DarkKnight5
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United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:43 pm

So I love the SpaceX thread, and I'm surprised I haven't been able to find a similar thread for ULA. Sure they're not as sexy as SpaceX, and they need to up their social media game by a large margin, but they're still a critical launch provider.

Here's the latest launch highlights. https://youtu.be/J4yaVlTCjIE

Notice it's only highlights and the video is only two minutes and four seconds long. The liftoff doesn't occur until the 1:26 mark. So we get to see 38 seconds of flight. That's fine for the population at large, I guess, but I want to see a large portion of the countdown, launch, flight, and spacecraft deploy. I'm happy ULA finally has a competitor to push them forward.

*Edit
I should have mentioned: the highlights above are and Atlas V launch for NOAA GOES-S weather satellite.
 
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JetBuddy
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:06 pm

Maybe we should have a common space launch thread for ULA, Rocket Lab, Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Stratolaunch and so on?

Maybe even with Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian launch vehicles?
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:09 pm

As I understand it,their future rests on a new disposable rocket they are building.Whether they can compete with a x10 reusable rocket we will just have to see.I guess a lot depends on how good the 'Block5' from Spacex is.But even when it is disposed of it is still cheap.It can also handle any commercial launch if yesterday's launch was anything to go by.
Their future also depends on the new engine they have chosen.Its from Blue Origin.As of today the full sized version has not (I believe) been fired up.
Of course that same engine forms the basis of another competitor.Another one that will return the first stage (or attempt to).
If it does work (New Glenn?) then they may be in uber trouble.
Am not trying to be 'down' on them but these are -as I see it- realities.
Perhaps they should try and buy Geoff Bezos out?
 
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Tugger
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:09 pm

Oh yes, ULA definitely deserves attention. But of course they have been "boring" and basically 100% successful for years now and not trying anything new like SpaceX. But that doesn't or shouldn't take away from the the awesomeness of the rockets they have.

My favorite is the Delta IV Heavy. There is something awesome about how it looks taking off, the engines and thrust pattern... . beautiful:
Image


And here is a recent launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCy401hkXuk
And this one has multiple views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEcye06SFik

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:10 pm

I also love the DIVH. Amazing machine, even though that flare (hydrogen?) at engine ignition that scorches the bottom of the craft spooks me every time.

I agree ULA has a near spotless launch record, though I wonder if they’ll begin to push a faster launch cadence in response to SpaceX, and I wonder further what effect that might have on their reliability. None, I hope.

Like I said earlier, I’m glad they have some competition and I hope the raise their game.
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:10 am

https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/03/07/pentagons-top-tech-official-take-more-risks-in-space/
“We’ve trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle of spending a lot of money on mission assurance, which makes the assets incredibly expensive, which means the launch vehicles that support them need to have near certainty,” Griffin said. “What we should be thinking about is the overall cost of the architecture we deploy.”

This quote states better what I said before about ULA needing a push. As the sole operator of rockets capable of putting National Security spacecraft in orbit, they really had zero margin for error and caused them to work at a (purely eye-of-the-beholder) snail’s pace.
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:35 am

Re DarkKinght5.Methinks he protests too hard (to misquote a quote).OPM.Other People's Money.Thats what governments use and suppliers just love it.I have done Government jobs (IT) and you rub your hands gleefully .You cN overspec and over charge and no one says a thing 'cos it's not their money so they don't care.
Spacex has changed everything so now they blame the government,now that the gravy train is over.Well it is - so get on with it.At least the tax payer should be happier.
 
zanl188
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:27 pm

Tugger wrote:
Oh yes, ULA definitely deserves attention. But of course they have been "boring" and basically 100% successful for years now and not trying anything new like SpaceX. But that doesn't or shouldn't take away from the the awesomeness of the rockets they have.

My favorite is the Delta IV Heavy. There is something awesome about how it looks taking off, the engines and thrust pattern... . beautiful:
Image


And here is a recent launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCy401hkXuk
And this one has multiple views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEcye06SFik

Tugg


Gotta love the fire and charring of Delta IV ignition and liftoff!
Legal considerations provided by: Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:08 pm

DarkKnight5 wrote:
I also love the DIVH. Amazing machine, even though that flare (hydrogen?) at engine ignition that scorches the bottom of the craft spooks me every time.

I agree ULA has a near spotless launch record, though I wonder if they’ll begin to push a faster launch cadence in response to SpaceX, and I wonder further what effect that might have on their reliability. None, I hope.

Like I said earlier, I’m glad they have some competition and I hope the raise their game.


Yup. The Delta IV engines are Hydrolox. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-68A So the flare is the hydogen being burnt off.

As for increasing the launch cadence of the Delta IV? Doubt it. ULA seems to be betting the farm on the Vulcan. Which should be simpler and chepaer to operate. Taking advantage of design and build processes that just didn't exist back when the Delta IV was designed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(rocket)
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:06 am

Yup Delta4 heavy is a phenomenal rocket with (I believe) a 100% safety record.I note Spacex love to quote power stats to LEO as it's suits their engines.They turn into powder puffs in a vacuum.If you look at what the D4H can take into Geocentric orbit it's nearly as powerful as the FH.
Just that Elon always wind the PR wars!
However it's cost is mind numbing -I am not quite sure why this should be.Yes they are disposable but then so it Falcon sometimes but the cost is still a fraction of Deltas.Does anyone know.
 
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Tugger
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:12 pm

parapente wrote:
However it's cost is mind numbing -I am not quite sure why this should be.Yes they are disposable but then so it Falcon sometimes but the cost is still a fraction of Deltas.Does anyone know.

Have you seen the "years employed" of the people behind it at ULA and their pension costs? As well as the top heavy management structure and costs of Boeing and Lockheed? Then there is their stock price and the cost involved there if there is a loss....

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:47 pm

parapente wrote:
Yup Delta4 heavy is a phenomenal rocket with (I believe) a 100% safety record.I note Spacex love to quote power stats to LEO as it's suits their engines.They turn into powder puffs in a vacuum.If you look at what the D4H can take into Geocentric orbit it's nearly as powerful as the FH.
Just that Elon always wind the PR wars!
However it's cost is mind numbing -I am not quite sure why this should be.Yes they are disposable but then so it Falcon sometimes but the cost is still a fraction of Deltas.Does anyone know.

I didn’t meant to say the launch cadence of D4Hs would increase, but their whole fleet including Atlas and the other Delta variants. At some point the high cost and long timetables will hurt them. They may have enough backlog work now, but will they continue to win new orders? Hard to say.

Their big announcement in the last couple of years is that they developed a brand new... wait for it... website to help price a launch for the customer. As if a launch customer shelling out millions needs a website like they’re shopping for a used car.
They need some PR people who know what they’re doing or they will get left behind, even if their hardware is great.
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:05 pm

A website...omg.This is dinosaur country.When there are two (American) private launch enterprises will the US military even care about the past.
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:07 pm

GOES-S reached its circularized geostationary orbit and has been renamed GOES-17. Job well done ULA.
https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/03/12/new-noaa-weather-satellite-reaches-geostationary-orbit/

And after reading my complaints on Anet, they’ve released launch Awesome Show Great Job footage worth drooling over.

https://youtu.be/SGGYYqDDfRI
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:07 pm

Blue Origin has tested its BE-1 engine at 65% thrust for 114 seconds. Pretty pictures and video at the link.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/blue-origin/jeff-bezos-tweets-latest-be-4-engine-test-footage/

BE-1 is still the preferred engine for Vulcan first stage, but Aerojet’s AR1 engine has not yet been eliminated from competition. Sounds like that decision could be made soon, which makes sense if they’re looking at a mid-2020 first flight. Gratuitous swipe at Elon Musk at the link.

https://www.investors.com/news/united-launch-alliance-blue-origins-vulcan-engine-further-along/

The engine is the most expensive part of the rocket, accounting for two-thirds of the cost of a booster, Bruno said.

ULA doesn't have a customer yet for its Vulcan, but Bruno said the company was in a discussion with a number of prospects and said any customers will pay for the first launches.

"I will not fly a car," he said,


Funny the way ULA and Boeing execs keep taking jabs while their hardware is obsoleted by a competitor and their replacement systems are years behind. As if Falcon Heavy is the only competitor for Vulcan? At this point, Vulcan and BFR exist only on paper, so the bravado from ULA seems unwarranted.
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:12 pm

Still feel that ULA are going to have to merge with Blue Origin.Thats if Jeff wants to -probably happy to kill them commercially later.Tends to be his track record -but not always.
Now that the US Military are happy to ride on commercial launchers just can't see where ULA and their disposable rockets go.
There clearly has to be two US rocket manufacturers for security purposes.But not three.in the end that second one is bound to be Blue Origin - with exactly these engines -only they come back with (70% circa) of the cost.Its a deal breaker every time.
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:14 pm

Last I read, Vulcan is intended to be partially reusable. They want to jettison the engines from the rest of the first stage after it’s done pushing. Then it’s going to deploy some sort of shielding and parachute toward the surface. Before they hit the water, a helicopter will swoop buy and snag the chute. They said the engines are roughly 2/3 of the cost of the whole rocket.

Can’t imagine how complex and engineered the plumbing fittings need to be to disconnect in flight after operating safely.
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:23 pm

http://youtu.be/YbOg_4rrJxc

Full video of the recent Atlas V launching AFSPC-11 into orbit.

Congrats to ULA for another successful launch.
 
GDB
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon May 07, 2018 7:13 am

Surprised this did not get a mention, ULA booster and the first interplanetary mission from the US West Coast.
InSight will be the first mission, if successfully landed and deployed, to study the interior of Mars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo6HnBZ7N-Q
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue May 08, 2018 3:13 pm

Big news: 600 ULA Machinists at the main facility in Alabama and the launch sites have voted to strike over contract negotiations and are picketing.

http://spacenews.com/ula-machinists-go-on-strike/
Prior to the vote, the company said its operations would not be affected by a strike. ULA confirmed that in its May 6 statement, saying it would “implement its strike contingency plans while focusing on meeting its commitments to our customers.”


I believe this in the short-term, but how do you go on without 600 workers in the long-term, especially when you just offered them all a $6,000 bonus and 1 to 2 percent salary increases each year? Clearly they're doing something valuable for you.

http://www.theverge.com/2018/5/7/17326610/ula-strike-internal-association-machinists-union-rocket-launch
While this strike is happening, ULA will need to find another way to get its rockets made and up into space.


That quote seems more accurate than the company's "not affected by a strike" statement.

An IAMAW representative says that the ULA employees have two main issues with the contract ULA proposed. One involves stipulations on travel between the two launch sites. ULA doesn’t launch out of Vandenberg very often, so the company maintains just a small workforce over there. So whenever there is a Vandenberg launch, employees from Florida are called to travel to Vandenberg to help with mission operations. Originally, employees only had to be in California for 30 days at a time and were then rotated out if needed.

However, IAMAW claims the new contract would allow ULA to call Florida employees back to Vandenberg after they had already returned home from a 30-day stint. “If you come back, they can send you back again,” Johnny Walker, a representative for IAMAW in Cape Canaveral, Florida, tells The Verge. “The family life is gone, and you can’t say no.”


This one would be a deal breaker for me too. 30-days consecutive away from home is insanely hard on the family. Doing it back-to-back with maybe a day or a weekend break is further insanity, imo.

Additionally, IAMAW says the contract gives ULA the option to sub-contract any job that it wants, meaning a full-time employee’s work could be given to an outside company at any time. The union sees that as ULA’s attempt to reduce the size of its workforce and pay lower wages. “Our guys have certification beyond belief,” says Walker. “We have a perfect record for launching rockets. We never have lost a rocket or had a failure. We were part of it being successful, and now they’re turning it around and treating us like dirt.”


Yeah that's a problem too. A Unionized workforce can be a double-edged sword for both parties. With all sorts of new competition in the launch industry, causing ULA to be undercut on price quite frequently, I understand why the company would want to be able to find cost efficiencies with contracting. Walker is correct in stating that their labor may cost more, but it also a proven, quality commodity. Then there's this:

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/ula/ula-machinists-on-strike-over-disputed-contract-offer/
Another sticking point was subcontracting. IAM members fear that ULA could use that to cut full-time jobs, according to the Orlando Sentinel. ULA, however, said it has no intention of displacing workers via subcontracting and it guaranteed that in writing as part of its “last, best and final offer.”


Not sure I believe their stated "intent" when they're putting it into the agreement that they can contract-out whatever they want. That's double-speak. "We want to be able to do this at any time we choose, but we don't intend to do so." Give me a break.

I can't get a feeling for how long the strike is expected to last, or if the parties are close to agreement or miles apart. If the strike drags on more than t a couple of months, it will get interesting to see how their launch manifest is affected.
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:13 pm

So in the race to put a person on a rocket and send them to space from US soil, Boeing has hit a big snag with Starliner. Namely that the launch abort motor test ended with the vehicle leaking propellant.
Boeing recently conducted a hot fire test for their low-altitude abort milestone for the CST-100,” noted a member of the ASAP panel. “And there was an anomaly on that test that we need to better understand in terms of its potential impact on the design and operation and the schedule.
“And so although there’s a lot of interest in this issue, Boeing has asked for some additional time to step back and understand that a little better.”
“We can expect some uncertainty [in] their near-term schedules at least for the Boeing provider while they go through that,” noted the ASAP. “And then we should have a much better sense of the Orbital Flight Test and the Crew Flight Test for that provider.”

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/07/asap-boeing-failure-positive-spacex-crew-announcement/

So that’s not a hope inspiring set of circumstances. However, Boeing seems rather optimistic this is not a big deal, based on their quotes. I hope we find out some more information on Friday (8/3/18) when NASA announces the crews for the first manned ULA and SpaceX missions.
 
parapente
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:51 am

It looks like a very healthy space race between the 2 companies.I feel sure NASA will do well out of it.Both financially and the luxury of two veichles.There is a third one I believe bring built for deeper space (Lockheed?).
One assumes that once Spacex gets man rated approval ( next year sometime?) they could,if they chose,to start commercial flights such as their round the Moon flights.At a simpler level they could offer round the Earth flights.Its a 6 person capsule which gives them the same people economics as Virgin et al.Obviously the trip cost would be more expensive,but you would get a lot more.
Their Falcon 9's might be too busy putting up the Spacex communication cloud of small sats,but if they had the launch space to offer commercial flights -why not?
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:36 am

Confirmation of Starliner schedule slip. First orbital test now in 2019 and crew test later that year, maybe.
https://gizmodo.com/boeings-cst-100-starliner-program-hits-more-delays-fir-1828044434
 
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Tugger
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:45 pm

Gee, I can't believe no one has posted on the Parker Solar Probe launch early yesterday morning! The relatively light probe launched using a Delta 4-Heavy due its need to escape Earth's gravity and orbit.

Chalk up another success for the D4H and ULA!

https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/08/13/p ... canaveral/

https://www.space.com/41457-parker-sola ... t-sun.html

There are some great pictures in the above links but this is my favorite:


https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-falcon ... vy-launch/
Image

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
DarkKnight5
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:38 pm

It was surely a spectacular launch, although ULA continues to lag behind competitors on the broadcast. The full launch video is still not available, only these “highlights”. Half the video is various shots of the service building rolling away, and that’s not an exaggeration.

http://youtu.be/9d8raqfq6oQ

An amazing mission. I would really love to see the full thing on the official ULA channel. That picture of the engines clearing the tower is amazing.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:18 pm

The Delta IV in its three core configuration is a beautiful beast to see night pictures of. Those LH2/LOX engines are just gorgeous.
 
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Erebus
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Re: United Launch Alliance - Tests, Launches, News, Developments

Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:51 pm

Tugger wrote:
Gee, I can't believe no one has posted on the Parker Solar Probe launch early yesterday morning! The relatively light probe launched using a Delta 4-Heavy due its need to escape Earth's gravity and orbit.


I was going to open a separate thread on the day of the launch but sort of let it lapse.

The Parker Solar Probe will be hitting some incredibly extreme milestones in this mission.

- At its closest approach to the sun, it will become the fastest man-made moving object at 700,000 km/h (or ~200 km/s, ~0.00065c); 3 times faster than the previous record holder, Helios 2.
- Its heat shield is expected hit temperatures of around 1377 °C while payload operates at near room temperature.
- The probe will fly to within a distance of 3.8 million miles, 7 times closer to the sun than its previous record holder, the Helios 2.

https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/parker-solar-probe-humanity-s-first-visit-to-a-star

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