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SpaceX (general discussion)

Flyaway

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Just imagine the same interview with the head of ULA. It could only be far less inspiring and cool; A non happening.
He has a name Tony Bruno and by all reports he’s a reasonable guy at least in public relations. But then that wouldn’t fit into the agenda you appear to be trying to push here.
 

Moose

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It will be interesting to see which of the "imperfections" apparent during Elon's presentation get ironed out in the first vehicle. When I was expecting S1 to be suborbital-only, I wasn't much concerned by ripples, minor buckling, and misalignment so long as S2/3/4/etc corrected them. But if this vehicle is going orbital, I'd expect a little more effort to get it sorted.
 

sferrin

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Just imagine the same interview with the head of ULA. It could only be far less inspiring and cool; A non happening.
He has a name Tony Bruno and by all reports he’s a reasonable guy at least in public relations. But then that wouldn’t fit into the agenda you appear to be trying to push here.
He personally might be reasonable. But he also answers to a LOT of people.
 

RanulfC

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If the solution is to mount landing rockets up front, you're goi ngneed those lines and something like those attachment points anyway.
Quite right but the key there is that word "if" again and whether there are better and more efficient solutions :)

Ain't nobody got time for that. Starship is going to consume all of SpaceX/Musk's attention... until the *next* ship comes along.
Well yes, as I noted above "time" IS the key factor after all :) But as Musk himself noted until the Starship prototypes prove out the concept only a fraction of SpaceX will be working on it. I don't think we'll see a 'new' ship any time soon as the Starship/SH development and testing is not likely to go as smoothly as Elon hopes, but even once that is done ramping them up into operation is going to be a task. While I'm sure part of SpaceX will always remain an operations and service segment used to support SpaceX customer's and its own missions I'm curious if it will eventually be spun off into a subsedary branch like ULA was. To be really useful and as practical in operation as Elon keeps suggesting either somthing like that has to happen or SpaceX will end up having to "sell" SH/S's to other users.

Exactly so. And in SpaceX time, a "short time" is not long enough to build up the lunar surface infrastructure for a base, but it may well be long enough to land a *lot* of ships. Dozens of Starships could potentally land before the Starfleet Corps of Engineers could build the pad. Especially since "how do you build a landing pad on the Moon" is an unanswered non-trivial question.
Microwave robots and "moon-crete" of course :)

And that's Space Force Corps of CIVIL Engineers, thank you very much. USAF, er that is SFCE elite Red Horse units will land first, (who needs landers? We've got thick boot soles! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_Engineer_Deployable_Heavy_Operational_Repair_Squadron_Engineers) and deploy portable runw... er that is landing pads, (https://www.google.com/search?q=USAF Red Horse&cad=h) while also throwing together a complete Moonbase, (made out of plywood, they never seem to run out of plywood either) and be sitting in the Bar, (there's always a bar, and it's usually the FIRST thing that goes up 'bcause you can sleep on the floor and eat bar snacks till the dorms and dining hall are done now can't you) while the rest of you wimps are "Landing"...

Ok more seriously I'd suspect they'll put down in a crater while the base (buried or such of course) is outside the rim AND behind a couple of berms of pushed up regolith.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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Just imagine the same interview with the head of ULA. It could only be far less inspiring and cool; A non happening.
He has a name Tony Bruno and by all reports he’s a reasonable guy at least in public relations. But then that wouldn’t fit into the agenda you appear to be trying to push here.
He personally might be reasonable. But he also answers to a LOT of people.
But that also assumes a lot in regards to those other people. IE: They are Big Corporate monkeys with no imagination or ambition outside climbing the corporate ladder and no interest in Space travel or anything other than dollars. Which for ULA especially is a rather odd thought path. ULA designed and pushed ACES when neither LM or Boeing were really interested in rocking the Congressional boat. And the fact that ACES was both implied and specified to be used with and for Orbital Propellant Depots, (something Congress at the time was very much against and these people while they don't sign the checks provide the funding which provides those checks that ULA got) Even going as far as to study, design and present various OPD's towards NASA and commercial interests. These people were the same ones IN LM and Boeing who had initially developed the stage and were moved to ULA likely BECAUSE they rocked the boat. These are the same people who while still internal to LM and Boeing were pushing reusable vehicle concepts and orbital and space infrastructure when NASA (and Congress) were barely looking beyond the next itteration of the Mars DRM.

Now imagine for just a moment that instead of being drags and hinderences (which LM and Boeing managment and oversight have generally been) these same people, being able to prove profitabililty and utility of reusable launch vehicles to those same managers, now have full access to LM and Boeing historical library and databases with all the work these two companies, (and the dozens of companies they have encompassed over the years) on such ideas and concepts.

People who believe in "New Space" tend to disparage and underestimate "Old Space" because it doesn't respond to every "new" thing that comes out so must be to old and stuck in their ways to survive. But they HAVE survived and they HAVE changed as time moved on though usually not in grand and obvious ways. And while they are conservative in outlook and planning they are, in the end, survivalist deep down. And some of them ARE "Space Cadets" who for their whole lives have been waiting for just the right moment and just the right opportunity to drag those conservitive business elements kicking and screaming into the future... And all the way to the bank.

A lot of the New Space folks say "competition is good" but they really mean only competition from other New Space companies as they assume the Old Space boys will be shuffling off into the dustbin of history. They could be right but the odds are very much against the simple answer so hearing what "they" say would be a wise and prudent thing.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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Falcon 9 will probably hang around as long as SHS has not achieved full technical/operational maturity. After that, the launch cost of SHS will make it more profitable than Falcon 9 regardless of payload. It could carry a microsat and still make more profit than a Falcon 9 doing the same. Indeed, it could compete for that microsat against Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit. The remainder of the 100 ton payload could be made up of tourists.
It doesn't work that way, I'll point out SpaceX specifically says it doesn't work that way. (https://www.spacex.com/starship, see “Satellites” ) You're not talking launching satellites like the Falcon 9 does but that is what SpaceX plans, a version of Starship that has a payload bay instead of passenger space. The passenger version could hold some micro and small-sats in the Aft cargo space (maybe that’s still a bit nebulous atm) but they'd have to be moved out of the bay pretty much by hand but it’s unlikely that SpaceX will fly tourists on a 'working' flight. Also you're assuming a cost factor.

Space is a destination in and of itself as “cruises to nowhere” are here on Earth.
Ya, no actually. space itself is NOT a 'destination' as you make it out to be. Further those 'cruises to nowhere' have a huge load of amenities and services which would have to be matched to get the same effect. That's NOT cheap nor is the price; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruise_ship#Organization and keep reading through business model. None of this is something SpaceX will do, they may sell some Starships and launches for them on the Super Heavy but they won't be a cruise line or tourist service. That adds another layer of costs onto the launch costs themselves.

[quoet]However, the destinations will create themselves in the form of tourist space stations and micro G industrial facilities. I can imagine how many Bigelow 2100 modules could be sent up once SHS is available. Long shelved ideas like solar polar satellites would likely come under fresh re-examination. At the target launch price under $10 million, even medium sized companies could pursue R&D projects in space.[/quote]

Eventually, quite likely but keep in mind a lot of these ideas have been shelved not just for high launch costs or low access rates. There are entire support and organizational entities and infrastructure that has to be set up and be running before these type of operations can begin to move away from the scale we have.

You don’t have to ‘imagine’ how many B-2100’s could be launched the figures speak for themselves: One (1) per launch. At 65-70Mt per module the Starship could only carry one and before you suggest the Super Heavy could launch more keep in mind that “Super Heavy” and “Starship” are designed and are going to be operated as a package deal. There will be no other ‘upper stage’ for the Super Heavy than Starship. It is the point of the whole exercise.

Interest in space R&D has been on the decline for several years and while a lot of it is due to lack of capacity on the ISS more recently the major reason has been lack of industrial interest. Offers like DragonLab and other automated orbital lab capsules have not generated any interest despite a low price tag. The suggested price point goal is laudable but questionable so we'll see if they can hit it and what kind of interest they get IF they do.

As for debris recoil on the moon, I would imagine the eventual solution would be the same as on Earth: landing on a prepared pad although in this case made of lunar regolith. The NextSTEP2 Human Landing System now in planning would be enough to allow construction of such a pad. As with Commercial Crew, NextSTEP2 is an industry provided solution where NASA does not own the vehicle.
The “solution’ on Earth is much more than just a landing pad :) The solution for the Moon, (and Mars and other planets really as well) is more complex and will need to be tailored and modified for the environment and situation. While hard landing pads are used on Earth they are also located pretty far away from people and structures for the reason that they both generate hazards when landing and also because they can malfunction. Lunar gravity makes this a tougher proposition. As I noted above, one possible solution is to locate the landing and take-off pads inside a crater. You’d still need mitigation system to prevent damage to the landers but it should eliminate everything but very high angle debris from endangering anything outside the crater.

Randy
 

fredymac

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It doesn't work that way, I'll point out SpaceX specifically says it doesn't work that way. (https://www.spacex.com/starship, see “Satellites” ) You're not talking launching satellites like the Falcon 9 does but that is what SpaceX plans, a version of Starship that has a payload bay instead of passenger space. The passenger version could hold some micro and small-sats in the Aft cargo space (maybe that’s still a bit nebulous atm) but they'd have to be moved out of the bay pretty much by hand but it’s unlikely that SpaceX will fly tourists on a 'working' flight. Also you're assuming a cost factor.
So no tourists but 99 tons of more payload whether that be additional satellites or even Spacex infrastructure getting a free ride. Yes I assume a cost factor: $10 Million. It's the stated objective for the cost to launch an SHS. Whatever other cost factors you are assuming seem to only apply to Spacex.


Ya, no actually. space itself is NOT a 'destination' as you make it out to be. Further those 'cruises to nowhere' have a huge load of amenities and services which would have to be matched to get the same effect. That's NOT cheap nor is the price; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruise_ship#Organization and keep reading through business model. None of this is something SpaceX will do, they may sell some Starships and launches for them on the Super Heavy but they won't be a cruise line or tourist service. That adds another layer of costs onto the launch costs themselves.

I can either listen to people who have gone to space and looked out the window or played Superman flying through the air or I could listen to you. The two are mutually exclusive.


Eventually, quite likely but keep in mind a lot of these ideas have been shelved not just for high launch costs or low access rates. There are entire support and organizational entities and infrastructure that has to be set up and be running before these type of operations can begin to move away from the scale we have.

I disagree. It is predominantly high launch cost that have shelved these projects. You can say otherwise as many times you want but it doesn't change what I have observed over the course of decades. All the details you mentioned are just that and naturally follow once the economic cost barriers are removed.


You don’t have to ‘imagine’ how many B-2100’s could be launched the figures speak for themselves: One (1) per launch. At 65-70Mt per module the Starship could only carry one and before you suggest the Super Heavy could launch more keep in mind that “Super Heavy” and “Starship” are designed and are going to be operated as a package deal. There will be no other ‘upper stage’ for the Super Heavy than Starship. It is the point of the whole exercise.

I guess my statement wasn't clear enough. I was not wondering how many B-2100's could be lofted together but speculating that Bigelow will be busy.


Interest in space R&D has been on the decline for several years and while a lot of it is due to lack of capacity on the ISS more recently the major reason has been lack of industrial interest. Offers like DragonLab and other automated orbital lab capsules have not generated any interest despite a low price tag. The suggested price point goal is laudable but questionable so we'll see if they can hit it and what kind of interest they get IF they do.

I remember the enthusiasm and development plans based on cheap and routine space access via a $15 Million dollar shuttle launch every week. What we are seeing now is simply a rebirth of those early ideas based once again, on truly affordable launch costs. ULA can be the champion of low expectations. If Spacex (and Blue Origin) fail, they will survive. Otherwise, their days are numbered, Vulcan not withstanding.


The “solution’ on Earth is much more than just a landing pad :) The solution for the Moon, (and Mars and other planets really as well) is more complex and will need to be tailored and modified for the environment and situation. While hard landing pads are used on Earth they are also located pretty far away from people and structures for the reason that they both generate hazards when landing and also because they can malfunction. Lunar gravity makes this a tougher proposition. As I noted above, one possible solution is to locate the landing and take-off pads inside a crater. You’d still need mitigation system to prevent damage to the landers but it should eliminate everything but very high angle debris from endangering anything outside the crater.

I have watched a lot of Spacex landings and all I see is a cement pad with a big "X" painted on it. Yeah I know, GPS. That can be swapped with a homing beacon and telemetry link. I would guess that landing in high G is harder than landing in low G. It certainly takes a lot more energy (ie, rocket thrust). Off hand, Starship will land with 16% of the ground level thrust it would use if landing on Earth.
 

Flyaway

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So Starship one of the numerous engineering follies that litter history or one of the much smaller number of inventions that shake up the world?
 

TomcatViP

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Lunar gravity being lower, you can break your velocity vector higher from the surface without regaining quickly speed due to the pull of it.

Hence, the high velocities exhaust plume might simply be safe from dispersing debris all over. But then landing inside a crater might be perfectly suited with also the perspectives of exploiting readily mineral sediments underneath.
 

fredymac

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So Starship one of the numerous engineering follies that litter history or one of the much smaller number of inventions that shake up the world?

And perhaps none so aware of this than Musk. There are certainly enough detractors that it would be impossible for him to be unaware of such an outcome.
 

Hobbes

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Lunar gravity being lower, you can break your velocity vector higher from the surface without regaining quickly speed due to the pull of it.

Hence, the high velocities exhaust plume might simply be safe from dispersing debris all over. But then landing inside a crater might be perfectly suited with also the perspectives of exploiting readily mineral sediments underneath.
You still have to do a landing burn at close to 1:1 thrust/weight ratio. No way around that.
 

TomcatViP

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1:1 is 1/6th that on earth = 16%. It is just as if you have throttled back to minimal power in a plane. And that with an heavy Starship. ;)

So, if you have slowed enough at that time taking your acceleration vector downto something around unity, your landing will have all chance to be smooth (given that the pull of gravity would require 6x more height to increase your speed as much as on earth).
 
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Dragon029

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As a reminder; the Raptor can only be throttled to about 50% before things get risky, and each individual Raptor puts out around 170-200 metric tons of thrust.
 

fredymac

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50% throttle depth on one engine means lunar touchdown mass will be the empty weight of Starship, 100 tons of cargo, and 400 tons of fuel. It will still be a slow motion, 1/6 G descent compared to landing on Earth and the absence of air eliminates acoustic shocks and entrained air flow.

Fluid dynamics modeling of exhaust dispersion after hitting the ground in vacuum is probably at early planning unless they've already tweaked an Earth based model with air pressure set to zero. This is an area Spacex has been quietly exploiting over the years and a part of their fundamental engineering approach.

 

TomcatViP

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Yes and they are very good (CFD) . That's one of the secret behind their success.
 

Hobbes

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1:1 is 1/6th that on earth = 16%. It is just as if you have throttled back to minimal power in a plane. And that with an heavy Starship. ;)

So, if you have slowed enough at that time taking your acceleration vector downto something around unity, your landing will have all chance to be smooth (given that the pull of gravity would require 6x more height to increase your speed as much as on earth).

Your landing speed isn't the problem. You still have a lot of exhaust product leaving the nozzle at several km/s. Again, the Apollo LEM had a tiny engine compared to these and still managed to send debris flying over the horizon, there were estimates some debris ended up halfway across the Moon.
 

Flyaway

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Needless to say, the odds are heavily stacked against Musk’s goal of reaching orbit within six months. There is undoubtedly a chance that SpaceX can pull it off, even if success would essentially involve constructing a bridge while driving off a cliff. However, the most important thing to note is that even if Elon Musk is a factor of 1.5, 2, 3, or even 4 times off and Starship reaches orbit for the first time 12 or 18 or 24 months from now, it will still have been an incredibly brisk period of development for a rocket as large, high-performance, and ambitious as Starship/Super Heavy.
 

RanulfC

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So no tourists but 99 tons of more payload whether that be additional satellites or even Spacex infrastructure getting a free ride. Yes I assume a cost factor: $10 Million. It's the stated objective for the cost to launch an SHS. Whatever other cost factors you are assuming seem to only apply to Spacex.
No the costs apply to everyone there are additional costs added even for 'free' rides. There are basic costs and fees that will preclude anyone from getting a 'free' ride on a launch vehicle and that applies to everyone's payload and not just SpaceX.
This has been an ongoing evolution:
(Note that last, $1 million for 200kg and $5000 per additional Kg. The old adage of nobody rides for free applies :) )

Stated objectives, (especially for Musk) are often just guidelines and not hard goals and very often reflect very simple cost analysis work. Hoped for price will not be applicable for use in actually figuring a total launch cost until it become reality. Till then no one is going to 'plan' a launch until they have an actual price to work with.

I can either listen to people who have gone to space and looked out the window or played Superman flying through the air or I could listen to you. The two are mutually exclusive.
The two are hardly mutually or any other way 'exclusive' since tourism by its nature requires a third party participation which adds costs as well as benefits. The people you talked to, we'll assume have been to space so they paid around $120 million for the privilege, of which how much was for the flight itself? How much for the six months training? The spacesuit they wore? The hotel(s) they stayed at? The meals they ate? The licensing fees, processing fees, the taxes and other costs? And these folks aren't the majority but a minority who put up with a lot of rules, regulations and hassles that 90% of "tourists" won't along with no services, no amenities or perks. People want to go into 'space' yes but they want to do it with certain expectations and provisions that are by themselves highly important and, keeping on subject, something SpaceX has NO motivation or inclination to provide. That's going to take someone else and those business' aren't going to be organized or incorporated until Starship is a proven and reliable fact not conjecture.

Eventually, quite likely but keep in mind a lot of these ideas have been shelved not just for high launch costs or low access rates. There are entire support and organizational entities and infrastructure that has to be set up and be running before these type of operations can begin to move away from the scale we have.
I disagree.
I've noted that :)

It is predominantly high launch cost that have shelved these projects. You can say otherwise as many times you want but it doesn't change what I have observed over the course of decades. All the details you mentioned are just that and naturally follow once the economic cost barriers are removed.
Details matter and they always have. If you've been observing the discussion and progress over the course of decades, (as I have as well) then you should understand that it has never been just about the launch costs but the actual utility, capability and market that are also factors. Those details are not self-organizing nor are they as clear cut as you assume. Right now there are like two high-end tourism organizations that can and do organize space tourist flights. These companies do not deal with mass tourism but special and specific high-end tourism on an individual or very small group basis. Further they don't have any organic service or support organs so they contract everything out and THOSE sub-contractors are small and limited organizations themselves. Yes this will all work out over the course of time but the amount of time is the question and the current time factor is near a decade from when the price point drops enough to make business plans viable. It's actually worse should the price drop dramatically because the cost to enter becomes much higher as you need more infrastructure and support sooner rather than building up gradually. Do you think that there may be a good reason why Boeing's "Starliner" (https://www.boeing.com/space/starliner/) concept is the front contender for the first commercial space tourism contract and not Starthip?

I remember the enthusiasm and development plans based on cheap and routine space access via a $15 Million dollar shuttle launch every week. What we are seeing now is simply a rebirth of those early ideas based once again, on truly affordable launch costs. ULA can be the champion of low expectations. If Spacex (and Blue Origin) fail, they will survive. Otherwise, their days are numbered, Vulcan notwithstanding.
I remember those too, and the mid/late-80s enthusiasm, and the late-90s peak and all the little ones in between. I also remember that a majority of those plans found other ways to achieve their goals long before that enthusiasm fell away and why they did so. Yes we're seeing a 'rebirth' of many of the early ideas and concepts with about as much real 'planning' or development as the first time they showed up, (the 1950s for things like Point-to-Point suborbital travel for example) rather than actual analysis and projection. Launch cost only directly impacts a small fraction of those concepts, (and Point-to-Point is NOT one of them btw) and it only a small part of the overall costs and benefits analysis that is required for a viable concept. Starship has the possibility of being a game changer IF everything works out perfectly as planned. No one with any experience is going to make large scale plans or investments until it is clear one way or another and that won't be for a couple of years at the very least. Currently the enthusiasm and speculation is the usual wild stuff rather than real planning and development. In and of itself it is hopeful but not very technically helpful and while it at least gets public attention there is the downside in that the attention remains and easily turns critical should those hopeful plans fall through. This in turn has caused the general public to turn away from space and space related things every time it 'crashed' and it is that much more difficult the next time.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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So Starship one of the numerous engineering follies that litter history or one of the much smaller number of inventions that shake up the world?
Could be neither, could be a bit of both or more likely it will be another step forward even if it doesn't work out as planned :)

Randy
 

fredymac

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No the costs apply to everyone there are additional costs added even for 'free' rides. There are basic costs and fees that will preclude anyone from getting a 'free' ride on a launch vehicle and that applies to everyone's payload and not just SpaceX.
This has been an ongoing evolution:
(Note that last, $1 million for 200kg and $5000 per additional Kg. The old adage of nobody rides for free applies :) )

Stated objectives, (especially for Musk) are often just guidelines and not hard goals and very often reflect very simple cost analysis work. Hoped for price will not be applicable for use in actually figuring a total launch cost until it become reality. Till then no one is going to 'plan' a launch until they have an actual price to work with.


The two are hardly mutually or any other way 'exclusive' since tourism by its nature requires a third party participation which adds costs as well as benefits. The people you talked to, we'll assume have been to space so they paid around $120 million for the privilege, of which how much was for the flight itself? How much for the six months training? The spacesuit they wore? The hotel(s) they stayed at? The meals they ate? The licensing fees, processing fees, the taxes and other costs? And these folks aren't the majority but a minority who put up with a lot of rules, regulations and hassles that 90% of "tourists" won't along with no services, no amenities or perks. People want to go into 'space' yes but they want to do it with certain expectations and provisions that are by themselves highly important and, keeping on subject, something SpaceX has NO motivation or inclination to provide. That's going to take someone else and those business' aren't going to be organized or incorporated until Starship is a proven and reliable fact not conjecture.


Details matter and they always have. If you've been observing the discussion and progress over the course of decades, (as I have as well) then you should understand that it has never been just about the launch costs but the actual utility, capability and market that are also factors. Those details are not self-organizing nor are they as clear cut as you assume. Right now there are like two high-end tourism organizations that can and do organize space tourist flights. These companies do not deal with mass tourism but special and specific high-end tourism on an individual or very small group basis. Further they don't have any organic service or support organs so they contract everything out and THOSE sub-contractors are small and limited organizations themselves. Yes this will all work out over the course of time but the amount of time is the question and the current time factor is near a decade from when the price point drops enough to make business plans viable. It's actually worse should the price drop dramatically because the cost to enter becomes much higher as you need more infrastructure and support sooner rather than building up gradually. Do you think that there may be a good reason why Boeing's "Starliner" (https://www.boeing.com/space/starliner/) concept is the front contender for the first commercial space tourism contract and not Starthip?


I remember those too, and the mid/late-80s enthusiasm, and the late-90s peak and all the little ones in between. I also remember that a majority of those plans found other ways to achieve their goals long before that enthusiasm fell away and why they did so. Yes we're seeing a 'rebirth' of many of the early ideas and concepts with about as much real 'planning' or development as the first time they showed up, (the 1950s for things like Point-to-Point suborbital travel for example) rather than actual analysis and projection. Launch cost only directly impacts a small fraction of those concepts, (and Point-to-Point is NOT one of them btw) and it only a small part of the overall costs and benefits analysis that is required for a viable concept. Starship has the possibility of being a game changer IF everything works out perfectly as planned. No one with any experience is going to make large scale plans or investments until it is clear one way or another and that won't be for a couple of years at the very least. Currently the enthusiasm and speculation is the usual wild stuff rather than real planning and development. In and of itself it is hopeful but not very technically helpful and while it at least gets public attention there is the downside in that the attention remains and easily turns critical should those hopeful plans fall through. This in turn has caused the general public to turn away from space and space related things every time it 'crashed' and it is that much more difficult the next time.

Randy

I have noticed you tend to make some surprising presumptions now and then. I did not imply in the slightest degree that I “have talked” to people who have been to space. Public interviews of astronauts and space tourists can be easily found all over Youtube and the internet. To assume I cavort with billionaires is a quite a stretch. I wouldn't be posting here if I had such acquaintances.

A space tourist taking advantage of a Starship based vacation will naturally pay the incidentals that anyone also pays when vacationing anywhere on Earth. And those expenses will be proportional to the launch ticket just as they are on Earth. Soon, we will know exactly the “all up cost” for tourists trying out Blue Origin’s and Virgin Galactic’s suborbital hops. The ticket price is already known and includes prelaunch familiarization.

As for what future space tourists want out of a space vacation, I am content to let the tourists speak for themselves when the time comes. I question your expertise in doing so on their behalf.

Regarding Spacex plans for tourism, they previously indicated some interest in that area and I would not be surprised if they do so again. At a minimum, space tourism provides launch opportunities. Again, I decline to accept your judgement that Spacex will have no desire or use for servicing these launches.

Any space tourist flying an Atlas/Vulcan to a Bigelow tourist station will be forking out double digit $Millions per person. Not as much as a billionaire taking advantage of Russian financial needs but still beyond us mere mortals. Even a Falcon 9/Dragon launch with 7 tourists would be looking at $4Million/person just for the launch (assuming a $21Million charge for the non reusable upper stage and some profit). I haven't seen any comments from Bigelow regarding Starship. If you have links to articles where he talks about Starship, I would be interested in reading what he has to say.

No aerospace corporation or billionaire entrepreneur with deep pockets has ever attempted to make the transformative advance in rocket technology that Musk is attempting. All previous attempts are best described as shoestring. The big aerospace companies are keen to spend public money but never proceed out of their own pockets. The DARPA XS-1 will probably wind up repeating this history. Boeing certainly isn't showing any initiative in leveraging the technology to stake out a niche in the launcher market.
 

Flyaway

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RanulfC

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I have noticed you tend to make some surprising presumptions now and then. I did not imply in the slightest degree that I “have talked” to people who have been to space. Public interviews of astronauts and space tourists can be easily found all over Youtube and the internet. To assume I cavort with billionaires is a quite a stretch. I wouldn't be posting here if I had such acquaintances.
"I can either listen to people who have gone to space and looked out the window or played Superman flying through the air or I could listen to you. The two are mutually exclusive."

Sorry I assumed it was a two way conversation I'd assumed you might have attended events where these people spoke and took questions. You're making my point even more though because you assume they are unreachable at the same time that their experiance is generally desired and you don't even look into the circumstances or situation where those experiances took place. I have. I've asked in chats, I've talked to the current space tourism companies in a general way and I've kept up with the various tourism studies and how it relates to the industry in general.

And just an FYI, Elon Musk posts on KSP forums and on Reddit about the program and chats with users on occasion :)

A space tourist taking advantage of a Starship based vacation will naturally pay the incidentals that anyone also pays when vacationing anywhere on Earth. And those expenses will be proportional to the launch ticket just as they are on Earth. Soon, we will know exactly the “all up cost” for tourists trying out Blue Origin’s and Virgin Galactic’s suborbital hops. The ticket price is already known and includes prelaunch familiarization.
Actually the "ticket" price for VG includes a two week stay at a resort hotel with 'training' and 'astronaut encounters' on the agenda before and after the flight. One day as a 'passenger' in WK2 while another set of passengers fly on SS2 and after the drop parabola flights will take place where passengers will practice getting in and out of their seats for free fall before reentry. BO's suborbital trips will be similar both announced these plans years ago.

And I'm pretty sure you've no idea what those "incidentals" are or the costs since I find your assumptions amazing low for the information available. I'll go over that and the cost estimates in another post.

As for what future space tourists want out of a space vacation, I am content to let the tourists speak for themselves when the time comes. I question your expertise in doing so on their behalf.
They did in the several polls and studies on suborbital and orbital tourism that have come out. I'd thought you'd read them since you were quoting numbers from several.

Regarding Spacex plans for tourism, they previously indicated some interest in that area and I would not be surprised if they do so again. At a minimum, space tourism provides launch opportunities. Again, I decline to accept your judgement that Spacex will have no desire or use for servicing these launches.
They have indicated they will fly space tourists through a tourism agency and since NASA has recently opened up flights to the ISS, (Russia has always held a seat open though that may change in the near future) for both Boeing and SpaceX it will likely happen as there is a small but solid market at the moment for such flights at the $120 million per shot price point. They have made it VERY clear they are going to be an trasnporation company, (actually builder/operator instead of either a builder and selling the 'product' or an operator who buys the system and operates it at a profit. this is typical in the aerospace/launch industry) not an operator-for-profit in either tourism or colony building. They will just build and operate the which takes you and your 'supplies' to the destination. The "incidentals" are on you and whomever arranged the transport project.

The reason this doesn't work for things like "the trip is the destination itself" is unlike a cruise ship on Earth the "crew" is there JUST to operate the ship and go from launch to landing. The "passengers" are pretty much on their own for entertainment and support. The current set up works for 'one-off' things like a trip around the Moon but it won't attract a huge number of repeat business.

I haven't seen any comments from Bigelow regarding Starship. If you have links to articles where he talks about Starship, I would be interested in reading what he has to say.
He doesn't comment much on launch vehicles other than saying they could be used to loft his modules, nor does he discuss much about orbital operations as his company is primarily a builder not an operator. He's still looking for a national "space" program to buy his modules and though he's talked to tourism companies in a general way he hasn't yet given a true price for an operational module which in itself is about as important as the launch costs.

The tweet is interesting as it would indicate that Bigelow is aiming more towards being the tourism provider than putting up a space station any time soon. That's 4 seats per flight to the ISS which makes sense in the context that those "dedicated flights" will be Commercial Crew flights it looks like. Again I'm addressing the reasonable price point considering NASA is quoting around $58 million per seat on Dragon compared to $81 million for Soyuz.

No aerospace corporation or billionaire entrepreneur with deep pockets has ever attempted to make the transformative advance in rocket technology that Musk is attempting. All previous attempts are best described as shoestring.
The names Beezos, or Allen are lost on you then?

The big aerospace companies are keen to spend public money but never proceed out of their own pockets. The DARPA XS-1 will probably wind up repeating this history. Boeing certainly isn't showing any initiative in leveraging the technology to stake out a niche in the launcher market.
"Big" aerospace has quite often spent their own money on research and study programs for space. However since it is a 'side' business for most such as Boeing or LM and the demand has always been low the amount isn't much for them but pretty much on par for what Musk has spent. The issue is since the "customers" requirements have been pretty steady with low flexabilty and very conservative fiscal policies the demand for large inovations hasn't been there.

As for the XS-1 I don't consider it a project that has ever been planned to reach operations since the concept and most of the work done to date is simply repeating something DARPA wasn't willing to touch when it was proposed in 1999, (https://buzzaldrin.com/space-vision/rocket_science/starbooster/, https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19990113117.pdf) while NASA simply considered it since they were working the X-33 at the time. The actual concept is of course even older than that.

Big aerospace is slow to change because they have to be. Any significant change requires much more investment and work than for a smaller company like SpaceX. This is both a good and bad thing as the company has more depth both financially and physically (good) but at the same time it is both harder to make significant changes and as noted costs more as well. (The bad) Boeing and LM created ULA to place their respective "space" related design and operations groups in a better position to exploit their capabilities. That they have not done so siginifcantly as of yet probably isn't as much of a point against them as many think since this is also the group they have been drawing their more advanced concepts from as well.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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No luck finding anything regarding Bigelow and Starship. Did find this though.

From the site the current target is around $52 million per seat, ($208 million per flight for four passengers) for one to two months which is about right since NASA is paying around $58 million and Soyuz was around $81 million just for the flight. Reduction of around $68 million considering the US training and support infrastructure should be cheaper in general. Coupled with Boeing and Virgin Galactic teaming up in a similar manner things are looking up. A major issue is going to be ISS capability to support the extra bodies at this time.

Randy
 

fredymac

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.........

We are way past the point of diminishing returns. It’s tedious responding to “nits” like

The names Beezos, or Allen are lost on you then?
when I just referenced Blue Origin as an element in the demise of ULA in a prior post or to respond to the assertion that big aerospace has spent as much as Musk in their own private space efforts.

Our fundamental grasp of common sense run in opposite directions. Musk says air travel would be prohibitive if the jetliners were tossed after a single flight and that space travel must emulate reusability and low downtime. I agree. You see all kinds of extraneous issues that makes this nonapplicable.

I see NASA conceiving and executing manned space programs in the 60’s with the purpose and decisiveness of Spacex today and you see reckless disregard of safety and sustainability. I look at China and see something to worry about. You see a “work in progress”. So we definitely have a divergence in how we perceive reality right down to basic engineering principles.

For 40 years I watched every attempt to achieve meaningful progress in space access bungled and stymied at the hands of bureaucracy. Finally, private parties are forging ahead immune to the disapproval of the people who know better. And as for NASA, it seems the new leadership is implementing the model of commercial crew for lunar and post ISS developments. It’s even becoming possible to openly say “If NASA wanted to put a man or woman on Mars today, the fastest, most effective way to do that, might be to write a one or two-page statement of objectives and let Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and some others bid on that.”
 

RanulfC

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We are way past the point of diminishing returns. It’s tedious responding to “nits” like

The names Beezos, or Allen are lost on you then?
when I just referenced Blue Origin as an element in the demise of ULA in a prior post or to respond to the assertion that big aerospace has spent as much as Musk in their own private space efforts.
And yet you said that ONLY Musk was doing something. It's not a nit on my part. And I'll also point out Blue Origin is working WITH ULA not against them.

Our fundamental grasp of common sense run in opposite directions.
Actually no they are pretty much the same but you don't seem to be aware that there are many more factors in play than just "Launch Costs" and that applies to on-oribt infrastructure as well.

Musk says air travel would be prohibitive if the jetliners were tossed after a single flight and that space travel must emulate reusability and low downtime. I agree. You see all kinds of extraneous issues that makes this nonapplicable.
I happen to agree with Musk, the ship/boat/bus/car/bicycle being thrown away after a single use is ridiculous. Of course pretty much everyone has said the exact same thing, (including reusability and fast turnaround time, which Musk should know is not the exact same thing for all transport systems and is not necessarily related to 'downtime' but the ability to do rapid maintenance during the refurbishment process) High flight rates require rapid turnaround OR multiple vehicles being ready to launch while others process through the refurbishment cycle. The former requires a very high reliability vehicle with large amounts of self-checkout ability that, (key point) ALSO have multiple redundant check out systems and sensors which is very expensive to build and operationally actually lowers the reliability of the vehicle. The latter can take robust vehicles that have rapid refurbishment and maintenance servicing built it to reduce the cycle time which while not "Gas-n-Go" has a higher average ready-to-launch rate. (You also get a higher reliability and readiness rate as well as mass production bonus)

Musk (and you) seem to assume that anything not directly related to, (even though it in fact is) launching a vehicle into space is not then related to that vehicle and therefore does not materially or economically "count" as part of the transport system. But that's not true in any other form of transport so why one would assume that is a head-scratcher.

I see NASA conceiving and executing manned space programs in the 60’s with the purpose and decisiveness of Spacex today and you see reckless disregard of safety and sustainability.
The problem is they are both sides of the same coin and were directly related to WHY NASA did what it did in the '60s and how damaging that was to both NASA and space flight in general. NASA was given an impossible goal with a limited timetable but generally unlimited funding and support... That steadily rose and then rapidly fell away over the time limit. NASA fully built itself up to achieve any goal given it as long as it had essentially unlimited funding and support and frankly couldn't handle NOT being the number one priority. It took close to 40 years for NASA to finally make progress moving away from the embedded "Apollo" and 60s paradigm into an organization that can finally work within its limits and not overextend itself. That along the way Congressional control has been intense and un-relenting did not help the process but as a government agency NASA has had to go from essentially dictating to Congress to being able to convince Congress to do something that normally they would vehemently oppose. (As an example, less than a decade ago Congress rather violently shot down and buried any and all NASA research on orbital propellant depots. NASA signed a deal with SpaceX to help fund Starship so they could support the study and development of orbital cryogenic fluid transfer and long term storage and Congress just smiled and nodded at the line item. Congress just let NASA approve research into orbital propellant depots)

It is hard to make people understand how fundamentally things have changed as few understand JUST how much of a shift has occurred that NASA can openly request industry input and then state that concept do NOT have to adhere to using the SLS. Two years ago Congress was adamant about not allowing funding to be spent on any “future” missions that were NOT based on using the SLS.

I look at China and see something to worry about. You see a “work in progress”. So we definitely have a divergence in how we perceive reality right down to basic engineering principles.
China is copying Russia and improving on the original. They are following the same path the US/USSR did with a lot less funding and support so I'm curious as to the 'danger' you see. Especially given they have made no effort to emulate the more modern LV designs.

For 40 years I watched every attempt to achieve meaningful progress in space access bungled and stymied at the hands of bureaucracy. Finally, private parties are forging ahead immune to the disapproval of the people who know better. And as for NASA, it seems the new leadership is implementing the model of commercial crew for lunar and post ISS developments. It’s even becoming possible to openly say “If NASA wanted to put a man or woman on Mars today, the fastest, most effective way to do that, might be to write a one or two-page statement of objectives and let Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and some others bid on that.”
I've watched with the same disappointment but then again i also paid attention to where the majority of that 'bungling and stymying' has come from, and while you are correct the majority came from government "bureaucracy" you seem to think that's gone away. It hasn't and it likely never will since regulation is a government function. How MUCH it interferes is a valid concern since the attention comes and goes (It hit a peak in the 80s when private enterprise was looking to break heavily into space flight but when that economically crashed the attention and regulation died down. It peaked again shortly after SS1's flight but rather than turning regulation and approval over to NASA, who didn't want the job, Congress actually listened to advocates and assigned it to the FAA which was vastly easier to work with)

And in that manner those private parties are leveraging government interest, facilities and financing to push forward but I'd hardly call them "immune' to outside criticism and advice, the fact is there are many people who know better and they do in fact listen. Something you seem to be missing is the fact that there are very few who 'disapprove' of Musk's efforts or consider it unlikely he will reach his goal somehow. As I noted while I have 'issues' with the way Musk is proceeding and have stated them I also note that they are being addressed as time goes on, (the Boeing/ Virgin Galactic and SpaceX/Bigelow joint operations is a huge step in the right direction) which is wonderful. But many of the same concerns I have over how Musk was proceeding were also put forward by many people who "know better" because they actually study and understand what is needed to make changes like Musk has accomplished stick. You seem to think that Musk and the others are "immune" and don't listen to such talk but quite obviously they do and react accordingly.

As to the last all I can say is if you think that was 'impossible to say' before you don't know how government procurement works and how government and private industry are interdependent. This is how technology has always been advanced.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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Any space tourist flying an Atlas/Vulcan to a Bigelow tourist station will be forking out double digit $Millions per person. Not as much as a billionaire taking advantage of Russian financial needs but still beyond us mere mortals. Even a Falcon 9/Dragon launch with 7 tourists would be looking at $4Million/person just for the launch (assuming a $21Million charge for the non-reusable upper stage and some profit).
The numbers you’re using don’t work, because even if all seven seats were “passengers” that’s only $28 million dollars and adding another $21 million on top, for a total of $49 million, still doesn’t meet the BASIC price of a Falcon 9 launch which is known to be $62 million dollars. (Current $62 million, see https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities) The most ‘basic’ cost pushes the price closer to $9 million per person ($8.857 million) assuming all 7 are passengers but the most likely scenario is one or more persons would be 'crew' so it is MUCH more likely it would a bit over $10 million per person, ($10. 33333333-you get the idea we’ll round down to $10 million each) and the 'passengers' would pay for the "crew" seat(s).

Now what other costs are required? Keep VERY much in mind that the initial launch costs ONLY get your person into orbit WITHOUT a space suit or capsule which is a problem.

So let’s add on a Dragon capsule which will increases the basic price itself but how much is the question. While average Cargo Dragon flights cost around $133 million but I doubt Crew would go that high. So since Falcon-9 flights run from $62 million to around $100 million, we’ll assume and in-between number of around $80 million for adding and processing the Dragon to the stack. (Keep in mind that while the expendable upper stage cost is included in the “basic” launch cost, the Dragon and it’s operational and flight monies are not so we need to add them along with additional ‘profit’ attached to those items) So an added $80 million split 6 ways comes to a bit over $13 million so we’ll round down to $13 million per person added for a total of $23 million per person so far.

Now we need to consider that the passengers would need training, space suit fitting, lodging and food during training and prior to flight, and transportation. We’ll also have, per usual for such high-end endeavors, we’ll have “face” time meetings and other “edu-tainment” content meeting famous people and seeing famous places with “special” access plus gratuities and addendums, taxes and all that.

We start with the former part of the package which isn’t optional and add about $5 million for that on the assumption that it uses government facilities and programs that are already in progress and capable of taking extra people, along with the properly trained and certified staff. This could be anywhere between $5 million and $10 million and I’d favor the higher, more conservative number because I know how expensive fully certified space suits are. So we’d be up to about $33 million so far.

The latter or more ‘optional’ part where you’d get to go to “exclusive” meet-and-greets, see behind the scene work on aerospace and other projects and have wide access to various facilities, tours and “specially guided tours” and such. There would also be actual entertainment and organized day-trips which could include a microgravity flight or two on a non-government system. This will likely get up to around $5 million or more and since we’re trying to keep it cheap we’ll opt out of this one.

Now we’re going to the ISS for a month of more so we have to pre-pay for the supplies we’ll need and transportation to get them to the ISS for us. We will limit our stay to one month but some good information on the needed ‘consumables’ can be found here:
(http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/lifesupport.php)

The accounting is done by “person-days” of supplies, and obviously each “person-day” of supplies will support one person, for one day. So you pretty much pay to use and replace a lot of supplies that are already up there but also enough to make up what you use with a margin of a couple of “person-days” for safety margin and backup purposes. (And again in a commercial operation the “tourists” pay for the crews supplies and consumables) And all this is going to assume a ‘simple’ stay with no EVA activity or anything special. That costs extra :)

We’ll assume 5.6kg, rounded up to 6kg of oxygen which gives 7 people one day of oxygen, times 30 equals 180kgs of O2, and then we’ll add (due to safety and emergency concerns) a 25% bonus of 45kg for a total of 225kgs that need to be shipped up. At the F9R’s pricing of $2,719 per Kg, (which is low btw as with a dragon capsule for cargo the amount of payload you have to split the price over goes down, aka since the Dragon capsule can only carry around 6,000kg of ‘cargo’ out of the full F9R mass to LEO of 22,800kg the price is closer to $10,000 per kg, but we’ll go with the lower price for the moment) that O2 is going to cost you around $612, 000 to ship up with each ticket being charged an additional $102,000 dollars.

Water is around 3.9kg for consumable water (drink and food hydration) and 26kg for personal hygiene requiring about 30kg of water a day. One “person-day” times 30 equals 900kg, times 7 people equals 6,300kg at a total launch cost of $17.130 million with an individual share of about $2.86 million.

Food comes out to around 0.617kg per person-per day, times 30 equals 18.51kg, times 7 equals about 130kg which at $$2,719 is $354,000 and split 6 ways adds about $59,000 per ticket.

Oh and let’s not forget your luggage. About 1kg to 5kgs of it, (included in the general seat price as far as I can tell) so pack carefully.
https://www.cntraveller.in/story/pack-suitcase-like-astronaut/#s-custthe-perfect-companion-for-your-beach-vacation
(But keep in mind you’re still paying for the ‘crew’ baggage as well)

And you can even arrange “care packages” (likely only one since there are normally only two allowed per six months) where pre-approved stuff is sent up to you in a neat little 5kg package. 5 times 7 equals 35kg at $2,719 per kg is $95,200 total and $15,861 per person. (https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/k-4/features/F_Just_Like_Home.html)

Then there’s taxes, licensing fees, gratuities and other miscellaneous costs as in any vacation. And options to purchase some of the equipment from your trip. (A space suit can range between $12 million and $22 million to buy from the government)

So we’re looking at the current minimum to be around $37 million dollars and I’m sure that doesn’t include much profit or margin which is why the quoted $52 million makes perfect sense.

And keep in mind once a commercial station comes on-line the price would initially go up since the costs of that have to be added to the ticket. And I'd assume the number of passengers per flight would go down to 4 with 3 crew because that's a pretty good ratio (1 crew 'lead' and one crew 'minder' for each pair of passengers) for a single module station. Once you've got a pair of modules then you can have around 6/7 'crew' on the station itself, (one "manager" 4 'service crew' split between 'day' and 'night' shift and two "technical crew" for station work) with the 'transient' personnel providing more close support for the eight guests.

Randy
 
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RanulfC

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the BASIC price of a Falcon 9 launch which is known to be $62 million dollars. (Current $62 million, see https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities)
Just a minor side note, but apparently it's down to (or soon going to be down to) $52 million now:
A $10 million dollar drop is "minor" you think? :)

Actually it's not supposed to happen till 2021 per the quote and I can see why DSS, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Systems) made the complaint in theory but as it notes the $60 million dollar launch cost isn't actually given and NASA used SpaceX's $52 million as the baseline for evaluation of all the concepts. Note also though that NASA is not confirming they are assured that SpaceX can reach that goal on time, (SpaceX is projecting that cost to come into effect around 2021 not in 2020) but that they believe it's plausible. In context SpaceX should be pretty heavily into the 2nd generation F9R series at that point so I can see that much of a drop if the market comes up but that's the main question really.

Randy
 
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