-2018) for launches in 2020-2021. At 7 launches per year this order covers only 3 years. 4-5 DOD and 2-3 civil or commercial (this includes probably 1 flight per year of CST-100 on an Atlas V). The 4-5 DOD represents about 40-50% of all DOD awards. ULA will probably loose out to SpaceX on the rest of the 11 possible GPS 3 launches through 2021 representing about 3 launches per year in the years 2019-2021. SpaceX only needs to win an additional 2-3 launches per year to become the primary launch provider of DOD. The split on who launches which sats will probably be the smaller cheaper sats would go to SpaceX with the larger more expensive going to ULA although some exceptions of the split-up may occur. Especially in competitions in 2018 when FH is full certified and has more than 3 launches for a history. The competition environment for these launches is going to be tough. But I think their analysis of needing 18 to get to 2020 with a few more to get into 2021 is probably correct. Some of this order supports some of the slipped out launches that would have been  NLT 2018 that have now slipped into 2019-2020. This melding of old contracted with competition contracted flights in 2019 and 2020 will make flights in those years to show a gradual decline in total launches/year until 2021 which would be almost all competition awards for flights.

Offline Andy USA

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #17 on: 12/25/2015 08:34 PM »
Stupid comments will be removed. Repeat offenders will be banned.

Thread trim.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2015 08:34 PM by Andy USA »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #18 on: 12/27/2015 02:58 AM »
I wish that ULA had not been given authority to nab these RD-180s.  I believe it would have been better for the company in the long run to have dealt with the lack of Energomash engines in some more clever way.  This result disappoints.

 - Ed Kyle 

Offline sdsds

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #19 on: 12/27/2015 04:52 AM »
I share some of Ed's feelings. My primary concern is that in this example, like in so many others, well-meaning legislative action has created circumstances which almost compel actions which aren't really in the best interests of either the United States or of the regulated industrial entities. It looks like Energomash will benefit, and thus perhaps some of "Putin's cronies," but a steadier hand at the Congressional helm would have allowed ULA to chart a better course for itself and for the country.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2015 04:52 AM by sdsds »
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Offline RocketGoBoom

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #20 on: 12/27/2015 04:53 AM »
Per CEO Tony Bruno, they are expecting in those future years that the number of annual DOD launches to decline from the current rate of 10-12 annually to closer to 5 launches per year.

(May 2015 quote)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lockheed-martin-boeing-ula-idUSKBN0O62M720150521

And they are expecting to only win 2 or 3 launches per year once there is competition for DOD launches.

Quote
Bruno said the number of U.S. military and intelligence satellite launches would likely drop in coming years to about five launches a year from 10 to 12, with the smaller number to be split among two or more rivals.

"We have to ... access commercial and civil opportunities. (We) cannot survive on two launches a year," Bruno told a lunch meeting hosted by the Washington Space Business Roundtable.

So ordering 20 additional RD-180's seems aggressive with the expected decline of the DOD market to only 5 per year. Or they have plans to be competitive elsewhere with the Atlas V prior to the Vulcan/BE-4 being available.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2015 04:56 AM by RocketGoBoom »

Offline skater

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #21 on: 12/27/2015 07:27 PM »
I wish that ULA had not been given authority to nab these RD-180s.  I believe it would have been better for the company in the long run to have dealt with the lack of Energomash engines in some more clever way.  This result disappoints.

While I respect your desire for some creative pressure, I suspect that Boeing's and Lockheed Martin's response would be to call AJR up and ask if their old offer is still on the table.  I don't see ULA's parents being willing to tolerate the kind of uncertainty that a loss of RD-180s would create, nor are they willing to spend the money to bid Delta 4 as a loss leader (which might be against government bidding rules, anyway).  Also, I don't see a "Manhattan Project" effort for the BE-4 or AR-1 as something they'd commit the money to do, and any other temporary solution puts their launch reliability at risk.

I'd love to see some sort of solution cut the Gordian knot without additional RD-180 purchases, but I'm not sure that there is one.  Is there a particular solution you have in mind?
« Last Edit: 12/27/2015 07:27 PM by skater »

Offline Dante80

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #22 on: 12/27/2015 09:16 PM »
There was only one possible solution to "cut the knot" for the "no more RD-180" scenario. Guarantee some LV contracts for the Delta IV until Vulcan is up (while providing a firm timeline to stop doing so to both promote Vulcan moving forward asap and SpaceX not getting too angry about it). Essentially, moving the phase 1b/2 part of the EELV competition process further down the line.

The best solution imo would be to do what I posted above. Keep Atlas V running between 2018 and 2020 but place a firm mandate for the EELV program, stating that competition after 202X for DoD payloads would strictly be between certified vehicles/companies sporting only indigenous major components (like engines).

« Last Edit: 12/27/2015 09:16 PM by Dante80 »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #23 on: 12/28/2015 05:02 AM »
The RD-180 is a political and logistical trap for ULA that it must escape to survive long term. Unfortunately its current success comes from a form of "discounted" production of it as well. Neither RD-180 nor RL-10 nor Atlas in general may be effective enough for ULA to compete mid to long term, even given its formidable skills/experience/legacy/influence.

Its hard to control such critical propulsion system components when they are not in house, which might be even more exacerbated by having a rival that has them (and more) in house, and even more so with leverage that makes this lack consequential.

This results in an enormous distraction which is rooted in complex history and made even more opaque with a running financial battle with members of Congress over a decade. It is the net cost of this distraction that puts ULA's future at risk, not necessarily the lack of certain components.

Because the distraction can rob one of having a future at all.

Oh wait, this is too complex, need KISS. Just me get RD-180, there, all good.

add:

Largely irrelevant to the matter is the quality/performance. Look, Russians are russians, and russian kerolox obsession on ORSC is what it is. The issue is of control and what that means. The same that is faced with Ariane and indigenous production of engines - nothing more.

The RD-180's have been since inception with Atlas a multi decade stop-gap.

Europe with Soyuz ST and America with RD-180 have had ups and downs when evading the indigenous source issue. To differing degrees.

Focus on the hard task of evolving to multiple, concurrent launch service providers in an increasingly commercial launch dominated industry, where you have to withdraw the government fiats uniformly so that they can stand on their own. At the same time, technology shifts force restructuring of the providers and application of propulsion components, where the economics might require annual adaption in place of quarter century phase-out.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2015 07:40 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline vapour_nudge

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #24 on: 12/28/2015 08:28 AM »
If only the RD-180 was - say, JD-180 (Japan) or maybe even AD-180 (Australia :) ) then would that change things? Fantastic engine, I wish the USA had the ability to build it.
Space Ghost, what's your opinion on the engine itself and a hypothetical world where it isn't Russian - if you can humour me for a few minutes?

Offline clongton

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #25 on: 12/28/2015 12:37 PM »
It takes several years at best to construct a satellite after the award has been made. As of mid-2015 DoD had not awarded contracts for any new satellites, although several RFQ's are in the pipeline. That translates into a reduced demand for launch services in the coming years and explains the fewer available DoD launches per year to bid on that Tony Bruno was referring to. 20 RD-180 engines may actually be a little more than needed for anticipated bid wins. IMO the extras are likely insurance against slipped dates for the Vulcan.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2015 12:42 PM by clongton »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #26 on: 12/28/2015 01:55 PM »
Commercial Crew launches will help ULA's manifest.  I'm sure the company would also love to keep launching those cargo missions.  I wonder what ULA would need to offer to Orbital ATK to convince it to make the partnership permanent?

 - Ed Kyle

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #27 on: 12/28/2015 02:20 PM »
Well, they already gave Orbital ATK the Vulcan solid business...
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Offline skater

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #28 on: 12/28/2015 02:30 PM »
Space Ghost, what's your opinion on the engine itself and a hypothetical world where it isn't Russian - if you can humour me for a few minutes?

I'm not SG, but I'll weigh in.  The RD-180 is regarded by most people as a fantastic engine.  Incredibly high ISP for an RP-1/LOX engine, sized in the sweet spot for a launcher first stage engine, and has been very reliable on the Atlas V.  If it can be procured in a price that would allow a ULA launcher to be cost-competitive with the Falcon 9, without the political problems, there would be no reason to switch.  Alas, that last sentence is the sticking point - my limited understanding is that, even at the prices that the Russians can produce it, it is a bit expensive to allow head-to-head price competition with SX, and it is produced in a country with international politics that are problematic to the country of its prime customer.  Moving it to USA or somewhere else will make it even less price-competitive (which is why production was never moved to the USA, even though there was a provision in the purchase agreement).
« Last Edit: 12/28/2015 03:28 PM by skater »

Offline Prober

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #29 on: 12/28/2015 03:25 PM »
I wish that ULA had not been given authority to nab these RD-180s.  I believe it would have been better for the company in the long run to have dealt with the lack of Energomash engines in some more clever way.  This result disappoints.

 - Ed Kyle

Transition; ULA just returned to operating state when the stockpile was signed off by all parties.  Remember contracts are a two way street.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #30 on: 12/28/2015 03:45 PM »
It's like getting Ferrari engines at Hyundai prices... What's no to like... ;D
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Offline sdsds

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #31 on: 12/28/2015 04:02 PM »
If only the RD-180 was - say, JD-180 (Japan) or maybe even AD-180 (Australia :) ) then would that change things? Fantastic engine, I wish the USA had the ability to build it.

It is extremely difficult to recreate in our minds today the thinking of the researchers and decision-makers of the early 1990s. In part that's because we've almost totally forgotten about some things that seemed so incredibly important back then.

I attach here a pdf of the slides used in a briefing to Congressional staffers in 1994. It describes what DoD called their "Space Launch Modernization Plan." Of particular interest is the section starting on page 40 describing "option 2", which was selected and became EELV. I draw particular attention though to a few earlier places where Russian engine technology is mentioned.
In the "Facts of Life" section, on p. 25:
Quote
Foreign policy situation has created exploitable opportunities for international (especially Russian) cooperation

In the "Options" section:
The "Space Launch Technology Revitalization" slide (p. 35)
The "DoD/NASA technology coordination" slide (p. 36)

It's difficult to understand these outside the context. Flipping through the entire stack of slides might be worthwhile....
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Offline Kansan52

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #32 on: 12/28/2015 04:33 PM »
Memory says the ban was only for DoD launches. So Commercial and Commercial crew are not affected by this change.

Still relying on memory, ULA has stated that the Atlas V launch costs are being reduce because of efficiency improvements. Still, even after those improvements, the ULA will need the Vulcan to compete in the marketplace.

So, from ULA's own statements, using the RD-180s are stop gap.

Offline Prober

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #33 on: 12/28/2015 04:47 PM »
If only the RD-180 was - say, JD-180 (Japan) or maybe even AD-180 (Australia :) ) then would that change things? Fantastic engine, I wish the USA had the ability to build it.

It is extremely difficult to recreate in our minds today the thinking of the researchers and decision-makers of the early 1990s. In part that's because we've almost totally forgotten about some things that seemed so incredibly important back then.

I attach here a pdf of the slides used in a briefing to Congressional staffers in 1994. It describes what DoD called their "Space Launch Modernization Plan." Of particular interest is the section starting on page 40 describing "option 2", which was selected and became EELV. I draw particular attention though to a few earlier places where Russian engine technology is mentioned.
In the "Facts of Life" section, on p. 25:
Quote
Foreign policy situation has created exploitable opportunities for international (especially Russian) cooperation

In the "Options" section:
The "Space Launch Technology Revitalization" slide (p. 35)
The "DoD/NASA technology coordination" slide (p. 36)

It's difficult to understand these outside the context. Flipping through the entire stack of slides might be worthwhile....

good find, enjoy these look backs.
Page 25 is very interesting, Looking forward (history repeats?)

Too many providers-too much production capacity
Traditional providers unlikely to fund major modernization  (can u say AJR?)

Government demand is dominant, but launch rate is dropping (early 2020's)

Look at the payback (ROI) Page 59 forward

Edit add payback
« Last Edit: 12/28/2015 04:57 PM by Prober »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #34 on: 04/05/2017 06:42 PM »
RD Amross "pretty confident" it will garner more RD-180 orders from ULA.

https://sputniknews.com/science/201704051052308344-rd180-russia-us/

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/05/2017 06:43 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #35 on: 04/05/2017 07:39 PM »
I don't see how they can keep getting the RD-180's in today's political climate.  Dem's hate the Russians, Some Rep's hate them also.  Shades of the old Cold War.  I still don't understand why thy don't replumb either Atlas or a 5m core with at least 5 H-1/RS-27's.  Yes, they are not as efficient, but they are American made.  Delta II used them for years.  Tooling was still available.  One reason the Merlin is so cheap, is that it is made with 3d printed parts.  Maybe Orbital should invest in some 3d printers to cut manufacturing costs. 

Offline edkyle99

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #36 on: 04/05/2017 08:07 PM »
  I still don't understand why thy don't replumb either Atlas or a 5m core with at least 5 H-1/RS-27's. 
RS-27A has been out of production for more than a decade now.  Its test stand is dismantled and the site sold off.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #37 on: 04/05/2017 08:18 PM »
RD Amross "pretty confident" it will garner more RD-180 orders from ULA.

https://sputniknews.com/science/201704051052308344-rd180-russia-us/

 - Ed Kyle

Are ULA determined to stock up ill will for themselves down the line from the politicians.

Offline baldusi

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #38 on: 04/05/2017 11:37 PM »
Well, at least for ISS, they are free to order as many as they wish. And both CST-100 and DreamChaser will use it. Also, I understand that NASA's payload and other commercial are free to use it. I'm pretty sure that those Category A payloads will fly Atlas V at least until 2025.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #39 on: 04/05/2017 11:42 PM »
"Hi; my name is ULA - thanks for having me here tonight to hear my story. The truth is; I'm an RD-180 addict..." :( ;)
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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #40 on: 04/06/2017 10:48 PM »
Quote
Baker: our last delivery of RD-180 engines to ULA is in 2019. We expect them to decide soon to purchase more, into 2020-21. #33SS

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/850098810533576704

Quote
Baker: additional engines would support Atlas 5 launches “well into 2024.” #33SS

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/850099178504155137

Offline AncientU

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #41 on: 04/06/2017 11:46 PM »
Every RD-180 represents two BE-4s not sold and one Vulcan not flown.

What manifest does this leave for Vulcan?
Not a single payload has been announced for that vehicle.
NG has six on the manifest yet it won't fly until a couple years after Vulcan.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 11:47 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #42 on: 04/07/2017 07:17 AM »
Every RD-180 represents two BE-4s not sold and one Vulcan not flown.

What manifest does this leave for Vulcan?
Not a single payload has been announced for that vehicle.
NG has six on the manifest yet it won't fly until a couple years after Vulcan.

ULA do sound like addicts who can't go cold turkey over the RD-180.

Offline Semmel

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #43 on: 04/07/2017 07:45 AM »
What a wasteful analogy that is. Avery company is an addict to the resources it needs to do business. More to the point, to assume that there is no delay in BE-4 production or Vulcan development is not very smart. ULA cant cut of its own legs while climbing to a new launch vehicle. Why would they? Its a business decision that makes sense for them.

Offline Star One

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #44 on: 04/07/2017 08:49 AM »
What a wasteful analogy that is. Avery company is an addict to the resources it needs to do business. More to the point, to assume that there is no delay in BE-4 production or Vulcan development is not very smart. ULA cant cut of its own legs while climbing to a new launch vehicle. Why would they? Its a business decision that makes sense for them.

That hopefully brings on suitable political disapproval.

Offline jded

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #45 on: 04/07/2017 09:02 AM »
What a wasteful analogy that is. Avery company is an addict to the resources it needs to do business.

Well, nobody calls breathing an addiction. But we call smoking one, because it is something that is not necessary from the POV of how the system in question (human body or a rocket company) works in principle, but only becomes necessary (and a long-term problem) because of a series of decisions that were rewarding on a shorter time scale.

For an analogy, it's not that bad.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #46 on: 04/07/2017 09:46 AM »
Isn't the interesting question: why do ULA think that they need more RD-180s?

Is it:

- A tacit admission that Vulcan won't be ready on the previously announced timescales?
- Customers not willing to buy Vulcan launches yet, so Atlas V launches stretching further into the future?
- Better than expected orders for Atlas V (commercial crew?) in the next few years before Vulcan?

Of course could well be a combination of the above.

Online pippin

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ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #47 on: 04/07/2017 12:11 PM »
Orr maybe they are afraid the political climate could deteriorate further to a paint where they would no longer be able to order more engines in case they need them?
Also, it's probably not like they can order them at one week's notice.

So better safe than sorry, neither BE-4 nor AR-1 has bee fired to date.
« Last Edit: 04/07/2017 12:12 PM by pippin »

Offline Chasm

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #48 on: 04/07/2017 03:05 PM »
What is the lead time again? 5 years?
Add some overlap and they basically have to order now.

ULA can use the RD-180 for any commercial launch they can sell. - Not that too many expect them to sell commercially.
If the political rules get restricted once more engines already in hand should be exempt. More reason to buy now.

Then there are production questions. Everyone likes to avoid long stoppages of the production pipeline. Much easier to plan for and live with a slow production run than to have long and uncertain pauses.
I guess that there are also some contractual issues. What changes if there are not any orders for x years? We don't know.

Offline jongoff

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #49 on: 04/07/2017 03:24 PM »
I may have missed this, but is there any actual confirmation from ULA that they are actually planning to do this? Or are we all jumping to conclusions over forward-looking statements from an engine vendor?

~Jon

Offline AncientU

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #50 on: 04/07/2017 08:50 PM »
I may have missed this, but is there any actual confirmation from ULA that they are actually planning to do this? Or are we all jumping to conclusions over forward-looking statements from an engine vendor?

~Jon

There was a recent announcement that Atlas V would run concurrently with Vulcan for five years... brings us to mid-2020s.  This engine supply involves approximately the same time frame.  Not a direct statement from ULA that they are buying more RD-180s, but seems consistent with their plans for Atlas.
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Offline Brovane

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #51 on: 04/07/2017 09:22 PM »
I may have missed this, but is there any actual confirmation from ULA that they are actually planning to do this? Or are we all jumping to conclusions over forward-looking statements from an engine vendor?

~Jon

There was a recent announcement that Atlas V would run concurrently with Vulcan for five years... brings us to mid-2020s.  This engine supply involves approximately the same time frame.  Not a direct statement from ULA that they are buying more RD-180s, but seems consistent with their plans for Atlas.

I agree 100%

It makes sense to have a healthy buffer of the engine to cover any issues that might arise in the Vulcan development. 

For the first time, Amross is facing competition.  They know that at the right price point ULA will buy more RD-180 engines, but the price point has to be competitive.  If the price isn't low enough, ULA might decide it isn't worth is and just focus on the Vulcan and BE-4. 

Rapid Launch, a key selling point that ULA has been touting is the ability in months to go from procurement to launch, a process that normally takes years.  In order to do Rapid Launch, they need to have extra engines in storage. 

Future hedge against Geo-Political instability.  The more RD-180 engines ULA can procure and have on US soil, the bigger the buffer it has in-case that supply is cut-off suddenly. 

ULA has a lot of sunk costs into the Atlas-V and optimization.  You might as well get everything you can out of the old design while you bring the new one online and resolve any issues.   

Atlas-V has a 100% Mission success rate. 
"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

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #52 on: 04/08/2017 02:45 PM »
Here's Jeff Foust's write-up of the situation:

http://spacenews.com/rd-180-provider-seeks-additional-ula-engine-order/

It's clearly an expectation on RD Amross' part rather than anything ULA have announced or committed to.

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Re: ULA orders more RD-180's
« Reply #53 on: 04/10/2017 03:13 PM »
I may have missed this, but is there any actual confirmation from ULA that they are actually planning to do this? Or are we all jumping to conclusions over forward-looking statements from an engine vendor?

~Jon

There was a recent announcement that Atlas V would run concurrently with Vulcan for five years... brings us to mid-2020s.  This engine supply involves approximately the same time frame.  Not a direct statement from ULA that they are buying more RD-180s, but seems consistent with their plans for Atlas.

Note also that the statement about Atlas V flying that long was from Lockheed Martin, not from ULA... Once again, while it's totally possible that this RD-180 continuation could happen, it's also not the signed deal many on here are treating it like.

~Jon

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