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United Launch Alliance introduces Vulcan next generation launcher

Grey Havoc

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https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/27/17909342/blue-origin-be-4-engine-united-launch-alliance-vulcan-rocket
 

Archibald

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nice to see Bob Truax Sea Dragon recovery trick finally used - parachuting the engine block through a ballute.
 

Flyaway

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ULA Completes Final Design Review for New Vulcan Centaur Rocket

Centennial, Colo., May 20, 2019 – United Launch Alliance leaders and engineers completed an important milestone with the conclusion of the system Critical Design Review (CDR) for the company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The system-level CDR is the final review of the design for the overall rocket.



“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the ULA team and a significant milestone in the development of a rocket – signaling the completion of the design phase and start of formal qualification,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Vulcan Centaur is purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation’s space launch needs and its flight-proven design will transform the future of space launch and advance America’s superiority in space.”



The system CDR was a week-long detailed review of the entire Vulcan Centaur system with the primary focus to verify all of the elements will work properly together as a system. As part of the certification process with the U.S. Air Force, Air Force representatives are included as part of the design review.
 

Michel Van

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the system Critical Design Review ?

Sarcasm mode on
Oh i hope they hurry up and build there rocket fast !
because New Glenn is ready to launch in 2021, while Falcon Heavy will have a substantial market share
and Musk is starting StarShip building...
Sarcasm mode off
 

Flyaway

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the system Critical Design Review ?

Sarcasm mode on
Oh i hope they hurry up and build there rocket fast !
because New Glenn is ready to launch in 2021, while Falcon Heavy will have a substantial market share
and Musk is starting StarShip building...
Sarcasm mode off
I’ve seen commenters expecting it to fly before New Glenn does.
 

Michel Van

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During Blue Moon presentation, Jeff Bezos mentions something that Blue Origin already start to assembly first New Glenn.
in mean time SpaceX has two sites were prototype of Starship are build

and ULA is just at the system Critical Design Review...
 

Flyaway

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During Blue Moon presentation, Jeff Bezos mentions something that Blue Origin already start to assembly first New Glenn.
in mean time SpaceX has two sites were prototype of Starship are build

and ULA is just at the system Critical Design Review...
I guess you missed Tory Bruno posting on Twitter pictures of various fabricated parts of the first Vulcan.
 

Moose

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During Blue Moon presentation, Jeff Bezos mentions something that Blue Origin already start to assembly first New Glenn.
in mean time SpaceX has two sites were prototype of Starship are build

and ULA is just at the system Critical Design Review...
B-O doesn't move swiftly, they have a very deliberate pace when it comes to new hardware which has served them well and I wouldn't be shocked if the time it takes them to go from "ready to start assembly" to "flight" is more lengthy than we might hope. But the "race" ultimately doesn't matter as much as what vehicle comes out the other side of the process.
 

merriman

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ULA is a bit late to the game. And unlike SpaceX and Blue Origin, their Vulcan recovers only the first stage engines -- or have they dropped that plan already? Expending hardware like it was ammunition is quickly becoming an economical dead-end street for those wishing to play in the private sector game. Not to be too critical of ULA -- they have a great success record and have lofted many important government satellites -- but if they can not sever the government tit, then it (ULA) will find itself pulled away from the pork by those who can do the job cheaper. After all, indirectly at least, the Air Force has to answer to the tax payer for how it spends our money.

David
 

RanulfC

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After all, indirectly at least, the Air Force has to answer to the tax payer for how it spends our money.
Eh, no in fact they don't nor do they in any respect. SpaceX got a contract because the Air Force was told to give them some launches NOT because of price. Keep in mind the Air Force was TOLD to choose the Delta-IV despite it being price competative with absolutly nobody else. (They prefred the Atlas V but that's another story) The same folks who back and support the SLS also support ULA as a primary launch provider despite the fact they currently don't have an actual launch vehicle to provide. Tax payers can, (and do) complain but those in charge of the budget and launch selection are under no pressure to do what they suggest.

Randy
 

merriman

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After all, indirectly at least, the Air Force has to answer to the tax payer for how it spends our money.
Eh, no in fact they don't nor do they in any respect. SpaceX got a contract because the Air Force was told to give them some launches NOT because of price. Keep in mind the Air Force was TOLD to choose the Delta-IV despite it being price competative with absolutly nobody else. (They prefred the Atlas V but that's another story) The same folks who back and support the SLS also support ULA as a primary launch provider despite the fact they currently don't have an actual launch vehicle to provide. Tax payers can, (and do) complain but those in charge of the budget and launch selection are under no pressure to do what they suggest.

Randy
So, no congressional (the critters who are supposed to be answerable to the people/tax payers) appropriations committee controls the money allocated to the air-force? News to me.

David
 

RanulfC

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After all, indirectly at least, the Air Force has to answer to the tax payer for how it spends our money.
Eh, no in fact they don't nor do they in any respect. SpaceX got a contract because the Air Force was told to give them some launches NOT because of price. Keep in mind the Air Force was TOLD to choose the Delta-IV despite it being price competative with absolutly nobody else. (They prefred the Atlas V but that's another story) The same folks who back and support the SLS also support ULA as a primary launch provider despite the fact they currently don't have an actual launch vehicle to provide. Tax payers can, (and do) complain but those in charge of the budget and launch selection are under no pressure to do what they suggest.

Randy
So, no congressional (the critters who are supposed to be answerable to the people/tax payers) appropriations committee controls the money allocated to the air-force? News to me.

David
They do, they also don't care as in the main what the miltary wants it gets within reason. Hence they "got" the Delta-IV over the Atlas-C and they 'got' some SpaceX launches. The second there's an alternative Congress goes with where the money (not the savings) is. Space launch isn't a voting issue not even in states where it IS a big employer.

The Air Force has ONE criteria for space launch: What's available that we can control access and launch factors? Cost is not and has never been a high criteria for the military for a rather good reason.

Randy
 

mkellytx

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The Air Force has ONE criteria for space launch: What's available that we can control access and launch factors? Cost is not and has never been a high criteria for the military for a rather good reason.

Randy
Cost was an issue for EELV, that's why it Nunn-McCurdy breached when I was in that program office. That's also why we developed the new entrant guide and associated criteria (which I reviewed).

What we cared most about was that the payload made it to the specified orbit, that's why the SPO was structured the way it was. ULA has a very good record of delivery, but they cost too much. Tellingly, now that there's competition, their prices have dropped...
 

Byeman

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What we cared most about was that the payload made it to the specified orbit, that's why the SPO was structured the way it was. ULA has a very good record of delivery, but they cost too much. Tellingly, now that there's competition, their prices have dropped...
Because of Air Force involvement. If they would have left ULA alone, then ULA wouldn't had to pay for people just to satisfy Air Force needs.
 

mkellytx

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Because of Air Force involvement. If they would have left ULA alone, then ULA wouldn't had to pay for people just to satisfy Air Force needs.
What I think you're saying here is that the Air Force's mission assurance requirements primarily drove ULA's high costs, please clarify if that isn't the case.

While mission assurance does drive higher costs, it's not the primary driver behind why the costs were as high as they were. Back in the day I was one of the reviewers for the block buy contract and did get to see a lot of the costs. Everything I saw was marked competition sensitive so I can't go into specifics in a public forum, but suffices to say monopolies generally speaking have inefficient cost structures. Block buy didn't meaningfully relax the mission assurance piece, so all of the cost reductions ULA realized recently is more from having to compete against SpaceX.

The biggest cost driver in EELV, which led to the Nunn-McCurdy, was that the program was started on a bad premise, namely that there was going to be a huge commercial launch market for thousands of satellites between 2000-2010. That market didn't appear and no one foresaw almost all of the commercial customers using cheap Russian rockets. The predicted economies of scale never materialized. Everyone missed the market for thousands of satellites by 20 years. After the development started the two Titan's blew up and then the Air Force piled on the extra mission assurance piece, but when that happened the marginal costs of assurance were far smaller (and mostly on the government side) than those driven by the bad premise.
 

Grey Havoc

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It seems it would have been far cheaper to stick with Space Shuttle and fix its problems, in part by quickly moving to dedicated shuttles under USAF aegis for military use (avoiding inbuilt problems with NASA management among other things).
 

mkellytx

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It seems it would have been far cheaper to stick with Space Shuttle and fix its problems, in part by quickly moving to dedicated shuttles under USAF aegis for military use (avoiding inbuilt problems with NASA management among other things).
No, the Shuttle was half a billion a shot, a slick Atlas was $180 M back in the day and $140 M today. Delta IV heavy is way more than Atlas, but still less than the Shuttle. As expensive as EELV is it was still cheaper and more reliable than the old Titans and Shuttle.

ULA has its work cut out for them to get Vulcan to compete with Bezos and Elon on a cost basis.
 

Byeman

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While mission assurance does drive higher costs, it's not the primary driver behind why the costs were as high as they were. Back in the day I was one of the reviewers for the block buy contract and did get to see a lot of the costs. Everything I saw was marked competition sensitive so I can't go into specifics in a public forum, but suffices to say monopolies generally speaking have inefficient cost structures. Block buy didn't meaningfully relax the mission assurance piece, so all of the cost reductions ULA realized recently is more from having to compete against SpaceX.
The earlier missions were cheaper. Especially Atlas V. The first real Air Force ones were AV-009 & 11, five years after the first launch. The cost structures were from air force requirements. Extra ICEs one and two years from launch. Things like caring for MAT teams, ICE, WDR and launch parking and seating. Document production, extra reviews;.
Operations shadowing, even for non DODS missions. These require ULA to carry more people.
 

mkellytx

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The earlier missions were cheaper. Especially Atlas V. The first real Air Force ones were AV-009 & 11, five years after the first launch. The cost structures were from air force requirements. Extra ICEs one and two years from launch. Things like caring for MAT teams, ICE, WDR and launch parking and seating. Document production, extra reviews;.
Operations shadowing, even for non DODS missions. These require ULA to carry more people.
That's a very easy argument that intellectually lazy because it plays to an inherent bias that excessive government oversight drives unnecessarily high cost structures. During my time in the system's engineering shop I participated or documented all of what you describe. It's also not unique to the space industry, I've also heard very similar complaints in my new industry that once we started evaluating our assumptions and looking into our production system those turned out to be the big culprits. Most of the costs can be explained by misreading the market and how the production system was set up.

The lower prices of the early Atlas launches reflected the assumption of a much larger commercial launch market than what actually developed last decade. LM almost certain ate losses on all 8 of those missions. They were willing to do that in order to keep the line hot until the EELV contracts came online. When that came online, ULA knew their only customer was the US government and the cost per launch skyrocketed. That wasn't the program's initial assumption of the overall launch market. The initial assumption was USG launches would only account for 10-25% of the total market. Those launches would account for 10-12 cores a year (9 single core + one heavy), with guarantied access and the lowest cost (it was assumed competition for launch spots would drive price higher than production and operations costs). So, the assumed market was something like 40-50 total launches a year on the low end. The production system for building 20-25 cores a year verses 5-6 is very different. The economies of scale never appeared.

Another data point mitigating against mission assurance being the biggest driver is that SpaceX does two hot fires per new core, one in TX and one on the pad, but are way cheaper than Atlas. Audit-ability, traceability and documentation are table stakes for any safety critical industry so I'm not buying that either.

Something to watch that will give a good idea of how much extra cost is driven by the mission assurance is when the Air Force allows SpaceX to recover the first stage and the fairings, my guess is that will be in the neighborhood of $70M. The GPS III-1 launch contract was $96.8M where the government dictated no reuse. Since their business model is predicated on reuse my guess is that any expendable F9 launch will cost more than a Heavy ($90M).
 

Grey Havoc

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It has to be said though that (often idiotic) EPA and OHSA requirements are major contributors to costs; those two agencies should have had their wings clipped long ago.
 

Hobbes

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Because poisoning your employees and everyone in the general vicinity is so much better than what we have now :rolleyes:
 

Flyaway

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It has to be said though that (often idiotic) EPA and OHSA requirements are major contributors to costs; those two agencies should have had their wings clipped long ago.
Don’t matter anything about care of employees if it impacts the bottom line. :rolleyes:
 

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It has to be said though that (often idiotic) EPA and OHSA requirements are major contributors to costs; those two agencies should have had their wings clipped long ago.
It's been said quite often but that doesn't make it true as noted that comparatively INDUSTRY self-regulator requirements are actually stricter and it's industry who are complaining the loudests over lack of regulation and over-sight. It's no 'accident' that the ones that complain the loudest over "regulation" are also the ones who garner the most violations even WITH regulation.

Randy
 

sferrin

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It has to be said though that (often idiotic) EPA and OHSA requirements are major contributors to costs; those two agencies should have had their wings clipped long ago.
It's been said quite often but that doesn't make it true as noted that comparatively INDUSTRY self-regulator requirements are actually stricter and it's industry who are complaining the loudests over lack of regulation and over-sight. It's no 'accident' that the ones that complain the loudest over "regulation" are also the ones who garner the most violations even WITH regulation.

Randy
Seen it myself. OSHA could go away and the place I work would still be safe. (They don't necessarily love their employees but the lawyers told them it was a good idea.)
 

RanulfC

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It has to be said though that (often idiotic) EPA and OHSA requirements are major contributors to costs; those two agencies should have had their wings clipped long ago.
It's been said quite often but that doesn't make it true as noted that comparatively INDUSTRY self-regulator requirements are actually stricter and it's industry who are complaining the loudests over lack of regulation and over-sight. It's no 'accident' that the ones that complain the loudest over "regulation" are also the ones who garner the most violations even WITH regulation.

Randy
Seen it myself. OSHA could go away and the place I work would still be safe. (They don't necessarily love their employees but the lawyers told them it was a good idea.)
I think its kind of missing the point. The REASON the lawyers told them it was a 'good' idea to have OSHA around was because it would likely NOT be 'safe' and employees would be suing them left and right for injury and damages. Sure anyone can find 'examples' of over-reach and "excess" regulation costing money but, again, it's a point that general industry now uses OSHA as "minimums" rather than maximums and are still making a profit and putting out product. Similarly EPA regulations are supported and welcomed by the majority of industry because they cover the companies as well as the public.

The majority of the EPA budget is not in regulatory work but in super-fund and public remediation where companies have skipped out of cleaning up after themselves and the public has to pay for doing it. It's still not that difficult to find opposing examples of companies and individuals who will blithly ignore safety and dangers to make a quick buck despite both OSHA and the EPA over-watch. The idea and complaint that "doing away" with OSHA and EPA regulation and data control would reduce costs is unproven, the costs themselves are well known and no where near as hish as made out to be and frankly what was annoying a few decades ago today is routine and proven effective.

It's nowhere near the 'golden' bullet to lowering space access cost.

Randy
 

sferrin

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"The REASON the lawyers told them it was a 'good' idea to have OSHA around was because it would likely NOT be 'safe' and employees would be suing them left and right for injury and damages."

OSHA could not exist at all and the lawyers would still be telling companies, "you better make sure it's safe or you'll get sued".
 

RanulfC

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"The REASON the lawyers told them it was a 'good' idea to have OSHA around was because it would likely NOT be 'safe' and employees would be suing them left and right for injury and damages."

OSHA could not exist at all and the lawyers would still be telling companies, "you better make sure it's safe or you'll get sued".
Actually the point though WITH OSHA the companies are vastly better 'covered' from lawsuits from employees who can't or won't follow the regulations anyway. That's WHY lawyers think OSHA and the EPA are great ideas despite the hassels. The companies that tend to complain the most about 'over-regulation' are also the ones that tend to fail or not even bother with safety or EPA regs and are regularly sued by employees for violations.

Randy
 

Hobbes

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OSHA could not exist at all and the lawyers would still be telling companies, "you better make sure it's safe or you'll get sued".
So instead of everyone agreeing on a single standard that defines what is safe, every case would have to be argued in court. The lawyers would have a field day, but they'd be the only ones profiting from this scenario. Over time, court rulings would converge on such a standard, but that's over the backs of everyone involved in accidents because they had to reinvent the wheel again.
Regulation skips that entire process and sets a bar that's the same for everyone.
 

sferrin

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OSHA could not exist at all and the lawyers would still be telling companies, "you better make sure it's safe or you'll get sued".
So instead of everyone agreeing on a single standard that defines what is safe, every case would have to be argued in court. The lawyers would have a field day, but they'd be the only ones profiting from this scenario. Over time, court rulings would converge on such a standard, but that's over the backs of everyone involved in accidents because they had to reinvent the wheel again.
Regulation skips that entire process and sets a bar that's the same for everyone.
I'm not suggesting doing away with OSHA. Just saying that in my particular case it would make zero difference.
 

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I wonder if they will always have a ready to use booster available when needed? That would be tied to production rate which in turn depends on commercial production. Of course the lucrative alternative would be that the DOD funds for production and storage of boosters for contingency use but I don't know if that is a viable plan.
 

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This is the main payload for Vulcan’s inaugural launch.

ASTROBOTIC SELECTS UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE VULCAN CENTAUR ROCKET TO LAUNCH ITS FIRST MISSION TO THE MOON

AUGUST 19, 2019

Pittsburgh, Penn., and Centennial, Colo., Aug. 19, 2019 – Astrobotic announced today that it selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2021.

“We are so excited to sign with ULA and fly Peregrine on Vulcan Centaur. This contract with ULA was the result of a highly competitive commercial process, and we are grateful to everyone involved in helping us make low-cost lunar transportation possible. When we launch the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo, onboard the first Vulcan Centaur rocket, it will be a historic day for the country and commercial enterprise,” said Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton.

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the Moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

“Our rockets have carried exploration missions to the Moon, the sun, and every planet in the solar system so it is only fitting that Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural flight will lead the return of Americans to the lunar surface,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “We could not be more excited to fly this mission for Astrobotic.”

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander will launch on a Vulcan Centaur rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process.

“This partnership represents a true ‘whole-of-government’ approach to how our nation is leading the world in space: NASA contracted with a commercial company to land on the Moon, who then went on to contract with a commercial company for a rocket built to serve the national security space market,” said Bruno. “This highlights the power of our American system of partnership between government and industry to solve the toughest problems and the greatest of our human aspirations.”

About Astrobotic

Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a space robotics company that seeks to make space accessible to the world. The company’s lunar lander, Peregrine, delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals for $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic was selected by NASA in May 2019 for a $79.5 million contract to deliver payloads to the Moon in 2021. The company also has more than 30 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, and a corporate sponsorship with DHL. The company is also an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST Program. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.

About ULA

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch.[/quote]

 
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