Spaceception

I'm pretty sure SpaceX put ULA out of business (To some degree)

Could SpaceX put ULA out of business?  

91 members have voted

  1. 1. Could SpaceX put ULA out of business?

    • Yes
      8
    • No
      25
    • Likely, but it depends
      29
    • It's too early to tell
      29


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19 minutes ago, sojourner said:

Again. Falcon 5 is a Falcon 9, just with less first stage engines.  So if you're recovering the first stage anyway, why bother?

No, Falcon 5 was always smaller than Falcon 9, having less payload capacity.

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1 hour ago, sojourner said:

No. It wasn't The original Falcon 5 was going to use the same tankage as the Falcon 9 only with less fuel load and less engines on the first stage.

 

http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

That was what happened after Falcon 9 went into the picture. Falcon V was originally a completely different rocket, but with the same diameter as Falcon 9 would end up being.

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1 hour ago, royying said:

Once upon a time, NASA believe reusable space shuttle can save cost

Once upon a time, SpaceX believed they could go to Mars.

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I never got the shuttle... launching an entire space station just to get payload and some crew up there and then plummeting it all down again afterward. Seems like a lot of metal to put up there for what they do with it.

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2 hours ago, Jimbodiah said:

I never got the shuttle... launching an entire space station just to get payload and some crew up there and then plummeting it all down again afterward. Seems like a lot of metal to put up there for what they do with it.

It was a failure of 'reusability'

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6 hours ago, royying said:

Once upon a time, NASA believe reusable space shuttle can save cost

And such was a reasonably rational belief.  The catch is that Congress is not designed to *want* to save costs.  They want to maximize funds to go to their "doners" and constituencies, and like to be seen as providing for the common defense (regardless how insane the Air Forces suggestions are).

There are many, many threads on why the Shuttle failed.  But it wasn't because such a thing was all that hard, it was because Congress wouldn't pay for it.  The real question is why they paid for something else.

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Falcon 9 and falcon heavy achieve cost savings by being 90%+ shared components.

Building something smaller than the falcon 9 would either be less efficent and thus less cost effective, or miss out on the shared components, and thus be less cost effective.

As for the MCT, it may be a pipe dream, but it's a pipe dream that real R&D dollars are being put toward solving

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39 minutes ago, Rakaydos said:

Falcon 9 and falcon heavy achieve cost savings by being 90%+ shared components.

Building something smaller than the falcon 9 would either be less efficent and thus less cost effective, or miss out on the shared components, and thus be less cost effective.

As for the MCT, it may be a pipe dream, but it's a pipe dream that real R&D dollars are being put toward solving

Falcon 5 was planned to still use common components to Falcon 1 and 9- like the engines, and tank tooling. Of course, it was a concept, so it wasn't as fleshed out as I would like- but technically, launching fewer satellites is sometimes more cost-efficient, due to the mass of the adapters to launch so much excrements at once decreases the payload,  thus increasing cost (per pound).

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On 4/1/2016 at 3:31 AM, fredinno said:

MCT is a pipe dream, TBH.

 

Either way, the death of Falcon 1e and Falcon 5 was kind of a bad decision, in my opinion. SpaceX could have set the development of Falcon 1e and 5 after developing Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (the original Falcon 1 would be kept, to launch the Orbcomm and ORS sats that were intended for it), to take the main sectors of the market, then move towards cubesats (Falcon 1e would likely be a cubesat launcher it it used Falcon 9-style powered 1st stage powered landings), while Falcon 5 would have been useful for LEO flights- of course, you can still launch LEO sats with a Falcon 9, but its 15T to LEO capability is 'somewhat' overpowered. They literally launched the entire Orbcomm contract in two launches- which can be a bad thing, since these LEO sats might need more fuel to do inclination changes to reach their required orbits. This can actually end up LESS efficient.

Not to mention DOD has a large percentage of their launches in the 401 and 501 Atlas V configs, (almost half of Atlas V launches are 401s), which is also Soyuz- level. I stand by my word there is a market for Falcon 5. (Not the original, Delta II-level rocket though, but a full thrust version using Merlin 1Ds, and with 8-10 to to LEO capacity)

 

Also, they could use the same Falcon 9 tanking diameters for Falcon 5 (and likely common engines from Falcon 9 and 1, too)

Well, a new company with no heritage and shallow pockets developing an EELV-class launcher while at the same time developing reusability technology was also a pipe dream once. And SpaceX did it for a staggering low amount of NASA handouts... give them at least the benefit of the doubt: MCT is unlikely.

As to the Falcon 1/5 comments, lofting 8-9mT into orbit is the perfect opportunity to recover a core with minimal wear. And then you have the market of secondary payloads covered with your excess carrying capacity, eliminating two assembly lines and focusing your engineering efforts. Makes all the sense in the world to focus on a rocket that can do all jobs, especially if said rocket is reusable.

 

Rune. F9 may be able to loft 20mT, but SpaceX doesn't want it to, that's what the reusable version of F9H is for.

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On 1/4/2016 at 9:31 PM, fredinno said:

MCT is a pipe dream, TBH.

 

Either way, the death of Falcon 1e and Falcon 5 was kind of a bad decision, in my opinion. SpaceX could have set the development of Falcon 1e and 5 after developing Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (the original Falcon 1 would be kept, to launch the Orbcomm and ORS sats that were intended for it), to take the main sectors of the market, then move towards cubesats (Falcon 1e would likely be a cubesat launcher it it used Falcon 9-style powered 1st stage powered landings), while Falcon 5 would have been useful for LEO flights- of course, you can still launch LEO sats with a Falcon 9, but its 15T to LEO capability is 'somewhat' overpowered. They literally launched the entire Orbcomm contract in two launches- which can be a bad thing, since these LEO sats might need more fuel to do inclination changes to reach their required orbits. This can actually end up LESS efficient.

Not to mention DOD has a large percentage of their launches in the 401 and 501 Atlas V configs, (almost half of Atlas V launches are 401s), which is also Soyuz- level. I stand by my word there is a market for Falcon 5. (Not the original, Delta II-level rocket though, but a full thrust version using Merlin 1Ds, and with 8-10 to to LEO capacity)

 

Also, they could use the same Falcon 9 tanking diameters for Falcon 5 (and likely common engines from Falcon 9 and 1, too)

SpaceX's goal is to make launches less expensive. Having more kinds of rockets massively increases costs, because if things they can't control. New kind of booster? Tens of millions in certification, testing, and GSE. And that's not just something they can engineer around, because you can't engineer around the FAA. 

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1 hour ago, saabstory88 said:

SpaceX's goal is to make launches less expensive. Having more kinds of rockets massively increases costs, because if things they can't control. New kind of booster? Tens of millions in certification, testing, and GSE. And that's not just something they can engineer around, because you can't engineer around the FAA. 

By that logic, the Russians should only use the Angara A5/Proton, and retire every other rocket to save costs.:huh:

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Not on topic really at all, but does the Russian side of the equation have an FAA like regulatory agency and if so, how independent and powerful is it, as compared to our FAA?

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1 hour ago, fredinno said:

By that logic, the Russians should only use the Angara A5/Proton, and retire every other rocket to save costs.:huh:

Goverments? Saving money? What is this madness?

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2 hours ago, fredinno said:

By that logic, the Russians should only use the Angara A5/Proton, and retire every other rocket to save costs.:huh:

Well, that is exactly what the Russians plan on doing, the Proton is even on the way out. That is also why the ULA is going to move to only producing the Vulcan. That is why Arianespace is going to retire the Ariane 5, and move to a common SRB shared between Vega and Ariane 6. That is why Ariane 6 will only have a single kind of upper stage vs the 3 types on the Ariane 5. 

Reduction in the diversity of vehicles is the way that the industry is moving. The primary reason that the Russians are going to keep hanging on to the Soyuz is to not have to man-rate the Angara until absolutely necessary. Once their next generation capsule is online, the Soyuz is finally dead. 

Edited by saabstory88
Proton Retirement

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1 hour ago, saabstory88 said:

Well, that is exactly what the Russians plan on doing, the Proton is even on the way out. That is also why the ULA is going to move to only producing the Vulcan. That is why Arianespace is going to retire the Ariane 5, and move to a common SRB shared between Vega and Ariane 6. That is why Ariane 6 will only have a single kind of upper stage vs the 3 types on the Ariane 5. 

Reduction in the diversity of vehicles is the way that the industry is moving. The primary reason that the Russians are going to keep hanging on to the Soyuz is to not have to man-rate the Angara until absolutely necessary. Once their next generation capsule is online, the Soyuz is finally dead. 

I stand corrected! I guess goverments CAN save money!

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4 hours ago, saabstory88 said:

Well, that is exactly what the Russians plan on doing, the Proton is even on the way out. That is also why the ULA is going to move to only producing the Vulcan. That is why Arianespace is going to retire the Ariane 5, and move to a common SRB shared between Vega and Ariane 6. That is why Ariane 6 will only have a single kind of upper stage vs the 3 types on the Ariane 5. 

Reduction in the diversity of vehicles is the way that the industry is moving. The primary reason that the Russians are going to keep hanging on to the Soyuz is to not have to man-rate the Angara until absolutely necessary. Once their next generation capsule is online, the Soyuz is finally dead. 

...This is so wrong.

Where do I start- The Soyuz line is still planned to continue. Even if Soyuz V gets off the planning stagehand is built (which is going to be a while) it would still have a baseline 10T capacity. Yes, Russia is getting rid of many of their launchers- but they're being replaced by Soyuz-2 variants (a 3T to LEO version, 7T to LEO Version, and 8T to LEO version.) The Soyuz-2 has been modified for this, and is now modular. The differences between Soyuz 2-1V and Soyuz 2-1a or b are similar to the differences between Falcon 9 and Five- they are based off the same rocket, but have modifications to fit their niche better.

 

The Proton is being replaced by the Angara A5, while Rocot is being replaced by the Angara A1.2.

The payload capabilities of Russia are remaining roughly the same, the only difference is the change towards modular rockets- rockets derived off each other. There is not conslidation towards using all heavy-lift rockets. 

 

...Also, Russia actually is keeping Soyuz Alive for the same reason the DOD has a 2-launcher requirement. What happens when an Angara fails? At least if Soyuz is alive, you can launch many of your payloads without losing ALL your launch capability. Otherwise, Soyuz-2-1b and v would never have even been made. They would just make  Soyuz 2-1a (the one desginated for Soyuz and Progress launches), and not any of the other versions.

 

Same goes with Vulcan. Vulcan, designed as a modular replacement for Atlas/Delta, has an adjustable payload from 9/10 T to 18T to LEO, just like Atlas (as far as we know). The death of the Delta is not a consolidation of launchers to a single, non-modular rocket (like what you are saying we should do).

 

 

Same thing applies to Ariane. Ariane V actually only has 2 upper stages- ECA, used for GEO launches, and the ES. The ES has only been used for ATVs, and will be used for a few Galileo MEO sats. Yes, Ariane 6 consolidates this into 1 upper stage (ES version is rarely used), but that's really a small consolidation. ArianeSpace actually built Vega and introduced Soyuz so that it would be able to efficiently launch all kinds of satellites. You know, since using Ariane V, a 21 T to LEO rocket for a 1.8T IXV payload is a little overkill.

Oh, yeah, Ariane 6 is being built with 2 variants- one with 2 boosters, to replace the ArianeSpace Soyuz, and one with 4 boosters as a HLV.

 

Actually, you know, how about SpaceX? You'd think Elon would want to retire Falcon 9 as soon as Falcon Heavy goes online for non-Dragon/DragonV2 launches if HLVs were all that was needed.

 

Having different rockets for different payloads has its benefits.

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1 hour ago, fredinno said:

Actually, you know, how about SpaceX? You'd think Elon would want to retire Falcon 9 as soon as Falcon Heavy goes online for non-Dragon/DragonV2 launches if HLVs were all that was needed.

 

Having different rockets for different payloads has its benefits.

As Nibbs is SO fond of pointing out, the problem in launch costs is in market- there just isnt enough payload to make it practacle to mass produce launchers.

Now, national launchers like Soyuz, Angara, Long March and SLS dont really care. But SpaceX has hit upon a brilliant solution.

He has a single production line stamping out Merlins and Falcon 9 stages. And when he gets a contract for something too big for the falcon 9? He literally straps 3 falcon 9 stages together, scratches out the 9 and writes Heavy.

Unlike the Falcon 5 concept, the falcon heavy involves absolutely no changes to tankage, plumbing or engine layout. While it's a bit more complicated than literally duck-taping the stages together, it keeps all production in a single line, allowing that line to be more efficent and mass-productive than two lines of lessened flexibility.

So the falcon 9 wastes a little more fuel lifting really light payloads. Fuel is pretty much the cheapest cost of the launch- and it makes returning spent stages easier.

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23 minutes ago, Rakaydos said:

As Nibbs is SO fond of pointing out, the problem in launch costs is in market- there just isnt enough payload to make it practacle to mass produce launchers.

Now, national launchers like Soyuz, Angara, Long March and SLS dont really care. But SpaceX has hit upon a brilliant solution.

He has a single production line stamping out Merlins and Falcon 9 stages. And when he gets a contract for something too big for the falcon 9? He literally straps 3 falcon 9 stages together, scratches out the 9 and writes Heavy.

Unlike the Falcon 5 concept, the falcon heavy involves absolutely no changes to tankage, plumbing or engine layout. While it's a bit more complicated than literally duck-taping the stages together, it keeps all production in a single line, allowing that line to be more efficent and mass-productive than two lines of lessened flexibility.

So the falcon 9 wastes a little more fuel lifting really light payloads. Fuel is pretty much the cheapest cost of the launch- and it makes returning spent stages easier.

Fuel may be cheap-tanking and insulation ('structures' in this image) is not.http://i.stack.imgur.com/aY2w2.jpg 

 

Also, Orbital is a 100 percent commercial company. You'd think they'd merge all their launches into Minotaur and Antares and abandon Pegasus and Minotaur-C. (Especially since ATK, the other side of the company OrbitalATK, produces new Peacekeeper-derived motors under the 'Castor' name. It's especially advantageous, because there are so few launches in Orbital's capability- Orbital is a niche launcher corporation.

 

Actaually, screw it. Why did Orbital even become a company if nobody needed small rockets? Hell, Atlas is cheaper.

 

One last thing- technically, SpaceX could have built a similar family of launchers to the one it has now (though with different capacities, admittedly, by using 4 and 2 Falcon V cores as LRBs, and a single-core Falcon V as a LEO launcher- similar to the Soyuz-V concept.

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18 hours ago, fredinno said:

Fuel may be cheap-tanking and insulation ('structures' in this image) is not.http://i.stack.imgur.com/aY2w2.jpg

That's mainly because production is so low, you dont get any economies of scale. By consolidating the tankage production line, (only building "Falcon 9" first stages, even if they're used in Falcon heavies) they can get more contracts on that one tank, and thus reduce the cost of ALL the tanks.

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5 minutes ago, Rakaydos said:

That's mainly because production is so low, you dont get any economies of scale. By consolidating the tankage production line, (only building "Falcon 9" first stages, even if they're used in Falcon heavies) they can get more contracts on that one tank, and thus reduce the cost of ALL the tanks.

We won't really know for sure unless SpaceX releases their own numbers. Either way, SpaceX does not have a fully consolidated tankage line- 2nd stages still need to be made. Otherwise, a Falcon V first stage would be pretty much the same as a Falcon 9 first stage, in terms of production line. Stretching still requires different infrastructure, though less than diameter changes.

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18 hours ago, fredinno said:

Also, Orbital is a 100 percent commercial company. You'd think they'd merge all their launches into Minotaur and Antares and abandon Pegasus and Minotaur-C. (Especially since ATK, the other side of the company OrbitalATK, produces new Peacekeeper-derived motors under the 'Castor' name. It's especially advantageous, because there are so few launches in Orbital's capability- Orbital is a niche launcher corporation.

Pegasus mostly has been replaced by Minotaur; there have been only four launches in the past seven years versus ten Minotaur launches (including all orbital launch versions, i.e. not including military test vehicles). Similarly, Minotaur-C/Taurus is pretty much dead due to the OCO and Glory failures. This isn't really a very good example.

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5 hours ago, Workable Goblin said:

Pegasus mostly has been replaced by Minotaur; there have been only four launches in the past seven years versus ten Minotaur launches (including all orbital launch versions, i.e. not including military test vehicles). Similarly, Minotaur-C/Taurus is pretty much dead due to the OCO and Glory failures. This isn't really a very good example.

No, but the US system of commercial launch companies is not really common in the world- even ArianeSpace is partly owned by European Nations.

 

I would have made an argument about ULA also needing different payload capacities, and only abandoning Delta II b/c there were no payloads for that rocket's payload class, but it's also kind of a bad example due to being so heavily influenced by the DOD.

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