Broadcast 3107 Mike Laidley, Vice President, Orbital ATK OmegA Program

27 Apr 2018 Michael S. Laidley
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Guest:  Michael S. Laidley;  Topics:  The Orbital ATK Next Generation Launching system for use by the USAF in going to the new EELV program, plus details of the OmegA rocket.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm

We welcomed Mike Laidley to the program to discuss the Orbital ATK Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) and the OmegaA rocket to replace current rockets used by the USAF EELV program.  During our one hour one segment discussion, we talked about many topics in addition to the Orbital ATK program and new rocket, including the USAF competitive bid process, ATK solid rocket boosters and the different versions of SRBs for different rocket stages, missions, the government satellite market, the commercial satellite market, the importance of the ROI for Orbital ATK given they are a public company, ride share, on orbit servicing, satellite life extension economics, new satellite capabilities, launching more with fewer launches, plus many more topics.   Our guest also talked about the history of Orbital ATK and their current hiring status including hiring for fresh college graduates. 

During our program, Mike fielded many listener email questions.  In addition, he went into specifics for the OmegA rocket.  As you will hear, it is a 3 stage rocket with various solid rocket boosters depending on the payload and mission of the rocket.  We talked about rocket motors including the RL10 engine plus the need to finally have a replacement for the RD 180 which is being phased out.  As part of our discussion, Mike reviewed the AF EELV program plus the competitive bidding process for the new generation EELV.  Don't miss what he had to say as the booster information was most interesting as was the description of the AF competitive bidding process.

Listeners asked about operational timelines plus they wanted to know what the commercial market was for the new rocket.  Mike said the commercial market was the GEO communication satellite market for the commercial carriers.  He described this market, their planned market share and then he responded to a question about human rating the rocket.  The answer was no to human rating but listen to all of what he said on this subject, including the Orbital ATK part of the SLS which of course is human rated.  Our guest again stressed the need for an acceptable ROI given the company was public with shareholders. 

Paula sent in a question about the solid rocket fuel.  She wanted to know if it was the same for all the different boosters, the shuttle, etc.  Mike explained the basics of the solid rocket motor fuel, said there were variations of it depending on the purpose of the rocket and the launch, plus from time to time certain chemicals are no longer available so they tweak the formula with replacement chemicals.  Paula's second part of her question inquired about the availability of ride share for smaller and academic payloads.  The answer was yes.

Alan sent in a note asking just how many launches they thought would have a year.  Mike said the sweet spot was around 8 launches per year.  He also talked about launching from both the Cape and Vandenburg AFB for polar launches.  Todd sent in a question about environmental and atmospheric concerns regarding the rocket's exhaust at it goes to orbit.  Another listener asked about specific pricing per launch.  Yet another listener inquired if they could sell a launch to a foreign country or company.  Don't miss what Mike said in response to all of these questions. 

Sally, having listened to earlier Space Show programs, inquired about using advanced technology giving the satellites far more capability so that why would lie longer and do more, thus possibly lowering the overall launch rate.  She wanted to know if this would adversely impact their ROI analysis.  Don't miss what Mike said in response to this question.  We then talked about the variation in strap on boosters available for the OmegA.  Mike was next asked about OmegA reusability.  He said it was not designed for reusability but for commonality with other ATK systems and parts.  He provided a few examples of this by talking about their in house made flight computer. 

Listener Alex wanted to explore more about advanced manufacturing processes including the use of 3D printing.  Mike had much to say on this subject so don't miss our discussion, including what he said about fairing development.  We then talked about the various locations the rocket and its parts were being made, the final assembly points, this being a jobs program in multiple districts to help assure that congress would not cancel the program so don't miss this discussion.

Jerry asked about on orbit satellite servicing and life extension and how this might impact their ROI analysis.  Briefly, Mike said it had been part of their analysis and they did not expect an adverse ROI impact from this developing technology.  Listener Ben, a student in Atlanta, inquired about job opportunities at ATK.  Randy in Phoenix asked about their government risk management process given the fact that government often cancels projects.  As our program was drawing to a close, I asked about SRB static fire tests and if they would be open to the public as before. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program. You can reach Mr. Laidley through me or Orbital ATK.

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