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ManofSteele
05-09-2012, 07:30 PM
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

luke strawwalker
05-10-2012, 01:03 AM
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 :)

ManofSteele
05-10-2012, 09:38 AM
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

Chr$
05-10-2012, 10:34 AM
They should just use an old cement mixer for a capsule... :cool:

Cohetero-negro
05-10-2012, 10:38 AM
Matt,

Very nice news!!! Very nice!

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

Jonathan

luke strawwalker
05-10-2012, 12:37 PM
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 :)

luke strawwalker
05-10-2012, 12:43 PM
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 :)

ManofSteele
05-11-2012, 08:20 PM
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>

luke strawwalker
05-12-2012, 12:41 AM
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... " :confused: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :mad:

Later! OL JR :)

blackshire
05-12-2012, 12:47 AM
-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.

Gus
05-12-2012, 12:49 AM
Now, I need to figure out how to get my NAR number on the outside....<g>
Fins, darn it, FINS! :)

blackshire
05-12-2012, 01:13 AM
Fins, darn it, FINS! :)Being rather enamored of ISRO's PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), especially the PSLV-CA ("Core Alone" version, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_Satellite_Launch_Vehicle ), I wonder if the current state of the art would enable us to use SITVC (Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control) systems on scale models of finless rockets? A SITVC system using air-pressurized water could be installed in such finless models. Also:

Electronically-actuated valves could control the injection of jets of water into the motor exhaust plume just below the nozzle to steer the model, *or* a simpler system could simply continuously inject four jets of water (spaced 90 degrees apart) inward and downward. Given enough water, the jets could continue to steer (or simply stabilize) the model during its coasting phase of flight while the motor's delay charge burns. In addition:

With the jets of water being injected into the hot motor exhaust plume, the resulting expansion of the heated water might enable a scale-size nozzle extension to be affixed below the motor's nozzle, for a realistic-looking nozzle *and* a "scale-width" exhaust plume. The water jet nozzles could be molded into (or investment-cast into) a phenolic scale nozzle extension.

Jerry Irvine
05-12-2012, 01:59 AM
You can fire 4 motors out 15-30 degrees instead.

blackshire
05-12-2012, 03:02 AM
You can fire 4 motors out 15-30 degrees instead.Yes, but their mutually-stabilizing effect would stop when their propellant burned out and their delay charges started burning. Even the finless, spin-stabilized rocket that was featured in a model rocketry magazine (I don't remember which one) went unstable after its two canted spin motors (as well as its two straight-mounted thrusting motors) burned out and their delay charges started burning. A pressurized water jet Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control system could--given sufficient water--continue to stabilize the model until its motor's ejection charge fired.

Jerry Irvine
05-12-2012, 03:09 AM
Sufficient water would weigh a relative ton. How about lower thrust motors that burn to apogee. That works in actual practice. I have published finless rockets in CRm for example.

blackshire
05-12-2012, 04:01 AM
Sufficient water would weigh a relative ton. How about lower thrust motors that burn to apogee. That works in actual practice. I have published finless rockets in CRm for example.Not necessarily, as the SITVC water jets wouldn't need a huge flow rate. Particularly for larger models (ones big enough to carry electronically-controlled SITVC systems with "on/off" water jet valves), the system could also be used to make a model fly a programmed ascent trajectory.

luke strawwalker
05-12-2012, 11:03 AM
Not necessarily, as the SITVC water jets wouldn't need a huge flow rate. Particularly for larger models (ones big enough to carry electronically-controlled SITVC systems with "on/off" water jet valves), the system could also be used to make a model fly a programmed ascent trajectory.

And what for pressurization?? Seems to me that perhaps the easiest way of doing something like this would be to use those pre-pressurized cans of nitrous oxide, the ones used for whipping cream... or CO2, which is cheaper and easier to find... NO2 should increase the ISP since, being an oxidizer, it should combust some of the unburned propellant gases in the exhaust stream.

The problem is the valves and lines... THEY would weigh "a ton" on such a small vehicle as a model rocket... even a HPR rocket... there's limits to how small such components can be made. Plus you have to have the guidance platform to detect the trajectory and open the appropriate valves for the proper amount of time to correct the flightpath, and of course the power supply to energize it all...

Interesting idea, and I think it would be feasible (at least on fairly large HPR projects) but it would be fairly difficult... even regular gimbaling of the engine isn't commonplace... and fluid injection is a step beyond that...

Later! OL JR :)

luke strawwalker
05-12-2012, 11:06 AM
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.

Except that a hybrid would be an ENTIRELY new motor design... Personally I'd like to see a hybrid in the final SLS booster competition... I think it has a lot of advantages, being throttlable and shut-down-able... (is that a word?? LOL:)) At any rate, however, it's a completely different animal from the SRB technology as it presently exists... which means a lot of time and money required for development...

I'd still like to see one competed out against regular SRB and LRB alternatives, though... maybe, just maybe, the advantages of a solid and the advantages of a liquid combined in one...

Later! OL JR :)

Jerry Irvine
05-12-2012, 01:17 PM
Personally I'd like to see a hybrid in the final SLS booster competition... SLS is largely a political animal to keep the production lines open and folks employed who worked on shuttle power plants and structures. There is no current political or programmatic noise to even consider alternative evolved liquids much less an as yet non-existent or evolved hybrid.

That said, I have been doing some work on arbitrary size and thrust hybrids which are scalable and which have considerable operational and ISP benefits to many solids and liquids.

Current "space programs" are effectively discreet clubs of zealots and supporters who make every effort to be mutually exclusive, on the principal that if they "win" their rocket gets made. This meme presumes a fixed or shrinking size pie, which may be governmentally true. But in the private sector, a rising tide lifts all ships.

So perhaps a private sector initiative is the way to go on this.

Jerry

blackshire
05-12-2012, 10:43 PM
And what for pressurization?? Seems to me that perhaps the easiest way of doing something like this would be to use those pre-pressurized cans of nitrous oxide, the ones used for whipping cream... or CO2, which is cheaper and easier to find... NO2 should increase the ISP since, being an oxidizer, it should combust some of the unburned propellant gases in the exhaust stream.

The problem is the valves and lines... THEY would weigh "a ton" on such a small vehicle as a model rocket... even a HPR rocket... there's limits to how small such components can be made. Plus you have to have the guidance platform to detect the trajectory and open the appropriate valves for the proper amount of time to correct the flightpath, and of course the power supply to energize it all...

Interesting idea, and I think it would be feasible (at least on fairly large HPR projects) but it would be fairly difficult... even regular gimbaling of the engine isn't commonplace... and fluid injection is a step beyond that...

Later! OL JR :)I was thinking of air-pressurized water, but the other methods you mentioned (particularly the cartridges of N2O for making whipped cream) would also work. In its simplest form, the SITVC system would have only one valve, which would allow the fluid (water, N2O, CO2, etc.) to flow to the four (fixed) jets, which would be pointed inward and downward toward the motor's exhaust plume. The valve would open at first motion up the launch rod, and the equal flow of fluid from the four jets would act as fixed fins, causing the rocket to fly in the direction it was pointed. More complex SITVC systems (which would probably be better suited to HPR-size rockets, as you noted) would use valves on the jets (actuated by at least a 1-axis gyroscope or perhaps even a 3-axis gyroscope array and accelerometers) to steer the rocket in a fixed (or programmed, in the latter case) direction.

blackshire
05-12-2012, 11:06 PM
Except that a hybrid would be an ENTIRELY new motor design... Personally I'd like to see a hybrid in the final SLS booster competition... I think it has a lot of advantages, being throttlable and shut-down-able... (is that a word?? LOL:)) At any rate, however, it's a completely different animal from the SRB technology as it presently exists... which means a lot of time and money required for development...

I'd still like to see one competed out against regular SRB and LRB alternatives, though... maybe, just maybe, the advantages of a solid and the advantages of a liquid combined in one...

Later! OL JR :)If I was designing a "clean sheet" two-stage rocket/capsule system (and had the money, of course), I would go with LOX/HTPB or LOX/PBAN hybrid propulsion (or LOX/paraffin, if Space Propulsion Group's 10" LOX/paraffin hybrid is scalable to large sizes) for both stages. The launch vehicle would be completely safe to transport and handle on the ground, its exhaust would be very clean, its motors could be shut down in an emergency, and since its explosive potential (TNT equivalent) would be zero, the capsule's launch escape system would have much more modest performance requirements (just enough to keep the rocket from re-contacting the capsule after separation). Also:

The ISP of SPG's (Space Propulsion Group's) LOX/paraffin hybrid is close to that of a LOX/kerosene liquid propellant engine, so if it could be scaled up and/or clustered, this hybrid propellant combination might be the best. In addition to its high performance (which is due to the surface layer of the fuel melting to a liquid and mixing thoroughly with the LOX), the paraffin fuel grain's higher regression rate enables it to have a simple, cheaper-to-produce single cylindrical port. (Rubber-based hybrid fuel grains require complex, more expensive multi-port passages for the oxidizer, because their lower regression rates require more exposed fuel surface area for a given thrust level.)

blackshire
05-12-2012, 11:22 PM
SLS is largely a political animal to keep the production lines open and folks employed who worked on shuttle power plants and structures. There is no current political or programmatic noise to even consider alternative evolved liquids much less an as yet non-existent or evolved hybrid.

That said, I have been doing some work on arbitrary size and thrust hybrids which are scalable and which have considerable operational and ISP benefits to many solids and liquids.

Current "space programs" are effectively discreet clubs of zealots and supporters who make every effort to be mutually exclusive, on the principal that if they "win" their rocket gets made. This meme presumes a fixed or shrinking size pie, which may be governmentally true. But in the private sector, a rising tide lifts all ships.

So perhaps a private sector initiative is the way to go on this.

JerryVery interesting! Jerry, if you could produce a small, cheap sounding rocket (say, 20 kg to 100 km, at least for a start) powered by one of your scalable hybrid motor designs, I have a possible payload customer for you. He noted in a public lecture in February that this year's sounding rocket campaign at the Poker Flat Research Range consisted of just *one* rocket, because suborbital vehicles are also getting increasingly expensive. He is passionate about reducing the costs of suborbital as well as orbital launches (he has flown microsatellites that successfully used cheap, non-aerospace rated components). If you are interested, I would be happy to send you his contact information.

Jerry Irvine
05-13-2012, 08:39 AM
We can chat offline about that and we have also already been in contact. Thanks.

Bill
05-13-2012, 11:37 PM
I was thinking of air-pressurized water, but the other methods you mentioned (particularly the cartridges of N2O for making whipped cream) would also work. In its simplest form, the SITVC system would have only one valve, which would allow the fluid (water, N2O, CO2, etc.) to flow to the four (fixed) jets, which would be pointed inward and downward toward the motor's exhaust plume. The valve would open at first motion up the launch rod, and the equal flow of fluid from the four jets would act as fixed fins, causing the rocket to fly in the direction it was pointed.


I beg to differ. Four fixed jets flowing at the same and constant rates would cancel each other out and have no effect upon the trajectory, except maybe to attempt to correct any asymmetry in the exhaust plume itself.


Bill

blackshire
05-14-2012, 01:05 AM
I beg to differ. Four fixed jets flowing at the same and constant rates would cancel each other out and have no effect upon the trajectory, except maybe to attempt to correct any asymmetry in the exhaust plume itself.


BillYou're right--they would result in neutral stability at best. But, an active system (with at minimum one gyroscope mounted perpendicular to the rocket's axis and connected to a valve for each jet) would keep the rocket flying in the direction it was launched.

billspad
05-15-2012, 06:17 AM
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

To sort of bring this thread back to where it started, at the SLI/USLI banquet the speaker was a former astronaut (I forgot his name) who works for ATK. The title on the last slide of his presentation was "Give me Liberty.....". A few of us sitting at the NAR range crew table just looked at each other and said "Or give me death?". I'm not sure that was the message they were trying to convey.

ManofSteele
05-17-2012, 10:51 PM
That was Kent Rominger, the Liberty Business Development VP. A great guy who flew the shuttle FIVE times! He is a lot of fun to work and travel with. I am certain he would prefer death instead of being grounded permanently! <g>

Speaking of that, Kent did announce that they had selected the first crew to fly Liberty. I was truly surprised that he said he would not be on the first flight. I am sure he wanted to. I would not be surprised if he sneaks on a later flight. I do know that the commander for the first Liberty flight is an ex-NASA shuttle astronaut.

Matt


To sort of bring this thread back to where it started, at the SLI/USLI banquet the speaker was a former astronaut (I forgot his name) who works for ATK. The title on the last slide of his presentation was "Give me Liberty.....". A few of us sitting at the NAR range crew table just looked at each other and said "Or give me death?". I'm not sure that was the message they were trying to convey.

Jerry Irvine
05-18-2012, 09:47 AM
Very interesting! Jerry, if you could produce a small, cheap sounding rocket (say, 20 kg to 100 km, at least for a start) powered by one of your scalable hybrid motor designs, Small is not cheap. Big can be high value and lower cost per delivered mass. Rocketry uses a fixed pool of chemistry and mechanics and does not benefit much from the sizing and cost reductions electronics does. 95% of a rocket is the motor stuff and only 5% is the payload stuff.

One can cut their own throat and reduce profit margin to reduce price, or perhaps save on operational and non-vehicle costs, but even that is very hard to do within the many proscribed procedures NASA and FEDGOV have. As you have seen as a large civil rocketeer, the actual efforts and risks of flying rockets is small and trivial. It is all the procedural crapola NASA and FEDGOV adds that makes rocketry expensive.

Having fired 1" diameter motors and 18" diameter motors (and larger) I can tell you I was only 400 feet farther away for the 18" than the 1". I felt a whole bunch more at risk with the RRI GALCIT motors at Smoke Creek than I did the 18" hybrid at Mojave/Cantil. I was over a mile away from the GALCIT motors.

I would feel perfectly comfortable flying a 3 meter hybrid from Edwards to orbit. Even if it crashed and landed in a Landscatter housing tract, it would at most take out 2-3 houses. About the same as a Cessna.

This is well within mass-market business insurance limits, not special space insurance and treaty obligations measuring in several billions.

Jerry

billspad
05-19-2012, 07:36 AM
That was Kent Rominger, the Liberty Business Development VP. A great guy who flew the shuttle FIVE times! He is a lot of fun to work and travel with. I am certain he would prefer death instead of being grounded permanently! <g>

He certainly was enthusiastic and his presentation was interesting but it seemed like a sales pitch. I don't think there was anybody in the room in the market to buy one. However, since ATK was paying for our meal and a bunch of other stuff he had my attention. My launch vehicle order will go to the first company that puts fins on their rocket.