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What markets is Armadillo aiming for?

Posted by: dnnrly - Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:21 am
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What markets is Armadillo aiming for? 
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Post What markets is Armadillo aiming for?   Posted on: Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:21 am
Hi all,
I got to thinking about what happens when (not if) a final design is produced. Are Armadillo going to just sell the designs to the highest bidder or produce their own (or under contract or something).

Who are the intended users? I'm guessing the heavy lifting is going to remain the domain of Arianne, Shenzou et al. without some serious scaling up.

What does this leave for the little guys? Are we talking sub-orbital only for passengers and fast courier delivery?


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Post production   Posted on: Sat Nov 26, 2005 5:15 am
Several different companies have inquired about licensing our flight control systems, but that isn't really a direction I am very interested in pursuing.

In the near term, we will be selling vehicles and operations. We will probably work with Space Adventures when we are ready to fly paying customers.

Beyond that into orbit is a whole different ballgame. It is reasonably likely that it could involve military contracts, but we'll see when we get there.

I don't even really want to make a very large vehicle, because I would rather focus effort on reusability and high flight rates than single-throw mass.

John Carmack


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Post Re: production   Posted on: Sat Nov 26, 2005 4:15 pm
John Carmack wrote:
I don't even really want to make a very large vehicle, because I would rather focus effort on reusability and high flight rates than single-throw mass.
YES! :D
I bet even the shuttle would be an affordable vehicle to perfect reusability if it were just a lot smaller.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:39 am
If you can get to the point where fuel is your major cost per flight, and you use a fairly inexpensive fuel (LOX / Ethanol :D ), then you will have achieved something very special.

John, is your orbital plan a VTVL first stage to about 60 km & 1km/s, followed by a high mass ratio second stage to orbit?

Imagine scaling that up to 1000 tons (fueled) first stage, 200 tons second stage, putting 5 to 10 tons payload in LEO for < $10 million. 8)

PS When can we expect the next Update? I'm getting withdrawal symptoms! :lol:


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:41 pm
Dude, do you mind me thinking it's quite funny how you start talking about a 1200 ton vehicle after reading this?
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I don't even really want to make a very large vehicle, because I would rather focus effort on reusability and high flight rates than single-throw mass.


Or maybe my idea of what is to be considered a large vehicle is just completely off.. :wink:

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 28, 2005 2:48 pm
The thought might result in a Super-Kankoh-Maru. The orginal designed Kankoh Maru as reference-vehicle for study-purposes would have a weight of 550 tons and could carry 50 passengers.

It is an SSTO-vehicle which launches vertical from ground - in so far the thought seesm to fit into Armadillo Aerospace's concept from my point of view.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:21 pm
WannabeSpaceCadet wrote:
PS When can we expect the next Update? I'm getting withdrawal symptoms! :lol:


I haven't been to the shop days much myself over the last two months because of work load at the day job, but I did get to go a couple of times recently to take pictures. They've made lots of progress on the new vehicle! And I've passed those photos on to John who says he'll be making an update soon. I think he was also hoping to be able to include congratulations to SpaceX but I guess that will have to wait.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:51 am
Webkabouter wrote:
Dude, do you mind me thinking it's quite funny how you start talking about a 1200 ton vehicle after reading this?
Quote:
I don't even really want to make a very large vehicle, because I would rather focus effort on reusability and high flight rates than single-throw mass.


Or maybe my idea of what is to be considered a large vehicle is just completely off.. :wink:


I'm not suggesting they go straight off and try to build one! :roll: I'm just thinking about where this technology could lead. Armadillo seem to have the right recipe, start small then: build inexpensively, test extremely frequently, scale up and repeat.

An X-Prize class vehicle is about right for the first stage of a nano-satellite launcher. Scale it up 10 X for a micro/small sat. Scale it up 10 X again and you get close to what I imagined. Scale up again and you're talking Heavy Lift for 10% of the cost per ton of the NASA shuttle derived launcher.

Every time you scale up you get better efficiency, because some parts (electronics, sensors, etc) stay the much same mass, thus available payload becomes proportionally greater.

PS: Don't call me Dude. :lol:


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:53 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The thought might result in a Super-Kankoh-Maru. The orginal designed Kankoh Maru as reference-vehicle for study-purposes would have a weight of 550 tons and could carry 50 passengers.

It is an SSTO-vehicle which launches vertical from ground - in so far the thought seesm to fit into Armadillo Aerospace's concept from my point of view.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


Completely different idea, actually. The Kankoh Maru is another one of those pipe dream SSTO's that will never work. ( 2 sets of main engines, one optimized for sea level & one for vacuum operations? :roll: ) Even with the ISP of LOX/H2, you need a very high mass ratio to achieve SSTO. (Empty vehicle + payload + fuel for OCS, retro & landing would have to be less than 10% of take-off weight) The aeroshell, tanks (hydrogen tanks have to be very big because of the low density), engines, landing gear, everything would have to be incredibly light weight, i.e. expensive and with low safety margins, hence unreliable.

This is why all the SSTO projects have failed so far. The only reliable, & economical way to achive SSTO would be using a propulsion system with a much higher ISP, something like NERVA perhaps.

On the other hand, an Armadillo style system, would be a big, simple, tough, inexpensive, reuseable booster, that could put 20% of its launch mass above the effective atmosphere, with some handy extra velocity. From that position a vacuum optimised second stage could make orbit, without an excessively high mass ratio.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 29, 2005 7:42 am
Hello, WannabeSpaceCadet,

please be aware of the fact, that the Kankoh-Maru has been engineered really. There are serious numbers and the state of the design can be used to start work on real hardware. This was required to enable the studies done by the Japanese Rocket Society (JRS) including those Prof. Collins was and is involved in.

If Armadillo Aeropace's vehicle could be made an orbital one later then it would be an SSTO unless they decide to make it two-staged. Then this SSTO only would be needed to be scaled up step by step from 3-person-capacity to 50-person-capacity. The last of this might be similar to the Kankoh-Maru.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 29, 2005 1:57 pm
WannabeSpaceCadet wrote:
2 sets of main engines, one optimized for sea level & one for vacuum operations? :roll: )
Actually I think that is one of the better ideas the engineers came up with. By the time the vehicle gets high enough for the booster engines to loose efficiency it is going fast enough and is light enough to not need so much thrust, so the boosters are shut down. The Atlas did something similar, but they dropped the two booster engines instead of keeping them because the vehicle was expendable. Atlas was a LOX/RP-1 vehicle, so with the added performance from LOX/LH2 you could keep the booster engines and still get a better payload to orbit.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:41 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...please be aware of the fact, that the Kankoh-Maru has been engineered really. There are serious numbers ...


The X-33 / Venture Star and DC-X were also engineered really, seriously, and actual hardware was built, even flown. That didn't make them any more successful or economically feasible then the Kankoh Maru looks likely to be.

campbelp2002 wrote:
WannabeSpaceCadet wrote:
2 sets of main engines, one optimized for sea level & one for vacuum operations? :roll: )

Actually I think that is one of the better ideas the engineers came up with


Ok, I've gone back and looked at the plans again and there are less booster engines than I remembered (4), and the sustainers (8 ) are used from launch as well, so maybe not such a dumb idea.

But the 'Flight Manual' reads like a jet aircraft not a rocket. All these electrical generators and hydraulic pumps running off the engines, when the engines will only be running for 10 to 15 minutes of a multi-hour or day flight. Since they will need batteries anyway, better to have slightly bigger ones than carry generators & alternators. And I think they would burn way too much fuel going through the checklist after engine start, even on idle. Deep throttling to 5% seems very ambitious, 30% is considered pretty good currently.

I particularly like the Ejection Seats and procedures for the Pilot & Flight Engineer, I'm sure the 50 passengers would be impressed too! :shock:


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:55 am
Hello, WannbeSpaceCadet,

the Economics of the Kankoh-Maru have been analyzed and investigated in detail by Prof. Collins - it's a vehicle adjusted to a potential of market demand that has been got by professional market research based on science.

The ticket price to orbit would have been $ 20,000 at the time the study has been done.

It could be a future market for Armadillo Aerospace.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:14 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...professional market research based on science...

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Oh, you were serious?

$20,000 each for 50 people = $1 million if my math is correct.

This thing must carry 500 tonnes of propellant. LH2 costs what $2000 per tonne? LOX is dirt cheap in bulk. Lets say $1000 per tonne average. That's $500,000 just for fuel. $630 million to build ammortised over 300 flights (CEV is expected to last 10 flights?). Another $2,100,000. Throw in crew & support staff salaries, launch site facilities etc. Development costs.

I can't see it costing less than $5 million per flight if it works exactly as planned. If flight rates & service life are low, and support requirements high, then $50 million might be more reasonable. Still cheap at the price though.

But I still don't believe it can be done. The empty weight would have to be less than 50 tonnes. Each of the 12 engines must weigh over 1 tonne! By comparison the new A380 Airbus has a similar maximum loaded weight (580 tonnes vs 550), but an empty weight of 270 tonnes!


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:31 pm
WannabeSpaceCadet wrote:
LH2 costs what $2000 per tonne? LOX is dirt cheap in bulk. Lets say $1000 per tonne average. That's $500,000 just for fuel.
http://www.astronautix.com/props/loxlh2.htm says LOX costs $0.08 per kg and LH2 costs $ 3.60 per kg. That was in 1980. So if Kankoh Maru ( http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/kank ... nual.shtml ) takes 500,000 kg of propellant with 6 kg LOX for every kg of LH2, that is 500,000/7*3.6=$257,143 for LH2 and 500,000*6/7*0.08=$34,286 for LOX for a total of $291,429 for propellant (if they remember to close the vent valve).


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