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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:27 am 
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ByronC wrote:
Yes. The only people who really care about on-time launches tend to be governments. Who are still buying from ULA.

I don't think you can count US government support of ULA in the cost-effectiveness or timeliness of launches. Since ULA has had an effective monopoly up to at least 2015, and an actual monopoly to 2008, much of that history cannot be evaluated as a competitive market. There is still so much politics and egos involved that it is hard to distinguish real performance from bad data.

And I am familiar with the NASA probe program, which are launched on ULA vehicles. Most of them are years late, partly as a result of funding, partly because the probe is late in preparation, and partly because there has always been a long queue for launches.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:31 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
Yes. The only people who really care about on-time launches tend to be governments. Who are still buying from ULA.


The USAF has already awarded SpaceX two GPS contracts. Plus SpaceX is launching the X-37B this week. Plus they launch those payloads without using Russian rocket engines, which is a hot topic.

ByronC wrote:
Interesting. Source? (Genuinely curious. I'm not that familiar with the business side of space launch.)
From what I've heard, SpaceX is going to continue to rack up late fees on most contracts, so I'd doubt they've already hit caps. But I (or my source) could be wrong.



https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21984.msg1716663#msg1716663


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:33 pm 
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All this talk about ULA vs SpaceX (FWIW, I'm a big fan of SpaceX) got me to take a look at it.

Here is what ULA thinks of itself (absolutely ZERO self serving article, :roll: )

"Formed in December 2006, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a 50-50 joint venture owned by Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company. ULA brings together two of the launch industry’s most experienced and successful teams – Atlas and Delta – to provide reliable, cost-efficient space launch services for the U.S. government. U.S. government launch customers include the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and other organizations.

Atlas and Delta expendable launch vehicles have supported America’s presence in space for more than 50 years, carrying a variety of payloads including weather, telecommunications and national security satellites that protect and improve life on Earth, as well as deep space and interplanetary exploration missions that further our knowledge of the universe.

With three families of launch vehicles – Atlas V, Delta II, and Delta IV– ULA continues the tradition of supporting strategic U.S. space initiatives with advanced robust launch solutions to provide assured access to space and 100 percent mission success.

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Alabama, and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Culture ( I really love this self sering Bull sh!t, especially after I've had my third single malt :lol: :lol: :lol: )

One team focusing the talents and energies of our people to deliver excellence in everything we do.

Perfect Product Delivery (see Culture. Give me a break will you? Who authorizes this tripe?)

Perfect Product Delivery is our relentless pursuit of perfection to achieve excellence in everything we do. It applies our passion for mission success to continuously improve every process and product, to completely meet the needs of every customer and it inspires all employees to dedicate our innovative talents to deliver program success and develop a world-class work environment.

United Launch Services
United Launch Services, LLC (ULS) is a subsidiary of United Launch Alliance, LLC. On behalf of ULA, ULS contracts for launch services using the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:40 pm 
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KDahm wrote:
Admittedly, I don't very deep knowledge about the field. But aren't delays of years for satellite launches routine? I mean, schedule slippage in the Shuttle program was so normal, I don't think anything launched within a few months of when it was originally scheduled. The Russian launches are similar. Between delays in getting the satellites ready, delays in building and launching the earlier loads, 'surprise' DOD cargos, and a routinely over-ambitious schedule, nothing goes as planned.

Incidentally, using some ratios with Falcon Heavy and Saturn V, I estimate that the Falcon 9 can put between 11,000 and 14,000 lbs into lunar orbit. So is there anything really useful that could be done with that load that's worth buying a launch on a used booster?


That is partly the reason for the ELC payments by the USAF to ULA. They don't know the exact order that satellites will go to ULA. So the ELC covers any changes for out or order boosters.

The F9 should do about 5910 kg to TLI and 4270 kg to TMI. You could easily do a lander with that amount of payload.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:53 pm 
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OSCSSW wrote:
[color=#0000BF]All this talk about ULA vs SpaceX (FWIW, I'm a big fan of SpaceX) got me to take a look at it.

Snip.


I know that a lot of SpaceX fans are critical of ULA. However, ULA has given NASA and the USAF exactly what they asked for.

The EELV program was supposed to achieve a more reliable expendable booster at a lower price point than previous LV (Delta-II, Atlas, and Titan-IV).

The EELV program has delivered on the goals the USAF set for it back in the 90's. A Titan-IV launch back in the late 90's was approaching about $350M which is over $700M in today's dollars.
ULA has 100+ launches with zero mission failures. When the US Gov wants to put a critical payload into orbit, they turn to ULA. Saving a hundred million dollars on launch costs are not important when you are launching $2B nuclear-powered rover to Mars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD909ZLd-cs

The challenge for ULA is that SpaceX has come along and Musk has basically upset the cart for space launch worldwide. You have a new launch provider, redefining what low-cost means and you have the booster engine for your main LV coming from Russia.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:51 pm 
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OSCSSW wrote:
Perfect Product Delivery

ULA has never had a rocket explode on the pad, or in flight, and all of their payloads have hit orbits that were considered acceptable by the customer. They are not cheep, but they hit their target, and for the missions asked of them, they do very well.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:27 am 
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Another successful launch and landing.



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:53 am 
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nomad990 wrote:
Another successful launch and landing.

Straying a little into finger-breaking territory, but not asking questions:

Think about what this demonstrated capability for a 20 foot CEP on the landing would mean for ICBM launches using similar software.....

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:03 pm 
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KDahm wrote:
nomad990 wrote:
Another successful launch and landing.

Straying a little into finger-breaking territory, but not asking questions:

Think about what this demonstrated capability for a 20 foot CEP on the landing would mean for ICBM launches using similar software.....


I don't think they apply very much. In order to get that 20 foot CEP they have to massively slow down during reentry making it childs play to intercept the missile. (A fighter with heat seeking missiles could do it.) But the bigger problem is that you will need multiple orders of magnitude more fuel for the missile so that it has fuel during reentry. Not worth it.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:55 pm 
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Calder wrote:
KDahm wrote:
nomad990 wrote:
Another successful launch and landing.

Straying a little into finger-breaking territory, but not asking questions:

Think about what this demonstrated capability for a 20 foot CEP on the landing would mean for ICBM launches using similar software.....


I don't think they apply very much. In order to get that 20 foot CEP they have to massively slow down during reentry making it childs play to intercept the missile. (A fighter with heat seeking missiles could do it.) But the bigger problem is that you will need multiple orders of magnitude more fuel for the missile so that it has fuel during reentry. Not worth it.


You would also need grid fins to steer the warhead and get your target to paint themselves with radar reflecting paint.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:03 pm 
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KDahm wrote:
nomad990 wrote:
Another successful launch and landing.

Straying a little into finger-breaking territory, but not asking questions:

Think about what this demonstrated capability for a 20 foot CEP on the landing would mean for ICBM launches using similar software.....

This isn't remotely the same. A typical airplane has a CEP of a lot less than 20 ft when taxiing into its parking spot, but that doesn't mean it can deliver iron bombs with the same accuracy.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:42 am 
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SpaceX releases a blooper reel of the many times the Falcon didn't land before they got it right.

You just keep trying until you get it right.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvim4rsNHkQ


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:46 pm 
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Catchy music. Another good choice would have been Yakety Sax.

And, yes, there are differences between a zero-zero landing and a RV CEP. But the same sort of control software and guidance hardware can be used for the latter. As the hardware gets smaller and lighter, there is the potential to need less boom for the same target.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:17 am 
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KDahm wrote:
And, yes, there are differences between a zero-zero landing and a RV CEP. But the same sort of control software and guidance hardware can be used for the latter. As the hardware gets smaller and lighter, there is the potential to need less boom for the same target.


Except we have been trying to tell you that they have almost nothing to do with each other.

Ballistic missiles don't carry enough fuel to have a powered landing. Their propellent fraction is just too damn high for them to even consider doing this not to mention I don't think you can start and stop ignition of a solid fuel missile in the first place. Long before a ballistic missile begins reentry it has already used up all of it's fuel. It has extremely limited ability to change where it is going to land. It also has no sensors for guiding it where to land and sure as hell doesn't have a mission control guiding it in to land near it.

A Space X booster on the other hand is undergoing a powered landing and is taking directions from a mission control that can guide it to its final destination.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:36 am 
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Totally misunderstanding my point.

I'm not suggesting a landing. I'm not suggesting mission control guided course corrections. I'm not suggesting sufficient propellant to make severe course corrections. Slowing down too much makes it dead meat for the defenses anyway.

What I am saying is that there is a sufficiently small on-board computer that can provide fast enough calculations that minor corrections are possible. I'm talking about the warhead RV itself can make some minor adjustments on the way down, to correct for things like upper atmosphere winds or uneven drag. I'm thinking about getting the device into position within something like 100 or 200 m, or less, so that a smaller warhead can be used.

All of that requires good characterization on how the RV will react to different forces from various thrusters, good precision on attitude sensors, an accurate INS and possibly GPS, and precise control of the thrusters. It requires a small, lightweight, robust computer that can make adjustments in real time without overshoot, undershoot, or resonant cycling. It's like balancing a bowling ball on top of a pogo stick - a deceptively easy looking problem.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:01 pm 
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KDahm wrote:
What I am saying is that there is a sufficiently small on-board computer that can provide fast enough calculations that minor corrections are possible. I'm talking about the warhead RV itself can make some minor adjustments on the way down, to correct for things like upper atmosphere winds or uneven drag. I'm thinking about getting the device into position within something like 100 or 200 m, or less, so that a smaller warhead can be used.

What you are describing is called a MARV. It was invented sometime in the 60s. SpaceX has added useful practice in terms of actually landing rockets. AFAIK, they haven't made major breakthroughs in control theory, and they definitely haven't done much for relevant hardware development.

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