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  #1  
Old 05-09-2012, 08:30 PM
ManofSteele ManofSteele is offline
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Default Liberty Launch System

Big news today!

http://www.libertyspace.us/

ATK Announces Complete Liberty System to Provide Commercial Crew Access

Liberty System Includes Spacecraft, Launch Vehicle, Ground and Mission Ops


Lots of neat stuff in this announcement, including MLAS!

Matt
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  #2  
Old 05-10-2012, 02:03 AM
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Quick question... where is ATK going to get shuttle RSRM casings for the first stage of Liberty?? As I understand it, all the existing shuttle casings are slated to be used on SLS test flights, and allowed to impact and sink in the Atlantic rather than be recovered. Once the SLS test flight program is completed, a NEW booster is supposed to be competed out, either a Liquid Rocket Booster by Aerojet or whomever, or a new high-pressure, filament overwound steel lined casing SRB by ATK... or whatever by whomever else wants to put something in the competition... at any rate, the existing shuttle casings haven't been manufactured for years as I understand it and with the existing cases to be expended on the bottom of the ocean on each SLS test flight, what exactly is Liberty going to use for a first stage SRM casing?? I take it that ATK intends to recover said casings for reuse, just as was planned for the Ares I SRM first stage, and has been done for the shuttle SRB's... has ATK solved the recovery problems that caused the chutes on Ares I-X to fail and the four segment shuttle booster with the weighted dummy segment used for the fifth segment of the first stage of Ares I-X to be bent beyond repair to the extent that the SRB casing had to be scrapped??

Also, I'd be VERY interested in knowing how exactly ATK intends to mate a groundstarted core stage on top of their five segment SRM first stage in an airlit series staged configuration, rather than the groundlit core stage configuration it was designed to be used for in Ariane 5. How exactly does the Ariane 5 core stage, with less propellant capacity than the Ares I upper stage, and powered by the Vulcain, with less thrust than the J-2X, make up the performance shortfalls that were plaguing Ares I?? This is a miracle in itself!

Also, the composite capsule is very interesting... I take it NASA was considering switching from an aluminum/lithium alloy pressure vessel for Orion MPCV to an all-composite pressure vessel Orion MPCV at some point, and ATK constructed this test pressure vessel... so where are all the onboard systems, propulsion, communications, avionics, navigation, life support, etc. coming from?? Are these to be all-new ATK developed systems of their own design or provided by subcontractors, or purchased from other contractors based on the Orion MPCV systems designs... or the same systems presumably used by Boeing in their CST-100 commercial capsule??

Have agreements been signed to support the launches of ATK's Liberty vehicle at KSC?? Seems I heard that the Ares I MLP which was constructed awhile back and was, for a time, slated for demolition IIRC, has since been retasked and is being modified to support SLS... would such modifications make it unsuited to support the Liberty vehicle?? Liberty, like Ares I and its shuttle predecessor, will require a great deal of integration and stacking work and support at KSC and it would seem that agreements to that end would be necessary before substantial work on the vehicle was completed...

Later! OL JR
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:38 AM
ManofSteele ManofSteele is offline
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NASA did not keep all of the shuttle RSRM casings for SLS - just enough for the first couple of flights. After those flights, they will switch to the newer version of the booster, either the solid rocket versions with filament wound carbon fiber casings (not filament wound over steel) or the liquid alternatives. When the old ones are used up on Liberty or Athena III, we likely will switch to carbon fiber casings as well.

We don't intend to recover the stages - the performance hit is not worth the effort.

Adapting the Ariane V first stage for use as a second stage is one of the program challenges, no doubt. The Liberty is not intended to be a replacement for Ares 1, so we are just taking the performance that the Vulcain gives us.

There are some details still to be worked out, but the capsule onboard systems are likely to come from Lockheed Martin - probably versions similar to those used on Orion.

We have been in detailed discussions with KSC - they won't be demolishing the MLP, that's for sure.

Matt
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:34 AM
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They should just use an old cement mixer for a capsule...
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  #5  
Old 05-10-2012, 11:38 AM
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Matt,

Very nice news!!! Very nice!

Orbital, ATK, and Space X should just form one huge company and just get on with it!

Jonathan
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManofSteele
NASA did not keep all of the shuttle RSRM casings for SLS - just enough for the first couple of flights. After those flights, they will switch to the newer version of the booster, either the solid rocket versions with filament wound carbon fiber casings (not filament wound over steel) or the liquid alternatives. When the old ones are used up on Liberty or Athena III, we likely will switch to carbon fiber casings as well.

We don't intend to recover the stages - the performance hit is not worth the effort.

Adapting the Ariane V first stage for use as a second stage is one of the program challenges, no doubt. The Liberty is not intended to be a replacement for Ares 1, so we are just taking the performance that the Vulcain gives us.

There are some details still to be worked out, but the capsule onboard systems are likely to come from Lockheed Martin - probably versions similar to those used on Orion.

We have been in detailed discussions with KSC - they won't be demolishing the MLP, that's for sure.

Matt


Hmmm.. interesting... I take it that switching to filament wound casings would then create a more or less "direct" drop-in for the existing SRB then?? (although I'm sure substantially lighter, which is why the ASRB program had developed expendable SRB's for the polar-orbit launched shuttles that were to be launched from Vandenberg, had that ever come to pass, way back in the pre-Challenger days... ) I had read that the new "high pressure" SRB's that ATK is trying to get NASA to switch to would use a steel liner with the spiral filament wound overlayment on the casing to reinforce it sufficiently to really raise the operating pressures of the SRB from what, about 700 PSI (IIRC from memory) to up well over 1,000 PSI (again from memory). I took it the combination of the two was necessary to contain that sort of pressure...

I would tend to agree that the recovery of the first stages isn't worth the effort... shuttle operations proved the expense of refurbishment and reuse is just as high if not higher in cost than a well designed expendable system. Plus, the additional weight and complexity of a recovery system and provisions for recovery and refurbishment to allow reuse cut into the performance and capabilities of the system... IOW the weight of the recovery system and additional hardware to allow reuse is weight that COULD have been devoted to extra payload had the booster been expendable...

I was wondering exactly what performance targets ATK was shooting for, since the Vulcain has quite a bit lower thrust than the J-2X and the Ariane 5 core has considerably less propellant capacity than the Ares I... so it's safe to say this will be a quite a bit lower lift capability vehicle than the Ares I was intended to be... just enough for an Earth-orbiting taxi vehicle... without the requirements of lifting a heavy service module loaded with lunar mission propellants and a decked out capsule designed for deep space missions with the requisite hardware and supplies should be a much easier target to hit...

So, apparently this vehicle will be very similar to the CST-100, then?? CST-100 is a near copy of the Orion MPCV so I understand, so I take it the ATK capsule will be as well, since it's based on the Orion MPCV design, only utilizing the composite pressure vessel instead of a aluminum/lithium alloy pressure vessel... but the interior spacecraft systems should be virtually identical then?? Makes sense... why not just partner up with the other company and split costs on CST-100, and use it on both vehicles?? (Atlas V and Liberty). I guess the NASA commercial crew program rules require each company provide thier own spacecraft and rocket then??

I knew they weren't demolishing the MLP they'd built for Ares I, but I had read that they were heavily modifying it for SLS... returning to a "shuttle style" arrangement of twin boosters on either side, the main difference being the location of the tail service masts and the center flame hole for to reflect the changes to the arrangement of the stack with the engines being directly beneath the core between the boosters, unlike shuttle which was offset on the side of the tank, and the TSM's being relocated to (presumably) connect the propellant umbilicals to the thrust structure on the aft end of the core tanks. While Ares I-X was launched off a pretty-much stock shuttle MLP, it was strictly supporting the SRB first stage, there were no provisions or support for propellant umbilicals to the upper stage or the other required supporting systems umbilicals and such, since Ares I-X used a "simulated" upper stage that didn't contain propellants... IIRC the shuttle MLPs are to be scrapped, so how does ATK propose to use the SLS MLP for Liberty, when the umbilicals requirements are fundamentally different due to the differences in the vehicle arrangement?? Or is ATK going to have its own MLP, which would seem to be a requirement (or certainly easier) to support the different heights of the vehicles and umbilical locations and arrangements??

Interesting stuff. It will be interesting to see how this actually goes forward and what comes of it... Personally I like the idea of competition and "privatizing" spaceflight by turning it over to commercial interests... if ATK has a "better mousetrap" then I wish them good luck...

Later! OL JR
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cohetero-negro
Matt,

Very nice news!!! Very nice!

Orbital, ATK, and Space X should just form one huge company and just get on with it!

Jonathan


I think that sort of defeats the purpose IMHO... competition is a good thing... NASA should be in a "customer" and "advisory" mode only on this... let the companies themselves seek the best way to go forward based on their own strengths and business models. Forcing some type of "integration" onto the companies would stymie the whole affair IMHO...

Personally I'd like to see NASA out of the rocket design business altogether. If/when SLS implodes or is canceled (which I consider at least a 50-50 proposition before it ever flies) then I think ultimately things will turn out that way... ESPECIALLY if commercial providers are successful in launching resupply to the ISS, and well on their way if not successfully launching crews to LEO as well... once commercial has proven itself capable of design and operation of resupply/crew transport, I think there will be little motivation to keep NASA designing overpriced HLV's clinging to the old shuttle hardware... Honestly it would be better to simply contract out the HLV development as a clean-sheet operation anyway, from a long-term standpoint...

Later! OL JR
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:20 PM
ManofSteele ManofSteele is offline
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Actually, the advantage of the filament wound cases is that you can safely operate them at higher pressures, getting more efficiency out of the propellant. No steel liner at all - it is not needed. We are also going to switch from PBAN to HTPB in the new boosters, so the combination of a lightweight case, higher MEOP, and HTPB propellant provide a significant performance increase over the existing RSRM.

ATK went to the Vulcain engine/Ariane 5 to get a man-rated liquid upper stage with a minimal amount of change needed. That was the driving consideration, not total lift capability.

The ATK capsule will be similar to Orion, but both Orion and Liberty have very little in common with Boeing's CST-100.

We will use the Ares I-X MLP; they are modifying another one for SLS.

Now, I need to figure out how to get my NAR number on the outside....<g>
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:41 AM
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Cool... lets see how they do in the next round of CCDev (or whatever they're calling it now) proposals...

Looks like Congress is doing all they can to muck that up... there's no need for a downselect now... compete the thing out and see who wins for pities sake... having a backup plan ready to go would be a pleasant thing to have that the US space program has NEVER enjoyed... Multiple providers means that if one company or another's vehicle runs into problems, or they want to upgrade, there's always a fallback provider...

What's so difficult to understand about that and why can't Congress "get it"?? It's rediculous... I don't understand NASA and the politicians most of the time... "oh, we want a permanent human presence in space... but nevermind the fact that we cannot even launch our own astronauts into orbit... "

Later! OL JR
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManofSteele
-SNIP-
ATK went to the Vulcain engine/Ariane 5 to get a man-rated liquid upper stage with a minimal amount of change needed. That was the driving consideration, not total lift capability.
-SNIP-
Thank you for sharing all of the Liberty information with us! Regarding the Ariane V's Vulcain engine, are the currently-manufactured versions still man-rated? I know that the vehicle was originally developed to orbit the (later cancelled) Hermes spaceplane, but I didn't know if later versions of the Vulcain retained the man-rated features (or at least the provisions to install such features, such as a malfunction detection system). Also:

Since the plan is to ultimately use a composite motor case for the first stage, have you all looked into possibly changing the solid motor to a hybrid motor? It would be safer, would permit simplified shipping and ground handling, would produce a much cleaner exhaust, and should permit the use of a shorter motor case for the same thrust.
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Last edited by blackshire : 05-12-2012 at 01:52 AM. Reason: This ol' hoss done forgot somethin'.
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