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SpaceX vs ULA / USAF Lawsuit

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#1 ImUtrecht

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 23:39

I started this thread because at another forum the discussion was closed.

 

http://www.engadget....rce-accusation/

 

Here is something else...

 

The Senate Armed Services Committee today passed 11 amendments sponsored by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

 

http://www.mccain.se...b9-06d998317c00

 

 

Space Launch

Three provisions would improve the prospects of competition for military space launch and help move the Pentagon away from using taxpayer dollars to purchase rocket engines from Russia. Specifically, they would:

•           Require that the Air Force have a full and open competition on two satellites that they tried to sole-source.

•           Prohibit future contracts to buy Russian rocket engines to launch our national security satellites.

•           Investigate undue reliance by the U.S. space industry on foreign suppliers and parts such as engines.

 



#2 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 00:01

Good idea.

The fact that a Republican proposal was passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has a Democrat majority and Chairman (Sen. CarlbLevin of Michigan), is telling. Congress seems unified on one thimg - ending any dependence on Putin's Russia for anything space related.

Time to acceletate development of Commercial Crew and a US engine (or launcher) that make Soyuz and RD-180 unnecessary. Period. Exclamation point. Fireworks.

Dragon Mk2/DragonRider (and perhaps DragonFly) will ne revealed May 29, and Falcon 9 has been a good enough lady that even Boeing is now talking about using her for their CST-100 spacecraft. Ditto Sierra Nevada for Dream Chaser. Atlas V is no longer a given.

The problem for both is that integratiing them with Falcon 9 could move their schedules right into 2018. DragonRider could be flying SpaceX crews in 2015.

Then there is re-engining Atlas V. This could take years even using an already developed engine like Northrop Grumman's TR-107. As early as Q1 2015 Falcon Heavy flies, and it's far more poewerful than Atlas IV...and cheaper. It could be EELV certified by 2016-2017.

#3 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 00:09

But what about this one ?

 

"Require that the Air Force have a full and open competition on two satellites that they tried to sole-source."



#4 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 00:34

McCain goes after a lot of no-bid military deals. I think this has to do with no-bid deals for building military comminications or GPS satellites, which get launched by ULA. There's been controversies about Boeing and Lockheed, both members of the ULA joint venture, getting such deals.

#5 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 00:47

That is why SpaceX filed their lawsuit.

 

And how i read this is that Senate Armed Services Committee says that the Air Force tries to sole source, despite what the Air Force says.

Now they require (demand) that the Air Force must have a full and open competition, meaning there is competition for ULA and they must have a fair chance to compete.

(like SpaceX for the launches)

I am not a layer but in my opinion this is an enforcement of the SpaceX argument, another smoking gun....

It shows a policy of the Air Force, a modus operandi.



#6 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 02:25

Something McCain has been beating the drums about for ages. Not just in the military, govt. procurements in general are fracked.

#7 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 02:58

Aviation Week's article quotes an anonymous industry insider who says Atlas V is toast, then goes on at length about possible scenarios. Covers lots of turf.

http://m.aviationwee...s-rocket-engine

>
The Atlas V always the less expensive of ULAs fleet (partly owing to the Russian engine sourcing), the most competitive in the commercial market, and the nearest peer to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) new Falcon family is effectively over, an industry source says. This longtime player in the space industry preferred talking on background. The convergence of a Russian threat to cut off RD-180 supply, SpaceXs impending certification to compete with the Falcon 9v1.1 and the lawsuit filed by SpaceX April 28 claiming ULAs sole-source deal with the U.S. Air Force was anticompetitive has put so much pressure on the Atlas V that it is unlikely to survive, the source says.
>



#8 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 08:44

I should have included these paragraphs. Raptor seems to be inserting itself into the conversation.

http://m.aviationwee...s-rocket-engine

Delta IV could be next SpaceX target as ULA struggles to maintain its Atlas V

Support for quickly starting a new liquid oxygen (LOx)/hydrocarbon rocket engine, possibly relying on methane fuel, is growing in U.S. space oversight circles. An influential government commission and senior Air Force officials are throwing their weight behind it, and momentum is mounting amid the political firestorm surrounding Russias threat to cut off the supply of RD-180 engines used on the Atlas V first stage.

But support is less about easing an RD-180 supply shortfall and more about preserving options in the long term to fulfill the White Houses assured access to space policy, according to a prominent industry expert and the commissions findings.
>
The Mitchell Commission, led by Air Force Maj. Gen. (ret.) Howard Mitchell, a longtime Air Force space insider who is now a vice president at the Aerospace Corp., is backing the idea of a new liquid oxygen/hydrocarbon engine. And so is Shelton. I would love to see us produce an engine; our industrial base has kind of withered, Shelton said at the Space Symposium. Personally, what I would like to see us pursue is hydrocarbon boost, Shelton says. I dont think LOx/kerosene is the way to go. Certainly LOx/hydrogen is a thing of the past. LOx/hydrogen requires big tanks owing to its low density and cryogenics, yet it is highly energetic. Kerosene is more dense, like a liquid, but not as effective. Engineers are now exploring whether methane with qualities between the two can balance these trades. It can be located on the rocket adjacent to the LOx tanks and is expected to produce good thrust, but work remains to make the technology operational. 
>
Though not released publicly, the Mitchell commissions findings are included in a briefing obtained by Aviation Week. The panel calls for fielding the new engine in fiscal 2022. A new launch vehicle could be certified by [fiscal] 2023 and replace the Delta IV as a more effective marginal cost solution to Heavy Lift, the commissions briefing says. To ensure the government can maintain true competition, it should buy the intellectual property, the industry source said. This would allow mating the engine with any vehicle the government chooses.
>
The commission suggests the Pentagon maintain the $141 million investment in hydrocarbon propulsion risk reduction planned in the fiscal 2016 budget proposal, which is being crafted. The industry source says another $200 million could be added in the next two years to support the work, which is largely focused on maturing methane fuel options as a potential alternative to liquid hydrogen or kerosene.

SpaceX has announced plans to build the Raptor, a methane-fueled engine.Aerojet has largely focused on LOx/kerosene work; Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president for Advanced Space & Launch Systems, says an RD-180 replacement could take four years. Advances in methane propulsion warrant an open mind on the part of the government, one source says, although a downselect is inevitable in a few years.
>



#9 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 22:23

“It’s very clear they made a commitment to increase competition, and then the Air Force reversed itself,” Arizona Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It just doesn’t seem right to me.”

US Air Force Looks To Certify SpaceX For Rocket Launches - Space News - redOrbit



#10 DocM

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 23:20

Yup, this has started a firestorm that has actually been brewing since ULA was formed.

The reason ULA was formed goes back to when Lockheed (Atlas V) and Boeing (Delta IV) were competing for the original EELV (evolved expendable launch vehicle) launch contract.

Boeing got caught with thousands of pages of secret Lockheed Atlas V documents they had pilfered. Rather than go through an extended litigation both parties agreed to launch a joint venture, ULA, which the govt. signed off on to get the project moving again. Atlas V and Delta IV were transferred to the new company.

So right from the start ULA has had a checkered reputation.

#11 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 22:23

I remember when ULA was formed it raised a lot of discussion, even here in Europe because it was bad for long term stability.

 

Reading more into the shady ULA block buy it get's weirder and weirder.

Shelby is going to retire in August, he is still defending the block buy.

I wonder where he will work after his retirement..... :rolleyes:

 

ieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, and Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, sign a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to certify the Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch System for National Security Space missions at a ceremony at SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., June 7. The CRADA will be in effect until all certification activities are complete. While certification does not guarantee a contract award, it does enable a company to compete for launch contracts.

 

SpaceX one step closer to competing with United Launch Alliance for Air Force launches | AL.com

 

 

While certification does not guarantee a contract award, it does enable a company to compete for launch contracts. Those contracts could be awarded as early as Fiscal Year 2015 with launch services provided as early as Fiscal Year 2017. 

 

SMC Enters into Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with SpaceX -- EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

 

It is exactly how Senator John McCain describes it.



#12 DocM

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 03:22

Yup, and ULA isn't trying so much to pre-empt Falcon 9 v1.1 but Falcon Heavy which has its maiden flight around the first of the year. Falcon Heavy has much more lift than either ULA launcher.

Put even the Level-1 FH at $77m up against a $150m Atlas V 401 or $250m+ and it's no contest. The Level-2 FH at $135m hammers the $350m Delta IV Heavy's lift by almost 2:1.

Then there's the Block 1 SpaceX BFR....

#13 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 14:50

Yep the SLS killer.

By the time they finish to develope SLS, the BFR is probably already in service.

Recent developements in politics and advanced textiles (also thanks to the F35 program) will speed up the developement.

Point is that the military now needs SpaceX to have assured access to Space

 

By the way, here is the official National Space Transportation Policy

 

http://www.whitehous...cy_11212013.pdf

 

When you read it carefully than this 36 core block buy of ULA blocking any other party out, the current Air Force policy to reduce the amount of competative launches is not according this Policy. Therefore not according to the law and should be corrected.



#14 DocM

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 15:47

I find it telling that Gen. Shelton is now talking a lot about big methane engines. Seems I remember some California company talking about developing one of those :whistle:

#15 OP ImUtrecht

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 22:40

Maybe Gen. Shelton want's after his retirement in August to be head of propulsion of ULA, or Rocketdyne...

I don't think he is going to work for SpaceX...   :shiftyninja: