Author Topic: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program  (Read 12420 times)

Online RotoSequence

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #20 on: 03/11/2017 05:35 PM »
This thread seems like it's trying to make this story more interesting than it is. All I can see is a launch vehicle that was cancelled because of market forces.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #21 on: 03/11/2017 09:41 PM »
This thread seems like it's trying to make this story more interesting than it is. All I can see is a launch vehicle that was cancelled because of market forces.
I find it very interesting.  This is Lockheed Martin - the corporate descendant of Convair (Atlas and Centaur), Martin Co. (Titan), and Lockheed (LLV), pulling out of orbital launch, apparently for good.  That's legitimate news.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 03/12/2017 03:09 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #22 on: 03/11/2017 09:48 PM »
It appears that they misread the market for small launchers, since the demand is for really small payloads, not the 1000+ kg the Athena was designed for.

I suspect that a mini-Athena may have had more success, something like a single Castor 4A class booster with a tiny upper stage.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #23 on: 03/11/2017 11:00 PM »
Multiple issues here. LM like Boeing had other ambitions besides ULA. Market economics for "small" sat launch might also depend on stage reuse (2-3 possible vendors). Unpredictable.

What ULA is finding at the moment is you have to fit yourself into a tight organization, executing narrowly, with carefully chosen investment, shaving risk where you can. Neither LM or Boeing would find this easy to accomplish.

There are too many providers, too few payloads,  in this game ... something will have to give.

And if it really matters later, perhaps many opportunities to acquire providers after partnering with some.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #24 on: 03/11/2017 11:51 PM »
If you check http://www.b14643.de/Spacerockets_2/United_States_2/Taurus/Description/Frame.htm, the depiction of Minotaur-C on the right shows a Castor 120XL first stage.

This also goes for http://www.b14643.de/Spacerockets_2/United_States_2/PK-Minotaur/Description/Frame.htm, in which the Minotaur Vc also uses the Castor 120XL first stage.

Click the "Versions" tab to view the launch vehicle depictions.
Mr. Brügge is prone to putting in his site his own inferences without differentiating it from hard data. I use his site a lot, though.

Offline smfarmer11

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #25 on: 03/17/2017 06:42 PM »
Hasn't Lockheed Martin put in a relatively significant investment into RocketLab? Which could mean they will let somebody else cater to the smallsat market while just sharing in the profits.

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #26 on: 03/18/2017 02:59 AM »
If you check http://www.b14643.de/Spacerockets_2/United_States_2/Taurus/Description/Frame.htm, the depiction of Minotaur-C on the right shows a Castor 120XL first stage.

This also goes for http://www.b14643.de/Spacerockets_2/United_States_2/PK-Minotaur/Description/Frame.htm, in which the Minotaur Vc also uses the Castor 120XL first stage.

Click the "Versions" tab to view the launch vehicle depictions.
Mr. Brügge is prone to putting in his site his own inferences without differentiating it from hard data. I use his site a lot, though.
All OA Motors and vehicle configurations listed are valid per the 2016 OA Moto Catalog.
Castor-120XL data is here: https://www.orbitalatk.com/flight-systems/propulsion-systems/docs/2016%20OA%20Motor%20Catalog.pdf
« Last Edit: 03/18/2017 03:11 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #27 on: 03/18/2017 06:03 PM »
Hasn't Lockheed Martin put in a relatively significant investment into RocketLab? Which could mean they will let somebody else cater to the smallsat market while just sharing in the profits.
I see them as two different payload classes.  Electron is projected to lift no more than 150 kg to a 700 km sun synchronous orbit.  Even the smallest Athena 1c would have been able to boost 470 kg to that orbit.  Athena 2c would have lifted 1,295 kg. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #28 on: 03/18/2017 08:49 PM »
All OA Motors and vehicle configurations listed are valid per the 2016 OA Moto Catalog.
Castor-120XL data is here: https://www.orbitalatk.com/flight-systems/propulsion-systems/docs/2016%20OA%20Motor%20Catalog.pdf
It will be interesting to see if Castor 120XL ever sees a launch pad.  My guess is that there is an inventory of Castor 120 motors that has to be used up first.  At one launch every 2.5 years, it is going to be awhile.

Note that there is little difference between the two.  120XL produces a bit more thrust than 120 and burns a bit longer, but at lower ISP and at very similar PMF.  120XL is advertised as "low cost", unlike 120.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2017 08:51 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #29 on: 03/19/2017 12:45 AM »
All OA Motors and vehicle configurations listed are valid per the 2016 OA Moto Catalog.
Castor-120XL data is here: https://www.orbitalatk.com/flight-systems/propulsion-systems/docs/2016%20OA%20Motor%20Catalog.pdf
It will be interesting to see if Castor 120XL ever sees a launch pad.  My guess is that there is an inventory of Castor 120 motors that has to be used up first.  At one launch every 2.5 years, it is going to be awhile.

Note that there is little difference between the two.  120XL produces a bit more thrust than 120 and burns a bit longer, but at lower ISP and at very similar PMF.  120XL is advertised as "low cost", unlike 120.

Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #30 on: 03/19/2017 02:17 AM »
Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.
The likes of Electron and LauncherOne only lift 200 kg or less to sun synchronous orbit.  Minotaur-C can lift about a tonne. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #31 on: 03/19/2017 02:10 PM »
Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.
The likes of Electron and LauncherOne only lift 200 kg or less to sun synchronous orbit.  Minotaur-C can lift about a tonne. 

 - Ed Kyle

Maybe someone might strapped 3 Castor 120 together as an unitary first stage with a Castor 30XL second stage and a hypergolic upper stage/post boost bus for a launch vehicle. Wonder what performance you can get from this stack configuration?



Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #32 on: 03/19/2017 03:50 PM »
Maybe someone might strapped 3 Castor 120 together as an unitary first stage with a Castor 30XL second stage and a hypergolic upper stage/post boost bus for a launch vehicle. Wonder what performance you can get from this stack configuration?
Castor 120 wasn't designed to serve as a strap on booster.  The plan, and a better one, was to use Orion 50XLG strap on motors, which would together have provided about the same thrust and impulse.  The plan was also to add the strap-on motors to two Castor 120 motors stacked serially.  That would keep the g and Max-Q -forces in check.

 - Ed Kyle


Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #33 on: 03/19/2017 05:48 PM »
Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.
The likes of Electron and LauncherOne only lift 200 kg or less to sun synchronous orbit.  Minotaur-C can lift about a tonne.
Not germane.

They shift usage as a development platform to more frequent launches of less complex, fewer shared systems sats.

Note Musk's comment about 300-400kg becoming optimal. Likely Electron scales to this.

At the same time, the price in the payload curve around 3-4,000 kg drops.

So by the same reasoning used to discontinue F1e, the economics doesn't support the 1-2,000 kg portion. Except SSO, and we also have a few new players there too.

Athena was a "backup plan" for LM to get back into medium launch. The market changed and the vehicle doesn't fit.

Smaller is being done for different reasons than before.

Online brickmack

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #34 on: 03/19/2017 06:38 PM »
Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.

What about the cost of not flying them? Storing these things probably isn't cheap, and destroying them definitely wouldn't be. Not like liquid rockets that you can just send to the scrapyard and be done with it. I could imagine them dropping the price much lower, maybe even to the point of taking a loss on the launch if that loss is less than the disposal cost, just to quickly get rid of the things if it becomes clear they can't be profitably competitive. Surely the cost just of bolting together a couple SRMs that are already built can't be that high, right? And most of their newspace competitors aren't going for complex payload integration stuff that normally costs many millions, just the bare minimum to get the thing in orbit, so they can drop that price too.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #35 on: 03/19/2017 07:38 PM »
Highly unlikely. If any of the new launcher "little guys" make it to market, even the integration costs of the remaining 120's might be too high.
Storing these things probably isn't cheap, and destroying them definitely wouldn't be.
Completely wrong.

First, they are "storable" - that's why they are used, desired for delivering munitions.

Second, they last many decades (solid rocket aging - take your pick)

Third, to destroy them you burn them. Carefully. Does not cost much.

Find an acceptable quarry, remove nozzle / vents / ports, attach multiple redundant igniters, ignite from outside quarry, passivate motor remnants afterwards, and recycle / dispose of  casing.

add:

Or, given the current administration's interest in massive buildup of military force, concoct a reason to build up munitions that use them. Economically you could convert them to what they came from effectively, which is really what they were designed for and function best with.

There - you don't have to spend so much, and now you can get ahead on to intimidating the world on record time with little budget, using little hands and you don't even have to build a wall! Deal!
« Last Edit: 03/19/2017 07:46 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #36 on: 03/20/2017 01:22 AM »
Note Musk's comment about 300-400kg becoming optimal. Likely Electron scales to this.
That's a more than doubling of current Electron capability.  A big jump.

I don't get the small launcher idea.  If satellites are so small and numerous, shouldn't it be cheaper to launch a bunch together atop one rocket?  One Falcon 9 could lift more than 60 Electrons, for example, while still recovering its first stage.  An Athena 2c with boosters could have lifted as much as 20 Electrons.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 03/20/2017 01:23 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #37 on: 03/20/2017 04:24 AM »
Note Musk's comment about 300-400kg becoming optimal. Likely Electron scales to this.
That's a more than doubling of current Electron capability.  A big jump.

They're hinting at higher.

Quote
I don't get the small launcher idea.  If satellites are so small and numerous, shouldn't it be cheaper to launch a bunch together atop one rocket?

Doesn't work that way. It's about commissioning a mission and advancing it to launch in a fraction of the time larger missions took. You can control all aspects, you're the mission lead/primary payload, and you can decide everything. Many of these will be SSO/polar.

Some are about experiments that setup right before launch in a very narrow window. Can't do that as a secondary payload.

There will always be secondaries. And "bulk rate". The average survival of cubesats is around 20 hours. Those kinds of payloads can even be destroyed on launch, because likely they'll be built yet again, and eventually you'll prove them.

Online ChrisWilson68

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #38 on: 03/20/2017 06:31 AM »
Note Musk's comment about 300-400kg becoming optimal. Likely Electron scales to this.
That's a more than doubling of current Electron capability.  A big jump.

They're hinting at higher.

Quote
I don't get the small launcher idea.  If satellites are so small and numerous, shouldn't it be cheaper to launch a bunch together atop one rocket?

Doesn't work that way. It's about commissioning a mission and advancing it to launch in a fraction of the time larger missions took. You can control all aspects, you're the mission lead/primary payload, and you can decide everything. Many of these will be SSO/polar.

Some are about experiments that setup right before launch in a very narrow window. Can't do that as a secondary payload.

There will always be secondaries. And "bulk rate". The average survival of cubesats is around 20 hours. Those kinds of payloads can even be destroyed on launch, because likely they'll be built yet again, and eventually you'll prove them.

If there's a large market for small satellite launch, there will be frequent launches on a regular schedule.  Not all the slots will sell out every time, just like not all seats on airliners sell out every time.  If there's a weekly bus to SSO, for example, you are likely to be able to get a slot with a week's notice -- even less notice than if you bought a dedicated launch.

There might be some advantages to dedicates launch, but for the vast majority of the market, it won't be worth the vastly higher prices that a dedicated launch would cost.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin halts Athena rocket program
« Reply #39 on: 03/20/2017 03:53 PM »
All three of us are taking this thread off topic.

On topic - the reason for Athena going away is that the vehicle is too costly, for a too crowded market, for the purpose of LM being able to unilaterally reenter the launch market.

The means for LM to reenter the launch market will not be fielding a solid LV to occasionally build up a capability into a routine activity, nor to have a fall-back if ULA trips over its shoelaces. We're past all that.

As to small launcher concept, please take it to a thread of its own. Smallsats/etc have already built up enough volume/diversity of flight history hardware that you can do a lot. The cost reduction of launch is due to having little/no perpetual cost wedge at launch sites, you roll up, set up, launch, and roll away. Lets say you have a certain orbit/event/ground prep - you build the launch up around the window, launch, and vanish. For sensors/science/observation, this works really well. No, it will never compete with other launch services, it's a niche, but like with payload integration services, a valuable one.

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