Author Topic: Launcher Space: General Company and Development Updates and Discussions  (Read 55323 times)

Offline trimeta

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https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/11/meet-launcher-a-company-building-a-rocket-engine-with-eight-employees/

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Meet Launcher, the rocket engine builder with just eight employees
The company is making progress, completing a series of component tests in October.

by Eric Berger - Nov 9, 2020 2:40pm GMT

Max Haot is not your typical rocket scientist, and Launcher is not your typical rocket company.
That article has some new details about the outcome of their recent tests, which I haven't seen reported elsewhere:
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In 2019, the company built and tested a small prototype engine, "E-1." This was largely successful, so last month, the company took the first components of its E-2 engine to a test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. During the first two series of tests, Launcher proved that the test stand and its fuel injector, which mixes liquid oxygen and kerosene, performed well. The third test was to assess performance of the engine's 3D printed combustion chamber, where the fuels burn. This test did not go as well because three of the regenerative cooling channels were clogged and the chamber overheated.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Start of twitter thread on recent testing

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1326543821916680202

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Launcher E-2 test fire #3 on Oct. 23, 2020 at @NASAStennis (3D printed in Copper alloy, 22k-lbf thrust LOX/RP1 liquid 🚀 engine). Featuring a full scale engine nozzle for flight (First stage). Made possible with support from @DoDSpaceForce @AF_SBIR_STTR @AFWERX SBIR award.

End of thread:

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1326543876916588545

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Up next at Launcher: E-2 LOX pump and turbine unit test (being developed in parallel).

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1338848496930189314

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Our new Launcher E-2 liquid 🚀 engine test stand at @NASAStennis. A key facility and milestone for Launcher in 2020. We can’t wait to resume testing in early 2021 with E-2 combustion chamber SN2 and SN3 on hand.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/11/meet-launcher-a-company-building-a-rocket-engine-with-eight-employees/

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Meet Launcher, the rocket engine builder with just eight employees
The company is making progress, completing a series of component tests in October.

by Eric Berger - Nov 9, 2020 2:40pm GMT

Max Haot is not your typical rocket scientist, and Launcher is not your typical rocket company.

Something I didn't realize from that article back in November, and that I don't see acknowledged here, is that at the end Eric seems to say that Launcher Light will be their first rocket, not Rocket-1. There's even a render.



Launcher Light is a concept we first saw on their LV calculator last summer. It uses 1x E-2 engine on the first stage instead of 4, for 149 kg to orbit.

Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline trimeta

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https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/11/meet-launcher-a-company-building-a-rocket-engine-with-eight-employees/

Quote
Meet Launcher, the rocket engine builder with just eight employees
The company is making progress, completing a series of component tests in October.

by Eric Berger - Nov 9, 2020 2:40pm GMT

Max Haot is not your typical rocket scientist, and Launcher is not your typical rocket company.

Something I didn't realize from that article back in November, and that I don't see acknowledged here, is that at the end Eric seems to say that Launcher Light will be their first rocket, not Rocket-1. There's even a render.

Launcher Light is a concept we first saw on their LV calculator last summer. It uses 1x E-2 engine on the first stage instead of 4, for 149 kg to orbit.

Interestingly, their calculator suggests that "Launcher Light" will have three stages, and use a pressure-fed kerolox engine on stage two (and a separate pressure-fed keroxide engine for the third stage). I assume that third-stage engine is something new, but is the second-stage engine also distinct (perhaps Engine-1?), or just Engine-2 without the staged combustion?

Also, they're really on top of that calculator project, they already have numbers for Rocket Lab's Neutron. I half-expect them to mock up numbers for Terran R at this rate.  :D

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1372618087036416002

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Our first vehicle tank aluminum panel. Launcher is an engine first company - however, now is the time to start in parallel our structures design and manufacturing process development. 🚀

Offline trimeta

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https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1372618087036416002

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Our first vehicle tank aluminum panel. Launcher is an engine first company - however, now is the time to start in parallel our structures design and manufacturing process development. 🚀

Orthogrid, rather than hoop-and-stringer? Bold move -- ULA is doing that on Vulcan because it's the absolute highest performance and lowest weight, but it's also quite expensive and hand-crafted: even if the structure itself is CNCed, apparently bending the pieces is a labor-intensive manual process. Doesn't seem like a great choice for a company that wants to reduce the cost of access to space, or which is using a high-performance staged combustion engine to maybe not require everything else be maximally optimized too.

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1372618087036416002

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Our first vehicle tank aluminum panel. Launcher is an engine first company - however, now is the time to start in parallel our structures design and manufacturing process development. 🚀

Orthogrid, rather than hoop-and-stringer? Bold move -- ULA is doing that on Vulcan because it's the absolute highest performance and lowest weight, but it's also quite expensive and hand-crafted: even if the structure itself is CNCed, apparently bending the pieces is a labor-intensive manual process. Doesn't seem like a great choice for a company that wants to reduce the cost of access to space, or which is using a high-performance staged combustion engine to maybe not require everything else be maximally optimized too.

But it's very much in line with the perhaps the core principle of their design philosophy which is, to quote the biggest text on screen when you first enter their site, "Performance will in the small rocket race". Their belief is that a well managed company operating the highest performance and most efficient rocket is going to beat out competitors. I don't know what brought them to that conclusion, but that's their whole thing.
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline trimeta

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But it's very much in line with the perhaps the core principle of their design philosophy which is, to quote the biggest text on screen when you first enter their site, "Performance will in the small rocket race". Their belief is that a well managed company operating the highest performance and most efficient rocket is going to beat out competitors. I don't know what brought them to that conclusion, but that's their whole thing.

It's funny actually, a common thought about "how should you compete against SpaceX?" is "forget short-term profitability, forget about matching where SpaceX is today, build a vehicle which can compete with what SpaceX will have in a decade, and hope that when they get there, you'll have leapfrogged them." In a sense, this is Launcher's philosophy: don't match what the market has now, arrange such that even with years of iterative improvement, your competitors will all be bogged down by their early design decisions that didn't have a proper upgrade path, while you designed for the best version from the get-go.

I'm somewhat skeptical that you can get to that ideal, optimal vehicle without years of flying a less-optimized version to truly understand what needs improvement, but it just might be crazy enough to work.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2021 11:16 pm by trimeta »

But it's very much in line with the perhaps the core principle of their design philosophy which is, to quote the biggest text on screen when you first enter their site, "Performance will in the small rocket race". Their belief is that a well managed company operating the highest performance and most efficient rocket is going to beat out competitors. I don't know what brought them to that conclusion, but that's their whole thing.

It's funny actually, a common thought about "how should you compete against SpaceX?" is "forget short-term profitability, forget about matching where SpaceX is today, build a vehicle which can compete with what SpaceX will have in a decade, and hope that when they get there, you'll have leapfrogged them." In a sense, this is Launcher's philosophy: don't match what the market has now, arrange such that even with years of iterative improvement, your competitors will all be bogged down by their early design decisions that didn't have a proper upgrade path, while you designed for the best version from the get-go.

I'm somewhat skeptical that you can get to that ideal, optimal vehicle without years of flying a less-optimized version to truly understand what needs improvement, but it just might be crazy enough to work.

I agree. Though, if Launcher is successful, the thing I'll point to isn't their design, but their small team size. Most of the developments cost of any launch vehicle of course goes to paying the engineers. Launcher managed to develop their engine with, I believe, 15 employees. I expect when all is said and done, Launcher will have developed the most efficient small-sat launcher in the world for less than anyone else.
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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twitter.com/launcher/status/1373011387937562625

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It spins! Launcher E-2 3D printed staged combustion LOX pump is fully assembled and ready to be mated to our turbine for testing at @nasastennis in April.

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1373011389845934081

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Specs: 25 kg/s driven by 1MW power, 275 Bar outlet pressure, 30,000 RPM. We have not yet seen anyone in the small launch community attempting a pump spec close to that.

twitter.com/lars_0/status/1373322538101530624

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Those fasteners look shiny enough to be 300 series stainless steel.

If they are the yield strength is only 30ksi

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1373713640973508610

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Not stainless steel - a high-strength alloy is required.

Offline trimeta

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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1375454244673753089

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BIG NEWS: We’ve moved to Los Angeles (Hawthorne) and are opening our HQ & Factory

https://spacenews.com/launcher-opens-california-facility-to-develop-small-launch-vehicle/

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Launcher opens California facility to develop small launch vehicle
by Jeff Foust — March 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle company Launcher has moved across the country to California as it takes its next steps in the development of its rocket.

Launcher, which had been based in New York City, is in the process of moving into a 24,000-square-foot building it is leasing in Hawthorne, California, a few blocks from the sprawling headquarters of SpaceX.

Offline Davidthefat

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https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1375454244673753089

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BIG NEWS: We’ve moved to Los Angeles (Hawthorne) and are opening our HQ & Factory

https://spacenews.com/launcher-opens-california-facility-to-develop-small-launch-vehicle/

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Launcher opens California facility to develop small launch vehicle
by Jeff Foust — March 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle company Launcher has moved across the country to California as it takes its next steps in the development of its rocket.

Launcher, which had been based in New York City, is in the process of moving into a 24,000-square-foot building it is leasing in Hawthorne, California, a few blocks from the sprawling headquarters of SpaceX.

Pretty exciting to see them move to their own space.

https://twitter.com/launcher/status/1375456710333067265?s=20

That tweet provides some good images, including renders of tanks. That top right image is especially good, because it provides a good render of the engine, and makes it look like we're talking about tanks sized for 1x E-2 engine, aka a "Launcher Light".
« Last Edit: 03/26/2021 04:06 pm by JEF_300 »
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Online TrevorMonty



https://spacenews.com/launcher-opens-california-facility-to-develop-small-launch-vehicle/

Quote from Spacenews article
"
Launcher, though, is sticking to a schedule that calls for beginning test launches in 2024 and moving into commercial service in 2026, several years after many of its competitors. Haot said he believe the market for small launch vehicles will remain strong for the foreseeable future, and that Launcher will be competitive based on the high efficiency of its E-2 engine.
"
I wish them good luck but think they have uphill battle. By time they enter market in mid 20s the competition will be well established and in lot cases flying RLVs.





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Offline trimeta

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https://spacenews.com/launcher-opens-california-facility-to-develop-small-launch-vehicle/

Quote from Spacenews article
"
Launcher, though, is sticking to a schedule that calls for beginning test launches in 2024 and moving into commercial service in 2026, several years after many of its competitors. Haot said he believe the market for small launch vehicles will remain strong for the foreseeable future, and that Launcher will be competitive based on the high efficiency of its E-2 engine.
"
I wish them good luck but think they have uphill battle. By time they enter market in mid 20s the competition will be well established and in lot cases flying RLVs.

Their one advantage is extremely low headcount -- at present, just 20 people, 10 of whom are in Ukraine. So maybe they can survive long enough to actually reach launch purely on the virtue of "not running out of money." Although, in this article their CEO described their recent Series A round as "not enough to get us to orbit," so not spending too much money will apparently need to be coupled with "bringing in more money." If there's a "winnowing" of the launch market between now and 2024, that might become increasingly difficult.

Side-note: is their "Launcher Light" vehicle going to have one E-2 engine on its first stage and also one E-2 engine on its second stage? That would be a very unusual architecture, to my knowledge; I thought having a second stage with 11% or less the thrust of the first stage was much more common.

Edit: Oh right, I think I asked this question before, and then noticed that on their own launch calculator, they seem to be showing Launcher Light as being a three-stage vehicle with a separate pressure-fed kerolox second stage and a pressure-fed keroxide third stage. We can probably assume that the third stage is a kick stage, and that both second and third stages are unique engines with minimal heritage between themselves or the E-2 engine.
« Last Edit: 03/26/2021 07:38 pm by trimeta »

https://spacenews.com/launcher-opens-california-facility-to-develop-small-launch-vehicle/

Quote from Spacenews article
"
Launcher, though, is sticking to a schedule that calls for beginning test launches in 2024 and moving into commercial service in 2026, several years after many of its competitors. Haot said he believe the market for small launch vehicles will remain strong for the foreseeable future, and that Launcher will be competitive based on the high efficiency of its E-2 engine.
"
I wish them good luck but think they have uphill battle. By time they enter market in mid 20s the competition will be well established and in lot cases flying RLVs.

Their one advantage is extremely low headcount -- at present, just 20 people, 10 of whom are in Ukraine. So maybe they can survive long enough to actually reach launch purely on the virtue of "not running out of money." Although, in this article their CEO described their recent Series A round as "not enough to get us to orbit," so not spending too much money will apparently need to be coupled with "bringing in more money." If there's a "winnowing" of the launch market between now and 2024, that might become increasingly difficult.

Side-note: is their "Launcher Light" vehicle going to have one E-2 engine on its first stage and also one E-2 engine on its second stage? That would be a very unusual architecture, to my knowledge; I thought having a second stage with 11% or less the thrust of the first stage was much more common.

One E-2 on the first stage, and pressure fed engines on the upper stages. Apparently, it will be a 3 stage rocket, which I suppose could make sense if you're going super tiny and expendable.
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline trimeta

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One E-2 on the first stage, and pressure fed engines on the upper stages. Apparently, it will be a 3 stage rocket, which I suppose could make sense if you're going super tiny and expendable.

Sorry, I should have checked their own sources properly before asking the question.

Offline ParabolicSnark

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The facility renders look great, but that location is too small for them to get them to orbit. It looks like it has plenty of space, but it doesn't include any inventory systems, inspection areas, test areas, and is very light on integration tooling. That said, it will certainty get them much needed space and give them room for growth in the coming years. I'm sure there are more buildings in the area they can expand to when they need the additional floor space.

Are they still going to be testing at Stennis? That's a long haul but I guess no worse than what they're currently dealing with. This scale engine would work pretty well at Mojave or AFRL.

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