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ULA Vulcan launcher: updates

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DocM    16,485

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust
Bernard Kutter, ULA: ACES upper stage key to Cislunar 1000 space development plans. Add Xeus “mission kit” for lunar landings. #LEAG16

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/793535393924775941

 

ACES

NC2_AdvancedCryoEvolvedStage413201561612

 

XEUS (with Masten Aerospace)

 

8-300x191.png

 

Return module

 

ULA5.jpg

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DocM    16,485

Jon Goff's Altius Space Machines has a project building the thruster actuators for Vulcan's ACES long duration upper stage/depot/XEUS Lander (XEUS is an ACES mission pack.)  These thrusters have an extreme gimbal capability.

 

Post #572.

 

NSF....

 

Quote


I can't say too much about this project without getting prior ULA approval, since they're the ones paying for the development, but this has been one of the bigger projects we've been working on over the past year and a half. We did the design and fabrication of all the gimbal mechanism and feedline related stuff, and another company (IES) did the actual thrust chambers/igniters/injectors. I'll let the ULA guys decide how much they want to say about how the system works, and what benefits it brings to ACES, but I will say it's been a lot of fun.

I wasn't able to be there for the firing, since I was out at SpaceCom pitching the company, but the guys all had a lot of fun. As I mentioned on Twitter, we are still primarily a space robotics company, but there's nothing that says we can't have a pair of rocket engines as a robotic end-effector...

 

Video of thruster firing/gimballing 

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

Zowie! :D That's some extreme gimballing! I like it!

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Draggendrop    5,747

 

 

C4QkmlkVYAALD3p.jpg

 

:)

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

- Not unexpected that they went with the BE-4. :yes: Good choice on their part -- and mum's the word on how far along it is in development. I'll have to check the usual sources. ;)

 

- Concerning the "on-orbit refueling" capability, that's a technology that has yet to be tested .. but it's sound in theory. I'm interested (like all of us are) to see what approach they employ to make this happen, but their assertion that it will "dramatically reduce launch costs"? I dunno about that. Depends on how these stages are reused and recovered. Will they do this like they plan to do with the S1 engine superstructures -- by parafoil and helicopters -- or will they employ a landing procedure like SpaceX does? Surely a company like ULA could pull it off with both stages ... they've got the expertise to develop those systems and procedures. I understand the whole "we need to differentiate ourselves" thing, but if something works why not go that route instead? They'd save themselves a lot of money and time once they got that whole thing perfected. *shrug*

 

- Still using solids. Guess they gotta follow through on ATK contracts. Whatever gets their gear off the pad.

 

- Still using RL-10's too. They really need to move away from LH already. The Merlin-D-Vac engines have 9.4x more power and are able to fulfill ALL the roles that Centaur can and then some. Current RL-10's, the RL-10A4-2, (according to Wikipedia) produce 22,300lbf of thrust -- the above image is quoting the thrust power from TWO RL-10's, by the way -- and are based off a design that essentially hasn't changed much since 1958. LH is difficult to store, difficult to transport, and really is a pain in the rear all around for quite low relative performance. Looks like the ACES stage will use FOUR of these ... meh.

 

- I'm still not sold on the idea of the "drop-off" engines. It's a danger to the Pilots and Crews that need to snare that ####### thing mid-air. Rocket engines are NOT light.

 

So, to sum up -- good on ULA for thinking within the box as usual. Never do anything unexpected or make waves. Nope .... ;) 

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

Oh, and a curious thought comes to mind ... let SPACEX have a go at upgrading the RL-10's to something more modern.

 

I bet I know what Elon would say about it after the "baseline static fire" to let SpaceX Engineers know what they're working with before they start tinkering .... ;)

 

"What in the blue HELL is THIS piece of junk?! 22k?! That's IT?! Oh, no no no no. Nope. Nope. Not even. SuperDraco's put out 16k -- and they're for LANDING. And we use FOUR of them at ONCE. HELL no. Get the RL-10 off the stand. NOW. No, I'm not kidding. Do it NOW. You three? You are to start work on its' replacement. I want this design cranking out 100k in two months. That's the new target."

 

:laugh::rofl:

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Beittil    573

Well, it sure looks like it is going to be a spectacular show to ever see a 564 config take off :woot:

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DocM    16,485

For ACES I'm still surprised at it using a 6 cylinder IC for pumping, power etc. for long missions. Sure it's a cool Roush custom job (Roush is not far from us), but still....

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

It's reliable, so it should be fine. Whatever works. :) 

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DocM    16,485

1)  the ACES upper stage is delayed. They're going to build a Centaur 5 upper stage, an expansion of Centaurs 3 meter core to a 5.4 meter core. No word as to if they'll keep the RL-10 engine or swap it/them out.

 

2) could they actually be considering a VTOL Vulcan lower stage? ISTM the fastest way to do that is to put ULA stickers on New Glenn's lower stage, with 3-5 engines instead of 7.

 

 

Edited by DocM

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

He can't seriously still be considering throwing away most of the stage at this point .... ULA would save soooooooo much money recovering the whole thing. Not to mention the achievement patches. AND his company could say "we did it" and be the fella who changed how OldSpace did things.

 

All of us who knows what goes into a rocket stage knows that there are precious metals that are used in the components besides just commonly-used materials. Every time, every time, a rocket stage is discarded those metals are lost forever.

 

Now ... does Tory Bruno really want to be known as a man who just went along with "business as usual", or does he want to REALLY make a name for himself as the guy who dared thumb his nose at the status quo and say "SpaceX has the right idea" -- and transform the business like Elon Musk has?

 

It's really that simple. Think big, think broad, and think grand -- or be just another "yes man" in a business full of "yes men". Another Corporate Lackey relegated to the "figurehead" pile.

 

It's up to him, really. Muster up some courage, be bold, and say that ULA is gonna go for it -- or take the easy way out.

 

OH -- and they need to lose the RL-10's. Those engines are seriously holding ULA back. They are TRASH.

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DocM    16,485

Vulcan Heavy seems to be a rebranding of the 6 booster config as it's been listed as having 0-6 boosters since 2015. Must be a competing xxxxxx Heavy out there, somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Edited by DocM
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IsItPluggedIn    1,684

Have they started building any of this yet?

BE-4 is under production, but what about the rest of it?

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Beittil    573

PowerPoint mostly... 

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DocM    16,485

Yup. I half expect a Boeing-Lockheed decision where ULA buys 3-5 engine boosters from Blue and sticks a Vulcan paint job on them. Add a Centaur V or ACES upper stage as needed.

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Unobscured Vision    2,665
1 hour ago, DocM said:

Yup. I half expect a Boeing-Lockheed decision where ULA buys 3-5 engine boosters from Blue and sticks a Vulcan paint job on them. Add a Centaur V or ACES upper stage as needed.

That's exactly what's going to happen. Bulk engine buys in lots, with Blue flying their own rockets and also acting as a supplier. It's going to make them a lot of money. :yes: 

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DocM    16,485

Vulcan Heavy will do about 65% of Falcon Heavy's max mass to orbit, but have an advantage in payload fairing volume -- until SpaceX stretches Fairing 2.0 for the EELV 2 competition.

 

Even then SpaceX's BFR, Blue Origin's New Glenn, and much later New Armstrong, will greatly exceed them. 

 

https://www.geekwire.com/2018/blue-origin-ceo-says-next-gen-4-rocket-engine-meets-technical-requirements/

 

Quote

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For years, there’s been a big question surrounding the next-generation BE-4 rocket engine that’s being built by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture: Will it be good enough for United Launch Alliance, a crucial prospective customer?

 

Now Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith says the BE-4 has passed all of the technical tests required for ULA to sign onto a production contract.

“We’ve met the technical and performance requirements that they’re looking for,” Smith told GeekWire today during a one-on-one interview at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. “And so we’re just working through how do we actually get to a production deal. We’re working through terms and conditions, termination liability, all of the things you’d want within a contractual structure.”

Smith said there’s been good interaction with ULA on the technical side of the BE-4 test-firing process. “At this point, we think it’s just, how do we get to the commercial production deal?” he said.
>

 

 

BE-4_Engine_1.thumb.jpg.f26ffbc7da69f68155844e441c14f969.jpg

 

Vulcan-Centaur5.thumb.jpg.f417af164c9eb1cd8efc68ec22a530bd.jpg

Edited by DocM
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Unobscured Vision    2,665

Sheesh, finally. Talk about a long, needlessly drawn-out process.

 

Now the USAF can jump on the AR-1 and begin dev of their platform, since ULA is no longer going to possibly select it, it won't be in public use. :yes: And they'll make good use of it too.

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DocM    16,485

Tory Bruno on The Space Show, discussing Vulcan's Centaur V upper stage.

 

Centaur is currently 3 meters in diameter with 20.83t/45.92klb of props  and one or two RL10 engines.

 

RL10C introduced a new engine controller and avionics, a significantly reduced parts count and a new manufacturing process to reduce costs. 

 

----------

 

Centaur V will be a 5.4m diameter stage with 54t/120klb of props and two RL10C engines. 

 

Upgrade path, 

 

Centaur V+ with an engine upgrade. [This may include a 3D printed copper thrust chamber, which Aerojet Rocketdyne has been testing for over a year ]

 

Centaur V+ Long with 77t/170klb of props. They're still doing the trades  between two vs. four engines. Vulcan-Centaur V+ Long will replace Delta IV Heavy.

 

ACES upper stage changeover, which will introduce IVF (integrated vehicle fluids) and a custom Roush Racing 6-cylinder engine for pumping, power generation, etc. running off ullage gases.

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

That whole scheme is a story of diminishing returns ... and it's gonna bite 'em in the rear. If they have any hope of making it perform adequately at 50% wet weight they need to use the four engine config. It'll do roughly the same job as MVac Block-3 in that config (maybe a tad more); the S1 can compensate for the shortfall if they're trying to push heavy stuff uphill.

 

Vulcan will be a performer, certainly -- but it's going to be an underachiever at first. ULA, Blue, and AJR need to use that as impetus to innovate from there.

 

still think that the AR-1 is a better fit in this scenario. Hear me out on this one before the pitchforks get poking ....

 

AJR has classically been a partner with OldSpace. The AR-1 engine apparently IS ready to go from all the reports I'm hearing it just needs a platform now. With all of the setbacks that Blue has had with the BE-4 (and yes, I realize that everyone needs to move to CH4/LOX) I think that the timeframes are bad for Blue right now. ULA needs to get moving on Vulcan NOW.

 

Blue can get the BE-4 sorted out, ULA can use the AR-1 for Vulcan Block-1, and when the BE-4 is ready it'll be used on Vulcan Block-2. Everyone wins.

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DocM    16,485

 

 

Due to the bulk density difference between RP-1 and CH4; if they stick with a 5.4 meter Vulcan they'd have to shoten the tanks for RP-1 and AR-1, then lengthen them and totally redo the thrust structure engine mounts for a switch to BE-4 and CH4.

 

Too much money motion & expense. They'll wait for BE-4.

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DocM    16,485

If they aren't spending any of their own money on AR1 those federal funds should be frozen.

 

Ars...

 

Quote

Financial document reveals Vulcan rocket engine competition is over

 

Aerojet no longer seems on track to deliver "flight-ready" hardware next year.

The latest financial release from aerospace manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne reveals that the company spent none of its own money on development of the AR1 rocket engine this spring. Moreover, the quarterly 10-Q filing that covers financial data through June 30, 2018 indicates that Aerojet may permanently stop funding the engine with its own money altogether—a sign the company has no immediate customers.

Although Aerojet will continue to receive some funding from the US military through next year to develop its large, new rocket engine, this money won't be enough to bring it to completion. Instead of having a flight-ready engine for use by the end of 2019, the filing indicates that Aerojet now intends to have just a single prototype completed within the time frame.

Aerojet has been developing the AR1 engine under a cost-share agreement with the US Air Force, which had agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost. Aerojet originally agreed to pay nearly all of the remainder, with a small contribution from rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance. This agreement, valued at $804 million, was in line with Aerojet's estimate of $800 million to $1 billion to develop the new engine.

The AR1 rocket engine, fueled by refined kerosene and liquid oxygen, is in the running to power United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan rocket, which is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2020 or 2021. (The government is investing in the AR1 engine because it views the Vulcan as a potentially significant provider of defense launch needs.) The Colorado-based rocket manufacturer has said it prefers to use Blue Origin's BE-4 engine to power Vulcan's first stage but is considering the AR1 as a back-up option.

A final decision on this engine, expected within weeks, is being closely watched within the aerospace industry. It now seems all but certain that the decision will be in favor of Blue Origin's new liquid methane-based engine, which is about two years ahead of the AR1 in development.
>

 

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Beittil    573

Ahum...

 

 

;)

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Unobscured Vision    2,665

FINALLY.

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