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posted by martyb on Thursday March 21 2019, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the commercial-applications? dept.

Blue Origin studying repurposing of New Glenn upper stages

Blue Origin has studied repurposing upper stages of its future New Glenn launch vehicle to serve as habitats or for other applications as part of a series of NASA-funded commercialization studies.

Brett Alexander, vice president of government sales and strategy at Blue Origin, said the company looked at ways it could make use of the second stage of New Glenn rather than simply deorbiting the stage at the end of each launch, but emphasized the company currently had no firm plans to reuse those stages at this time.

[...] That included, he said, turning those stages into habitation modules or other facilities for commercial use in Earth orbit. Those stages could be launched already outfitted for those uses or refitted once in orbit.

"We don't have actual plans at this moment" to reuse the upper stages in those ways, he noted. "We'll see what the best approach is at the end of the day."

Better to go fully reusable. New Armstrong?

Related: Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base
ISRO Will Attempt to Repurpose the Final Stage of a Rocket as a Satellite
Blue Origin to Provide Multiple Orbital Launches for Telesat


Original Submission

Related Stories

Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base 28 comments

Let's just throw this old thing at the Moon and call it a day:

A cargo container that was built to fly on NASA's space shuttles is being repurposed as a prototype for a deep space habitat.

Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming from it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit. The work is being done under a public-private partnership between the aerospace corporation and NASA.

"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement.

Donatello was one of three MPLMs that was designed to fly in the space shuttle payload bay to transfer cargo to the station. Built by the Italian Space Agency under a contract with NASA, two modules, Leonardo and Raffaello, flew on 12 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
Cislunar 1000 Vision - Commercializing Space
Forget Mars, Colonize Titan
Japan Planning to Put a Man on the Moon Around 2030


Original Submission

ISRO Will Attempt to Repurpose the Final Stage of a Rocket as a Satellite 23 comments

In a first, Isro will make dead rocket stage 'alive' in space for experiments (alt)

Can a dead rocket in space be anything but debris? Isro believes it might actually be useful. Feted for its frugality and tech savvy, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is working on a new technology where it will use the last stage of the PSLV rocket for space experiments. It will perform a technology demonstration of this new system when it launches the PSLV C44 rocket in January.

Talking to [Times of India] here, Isro chairman K Sivan said, "Normally, the last stage of a PSLV rocket after releasing the primary satellite in space becomes dead and categorised as debris. It remains in the same orbit as that of the released satellite. Now, we are working on a new technology where we will give life to this "dead" last stage of PSLV, also called PS4 stage, for six months after its launch. This rocket stage will double up as a satellite. This will be the most cost-effective way to perform experiments in space as we don't have to launch a separate rocket for the purpose." He said that "India is the only country in the world that is working on this new technology".

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).


Original Submission

Blue Origin to Provide Multiple Orbital Launches for Telesat 1 comment

Telesat signs New Glenn multi-launch agreement with Blue Origin for LEO missions

Canadian fleet operator Telesat has agreed to launch satellites for its future low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation on multiple New Glenn missions, Blue Origin announced Jan. 31.

The agreement, for an unspecified number of launches and satellites, makes Telesat the fifth customer to sign up to use the reusable launcher, which is slated for a maiden flight in 2021.

"Blue Origin's powerful New Glenn rocket is a disruptive force in the launch services market which, in turn, will help Telesat disrupt the economics and performance of global broadband connectivity," Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg said in a news release.

Blue Origin already has eight other New Glenn missions in backlog: one each for Paris-based Eutelsat, Sky Perfect JSAT of Japan and Thai startup Mu Space, plus five launches for low-Earth-orbit megaconstellation company OneWeb.

SpaceX's Starlink constellation would compete with Telesat's low Earth orbit broadband offering. Perhaps that factored into the choice of Blue Origin as launch provider.

New Glenn rocket.

Related: Blue Origin to Compete to Launch U.S. Military Payloads
Blue Origin Wins Contract to Supply United Launch Alliance With BE-4 Rocket Engines
The Military Chooses Which Rockets It Wants Built for the Next Decade
Blue Origin Starts Construction of Rocket Engine Factory in Alabama


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 21 2019, @10:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 21 2019, @10:11PM (#818190)

    After New Glenn, New Kahn will be using those stages as hibernation modules.

  • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday March 21 2019, @10:58PM

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday March 21 2019, @10:58PM (#818204) Homepage Journal

    We're working very hard for ALL America's companies -- even Jeff Bozo's #AmazonBlueOrigin [twitter.com]. Last year Jeff became the richest guy in the entire World -- because of me( Tax Cut ). And MacKenzie, very soon, will be the richest woman. Because of Jeff. I made him rich but I couldn't make him Smart. Sorry!!!

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday March 21 2019, @11:04PM (4 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday March 21 2019, @11:04PM (#818207)

    - Hey, this thing is built to be as insanely light as possible, take stresses in a very specific way, and be used for a few hours at most, doing one task in the most reliable way possible for its weight and price.
    - Why don't we dual-use it in a totally different way, with massively incompatible requirements, since it's already up ?
    - Makes sense to me, since GTO is the best place to add random facilities or habitats !

    ...

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday March 22 2019, @01:16AM (3 children)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 22 2019, @01:16AM (#818240) Journal

      Why don't we dual-use it in a totally different way, with massively incompatible requirements, since it's already up ?

      Ummm... I'd say [Citation needed] for the "massively incompatible requirements" part of it.
      And only because I'm curious about the specific differences rather than raising doubts on the statement.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bob_super on Friday March 22 2019, @01:36AM (2 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Friday March 22 2019, @01:36AM (#818248)

        A second stage is, to oversimplify, a vacuum rocket engine with its tanks, some guidance equipment, a payload adapter/dispenser ... and that's most of it.
        In most rockets, the fairing gets discarded as early as possible when exiting the atmosphere to reduce weight, so while it's attached to the second stage, I don't even know if it's considered part of it. With Starship, the "fairing" is part of the second stage structure, though. But it's robbing the rocket of some significant performance.
        The second stage will reach the right orbit to release the payload (like GTO), and then kinda get out of the way. But not too far, because any delta-v is extremely expensive.

        If you are talking about reusing second stages which would otherwise be discarded, you're in whatever orbit the primary customer needed, which is rarely where you want to settle because it's an "injection" or "transfer" orbit, and with a partial, open, or missing fairing. That fairing isn't designed to self-close. It's designed to resist air friction applied to its tip, not radiation or uneven forces applied from the inside. The tanks are not designed to be refilled in orbit, the stage not designed to be grabbed, added to ...

        You can add those things, but every step of the way you reduce the launcher capability to perform its primary mission. Because space is a nasty nasty place, for both temperatures and radiation reasons.
        Before you know it, you're launching a space shuttle again.

        • (Score: 2) by KilroySmith on Friday March 22 2019, @03:39AM

          by KilroySmith (2113) on Friday March 22 2019, @03:39AM (#818292)

          I suppose if you wanted to store large quantities of rocket fuel in orbit, you could repurpose second stages for that (with some mass penalty for the extra hardware). Once the stage was in orbit and empty, you'd launch a rocket to rendezvous with it and transfer some fuel. Of course, the second stage from the second rocket would now be empty, so you could lash it to the first.

          Let's run some numbers. A Falcon 9 second stage has a 27,600 liter LOX tank, and a 17,400 liter RP-1 tank ( http://www.spaceflight101.net/falcon-9-launch-vehicle-information.html [spaceflight101.net] ). At 1.14 g/cm3 for LOX, that's about 31,000 kg of LOX. At 0.81 g/cm3 for RP-1, that's about 14,000 kg of RP-1, for a total of 45,000 kg of fuel. The Falcon 9 has a payload of about 23,000 kg to LEO, so it'd take two Falcon 9 flights to refill one second stage in LEO - and you'd end up with two empty second stages lashed to it. Fill those two, and you'd have two full stages, and four empty ones.

          Unless, of course, you could figure out how to manufacture LOX and RP-1 in orbit, and needed a tank farm to store the results.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday March 22 2019, @02:35PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 22 2019, @02:35PM (#818414) Journal

          A second stage is, to oversimplify, a vacuum rocket engine with its tanks, some guidance equipment, a payload adapter/dispenser ... and that's most of it.

          Suppose a 2nd stage is a cylinder. Packed with the equipment you mention.

          Suppose it were a cylinder within a cylinder. Once in orbit, the inner cylinder slips out and de-orbits. Leaving the empty outer cylinder to be turned into a habitation module for future astronauts who have no need to breathe. Or as an additional piece of space junk.

          --
          Trump is a poor man's idea of a rich man, a weak man's idea of a strong man, and a stupid man's idea of a smart man.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 21 2019, @11:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 21 2019, @11:10PM (#818209)

    I wouldn't fly it unless it has a camera that makes sure I'm not distracted.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by ElizabethGreene on Friday March 22 2019, @12:11PM (3 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 22 2019, @12:11PM (#818366) Journal

    Similar research was conducted regarding the Shuttle's external tank. It was proposed to attach a small kicker motor to these to hang them in LEO where they could be attached to a platform for use as habitat space or on the moon [nasa.gov].

    The idea died quietly as part of the Shuttle kitchen sinkification.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday March 22 2019, @04:08PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday March 22 2019, @04:08PM (#818463) Journal

      If fully reusable BFR takes off, there should be much less discussion of this idea. Instead we can talk about getting 5-20 superheavy flights for the price of 1 regular or building giant space stations cheaply.

      Looks like we might see some static fire testing this week.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
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