Author Topic: Who will compete with SpaceX? The last two and next two years.  (Read 138597 times)

Offline Brovane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • United States
  • Liked: 477
  • Likes Given: 973
The key is with the expansion of used boosters the flight rate will increase. This next flight of a used booster at the end of Sept will keep the flight rate up. As we move into 2018 the ratio of used to all flights will increase. That ratio increase will enable an increase in overall flight rates without the expansion of manufacturing capability at Hawthorne.

Reuse of boosters is a two fold impact for flight costs. One is the direct cost of the flight and the other is indirect cost lowering for the payload operator because of the lower wait time for a flight from greater availability of flight hardware. It is because of this booster reuse that SpaceX will be able to fix their delays for getting payloads into orbit. One of the main items that the competitors ULA or Arianespace uses to attract new payloads. This will put them shortly (about 1 year from now) into a more competitive position for commercial payloads than what they were before. The other item is to have 2 functional east coast pads enabling up to the doubling of the demonstrated launch rate so far this year of one East launch every 18 days. With 2 pads the theoretical is that they could do 1 launch every 9 days into equatorial orbits <60 degree inclinations. At such launch rates that is 40 east launches plus from 6 to 8 west launches. West launches is still primarily limited by payloads that are going into the polar orbits. SLC4E could do up to 20 launches/year.

If the SpaceX comm constellation is deployed, it would use up the capability of the SLC4E for higher inclination orbits about 12 or somewhere around about 300 sats/yr. If some of the launch capability of the east pads is used then it would be possible for a full 800 sat constellation could be deployed in 1 year. The 800 value is the sated level needed for the constellation to be operational and start producing revenue while more sats are added each year. So in 2019 or 2020 the sat constellation could be deployed and become operational. For this is is a problem of how many sats SpaceX could manufacture in 1 or 2 years once production of sats start. The other item is the production of Earth terminals which will be needed to be produce at the rate of 1X to 100X the rate sats are produced or 8,000 to 80,000 units in the same time frame.

The possibility of launch facilities being the bottleneck brings into focus more why SpaceX started building the South Texas launch site several years ago.   
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Online gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1819
  • US
  • Liked: 1236
  • Likes Given: 933
If SpaceX deploys the comm constellation in ~2 years the competition is the HTS geo sats and One Web at that time frame. Later more competition in LEO could occur.

SpaceX has asked for a waiver so they would only have to launch the first 1600 satellites in the next SIX years.  I doubt they will be ready for mass production of satellites any time soon.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3034
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1430
  • Likes Given: 95
If SpaceX deploys the comm constellation in ~2 years the competition is the HTS geo sats and One Web at that time frame. Later more competition in LEO could occur.

SpaceX has asked for a waiver so they would only have to launch the first 1600 satellites in the next SIX years.  I doubt they will be ready for mass production of satellites any time soon.
It will likely be 2 years before sats go into major production leaving only 4 years to produce and launch 1600 sats. That is 400 sats/yr at a minimum. If that is not mass production vs the highest rate currently of 5 /month or 60/yr of much smaller sats then I am not sure what you think mass production of satellites would be like.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26875
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6778
  • Likes Given: 4807
If SpaceX deploys the comm constellation in ~2 years the competition is the HTS geo sats and One Web at that time frame. Later more competition in LEO could occur.

SpaceX has asked for a waiver so they would only have to launch the first 1600 satellites in the next SIX years.  I doubt they will be ready for mass production of satellites any time soon.
SpaceX wants mass production as soon as possible. They just don't want a chance (even if they think it's just a small chance) of losing their permit just because they don't have northern Alaska covered.

SpaceX asking for the waiver doesn't reflect their plans, it reflects the sensible idea that they don't want to risk losing a license if they're delayed, even if they think the odds of being delayed are just 5%.

File this under:

"Most people have difficulty understanding the idea of a probability being anything other than 0% and 100%."
« Last Edit: 08/11/2017 01:29 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1819
  • US
  • Liked: 1236
  • Likes Given: 933
If SpaceX deploys the comm constellation in ~2 years the competition is the HTS geo sats and One Web at that time frame. Later more competition in LEO could occur.

SpaceX has asked for a waiver so they would only have to launch the first 1600 satellites in the next SIX years.  I doubt they will be ready for mass production of satellites any time soon.
SpaceX wants mass production as soon as possible. They just don't want a chance (even if they think it's just a small chance) of losing their permit just because they don't have northern Alaska covered.

SpaceX asking for the waiver doesn't reflect their plans, it reflects the sensible idea that they don't want to risk losing a license if they're delayed, even if they think the odds of being delayed are just 5%.

File this under:

"Most people have difficulty understanding the idea of a probability being anything other than 0% and 100%."

That's only 36% of the planned constellation.  If they just wanted some buffer they could only delay the 1600 sat overlay of the original deployment and still do the more highly inclined orbits.

As usual, SpaceX didn't aim low.  Their design is for very advanced satellites, and it's going to take some work to get them working at the needed price points.  Just getting that design working at all will be a major accomplishment.

Your assertion that their filings don't reflect their plans sounds like wishful thinking on your part.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26875
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6778
  • Likes Given: 4807
Their filing does. The fact they don't want to be penalized if they're delayed is just wise business. It's be reckless to not request a waver. Stupid, actually.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4685
  • Liked: 2806
  • Likes Given: 3925

As usual, SpaceX didn't aim low.  Their design is for very advanced satellites, and it's going to take some work to get them working at the needed price points.  Just getting that design working at all will be a major accomplishment.


Is there any public or L2 information about the design of these satellites and the state of their advancement?  I am sure that would make very informative reading

Discussion is in another thread -- this link puts you near the addition of the VLEO constellation (7,500 sats) to the LEO original 4,425 sat network):
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36552.msg1649854#msg1649854

Many details can be gleaned from technical report attached below.
« Last Edit: 08/11/2017 10:00 AM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3034
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1430
  • Likes Given: 95
Although technical does have economic entanglements, this discussion is about primarily the economic competition that SpaceX faces in the coming years contrasted to the competition of the past few years.

If the comm constellation comes to pass then the competition field becomes more than just LV providers. And that is likely to happen in as little as 2 years. Unlike the introduction of the ITSy which could be introduced at best NET 6 years from now. The other item impacting competition for LVs is the number of used booster being flown to the total number of booster flown in a year. Here this year that ratio is likely to be 6 out of 21 or 29% but 2018 could be as high as 50%.

Please keep the discussion on topic and less a pure hardware technical discussion unless it impacts the competitive capability of SpaceX to its competitors.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4685
  • Liked: 2806
  • Likes Given: 3925
Although technical does have economic entanglements, this discussion is about primarily the economic competition that SpaceX faces in the coming years contrasted to the competition of the past few years.

If the comm constellation comes to pass then the competition field becomes more than just LV providers. And that is likely to happen in as little as 2 years. Unlike the introduction of the ITSy which could be introduced at best NET 6 years from now. The other item impacting competition for LVs is the number of used booster being flown to the total number of booster flown in a year. Here this year that ratio is likely to be 6 out of 21 or 29% but 2018 could be as high as 50%.

Please keep the discussion on topic and less a pure hardware technical discussion unless it impacts the competitive capability of SpaceX to its competitors.

I wandered a bit OT to answer/redirect the above question.

Launch vehicles are the initial point of contact in the SpaceX competition.  Appears that satellites is the second front being opened by SpaceX as you've noted.  The third front, IMO, is the exploration-class launch vehicle and crew accommodation -- BFR/ITSy is going toe to toe with SLS/Orion/DSG in an effort to become NASA's ride to where ever they plan to go.

In each of these three cases, SpaceX is applying high tech solutions to upend stagnated technical markets.  Innovation as well as lowered costs and increased capacities should be expected in each market.  Incumbents laughed and ignored Falcon/Merlin until it was too late -- recourse was to fall back on the entrenched political ties much more than compete with innovation, etc.  Similar might happen to old-school satellite vendors and incumbent NASA exploration rocket/spacecraft builders...
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3034
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1430
  • Likes Given: 95
I am going to wander a bit too, in order to address that the primary competitor to ITSy is not another company or gov organisation but the F9/FH.

It is a matter of what the payloads in the current market look like and the fact that very few could be co-launched. Ariane has trouble just launching 2 GEO sats imagine trying to do 3 or 4? So it is more a factor of per launch costs than $/kg. At first it would be very difficult for ITSy to be as "cheap" as a partial or even EXPD F9/FH per launch costs. Once the ITSy is reliably a fully reusable LV then possibly the costs per launch will tilt in ITSy favor. At that point the F9/FH would probably be phased out. All of this would happen over a significant period of time meaning the F9/FH would be in operation for a decade at least. So this third competitive area is actually a transient while the ITSy is testing its full reusability. Once it becomes fully reusable on a reliable basis then it will be the competition for all LVs replacing the F9/FH.

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6316
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1577
  • Likes Given: 1385
The situation for SpaceX with ITSy may be very different to Arianespace. Ariane needs a pair of fitting satellites, the second lighter must be below a threshold to fit. So if one of the two is not ready, they have a problem.

SpaceX may be able to launch 3 or 4 with very little restrictions to weight distribution. They would also already turn a comfortable profit if they only launch 2. So they just launch with the customers who are ready.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31222
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9494
  • Likes Given: 298
That is a fallacy.  The main issue is to get 4 customers that are ready at the same time

Online IainMcClatchie

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 248
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Liked: 126
  • Likes Given: 228
Although I'm not sure about a full-size ITS, the CommX launch requirements could justify a launcher bigger than FH all by itself, should later iterations of the satellites get bigger to concentrate their bandwidth footprint.  The obvious thing that is missing is a far bigger shroud for a much lower density payload.  Big antennae are fluffy, even when folded.

If constellations get popular, you could generalize a bit.  You only need one customer per launch if that customer is attempting to fill most of an orbital ring in one launch.  But I can only think of two possible CommX competitors, OneWeb and the Chinese, and they're obviously going to want their own launchers.  I see a future of three constellations, one American, one European, and one Chinese, each trying to poach customers from the other's continents, each with one or more governments trying to put a thumb on the scale to make their favorite win more business.

Of the three, the Chinese have the largest domestic market.

Offline TrevorMonty

That is a fallacy.  The main issue is to get 4 customers that are ready at the same time
Arianne struggles to find 2 at times.

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6316
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1577
  • Likes Given: 1385
That is a fallacy.  The main issue is to get 4 customers that are ready at the same time

If you read my post, this is the point I was making. They won't need 4 ready. They will launch whatever is ready at the time.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3034
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1430
  • Likes Given: 95
That is a fallacy.  The main issue is to get 4 customers that are ready at the same time

If you read my post, this is the point I was making. They won't need 4 ready. They will launch whatever is ready at the time.
The problem with that is that load balancing is a big problem with launch. You cannot just leave off not launching a payload at a moments notice. It requires reworking the launch analysis and possibly adding ballast to compensate. So there is a cost when payloads drop off the manifest for a specific launch. Same problem exists now for secondaries. Many times a ballast is used to replace the secondary that does not make the flight.

Offline wes_wilson

  • Armchair Rocketeer
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 113
  • Florida
  • Liked: 50
  • Likes Given: 87
That is a fallacy.  The main issue is to get 4 customers that are ready at the same time

If you read my post, this is the point I was making. They won't need 4 ready. They will launch whatever is ready at the time.
The problem with that is that load balancing is a big problem with launch. You cannot just leave off not launching a payload at a moments notice. It requires reworking the launch analysis and possibly adding ballast to compensate. So there is a cost when payloads drop off the manifest for a specific launch. Same problem exists now for secondaries. Many times a ballast is used to replace the secondary that does not make the flight.

Could fuel for a fuel depot be the ballast?
@SpaceX "When can I buy my ticket to Mars?"

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26875
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6778
  • Likes Given: 4807
No.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline John Alan

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 481
  • Central IL - USA - Earth
  • Liked: 228
  • Likes Given: 1143
There are thousands of Semi trucks in route in the US right now that weigh well UNDER the 80K national GVW limit...

Point is...
If the vehicle is 100% reusable... and the cost to operate (fuel,labor,fees,etc) is under what the customer is willing to pay...
Drive the route... fly the flight... Just go...

Stop thinking of rockets as machines that you tweek performance on at all costs and only fly with nearly a full payload...

Think of them as Trucks that somedays are fully loaded... and some days darn near empty in route...
Some trucks (like Nussbaum's) run every aero gadget in the book trying to somehow make an extra buck...
Others are long paid for... with a million miles and counting and a ton of bling to suit the owner/operators whims...
Either one will Haul 45K lbs in a van trailer across the country...
One at 8 MPG and one at 4 MPG...
And both make enough money to keep the owner happy...   :)

SpaceX figured out that to make 2nd stage reusable (and therefore the entire rocket)... You gotta make it MUCH bigger to carry the fuel/ox needed to enable all that AND a real payload to boot...

Just my thoughts and opinions on the recent postings above...  ;)

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31222
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9494
  • Likes Given: 298

Stop thinking of rockets as machines that you tweek performance on at all costs and only fly with nearly a full payload...


Not feasible.  Too much interaction between payload and vehicle.
« Last Edit: 08/13/2017 01:02 AM by Jim »

Tags: