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Thread: Vulcan - next-generation rocket family by United Launch Alliance (ULA)

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    Vulcan - next-generation rocket family by United Launch Alliance (ULA)

    Meet the Vulcan, the next-generation rocket family brought to you by United Launch Alliance that comes with a bold reusability plan, multiple configurations for medium- to heavy-lift, all-American engines and serves as the eventual replacement for the historic Atlas and Delta rocket lines.

    http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/13...rocket-family/

    Vulcan, slated for its maiden launch in 2019, will be powered by either a pair of exotic Blue Origin BE-4 liquefied natural gas main engines for 1.1 million pounds of thrust or two conventional Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-1 kerosene powerplants for a million pounds of thrust. A final decision of which engine to pursue will come next year.

    The new rocket ditches the Atlas-used RD-180 main engine produced in Russia. The engine has brought controversy to the vehicle and its launchings of U.S. national security payloads using foreign-made propulsion.

    Creating the new first stage with an American engine is the overarching priority for ULA. The development of a new upper stage will follow later to replace the venerable Centaur that will be flown on Vulcan initially.

    “We are doing our whole new rocket in serial steps so that we can afford that development process,” Bruno said.
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    Interesting plan.
    After all the stink about ULA building their own RD-180 and not being able to do it in the 2019 timeframe, it sounds like they are looking ahead to keep from spending all that effort just to get something cobbled together.

    The recovery process is intriguing. SpaceX has the jump on the whole rocket recovery, but I wonder if just getting the engines will be easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Vulcan, slated for its maiden launch in 2019, will be powered by either a pair of exotic Blue Origin BE-4 liquefied natural gas main engines for 1.1 million pounds of thrust...
    So, Boeing and Lockheed are buying rocket engines from Amazon?
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    So, Boeing and Lockheed are buying rocket engines from Amazon?
    At least it's a step up from Molotok.ru.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    Interesting plan.
    After all the stink about ULA building their own RD-180 and not being able to do it in the 2019 timeframe, it sounds like they are looking ahead to keep from spending all that effort just to get something cobbled together.

    The recovery process is intriguing. SpaceX has the jump on the whole rocket recovery, but I wonder if just getting the engines will be easier.
    It may be easier, but they're stuck building a new stage with reused components, which will greatly reduce the achievable savings and require a much higher number of reuse cycles to achieve the same gain. Also, the tanks might not be the most complex part, but they're probably one of the more logistically difficult components to deal with due to their size.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    It may be easier, but they're stuck building a new stage with reused components, which will greatly reduce the achievable savings and require a much higher number of reuse cycles to achieve the same gain.
    I don't understand why that is a problem. Reused components is a savings over one-use components. Whether the whole thing (Falcon) is reusable, or just the most expensive part (BE4/AR1), you still are stuck with re-used components. What matters is the cost of the tank vs the overall refurbishing cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    Also, the tanks might not be the most complex part, but they're probably one of the more logistically difficult components to deal with due to their size.
    Why is that a problem if the cost is relatively low?

    We are talking about re-using 25% by cost of a rocket. I don't know how much a tank costs, but I would confident in saying it's probably minor compared to the upper stages cost. Leaving only a small cost of the rocket being re-manufactured rather than re-furbished.

    Perhaps this is only a short term plan to save money until they can develop a fully reusable stage? The key seems to be getting a new RD180 replacement up and running.

    I found a bit more on this project, and so far it looks like a BE4 with an extended Atlas or Delta core. AR1 doesn't seem like it will be ready in time as an RD180 replacement which is forcing the new tank.
    http://spacenews.com/ulas-vulcan-roc...out-in-stages/
    http://aviationweek.com/defense/ula-...ine-ridiculous
    .

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    Return of the Atlas/SaturnV-B concept--just get the engines back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    I don't understand why that is a problem. Reused components is a savings over one-use components. Whether the whole thing (Falcon) is reusable, or just the most expensive part (BE4/AR1), you still are stuck with re-used components. What matters is the cost of the tank vs the overall refurbishing cost.


    Why is that a problem if the cost is relatively low?
    The less you reuse and the greater the costs of reuse, the less you can reduce costs per launch. Their approach also has a much longer time between potential reuses, meaning more hardware floating around in various stages of salvage/refurbishment and more operational overhead.

    It's still an improvement, but much less of one than SpaceX is trying for, which will make it harder to be competitive.

    But as you said, it may be a short term plan. They need an Atlas V replacement as soon as possible. This is a relatively straightforward way to reduce some of the advantage SpaceX has in reuse without overly delaying development as a launch vehicle.

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    ULA intends to lower its costs, and raise its cool, to compete with SpaceX.

    http://spacenews.com/ula-intends-to-...e-with-spacex/

    A senior United Launch Alliance official on March 15 gave a candid assessment of his company’s attempt to reinvent itself at a time when competitor SpaceX has almost single-handedly caused a rebirth of the cool in U.S. rocketry that has all but bypassed ULA.

    In a presentation by turns admiring and resentful of SpaceX – not the first time a ULA official has expressed these sentiments — ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey said his company accepts the fact that SpaceX has forced the U.S. government, and thus ULA, to change the way rockets are made and sold.

    It still views SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusability design – returning the full first stage – as “dumb” given the huge amount of fuel needed to bring the stage back. ULA’s plan for its future Vulcan rocket is to separate the Vulcan’s main-stage engines, cover them in a package that deploys a parachute and then scoop them up in midair with a helicopter.

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    Work to create a new all-American rocket, the United Launch Alliance Vulcan-Centaur, has passed its first major hurdle for its first flight in three years, officials announced Thursday.

    http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/03/24...vulcan-rocket/

    The Preliminary Design Review for the next-generation vehicle was recently completed and verified that the rocket will satisfy the criteria for the diverse military, civil and commercial missions it will launch.

    “The completion of the Vulcan Centaur rocket’s PDR is the first of several major and very exciting milestones in the launch vehicle’s development,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive officer. “We have a strong path to get to a 2019 flight test of this new, highly-capable American launch vehicle.”

    The rocket as currently designed will be powered by a pair of BE-4 liquefied natural gas main engines, made by Blue Origin, for 1.1 million pounds of thrust.

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    Probably named for the Roman god, but I find it a little funny that its also the name for a hypothetical planet that ended up not existing, explained away by Einstein's Relativity, not to mention the completely fictional planet and people of Star Trek fame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    Probably named for the Roman god, but I find it a little funny that its also the name for a hypothetical planet that ended up not existing, explained away by Einstein's Relativity, not to mention the completely fictional planet and people of Star Trek fame.
    It is an illogical choice for a name.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    It is an illogical choice for a name.
    Well Spock-en.

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    Although the article is about "New vehicles and new entrants", 50% is devoted to the Vulcan.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3460/1

    The vehicle whose development has generated the most interest (outside of Blue Origin and SpaceX) is United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan. That vehicle is scheduled to make its first launch in a little more than two years: mid-2020, company officials have said recently.

    “We feel very confident about our schedule,” company CEO and president Tory Bruno said in a roundtable with reporters March 13 during the Satellite 2018 conference in Washington.

    That confidence comes even though ULA has yet to announce its choice for the engine for the rocket’s first stage: Blue Origin’s BE-4 or Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1. While BE-4 has long been considered the front-runner, ULA has not made a formal choice while BE-4 testing continues. Bruno has a one-word answer whenever someone asks when that selection will be made: “soon.”

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    I wonder about Vulcan style recovery of something larger...
    https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/in...548#msg1802548

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I wonder about Vulcan style recovery of something larger...
    https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/in...548#msg1802548
    The Vulcan engine recovery proposal is already close to the limit of what can practically be caught and carried by a helicopter. And frankly, it's already obsolete. Why would you use it for a completely new high engine count stage that should easily be adaptable to land itself?

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    "ULA Preparing Proven Hardware and New Innovations for Vulcan"

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019...ations-vulcan/

    Building on a legacy of reliable launch vehicles and flight-proven hardware, United Launch Alliance is progressing towards initial launch capability for their next generation rocket, Vulcan. The latest milestones include tests, reviews, and the fabrication of flight hardware for the first mission, which is – as confirmed by ULA this week – on track to occur no earlier than April 2021.

    The completion of the system-level Critical Design Review has set the stage for hardware qualification. This was the final review for the design of the Vulcan Centaur, the initial configuration in which Vulcan will fly. The United States Air Force was represented in this review as part of the certification process required for Vulcan to launch national security missions.

    The first pieces of flight hardware are now taking shape at ULA’s rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama. This includes aluminum panels for the rocket’s first stage liquid oxygen tank.
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    "ULA Preparing Proven Hardware and New Innovations for Vulcan"

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019...ations-vulcan/
    The venerable Atlas first stage with SRB's added.

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