• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

United Launch Alliance introduces Vulcan next generation launcher

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
9,007
Reaction score
198
http://spacenews.com/bruno-vulcan-engine-downselect-is-blues-to-lose/
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Initial BE-4 test results in "lost powerpack". Sounds like a vague definition for an engine explosion although it isn't clear in the article if the rocket was actually in full operation and generating thrust.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/05/15/blue-origin-encounters-setback-in-be-4-engine-testing/
"Blue Origin said Sunday that it lost a set of powerpack hardware for its BE-4 engine during a ground test mishap, dealing at least a minor setback to the development of a powerful U.S.-made propulsion system that United Launch Alliance says is the leading candidate to power the first stage of its next-generation Vulcan rocket."
 

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
137
"Powerpack" apparently covers the parts of the engine upstream of the main injector. So this sounds like the didn't destroy the injector or combustion chamber. Could be they shredded a turbopump or something else that is a little less energetic than blowing up the whole engine.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Cutaway layouts of Vulcan from Tory Bruno twitter (CEO of ULA). Vulcan is supposed to have a detachable engine pod holding both the engines and most of the main booster avionics. Plus the inflatable decelerator and the parachutes.

You can see features like the single bulkhead between the oxidizer/propellant tanks but it isn’t obvious where excess room has been reserved for the recovery hardware for the engine pod. You would also need extra plumbing for the quick disconnects from the tanks. I would think ULA wouldn’t want to spend extra money to do 2 separate designs using a conventional/nonrecoverable configuration for initial launches. Unless they weren't really serious.
 

Attachments

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
I would think ULA wouldn’t want to spend extra money to do 2 separate designs using a conventional/nonrecoverable configuration for initial launches.
why? Why not? Recovery is not happening for many flights.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
There won’t be “many” if the competition keeps lowering prices while simultaneously racking up ever increasing market share. The cost to design and qualify two highly divergent designs in something as fundamental as the interface to the main engines (and the load bearing/transfer structure) can’t be trivial.

Ariane can rely upon a captive European launch market (ESA, military) but ULA won’t have that backstop if their prices are grossly noncompetitive. Blue Origin can’t be expected to stay silent in such a scenario. Given the time needed to perfect detachable engine pod and recovery technology, ULA should have already conducted preliminary tests just as Spacex did with the Grasshopper flights. Even CGI simulations showing design effort would alleviate suspicions that they aren’t trying.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
two highly divergent designs in something as fundamental as the interface to the main engines (and the load bearing/transfer structure) can’t be trivial.
They aren't divergent much less highly.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
When you mount the engines in a separate pod they become like a lower stage and will probably interface in a similar way with load bearing structures on both sides of the divide. Looking at pod mounted jet engines on an airliner you also see an intermediate load transfer structure. Just as a casual observer there are a lot of details that come mind. Much more so than say strapping three Falcon 9's together. At a minimum, the mechanical arrangement is more complex and I don't see how that doesn't impact load transfer. Of course, if ULA just released some high level drawings that would settle the matter.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
When you mount the engines in a separate pod they become like a lower stage and will probably interface in a similar way with load bearing structures on both sides of the divide. Looking at pod mounted jet engines on an airliner you also see an intermediate load transfer structure. Just as a casual observer there are a lot of details that come mind. Much more so than say strapping three Falcon 9's together. At a minimum, the mechanical arrangement is more complex and I don't see how that doesn't impact load transfer. Of course, if ULA just released some high level drawings that would settle the matter.
First stages are already designed that way. Engine thrust structures are already "separate pods". They are attached to the booster tanks.

You can see on this Altas V. It is bolted to the tank on the right
https://goo.gl/images/2uT3rP

Here is the same thing for Falcon 9

https://goo.gl/images/KZvZrx
 

Hobbes

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
690
Reaction score
45
Those are attached permanently. A structure that's designed to separate cleanly at supersonic speed (including clean breaks in the cryogenic propellant lines) is a bit more difficult than that.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
Hobbes said:
Those are attached permanently. A structure that's designed to separate cleanly at supersonic speed (including clean breaks in the cryogenic propellant lines) is a bit more difficult than that.
Just a bit.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Whatever structure holds the engines has to absorb their thrust load. If that structure is now divided into two, both elements of that structure must be able to take that load. Either way, once the engines are mounted in a separate, self contained housing, they no longer have access to transmit their loads so an intermediate assembly now has to couple to the engine pod and then pass the load upwards.

I would think the space to hold the avionics, parachute, hypersonic decelerator, and possibly a set of thrusters for attitude control during re-entry would be visibly noticeable. Throw in the helicopter recovery and the approach Spacex and Blue Origin chose is easier to appreciate. Also, how is that helicopter going to reach the downrange recovery point? Flying back all that way while lugging an engine pod isn't feasible so add a recovery ship to the picture. All of this is possible but not without active R&D and testing.
 

merriman

David Douglass Merriman lll
Joined
Mar 18, 2013
Messages
267
Reaction score
21
sferrin said:
Hobbes said:
Those are attached permanently. A structure that's designed to separate cleanly at supersonic speed (including clean breaks in the cryogenic propellant lines) is a bit more difficult than that.
Just a bit.
To be fair, weren't' most of these engineering problems solved in the 50's as the ATLAS was developed from the B versions on? But, as a later post outlined -- the logistics of recovery itself might be a show-stopper. ULA is working too hard to be at variance with the propulsive landing method of recovery.

ULA: take a tip from our Chinese friends -- follow Musk's lead.

David
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
merriman said:
ULA: take a tip from our Chinese friends -- follow Musk's lead.

David
ULA would find themselves in court. China. . .seems to get away with it with impunity.
 

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
137
sferrin said:
merriman said:
ULA: take a tip from our Chinese friends -- follow Musk's lead.

David
ULA would find themselves in court. China. . .seems to get away with it with impunity.
SpaceX actually doesn't patent most of its tech for this very reason.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-patents-2012-11
 

DrRansom

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
527
Reaction score
3
Two questions:

1 - does the Falcon heavy have the same payload capacity as the proposed Vulcan rocket? If the Vulcan can get a niche at the high-mass range, above a Falcon 9 blk 5 and below a theoretical BFR then there may be a market.

2 - is there any sign that that ULA is seriously planning to build a Vulcan? Everything so far looks like this is a paper project, which ULA is pursuing solely for appearance's sake.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
DrRansom said:
Two questions:

1 - does the Falcon heavy have the same payload capacity as the proposed Vulcan rocket? If the Vulcan can get a niche at the high-mass range, above a Falcon 9 blk 5 and below a theoretical BFR then there may be a market.

2 - is there any sign that that ULA is seriously planning to build a Vulcan? Everything so far looks like this is a paper project, which ULA is pursuing solely for appearance's sake.
Falcon Heavy is about double Vulcan.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
DrRansom said:
2 - is there any sign that that ULA is seriously planning to build a Vulcan? Everything so far looks like this is a paper project, which ULA is pursuing solely for appearance's sake.
They have been doing pad and VIF mods for it. There are test articles for it.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/855031915270635522
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
Hobbes said:
Those are attached permanently. A structure that's designed to separate cleanly at supersonic speed (including clean breaks in the cryogenic propellant lines) is a bit more difficult than that.
Not really, been done before even under thrust

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl2mWA4FCEo
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
Byeman said:
Hobbes said:
Those are attached permanently. A structure that's designed to separate cleanly at supersonic speed (including clean breaks in the cryogenic propellant lines) is a bit more difficult than that.
Not really, DTDT even under thrust

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl2mWA4FCEo
 

Hobbes

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
690
Reaction score
45
Those weren't recovered and reused, they just crashed into the ocean. A lot simpler than a recoverable module.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Tumble and explode as a model for recoverable engine separation?

The ULA business structure may be a serious flaw. For ULA to finance and develop new hardware requires investments from Lockheed and Boeing. Both of them have principal market priorities elsewhere (defense, commercial airlines). ULA is a marriage of convenience in a market segment neither has been willing to back with significant IR&D. A totally conventional (throw away) Vulcan may be in development but there doesn't seem to be any real enthusiasm behind it. Now that Spacex has developed beyond the point where its viability is in doubt, the "hedge" value of ULA as a low tech standby has ended and it seems to be coasting until corporate momentum runs out. This is my cynical take but its backed by 40 years of observation.
 

Tuna

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Oct 13, 2016
Messages
29
Reaction score
1
DrRansom said:
1 - does the Falcon heavy have the same payload capacity as the proposed Vulcan rocket? If the Vulcan can get a niche at the high-mass range, above a Falcon 9 blk 5 and below a theoretical BFR then there may be a market.
If BFR actually pans out as SpaceX envisions it to, there is no room in the market below it at all. Well, if you need to launch a single cubesat or a beach ball, Electron or something disposable and 3d-printed might be competitive, but all practical satellites, even when launched alone, will be cheapest to launch on a BFR. The reason for this is that BFR will have enough delta-v to deliver the satellite directly to it's final orbit, including the circularization burn of a geostationary satellite, and then recover both stages, to be used again in a day. With enough re-use, the cost of a single launch will fall below the cost of light launchers, because SpaceX won't even have to rebuild their upper stages.

If you had told me the current BFR plans 5 years ago, I'd have laughed in your face. Right now, I don't know...


sferrin said:
Falcon Heavy is about double Vulcan.
The current practical weight of a satellite that FH can lift is below what a Vulcan can lift, because the current payload attach fitting limits payloads to 10,886kg. This could probably change should a customer pay enough for it, but there is not exactly a huge market in super-heavy satellites, so the cost might be enough to make a Vulcan launch competitive.

The added power of FH is more realistically used to send 10-ton NASA payloads further than it is to send 60-ton payloads to LEO. Also, reusable block 5 FH to geo is probably cheaper and gives you a better transfer orbit than block 5 F9 disposable.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
Tuna said:
The current practical weight of a satellite that FH can lift is below what a Vulcan can lift, because the current payload attach fitting limits payloads to 10,886kg. This could probably change should a customer pay enough for it, but there is not exactly a huge market in super-heavy satellites, so the cost might be enough to make a Vulcan launch competitive.

The added power of FH is more realistically used to send 10-ton NASA payloads further than it is to send 60-ton payloads to LEO. Also, reusable block 5 FH to geo is probably cheaper and gives you a better transfer orbit than block 5 F9 disposable.
Point is the capability is there if somebody wants to take advantage of it.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
Hobbes said:
Those weren't recovered and reused, they just crashed into the ocean. A lot simpler than a recoverable module.
The topic was the issue of separation. Nothing else was discussed. Of course, recovery would have to be designed in, but that is simple.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
Tumble and explode as a model for recoverable engine separation?
What? Did you even watch it before you made the asinine snark comment? Or do you have to be hand walked through the video to figure out that there was no tumble or explosion and that the video was mislabeled. 4A was the first Atlas launched and it did tumble and explode but that has nothing to do with this. The video is of 7F staging

You were fixated on the issue of separation. This shows that it was solved a half a century ago.
 

Hobbes

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
690
Reaction score
45
Byeman said:
Hobbes said:
Those weren't recovered and reused, they just crashed into the ocean. A lot simpler than a recoverable module.
The topic was the issue of separation. Nothing else was discussed. Of course, recovery would have to be designed in, but that is simple.
The topic was the issue of clean separation. On the Atlas, nobody cared what happened to the motor sections after separation. They could tumble out of control, be blasted by the remaining engines, crash into each other etc. All issues that have to be addressed for Vulcan.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Byeman said:
What? Did you even watch it before you made the asinine snark comment? Or do you have to be hand walked through the video to figure out that there was no tumble or explosion and that the video was mislabeled. 4A was the first Atlas launched and it did tumble and explode but that has nothing to do with this. The video is of 7F staging

You were fixated on the issue of separation. This shows that it was solved a half a century ago.

I indeed watched the video and snidely observed the engines tumbling and presumably explode in asinine fashion upon re-entering the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. This brings 2 points to bear: 1) the video is correctly labeled for what happens and 2) is irrelevant when considering the engineering solutions to avoid such tumbling and exploding.

You say "fixated on clean separation". Really? Where? I never even used the term "clean separation". All my posts have stressed the hardware needed to perform a controlled re-entry back to ground and the space and mounting structures required for it which necessarily create what is essentially a lower stage/re-entry vehicle. Pyrotechnic amputation demonstrates nothing useful in this regard. Not even in the plumbing detachment.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
Byeman said:
What? Did you even watch it before you made the asinine snark comment? Or do you have to be hand walked through the video to figure out that there was no tumble or explosion and that the video was mislabeled. 4A was the first Atlas launched and it did tumble and explode but that has nothing to do with this. The video is of 7F staging

You were fixated on the issue of separation. This shows that it was solved a half a century ago.

I indeed watched the video and snidely observed the engines tumbling and presumably explode in asinine fashion upon re-entering the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. This brings 2 points to bear: 1) the video is correctly labeled for what happens and 2) is irrelevant when considering the engineering solutions to avoid such tumbling and exploding.

You say "fixated on clean separation". Really? Where? I never even used the term "clean separation". All my posts have stressed the hardware needed to perform a controlled re-entry back to ground and the space and mounting structures required for it which necessarily create what is essentially a lower stage/re-entry vehicle. Pyrotechnic amputation demonstrates nothing useful in this regard. Not even in the plumbing detachment.
Wrong on all counts. It is very useful. Your comments are just unknowledgeable bias and shows no engineering intuition.
A. It was not pyrotechnic. You can see a mechanical latch release right before the booster package starts moving
b. The plumbing detachment is very relevant. It is happening while the stage is still firing. In the case of Vulcan, the all the engines would be shutdown and there would be no propellant flowing.
C. controlled re-entry is your issue? That is the easiest part. Add a guidance package with some aerosurfaces and thrusters. Plenty of room on the structure for that.
d. The engines would not explode because there is no propellant to burn.
e. The tumbling is cause by the exhaust of the still firing sustainer engine which would not exist on Vulcan.

And it is idiotic to continue to think the video is correctly labeled for what happens.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
Hobbes said:
Byeman said:
Hobbes said:
Those weren't recovered and reused, they just crashed into the ocean. A lot simpler than a recoverable module.
The topic was the issue of separation. Nothing else was discussed. Of course, recovery would have to be designed in, but that is simple.
The topic was the issue of clean separation. On the Atlas, nobody cared what happened to the motor sections after separation. They could tumble out of control, be blasted by the remaining engines, crash into each other etc. All issues that have to be addressed for Vulcan.
There is no blasting from the remaining engines on Vulcan, they are all shutdown. Hence, separating without tumbling is not an issue.
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
Here is a little rocket science education for a select few.

The Vulcan booster, after engine shutdown and upper stage separation, is going to continue to climb many miles on a ballistic arc. During this phase, the stage is going to be out of the sensible atmosphere and coasting. The engine package can separate from the rest of the booster in a benign, zero g, windless environment, much like we see in staging videos. So, why would it be so hard to get this package back down to parachute altitude and under a canopy?

Nobody can say it would be hard or impossible unless they have a bias.
 

fredymac

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
1,496
Reaction score
77
Gee, what happened to fixated on clean separation? Fixated one moment and biased the next. Just my lying eyes telling me a jettisoned engine tumbling into the distance is indeed tumbling and doomed to become little pieces of incandescent debris in the night.

Controlled re-entry was indeed my emphasis so it's interesting to see you claim it is a no-brainer that only biased fools would worry about. By the way, you forgot about the hypersonic re-entry speed and inflatable hypersonic decelerator that is needed to shield and slow down the enclosure. You know, the thing NASA has been working on for years and not yet perfected and that nobody else has ever demonstrated especially scaled up to the size and mass of the Vulcan engine pod.

But thanks for the lesson on staging and the upper limits of the sensible atmosphere. It's wonderful you are around to tell us these things.
 

Adventurer104

Retired Texas Peace Officer
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Whose heavy lift helicopters will be used....private owned? Air Force leased?
Got to be big ones....
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
fredymac said:
Gee, what happened to fixated on clean separation? Fixated one moment and biased the next. Just my lying eyes telling me a jettisoned engine tumbling into the distance is indeed tumbling and doomed to become little pieces of incandescent debris in the night.

Controlled re-entry was indeed my emphasis so it's interesting to see you claim it is a no-brainer that only biased fools would worry about. By the way, you forgot about the hypersonic re-entry speed and inflatable hypersonic decelerator that is needed to shield and slow down the enclosure. You know, the thing NASA has been working on for years and not yet perfected and that nobody else has ever demonstrated especially scaled up to the size and mass of the Vulcan engine pod.

But thanks for the lesson on staging and the upper limits of the sensible atmosphere. It's wonderful you are around to tell us these things.
It'll be interesting to see SpaceX's efforts at bringing back the 2nd stage.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,230
Reaction score
86
Adventurer104 said:
Whose heavy lift helicopters will be used....private owned? Air Force leased?
Got to be big ones....
They need a big one, a really big one
i estimate that entire Engine block will have weight around 5000 kg or 11000 lbs.
A Boeing CH-47F can carry that or Sikorsky S-70 if engine block got 4000 kg mass.

Here lies the limitation of Vulcan rocket, if ULA stick to that plan.
if there no grow factor on Engine block, if limited to carry capability of Helicopter


sferrin said:
It'll be interesting to see SpaceX's efforts at bringing back the 2nd stage.
like this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3but8ovFLNM
and final approach the stage will use airbags like Rover Landing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctQBqjozYSs
 

Byeman

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
754
Reaction score
2
fredymac said:
But thanks for the lesson on staging and the upper limits of the sensible atmosphere. It's wonderful you are around to tell us these things.
Somebody has to try educate the unwashed masses.
 

Zootycoon

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
168
Reaction score
105
As for a Helo recovery limiting the mass that can be recovered, I thought that as well. But then I thought most midair parachute grabs that have been done in the past have used aircraft, so a C130 or C17 or C5 or even a big Ant would enable quite a heavy mass to be recovered at a reasonable distance. But I wonder what the FAA safety/cert case for this looks like.

I also think recovery of parachute with a Helo will not be easy. The risk is that the rotor down draft will collapse the canopy, even a ram air type, just as contact is being made;- just ask anyone who’s flown a parapente in moderatel turbulence.....they fold, twist up into a knot and drop like a stone..... then you cut away to deploy the reserve. I know this has been demonstrated with little canopies and a small Helo’s for the Genesis mission (the attempted real recovery failed) so I’m not claiming it’s impossible. I might have expected to have seen a practice work up under way.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,098
Reaction score
353
Zootycoon said:
I also think recovery of parachute with a Helo will not be easy. The risk is that the rotor down draft will collapse the canopy, even a ram air type, just as contact is being made;- just ask anyone who’s flown a parapente in moderatel turbulence.....they fold, twist up into a knot and drop like a stone..... then you cut away to deploy the reserve. I know this has been demonstrated with little canopies and a small Helo’s for the Genesis mission (the attempted real recovery failed) so I’m not claiming it’s impossible. I might have expected to have seen a practice work up under way.
It has been done thousands of times with drone recovery.

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

Attachments

Flyaway

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 21, 2015
Messages
2,353
Reaction score
326
Tory Bruno, the Other Rocket Man

ULA’s boss doesn’t want SpaceX to have all the fun.
Read more at https://www.airspacemag.com/space/tory-bruno-profile-180968983/#1FUyORHHtDcOlsVh.99
 
Top