Author Topic: Europa Clipper’s launch date dependent on SLS Mobile Launcher readiness  (Read 27368 times)

Offline zubenelgenubi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1719
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 442
  • Likes Given: 1347
Cassini flew on the first Titan IVB/Centaur in 1997.  (Some of the "1st flight" risk of Titan IVB, which derived from the new the new Hercules SMRU solid rocket boosters, apparently had been retired by its/their first flight earlier in 1997. Cassini was the second Titan IVB flight.)

I assume NASA, USAF, and the contractors had procedures and tests to draw down the risks of launching Cassini on a new launch vehicle model.  Is my assumption correct?
***

Another lecture on Europa and Europa Clipper by Dr. Robert Pappalardo, dating May 12, 2016, as part of that year's Exploring Space Lecture series, National Air and Space Museum.



***

Chris Gebhardt's article spurred a vigorous discussion at our Tuesday astronomy lunch today!
« Last Edit: 11/14/2017 08:25 PM by zubenelgenubi »
Support your local planetarium!

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5539
  • Liked: 1068
  • Likes Given: 669
The lecture is about Europa, with details about Clipper in the end. The most recent news I heard in there is that apparently during flyby Clipper will generate so much data the processing system will not be able to handle it so they will use a more primitive system instead. Alas, I would like that explained: will they record everything a then process it afterwards before transmitting it to Earth, or will they not record it when it goes above the system's capability.

The spacecraft, being in orbit around not Europa but Jupiter, will have brief close fly-bys every couple of weeks.  Lots of data will be recorded during each fly-by and then transmitted at a leisurely rate during the long lull before the next fly-by.

Offline deruch

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2305
  • California
  • Liked: 1840
  • Likes Given: 3993
I'm a critic of SLS, but I don't expect it or EUS to fail on first, but surely it's beyond dispute that launching the very expensive EC on SLS is much riskier than launching it on the very well proven Atlas V.

Were you this adamant that the billion dollar New Horizons probe not use the first Atlas 551(7th Atlas V overall) and instead use a smaller flight tested vehicle even if it took longer? And that was a nuclear payload.

By the time an Atlas V 551 launched New Horizions, the Atlas V core had already flown 6 times, as you point out, the SRBs had been flown 7 times, and the Centaur had flown many times.  Flying 5 with 5 SRBs when at most 3 had flown before was a risk factor, but a small one compared to flying on the second ever SLS and first ever EUS.

By the same logic, the RS-25 & solid boosters will have flown on 136 missions (135 STS, 1 SLS), and the core stage will have been flight proven one (1) SLS mission.  The RL-10 engines on the EUS have been flown since 1963.

NASA LSP's ELV Certification rules (LSP-PLN-324.01) lay out what constitutes a common vehicle configuration, what upgrades/modifications require delta-qualification, and what changes constitute a new vehicle configuration and therefore full recertification.  Addition/deletion of strap-on motors are explicitly listed as modification/upgrade and wouldn't require treating the first Atlas V 551 as a new configuration.  The requirements are: "For upgraded or modified vehicle configurations, NASA requires technical insight into the design, manufacturing, testing, integration, and launch of the affected systems and launch vehicle."

Conversely with SLS, switching to the EUS would very definitely be considered a major change and therefore require new certification:  "Examples of vehicle configuration changes include the replacement of engine types, core propulsive stages, and/or major airframe structures."

Treating them differently is not only totally reasonable but is also fully consonant with the official policy and directives of NASA (at least in the hypothetical that SLS was offered by an external provider; in reality, SLS is explicitly exempted from having to comply with the above).
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32425
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11164
  • Likes Given: 331
Since I am more familiar with the Science part of NASA (though still a learned amateur) than the launcher part here are a few answers about the payloads:

1. If you see the various presentations that Papalardo has done on Europa Clipper, Atlas V is both weight and volume limited. It is not just that it will take a series of flybys to get to Jupiter and Europa, Clipper is running into the maximum weight limit of Atlas V and into the volume limit of its shroud. Now the other lesser alternatives beyond Atlas V are Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy. Delta IV Heavy also has a shroud volume issue, though not the weight issue. It does not really get mentioned that much in the presentations, most likely if like with the Parker Solar Probe they run into a weight problem while designing for Atlas V they can switch, and become the third NASA mission on Delta IV Heavy after EFT-1 and Parker Solar Probe. They have asked SpaceX what is the payload shroud and lifting power limits for Falcon Heavy. As per the most recent presentation I saw in the summer (I have not seen yet the November 2nd presentation on LPI) SpaceX had not given a formal answer to the Europa Clipper team.


There are no volume issues with existing fairings.  EC is designed to fly in them.  Even if EC flies on SLS, it still could be in a 5m fairing

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3479
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1887
  • Likes Given: 223
Since I am more familiar with the Science part of NASA (though still a learned amateur) than the launcher part here are a few answers about the payloads:

1. If you see the various presentations that Papalardo has done on Europa Clipper, Atlas V is both weight and volume limited. It is not just that it will take a series of flybys to get to Jupiter and Europa, Clipper is running into the maximum weight limit of Atlas V and into the volume limit of its shroud. Now the other lesser alternatives beyond Atlas V are Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy. Delta IV Heavy also has a shroud volume issue, though not the weight issue. It does not really get mentioned that much in the presentations, most likely if like with the Parker Solar Probe they run into a weight problem while designing for Atlas V they can switch, and become the third NASA mission on Delta IV Heavy after EFT-1 and Parker Solar Probe. They have asked SpaceX what is the payload shroud and lifting power limits for Falcon Heavy. As per the most recent presentation I saw in the summer (I have not seen yet the November 2nd presentation on LPI) SpaceX had not given a formal answer to the Europa Clipper team.


There are no volume issues with existing fairings.  EC is designed to fly in them.  Even if EC flies on SLS, it still could be in a 5m fairing
Yes. This is entirely due to that SLS is not an assured available launcher since it has yet to fly, even deliver complete stages for testing except the SRBs. So it must still fit in a faring on an alternate LV.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5539
  • Liked: 1068
  • Likes Given: 669
Check out the link below.  I don't know if all the trajectory options are still valid with the current mass

https://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/ssbsite/documents/webpage/ssb_172023.pdf

Very interesting --I had not known about the possibility of trajectory with a major post-departure delta-V.  I wonder if any particularly stage is in mind for that.

Offline ugordan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7532
    • My mainly Cassini image gallery
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 386
Very interesting --I had not known about the possibility of trajectory with a major post-departure delta-V.  I wonder if any particularly stage is in mind for that.

These would be done with onboard storable propulsion, i.e. the spacecraft's main propulsion system. Cassini for example did a 450 m/s "deep space maneuver" (compare to 626 m/s of Saturn orbit insertion).

Juno also performed two large DSMs, in the 400 m/s range each.
« Last Edit: 11/16/2017 06:29 PM by ugordan »

Offline ncb1397

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1080
  • Liked: 433
  • Likes Given: 3
Quote
However… this is the desired plan with no money – at present – to execute as Congress must approve the additional funds needed to build a brand new ML, and with such funds becoming available before the start of FY 2019 on 1 October 2018 an extremely unlikely possibility, the ML-2 desire is – at present – just that.  A desire.

Actually, If you look at the House and Senate FY2018 funding amounts, you get the following:

Ground Systems
Request: $460.4
Senate: $600.0 ($139.6 million above request)
House: $545.0  ($84.6 million above request)
http://spacenews.com/senate-restores-funding-for-nasa-earth-science-and-satellite-servicing-programs/

Presumably. any additional funds above the request is not accounted as being spoken for in the plan of record with no new ML.

Bill Hill put another mobile launcher at a cost of $350-$500 million range depending on what exactly the makeup of the ML was. The additional funds for FY2018 represent between 17%(House) and 27%(Senate) of the highest estimated cost for the 2nd ML.
« Last Edit: 11/25/2017 06:25 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3479
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1887
  • Likes Given: 223
The article
http://spacenews.com/nasa-weighs-new-mobile-launcher-for-sls/
puts the cost of a new ML at $300M + the cost of what it takes to modify the ML-1 in which a new ML-2 that supports SLS 1B but the ML-1 would only support SLS 1A since it would no longer be modified due to lack of funds.

The start date would be if it is requested in the next budget FY2019 of 1 Oct 2018 at earliest. It is always possible for if there is some funds to start it earlier but you still need Congressional authority to obligate the government to any across FY projects. At the current rate of legislation that authority may be sometime in Jan 2019.

But there is one question that was not answered in the article and that was how long would it take to build a new ML once the work started? How long has it taken/will take for the first ML to be built?

That value could be used as a way to evaluate whether a new ML can meet the schedules needed (available earlier than a ML-1 reworked and a delayed to June 2020 EM-1 launch date. That would be a time to build of < 53 months. Any longer and a new ML does not solve schedule problems but causes more schedule problems.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3479
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1887
  • Likes Given: 223

But there is one question that was not answered in the article and that was how long would it take to build a new ML once the work started? How long has it taken/will take for the first ML to be built?


The Mobile Launcher contract was awarded to Hensel Phelps in May 2008.
source: https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/may/HQ_C08025_Ares_MLP_contract.html

Ares 1X launched from it in October of 2009. The Ares 1 mobile launcher is simpler than the SLS mobile launcher though.
The basic item was when was the work started to modify the ML for SLS-1A (EM-1). I do know the ML is still under construction (modification). With a target completion date of June 2018. What I do not know is when its actual work started.

Offline ncb1397

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1080
  • Liked: 433
  • Likes Given: 3

But there is one question that was not answered in the article and that was how long would it take to build a new ML once the work started? How long has it taken/will take for the first ML to be built?


The Mobile Launcher contract was awarded to Hensel Phelps in May 2008.
source: https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/may/HQ_C08025_Ares_MLP_contract.html

Ares 1X launched from it in October of 2009. The Ares 1 mobile launcher is simpler than the SLS mobile launcher though.
The basic item was when was the work started to modify the ML for SLS-1A (EM-1). I do know the ML is still under construction (modification). With a target completion date of June 2018. What I do not know is when its actual work started.

What would that tell you? A new build isn't using that layout. It isn't going to be an Ares 1 platform modified for SLS. I believe that the Ares 1-X used a different launch platform than the one that was contracted in 2008. It was a shuttle platform so what I said before wasn't correct.

Quote
The Mobile Launcher, completed in August 2010 at a cost of
$234 million, consists of a two-story base, a 355-foot-tall launch umbilical tower, and
facility ground support systems that include power, communications, and water.
https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY12/IG-12-022.pdf

The original ML configuration for Ares 1 therefore took 2 years and 3 months from contracting to delivery. An SLS platform would be more complex likely putting the build length at 3+ years.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2017 10:44 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3479
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1887
  • Likes Given: 223
If it takes more than 3 years to build it would not support the EC launch date window of June 2022. Because a 3 year build time with completion of ML occurring soon enough for the EC SLS stacking to start in Jan 2022 the build has to start on or prior to Dec 2018. Meaning it will either take 3 years or it might as well take 4 years. Since the next window is July 2023. A larger cost ($300M more) than that for the modification 33 month effort usually means a longer time frame as well.

All of the time frames all point to the same goal post of support for an EC launch July 2023. And unlikely will support a EC launch date with the modified or a new ML of June 2022.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6234
  • Liked: 4057
  • Likes Given: 5570
If it takes more than 3 years to build it would not support the EC launch date window of June 2022. Because a 3 year build time with completion of ML occurring soon enough for the EC SLS stacking to start in Jan 2022 the build has to start on or prior to Dec 2018. Meaning it will either take 3 years or it might as well take 4 years. Since the next window is July 2023. A larger cost ($300M more) than that for the modification 33 month effort usually means a longer time frame as well.

All of the time frames all point to the same goal post of support for an EC launch July 2023. And unlikely will support a EC launch date with the modified or a new ML of June 2022.

One consideration is that both the ML-1 modifications and new ML-2 will need to be built in parallel.  What impact this will have on extending the model schedules (which were each single track builds) that you used is difficult to predict -- but it won't shorten them for sure.

I've managed a dual build schedule, where the team was matrixed between the projects.  Many unforeseen delays occur due to critical resource constraints.  A guaranteed delay occurs when the final push is on for whichever project finishes first -- the second place project languishes for the duration of that final push.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2017 11:22 AM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Darkseraph

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
  • Liked: 281
  • Likes Given: 121
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2017/20171128-clipper-slipper.html

Interesting article about this problem, with a few good images of the changes required to the Mobile Launcher to support Europa Clipper/EM-2.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6234
  • Liked: 4057
  • Likes Given: 5570
Here's a new article which sounds like they are considering not modifying ML-1, just building ML-2.
Quote
NASA weighs new mobile launcher for SLS
Quote
Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, also supports building a new mobile launcher rather than modifying the existing one. He said earlier at the NASA Advisory Council committee meeting that he took Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, on a tour of the current launcher “so he could appreciate the complexity of this thing and why I believe we need a second mobile launcher rather than modifying this one.”

Cabana offered an analogy for the work needed to modify the mobile launcher for the SLS Block 1B. “I’m going to cut off my head and add six inches to my body,” he said. “That’s essentially what you’re doing. You’re taking a very complex system — all the wire systems and everything else that is on that thing — and raising it up to extend it for the larger vehicle.”
Quote
Hill said a more detailed discussion about the tradeoffs of modifying the existing launcher versus building a new one could take place at the committee’s next meeting, which would be around March 2018 based on the schedules of previous meetings. “By then,” he said, “we should know whether we’re going with modifying this mobile launcher or having the authority to go get a new one.”
So, built a mobile launcher for Ares X-1, built a mobile launcher for EM-1, and now going to build another for EM-2. 
Even the mobile launchers are expendable.
« Last Edit: 12/05/2017 09:28 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline rcoppola

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2016
  • USA
  • Liked: 1294
  • Likes Given: 567
Love this quote from Gen. Hyten, “I’m worried about the future. Somehow this country lost the ability to go fast. I don’t know how that happened,” he said. “We take four years to study a problem before we do anything. We do four years of risk reduction on technologies we built 50 years ago.”

http://spacenews.com/battle-brewing-in-the-pentagon-over-military-space-investments/

Pretty much sums up the entirety of the SLS program. I'd de-manifest EC from SLS at this point. NG, Vulcan, Block5 based FH, BFR(?)....
« Last Edit: 12/05/2017 10:07 PM by rcoppola »
Sail the oceans of space and set foot upon new lands!
http://www.stormsurgemedia.com

Online A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8479
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 349
  • Likes Given: 147
Love this quote from Gen. Hyten, “I’m worried about the future. Somehow this country lost the ability to go fast. I don’t know how that happened,” he said. “We take four years to study a problem before we do anything. We do four years of risk reduction on technologies we built 50 years ago.”

http://spacenews.com/battle-brewing-in-the-pentagon-over-military-space-investments/

Pretty much sums up the entirety of the SLS program. I'd de-manifest EC from SLS at this point. NG, Vulcan, Block5 based FH, BFR(?)....

Tell him to read "Up the Organisation" by Robert C. Townsend.

Hold standing meetings standing up. It keeps them short, to the point and on important subjects.

Offline mike robel

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2173
  • Merritt Island, FL
  • Liked: 229
  • Likes Given: 42
Love this quote from Gen. Hyten, “I’m worried about the future. Somehow this country lost the ability to go fast. I don’t know how that happened,” he said. “We take four years to study a problem before we do anything. We do four years of risk reduction on technologies we built 50 years ago.”

http://spacenews.com/battle-brewing-in-the-pentagon-over-military-space-investments/

Pretty much sums up the entirety of the SLS program. I'd de-manifest EC from SLS at this point. NG, Vulcan, Block5 based FH, BFR(?)....

Well, I think he's right.  That's one reason why things like the C-130, CH-47, B-52, RD-107/Soyuz, and (almost) the Delta II are still flying today.  Yeah, they've been refurbished and modified, but the basic design is so good that it can't really be replaced.

All this new-fangled engineering we do now is not any faster or better than what we did in the 40's, 50's, and 60's.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 16681
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 5434
  • Likes Given: 680
So, built a mobile launcher for Ares X-1, built a mobile launcher for EM-1, and now going to build another for EM-2. 
Even the mobile launchers are expendable.

Ares I-X used the Space Shuttle MLP-1. youtube.com/watch?v=1Gcn-5nZKwk

EM-1 is using the MLP originally designed for Ares I, but heavily modified for SLS Block I.

Its not yet decided if EM-2 will use a new MLP.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Online Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2485
  • Canada
  • Liked: 372
  • Likes Given: 581
Love this quote from Gen. Hyten, “I’m worried about the future. Somehow this country lost the ability to go fast. I don’t know how that happened,” he said. “We take four years to study a problem before we do anything. We do four years of risk reduction on technologies we built 50 years ago.”

http://spacenews.com/battle-brewing-in-the-pentagon-over-military-space-investments/

Pretty much sums up the entirety of the SLS program. I'd de-manifest EC from SLS at this point. NG, Vulcan, Block5 based FH, BFR(?)....
So, built a mobile launcher for Ares X-1, built a mobile launcher for EM-1, and now going to build another for EM-2. 
Even the mobile launchers are expendable.

Ares I-X used the Space Shuttle MLP-1. youtube.com/watch?v=1Gcn-5nZKwk

EM-1 is using the MLP originally designed for Ares I, but heavily modified for SLS Block I.

Its not yet decided if EM-2 will use a new MLP.

IMO building a new Block 1B MLP will not be a lot more expensive than refitting the Block 1 MLP. Both options will be over $100M in my estimation.

Total launch cost with moving the EC to another LV will be roughly the same cost as modifying the current MLP or building a new MLP. To say nothing about $1B+ price tag of the SLS Block 1B in it's inaugural flight.

edit - typo
 


« Last Edit: 12/06/2017 04:54 PM by Zed_Noir »