- Parabolic Arc
- June 2, 2023
USAF to Phase Out Subsidy to ULA
The U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday it would phase out a major subsidy it pays United Launch Alliance (ULA)
Air Force Space Command Commander General John Hyten said acquisition officials were working on a plan to to phase out the infrastructure support contract, which he said was initially put in place to protect “a very fragile industrial base.”
He said it was not possible to have a fair competition with the contracts in place, backing an argument often made by privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, which is vying for some of the launch contracts now carried out by ULA.
In prepared testimony between the House Armed Services Committee last week, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell called for an end to the contract.
Eliminate payments—more properly called subsidies—under the EELV Launch Capability (ELC) contract line items that exclusively support the incumbent provider and properly account for such payments for any competitive solicitations in the interim to ensure a fair and level playing field, especially since these funds do not contribute to the true nature of assured access to space. The Department and this Committee have called fo r real, meaningful competition. That means eliminating the unfairness. All we seek is the right to compete in a fair competition. Just like reliance on the RD-180 engine, it is time for these subsidy payments to the incumbent to come to an end.
Through the EELV Launch Capability, initially referred to as “assured access to space” payments, the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) pay ULA approximately $1 billion per year through distinct cost-plus-incentive-fee contract line items. These payments cover most of ULA’s fixed costs — for example, launch infrastructure, systems engineering and program management, launch operations, mission integration, base and range support costs, transportation costs, capital depreciation, and non-recurring engineering to name a few — for “up to eight launches” per year. These payments are in addition to the firm-fixed-price that ULA charges for EELV Launch Services (ELS) for each launch ordered through the block buy contract.
96 responses to “USAF to Phase Out Subsidy to ULA”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Wow, I had no idea what the taxpayer was paying for at ULA. Basically everything except maybe the company picnic. No wonder they are balking at the idea of having to buy more expensive engines. It looks like they basically haven’t had to pay a whole lot of anything to run the company in years. Think of the profits they must have been raking in.
There goes that big Christmas bonus.
LARGE profits. VERY LARGE.
The real problem is that not only were they top heavy, but every time they went to ‘clean house’, they got rid of competent engineers and kept the political creatures, esp. the managers.
You know, a company like this that basically sells other people’s rockets, doesn’t really seem to be the type of organization that is likely to be able to reinvent itself in a way that allows them to compete on a level playing field. I wonder if they have any real intention of fielding a next generation launcher at all? If so, who would build it for them? LockMart? Boeing? Can the organizational structure of either of those two companies operate as efficiently as they must to compete? Where would the talent come from? Not the engineering talent but the management talent? That’s where SpaceX is winning, their modern management and construction techniques.
Is it more realistic to think ULA is actually going to field a competing system or is it more realistic to believe that they will simply say or do anything to keep getting as much taxpayer money as they can until finally everyone gives up on them?
That’s part of the big problem, The public has no idea how much they’re being ripped off by these Old Space companies and how much could be saved with newer companies that are breaking away from that waste to help open up the frontier. The gravy train is grinding to a halt.
Welfare has been a derisive term, effectively used to precise effect in American polity. It has been synonymous with one practice, while a determined and collective blinder has been applied to its other and most insulting practice.
Relocation subsidies, building stadia for sports teams, farmer’s guaranteed profits, ULA subsidies and on, ad infinitum, it is quite telling how little we care when it disappears into those coffers. Paying, for the privilege to get mounted, on one hand, while decrying getting taken on the other, although the other pays more widespread dividend, is a conscious choice that we claim we do not make.
I know almost nothing about the funds attribution of NASA/USAF/NRO budget, but does it means the build and launch part of EELV (+ missions) just gained one billion dollar? If ULA doesn’t get the money anymore, it could be reallocated to more launches or studies or new contracted vehicles?
Considering how deep in debt we are (est. $18,628,000,000,000 owed by year end), and how we’re operating at a budget deficit ($583,000,000,000), plus agency debt (Fannie Mae and all that), all against growing entitlement spending (money that must be spent by law, as opposed to money that congress actually chooses to pay each year [such as for satellite launches or national parks or cancer research or whatever]), I’d guess the money just kind of disappears.
Still, saving a billion a year to pay a monopoly’s fixed costs (on top of the billions spent actually buying their products) will definitely help.
Actually, the Fannie and Freddie Mae bailouts were a net outflow for only a single year. These companies have repaid each dollar of the bail out with interest. It was a pretty good deal for Obama. It made the federal deficit numbers look billions less, due to the amount of profit received from these two companies. The government won’t let these guys go, since they return so much money to the treasury.
I sure that when the “mission assurance” was first setup, there was some plan by the USAF that it would be a net wash. Just moving dollars between line items on the budget. Now that they is a possibility of 2 vendors, the contracting scheme has to be different.
Interesting, I’ll have to read up a little more on that (I’m embarrassed to admit I kind of tune out when the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae talk starts)
“money that must be spent by law”
What law passed by a previous congress can force this congress to spend money it does not want to?
Obviously the 1 billion will simply no longer be added to the mountain of Govt debt already holding down your kids every year.
“What law passed by a previous congress can force this congress to spend money it does not want to?”
There are two types of spending in the federal budget, discretionary spending and non-discretionary spending. Non-discretionary spending is that spending that previous congresses have already obligated (via laws) current and future congresses to fund. Examples include Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security also must be paid to those who qualify, but the fund for this is shielded (to an extent) from the rest of the budget and is contributed to directly by users in a separate collection system, so that’s in a somewhat unique (though, due to demographics, highly problematic in its own right) category.
It’s true that the Congress can’t actually be *forced* to spend money as they always have the option of changing a law. However, changing a law (like, say, the prescription drug benefit for seniors) can be quite difficult, especially when 1) there is an entrenched group of voters benefitting from the current law, and 2) the two parties disagree with each other so bitterly on what a better law would be.
Another way of saying “non-discretionary spending” is the also-used term “mandatory spending”.
Interest on accrued debt also must, in a practical sense, be paid.
Good to hear. It would be nice to see it end by the time Falcon Heavy is certified for NRO launches.
yeah, they are taking their time on getting it moving.
I understand the reasoning behind paying to make sure that we had an American vehicle ready to fly within a reasonable time but when SpaceX gets certified and the government has alternatives, it will (hopefully) no longer be necessary. ULA won’t like it, of course but the circumstances that made it advisable will no longer apply.
which is why bruno is in there.
And he knows that he is in trouble. They are already fighting to keep using Russian goods.
Then you better hope he succeeds. I don’t want to see SpaceX supplant ULA as the SOLE practical provider. Better we have a choice of qualified vehicles.
“ I don’t want to see SpaceX supplant ULA as the SOLE practical provider.
I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I suspect DOD will prop ULA up, no matter the cost, until they either become cost competitive in the new marketplace or there is another entity to take their place. I think it is much too soon to presume ULA can actually produce a cost competitive vehicle without completely redesigning themselves as a company. I hope they can, we need as many reasonably priced launch vehicles as we can get. I suspect ULA will be getting some kind of subsidy for years to come.
As for there being a monopoly, DOD supported one for years, but now they are afraid they might end up with another one with a different company and don’t want that to happen? That’s progress, I suppose.
“I suspect DOD will prop ULA up, no matter the cost”
Of course, they need a boardroom to get a chair in when they leave the DoD.
Oh, we absolutely need multiple launch companies. I have said all along that we need multiple to support multiple stations, lunar and martian operations.
But atlas is the second most expensive launch system going with delta the most. So killing delta is a joke. Ula still has the same issue in that they are not competitive.
Bruno needs to allow atlas to die and keep delta going until the new rocket is ready. Far better that America pays a bit more for that security.
In addition, Bruno still needs to clean shop . most ula managers are working 20 hours / week ( actually, at the moment, they are putting face time but only because they are nervous) and typically have 2-5 ppl under them. It is a joke. He needs to slice management by 1/2 or more, and keep the engineers.
And finally, as a guy that lives 5 miles from ula HQ, I have no desire to see them go under.
That was some sweet gig they had going there.
I agree with you. While the political situation with Russia is problematic (to stay polite), I never understood the obsession of some people in congress to get rid of the Russian engines in a hurry that worked so fine for the US for many years.
Of course it is a good idea to move on to engines produced in the US and to do that as fast as possible, but dictating the end of use of the old engines before a new engine/launcher is ready doesn’t make sense.
Reading that Shotwell spoke out against the continued use of the RD-180 really damaged her reputation in my view and hurts the image of SpaceX as a whole. It just shows that they have become big enough that they have made the transition from “getting things done” to “meddling with politics to protect/increase the own profit”. Meh.
“Of course it is a good idea to move on to engines produced in the US and to do that as fast as possible”
That would mean they were flying them 20 years ago. Cost-plus is not intended to be able to deliver per pound access to space quickly, reliably, or cheaply. It’s intended to get checks cut to Congress critters and aerospace executives. It is good at that.
I agree that fast possible “get rid of” of Russian engines was and is paranoia. A small correction to your comment: The problem is the political situation resulting from attacks of the US Empire and not within Russia.
Matt, you have paranoia regarding the “US Empire”. You – an American, and you have the right to do, but in this thread delight to the address man who unleashed a war for the “New World Order” ridiculous.
Obviously ULA needs to ride the Delta single stick and heavy until they can build a replacement Vulcan (my vote for the new name).
This kabuki dance where they pretend that they just cancelled the Delta Single stick while still offering the Delta heavy is as transparent as glass. Obviously all the lines that make the single stick are needed to make Delta heavys.
I would imagine that failing in every competition between Falcon 9 V1.2 and Delta single stick will be very motivational for ULA to speed up the Vulcan. I am sure they can fund their bridge costs with the $1billion per year retainer they have been receiving the last few years.
Also having the Air Force take the budget hit for the 1 billion dollar Delta heavy launches until they certify the 160 million dollar Falcon heavy will be very motivational for Air Force paper pushers and top brass.
Heck, at those prices the NRO could even buy a falcon heavy and buy full insurance for launch and satellite and still pay less than ULA is threatening. So much for the obsession with mission assurance.
Good news all around for commercial space, US taxpayers and Ukranians
They cannot get insurance on secret payloads.
Notice how ULA suddenly discovered that they no longer had a need for 5 launch sites when it became clear that their cost plus 1 billion a year retainer is going away? Amazing what competition can do. Now if we could just spread it to the rest of the Govt and Govt contractors
It would be hysterically funny except someone should be indicted.
I agree that SpaceX have dipped their toe into the political arena regarding Russian made engines, but then did you know that their main competition, ULA, have been getting a $1 billion per year subsidy just to show up.
“…they pontificate about wanting competition but in reality want to put the competition out of business so that they can have the monopoly.”
This however is a misrepresentation of the situation. There can be no doubt in the mind of any rational and objective observer that Musk/SpaceX are perfectly happy to battle competition, but on a level playing field. That means the removal of politically lobbied subsidy corruption and compliance with legislation. Personally, I think the ban on Russian engines is a mistake. The “West” needs to find a better way to deal with Putin, rather than simply criminalising and penalising all the Russian people with blanket sanctions.
The goals of Musk/SpaceX are clear and well publicised – to develop the capability for a viable and exciting space-faring future for humanity. Legacy space organisations and companies have conspired through a combination of incompetence, politically imposed restrictions and greed to keep access to space as a prohibitively expensive activity. ULA, and their backers Boeing and LM, have had ample opportunity to develop cost effective space access systems and have patently failed to show any progress or even any willingness to make progress. This can only be either gross incompetence – unlikely given that they should be experts in both technology and efficient manufacturing – or plain and simple evil greed.
You seem to think that advocates for SpaceX are “fans” in some teenage girl sort of sense. The truth is that SpaceX are the only organisation of any size to actually make any effort whatsoever in the direction of reducing the cost of space access. Both their stated goals and their actions have clearly and indisputably shown them to be credible and a fundamentally altruistic force for the furtherment of cost effective space capability; which is not something that could ever be said about ULA.
Yes, and Hitler was also right when he fought against democracy and waged war for the “New Order” and living space for Germans.
Matt did not say stupid things. I, as a Russian, living in Russia, I tell you – Putin wants war. In a situation of lasting peace its ineffectiveness is obvious.
Matt, and how much to you paid FSB, and now you are acting as a propagandist Putin?
You are a fool, Matt.
“But if you want true competition then RD-180s need to be available until the next engine is ready.”
If you want true competition, then you let failed business models fail. SpaceX isn’t magic, just superior application of management to physics…and not even terribly superior approaches to physics.
” If there is a failure of the Falcon 9 during that three year gap, then we are screwed.”
No, because SpaceX will fix it in a month or two and fly again.
“How is ULA a failed business model? “
1) Because Uncle Sam is running out of other people’s money. SpaceX has them underbid for better service at one quarter of ULA’s cost. They’re a zombie, let them hit the floor.
2) Well I suppose it’s possible the government could mandate they not launch after fixing the problem, but see point one.
And for that matter.
“Also, the United States has a two-launcher policy to ensure a robust launch capability. “
Well that got cocked up when they went with our strategic enemies engines, didn’t it?
All true. Every one.
And your perspective is evidently that with cost-plus, “Everything is Awesome”.
90 million vs 400 million plus.
Flat fee vs cost-plus.
The last subsidy payment made to ULA should be the last that is made. There is no reason for actual competition to SpaceX to develop from what human talent was in ULA which remains useful.
Right now there is no competition to SpaceX, and there is none going forward in the cost-plus business model, and certainly none in the 1 billion for nothing in particular cost-plus business model.
1 billion for up to 28 launches? That’s 390million right there. Other aspects of ULA’s sweetheart deal take it north of 450mil per. There may be enough pushback that that cost doesn’t actually happen, but don’t quote ULA’s propaganda to me when I can do division. I also don’t note ULA and other costplus providers have suffered from their delays and failures, so I expect SpaceX to be given no less latitude.
Name one. Pointing out your nearest competitors have gilt feet of clay up to between their ears is not a sleazy trial lawyer tactic.
(looking at the picture of the facility being built at 39A)
I’ll be happy if they’ve launched by this time next year. If it’s longer than that I would start to worry.
There is no excuse for the block buy. The proof is in the deal itself.
The Heavy will probably fly this year. The DoD trying to slow walk it’s certification so more brass can get into corporate boardrooms may be a certainty, but it’s certainly no knock on SpaceX.
“Whether you like it or not, the block buy is a done deal.”
Which makes it other than malfeasance how?
ULA has been notified their deal with DOD is getting modified and their payments are not going to be the same in the future. ULA has said they may have to discontinue an entire line. (They probably won’t, they’re probably just lying to scare people.) I’m thinking there’s a good chance that ULA won’t be launching the 36 cores they bargained for, or at least won’t be getting the same money for it that they bargained for. Counting all the income they were expecting.
So if some people want to say the “Block Buy” is intact, let them. It will make them feel better. I am satisfied to see what the future brings…
Michael, read my response to terry, please.
atlas is incapable of competing today with F9/ FH. As such, killing delta except for DIVH, makes little sense.
However, I fully agree with needing ula, along with other launch companies.
Delta could compete with Falcon. Maybe it’s too much for some loads Falcon could launch and, if there’s a level playing field, too expensive for those loads. But so what? They were never guaranteed they would be able to compete in every class for the rest of their existence, at least I hope they weren’t. It’s their job to make sure they are ready for any competition that is on the horizon. They should have had their own engine by now anyway. It’s their own fault they are in the mess they are in, not another company’s fault.
Who? Me? Michael J. Listner? Elon Musk? (who wasn’t even mentioned)
I flamed whom?
“It was done legally within the context of the law.”
The question was, is it malfeasance, not if it was legal.
The main thing about using RD-180s for commercial is that Putin could pull the plug on the shipments at any time. I don’t think he will but it would be foolish to make long term plans for using them. All the Commercial Crew and cargo proposals use the RD-180 except SpaceX and OrbitalATK and even OrbitalATK is going to use a different Russian engine. If these engines suddenly become unavailable where does that leave us?
Maybe Congress should tell ULA that they can have all the RD-180s they want as long as they can get them in-country before the already announced deadline. Then there would still be the issue of the Russian technicians that work on them once they’re here…
U.S. Air Force overstepped bounds in SpaceX certification
Looks like they wanted to turn SpaceX into a ULA type organization. I don’t think they understood the whole point of the exercise.
But I think this may give us some insights into what some people mean when they say, “When SpaceX does business with DOD there launches will cost about the same as ULA because of the procedures they’ll have to implement.”
Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. It’s early but it looks like SpaceX successfully fought them off. USAF does not get to tell SpaceX how to run their business.
Man, the good guys have been winning lately. The monopoly is starting to come apart. The subsidy recipients have been put on notice that a modification is going to take place. I am encouraged.
I too am encouraged. Immensely. Quintessential disruption here and none too soon.
It definitely read like a methodical endeavor to scuttle the efficiencies being offered. Starting from the goal of lofting satellites, a known standard, and adding security requirements needed in a DOD sphere, it unfortunately is no surprise that the USAF would resist aiding the American public that pays for all this, rather retaining bloated, money hungry systems, even artificially. Glad SpaceX fought it, and whoever sided with them in the Pentagon, did so, even if with a little hindsight at SpaceX’s PR tactics..
There’s been comments about SpaceX’s tactics but basically what did they do but yell loudly about what was happening and bring it to everyone’s attention? What did they do that ULA probably wouldn’t have done if their situations had been reversed? I think SpaceX acted pretty well considering. Most of what has gone wrong for ULA is their own fault for letting themselves get into this position in the first place.
The most important key to SpaceX’s success at facing off the USAF has been use of this information era’s tools. When things like these got settled in much less of a public forum, a company would have quietly complied to preserve the possibility of future contracts. SpaceX was actually complying before they decided to test boundaries. With so many interested parties following closely, this new personality driven leverage-able media, and disruption largely seen as a benefit, SpaceX definitely took the right course.
U really think that a couple of thousands dollars bought off Texan politicians? Those ppl are used to 10s or 100s of thousands per lobbying effort. That was a fund by the state meant to target companies like spacex.
And what you missed is that the price difference between delta and atlas really do not matter since they are the top 2 most expensive systems in the world.
“….an expert testified that once the Heavy flies it still won’t be able to loft big payloads into GEO because the upper-stage required does not exist.”
I have already watched it. I already know the answer to my question. I find it odd that you seem unwilling to answer that question more directly, so I will answer it for you. The expert in question was none other than ULA CEO, Tory Bruno.
Shotwell later responded to say that the accusation of a lack of GEO performance of FH was completely untrue.
What I learned was that ULA’s three year $11 billion contract is in addition to a $1 billion a year contract for certain fixed launch costs. So that the $11 billion is actually more like $14 billion. That’s 28 launches for $14 billion, which is an average of $500 million per launch. Bruno’s attempt to obfuscate the maths does nothing to change the facts.
And if ULA had been using American engines all this time and SpaceX showed up offering less expensive launches with vehicles using Russian engines ULA would be raising hell about it. They’d be waving the flag and saying pretty much the same things that’s being said about them.
I want real competition.
A ULA wants subsidies for infrastructure, nobody needs a monster Senate launch System and Orion the consent for the purchase of RD-180 and another billion-dollar subsidies for creating a new engine.
I, frankly, spit on the the ultimate goals of Elon Musk. I just do not live to see it.
But milestones Elon Musk and SpaceX success in achieving them are obvious. In the near future, I look forward to the successful landing of the first stage of Falcon 9 after launch, and a little later, around 2019, the creation of a rocket engine, with methane as a fuel that does not require long-term and expensive maintenance between flights. For me it is obvious that many years ago it was possible to create a reusable delivery vehicle into orbit, which would be much more cost-effective than existing now. And SpaceX experience proved that the creation of such a device does not need exorbitant budget that is spent on the Senate Launch System and Orion.
“I, frankly, spit on the the ultimate goals of Elon Musk.”
Wow, I thought that level of insult was reserved for truly despicable or horrible things. Learn something everyday.
This is not an insult. This recognition (somewhat stiff, slang) that no matter how honest Elon Musk or not, it still achieves a minimum of intermediate results. And the fact that even his successes revolutionary impact on the future history of space exploration.
Sorry, this translation difficulties, but academic language is impossible to express emotions.
Oh, ok, Thanks
This question is often discussed in Russia. And opponents of trying to impose a discussion of truthfulness Elon Musk, when he talks about his ultimate goals, or technological feasibility of creating a human colony on Mars. I have to say, what has been achieved and obviously achievable in the near future results truly revolutionary.
Yeah, no one knows how far SpaceX will get with their goals and plans but the progress they make along they way helps us all.
So cheer them on, people!
Probably should be given the right to purchase the RD-180. The problem is that it is highly probable escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, in consequence of which will be needed cruel sanctions against Russia, and acquisition of RD-180 may be unacceptable. It is necessary to be ready for this.
But at the same time it is necessary to remove subsidies for infrastructure maintenance. We must abandon the SLS and Orion, but it is necessary to support the creation of commercial infrastructure in orbit (for example, a space tug from Lockheed).
Why do use the word “we” as a Russian man and a non-American?
I guess the expansion of the war in Ukraine, strengthening sanctions against Russia in the near future, and the transformation of Russia into a rogue state a couple of years. I think that in 2018 trade RD-180 will not be possible, and it is quite possible withdrawal of Russia from the ISS. All this is due to internal political reasons, aggression and self-isolation of Russia.
I do not argue – it’s done. But the smell in this case specific and very unpleasant. Even the court agrees.
But state officials knew that soon ULA will have a competitor. So I can not argue against the conclusion of the contract with the ULA. But the contract was for five years – and this is clearly not correct.
And I’m not talking about that would Elon Musk, I’m talking about what really did government officials.
ULA is definitely an ideal business model for monopoly. But economists NASA, as shown by their study concluded that “fixed-price contracts” allow the creation of space technology on average eight times cheaper than the “cost-plus contracts.”
Customer must propose the system of relations, the most advantageous for themselves and not for the manufacturer. In these circumstances, the business model of ULA, effective in a situation of monopoly and contracts “cost-plus”, may not be effective, since it is not helping to reduce overhead costs and expenses.
Michael, do not invent. All amounts received from the government SpaceX published. Yes, launches for NASA and the Air Force more expensive commercial launches. But obviously this price reduction, and visible perspective. Not casually its new missile ULA going to make reusable and methane as fuel, given the success SpaceX.
See offer Judge sides to come to court settlement.
The amendment. The Court disagreed with SpaceX. The judge acknowledged that the deal smells bad.
The limiting factor for Falcon is not only a lack of solids, the real problem is no hydrogen upper stage. SpaceX infomercials have tried to make out kerosene as somehow superior over the years by use of extreme hyperbole to the effect that a hydrogen stage is “so much larger than a kerosene stage.” It’s not that much larger and in no way makes up for over a 100 seconds of Isp. Hydrogen engines are expensive because the turbopumps have to be so much more powerful, and hydrogen is of course harder to handle. But there is no cheap and there is no substitute for a hydrogen upper stage- especially for BEO.
“But there is no cheap and there is no substitute for a hydrogen upper stage- especially for BEO.”
Of course there is cheaper. SpaceX is proving it. 100secs is not magic, and the vacuum Isp of the current Merlin 340. They are working on LOx/Methane which should be a good compromise between stupidly expensive with great performance. Right now, you can with SpaceX loft twice the payload at lower cost than one cost/plus hydrogen fueled booster with the higher Isp, and it’s not worth it to use the Cold War legacy booster. The hydrogen doesn’t matter.
“100secs is not magic-“
Actually, 440 compared to 340 IS magic in an upper stage. You don’t get it. Dollar bills don’t burn well as rocket fuel, Hydrogen does.
No, you don’t get it. This is something you must not be familiar with, Dv=Ev*(Ln(Mwet/Mdry)) It’s the rocket equation.
Liquid hydrogen help with Ev and makes Mwet and Mdry both higher and far more expensive. Using methane means Mwet and Mdry can both grow at lower cost to make the difference in the impulse between liquid hydrogen and liquid methane meaningless.
Getting the same Dv for fewer dollars is all that matters, and hydrogen doesn’t help more than it hurts.
You are using techno-babble to try and baffle me with bullshit. That does not work on me. Methane also is a low density cryogenic and requires a much more expensive turbopump than kerosene- just like hydrogen. It also requires a much larger tank- just like hydrogen. The reasons they are doing it are not simply the small savings realized over hydrogen. There is more to it than that.
Actually the problem with liquid hydrogen is the number of dollar bills burned trying to use it. Methane is actually a much better pick.
The only thing that matters is dollar per delta v. Not the tech per delta v.
Methane is no miracle- you are just trying to obfuscate. The Isp for Hydrogen is not going to change anymore than the numbers for Methane or Kerosene and since most of the BEO missions in the last half century were flown using Hydrogen it is obvious you are making stuff up. Methane has never been developed because it has all the disadvantages- low Isp, low density= large tankage, of both kerosene and hydrogen. It is being developed now for several reasons that make it attractive over SRB’s and Kerosene for a lower stage. You make it all sound so simple and that is what panders to deluded gullible uninformed Musk groupies but it is far from simple.
This is simple. You want to give a given pound of mass a given delta v at lowest cost. Hydrogen is not a part of the solution, it costs too much to use. The people who chose hydrogen in the past did so because minimizing cost was not as high a priority as getting the required delta v to their payload no matter the cost.
The main ways to raise the Isp of a liquid fueled rocket are to use higher performing fuel combinations, or raise the chamber pressure. I have no doubt methane is far easier to work with at a given pressure than is liquid hydrogen. I suspect you don’t doubt that either. I suspect that the very efficient stir welding SpaceX has developed means it can tolerate the bad about methane (lower density than RP1) in exchange for the good (better Isp, better cooling, easier to pump to high pressure than liquid hydrogen).
If Isp was the only criteria, it would be something like fluorine used–even it’s costs and difficulty of use prevented it from becoming anything but a test propellant.
“-the very efficient stir welding SpaceX has developed-“
Puh-leez. SpaceX did not develop friction stir welding. And there engine technology was also given to them by NASA. They are not going to be flying anything with methane for a very long time. There is no substitute for a hydrogen upper stage. Hydrogen will continue to be used in upper stages and SpaceX has a major problem to solve because they don’t have a hydrogen upper stage. They cannot send anyone BEO until they do.
Of course they developed friction stir welding. I did not say they invented it. They developed the process they are using for their boosters, meaning, they took available equipment and developed their use of it to suit their requirements. No one had done that to the extent SpaceX did prior.
As for NASA giving them any technology, no, they didn’t give them anything you couldn’t get out of the latest edition of Sutton, they didn’t get any application specific blueprints or hardware.
Actually, it’s not at all hard to see that a system much like SpaceX’s now, with more crossfeed parallel stages, can develop the 14km/sec delta v required to go from the pad to GEO with 1 to 2% of GLOW using Methane/LOX the whole way–not that it should be done that way.
The point is the math says you are abjectly wrong.
Crossfeed your technobabble into the trashcan. Goodbye.
You have demonstrated several times that you have clue from rocket propulsion technology.
What are you demonstrating? Goodbye.
“Right now, you can with SpaceX loft twice the payload at lower cost than one cost/plus hydrogen fueled booster-“
Throwing the B.S. flag on that one. If you had taken the time to do any real research instead of just regurgitating SpaceX propaganda you would realize SpaceX cannot lift the spy satellites into GEO that the Delta IV heavy can- and this is a big deal. It is “worth it” to that entity that Musk sued- the U.S. Air Force.
And that is a very temporary thing. That block buy of 36 launches which were a big corrupt open mouth kiss from certain perfumed princes in the DoD who want to move into ULA’s boardroom, they are not all going to take place.
The reason is the US Air Force needs to save money as much as everyone else does.
“-a big corrupt open mouth kiss from certain perfumed princes in the DoD-“
Everyone is familiar with the NewSpace infomercial: ad nauseum. The truth is there for anyone to see by watching the assuring assured access hearing: https://www.youtube.com/wat…
The truth is in those three hours but Musk groupies will not sit through three hours of the truth when they get instant gratification with garbage like……”-a big corrupt open mouth kiss from certain perfumed princes in the DoD-“
Well my “faith” is documented, and your charges no ….
There are many different options for delivery of heavy payload into GSO or deep space. But the huge payments for the maintenance of inefficient monopoly infrastructure to certify only one option.
IMHO, the most effective option would be to use a commercial infrastructure / fuel depot / in LEO. For this embodiment, there is no need to use hydrogen for delivery of heavy payloads into geostationary or deep space.
“I used to be a big supporter, but watching some of the tactics they employ reminds me all too much of sleazy trial law tactics.”
With companies like ULA getting that subsidy and never bothering yet to develop a domestic engine suitable for their purposes, why you expect anyti9nt to take your concern trolling about SpaceX not unilaterally disarming before Congress seriously I’ve no idea.
There is nothing SpaceX is doing now, which couldn’t have been done in starting 30 years ago. What Beal proposed could have been done before that. ULA and it’s predecessors have no excuse really for not having already innovated and done it. They are dinosaurs, let the comet hit them.