Author Topic: ULA orders more RD-180's  (Read 15319 times)

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.

Online 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.

Offline 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.

Offline jongoff

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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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