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United Launch Alliance introduces Vulcan next generation launcher

bobbymike

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http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-unveils-americas-new-rocket-vulcan.aspx

Colorado Springs, Colo., (April 13, 2015) -- United Launch Alliance (ULA) unveiled its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) today at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from low Earth orbit all the way to Pluto.

“More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on earth,” said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance. “Because the Next Generation Launch System will be the highest-performing, most cost-efficient rocket on the market, it will open up new opportunities for the nation’s use of space. Whether it is scientific missions, medical advancements, national security or new economic opportunities for businesses, ULA’s new Vulcan rocket is a game-changer in terms of creating endless possibilities in space.”

To help give all Americans a chance to play a role in the future of space, last month ULA launched an online naming competition that allowed Americans to vote on their favorite name for the NGLS. More than one million votes were cast, and Vulcan was the top choice.

“As the company currently responsible for more than 70 percent of the nation’s space launches, it is only fitting that America got to name the country’s rocket of the future,” added Bruno.

By streamlining the processes and rocket design, and developing a new all-American engine, ULA will continue to be the country’s most innovative, cost-efficient and technically rigorous launch company, providing a wide range of services to a broad customer base – including the most critical U.S. government missions.

“ULA’s precision and focus makes the remarkable seem routine. Our track record of 95 successful launches in less than nine years – an average of one launch per month – is unmatched in the industry. Our ability to deliver critical national security, scientific and commercial satellites into the correct orbit every time is filled with risks and challenges, and ULA has delivered every time. ULA’s reliability is and will continue to be part of the mission,” Tory Bruno concluded.

At today’s news announcement, Bruno also unveiled the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which will be introduced into NGLS and allow ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage – the booster main engines – via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.

Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four solid rocket boosters (SRB) augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter version.

In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful, innovative Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES), making the NGLS capability that of today’s Delta IV Heavy rocket. ACES can execute almost unlimited burns, extending on-orbit operating time from hours to weeks.

Last year, ULA announced that it had partnered with Blue Origin, LLC, a privately funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, to provide a cutting-edge engine for the NGLS while also providing a viable alternative to the Russian-made RD-180. This collaboration to fund the development of a new, U.S.-made BE-4 rocket engine, is part of the cost-reduction innovation for our customers. The BE-4 is designed for low recurring cost and will meet commercial and NASA requirements as well as those of the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The BE-4 uses low-cost liquid natural gas fuel and is designed for reuse.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 90 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com. Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch, and instagram.com/ulalaunch
 

fredymac

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At today’s news announcement, Bruno also unveiled the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which will be introduced into NGLS and allow ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage – the booster main engines – via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.

I am trying to visualize this. Eject motor and catch with a helicopter? Parachute first stage and snag with C-17? Disinformation aimed at Elon Musk?
 

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The former, with an added dose of inflatable heatshield for deceleration. Looks rather Rube Goldberg compared to just flying back the first stage. Attached is ULA's illustration (twice somehow, and I can't figure out how to delete the duplicate).
 

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merriman

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Now, get Chesley Bonestell to illustrate this and you have something there.

David
 

bobbymike

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More from AvWeek:

http://aviationweek.com/space/ula-s-vulcan-rocket-embraces-reusability-new-upper-stage?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20150414_AW-05_969&YM_RID='email'&YM_MID='mmid'&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2
 

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ULA Announce New Rocket - Vulcan, First Flight 2019

Published on Apr 14, 2015

United Launch Alliance announce the successor to the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets which will be phased out - The Vulcan


https://youtu.be/zJLU2TCsCeg
 

Hobbes

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One major innovation in the Vulcan will be the Integrated Vehicle Fluids (IVF) system for the upper stage. They plan to install a small internal combustion engine:
  • it drives a generator to generate electrical power for the stage,
  • its cooling system is used to pressurize the propellant and oxygen (using the heat from the engine to boil some of the propellant),
  • the exhaust will be used as a thruster (ullage and attitude control)
  • it is fueled by boiloff from the propellant and oxygen tanks
Paper on the subject (PDF)
They can replace several pressurant tanks with a 600cc straight-six flat-head engine that produces ~25 kW at full power, saving weight and extending the lifetime of the stage by a huge amount (10 instead of 2 restarts, lifetime measured in days rather than hours).
 

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Apparently CH-47 is baselined for the engine pack grab. Upper stage work is continuation of ACES, and submarine work for orbital fuel depots.
 

fredymac

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I guess I am waiting to be impressed. Something more than a CGI.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lftGq6QVFFI
 

GeorgeA

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fredymac said:
I guess I am waiting to be impressed. Something more than a CGI.
2019 first flight, so that's all they got right now.
 

merriman

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Good to see that Musk has driven the other non-government rocket guys to embrace re usability.

The Corona type recovery seems simple enough, and they're getting back engines that should be good for hours of operation. And they won't be wrinkling any tanks or suffering other stress induced problems to the entire booster as MAY the case with the Falcon full fly-back concept. Won't know till SpaceX gets a booster back in one piece to examine.

This is great! Feels like the mid-60's again -- the creative juices once again flowing; the rate of development increasing. Robert Heinlein must be smiling somewhere.

David
 

Byeman

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merriman said:
Good to see that Musk has driven the other non-government rocket guys to embrace re usability.
Still not a given. Both could end up being dead ends.
 

fredymac

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Byeman said:
merriman said:
Good to see that Musk has driven the other non-government rocket guys to embrace re usability.
Still not a given. Both could end up being dead ends.
And yet there are rocket engineers in both companies who think there is a chance they can succeed. Spacex is driven by a desire to break into a market and take a dominant position through superior technology. ULA is a bureaucratized conglomerate being forced to react in absence of a government grant of monopoly. I only wish companies with similar mindsets as Spacex would be able to review all the technical data on scramjets and take similar risks in pushing forwards with that approach to achieve the payload mass fractions necessary to drastically reduce launch costs. I am much more interested by the possibility of mass access to space for the average person than another grandiose mission to whatever by a tiny handful of civil servants. Unfortunately, NASA doesn't agree.
 

Byeman

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fredymac said:
1. And yet there are rocket engineers in both companies who think there is a chance they can succeed.

2. Spacex is driven by a desire to break into a market and take a dominant position through superior technology.

ULA is a bureaucratized conglomerate being forced to react in absence of a government grant of monopoly.

3. I only wish companies with similar mindsets as Spacex would be able to review all the technical data on scramjets and take similar risks in pushing forwards with that approach to achieve the payload mass fractions necessary to drastically reduce launch costs.

4. I am much more interested by the possibility of mass access to space for the average person than another grandiose mission to whatever by a tiny handful of civil servants. Unfortunately,
5. NASA doesn't agree.
1. That is no different than the last 50 years. There always have been people who thought that. And also there was the Space shuttle.

2. It isn't superior technology. Just a rearrangement of existing technology.

3. Why? What makes you think that scramjets are the answer?

4. Maybe space isn't for the masses. Much like the depths of oceans.

5. They may be right. So be open to the possibility of being disappointed.
 

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What do the experts here think about the engine for ULA, Blue Origin's BE-4?

Blue Origin hasn't existed for very long and hasn't developed that many engines. BE-3 is a smaller hydrogen engine that has flown.

BE-4 is a 110,000 lb, or 50 t, or 500 kN lox-methane engine, oxygen rich staged combustion.

They've done some subscale preburner testing and powerpack testing.

They say they're on schedule for 2017 for the engine, and first flight of Vulcan is supposed to be 2019.

Attached latest and also some older graphics of the engine.

Blue Origin is not exactly very public about what they do...
 

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sferrin

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Byeman said:
merriman said:
Good to see that Musk has driven the other non-government rocket guys to embrace re usability.
Still not a given. Both could end up being dead ends.
Could be, but less likely than not trying at all.
 

GeorgeA

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Actually I think BE-4 is a 550,000 lbf engine (about 2450 kN). BE-3 is 110,000 lbf (490 kN).
 

fredymac

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Byeman said:
fredymac said:
1. And yet there are rocket engineers in both companies who think there is a chance they can succeed.

2. Spacex is driven by a desire to break into a market and take a dominant position through superior technology.

ULA is a bureaucratized conglomerate being forced to react in absence of a government grant of monopoly.

3. I only wish companies with similar mindsets as Spacex would be able to review all the technical data on scramjets and take similar risks in pushing forwards with that approach to achieve the payload mass fractions necessary to drastically reduce launch costs.

4. I am much more interested by the possibility of mass access to space for the average person than another grandiose mission to whatever by a tiny handful of civil servants. Unfortunately,
5. NASA doesn't agree.
1. That is no different than the last 50 years. There always have been people who thought that. And also there was the Space shuttle.

2. It isn't superior technology. Just a rearrangement of existing technology.

3. Why? What makes you think that scramjets are the answer?

4. Maybe space isn't for the masses. Much like the depths of oceans.

5. They may be right. So be open to the possibility of being disappointed.
I am not a rocket engineer so I won’t presume to tell those who are what is and is not possible. If professionals working in the field think it can be done, I would give them the benefit of a doubt. If a private company is willing to risk their own money pursuing it, I applaud them and am not offended.

Any technology not in being is by definition not “existing”. Spacex would love to find a hardware store selling re-usable rocket technology “off-the-shelf” rather than spending R&D crashing boosters into barges.

Payload mass fractions for rockets are limited by theoretical limits to specific impulse and the need to carry the oxidizer. Scramjets are the only alternative which have been flight demonstrated and their Isp potential is massively superior.

Whether or not I or anyone else would want to visit space is our own business and not a matter for a 3rd party to decide “what is best” for us. There have been a variety of space tourism ventures (Bigelow Aerospace comes to mind) which indicates private investors are seeing enough interest that they have spent their own money in pursuit of an eventual market. For some reason, deep sea tourism doesn’t spark the imagination of enough people to generate the same response.

NASA is a bureaucracy and must feed its’ civil servants. Keeping a standing army occupied is not cheap and one of the reasons the shuttle cost so much. I have been disappointed many times in my life. I am prepared to experience more.
 

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fredymac said:
1. Any technology not in being is by definition not “existing”. Spacex would love to find a hardware store selling re-usable rocket technology “off-the-shelf” rather than spending R&D crashing boosters into barges.

2. Payload mass fractions for rockets are limited by theoretical limits to specific impulse and the need to carry the oxidizer. Scramjets are the only alternative which have been flight demonstrated and their Isp potential is massively superior.

3. NASA is a bureaucracy and must feed its’ civil servants. Keeping a standing army occupied is not cheap and one of the reasons the shuttle cost so much. I have been disappointed many times in my life. I am prepared to experience more.
1. All Spacex technology existed before the company was created. They did not development anything new.

2, Scramjets have little use in space launch. Launch vehicles are out of the sensible atmosphere after two minutes. There is nothing to gain by staying low enough for scram jet operation

3, NASA doesn't have a standing army of civil servants.
 

fredymac

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Byeman said:
fredymac said:
1. Any technology not in being is by definition not “existing”. Spacex would love to find a hardware store selling re-usable rocket technology “off-the-shelf” rather than spending R&D crashing boosters into barges.

2. Payload mass fractions for rockets are limited by theoretical limits to specific impulse and the need to carry the oxidizer. Scramjets are the only alternative which have been flight demonstrated and their Isp potential is massively superior.

3. NASA is a bureaucracy and must feed its’ civil servants. Keeping a standing army occupied is not cheap and one of the reasons the shuttle cost so much. I have been disappointed many times in my life. I am prepared to experience more.
1. All Spacex technology existed before the company was created. They did not development anything new.

2, Scramjets have little use in space launch. Launch vehicles are out of the sensible atmosphere after two minutes. There is nothing to gain by staying low enough for scram jet operation

3, NASA doesn't have a standing army of civil servants.

Wow.
 

Byeman

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fredymac said:
Having trouble accepting reality?

1. Spacex has only rearranged existing technology. The rocket engines are not new technology. Neither are the vehicle structures or avionics.

2. Skylon is a exemption since its engines transition to rocket to airbreathing and back to rocket. It spends little time in the lower atmosphere. Its structure does have to deal with aeroheating, which is 2nd major drawback of scramjet launch vehicles (1st drawback is operational speed, and by the time a standard launch vehicle reaches that speed, it is outside of the sensible atmosphere, where scramjets operate and so what is the point of using them) In fact, jettison-able turbojets a better for space launch than scramjets.

3. NASA's contractor to employee ratio is anywhere from 10-1 to 5-1. For example, KSC has less than 2000 civil servants but 11000 contractors. So, my point stands, there is no standing army of civil servants.
 

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Byeman said:
fredymac said:
Having trouble accepting reality?

1. Spacex has only rearranged existing technology. The rocket engines are not new technology. Neither are the vehicle structures or avionics.
Which is suppose to mean what exactly? That it's impossible for SpaceX to succeed in putting a reusable booster into service? Hardly.
 

mz

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sferrin said:
Byeman said:
fredymac said:
Having trouble accepting reality?

1. Spacex has only rearranged existing technology. The rocket engines are not new technology. Neither are the vehicle structures or avionics.
Which is suppose to mean what exactly? That it's impossible for SpaceX to succeed in putting a reusable booster into service? Hardly.
I think there's not that much totally new in any of Musk's businesses. Whether it's an electric car with laptop battery cells or vertical landing with relatively normal gas generator lox-kerosene rocket engines.

I think that's also a key to success. They're not exotic at all. We already have good technology, just need good execution on the assembly and the business.
 

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mz said:
sferrin said:
Byeman said:
fredymac said:
Having trouble accepting reality?

1. Spacex has only rearranged existing technology. The rocket engines are not new technology. Neither are the vehicle structures or avionics.
Which is suppose to mean what exactly? That it's impossible for SpaceX to succeed in putting a reusable booster into service? Hardly.
I think there's not that much totally new in any of Musk's businesses. Whether it's an electric car with laptop battery cells or vertical landing with relatively normal gas generator lox-kerosene rocket engines.

I think that's also a key to success. They're not exotic at all. We already have good technology, just need good execution on the assembly and the business.
That's it - vertical integration of manufacture, minimalise development costs with no new technologies - no plug nozzle, no wings, no LACE, no warp drive, no jacuzzi. Anything else has high risk and high expense needing to be amortised in launch costs, rendering the exercise futile. The dumbest bird that flies is worth a thousand powerpoint presentations.

I remember when Steve Jobs died some historians were getting huffy about comparisons with Edison (forgetting that Edison stole a lot of ideas and DIDN't work alone, but industrialised invention), saying that he never actually invented anything himself, which completely missed the point. Monet didn't invent paint either: the invention is in HOW it's done.

Elon Musk is an interesting fellow with a real long-term vision - he's opened up a lot of his patents actually helping his rivals and competitors in various fields (if you look at the news from recent motor shows, it seems every car manufacturer including the likes of Porsche and Aston Martin are showing off electric sports cars and SUVs with imminent production promised). More than making billions, he wants to leverage change in the world and I get the impression that nothing would delight him more than see someone else come along later with better technology. What he's doing now is breaking logjams and thereby opening new markets that will make the investment in better technologies worthwhile and compelling.
 

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http://defense-update.com/20160301_ula.html
 

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Well the upper stage seems to be a real advance over current technology. Of course committing real money to hardware development will determine if they are serious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbZKfno1KNc
 

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Refueling in space? I'll believe it when I see it. (Not that I think it's impossible, just that I'm skeptical they'll go that far.)
 

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sferrin said:
Refueling in space? I'll believe it when I see it. (Not that I think it's impossible, just that I'm skeptical they'll go that far.)
Unless they are building hardware, they are where NASA-Marshall was in about 1961.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
sferrin said:
Refueling in space? I'll believe it when I see it. (Not that I think it's impossible, just that I'm skeptical they'll go that far.)
Unless they are building hardware, they are where NASA-Marshall was in about 1961.
Did NASA ever perform refueling in space? (There was artwork I recall seeing as a kid that was old even then.)
 

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Refueling is standard procedure for the ISS. These days that's mostly handled by the Russians though.
 

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Hobbes said:
Refueling is standard procedure for the ISS. These days that's mostly handled by the Russians though.
I was thinking free-flying spacecraft to free-flying spacecraft. I'd think that would be a bit different.
 

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NASA has been looking to demonstrate a remote/robotic servicing mission (which may include refueling) for some time but the money's never been approved. There have been rumors that X-37 was going to test tech for refueling recon sats but so far scant evidence.
 

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Seen at 3:35 in above video ;D:
 

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Flyaway

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ULA, Air Force agree on Vulcan rocket certification process

http://spacenews.com/ula-and-air-force-agree-on-certification-process-for-vulcan-rocket/
 

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http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/United_Launch_Alliance_kicks_off_Additive_Manufacturing_Challenge_999.html
 

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Interview with Aerojet Rocketdyne manager covering development of the AR-1 engine including some details on technical design and operational performance. The picture on the wall is not an F-1 and is briefly discussed around the 15 minute mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFkZtCVzphY
 

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fredymac said:
Interview with Aerojet Rocketdyne manager covering development of the AR-1 engine including some details on technical design and operational performance. The picture on the wall is not an F-1 and is briefly discussed around the 15 minute mark.
Thanks for that. He actually mentions the M-1 engine in the painting at the 13-minute mark. He starts discussing the F-1 at the 15-minute mark.
 

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sferrin said:
Hobbes said:
Refueling is standard procedure for the ISS. These days that's mostly handled by the Russians though.
I was thinking free-flying spacecraft to free-flying spacecraft. I'd think that would be a bit different.
Progress refueling ISS is free-flying spacecraft to free-flying spacecraft. Just because ISS is more massive doesn't change anything.
 

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And here is the competing BE-4 engine from Blue Origin. Rated at 550,000lbs thrust and scheduled for flight readiness by 2019. Unlike Aerojet, no tax dollars are being used.
 

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Razzmatazz from ULA in response to Spacex.

They have an hour long panel discussion of future space development posted on their Youtube channel as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt8bs8E6XOY
 
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