Author Topic: Athena and Minotaur  (Read 17701 times)

Offline AnlaShok

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Athena and Minotaur
« on: 03/01/2007 01:38 PM »
Is the Athena launcher still available? Not accroding to Astronautix, but Athena is still on LockheedMartin's site.

If there's no more Athenas, then Orbital's rockets (Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaurs') are the only small US rockets. After Delta II there's going to be a big gap between Minotaur IV and EELV's, like one between Vega and Ariane, which Soyuz filled.

Is there a stockpile of missles to be used in Minotaurs', and if there is, how many Minotaurs are left?

Offline Jim

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #1 on: 03/01/2007 01:49 PM »
ULA is not offering Athena.  Minotaurs are really Minuteman II's with Pegasus upperstages.  There are hundreds of Minutemans available.  One of the versions of the Minotuar uses the Peacekeeper and there are around 50 of those

Offline edkyle99

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #2 on: 03/01/2007 10:17 PM »
Quote
AnlaShok - 1/3/2007  8:38 AM

If there's no more Athenas, then Orbital's rockets (Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaurs') are the only small US rockets.

They are the only small US launch vehicles currently available, but there are at least two development efforts underway that could add to that number.  SpaceX, of course, is trying to get Falcon 1 into service, and ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

Quote
After Delta II there's going to be a big gap between Minotaur IV and EELV's, like one between Vega and Ariane, which Soyuz filled.

If and when that Delta 2 gap opens up, it seems likely to me that some company would see it as a market opportunity.  And there are options.  For example, Orbital Sciences has, in the past, proposed growth versions of Taurus that would have pushed it into the low-end of the Delta 2 range.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      
Pegasus XL  400 kg to 400 km x 28 deg
Minotaur 1   640 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Falcon 1   570 kg to 200 km x 28 deg
Taurus XL  1,500 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Mintotaur 4  1,734 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

Delta 2-7320  2,796 kg to 185 km x 28 deg
Delta 2-7920  5,102 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

Delta 4-M    8,450 kg to 500 km x 51.6 deg
Falcon 9    10,350 kg to 200 km x 28 deg
Atlas 5-402   12,500 kg to 185 km x 28 deg

 - Ed Kyle

Offline CFE

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #3 on: 03/02/2007 02:16 AM »
Quote
AnlaShok - 1/3/2007  7:38 AM

Is the Athena launcher still available? Not accroding to Astronautix, but Athena is still on LockheedMartin's site.


Technically, Athena is still available, but nobody is going to want it.  Why's that?  Because it's not very different from the Minotaur IV that's now being offered.  The Castor 120 on the Athena first stage isn't much different from the Peacekeeper first stage on the Minotaur IV, and performance should be similar.  The difference is that the Peacekeeper motors are furnished by DoD, so Minotaur IV is cheaper than the all-commercial Athena.  

A similar example is the Minotaur I: although it shares upper stages with the Pegasus (and has higher performance than Pegasus,) it's cheaper than Pegasus because the first two stages are furnished by the government.  I don't know if these cost savings apply to commercial payloads, as Minotaur has only been used for government launches thus far.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #4 on: 03/02/2007 03:30 AM »
Minotaur can only be used for gov't launches

Offline Rocket Guy

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #5 on: 03/02/2007 03:39 AM »
COSMIC was not gov't. But all the others so far have been.

Offline hektor

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #6 on: 03/02/2007 04:46 AM »
I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #7 on: 03/02/2007 08:48 AM »
Quote
Ben - 2/3/2007  5:39 AM

COSMIC was not gov't. But all the others so far have been.

COSMIC was a gov launch. The satellites were built by Taiwan, but as it was a joint project with the USAF, the USAF procured the launch vehicle.


Offline Rocket Guy

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #8 on: 03/02/2007 03:27 PM »
Ok, thanks.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #9 on: 03/02/2007 04:24 PM »
Quote
hektor - 2/3/2007  12:46 AM

I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

There might be avionics, fairing and interstages but the motors would be elsewhere

Offline Danderman

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #10 on: 03/03/2007 10:57 PM »
So, is there another customer for the Orbus 21, or is that particular hardware at a dead end?

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #11 on: 03/04/2007 12:45 AM »
Quote
Danderman - 3/3/2007  6:57 PM

So, is there another customer for the Orbus 21, or is that particular hardware at a dead end?

It was the IUS first stage and TOS motor, so Athena was just another use.  As for more uses, unlikely.

Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #12 on: 03/08/2007 02:46 PM »
There IS one more Athena II built and in storage.  That vehicle was first sold to the Air Force as the launcher for the SBIRS Low demo satellite mission that was cancelled.  LM got to keep the LV hardware in the termination.  LM sold that set of hardware again to Idealab's ill-fated Blastoff! venture, which also augered in after pissing away $75M (in private money at least).  LM again got to keep the hardware in the termination.  That's a nice business to be in...

The status of this particular Athena II is that the avionics and structures are fully integrated and in storage at LM.  The motors are fully integrated and in storage at ATK.  The problem is that these motors are approaching 10 years old and ATK will not certify them for flight because ATK would rather sell a new Castor 120.  With UTC out of the solid rocket motor business, the Orbus 21D is also a problem.  You can't get any more for furture flights and would need to do something new.  FYI, the 21D was a low-cost version of the IUS motor developed specifically for Athena.

There are something like 450 sets of Minuteman II motors left and 50 complete Peacekeeper vehicles plus about another 10 sets of spare motors.  At the current launch rate (ie, 1-2 Minotaur I and zero Minotaur IV per year) these motors will be decades past their qualified lifetime before they could be used.   Meanwhile the gov't is paying for storage and aging monitoring.  Aging is a problem on solid rocket motors due to deterioration of nonmetallic parts like nozzle flexseals and even propellant.  That's why there's an ongoing program to recast the propellant in the Minuteman III motors.  One of the Minuteman I vehicles that had been converted to target use in the early 1990s had a flight failure due to an aging problem in a stage 1 nozzle.

As for the Delta II replacement, well, isn't Falcon 5 going to solve that problem?   :-0

Seriously, NASA is about the only Delta II customer and as Boeing continues to threaten to get out of the Delta II business, NASA will likely step up with some sort of sustaining engineering funding the way the AF did for EELV.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #13 on: 03/08/2007 04:31 PM »
Falcon 9 is also replacement for Detla II, just will have some excess performance.

Offline Jim

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #14 on: 03/08/2007 04:32 PM »
Quote
aero313 - 8/3/2007  10:46 AM

Seriously, NASA is about the only Delta II customer and as Boeing continues to threaten to get out of the Delta II business

might just let them

Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #15 on: 03/08/2007 08:06 PM »
Quote
Jim - 8/3/2007  12:31 PM

Falcon 9 is also replacement for Detla II, just will have some excess performance.

Or not...

Offline just-nick

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #16 on: 03/08/2007 09:02 PM »
Quote
edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  3:17 PM
 ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      

Hey, when did this show up?  I googled it and just gone one photo of some stack on a pad and a press release but nothing else.  Anyone got any more details?

  --Nick

Offline kevin-rf

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #17 on: 03/09/2007 02:08 AM »
Quote
just-nick - 8/3/2007  4:02 PM

Quote
edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  3:17 PM
 ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".  A suborbital ALV test (ALV X-1) is supposed to fly from Wallops Island this year.  An orbital follow-on version is possible, but not funded to the best of my knowledge.

ATK ALV    225-350 kg to LEO      

Hey, when did this show up?  I googled it and just gone one photo of some stack on a pad and a press release but nothing else.  Anyone got any more details?

  --Nick

previous thead, not much :
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=4759&posts=11&start=1
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Offline antonioe

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #18 on: 08/27/2007 02:25 AM »
Quote
edkyle99 - 1/3/2007  5:17 PM
ATK is working on a small launcher named "ALV".

What a concidence... "ALV" was the original internal Orbital name for Pegasus back in 1987 (ALV = "Air-Launched Vehicle")... I still have some of the original design papers labelled "ALV"...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline wingod

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #19 on: 08/28/2007 06:20 PM »
Quote
hektor - 1/3/2007  11:46 PM

I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

Confirm.  Blastoff was going to use it for their commercial mission and then defaulted on the payments.


Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #20 on: 08/30/2007 01:07 AM »
Quote
wingod - 28/8/2007  2:20 PM

Quote
hektor - 1/3/2007  11:46 PM

I think I remember there was still a fully integrated Athena flight model left at LM. Anybody can confirm ?

Confirm.  Blastoff was going to use it for their commercial mission and then defaulted on the payments.


That particular set of Athena II hardware was procured by LockMart for launch of the SBIRS-Low test spacecraft.  The SBIRS-Low test flight was contracted such that the satellite was supposed to be delivered on orbit, making the satellite provider responsible for procuring the launch service.  When the program was terminated, LockMart kept the Athena hardware in the termination settlement.

Fast forward to 2000, when Blastoff was looking for a launch service.  LockMart sold them that same set of Athena hardware.  The dot-com bubble exploded, Idealab pulled the plug on Blastoff, and LockMart AGAIN went through a contract termination settlement where they retained the hardware.  Nice work if you can get it...

The Castor 120s are in storage at ATK and must be very near the end of their design life.  I'm not sure where the Orbus 21 is kept.

Offline CFE

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #21 on: 09/02/2007 04:33 AM »
Quote
pad rat - 8/3/2007  11:07 AM

"Some"?!!! Falcon 9 is an EELV-class booster with over 30% more capacity than a 7920H to a reference LEO! That's why we were disappointed to hear about the Falcon 5 being shelved. It did a good job of hitting the Delta II sweet spot and competed with the K-1 for a lot of Delta II-class missions.

My sentiments exactly.  It would seem that F9 superceded F5 (first F5 evolved to a wider tankage that could be stretched for F9, then it was dropped entirely.)  I assume that SpaceX could develop F5 if somebody wanted to pony up the dough, but the development costs wouldn't be worth it.  Elon wants to make his money off COTS & Bigelow, and F9 is the way he's going to do it.

Then again, Elon is very wise to say "The way to make a small fortune in the launch business is to start with a large fortune."  Hopefully he will prove himself wrong by the time he's ready to cash out at SpaceX.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #22 on: 09/02/2007 01:31 PM »
Quote
CFE - 1/9/2007  11:33 PMElon is very wise to say "The way to make a small fortune in the launch business is to start with a large fortune."  Hopefully he will prove himself wrong by the time he's ready to cash out at SpaceX.
Actually, I heard DWT say that in the spring of 1986, but he said he was quoting somebody else (I believe Phil Culbertson, a NASA executive in those years).  On what date did you hear Mr. Musk say that?

Quote
Minotaur, f**k yeah!
Could you be a bit more specific?
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Offline aero313

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #23 on: 09/02/2007 04:10 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 2/9/2007  9:31 AM

Quote
CFE - 1/9/2007  11:33 PMElon is very wise to say "The way to make a small fortune in the launch business is to start with a large fortune."  Hopefully he will prove himself wrong by the time he's ready to cash out at SpaceX.
Actually, I heard DWT say that in the spring of 1986, but he said he was quoting somebody else (I believe Phil Culbertson, a NASA executive in those years).  On what date did you hear Mr. Musk say that?

Quote
Minotaur, f**k yeah!
Could you be a bit more specific?

Sorry, but the "make a small fortune by starting with a large fortune" joke has been around for centuries and has been applied to everything from auto racing to horse breeding to the stock market to you name it.  Neither Elon nor DWT were particularly clever in using it.

Offline CFE

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #24 on: 09/02/2007 04:18 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 2/9/2007  7:31 AM

Quote
Minotaur, f**k yeah!
Could you be a bit more specific?

Minotaur I gets me very excited.  It's been a very reliable launcher, and has over 40 years of Minuteman heritage behind it.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #25 on: 09/02/2007 04:23 PM »
H mmm... I'm sorry to say this, but I interpreted your signature line 180 degrees out of phase...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline CFE

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #26 on: 09/02/2007 04:33 PM »
Have you ever seen "Team America"?
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #27 on: 09/02/2007 10:33 PM »
I've just branded myself as a geek with no sense of pop culture.. please, oh, please don't let my children know... my life will be miserable...
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #28 on: 09/02/2007 10:34 PM »
On the other hand, I know the script to "Dr. Strangelove" by heart...
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Offline pippin

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #29 on: 09/02/2007 10:42 PM »
Quote
antonioe - 3/9/2007  12:34 AM

On the other hand, I know the script to "Dr. Strangelove" by heart...

More important ;-)

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #30 on: 09/03/2007 10:39 PM »

I also have a set of 1980-vintage tapes of THHGTTG and a 1985 edition of the original script.  I transcribed the tapes into mp3's and have them on a single CD which I sometimes play in my car's player driving to the office...

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline meiza

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #31 on: 09/03/2007 11:06 PM »
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room!"
Definitely.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #32 on: 09/04/2007 01:29 PM »
antonioe, is that you riding a pegasus on your icon?

Why can I see you actually doing that?
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Offline pippin

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #33 on: 09/04/2007 03:25 PM »
Dr. Strangelove again?

Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #34 on: 09/04/2007 07:49 PM »

(*TRIPLE SIGH*) I may regret this bitterly, but OK, here it goes:

hmmm.. having some trouble uploading the image... is this the Supreme Being (Bill Gates) telling me I should *NOT* do this?

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #35 on: 09/04/2007 07:50 PM »

One of the most best scenes in the whole movie... antonioe riding a pegasus into orbit as the whole world below goes to pieces in a large set of mushroom clouds.
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Offline antonioe

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #36 on: 09/04/2007 07:53 PM »
You forgot "so long, and thanks for all the fish"
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Offline meiza

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #37 on: 09/04/2007 08:08 PM »
You can see the image if you click the image in the avatar to the left and select "view image" or something like that. :)

Offline JWag

RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #38 on: 09/04/2007 10:05 PM »
[img=http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/profile/get-photo.asp?memberid=2965&type=profile&rnd=236]

Offline antonioe

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RE: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #39 on: 09/04/2007 11:46 PM »

OK, OK - since the cat is out of the bag... That is indeed the F1 flight vehicle - this picture was taken April 2, the afternoon before the evening when we applied the decals (remember: we were going to fly on April 4, but then it started raining and we did not want to perform the first flight with precip so we delayed to the next day). Because of the B-52, Dr. Strangelove WAS Orbital's "official movie", so when DWT showed up with a ten-gallon hat, my first reaction was "Oh, No!", but he said "Oh, Yes!".

The reason I'm holding the hat with my left hand (as opposed to Slim Pickings' right) is that I have a wristat on my right hand, with the cable draped behind me to a connection on the left side of the AIT (Assembly and Integration Trailer).  Also hard to see is the purple antistatic mat that my butt is sitting on.  More visible is the fact that I have my flight boots carefully turned away from the rocket's skin (after all, I'm sitting on 17MT of Ammonium Perchlorate and HTPB!!!)


Since that picture shows somebody with many pounds less and a lot more (and different color) hair, I can always claim that wasn't me.

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS...

Offline Orbiter Obvious

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #40 on: 09/05/2007 02:29 AM »
Quote
antonioe - 4/9/2007  2:49 PM

(*TRIPLE SIGH*) I may regret this bitterly, but OK, here it goes:

hmmm.. having some trouble uploading the image... is this the Supreme Being (Bill Gates) telling me I should *NOT* do this?


You need to speak to Chris about large files in the open sections of the site.

Offline Big Al

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Re: Athena and Minotaur
« Reply #41 on: 04/15/2008 01:13 AM »
So wouldn't it be wise for NASA and the AF to offer a close out special to use up the available boosters? I know these are small boosters and the market for them is limited, but the right price could allow student and high risk pay loads, maybe give AMSAT a ride at a close out price.

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