NGLS - Next-Generation Launch System от ULA

Автор Salo, 23.02.2015 09:43:06

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NK


Дмитрий В.

ЦитатаKR пишет:
не, не красивая
То ли дело Ангара - тоненькие изящные "сосисочки" УРМ-1, толстенький коротышка УРМ-2, гораздо более длинный и толстый головной обтекатель. Красотища - уйма разнообразия форм и размеров. Не то, что эта американская однообразная скучная ракета.
Lingua latina non penis canina
StarShip - аналоговнет!

Salo

Там на любой вкус есть:
;)
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

NK

ЦитатаДмитрий В. пишет:
ЦитатаKR пишет:
не, не красивая
То ли дело Ангара - тоненькие изящные "сосисочки" УРМ-1, толстенький коротышка УРМ-2, гораздо более длинный и толстый головной обтекатель. Красотища - уйма разнообразия форм и размеров. Не то, что эта американская однообразная скучная ракета.
ничего они не тоненькие, вполне гармонично смотрятся. .
а у Юлы, этот пучок ускорителей как лапша болтается.

Apollo13

Интересное интервью на NSF:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37295.msg1358058#msg1358058

ЦитатаOnce we go to ACES, we will likely retire the 4m PLF.  Firm plans are for 5m only, but we have studied up to 8m.  Implementing something larger than 5m will be driven by customer requirements.
Собираются отказаться от 4-метрового обтекателя. Очевидно что и 4-метровго ACES не будет.

NK

красотка, никакой сосисочности

Антон

Интересно получается, учитывая что будут использоваться баки от Дельты мне казалось что под вулкан переделают стартовые площадки от Дельты 4, но  если Вулкан не сможет заменить Дельту Хеви, то какое-то время они должны будут существовать вместе, ну и об отказе от Атласа до полноценной эксплуатации Вулкана речи тоже не идет. Это что же получается, они новую площадку строить под Вулкан делать будут?
И получается, что ULA урезает себе возможности по выводу, ведь с окончанием запусков Дельты 2, легкой ракеты у ULA не будет, да и возможности Дельты хеви (кстати неизвестно какой версии) Вулкан закроет лишь на 2-м этапе, а ведь были в заначке и варианты Атлас Хеви и Дельты Хеви с ускорителями. Получается ULA смирилась с тем, что легкий класс отойдет Орбитал, а сверхтяжелый SpaceX.

И еще один непонятный момент, зачем нужен 4-х двигательный ACES, ведь Centaur-5-DEC не летал ни разу, а у DCSS 2-х двигательной опции вообще нет. Разве что для того чтобы NASA предложить в качестве EUS.

DCSS как я понимаю ULA хоронит, хотя и впарили его NASA.
Вот интересно, а обтекатели от Дельты останутся или только от Атласа будут? 

Salo

Ответ на картинках.
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Salo

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/16/certification-process-begins-for-vulcan-to-carry-military-payloads/
ЦитатаCertification process begins for Vulcan to carry military payloads       
Posted on April 16, 2015 by Justin Ray

Delta 4-Heavy (left) and the new Vulcan rocket (right). Credit: ULA
 
CAPE CANAVERAL -- The heavy-lift version of the United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan rocket will sell for half the price of today's Delta 4-Heavy and a third of the price tag for the previous Titan 4, while offering a substantial increase in performance for the nation's largest defense spacecraft.
"Well below $200 million. Value is unlimited on-orbit operations," George Sowers, ULA's vice president of strategic architecture and advanced programs, told a reddit.com chat Wednesday.
The Delta 4-Heavy has flown eight times, most recently with NASA's Orion capsule last December. But the bread and butter for the launcher is classified National Reconnaissance Office payloads -- massive eavesdropping platforms placed directly into geosynchronous orbit and optical spy satellites launched from the West Coast.
ULA boss Tory Bruno announced the company plans to retire the medium-class, single-core Delta 4-Medium and -Medium+ configurations in 2019. The Delta 4-Heavy will live on as long as the Air Force and NRO need it.
"I have personally communicated to the Air Force and NRO that we will keep the Delta 4-Heavy available until they are able to gracefully transition to the Vulcan. I expect that to be out in the 2023-24 timeframe. But it'll be up to them," Bruno says.
By that time, the new Vulcan rocket's first stage will be four-to-five years old and certified by the Air Force to launch the country's security spacecraft.
"Yes, we've already started. You begin the certification process by writing a letter to the Air Force and telling them 'I'm going to have a new rocket,'" Bruno said of certification.
"The fundamental difference in our approach to certification is we intend to continue our policy of transparency with the government. We've invited them now, literally when we first began this path, to engage with us, to attend design reviews, to participate and have that visibility as we move through the development process.
"Instead of having finished all our work without letting the government participate and backing up the semi-truck and dumping all the qual testing on 'em and all the drawings and all the processes and plans, we're going to bring them along all the way."
Certification will allow the initial Vulcan configurations to launch Air Force and NRO satellites in the medium-class market. The Vulcan's new first stage will be outfitted with a Blue Origin BE-4 main engine and up to six solid-propellant boosters for added lift. The existing Centaur will be the upper stage.
Step No. 2 in the development process of the new rocket will introduce the new Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, to the Vulcan first stage in 2023. It will increase performance to Delta 4-Heavy levels and beyond. A subsequent certification of the new upper stage will be required, too.
The third development step will bring reusability in the form of mid-air recovery of the discarded main engines. The powerplants will be brought back to land, refurbished, certified for reflight and plugged into the next booster in the factory, Bruno said.
"I don't think the business case closes for full-stage re-use," Sowers told his reddit.com audience."I don't think the business case closes for anyone."
ULA officials are confident they can compete in the marketplace with the reduced costs of Vulcan, which has an entry-level price of $100 million before reusability kicks in. And the ACES and Integrated Vehicle Fluid engine aboard the new upper stage will allow it to operate for weeks instead of mere hours for value added capabilities.
It'll all be accomplished using single-core Vulcans, unlike the triple-barreled Delta 4-Heavy.
 "Yes. LEO to Pluto with a single stick," Sowers said.
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Salo

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/16/ula-gets-futuristic/       
ЦитатаULA gets futuristic       
Posted on April 16, 2015 by Justin Ray

CAPE CANAVERAL -- United Launch Alliance revealed its visionary approach to space exploration in the next decade courtesy of the Vulcan rocket's new, long-duration upper stage that can be fitted with as many as four engines to perform cargo resupply and astronaut transportation to far-flung destinations.
"This is the real game-changer," Tory Bruno, the CEO and president of ULA, said in unveiling the company's next-generation rocket on Monday.
It all starts with what Bruno calls "distributed lift" to split the launches of supplies and people into two flights without needing a large rocket. That's when the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Upper Stage, or ACES, takes over.
"Today, the concept for launching objects, for satellites, for missions into space is highly constrained. It's trapped into the notion that the spacecraft has to be completely self-contained, physically. If it's a satellite, it has to fit in the nose fairing. If it's a capsule, it has to fit inside that capsule envelope. And once it goes up, there's no opportunity to meaningfully, physically interact with it. That upper stage shatters that limitation and opens up this possibility of distributed lift.
"We can take our first launch, big fuel tanks, supplies, food, water, if it's a manned mission. And the next mission will bring up the spacecraft or the astronauts in their capsule. With this advanced upper stage, which can fly around for weeks, it's up there waiting, we can put these pieces together, and outside the deep part of Earth's gravity well with that much impulse and propellant, we can do anything.
"We can go out and tap the resources that are in space. We can asteroid mine, we can build the infrastructure required for a real and permanent human presence. Fuel depots, water depots, commercial human habitats. This is truly a game-changer and I couldn't be more excited about what this will do for the future of space, all enabled by that advanced, high-performance, ultralong-duration upper stage," Bruno said.

The ACES stage is scheduled to debut in 2023, a year before distributed lift, which is the fourth and final development step to bring the full potential of the Vulcan rocket system.
"We can do anything you might imagine a permanent presence, a true commercial exploitation of space would require. All of that infrastructure that's truly required to see the potential of space can now be put together," Bruno said.
The existing high-energy Centaur upper stage will fly on Vulcan in the earliest years starting in 2019. The new upper stage will allow the new rocket to surpass the capability of the Delta 4-Heavy for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office spy satellites.
The engines will be manufactured by either Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin or XCOR. A decision on which supplier to use will come later. The stage can use between one and four powerplants, carry three times more propellant than Centaur, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and operate in space for weeks instead of mere hours.
"The ACES is a concept we've been working on for quite a few years," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of strategic architecture and advanced programs.
"It is a LOX/hydrogen upper stage, high-energy, a balloon-tank, pressurize-stabilized tank, thin-walled stainless steel, a very efficient design. The Integrated Vehicle Fluids is really the key to expanding the capabilities of the stage."
ULA is building the IVF with Roush, the NASCAR team. The internal combustion engine will take waste propellants and recycle them to repressurize the tanks, to generate electrical power and to provide attitude control thrust. It eliminated the need for helium and hydrazine to be carried on the stage versus today's stages.
Cost to develop the Vulcan rocket, though, is being kept a secret. "We are not talking about how much it costs. We are paying for it, ourselves, ULA," Bruno added.
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Salo

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/18/ula-sees-clean-handover-of-boeing-crew-launches-to-vulcan-rocket/
ЦитатаULA sees clean handover of Boeing crew launches to Vulcan rocket       
Posted on April 18, 2015 by Justin Ray


CAPE CANAVERAL -- United Launch Alliance vows a "seamless" switch from the Atlas 5 to the new Vulcan rocket in launches of Boeing's astronaut taxis.
ULA is the launch provider of Boeing's CST-100 capsule under NASA's commercial crew program that will start ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil in 2017.
On Monday, ULA unveiled its lower-cost, reusable Vulcan rocket family that will begin flying in 2019. Due to budget constraints, the company will develop the rocket in steps, with the first stage coming initially.
The Vulcan to fly for the first four years will be powered by a pair of Blue Origin BE-4 methane main engines and up to six strap-on solid rocket boosters. The existing Centaur upper stage will be used until a new, advanced upper stage can be fielded starting in 2023, which is Step 2 of development.
"Because the front end of the rocket, the top half of it is the same as today's Atlas, at least in Step 1 (of development), all of the interfaces for the CST-100 at the launch pad and on the rocket are identical for what they are on Atlas," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of strategic architecture and advanced programs.
"Any of the crew providers that are currently integrated to Atlas would have a seamless transition to this vehicle at a lower cost," he added.
The Vulcan-Centaur, like the Atlas 5, will require a 422 vehicle variant, with two strap-on solid rocket boosters and a dual-engine Centaur upper stage to put the CST-100 capsule into low-Earth orbit.
But the addition of the new, high-performance Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage replacing Centaur will eliminate the need for solid rockets, allowing CST-100 to fly on the entry-level Vulcan-ACES vehicle.
Atlas 5 is being human-rated and Vulcan will be from the start.
"While our baseline launch vehicle design for the CST-100 is for the Atlas 5, from the onset we've designed our CST-100 to be launch vehicle agnostic, which means we can launch on any vehicle after some modifications. We will continue to work closely with ULA on their plans for future launch vehicles," said Boeing spokesman Adam Morgan.
ULA chief Tory Bruno says it will be up to Boeing when the transition from Atlas to Vulcan occurs.
At ULA's production factory in Decatur, Alabama, work has begun producing the first two Atlas rockets that will carry the Boeing capsules on test flights in 2017.
"There's two significant changes to the rocket that we're talking about. We'll go to a two RL10 engine version of the Centaur and we're doing some structural interfaces for the capsule," Bruno said.
"Everything else on Atlas is essentially identical. It's really a matter of going through the process of human-rating all of that existing rocketry to make sure it has the margins and pedigree and everything that goes along with that to be certified for human spaceflight."
The CST-100's first two space missions will see an unpiloted test flight in April 2017 and a demo mission with a two-person crew in July 2017, leading to NASA astronaut taxi missions to the International Space Station beginning at the end of 2017.
Those first two launches aboard Atlas 5 carry the tailnumbers AV-073 and AV-080.
"The last time we were at this stage of development for a human spacecraft was in the 1970s when we were building the shuttle," said former astronaut Chris Ferguson, now Boeing's director of Crew and Mission Systems for the company's commercial crew division.
"I have Apollo manuals on my desk -- not to copy designs but to understand how they did it and to validate the decisions we've made with regard to provisions for the crew, what kind of spacesuits they wear, what kind of seats they sit in, and why they sit that way. Engineers put an enormous amount of thought into many low-level designs decades ago, but now we're trying to recreate the "why" behind all that. It's a little intimidating, but it's fun. You learn why the space program took the shape it is today over five decades ago."
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Salo

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/239245-before-decade-is-out-all-us-military-satellites-may-be
ЦитатаApril 20, 2015, 07:00 am
Before decade is out all US military satellites may be grounded  
 
By Mark Albrecht, PhD and USAF Maj. Gen. Howard Mitchell (ret.)
 
Today, the launch infrastructure of the United States National Security Space (NSS) -- comprised of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Services and the Intelligence Community (IC) -- is teetering on the edge of a gap in capability which, in less than five years, could mean no capacity to launch the bulk of critical national security missions for as long as ten years. 
We are close to retiring our existing fleet of launch vehicles without new ones to assure our access to space. Since 1999 we have had an unprecedented string of successful NSS launches, over 90 as of this writing, hoisting payloads fr om GPS satellites that provide critical position, navigation and timing capability to U.S. forces worldwide, to military communications satellites that provide high capacity global military communications for command and control of air, land and naval forces, as well as for command and control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and drones around the world, to critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites that provide the national command authority eyes and ears in the sky.  America's enemies operate with the certain knowledge that they have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide fr om American reach.  And assured access to space is the key.
We have accomplished these successes and this remarkable record primarily utilizing two launch vehicles, the Atlas V and the Delta IV.   Both were designed in the 1990's and have been operational since the end of the century.  Both are in their prime of service, yet we are abandoning them in as few as five years and have no high probability plan for their replacement. The simple fact is, we have done this to ourselves.
The Atlas V is planned for retirement as early as 2017 because the Congress has mandated that, as punishment for Russian bellicosity in the Ukraine and Crimea, the Department of Defense no longer use Russian rocket engines for the launch of national security missions.
The Delta IV is planned for retirement in 2017 because it is simply too expensive to compete in the commercial marketplace, or even to compete with new entrants to the government launch market.  Only the 'heavy' version of the Delta IV remains in service because this behemoth alone can lift the one or two largest and bulkiest payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office.
Which brings us to SpaceX.  Its Falcon 9 launcher was developed by a combination of private and unencumbered government funds primarily for the commercial marketplace and resupply and human spaceflight to and from the space station. The problem is, the DoD has yet to certify the Falcon 9 ready to launch NSS payloads.
So what is the plan for NSS launches in just five years?  Seems like everyone has a different answer and none of them are sure bets. 
United Launch Alliance, the joint venture that currently offers Atlas V and Delta IV says it is going to build a new launch vehicle powered by a completely new rocket engine.  It will cost between $1.5B and $2.5B.  Problem is, no one has come forward and explained wh ere the money will come from and the joint venture has little or no resources of its own to commit to the program.
SpaceX believes that it's Falcon 9 and derivatives of its current design and a new 'heavy version' of the vehicle will fill the bill by 2018.  Problem is, not even the basic Falcon 9 has been certified as ready to launch NSS payloads and the critical new 'heavy' version doesn't even exist yet.  Certification of the Falcon 9 has taken almost two years and isn't to the finish line yet.
Congress has appropriated funds for the Air Force to develop a high performance liquid oxygen and kerosene engine that could be used on the Atlas V.  Problem is, the Air Force isn't sure how to get this work done in time and isn't sure enough funds are available to accomplish the goal even if it could acquire a suitable substitute.
Some hope this looming gap in the national security launch capability will cause the DoD and the Congress to release constraints on Russian engines, or spend money on a crash program to develop a new launch capability.  Problem is, Congress is skeptical that schedule relief will solve the problem and the Department of Defense doesn't have any money earmarked for a new launch acquisition.
We have been on several important government chartered panels in the past nine months regarding NSS launch.  Each has looked at different aspects of the launch dilemma, all have confirmed the complex and risky situation we have described and sounded the warning horn to all who will listen.
The government needs to take ownership and face this problem head on.  It needs to define the end state and show commitment to a credible, achievable and affordable solution for NSS launch in the 2020s and it needs to commit the necessary resources to achieve the desired outcome.  It has been said that today's American military is 'space based.'  It is our duty to make sure we can support our forces in the next decade with assured access to space. 

Albrecht was executive secretary of the National Space Council wh ere he served as President George H.W. Bush's principal adviser on the U.S. Space Program. He was also president of Lockheed Martin's International Launch Services company.  Mitchell was director of Operations at Air Force Space Command and director of the Office of Space Launch for the  National Reconnaissance Office.
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Seerndv

По поводу ВЕ-4 - движка нет , но уж причитания, что очистка СПГ до метана дорого стоит:

ЦитатаDeveloped for Blue Origin's planned Orbital Vehicle, the BE-4 (designating the fourth Blue engine) is an oxygen-rich, staged combustion, single-shaft rocket engine designed to burn liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"Liquefied natural gas is almost 100% methane; it has a few other hydrocarbons in it," says Bezos, who appeared with Bruno at a Washington press conference to announce the deal. "We're designing the engine to run on liquefied natural gas or methane. They're both roughly the same density, but methane is considerably more expensive because to remove the last little bit of other kinds of hydrocarbons is costly. Cost/operability is what drives us designing the engine."

http://aviationweek.com/space/ula-buying-rd-180-replacement-blue-origin

Иветта, Лизетта, Мюзетта,
Жанетта, о, Жоpжетта.
Вся жизнь моя вами,
Как солнцем июльским согpета,
Покуда со мной вы, клянусь,
Моя песня не спета.

anik

Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Richard McKinney: unlikely to have new system by FY19, so why is ULA planning to retire Delta 4? Teague: we're told not price competitive.
USAF MajGen Roger Teague: we've been directed by Congress to get off the RD-180, and we will comply; question is launches planned 2019-23.

Salo

23.04.2015 01:11:40 #94 Последнее редактирование: 23.04.2015 01:15:13 от Salo
http://www.computerworld.com/article/2911821/3d-printing/rocket-maker-for-nasa-and-the-air-force-to-begin-3d-printing-parts.html
ЦитатаRocket maker for NASA and the Air Force to begin 3D printing parts
                        
United Launch Alliance expects to 3D print flight-ready rocket components for its current Atlas V rocket and more than 100 parts for its next-gen rockets, the Vulcan.
Credit: ULA

United Launch Alliance believes it can save from 50% to 90% of the cost on any part it can 3D print    


By Lucas Mearian          
                                                                
Computerworld |   Apr 20, 2015 1:22 PM PT    
        
 [url=http://www.ulalaunch.com/]United Launch Alliance[/url] (ULA), the company that makes rockets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, plans to 3D print more than 100 flight-ready components for its next-gen model of rocket.
 That rocket, the Vulcan, was announced just last week and will combine the best attributes of the company's current Atlas- and Delta-model rockets. The Vulcan also offers a unique opportunity to infuse 3D printing of parts from the very beginning of the design concept, according to Greg Arend, program manager for additive manufacturing at ULA.
 "We have a long list of [parts] candidates to evaluate -- over 100 polymer parts we're considering and another 50 or so metal parts we're considering," Arend said. The Vulcan is expected to launch sometime in 2019.
 ULA is a leading rocket launch services company in the U.S. and it has supported America's presence in space for more than 50 years.
 On the lower-end, ULA's rockets cost $165 million, and they must propel into space billion-dollar satellites weighing more than 60,000 pounds.
 Arend said the 3D printers could save his company as much as $1 million per year in parts manufacturing costs.

ULA

 ULA has printed a new Environmental Control System for its Atlas V rocket. The ECS assembly had previously contained 140 parts that were made by third party suppliers, but ULA was able to reduce the parts to just 16, resulting in a 57% part-cost reduction.
 Flight-ready parts are expensive to make, both in terms of lead-time and manufacturing. With traditional manufacturing, a contract must be hammered out for a third-party supplier to create a part to ULA's specifications. If there's a problem with the part, it must be sent back to the supplier and retooled. Third-party suppliers must also meet deadlines; sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.
 With 3D printing, ULA maintains internal quality control that  doesn't have to be "held hostage by other companies who have other priorities," Arend said. "We can control our destiny better by bringing that work in house."
 ULA has used fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing for making tools in the past, including clearance gauges, printed drill-hole guides and molds that shape liquid insulation as it expands and hardens.
 With two new 3D printers, the company, which launches 12 rockets each year, is also hoping to use 3D printing for a more traditional role -- rapid prototyping of parts. Rapid prototyping allows an engineer to actually hold a part and test its fit and functionality prior to making the production part or ordering it from a supplier.
 ULA purchased two new Fortus 900mc 3D Production Systems from Stratasys. The machines will initially be used to make a new Environmental Control System (ECS) duct on the current the Atlas V rocket, which will launch with the new 3D component in 2016.
 The ECS duct is used pre-launch to deliver nitrogen cooling to sensitive electronic components within the rocket booster.
ULA
 The main components of an Atlas V rocket.

 The previous design for the ECS duct assembly contained 140 parts. But by modifying the design using FDM 3D Printing technology, ULA consolidated the number of parts to only 16. This significantly reduces installation time and results in a 57% part-cost reduction.
 "It's about as demanding an application as you can get," Rich Garrity, general manager of Stratasys' Vertical Solutions Unit, said in a statement. "Rockets must endure pressure, G-force, speed, vibration, heat and extreme cold."
 ULA sel ected Stratasys' ULTEM 9085 FDM thermoplastic material to produce the high-performance parts.
 The Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printers do not print with metal. ULA is evaluating other 3D printers for those parts, Arend said.
 "ULTEM 9085 has great strength properties over a wide temperature range," Arend said. "We have done testing to show that it is very capable of withstanding temperatures fr om cryogenic all the way up to extreme heat. And it's tough enough to handle the vibration and stress of lift off and flight. We're very satisfied with its performance."
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Salo

http://spacenews.com/evolution-of-a-plan-ula-execs-spell-out-logic-behind-vulcan-design-choices/
ЦитатаEvolution of a Plan | ULA Execs Spell Out Logic Behind Vulcan Design Choices
by Mike Gruss -- April 24, 2015

On his first day as United Launch Alliance's president and chief executive, Tory Bruno (above) had a stark message for his new board of directors, composed of senior Boeing and Lockheed Martin executives: ULA needed a new engine, and needed it quickly. Credit: SpaceNews/Tom Kimmell  
 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- By the time United Launch Alliance's corporate parents, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, tapped Tory Bruno to take over the government launch services provider last July, the handwriting was on the wall: ULA was going to need a new rocket if it hoped to remain in business for the long haul.
Congress by that time had drafted legislation banning future use of the Russian-built RD-180 main engine that powers ULA's main workhorse, the Atlas 5. The measure, prompted by Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, would become law by the end of the year.
Moreover, ULA soon would be facing stiff competition in its core national security market from Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, the hard-charging rocket-making venture founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk.
By the time he officially replaced Michael Gass as ULA's president and chief executive on Aug. 12, Bruno had done his homework. On his first day, he had a stark message for his new board of directors, composed of senior Boeing and Lockheed Martin executives: ULA needed a new engine, and needed it quickly.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. Credit: Steve Jurveston

It was not exactly a revelation. ULA in June announced it had put several companies under contract to study new engine concepts. Those companies, not named at the time, included Blue Origin, the secretive rocket venture owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and U.S. propulsion stalwart Aerojet Rocketdyne, which had been developing a kerosene-fueled, 500,000-pound-thrust concept known as AR-1.
But that meeting set into motion the sequence of events that culminated in ULA's April 13 announcement that it would develop a rocket dubbed Vulcan using an incremental approach whose first iteration essentially is an Atlas 5 outfitted with a new first stage. The rocket, which has yet to be approved by ULA's board, is slated to debut in 2019.
During the meeting, Bruno walked through the alternatives Denver-based ULA had studied to date, including the AR-1 and Blue Origin's BE-4, the latter already being the favorite of one of his key deputies, George Sowers, ULA vice president for advanced concepts and technologies.
The board, which is chaired in turns by Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and Craig Cooning, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems of Arlington, Virginia, responded by telling Bruno to thoroughly examine every possible alternative.
In the following weeks, ULA executives examined about a dozen such concepts, including solid boosters, a Ukrainian option that was deemed too risky because of the proximity of its manufacturer to Russia's border, and ideas from companies that Bruno said he had never heard of. ULA also considered a domestically produced RD-180, the possibility of which helped convince Pentagon skeptics in the 1990s that it was acceptable to have a mainstay military satellite launcher powered by a Russian-heritage engine.
 
A SpaceX Falcon 9 sits on the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflet

Then there was the question of whether ULA's other rocket, the Delta 4, could be transformed into a viable competitor to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. The Delta 4 is powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne-built main engine and is the only launcher in the U.S. fleet with a certified heavy-lift version, needed to launch some of the Defense Department's most critical and expensive satellites.
"We wanted to cast a wide net because picking that engine path was just extremely important to the future of the company," Bruno said in an April 15 interview.
About one month after the meeting, on Sept. 16, ULA unveiled its choice: Blue Origin's BE-4. The selection, announced by Bruno and Bezos in a Washington press conference, was a stunner, especially for Sacramento, California-based Aerojet Rocketdyne, which had billed the AR-1 as a relatively straightforward replacement for the kerosene-fueled RD-180.
ULA executives liked the AR-1, but "it wasn't clear how that engine could be funded," Bruno said, notwithstanding the fact that Congress by that time appeared ready to appropriate substantial money for work on an RD-180 replacement. "Even though it was a kerosene and a closer match to the RD-180 -- it didn't appear to have a timely availability because it hadn't yet started and it had no funding," he said.
Aerojet disputes that assertion, saying key AR-1 components and technologies have been in development for some time with a combination of government and corporate funding.
ULA officials nonetheless viewed the BE-4 as well ahead of the AR-1 in development, and the combination of that and the fact that it was funded by Blue Origin made it the clear choice. "We said it's Blue. It's clearly Blue. By a far margin," Bruno said.
 
On Sept. 16, United Launch Alliance unveiled its engine choice: Blue Origin's BE-4 (above). "We said it's Blue. It's clearly Blue. By a far margin," ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno said.
The decision still puzzles some industry observers, who note that BE-4 is powered by a different fuel than the RD-180 and thus will require developing a new first stage.
"We did enough work to know if you pick a Blue engine it's a liquid-natural-gas fuel," Sowers said. "The basic architecture was part of the trade."
In the wake of the decision, Aerojet stepped up its internal investment in the AR-1, although company officials concede that U.S. government funding -- Congress has allocated $220 million this year for engine development work -- will be necessary to complete the project. Aerojet Rocketdyne also made an announcement of its own, saying it was working with ULA on AR-1 development.
 
AR-1 twin booster engine configuration. Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

ULA says it is keeping the AR-1 option alive in case the BE-4 runs into developmental difficulty.
ULA's board, meanwhile, informed of the BE-4 selection, approved three months' worth of investment funding and laid out a series of near-term milestones for ULA to reach.
"When Tory was named CEO, the board was aware of -- and continues to support -- the government's goal of fielding an American-made engine as quickly and affordably as possible," said Robert Sterling, a Boeing spokesman who responded on the board's behalf to SpaceNews questions. "Tory has moved decisively to determine a strategy for supporting that goal and for meeting the government's needs for assured access to space."
Fast forward to ULA's April 13 announcement, in which the company disclosed details about the Vulcan beyond the BE-4-powered first stage. The major elements of this evolution are a new upper stage, to be phased in in 2023, and first-stage engine reusability, to follow in 2024.
Plans for the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, actually predate ULA's 2006 creation -- officials with Atlas 5 developer Lockheed Martin viewed it as the next step in that vehicle's evolution. But with Russia's incursion into Ukraine, "we had to do the [main] booster" first, Sowers said.
Initially, ACES was considered for both the Atlas 5 and Delta 4, but with the emergence of SpaceX as a legitimate rival ULA had to rethink the viability of maintaining two different launchers over the long-term. "You can't carry two systems into a competitive environment," Sowers said.
After internal debate, Atlas won out because of its lower cost.
Unlike the Delta 4, however, there is no Atlas 5 heavy-lift variant. "The solution was to put the bigger upper stage on the Atlas so that gave us the heavy capability," Sowers said.
The ACES-equipped Vulcan, augmented by strap-on boosters, would have 30 percent more lift capacity than the Delta 4 Heavy, currently the largest vehicle in the U.S. fleet, Bruno said.

The Road to Reusability
 The final piece of the publicly announced Vulcan architecture is partial reusability.
ULA had long studied reusability -- in 2008, the company presented a paper at a conference in San Diego called "Partial Rocket Reuse Using Mid-Air Recovery" that appears to be the foundation for the current Vulcan concept. "Using helicopter mid-air recovery as the engine module descends under a parafoil is a low-development-cost approach which brings back the booster engine with exposure to only benign environments," the paper said.
ULA refers to its engine reusability concept as Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology. After first-stage burnout, the two BE-4 engines would be severed from the fuel tank and deploy an inflatable heat shield to slow their descent. They then would deploy steerable parachutes, which would further slow their descent so they could be plucked out of midair by helicopter.
The reusability feature is especially important as engines make up about two-thirds of the rocket's cost, ULA officials said.
 
RD-180 engines. Credit: ULA
 
"I felt it was going to take people a certain amount of time to understand the approach," Bruno said. "We took a radically approach than the other guys."
SpaceX also plans to reuse the first stage of its operational Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rocket, but its concept has the stages coming in for a powered vertical landing on a platform after launch.
During the interview, Bruno said the Vulcan roadmap actually runs through 2035 and includes several more iterations. Those steps, he said, are less firm than the new engines and reusability concept.
Of course, ULA still must convince skeptics that the Vulcan architecture as outlined April 13 is more than just a paper rocket. The push by ULA and its corporate parents for a relaxation of the RD-180 ban so that the company can continue to use the Atlas 5 -- the Delta 4 is now designated for retirement -- until the Vulcan is ready has only fueled that skepticism.
During Vulcan's unveiling, Bruno said ULA is counting in part on the willingness of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to allow the company to use some of its profits, which currently go to the bottom lines of the corporate parents, to fund the rocket's development.
So far, ULA's board has limited its approval of Vulcan-related investments to quarterly increments. "We have made no long-term commitments on the funding of a new rocket, and are currently assessing all options," said Sterling, the Boeing spokesman. "The board is actively evaluating continued investment in the new rocket engine program and will continue to do so."
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"

Антон

Интересно, почему же ULA от сосисок то отказались. Могли бы ведь и нишу Дельты 2 покрыть, сделай ракету поменьше

Старый

ЦитатаАнтон пишет:
Интересно, почему же ULA от сосисок то отказались. Могли бы ведь и нишу Дельты 2 покрыть, сделай ракету поменьше
Могли бы вообще не морочиться а сделать Дельту-7 из семи Дельт-2. И всё было бы покрыто и перекрыто. :)
1. Ангара - единственный в истории мировой космонавтики случай когда новая ракета по всем параметрам хуже старой. (с) Старый Ламер
2. Всё что связано с Ангарой подчинено единственной задаче - выкачать из бюджета и распилить как можно больше денег.
3. Чем мрачнее реальность тем ярче бред.

Alex_II

ЦитатаSeerndv пишет:
По поводу ВЕ-4 - движка нет , но уж причитания, что очистка СПГ до метана дорого стоит:
А за каким хреном очищать 98% метан до 100%? Это ему эксплуатационных свойств не изменит. О чем похоже в Blue Origin знают и не заморачиваются...
И мы пошли за так, на четвертак, за ради бога
В обход и напролом и просто пылью по лучу...

Salo

"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"