Northrop Grumman to Acquire Orbital ATK for $9.2 Billion

Orbital ATK Antares rocket with Cygnus, bound for the International Space Station. The company has been sold to Northrop Grumman for over $9 billion. Photo Credit: John Studwell/AmericaSpace

FALLS CHURCH and DULLES, Va. – Sept. 18, 2017 – Northrop Grumman Corporation and Orbital ATK today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. Orbital ATK shareholders will receive all-cash consideration of $134.50 per share.

The agreement has been approved unanimously by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval.

“The acquisition of Orbital ATK is an exciting strategic step as we continue to invest for profitable growth. Through our combination, customers will benefit from expanded capabilities, accelerated innovation and greater competition in critical global security domains. Our complementary portfolios and technology-focused cultures will yield significant value creation through revenue synergies associated with new opportunities, cost savings, operational synergies, and enhanced growth. We look forward to welcoming Orbital ATK’s talented employees to Northrop Grumman, and believe our combined strength will benefit our customers and shareholders,” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman.

The world’s only still operational L-1011, nicknamed Stargazer, successfully deployed an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket off Florida’s east coast Dec. 15, 2016, which launched a fleet of eight micro satellites to low-Earth orbit for NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission. Photo Credit: NASA

“We are very pleased to announce this agreement with Northrop Grumman. It reflects the tremendous value Orbital ATK has generated for our customers, shareholders and employees.  The unique alignment in culture and mission offered by this transaction will allow us to maintain strong operational performance on existing programs while we pursue new opportunities that require the enhanced technical and financial resources of a larger organization. Our employees will also benefit from greater development and career opportunities as members of a larger, more diverse aerospace and defense enterprise. We will remain focused on operational excellence and execution during and after the transition into Northrop Grumman,” said David Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Orbital ATK.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Northrop Grumman plans to establish Orbital ATK as a new, fourth business sector to ensure a strong focus on operating performance and a smooth transition into Northrop Grumman. On a pro forma 2017 basis, Northrop Grumman expects to have sales in the range of $29.5 to $30 billion based on current guidance. Northrop Grumman expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow per share in the first full year after the transaction closes, and to generate estimated annual pre-tax cost savings of $150 million by 2020.

Northrop Grumman has received fully committed debt financing and expects to put in place permanent financing prior to closing. Northrop Grumman remains committed to maintaining a solid investment grade credit rating and will use its strong cash flow to support debt reduction, while continuing to pay a competitive dividend and repurchase shares.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Northrop Grumman and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is acting as legal counsel. Citigroup is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Orbital ATK and Hogan Lovells US LLP is acting as legal counsel.

A conference call to discuss the transaction was conducted this morning, and will be archived on the Northrop Grumman Investor Relations page for a limited time. It will also be recorded and available for replay by phone Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 11:30 a.m. Eastern time through Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, by calling 1-855-859-2056 (domestic) or 1-404-537-3406 (international).  Please use conference ID 87599583.

A link to the webcast and an investor presentation can be found at http://investor.northropgrumman.com and  www.orbitalatk.com/investors.

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97 comments to Northrop Grumman to Acquire Orbital ATK for $9.2 Billion

  • MichaelatNASA

    This may allow for funding and faster development of a advanced composite SRB booster for the SLS, and possibly a pressure-fed ocean-recovered booster in the future. The pressure-fed was originally proposed for the shuttle and it was one, if not the, critical wrong turn made by the space agency not developing it. It was also where Musk and Bezos failed the genius test by not going straight to the 1972 TRW study and using it as a guide.

    When a new entity emerges like this buy creates it is an opportunity for new direction- in this case hopefully toward much larger boosters and a lunar return.

    • TomPerkins

      There is no excuse for the extra expense and corrosion assumed in ocean landings by parachute, or in the mass of hardware invested in wings, control surfaces, and landing gear. The genius in vertical takeoff and landing boosters is that the hardware mass you already at minimum must have–the engines–are also used to recover the vehicle. If you want to use the vehicle expendably because it is at the end of it’s life and you have a heavy payload, then you just don’t fit the control fins, legs, and RCS. Every advantage of a fly back booster is thereby had without the complexity, or dedication of any engineering time and hardware to implement it.

      • MichaelatNASA

        “Every advantage of a fly back booster is thereby had without the complexity, or dedication of any engineering time and hardware to implement it.”

        Except…the fuel required and the landing gear equipment are far more than a simple parachute and water seawater barrier system. And try landing something the size of a Saturn V 1st stage. The only example of this is the relatively low powered and mediocre falcon. A set of really big boosters are best dropped in the ocean in the same manner as the shuttle SRB’s.

        • Chris

          Stay tuned:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTEhohh6eYk

          No fundamental limit to scale of vertical landing that doesn’t apply the to the whole booster. Over time you will see larger and larger boosters with this capability.

          • MichaelatNASA

            Actually, there are fundamental limits Chris, whether the private space fans accept it or not. Musk and Bezos are hobbyists and when they hit that limit they will find a new toy to play with. Sadly, what could and should be accomplished in space exploration is being diverted by these clowns. They can build lunar landers and contribute or they can keep on leading in the wrong direction.

            • Chris

              “Musk and Bezos are hobbyists and when they hit that limit they will find a new toy to play with.”

              Please describe the physical limit. Give me some physics or engineering rule that would limit this? Something other than bloviation. Also, you tragically misread Bezos and Musk at your own peril.

              • James

                If you want to hear “bloviation” listen to the confused ‘Mars Colonies Soon with Chemical Launchers’ folks. Those folks are super angry buzzing bees because now even Elon Musk has prioritized a Moon base over going to Mars.

                And Jeff Bezos wants the Moon, Lunar resources, and a whole lot more.

                Mining Lunar resources means tapping H2O, volatiles, aluminum, iron, and rich deposits of thorium that can be made into U-233 that can be used for nuclear reactor power on the Moon, Ceres, Mars, and Pluto and to make the core of small super high Isp nuclear explosive devices that could power various types of large and robust Orion spaceships that would only operate above and beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere and thus radiation from the nuclear pulses would not contaminate the Earth.

                If you really want to see large and thriving colonies on Mars and everywhere that is useful in our Solar System you will logically want an industrialized Moon, the mining of Lunar thorium, the production of Lunar U-233, and the building of large Orion nuclear pulse propulsion spaceships that could quickly and safely transport hundreds and eventually thousands of folks everywhere we want or need to go in our immense Solar System.

                Industrializing the Moon will be easier than industrializing Mars because the Moon is much closer and offers far more real and immediate economic and security opportunities and benefits for the Home Planet than does the eventual industrialization of Mars.

                Whatever large chemical powered spaceships Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk may eventually build, those spaceships will be able to make many dozens of flights to the Moon and back in the same period of time that it would take those same spaceships to get to Mars and back. The Moon is much closer.

                And given the choice between slow boat risky chemical spaceflights to Mars and elsewhere or fast and safer nuclear pulse powered spaceflights on larger ships launched from Lunar orbit, the Mars or other far destination tourist and colonist marketplace most likely won’t be kind to risky and slow chemical powered spaceships.

                The industrialization of the Moon and using its thorium to make U-233 for nuclear reactors to be used on the Moon, on our spaceships headed out past Jupiter, and at our colonies across our Solar System, including on Mars, would be quite useful.

                Add in the various Orion nuclear pulse propulsion options that are also offered by Lunar thorium and U-233 and we have a doable, affordable, and efficient strategy for colonizing our Solar System.

                India is quite serious about using thorium and U-233 on Earth, and maybe that nation’s leaders would be willing to help everyone do the same thing on the Moon.

                “The long-term strategy of the nuclear power program of India, which has substantial thorium reserves, is to move to a nuclear program breeding uranium-233 from thorium feedstock.”

                And, “In 1998, as part of its Pokhran-II tests, India detonated an experimental U-233 device of low-yield (0.2 kt) called Shakti V.[12][13]”

                From: ‘Uranium-233’ Wikipedia
                At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-233

                • TomPerkins

                  ” If you want to hear “bloviation” listen to the confused ‘Mars Colonies Soon with Chemical Launchers’ folks. Those folks are super angry buzzing bees because now even Elon Musk has prioritized a Moon base over going to Mars. ”

                  That’s what Gary Church wants to believe. Rational people know that anything that increases the Falcon launch rate help lower the cost of going anywhere in any way, from LEO to the Kuiper. Musk knows that too.

                  • James

                    “Rational people know that anything that increases the” New Glenn “launch rate” helps to “lower the cost of going anywhere in any way, from LEO to the Kuiper.” Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos know “that too.”

                    “Rational people know that anything that increases the” New Armstrong “launch rate” helps to “lower the cost of going anywhere in any way, from LEO to the Kuiper. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos know “that too.”

                    “Rational people know that anything that increases” the “launch rate” of a possible triple core Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK Antares 840, with an 8.4 meter diameter reusable first stage and 8.4 meter diameter boosters that are powered by large Russian methane LOX rocket engines, helps to “lower the cost of going anywhere in any way, from LEO to the Kuiper.” Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos know “that too.”

                    “Rational people know that anything that increases” the “launch rate” of the SLS helps to “lower the cost of doing International Orion and Blue Moon Lunar surface missions.” Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos know “that too.”

                    TomPerkins –

                    In case you still don’t understand it, we humans and our mining robots are headed to the Moon to build a permanent base there and tap lots of Lunar resources and many business and security opportunities.

                    “The idea of Orion was to react small directional nuclear explosives utilizing a variant of the Teller-Ulam two-stage bomb design against a large steel pusher plate attached to the spacecraft with shock absorbers. Efficient directional explosives maximized the momentum transfer, leading to specific impulses in the range of 6,000 seconds, or about thirteen times that of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. With refinements a theoretical maximum of 100,000 seconds (1 MN•s/kg) might be possible. Thrusts were in the millions of tons, allowing spacecraft larger than 8 × 106 tons to be built with 1958 materials.[3]”

                    From: ‘Nuclear pulse propulsion’ Wikipedia
                    At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion

                    “India’s government is also developing up to 62, mostly thorium reactors, which it expects to be operational by 2025. It is the ‘only country in the world with a detailed, funded, government-approved plan’ to focus on thorium-based nuclear power.”

                    From: ‘Thorium-based nuclear power’ Wikipedia
                    At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power

                    India has some experience with, and interest in, thorium and U-233 so their engineers might want to provide some leadership in Lunar thorium mining and refining and in building nuclear U-233 pulse powered Orion spaceships on, or in orbit around, the Moon.

                    • TomPerkins

                      ” In case you still don’t understand it, we humans and our mining robots are headed to the Moon to build a permanent base there and tap lots of Lunar resources and many business and security opportunities. ”

                      And we are going to Mars and the Belt. Your obsession with nuclear thermal rockets and tens of feet of unneeded radiation shielding have nothing to do with that, Gary.

                • Chris

                  Nugget of wisdom by James:

                  “The Moon is much closer.”

                  You could have responded by answering the specific question or 1000 words of boilerplate loco. The choice was yours.

                  • James

                    Perhaps “boilerplate loco” is the standard refrain of the ‘Mars Colonies Soon with weak Chemical Launchers’ folks.

                    Maybe NASA would really like to have U-233 nuclear powered spaceships:

                    “Total run time was 115 minutes, including 28 starts. NASA and SNPO felt that the test ‘confirmed that a nuclear rocket engine was suitable for space flight application and was able to operate at a specific impulse twice that of chemical rocket system [sic].'[1] The engine was deemed adequate for Mars missions being planned by NASA.”

                    And, “The nuclear Saturn C-5N would carry two to three times more payload into space than the chemical version, enough to easily loft 340,000 pound space stations and replenish orbital propellant depots. Wernher von Braun also proposed a manned Mars mission using NERVA and a spinning donut-shaped spacecraft to simulate gravity. Many of the NASA plans for Mars in the 1960s and early 1970s used the NERVA rocket specifically, see list of manned Mars mission plans in the 20th century.”

                    And, “The Mars mission became NERVA’s downfall.[7] Members of Congress in both political parties judged that a manned mission to Mars would be a tacit commitment for the United States to decades more of the expensive Space Race. Manned Mars missions were enabled by nuclear rockets; therefore, if NERVA could be discontinued the Space Race might wind down and the budget would be saved. Each year the RIFT was delayed and the goals for NERVA were set higher. Ultimately, RIFT was never authorized, and although NERVA had many successful tests and powerful Congressional backing, it never left the ground.”

                    From: “NERVA” Wikipedia
                    At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA

                    NERVA and Orion nuclear pulse spaceships could be used far away from the Earth’s magnetosphere and thus radiation from the nuclear powered thrust or accidents would not contaminate the Earth.

                    Orion nuclear pulse powered spaceships would have 6 to maybe 50 times higher Isp than NERVA propulsion systems.

                    Lunar U-233 based Nuclear power reactors will be needed on the Moon, Mars, Ceres, Europa, Callisto, Enceladus, and other far distant spheres.

                    The problem today with both nuclear NERVA and Orion spaceships is mainly the fear of radiation contaminating our Home Planet. We can remove that hugely negative political issue by doing everything nuclear on the Moon, in Lunar orbit, and beyond Cislunar Space.

                    Do folks want go by slow, super risky, very costly, and weak chemical rocket based spaceships to Mars, Ceres, Europa, Callisto, Enceladus, Pluto, and the thousands of dwarf planets of our outer Solar System or go by much more efficient, much faster, and lower risk Orion nuclear pulse propulsion spaceships powered by Lunar U-233?

                    Ignore that Lunar U-233 nuclear powered spaceships question if your super odd ‘Mars Colonies Soon with weak Chemical Launchers’ cult insists you do so, but that is the question in the real world.

                    • TomPerkins

                      @GaryChurch/JameG

                      ” Maybe NASA would really like to have U-233 nuclear powered spaceships: ”

                      Maybe they’d like that, but the SLS can barely be afforded, and it can’t be had with a flight rate that’s worthwhile–so any desire for an NTR is pointless…

                      …Until an increase in flight rate by fully reusable chemical rockets lowers the cost of space access to the point an NTR can be afforded. Those chemical rockets work fine for access to any point in the solar system, so they will be used for that no matter how you run them down Gary.

              • MichaelatNASA

                The physical limits are painfully obvious. Bloviation is what Musk does, not me.

                • Chris

                  Obvious, but apparently indescribable.

                  • MichaelatNASA

                    Can you imagine a Saturn V 1st stage doing such a landing? Really? 150 tons setting down….where? On a barge? On a runway at the cape? Puh-leez.

                    https://history.msfc.nasa.gov/saturn_apollo/documents/First_Stage.pdf

                    • Chris

                      Not the S-1C itself but certainly something on that scale. You could land it on a concrete pad the same way you land F9-S1. Maximum landing weight of a 747-8 is 344 tons so we aren’t even in any new territory here.

                      http://www.flugzeuginfo.net/acdata_php/acdata_boeing_7478_en.php

                      Simply a function of tuning the number of legs and the foot pad area to reduce the load across the surface. This is easily within the realm engineering for many decades.

                      Your lack of imagination isn’t equivalent to a physics or engineering limitation.

                    • James

                      Chris –

                      Your obvious “lack of imagination isn’t equivalent to a physics or engineering limitation” concerning the use of Lunar thorium to enable Orion nuclear pulse rocket propulsion spaceship transportation and nuclear reactors for needed electric power in many places far away from Earth.

                      Your basic problem is you are blindly following a narrow Mars Colonies Soon cult based on a weak and old ‘buggy whip’ chemical rocket technology.

                    • Chris

                      James,

                      You couldn’t’ buy a clue with someone else’s money, and incidentally you know nothing about me. I really don’t have a problem with going back to the Moon per se. I have a problem claiming that going to the Moon is a required step to going to Mars and that going to Mars requires nuclear propulsion just to mount an expedition. Both of absolutely wrong and pushed by people who have ulterior motives. You can play fantasy games all day long about graphene and Orion pulse propulsion (and do nothing else in the meantime) or you can cost optimize the technology we have (and is politically viable) and get something done.

                      No one argues NTP isn’t a good optimization for transit to Mars, but simply not required. In any event ALL of your game changing propulsion tech we still need robust and cheap heavy lift to get to orbit in the first place. SLS won’t be cheap enough EVER to scale up large structures in space. You need full, rapid reusability and high launch rates to do that. SLS fails on all counts and therefore undermines the very futuristic technologies you want to adopt (Very ironic). If you had a clue about economics you would know that NASA or anyone else will not tackle any of these systems without the lift from Earth being commoditized in the first place. This is inescapable. I am finished for the day talking to the loco quote machine.

                      -Chris

                  • MichaelatNASA

                    “Your lack of imagination isn’t equivalent to a physics or engineering limitation.”

                    Well, that is what they say about space elevators and fusion power plants also. And 747’s don’t land like helicopters.

                    • Chris

                      Comparing chemical propulsive landing to space elevators and fusion plants gives a fascinating view into your mental state.

                    • MichaelatNASA

                      They are all about as likely to succeed. Like I said, you can’t land a 747 like a helicopter. You want to use B.S. examples I am going throw the flag.

                    • Chris

                      Just for the record propulsive landing is not like a helicopter so that is B.S. in and of itself.

                    • MichaelatNASA

                      Vertically landing a 747 is B.S. in and of itself Chris.

                      “Just for the record”, landing that crew dragon (loaded to the gills with toxic hypergolics) was such a horrible idea that it is now consigned to the waste bin of history- as it should be. But spacex fans thought it was great. Stupidity has no limits.

                    • TomPerkins

                      @GaryChurch

                      Lets see, that would be landing a booster that weighs about 38 tons dry, and tanks would be close to dry, engine would be needing to throttle to 55% if there’s 9 of them. This is quite doable. The few helicopters operating in that weight range don’t even use especially elaborate undercarriages.

                      The crew dragon will be landing with those rockets loaded, they ar part of he safety system. The only reason propulsive landing was dropped is NASA farcically insisted on 12 wasteful test where the hardware was to be discarded–even though every aspect of the system could be tested in water landings. If NASA really wants to throw it’s money away like that they can do it.

                      BTW, the Crew Dragon and it’s competitor both use those hypergolics, yet you never have anything to say about that.

                    • Chris

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i-BEt4BIpg

                      Yes, 747 gear is harder because you need to deal with loads in all lots of directions for 10s of thousands of cycles. Landing gear drop tests are basically the loads involved hear. All doable, try again.

                    • Chris

                      hear/here oops

        • TomPerkins

          ” Except…the fuel required and the landing gear equipment are far more than a simple parachute and water seawater barrier system. ” <– Far more what? Mass? No, it doesn’t seem so. Money? No way, fuel is cheap.

          ” And try landing something the size of a Saturn V 1st stage. ” <– Won’t be any more a problem than what the Falcon series stages already do.

          ” The only example of this is the relatively low powered and mediocre falcon. ” <– The Falcon is a Medium lift booster which out performs everything ever made yet in it’s weight class. The F9 will outperform anything in it’s class. Of course, you have to recognize cost matters to see the full scope of the degree to which they outperform all competitors.

          • TomPerkins

            ” The F9 will outperform anything in it’s class. ” Should read, “The FH will outperform anything in it’s class.:

            • James

              Maybe not Blue Origin’s New Glenn which already has some commercial rides uphill into space on its list of upcoming flights.

              And the New Glenn with a diameter of 7 meters should be able to have much wider fairing diameter options than what the much smaller diameter FH core will offer.

              • TomPerkins

                The fact the FH has a 3.7m core doesn’t change the fact the ITS concept launcher will have an approx 9m core, or that the diameter of a payload is not strictly limited to the diameter of the core.

                • Chris

                  And as it turns out, the engines for the “mini” BFR have already been fired many times, structural testing of prototype tank is underway and the factory where it will be assembled is already built.

  • TomPerkins

    It could be hoped at least some of the legacy aerospace companies can compete with the currently more capable companies like SpaceX. Certainly the merger of Grumman and ATK might do good things.

    What new vehicle would Grumman put the LSA planned for engine worked on by ATK?

    • John hare

      Perhaps a cash infusion will allow them to build a modern launcher and get away from obsolete solids.

      • James

        Most likely the “solids” are very far from “obsolete”.

        The CL-20, when compared to HMX, “has 14% more energy per mass, 20% more energy per volume, and a higher oxygen-to-fuel ratio than HMX.”

        And, “With a specific impulse of 309 s already demonstrated by Peacekeeper’s second stage using HMX propellant, the higher energy of CL-20 propellant can be expected to increase specific impulse to around 320 s in similar ICBM or launch vehicle upper stage applications, without the explosive hazard of HMX.”

        And, “An attractive attribute for military use is the ability for solid rocket propellant to remain loaded in the rocket for long durations and then be reliably launched at a moment’s notice.”

        From: ‘Solid-propellant rocket’ Wikipedia
        At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-propellant_rocket

        Yep, some of the military and commercial folks in many countries like “reliably launched at a moment’s notice”. Reliability, power, and quickness tend not to get obsolete in the real world.

        Eventually, two future ‘Grumman Orbital ATK’ Dark Knight SRBs, with over 4,500,000 lbf of thrust from each one, could be useful and powerful payload to LEO enhancing additions to evolved versions of various large launchers, including the SLS.

        And sometimes those two Dark Knights, or perhaps even much more powerful ‘Grumman Orbital ATK’ SRBs, might end up having ‘strapped on’ super lightweight graphene folding wings and be recovered through landing on a runway in the same manner as the X-1A, X-1B, X-1E, X-15, Buran, Space Shuttle, Boeing X-37 (or Orbital Test Vehicle), and Boeing’s upcoming reusable first stage/spaceplane/booster called the XS-1.

        Russia’s rocket experts also seem to like a horizontal landing option:

        “Baikal booster (russ. Байкал) was a proposed reusable flyback booster for the Angara rocket family based on the Angara Universal Rocket Module in 2001.”

        And, “In addition, it would be equipped with a folding wing stored parallel to the fuselage of the vehicle during the booster stage of the flight. After separation from the Angara launcher’s second stage at an altitude of about 75 kilometers and a speed of Mach 5.6 (5,800 km/h; 3,600 mph), the Baikal’s wing would rotate 90 degrees and the booster glides in upside down position reducing speed. Once the booster reaches subsonic speeds a U turn is performed and an air-breathing RD-33 jet engine in its nose section is started to fly back to its launching site and make a powered horizontal landing on a runway.”

        From: ‘Baikal (rocket booster)’ Wikipedia
        At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baikal_(rocket_booster)

        • TomPerkins

          Solids have inherent limitations which should exclude them from crewed missions, namely the difficulty of stopping them precisely and/or early if safety requires it, the difficulty in mission burn profiling that they cannot be easily restarted, and that recovery and refueling costs are a substantial fraction of making a new one. They may have a role to play in crewed missions where they are zero stages where they are assumed to burn to exhaustion and a liquid core makes up the precise stage delta vee and vector, and where partial reusability is accepted. They have an obvious role to play in standby launcher applications like ordnance delivery.

          ” Dark Knights, or perhaps even much more powerful ‘Grumman Orbital ATK’ SRBs, might end up having ‘strapped on’ super lightweight graphene folding wings and be recovered through landing on a runway in the same manner as the X-1A, X-1B, X-1E, X-15, Buran, Space Shuttle, Boeing X-37 (or Orbital Test Vehicle), and Boeing’s upcoming reusable first stage/spaceplane/booster called the XS-1. ”

          Meanwhile by that time ITS concept vehicles will be launching 100’s of tons for at most a few 100 dollars per pound, and the cost of refueling the solids will remain a substantial fraction of making new ones.

          • MichaelatNASA

            “’100s of tons for at most a few 100 dollars per pound,-”

            So you can go on your space station vacation with Elon. Don’t think so. Solids have no or few moving parts and are thus almost 100 percent reliable. After the shuttle SRB’s were modified they put out more thrust with zero anomalies than any rocket engine in history. That record will stand for the foreseeable future. Solids will likely be replaced by pressure-feds (as originally specified for the shuttle) but they will always be used for certain applications, such a Launch Abort Systems.

            • TomPerkins

              ” So you can go on your space station vacation with Elon. ”

              So it can be afforded for off planet resources to be exploited, and for those who will to settle off planet.

              ” Solids have no or few moving parts and are thus almost 100 percent reliable. ”

              No, and they cannot be tested before use without requiring re-building to refuel which invalidates the testing.

              • MichaelatNASA

                “No, and they cannot be tested before use-”

                The motor itself burns up- you are babbling nonsense. It does not need to be “tested”.

                • TomPerkins

                  Liquids aren’t just better because their propellants have higher Isp and are cheaper, but because you can test them in flight mode before use exactly as you will use them. Solids you can’t do that with, because you have to recast the propellant after every use. If you get anything wrong, you don’t find until you find out the very hard way.

          • James

            TomPerkins –

            Large solids have a better safety record than the Falcon.

            And a single large solid rocket core can offer hugely massive amounts of thrust along with an Isp roughly comparable to the overly complex and fragile tri-core Falcon Heavy launcher.

            The amazing potential simplicity and reliability of a powerful single core Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK Dark Knight based launcher compared to that of the overly complex 27 engines on the Rube Goldberg Falcon Heavy core and its boosters implies a lower launch risk for Dark Knight based launchers.

            Robust large single core solid rocket based launchers are far more likely than large, complex, and fragile liquid based tri-core launch systems to be able to launch super quickly whenever they are needed. That is exactly why the military in many countries prefer to use solid rockets.

            Payloads are costly and the opportunities that can be lost and the possible multiple military risks and military and civilian casualtiess from a launch delay, or failure while launching, a critically needed military replacement satellite, or several replacement satellites, can have dimensions that are nearly impossible to even contemplate.

            You can sell your foolish and inane ‘Mars Colonies Soon with low Isp Falcon Heavies and Mini BFRs’ nonsense to lots of naive folks, but Congress will be a much harder sell because the members and staff understand high and super high Isp nuclear powered rocket engines far better than you do.

            And the good folks in Congress also care far more about our critical national security issues than you do.

            You just seem to have way too many silly Mars Now fantasies dancing around in your brain and don’t seem to understand or really care about America’s security, resource, and industrial future on the Moon and in the rest of Cislunar Space.

            Confess Tom Perkins, what really makes you angry is how your Mars Colonies Soon cult leader is now pragmatically prioritizing the ISS and a permanent human base on the Moon over an unfunded Mars fantasy colony.

            Lunar resources, including thorium, H2O, and various volatiles, and Cislunar Space are far more valuable to America and the rest of the Home Planet than are than your cult’s weak and low Isp chemical rockets flying humans on super risky and slow interplanetary Russian Roulette fantasy colony missions.

            Such is life. Grow up. Get used to it.

    • MichaelatNASA

      More “capable” companies like SpaceX? What a joke. ULA is more capable and has a better launch record. You need to lay off the Kool-aid Tom.

      • TomPerkins

        Yes, more capable. Who can move the most pounds into LEO for the same dollars is more capable.

        • MichaelatNASA

          Sure, that is why they should have used the Saturn 1B for the Moon landings- except, they did not for the same reasons the SLS is being built. Big pieces and economies of scale mean we don’t use cabin cruisers with outboard motors as coastal freighters, or mini-trucks to haul semi-trailer loads, or….well, you reject this kind of obvious reasoning Tom in favor of spacex cult worship so what is the use in explaining it to you?

          • TomPerkins

            ” Sure, that is why they should have used the Saturn 1B for the Moon landing ” No, that has nothing to do with it. No, the SLS is being built to keep certain Senators’ patrons happy. No I reject that “reasoning” because it has no applicability to launching FH’s reusably so that exploration missions to anywhere so far seriously considered (Moon and Mars) can be assembled in orbit by docking.

          • Jeffrey Findley

            The only reason that smaller Saturn launch vehicles weren’t used for Lunar Apollo missions was the fact that the US was in a Space Race with the “godless commies” running the U.S.S.R. This was a proxy war to “prove” which nation had the superior socioeconomic system. Because of this, NASA enjoyed far higher funding (as a percentage of federal government spending) than it has ever had in its history. It was politics that drove the decision to build Saturn V, not sound engineering.

  • Tracy the Troll

    Michael at NASA,

    What does the cost per pound look like with these SRBs and ocean water landings?

    • MichaelatNASA

      You go find that out and let me know.

    • Chris

      Tracy,

      Some people suffer from Arithmophobia.

      • MichaelatNASA

        Yes, and jackassian-bigmouth when they dogpile.

        • TomPerkins

          Hmmmm… Sounds like Gary Church, complaining multiple people disagree with him but never showing numbers to show he’s right.

          • MichaelatNASA

            Hmmm…Sounds like the most toxic creep on the internet- TomPerkins! Go dox yourself Tom.

            • TomPerkins

              Gee, calling people toxic. Who else habitually falls back on that byword in a space access thread, especially when they cannot bring up any facts to support their arguments?

              It’s Gary Michael Church. You’ve dox’ed yourself Gary.

              • MichaelatNASA

                You are totally obsessed with Gary Church. You cannot stand anyone criticizing spacex so like a cult fanatic you dox and harass and do whatever can be done to get him off this forum. It is completely transparent.

                • Chris

                  Kind of weird talking about yourself in the third person, Gary…

                  • MichaelatNASA

                    Got something to say about space Chris? Or are you and se jones and tomperkins going to continue to endlessly try and dox “Gary Church” as your reason for commenting on this forum?

                    How about this…every time you say “Gary Church” I am going to throw the B.S. flag on your toxic game and expose you as a spacex goon trying to silence a critic of your cult. Want to go there? Lets go!

          • I see Gary is squatting back at AmericaSpace since he’s been banned from AW&ST and Space Policy Online again.

            We’ve received numerous complaints from subscribers about certain individuals who persist in disrupting the professional community discussion.

            Quoting our community guidelines: “In instances where our moderators feel the quality of conversations on any particular topic has degraded beyond what we deem to be professionally acceptable for our subscribers, we will turn off the comments section on individual articles.”

            We’re not inclined to turn off comments because of the actions of one or two users, therefore we are removing commenting access from those individuals.

            Our community guidelines are simple and easy to comply with. You can read them here: aviationweek.com/community-guidelines

            • James

              “At its Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA is (in 2013) simulating nuclear thermal rocket fuels with the interim goal of developing a Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage in support of the Space Launch System. The project could see rocket stages twice as efficient as their chemical counterparts propelling crewed missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.[11]”

              From: ‘Nuclear thermal rocket’ Wikipedia
              At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_thermal_rocket#Nuclear_vs._chemical

              “In the mid-1990s research at the Pennsylvania State University led to the concept of using antimatter to catalyze nuclear reactions. In short, antiprotons would react inside the nucleus of uranium, causing a release of energy that breaks the nucleus apart as in conventional nuclear reactions. Even a small number of such reactions can start the chain reaction that would otherwise require a much larger volume of fuel to sustain. Whereas the ‘normal’ critical mass for plutonium is about 11.8 kilograms (for a sphere at standard density), with antimatter catalyzed reactions this could be well under one gram.”

              From: ‘Nuclear pulse propulsion’ Wikipedia
              At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion

              se jones –

              You are “squatting” in the marketplace of space science and trying to hawk obsolete, high risk, super costly, and weak buggy whip chemical rocket technology for building Mars colonies and infrastructure.

              When folks with some logic start to question or laugh at your silly back to buggy whips weak chemical rocket technology sales pitch to build high risk and costly colonies on far distant Mars you post nasty, hostile, and bitter comments.

              You try again and again to put down and chew up the many nonbelievers of the Mars Colonies Soon fantasy cult.

              You often act like a nasty cult attack dog and then you make comments about how unsuitable are “the quality of conversations” of the many nonbelievers of your strange, nonscientific, and weak buggy whip technology Mars Colonies Soon cult.

              NASA wants nuclear powered spaceships and you and your cult want low tech weak buggy whip powered chemical rocket spaceships with half, or less than half, of the payload performance of nuclear thermal propulsion systems.

              And nuclear pulse propulsion with a 6,000 Isp, or far more, is at least six times better than the 925 Isp of nuclear thermal propulsion systems.

              Nuclear pulse propulsion with Lunar U-233 has at least a twelve times higher Isp, and perhaps over one hundred times higher Isp, than your weak and inefficient buggy whip chemical rocket technology.

              Yep, keep on hawking your weak buggy whip chemical rocket technology Mars Colonies Soon cult and most rocket engineers and space science folks will keep on planning to head to the Moon to mine its thorium and make U-233 to use for nuclear pulse propulsion rocket engines and nuclear reactors for use beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere and out across our vast Solar System.

            • MichaelatNASA

              You and Tom are totally obsessed with Gary Church it seems. The toxic venom you spew about him show what cyberthugs you are. You are simply trying to stop someone from criticizing spacex on this forum. It is completely transparent. And disgusting.

              • TomPerkins

                No, unwarranted criticism of SpaceX is being replied to. If any facts could be related which showed it in fact warranted, that would be welcome. What it is not is in evidence.

                There is nothing toxic in that statement.

                • MichaelatNASA

                  You are endlessly doxing “Gary Church” with almost every comment because you are a spacex fan and anyone criticizing your cult is to be harassed into silence.

                  That is toxic and you would have to be an idiot not to understand that fact.

                  • TomPerkins

                    No, it’s just very clear who you are.

                    • MichaelatNASA

                      Very clear what you and se jones and the other spacex groupies are and it’s disgusting.

                    • TomPerkins

                      @GaryChurch/MichaelatNASA

                      It’s clear we want the cost of access to space to drop, for such access to become ubiquitous, and for the traditional gatekeepers to such access to be disempowered.

                      It’s clear you want space access to stay the hobby of powerful nations.

                      From the GAO, D4 is $4k3/lb to LEO, Antares is $4k3/lb to LEO, Only Proton is below SpaceX and close at $1k29/lb to LEO. F9 is $1k3lb to LEO. Of course, Proton’s record is terrible and trending worse, and the FH will drop SpaceX’s cost by about a factor of two–because burning fuel is cheap, throwing away hardware you don’t have to is stupid.

                      What’s disgusting is anyone wanting to keep the higher prices in place.

                    • James

                      Tom Perkins –

                      You set up a straw man argument that is beyond silly.

                      Most folks who bother to think about it want the launch costs to LEO and the Moon to come down on a per pound or kilogram basis.

                      Lunar missions may never become cheap, but they can become much cheaper than they currently are.

                      Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK are far more likely to contribute their money and intellectual resources to doing precisely that than is SpaceX who became the fast growing space rocket government subsidized political kingdom and ‘good friend’ of our previous highly partisan President who ignorantly and consistently supported the SpaceX Mars Soon cult with his and NASA’s nonsense claim that we couldn’t afford to go to the nearby Moon to tap and use its resources to reduce the risks and costs of spaceflight, but we instead could afford super risky and high cost missions to far distant Mars and build costly fantasy and money burning colonies there that wouldn’t contribute to America’s economy at a time when our economy is likely facing huge and growing government deficits.

                      SpaceX has been a political and economic parasite on the American taxpayer and has wanted to continue to use Mars Soon fantasy colonies to rip off taxpayers to the benefit of Mr. Elon Musk’s bulging wallet and that strange goal obviously has zip or little to do with competition in reducing the risks and costs of spaceflights to LEO and the Moon.

                      Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK and Blue Origin are capitalist organizations. They compete. They don’t need the immense benefit of a close ‘political relationship’ with our most recent anti-human spaceflight former President that hated the idea of a Moon base because he thought it was a Republican idea. What a highly politically partisan goofball he is.

                      I am an old Democrat. However, when a Democrat, or any politician of any party, puts his or her narrow and off-the-wall political partisan interests above the real interests and needs of America, I strongly oppose that politician.

                      SpaceX politically helped the former lost in space President destroy our national space Program of Record to return humans to the Moon and apparently benefitted strongly from that human Lunar return program’s destruction.

                      Now lots of folks around the world are serious about going to the Moon again to tap its resources and you seriously want everyone on the Home Planet to suddenly believe and trust that SpaceX is going to always be more useful and reliable than Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK and Blue Origin in reducing the costs to LEO and the Moon?

                      Maybe pigs will soon learn how to grow super big ears and fly to Mars, too.

                    • James

                      “ATK proposed an advanced SRB nicknamed “Dark Knight”. This booster would switch from a steel case to one made of lighter composite material, use a more energetic propellant, and reduce the number of segments from five to four.[54] It would deliver over 20,000 kN (4,500,000 lbf) maximum thrust and weigh 790,000 kg (1,750,000 lb) at ignition. According to ATK, the advanced booster would be 40% less expensive than the Shuttle-derived five-segment SRB.”

                      From: ‘Space Launch System’ Wikipedia
                      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System

                      A Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK Dark Knight based solid rocket launcher with the option to sometimes have the first stage be reused might be quite useful.

                      A Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK tri-core Dark Knight based solid rocket launcher with the option to sometimes have the first stage core and two boosters be reused might be quite useful.

                      Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK could put four Dark Knights on an evolved SLS when there is a particularly heavy payload that needs to head to the Moon.

                      Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK could put four reusable Dark Knights on a reusable 11 meter diameter Antares 1100 with its graphene core powered by four Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne kerolox F-1Bs and four AR-1s.

                      Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK could put perhaps four reusable Dark Knights or other larger or smaller reusable SRBs on the reusable core of the 7 meter diameter New Glenn launcher for heavy payloads headed to the Moon.

                      Note:

                      “A four-stage Athena II using Castor 120s as both first and second stages became the first commercially developed launch vehicle to launch a lunar probe (Lunar Prospector) in 1998.”

                      And, “Solid rockets can provide high thrust for relatively low cost. For this reason, solids have been used as initial stages in rockets (for example the Space Shuttle), while reserving high specific impulse engines, especially less massive hydrogen-fueled engines, for higher stages. In addition, solid rockets have a long history as the final boost stage for satellites due to their simplicity, reliability, compactness and reasonably high mass fraction.”

                      From: ‘Solid-propellant rocket’ Wikipedia
                      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-propellant_rocket

                      These are interesting times we live in.

            • MichaelatNASA

              Oops, here you go: You and Tom are totally obsessed with Gary Church it seems. The toxic venom you spew about him show what cyberthugs you are. You are simply trying to stop someone from criticizing spacex on this forum. It is completely transparent. And disgusting.

      • James

        “Some people suffer from Arithmophobia.” – Chris

        Yep, that is a real and basic requirement if you want to join the nasty ‘Mars Colonies Soon with weak Chemical Launchers’ cult.

  • Tommy the Pain

    Your inefficent and obsolete bang can’t compete with the mag sail with infinite Isp and unlimited power source.

    • MichaelatNASA

      Poisoning the well begins. Whenever somebody starts presenting views se jones and tomperkins do not agree with then eventually this begins. After these mystery commenters mock and insult then fake comments using other peoples names appear.

      • Tommy the pain

        You should be mocked and insulted for wanting to use weak and inefficient bangs when our fusion reactor known as the sun can supply unlimited amounts of thust at infinite Isp unlike your crude and inefficient fission bangs.

        • MichaelatNASA

          Poisoning the well…sounds like se jones.

          • Tommy the pain

            What is your obsession with se Jones. Did he reject you or something.

            • MichaelatNASA

              Stop poisoning the well. Got something to say about space “Tommy”?

              • Tommy the pain

                It’s like this Jr, when you are ready to discuss the subject as an adult, you will find decent discussion. Realistic budgets, hardware that functions, and programs that have chance of implementation, and that sort of thing. Insulting all that disagree is your problem, not ours. Post under Gary, Michael or any other name as a useful member and your problems are over.

                • MichaelatNASA

                  Useful member of what? The Musk cult? Take that finger you are wagging at me and stick it…”jr”. Puh-leez. You must be se jones. Why the sock puppet?

                  • Tommy the pain

                    Member of this board and not your bang cult J.R. Infinite power and Isp from magsail and you respond with insults instead of discussions. Sock puppets because when you get banned again,anyone that communicates with you loses credibility.

    • James

      Tommy the pain sounds like a defective Mars robot without an elementary electronic brain.

      Tommy the pain smells like a drunk Martian skunk robot who rusted out in a monsoon rain.

      Tommy the pain sounds like a sick Mars Colony Soon guy who cannot sing a Moon refrain.

      Tommy the pain smells like a Mars Colony fantasy banker living down in a Lunar sewer drain.

      Tommy the pain sounds like a Martian anti-nuclear technology person no one could retrain.

      Tommy the pain smells like a Mars Colony Hero living in the garbage can where he will remain.

    • Jeffrey Findley

      No one has ever flown a “mag sail”. Perhaps you meant solar sail?

  • Chris

    A little insight on the other side (And NASA Isn’t going with it, congress is requiring them to go with it).

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/nasa-is-a-jobs-program?utm_term=.xtxNv56oJ6#.no0rbgwPow

    • MichaelatNASA

      “Might SpaceX privately building a big rocket in the next two years, and sending something to Mars, make SLS look redundant to politicians, finally ending NASA’s long cycle of rocket-building jobs programs?”

      Pretty much shows who paid for this “article”.

      • Tracy the Troll

        Michael at NASA,

        Presently the national debt is $20T When it reaches $30T at about 2030 there won’t be any money left for NASA at …ALL …..Other than the Social Safety Nets the rest of the money will service the debt. The final development cost of the SLS and Orion being…$50B + with a launch cost of $1B per use. And the development cost of the Dragon Crew and FH $10B or much less….and reusable and cost $10-$50M per launch..

        So Michael, sharpen the resume as you too soon will be employed by “Private Space”!!!

        • James

          Tracy the Troll –

          “Private Space” is a concept that is applicable to Jeff Bezzos and Blue Origin who want to tap the Moon’s real resources and business opportunities, but not to the extensively government subsidized Elon Musk and SpaceX that want to sell you high risk and super costly Mars fantasy colonies based on weak and inefficient buggy whip chemical rocket technology.

          “SpaceX, among Musk’s other companies, is only competitive and inexpensive because of government subsidies. That is why Musk’s condemnation of government subsidies is the height of irony. Musk’s businesses have received a staggering $4.9 billion in government subsidies.”

          And, “Space industry is the future, but that future doesn’t have to come at the expense of common sense. To earn the moniker ‘private,’ space companies must remain so, prudently refraining from robbing American taxpayers in order to develop rockets capable of deep space exploration.”

          From: ‘SpaceX Wants You To Pay For It To Explore Deep Space When It Can’t Even Explore Shallow Space’ By Mitchell Gunter September 20, 2017
          At: http://thefederalist.com/2017/09/20/spacex-wants-pay-explore-deep-space-cant-even-explore-shallow-space/

          Without the technical base created and maintained at a high cost by NASA and our military, and the technical, financial, and a large assest, and other extremely costly help NASA and our military has ‘given’ to SpaceX, SpaceX as it is today would not exist.

          Without the extensive political ‘help’ of our previous President, SpaceX probably would not even exist.

          Elon Musk is politically pushing and pushing and pushing his obsolete buggy whip technology of weak, inefficient, and low Isp chemical powered interplanetary spaceships to build super risky and costly Mars fantasy colonies precisely because SpaceX lacks the technical, economic, and political competence to do the needed mining of Lunar thorium and the making of that thorium into the U-233 that is needed for powering highly efficient nuclear reactors and super high Isp nuclear propulsions systems for serious, sustainable, robust, risk reduced, and cost minimized deep space human spacecraft missions.

    • Jeffrey Findley

      That’s an extremely biased site. I prefer to make my trade-offs based on cost and sound engineering, not politics. The cost of SLS is hideous and its flight rate (predicted again by cost and engineering) will be at most twice per year. That’s not even as good as the space shuttle, which SLS was supposed to “replace”. Two flights a year isn’t enough to support a return to the moon (that isn’t a repeat of “flags and footprints”) and it’s certainly not enough to support manned Mars missions.

      SLS is a solution looking desperately for a problem to solve. The latest proposed use for it is a lunar orbiting space station, which is “weak sauce” for an “exploration” program. It’s awfully hard to explore anything when the space station you are on is stuck in orbit.

  • Jeff Wright

    SLS is nothing compared to F-35–that’s what folks need to bash. Space Xcame from Paypal–and that from lots of money put into the ARPANET. SpaceX won’t do anything for NTRs–SLS will.

    Now–I’d like to see some pressure-feds myself.

    • James

      “Now–I’d like to see some pressure-feds myself.” – Jeff Wright

      Me too!

      Eventually several human carrying landers and launchers could have risk minimizing pressure-fed rocket engines.

      Rocket sleds on the Moon could achieve velocities much greater than Lunar escape velocity by using pressure-fed rocket, sled, and rail technology that has been available for quite a few years.

      ‘Drop tanks of propellant’ could even slide behind the sled’s main rocket engines.

      If the rocket sled was a maglev system, super high velocities would be doable.

      However, if we want to talk seriously and intelligently about making full use of our Solar System’s immense resources and business and scientific opportunities, we need to discuss how to use various types of nuclear power.

      And if we want nuclear power for highly efficient reactors and propulsion systems, then the Moon’s rich thorium deposits and the U-233 that can be made from that Lunar thorium is a great deal for everyone on Earth.

      Why?

      Various types of nuclear pulse propulsion systems that use Lunar U-233 have at least a twelve times higher Isp, and perhaps well over hundred times higher Isp or two hundred times more Isp than SpaceX’s weak and inefficient buggy whip chemical rocket technology.

      SpaceX was, and is, about getting various types of government subsidies right from its government subsidized beginning. If NASA hadn’t transferred money and made its taxpayer paid for costly technology and expertise freely available to SpaceX, there probably would be no SpaceX.

      Off the books and non-real accounting that covertly shift the costs of a heavily government subsidized company’s so called ‘private profit and success’ onto the backs of American taxpayers is a poor basis for empty talk by snake oil salespeople who endlessly talk about Mars colonies built through the use of high risk and super costly weak buggy whip chemical rocket technology.

      Nuclear reactors fueled by U-233 made from Lunar thorium can power Martian industrialization and maybe help turn that fourth rate junk planet into something useful and supply us with electric power and heat at many mining bases and colonies on Mars and even on, and in orbit around, hundreds or thousands of dwarf planets far beyond distant Pluto.

      Nuclear power, based on Lunar thorium and U-233, would give us many types of super high Isp and efficient nuclear propulsion systems to power our spaceships wherever we want to go in our Solar System.

      If our American political and space leaders don’t design our future plans in using space resources around gaining and using Lunar thorium and U-233 for many critical purposes across our Solar System, those leaders are probably demonstrating their technological ignorance or confusion or simply overt or covert membership in the nasty ‘Weak Chemical Rocket Built Mars Colonies Soon Fantasy Cult Snake Oil Sales Team’.

      If India, which has good practical reasons for their nation’s experience and strong interest in thorium, cannot have NASA and American businesses as eager partners in tapping Lunar thorium and using it to make U-233 powered spaceships, then it would seem logical for India and its space businesses to consider partnering with the banks, space agencies, and technology companies of Japan, Russia, Canada, China, Europe, Brazil, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, South Africa, and some other nations to accomplish that critical task.

      Eventually, Lunar and Mars produced anti-matter could power our spaceships, but that may occur alongside of and in conjunction with Lunar U-233 powered spacecraft.

    • James

      Note for those concerned about reducing satellite launch costs:

      “’It wasn’t that long ago when we were charging $100 million for a commercial launch,’ Pysher said. ‘Today, we are somewhere with numbers that start with 5s and 6s so we are talking about a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the launch price.’”

      And, “’We are frequently asked what type of technology are we implementing for our launch vehicles to get the price down to $25 million per launch,’ Pysher said. ‘My answer is ‘none.’ The only way to achieve that is to have a shared launch and then also developing satellites that perhaps don’t have the 15-year life span anymore. Maybe a five-year life span.’”

      And “Shotwell agreed: ‘To get to $30 million per launch, you may get there with reusability but you for sure get there by dividing $60 million by two.’”

      From: ‘Big launch companies predict doom for upcoming smallsat launchers’
      By Tereza Pultarova September 13, 2017
      At: http://spacenews.com/big-launch-companies-predict-doom-for-upcoming-smallsat-launchers/

      Ms. Shotwell’s comment “you may get there with reusability” certainly doesn’t sound like a strong endorsement for the ‘reusability = super cheap access to LEO’ theory that is often put forward by certain loud ‘Mars Colonies Soon’ folks who post here.

      Time will tell.

    • James

      Large launchers like America’s SLS, Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK’s Next Generation Launcher, Blue Origin’s New Glenn and New Armstrong, ULA’s tri-core Vulcan, China’s Long March 9, Japan’s tri-core H3, SpaceX’s Mini BFR and tri-core Falcon Heavy, and Russia’s five-core Super Heavy Launcher could have some useful and needed heavy-duty Lunar mission work to do in the 2020s, 2030s, 2040s, and 2050s.

      “To those who mock such talk as science fiction, experts such as Bernard Foing, ambassador of the European Space Agency-driven ‘Moon Village’ project, reply the goal is not only reasonable but feasible too.”

      And, “At a European Planetary Science Congress in Riga this week, Foing spelled out how humanity could gain a permanent foothold on Earth’s satellite, and then expand.”

      And, “By 2030, there could be an initial lunar settlement of six to 10 pioneers — scientists, technicians and engineers — which could grow to 100 by 2040, he predicted.”

      And, “Experts argue that the future lies in collaboration between increasingly cash-strapped national space agencies and the private sector, which can profit from selling resources such as moon-derived rocket fuel.”

      From: “Dreams of ‘Moon Village’ begins to shape up at Riga meeting
      Riga meeting hears ‘Moon Village’ with 100 people may obtain water from ice, mine body’s resources”
      At: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/22/world/science-health-world/dreams-moon-village-begins-shape-riga-meeting/#.WccqwbhrHwp

      Moon Village based large telescopes and launchers could eventually play critical roles in defending the Earth against NEOs.

      “Whereas the meteor that exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk in 2013 was just 20 meters across (65 feet), but still injured 1600 people, Didymoon measures about 160 meters (525 feet) in diameter.

      It is estimated that if this asteroid struck Earth, the resulting impact would be as powerful as a 400 megatonne blast. To put that in perspective, the most powerful thermonuclear device ever built – the Soviet Tsar Bomba – had a yield of 50 megatonnes. Hence, the smaller companion of this binary asteroid, if it struck Earth, would have an impact 80 times greater than the most powerful bomb ever built by humans.”

      And, “In the meantime, Jan Woerner – the head of the European Space Agency – indicated that the ESA would be moving forward with the new proposal when the next ministerial meeting takes place in 2019. As he told the AFP via email:

      ‘It is important for humanity, as a species we have the means today to deflect an asteroid. We know it will happen, one day sooner or later. It’s not a question of if, but when.’”

      From: “Scientists Urge Europe to Stick With ‘Armageddon’-style Asteroid Mission”
      By Matt Williams September 24, 2017
      At: https://www.universetoday.com/137266/scientists-urge-europe-stick-armageddon-style-asteroid-mission/

    • James

      Super powerful Northrop Grumman Orbital ATK Dark Knight based boosters for the evolved SLS and various heavy lift versions of the Next Generation Launcher could provide critical help in launching many missions to the international Moon Village.

      The Home Planet’s Moon Village and its various enormous telescopes based nearby and the tapping of extensive Lunar resources, including thorium for producing U-233, will work synergistically to enable a powerful, reliable, and super high Isp and efficient U-233 nuclear propulsion systems to power fast spaceships with the capabilities to quickly travel enormous distances to divert or destroy an incoming NEO.

      The international Moon Village could help enable a critically effective, robust, and redundant interception capability as part of our enormously thick defensive shield against incoming NEOs that would stretch out far past the asteroid belt.

      Why does America and the rest of the Home Planet need to invest in the international Moon Village and such a far reaching Lunar thorium enabled defensive shield system against NEOs?

      “There is also the threat from comets coming into the inner Solar System. The impact speed of a long-period comet would likely be several times greater than that of a near-Earth asteroid, making its impact much more destructive; in addition, the warning time is unlikely to be more than a few months.[4] Impacts from objects as small as 50 metres (160 ft) in diameter, which are far more common, are historically extremely destructive regionally (see Barringer crater).”

      And, “REP. STEWART: … are we technologically capable of launching something that could intercept [an asteroid]? … DR. A’HEARN: No. If we had spacecraft plans on the books already, that would take a year … I mean a typical small mission … takes four years from approval to start to launch …”
      — Rep. Chris Stewart (R,UT) and Dr. Michael F. A’Hearn, 10 April 2013, United States Congress

      From: ‘Asteroid impact avoidance’ Wikipedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_impact_avoidance#Ongoing_projects

      In northern Arizona the above noted “small” 50 meter (or 160 foot) diameter iron NEO created the 1.186 kilometers or 0.737 mile diameter Barringer crater (also known as Meteor Crater) when it impacted 50,000 years ago.

      See: ‘Meteor Crater’ Wikipedia

      Obvioiusly, it doesn’t require a large asteroid or comet to kill humans and destroy a city.

      “After sending a probe to Mars in 2020, China plans to explore three asteroids and land on one of them to conduct scientific research, according to a Chinese asteroid research expert.”

      And, “In order to cope with the potential threat of the near-Earth objects, we don’t just need ground-based telescopes to form a monitoring and warning system, but also space probes to conduct close investigations of the asteroids,” Ji said.

      “China’s exploration will help scientists understand the features of the near-Earth objects, and seek effective measures to deal with the possibility of a collision, Ji added.”

      From: ‘Riding an asteroid: China’s next goal in space’ Xinhua 2017-03-01
      At: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-03/01/content_28385969.htm

      China could provide serious and long-term help and leadership in creating an effective anti-NEO shield for the Home Planet based in part at the international Moon Village and the tapping of useful Lunar resources such as thorium for making U-233 to power super fast and robust spaceships.

      Chinese leadership in such an international Moon Village NEO shield project might logically have strong motivation by both its very dense population along its East coast and the stones that fell from the sky in 1490 and killed over 10,000 people during the Chíing-yang meteor shower.

      See: ‘1490 Ch’ing-yang event’ Wikipedia

  • Tracy the Troll

    James

    “The Home Planet’s Moon Village and its various enormous telescopes based nearby and the tapping of extensive Lunar resources, including thorium for producing U-233, will work synergistically to enable a powerful, reliable, and super high Isp and efficient U-233 nuclear propulsion systems to power fast spaceships with the capabilities to quickly travel enormous distances to divert or destroy an incoming NEO.”

    Exciting stuff… How long will this take to fruition? How much will it cost? 50-100 years? 1 maybe 2 Trillion Dollars?

    • James

      “How long will this take to fruition? How much will it cost? 50-100 years? 1 maybe 2 Trillion Dollars?” – Tracy the Troll

      Good questions. The essential issue is leadership. Time and costs depend on smart leadership.

      India, Russia, China, Japan, and Europe can help provide leadership for the Home Planet’s investment in tapping Lunar water and thorium to make U-233.