Author Topic: Vector Space Systems  (Read 125483 times)

Offline Rabidpanda

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #660 on: 11/19/2017 09:34 PM »
These things take time, it's not like you can drop some cash and suddenly have a completed launch vehicle in a few months.

It's not me claiming they will have it done in 7 MONTHS, it's the CEO.

I completely agree, that is ridiculous. I can't tell if Cantrell is blinded by optimism or being intentionally misleading.

My post was disagreeing with your assertion that they should have something to show for all the money the've raised / people they've hired and your comparison of them to amateur groups that have been around much longer.

Offline JH

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #661 on: 11/19/2017 10:40 PM »
Did you just unironically say "streets ahead"? :P

Are you also a Community fan?

When I read that in your post I thought for a moment that it might have somehow become a real phrase.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #662 on: 11/19/2017 10:47 PM »
These things take time, it's not like you can drop some cash and suddenly have a completed launch vehicle in a few months.

It's not me claiming they will have it done in 7 MONTHS, it's the CEO.

I completely agree, that is ridiculous. I can't tell if Cantrell is blinded by optimism or being intentionally misleading.

My post was disagreeing with your assertion that they should have something to show for all the money the've raised / people they've hired and your comparison of them to amateur groups that have been around much longer.

I do accept that. But that is the crux. Those groups have been around for a long time for sure, but if you are going to make claims about being orbit-capable you need ALL THAT THOSE GUYS HAVE WORKED ON FOR YEARS and many more capabilities on top, none of which they have shown to date. And as for statements like "GSC has been doing this for years" - no. GSC built suborbital rockets.

Even a rocket that was actually made up of a full length tank instead of a tiny little fake out in a hollow shell would be nice (see image), let alone GNC, termination, TVC etc etc:-

« Last Edit: 11/19/2017 10:54 PM by ringsider »

Offline ringsider

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #663 on: 11/19/2017 10:49 PM »
Did you just unironically say "streets ahead"? :P

Are you also a Community fan?

When I read that in your post I thought for a moment that it might have somehow become a real phrase.

Don't the Aussies use it?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #664 on: 11/19/2017 11:02 PM »
Don't the Aussies use it?

Brits have used it sparingly for a long time, yeah.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline JH

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #665 on: 11/19/2017 11:16 PM »
Ah. That seems more plausible than a tragic invention of Pierce escaping into reality.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #666 on: 11/20/2017 12:03 AM »
Ah. That seems more plausible than a tragic invention of Pierce escaping into reality.
Pierce didn't coin it:-
 

« Last Edit: 11/20/2017 12:28 AM by ringsider »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #667 on: 11/20/2017 01:21 AM »
Thanks for the correction, looks like you are right on that, but I think you understand the sentiment of what I am saying. There's just a lot more benefit to having 50-100 worldwide start-ups doing it than 3 or 4 billion dollar companies. At the smaller level you at least have some exciting things going on and companies willing to take risks on untried tech, whether it's aerospikes, completely 3D printed engines, SSTO attempts, sea-lunched rockets or pushing composites to the limits. I just have a hunch this is where the next big step forward in rocket development will come from.

An industry moving beyond the range of garage start-ups doesn't mean innovation has to be dead.

It costs billions of dollars to put together a factory to build modern microchips.  Nobody has built a chip in their garage for decades.  But that doesn't mean innovation is dead.  Chips have continued to get better because there is competition in the industry.  The important thing is that there is competition, not that start-ups can build a complete product in a garage.

I think space launch is beyond the garage phase.  And that's not so much about being able to build an orbital launcher, it's about being able to build a *competitive* orbital launcher.

I think we've been focused too long on launch as being the focus of innovation.  It's natural that we have because launch has been the bottleneck.  But that is ending.  Just as big, expensive chip factories enabled thousands of innovative software start-ups, the big, expensive reusable rockets of Space X, Blue Origin, and their eventual clones will enable innovative startups that make use of cheap launch.

But the cheap launch that enables so much innovation will come on large, reusable rockets, not on small expendable rockets.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #668 on: 11/20/2017 01:56 AM »
You could also do reusable small LV development, likely most cost effective, shortest development time, highest reuse, fastest accumulation of flight history.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #669 on: 11/20/2017 01:58 AM »
It's different. Many different's. Think of them like the Precambrian Explosion. Some might survive. Meh.

It's "different" alright:-


So you're saying that things are a little cartellish?

Maybe it'll be like the Japanese economic miracle I was just reading about where the myriad of companies involved were actually part of a small handful of large conglomerates (Mitsubishi, Sumotomi, etc).  So you had manufacturers selling to distributors financed by banks that were really all the same company. That worked out well for a while there.

But the Japanese conglomerates were real companies with sufficient funding.  The point is that in the case of Vector the orders Vector has are suspicious because they come from other companies that are not just related but also themselves have questionable funding situations.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2017 02:03 AM by ChrisWilson68 »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #670 on: 11/20/2017 02:02 AM »
You could also do reusable small LV development, likely most cost effective, shortest development time, highest reuse, fastest accumulation of flight history.

If there weren't already any larger reusable launchers, I'd agree with you.  It could be faster to develop a small reuable launcher than a larger one.

But given the trajectories SpaceX and Blue Origin are on, start-ups trying to do small reusable launchers will be up against them, and that's a losing game because the economies of scale favor the larger launchers once they exist.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #671 on: 11/20/2017 04:48 AM »
You could also do reusable small LV development, likely most cost effective, shortest development time, highest reuse, fastest accumulation of flight history.

If there weren't already any larger reusable launchers, I'd agree with you.  It could be faster to develop a small reuable launcher than a larger one.

But given the trajectories SpaceX and Blue Origin are on, start-ups trying to do small reusable launchers will be up against them, and that's a losing game because the economies of scale favor the larger launchers once they exist.

Unless specific orbits for specific, small, "primary" payload only launches ... are the target market. Unserved by larger launchers.

Such as SSO and other earth sensing/imaging/"staring" niche markets. Approx $0.5B per annum.

If the market for such orbits really is $500 million a year, then the large reusable launchers will serve it.

The only way the large reusable launchers won't serve an orbit is if the demand for that orbit is very low.  And if that's the case, it will be too low to support Vector or any of the other small launchers.

Small launchers are caught between a rock at and hard place.  On the one hand, they need to have low per-launch costs, so they need demand to be high so they can do lots of launches each year.  But on the other hand if the demand is high enough to make them economically viable, it's large enough to be served by the large launchers with dedicated launches of many smallsats in each launch, and then those large launchers will be so much cheaper per satellite that the small launchers will lose nearly all their business to them.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #672 on: 11/20/2017 05:02 AM »
We're here again are we?

The market here is on-demand launch. The size of the payload is peripheral to that.

If there's a market for bigger payloads that need to sign a contract on Monday and launch on Thursday, they'll get serviced too, someday.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline ringsider

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #673 on: 11/20/2017 06:53 AM »
You could also do reusable small LV development, likely most cost effective, shortest development time, highest reuse, fastest accumulation of flight history.

Is it economically viable to try to reuse this class of LV?

If the launch price is $1.5M (Vector-R), the build cost can't be more than ~$500K, because they also have to pay range costs / campaign variables and they have to make a margin to pay the overhead.

By the time to recover, repair, and get it ready for reflight, did you save anything at all over a fresh build for this class of LV?

Even assuming the cheapest possible recovery - probably parachute - an orbital shot is certainly launching over ocean. This is actually shown in the Vector PUG. How do they recover that from downrange without adding quite a chunk of operational cost? What about salt water damage if they do? Plus, adding a parachute detracts from an already small payload capacity.

I can see the case for recovering a F9, but in this class, I really wonder if it is economically worthwhile. I don't think people like RL or VO are talking about reusability (except the 747), or did I miss that?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #674 on: 11/20/2017 07:13 AM »
We're here again are we?

The market here is on-demand launch. The size of the payload is peripheral to that.

If there's a market for bigger payloads that need to sign a contract on Monday and launch on Thursday, they'll get serviced too, someday.

I just haven't seen much evidence of a market for that.  I'm not saying people wouldn't like to sign a contract Monday and launch Thursday.  But I haven't seen evidence they're willing to pay a huge premium for that privilege.

The U.S. military likes the idea of that kind of low-latency launch capability.  But can that kind of military demand support the business model of these companies?  It seems like their business model is regular flights 50 or more times a year.  The military is likely to only need the services on rare occasions when some crisis happens.  And even then, the military seems pretty addicted to large satellites, and they have the money to have SpaceX and Blue Origin on retainer to do special flights for them when the crisis hits.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #675 on: 11/20/2017 08:49 AM »
I just haven't seen much evidence of a market for that.

Me either. That's the whole gamble here. If you build it they will come.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline imprezive

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #676 on: 11/20/2017 08:26 PM »
It looks like Vector is like a circus impresario, making a share of the revenue of putting on "launch events".

Because they can launch from almost anywhere with almost anyone, they cut deals on everything, figuring that a) if the costs are too high, they'll go elsewhere, and b) if they want to increase pad/range/services usage frequency, they'll cut things to give the best price. (You might not know this, but many launch facilities are highly under utilized, and the longer they go underutilized, the less they are utilized. So they want occasional use to help keep them alive and bid on other launch opportunities.) So "service cherry picking" greatly reduces Vector's out of pocket.

Now fixed base operators (FBO's) that launch, like ULA/SX/RL/others, cut long ranged deals and endure total cost of facilities, not just per launch costs. These are significant costs, and mandate high flight rate to work down those costs. If there is a "stand down" of the facility/vehicle, they are still paying those costs in perpetuity.

So one needs to examine margin carefully to see where this becomes profitable.

Can Vector launch from almost anywhere though? They still need to be launched from a licensed location most likely in the United States (or on a barge) because of ITAR. There are still only a handful of licensed launch locations and most of them are the usual suspects everyone else uses. Rocket Lab gets around this problem by having their own site and Virgin's plane is essentially their launch pad. I'm not sure that Vector has a solution other than go to whatever site is least busy unless Camden gets build out or something.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2017 08:27 PM by imprezive »

Offline jongoff

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #677 on: 11/21/2017 03:20 AM »

Seriously, what have they done that is in any way better or more sophisticated than the Nexo rocket of Copenhagen Suborbitals?


Raising money.
Also, actually hired a bunch of people for the job.
In other words raised and spent a lot of money. Great. But what did that get them? Have they demo'd a vehicle realistically capable of orbiting the Earth? Not even close.


To be fair to Jim, they've only raised the money recently. It takes time from when you raise money and build a team until when you can demo significant technical feats. That said, that's precisely why I'm skeptical they'll be making an orbital launch attempt this coming summer. Their technical progress relative to the timing of when they've received money isn't bad. I just don't like how much they overhype what they have accomplished.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #678 on: 11/21/2017 03:28 AM »
But given the trajectories SpaceX and Blue Origin are on, start-ups trying to do small reusable launchers will be up against them, and that's a losing game because the economies of scale favor the larger launchers once they exist.

We should probably find a different home for this argument, but I think this assertion is probably quite wrong for most markets.

~Jon

Offline imprezive

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Re: Vector Space Systems
« Reply #679 on: 11/21/2017 06:34 AM »
To be fair to Jim, they've only raised the money recently. It takes time from when you raise money and build a team until when you can demo significant technical feats. That said, that's precisely why I'm skeptical they'll be making an orbital launch attempt this coming summer. Their technical progress relative to the timing of when they've received money isn't bad. I just don't like how much they overhype what they have accomplished.

~Jon

Honest question, what has Vector achieved above what Garvey already had when they were acquired?

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