Author Topic: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement  (Read 37476 times)

Offline abaddon

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #60 on: 07/21/2023 08:49 pm »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
SpaceX doesn’t have VI and ULA doesn’t have a rocket (that can fly all missions).

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #61 on: 07/21/2023 09:12 pm »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
SpaceX doesn’t have VI and ULA doesn’t have a rocket (that can fly all missions).
ULA will not have an LV for Phase 3 until Vulcan is certified, but that is planned for NET Q1 2024.

SpaceX cannot currently do Vertical Integration, but I thought VI capability was planned for CCSFS SLC-40 and for  VSFB SLC-4. Is this incorrect?

Offline gongora

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #62 on: 07/21/2023 10:08 pm »
VI capability has been planned for 39A at least

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #63 on: 07/22/2023 12:25 am »
You don't bid to be 3rd place.  Everyone bidding for Lane 2 is expected to have a plan to meet all of the requirements.  Of course that was the case in Phase 2 also, and SpaceX had to plan for vertical integration but hasn't needed to build out the infrastructure yet.
Well SpaceX is choosing for F9/FH VI, at least initially, to use existing newly surplus infrastructure with MST's i.e  SLC-6 (announced) and some discussions about SLC-37's soon to be available Bravo Pad (yet to be officially confirmed) with the Alpha pad ready for new builds.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 12:26 am by russianhalo117 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #64 on: 07/22/2023 04:09 am »
Has anyone found the important parts of those lengthy multi-part draft RFPs? For example for lane 2 how many launches, what mass, and what orbits for the three winners?

Anthony Colangelo has done some analysis:

https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/255

Quote
After the most recent show, I found a few nuggets of information in the NSSL Phase 3 documents, plus some more updates came out in a call that the Space Force had with some reporters.

What Anthony found:

58 launches total for the 3 winners, but only 7 to the 3rd winner (5 GPS satellites and 2 direct to GSO).

The remaining 51 are split 60/40 between the other 2 winners. So very heavily biased to main 2 winners, presumably to ensure a minimum number of launches per annum (the speculation being to guarantee that ULA remains in business whatever else happens in the launch market).

Also although a winner does not need a current launch vehicle, they must have (successfully?) launched by 1st October 2026. Furthermore, they need an operational West Coast launch site by that date too.

So, as currently written, not as beneficial to Blue Origin as some headlines might suggest.
NG and maybe Terran R are only HLVs in pipeline that could compete. There is possibility Firefly & Northrop Grumman Corporation could add SRBs to new Antares with liquid US.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 04:09 am by TrevorMonty »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #65 on: 07/22/2023 03:55 pm »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1682746189358198785

Quote
More launch providers are encouraged as the United States Space Force (USSF) released a second draft of a request for proposals (RFP) for the forthcoming phase three of the national security space launch (NSSL) program.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2023/07/nssl-phase-three-update/ - By Danny Lentz.

The NSSL program provides most of the space launch contracts for the United States Department of Defense (DOD), including flights for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Offline gongora

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Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #67 on: 07/22/2023 08:09 pm »
The GEO semi-major axis in that tweet is wrong (GEO != LEO). It should be 22,767 nmi.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 08:14 pm by deltaV »

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #68 on: 07/22/2023 09:45 pm »
Of those orbits GEO 2 (14,500 lb to GEO) looks like it should be the hardest for most launch vehicles. Vulcan is just about the perfect size for this - it can get 15,400 lb to GEO. This good fit is unsurprising since Vulcan was designed for an earlier version of the DOD requirements.

Falcon Heavy looks like it can also do all these missions.

New Glenn and Terran R can probably handle all these missions (they have more LEO performance than Vulcan) but only with an additional expendable upper stage to boost their performance to high energy orbits. However it's unclear if Terran R can meet the Oct 2026 deadline for first flight and pads on both coasts since they're currently planning to have first flight in 2026. Meeting that deadline would be especially challenging since they'd also need to spend resources building or buying an additional upper stage, maybe using the AeonVac from Terran 1's upper stage.

Firefly's MTV, Neutron, and Antares all have around half the LEO capacity of Vulcan, which is way too small for the GEO 2 mission. Edit: a three-core heavy upgrade of these vehicles could possibly do it.

With only $100M/year available for fixed costs and AFAICT no money for development costs I don't think anyone will bid for Lane 2 unless they already have a rocket under development for other applications. So I expect SpaceX's Falcon, ULA's Vulcan, Blue Origin's New Glenn, and maybe Relativity's Terran R to be the only bidders for Lane 2. Terran R may or may not bid and if they do bid they're a long shot to win anything.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 09:56 pm by deltaV »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #69 on: 07/23/2023 06:14 am »
For those curious, these are the 9 reference orbits that a rocket needs to be able to hit to be eligible to win under Lane 2 in NSSL Phase 3

Here's the metric version.

Orbit     Mass (kg)   Orbit (km)  Inclination (°)
-------------------------------------------------
LEO           6,800          926  63.4
Polar 1       7,030          834  98.2
Polar 2      17,010          834  98.2
MEO Direct    9,070       18,178  50
MEO Transfer  4,080  1000x20,368  55
GEO Transfer  8,160   185x35,786  27
Molinya       5,220  1204x39,170  63.4
GEO 1         3,630       35,786   0
GEO 2         6,580       35,786   0
« Last Edit: 07/23/2023 06:15 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #70 on: 07/23/2023 06:37 pm »
For those curious, these are the 9 reference orbits that a rocket needs to be able to hit to be eligible to win under Lane 2 in NSSL Phase 3

Here's the metric version.

Orbit     Mass (kg)   Orbit (km)  Inclination (°)
-------------------------------------------------
LEO           6,800          926  63.4
Polar 1       7,030          834  98.2
Polar 2      17,010          834  98.2
MEO Direct    9,070       18,178  50
MEO Transfer  4,080  1000x20,368  55
GEO Transfer  8,160   185x35,786  27
Molinya       5,220  1204x39,170  63.4
GEO 1         3,630       35,786   0
GEO 2         6,580       35,786   0

Do requirements allow for in orbit refuelling of US?.
« Last Edit: 07/23/2023 06:37 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline deltaV

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #71 on: 07/24/2023 05:23 am »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.

Offline trimeta

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #72 on: 07/24/2023 06:33 am »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.
Seems kind of moot, since Slot 3 will almost certainly be won by Blue Origin, who aren't likely to cancel New Glenn any time soon. And while in theory Lane 2 requires a plan to build a West Coast launch site, I don't know if Blue Origin would be bound to execute that plan should they get Slot 3. They'd still be on the hook for VI infrastructure, but if there's one thing Blue Origin is good it it's building lots and lots of ground infrastructure.

In the event that Relativity did somehow win Slot 3, they might be obligated to build or buy a third stage to enable GEO 2 orbits, an expense they wouldn't otherwise have, but since they should know that they cannot realistically expect to get Slots 1 or 2, presumably they'd base their prices exclusively on Slot 3.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #73 on: 07/24/2023 02:33 pm »
Can companies decline to receive a Lane 2 slot 3 award (i.e. winning just a handful of launches) or offer different prices for slot 3 and the main slots 1-2 (with 60%/40%)? I ask because for a launch provider that needs government business to close their business case a slot 3 award could be worse than no award since they'd be stuck paying the fixed costs for a launch vehicle they wish they could cancel. If this "curse of slot 3" is possible the rules should probably be changed to address it.
My simplistic view of the original NSSL (phases 1 and 2) was that the Government knew it needed to support all of the launch scenarios, so the bidders were required to support all of them. They did not get to pick and choose, because that would have left the government with no way to address the more difficult ones. For NSSL phase 3, they split it into lane 1 and lane 2, so Lane 1 provides opportunities for bidders who cannot meet all the lane 2 requirements. But lane 2 remains "all or nothing", just like Phase 2 and for the same reasons. Providing more flexibility might make life easier for bidders but it would not meet all of the government's requirements. If the third bidder did not need to provide the sophisticated capabilities, then they would be at an unfair competitive advantage against the bidders that did have to pay for those capabilities.

Offline trimeta

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #74 on: 07/24/2023 02:49 pm »
In a way, it's almost kind of moot. If they're drawing such a distinction between the number (and type) of launches given to Slot 2 and Slot 3, a company gunning for Slot 3 is basically not even trying to compete with the Slot 1 or Slot 2 companies. So really, the competition is between ULA and SpaceX to see which of them gets Slot 1 vs. Slot 2, and then totally separately Blue Origin gets handed Slot 3 uncontested (unless Relativity makes a play).

(And yes, Blue Origin can't explicitly say "we're only 'competing' for Slot 3," but they can propose a plan for how they'd perform the Slot 1 or Slot 2 missions, knowing full well that they absolutely won't get Slot 1 or Slot 2 and can abandon that plan once they win Slot 3. And then ultimately only pay for the infrastructure and development needed to serve those Slot 3 missions.)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #75 on: 07/25/2023 09:01 am »
As I see it, if the Firefly Beta/Northrop Grumman MLV booster don't work out. NG still have a shot at getting the NSSL slot 3. If they can build or buy an upper stage to put on top of a stack of Castor 120 solid motors. Launching out of pad SLC-39B. Maybe NG can do something like the early PPH Ariane 6 configuration using GEM 63XL as strapped-on solid boosters.

Yes, resurrecting the "Stick". I will see myself out. :P
« Last Edit: 07/30/2023 05:31 am by Zed_Noir »

Offline PM3

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #76 on: 07/28/2023 08:02 pm »
Tory Bruno regards Relativity as nothing. By saying "It’s not competition if everybody wins", with everybody = ULA, SpaceX and Blue Origin.

https://spacenews.com/ula-has-concerns-about-a-third-competitor-in-national-security-space-launch/

He is a smart man, and I agree.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #77 on: 07/28/2023 09:03 pm »
I don’t think ULA will stay a winner for long. There will be Blue, Relativity, Rocket Lab, and Firefly all vying for the second & third spot. All of them have the advantage of a design with a highly reusable first stage. So ULA has just a few years at most before they either do a Hail Mary with a better-than-SMART recovery system for their first stage (which is my pure speculation) or they become increasingly irrelevant; most likely I don’t think they’ll be even 3rd by 2030; they likely will be gone (acquired/merged) by then. And it’s not clear who will have spots 2 and 3.

Tory should be careful what he wishes for.

I think people are underestimating how well Terran-1 flew, given it had 9 novel engines. It really is a big accomplishment that speaks well of the team.

IMHO, it’s a toss up between Blue, Relativity, Firefly, and Rocket Lab. (Less likely for Firefly?) Each has their strengths and weaknesses and I distrust anyone who is certain they know which will succeed.
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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #78 on: 07/29/2023 10:48 am »
https://spacenews.com/ula-has-concerns-about-a-third-competitor-in-national-security-space-launch/

Quote
ULA has concerns about a third competitor in national security space launch
CEO Tory Bruno: ‘It’s not competition if everybody wins’
Sandra Erwin
July 28, 2023

WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno said he has “a bunch of questions” about the latest changes announced by the Space Force for the procurement of national security space launch services.

Speaking on the CNBC “Manifest Space with Morgan Brennan” podcast that aired July 27 […]
.

Podcast links:

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/13/manifest-space-with-morgan-brennan.html

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/manifest-space-with-morgan-brennan/id1680523433?i=1000622555771
« Last Edit: 07/29/2023 10:49 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline PM3

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Re: USSF NSSL Phase 3 Launch Service Procurement
« Reply #79 on: 07/29/2023 12:23 pm »
Only heavy lifters (> 25 t to LEO) can fully compete on NSSL contracts. This excludes Firefly and Rocket Lab. The candidates are

- SpaceX with Falcon Heavy and Starship
- ULA with Vulcan
- Blue Origin with New Glenn
- Relativity with Terran R

Money will decide who survives, and Relativity has by far the highest near-term bankruptcy risk. They need to raise several hundred million $ by 2024, and about another billion in the years thereafter. I strongly believe that this is the reasoning behind Tory discarding Relativity. ULA is well financed for the upcoming 5+ years by contracted Atlas and Vulcan launches.
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