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ULA Vulcan launcher: updates

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DocM    14,810

Targeting a $100m price somewhere between 2019 and 2024 seems like they're not leading the fast moving market enough.

It'll also be interesting to see the engine choice for ACES: AeroJet RL-10, Blue Origin BE-3U or XCOR's XR-5K18, and how air-capture of the lower stages thrust structure works out.

http://spacenews.com/ulas-vulcan-rocket-to-be-rolled-out-in-stages/#sthash.ktfuTx6f.dpuf

ULAs Vulcan Rocket To be Rolled out in Stages

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. United Launch Alliance unveiled an incremental approach to replace its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket, an ambitious path forward that ultimately would include a new second stage and, later, reusable first-stage engines that would be captured midair by helicopter after each mission.

The plan would provide a competitive alternative to SpaceXs low-cost Falcon 9 rocket but entails risk for ULA as it funds a significant development program for as many as nine years as its competition gains momentum.

Tory Bruno, ULAs president and chief executive, declined to detail the companys exact investment in the project but suggested that new rockets typically cost about $2 billion to develop, including the main engine. During an April 13 press conference on the eve the 31st Space Symposium here, he said that cost would be borne by ULA and its strategic partners, but that the company would not turn down government money if that becomes available.

The first step in the developing the newly named Vulcan rocket is developing a new first stage featuring the methane-fueled BE-4 engine by Blue Origin of Kent, Washington. ULA is also working with Aerojet Rocketdyne on the AR-1 engine, in case the BE-4 runs into delays.

>

In addition to the new engine, the Vulcans first stage would feature a stretch version of the tank used on ULAs Delta 4 rocket, which the company is phasing out in 2018 because it is too expensive. The second stage of the initial Vulcan version, slated to debut around 2019, would feature the same Centaur upper stage and fairing now used on the Atlas 5, Bruno said.

The Vulcan could be augmented by up to six solid rocket boosters, giving it greater lift capability than the largest version of the Atlas 5 but not as much as the Delta 4 Heavy, which features three core stages in a side-by-side configuration. Bruno said he plans to issue a request for proposals within the next 12 months for the large boosters, which would likely be built by either Orbital ATK or Aerojet Rocketdyne.

ULA told the Air Force in February it plans to start two separate U.S. Air Force certification processes for the rocket later this year, one with the BE-4 and one with the AR-1. Certification is required for the Vulcan to carry U.S. national security payloads.

Bruno said ULAs first choice is the BE-4 but that it continues to fund the AR-1 work as a backup option, and that ULA will make a final decision on in 2016.

The next step in Vulcans evolution is a new upper stage known as the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, which could be able to operate in space for weeks at a time, ULA officials said. This would open up a whole new range of missions to the Vulcan, ULA officials said.

The ACES stage would have anywhere from one to four cryogenic engines, depending on the mission. The candidate engines are: a new variant of the RL10 produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne and currently used on both the Atlas 5 and Delta 4; Blue Origins BE-3; and an engine being jointly developed with XCOR aerospace.

ULA will select the engine for the ACES stage in the next few years, Bruno said.

Aerial Recovery

Ultimately, ULA plans to reuse the Vulcans first stage engines through a process called Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology. After first-stage burnout, the two engines would be severed from the tank and deploy an inflatable heat shield to slow their re-entry. They then would deploy steerable parachutes, which would slow their descent enough so they could be recovered in mid-air by a helicopter.

>

Bruno has said he hopes to drive the cost of the standard Vulcan rocket down to about $100 million.

ULA hopes to introduce the ACES upper stage in 2023 and the reusable first stage in 2024, Bruno said.

ULA_Vulcan.jpg

NC3_SMARTReuse413201561546PM63.jpg

ACES S2 with piston engine/pumps/generator

NC2_AdvancedCryoEvolvedStage413201561612

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Beittil    495

And it didn't take long for the first objections to rise...

 

 

(Reuters) - Hours after unveiling its next-generation "Vulcan" rocket, the company that launches most of America's satellites, United Launch Alliance (ULA), ran into its first problem - the rocket's name.

 
"Vulcan is a trademark of Vulcan Inc. and we have informed ULA of our trademark rights," Chuck Beames, president of the Paul Allen-backed Vulcan Aerospace, told Reuters.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/14/us-space-ula-rocket-name-idUSKBN0N505V20150414

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DocM    14,810

In other news, there are unconfirmed reports of joint combat operations by the Boeing PR and Legal departments targeting the 36th floor at 100 North Riverside Plaza, Chicago.

/s

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Beittil    495

What do you mean? Boeing PR/Legal taking action vs Boeing leadership? I don't get it...

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DocM    14,810

You got it, but note the /s(arcasm) tag.

The naming was an online contest run by Boeing HQ. Something tells me the PR and Legal depts. are steaming.

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Beittil    495

Hmm, I indeed wouldn't immediately link /s to that btw... ow well.

 

In either case it would be very funny to see ULA being forced to give it that, immensely stupid, GalaxyOne or Zeus name in stead. I suppose Zeus would be the better option then, since with GalaxyOne I suppose Virgin would immediately be all over them for similarity to their LauncherOne.

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

A simple Patent and Trademark search would have revealed this information to them beforehand .. however, if they performed it (as is good practices) and nothing turned up and they still ran into this issue, ULA has wiggle room.

 

However, there are numerous commercial products that use the Vulcan name, and off the top of my head one is a line of high-end Cooking Appliances used in Restaurants and the Food Service Industry (Flattops, Ovens, Burners and such).

 

My guess is that they simply blundered into this one without performing due diligence.

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Beittil    495

It is not uncommon to see the same name being used for products in different sectors. Here in the Netherlands for example we have the brand name 'Ajax', which is a football club and also a brand of cleaning agent and fire extinguishers :p As such there isn't really a base to claim ownership because of dissimilarities in the area's the brands are active in.

 

But in this case it is literally in each others backyards.

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geertd    12

i like the competition 

competition drives innovation 

 

 The Reusable Rocket Battle Begins - Vulcan vs Falcon  
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="nl"><p>The Reusable Rocket Battle Begins - Vulcan vs Falcon <a href="">http://t.co/nrXptCwcHu</a></p>&mdash; NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) <a href="https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/587963799421980672">14 april 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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DocM    14,810

The real reusable competition in 4-5 years will be SpaceX vs Blue Origin.

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flyingskippy    143

Correct me if I am wrong, but recovering rocket engines by air from a helicopter has been done before right?

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DocM    14,810

Mid-air retrieval is VERY risky, and seldom done. In the Corona recon seldom program film canister re-entry vehicles were recovered this way. The NASA Genesis probe was supposed to be mid-air recovered using Hollywood stunt pilots, but it's chutes failed. Not much else.

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malenfant    26

ULAs concept looks reasonable actually and the assured access likely means it will have a role to play.

The integrated vehicle fluid management looks damn interesting. Mass savings and increased capabilities are significant. Would it work with methane? Possible use in a SpaceX BFR upper stage maybe.

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DocM    14,810

IVF comes largely from XCOR, who developed the cryogenic piston pumps for Lynx and other vehicles.

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

I don't like the mid-air recovery approach. It's already been proven dangerous to the pilot that needs to snag the item(s), and now we're talking about something that is many orders of magnitude heavier than anything ever snagged before?

 

Nope, bad idea that will get someone killed.

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malenfant    26

The mid-air recovery will be challenging., although I think the parachute is designed to come down in a fairly tight spiral at a fairly slow foward and descent speed. And besides they'll have the best guys in the business flying -they live for this kind of thing.

The inflatable hypersonic re-entry on the other hand...

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DocM    14,810

That inflated heat shield tech is still in development. But then, Vulcan won't fly for at least 4 years and Orbital Sciences may fly it first on a Cygnus. Maybe.

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DocM    14,810

<chuckle>

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/22/ula-needs-commercial-business-to-close-vulcan-rocket-business-case/

ULA needs commercial business to close Vulcan rocket business case

United Launch Alliance will need to lure commercial customers to ensure the economic viability of its new Vulcan rocket, which is set to debut in 2019 just as the rate of U.S. military satellite launches is due to take a dip.

The Vulcan rocket must fly at least 10 times per year to keep factory and launch crews operating at the efficiencies needed to reach ULAs price goal of $100 million per mission, according to Tory Bruno, ULAs president and chief executive.

ULA says the Vulcan rocket can be ready for its debut launch in 2019, and the company plans to introduce the new launcher over several years while still flying the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 boosters in ULAs existing inventory.

The Vulcan may not be certified to send up the most expensive national security payloads until 2023, so ULA plans to rely on commercial business for the new rockets early launches.

>

>

SpaceX is developing its own bulked-up launcher called the Falcon Heavy, which is scheduled to launch from NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time later this year. SpaceX has signaled its intent to work with the Air Force to certify the Falcon Heavy, giving the California-based space transportation firm access to a larger slice of the launch market than reachable with the smaller Falcon 9.

The Air Force and SpaceX have not disclosed a timetable for Falcon Heavys certification, but Shotwell said in March the process should go quicker than the two-year review needed for the military to sign off on the Falcon 9.

The Falcon Heavys certification plan calls for the rocket to complete three successful launches, including two consecutive successful flights, before getting clearance for national security satellite launches, according to a report published by Space News.

>

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

No way they'll launch ten a year in the current state of things. Not even at $45 million a launch. The only way they could possibly do that is if they get an exclusivity contract with the ESA to replace whatever vehicle they are trying to decide on building -- and that's extremely unlikely to happen.

 

SpaceX, Orbital and the other players are already on the field. We're three-quarters through Season 1 with these companies, and the next season is taking shape already. :yes:

 

$100 million? Nope. ULA needs another plan. I can appreciate wanting to use what they've already built regarding Delta and Atlas, but Vulcan is already going in the wrong direction.

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DocM    14,810

Vulcan won't fly until 2019, and the final upper stage won't be ready until 2023-2024. By the time they're flying it for $100+m SpaceX will probably be working on or flying a methane Falcon with 2 reusable stages and Blue Origin's methane bird will be operational.

This doesn't even count Firefly's alpha and beta or RocketLab's Electron smallsat launchers and their likely larger follow-ons.

ULA's shooting at multiple lower-cost moving targets.

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flyingskippy    143

In order for ULA to reach the goal of Vulcan costing $100M per launch, they would have to fundamentally rebuild from the ground up.

This would include renegotiating labor contracts, cutting down on third party contractors, and manufacturing parts in house from raw materials to finished product.

This goes against all that ULA has done from the moment Boeing and Lockheed Martin agreed to firm the alliance.

You can't go from relying on the US Gov't to stay in buisness to a true commercial launch provider by reveilling

this "21st century All-American rocket."

ULA and their third party contractors all have their hands in the cookie jar and they all want a cookie -That's what has to change.

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malenfant    26

The Vulcan concept is the rocket ULA needed 10yrs ago. 10yrs from now it's difficult to see what role it will have given the F9/Heavy if reusability pans out. If launch contracts aren't assured upfront I'm not sure it will go anywhere. That's essentially what Mr Bruno is saying in not so many words.

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DocM    14,810

A few days ago Bruno also cast major shade on AeroJet saying their AR-1 backup engine being ready if Blue Origin's BE-4 engine doesn't pan out. He thinks the idea of AR-1 being ready by 2018 is "ridiculous."

http://www.aviationweek.com/defense/ula-ceo-calls-2018-availability-date-ar-1-engine-ridiculous

So if BO's BE-4 is delayed or hits a wall ULA is screwed.

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malenfant    26

It could well be be that ULA is going about this all wrong. That trying to compete with SpaceX on reusability is a losing move. Why not aim for ultra simplicity.

I'm thinking a Delta with pintle ablatively cooled engines -something along the lines TRW played with -both stages and the requisite number of solids. Or some such. Go the big dumb booster route.

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

Half the problem, imo, is that Bruno is thinking too much like the "old way of doing business in a new climate", and it never works. Sad thing is that he's on the inside looking out, and from that vantage point he can't see the problem for what it really is.

 

He's a smart fellow -- he has to be, to have reached the position he's in -- but he's outclassed and outmatched by what SpaceX, Bigelow, Orbital, and the other new faces of Aerospace and Technology bring to the table. And it's really a shame, because ULA should be the ones leading this revolution if they'd just change with the times and adapt.

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