Author Topic: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer?  (Read 327713 times)

Offline Roy_H

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1360 on: 07/22/2017 07:18 PM »
Quote
Operator @INTELSAT wants @FCC to delay approval of @SpaceX sat constellation pending review of interference risk.
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/888410507010551808

https://www.spaceintelreport.com/intelsat-joins-group-urging-u-s-regulator-delay-approval-spacex-constellation/

Unless I read that wrong, it looks like they are only asking for 30 more days to assess interference avoidance solutions proposed by SpaceX. I expect 30 days would be easy to grant and have minimal impact and only means we have to wait a little longer to find out if SpaceX spectrum gets approved.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1361 on: 07/22/2017 07:32 PM »
I just saw a commercial for Airborne Wireless Network, which is doing an airliner based constellation. There are planes constantly in the sky all over the globe. And they claim they can use these already flying planes as the platform for their service. I didn't see a thread for this, but a model like that could seriously dent the business model for a large satellite constellation.

A large part of the business case for satellite constellation like the one SpaceX is planning is providing internet to rural regions and ships in the open sea. These regions are far less overflown by planes than cities with big airports, in which ground-based internet can be done much better. So essentially the areas in which they'll have the most coverage are the ones than least need it.

I think the low-served regions argument is oversold.  SkyFi will be for the wealthy (first, like the Tesla Roadster), followed by corporations and business-to-business services (longhaul).  Delivering volume at a premium price to these first adoptors will lower the cost to affordable by the rural/remote users.  May get most political mileage out of serving this market, but it cannot carry the ConnX capital expense.

I'm on a Delta Airlines trip to South America at the moment... if Delta supplied free, high-quality WiFi to all 1 million pax per day, that would be a real revenue generating deal for ConnX and Delta.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2017 07:34 PM by AncientU »
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Offline watermod

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1362 on: 07/22/2017 11:30 PM »
How many of these 500kg sats can the 9m mini-ITS deploy at a time?

Online QuantumG

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1363 on: 07/23/2017 01:23 AM »
I think the low-served regions argument is oversold.  SkyFi will be for the wealthy (first, like the Tesla Roadster), followed by corporations and business-to-business services (longhaul).  Delivering volume at a premium price to these first adoptors will lower the cost to affordable by the rural/remote users.  May get most political mileage out of serving this market, but it cannot carry the ConnX capital expense.

I'm on a Delta Airlines trip to South America at the moment... if Delta supplied free, high-quality WiFi to all 1 million pax per day, that would be a real revenue generating deal for ConnX and Delta.

Ahhh... I remember when 2G data came out and everyone was like, I'll never pay for that. They did. 3G came out and everyone was like, nah, 2G is fast enough. 4G comes out and they're like gimme, gimme, gimme! One day we'll tell the young people how terrible it was when you couldn't get on Facebook while you were out in the middle of no-where or out on the ocean for whatever reason. That free plane wifi is inevitable.


Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1364 on: 07/23/2017 02:38 AM »
I just saw a commercial for Airborne Wireless Network, which is doing an airliner based constellation. There are planes constantly in the sky all over the globe. And they claim they can use these already flying planes as the platform for their service. I didn't see a thread for this, but a model like that could seriously dent the business model for a large satellite constellation.

A large part of the business case for satellite constellation like the one SpaceX is planning is providing internet to rural regions and ships in the open sea. These regions are far less overflown by planes than cities with big airports, in which ground-based internet can be done much better. So essentially the areas in which they'll have the most coverage are the ones than least need it.

I think the low-served regions argument is oversold.  SkyFi will be for the wealthy (first, like the Tesla Roadster), followed by corporations and business-to-business services (longhaul).  Delivering volume at a premium price to these first adoptors will lower the cost to affordable by the rural/remote users.  May get most political mileage out of serving this market, but it cannot carry the ConnX capital expense.

I'm on a Delta Airlines trip to South America at the moment... if Delta supplied free, high-quality WiFi to all 1 million pax per day, that would be a real revenue generating deal for ConnX and Delta.

(Corporate != Rural) != True.

Many corps have people in remote locations, and are currently shelling money for satellite links, and high latency connections.  Same corps have people deployed globally, where infrastructure is unreliable.

I betcha that even in countries where landing rights impose restrictions on the usage of internet, corp employees could get good service, after the corp gets an allowance from the government.

Besides, look at the results of elections.  Rural areas contain large populations.  Spread thinner, but not fewer.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1365 on: 07/23/2017 02:43 AM »
I just saw a commercial for Airborne Wireless Network, which is doing an airliner based constellation. There are planes constantly in the sky all over the globe. And they claim they can use these already flying planes as the platform for their service. I didn't see a thread for this, but a model like that could seriously dent the business model for a large satellite constellation.

A large part of the business case for satellite constellation like the one SpaceX is planning is providing internet to rural regions and ships in the open sea. These regions are far less overflown by planes than cities with big airports, in which ground-based internet can be done much better. So essentially the areas in which they'll have the most coverage are the ones than least need it.

I think the low-served regions argument is oversold.  SkyFi will be for the wealthy (first, like the Tesla Roadster), followed by corporations and business-to-business services (longhaul).  Delivering volume at a premium price to these first adoptors will lower the cost to affordable by the rural/remote users.  May get most political mileage out of serving this market, but it cannot carry the ConnX capital expense.

I'm on a Delta Airlines trip to South America at the moment... if Delta supplied free, high-quality WiFi to all 1 million pax per day, that would be a real revenue generating deal for ConnX and Delta.
On the contrary, the only way the capital expense for such a huge constellation can be paid for is if it becomes mass marketed to as many consumers as possible.
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Offline groundbound

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1366 on: 07/23/2017 02:50 AM »
I just saw a commercial for Airborne Wireless Network, which is doing an airliner based constellation. There are planes constantly in the sky all over the globe. And they claim they can use these already flying planes as the platform for their service. I didn't see a thread for this, but a model like that could seriously dent the business model for a large satellite constellation.

A large part of the business case for satellite constellation like the one SpaceX is planning is providing internet to rural regions and ships in the open sea. These regions are far less overflown by planes than cities with big airports, in which ground-based internet can be done much better. So essentially the areas in which they'll have the most coverage are the ones than least need it.

I think the low-served regions argument is oversold.  SkyFi will be for the wealthy (first, like the Tesla Roadster), followed by corporations and business-to-business services (longhaul).  Delivering volume at a premium price to these first adoptors will lower the cost to affordable by the rural/remote users.  May get most political mileage out of serving this market, but it cannot carry the ConnX capital expense.

I'm on a Delta Airlines trip to South America at the moment... if Delta supplied free, high-quality WiFi to all 1 million pax per day, that would be a real revenue generating deal for ConnX and Delta.
On the contrary, the only way the capital expense for such a huge constellation can be paid for is if it becomes mass marketed to as many consumers as possible.

And since internet providers absolutely dominate the list of most hated companies, that business is ripe for disruption. Of course that assumes that the substantial hurdle of putting in that level of ground equipment can be crossed.

I know I personally would consider covering a few hundred dollars of equipment costs if I could get an equal monthly service price (eg: no payback on investment) just because of the hatred factor.

Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1367 on: 07/23/2017 04:57 PM »
I know I personally would consider covering a few hundred dollars of equipment costs if I could get an equal monthly service price (eg: no payback on investment) just because of the hatred factor.
Same..

(I actually think it's the cable and phone companies that are disliked, not ISPes per se... ) Seriously, though I would do this. I dislike my local provider intensely.
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Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1368 on: 07/23/2017 10:08 PM »
I know I personally would consider covering a few hundred dollars of equipment costs if I could get an equal monthly service price (eg: no payback on investment) just because of the hatred factor.
Same..

(I actually think it's the cable and phone companies that are disliked, not ISPes per se... ) Seriously, though I would do this. I dislike my local provider intensely.

It's the great hope of getting out of the monopoly clutches of the telecoms that descended from phone or cable companies. It's their primary business to creatively squeeze customers for everything they can. Their biggest nightmare is having to just deliver good service as a dumb pipe. Google Fiber was a hope but it's expansion was too slow and tentative except for the lucky few.

The big idea here is that a wireless system costing tens of billions of dollars can compete head on with a wired system costing hundreds of billions to trillions. A order of magnitude lower infrastructure cost allows very competitive pricing while making generous profits.

I'd be happy to buy the equipment and set it up myself and I suspect that's the Model. That can be made very easy and very affordable. The ground system self deploys via FedEx and DHL to a billion customers. Customers set up accounts and pay their bills through the same system that delivers phone, internet and entertainment. That fact creates the basis of a global eMoney system. As long as you pay for internet, phone, TV, music, gaming through SpaceX why not pay other bills and do other financial services?

Musk's original plans for X.com were much more ambitious than what PayPal ever became. If you wanted to set up a universal global money transfer, payments and banking system it would be a good start to build it on top of a universal global digital communications system. Once you've got ubiquitous communications the rest is mostly software running in the cloud. So it's time to get the old X.com out of mothballs.


Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1369 on: 07/25/2017 06:17 AM »
Musk's original plans for X.com were much more ambitious than what PayPal ever became. If you wanted to set up a universal global money transfer, payments and banking system it would be a good start to build it on top of a universal global digital communications system. Once you've got ubiquitous communications the rest is mostly software running in the cloud. So it's time to get the old X.com out of mothballs.

OMG, I feel like I should have seen this. I do not think Elon will get around to resurrecting X.com himself but I can see him backing someone else to do it. I mean how many global industries can one man remake?

Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1370 on: 07/26/2017 04:11 PM »

OMG, I feel like I should have seen this. I do not think Elon will get around to resurrecting X.com himself but I can see him backing someone else to do it. I mean how many global industries can one man remake?

https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/11/elon-musk-buys-his-old-x-com-domain-from-paypal/

There was quite a bit of buzz about this but not sure everyone noticed. It is sort of unfinished business that may work well with an internet constellation.

A new twist in this is whether part of it could involve a cryptocurrency/blockchain tech. EM might be in a position to produce a new currency with a stronger foundation, especially if it had a sort of "book value" use to pay for Internet services anywhere. It's use to pay for universally valued services could establish a floor exchange value. Like Bitcoin or Ether it might have a lot of upside and could potentially raise billions for SpaceX Mars ambitions.
« Last Edit: 07/26/2017 04:13 PM by Ludus »

Online StuffOfInterest

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1371 on: 07/26/2017 04:25 PM »
Ludus, sorry but that is about the worse thing that could be done with the satellite constellation. The computing power and storage requirements to run a stable blockchain is far too great.  Bitcoin requires huge amounts of power and terabytes of storage to operate its global network.  There is no way you could ever put something like this on the satellites.  Also, I'm not sure what the article you linked has to do with this as it makes no mention of Bitcoin or blockchain.

Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1372 on: 07/26/2017 10:10 PM »
Ludus, sorry but that is about the worse thing that could be done with the satellite constellation. The computing power and storage requirements to run a stable blockchain is far too great.  Bitcoin requires huge amounts of power and terabytes of storage to operate its global network.  There is no way you could ever put something like this on the satellites.  Also, I'm not sure what the article you linked has to do with this as it makes no mention of Bitcoin or blockchain.

I don't mean to imply that SpaceX would run the blockchain, by its nature that should be distributed and run by anyone.

It's very big at the moment to consider introducing new cryptocurrencies. SpaceX is in a special position to offer a cryptocurrency backed by a universally valuable service.

I just linked to an article mentioning EMs reaquiring X.com in case people were not aware of it.

I mean that SpaceX could run an X.com global financial system on its satellite network and that could run the foundation of a universal service backed cryptocurrency, XCoin.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1373 on: 08/04/2017 10:00 PM »
To update, over the last two months, SpaceX grew its Seattle office by 10%.  LinkedIn shows 193 employees.

SpaceX's web site shows 66 positions open in the Seattle office, so perhaps hiring will increase somewhat compared to the last two months.  Some of those 66 positions maybe already filled and part of the 193+ employee figure above.

SpaceX's Irvine office is small, but hiring appears to have continued.  14 open positions are shown on SpaceX's web site. 

In comparison, LinkedIn now shows 209 employees for OneWeb and OneWeb Satellites.  As stated before, the types of employees that have been hired are different at the two companies.  Almost exclusively engineers at SpaceX Seattle.  This is not surprising, given that OneWeb is funding and building its satellites through partners and that SpaceX is doing most work in-house.

To update, over the last two months, SpaceX grew its Seattle office by 11%.  LinkedIn shows 175 employees.

SpaceX's web site shows 54 positions open in the Seattle office, so perhaps hiring will slow somewhat compared to the last two months.  Some of those 54 positions maybe already filled and part of the 175+ employee figure above.

SpaceX's Irvine office is very small, but hiring appears to have continued.  15 open positions are shown on SpaceX's web site.  Also, I note that SpaceX opened a Placentia, California facility (relatively nearby Irvine compared to Hawthorne).  But judging by the two positions listed as open at the facility, this facility appears to be a machine shop probably unrelated to satellites.

In comparison, LinkedIn now shows 173 employees for OneWeb Satellites and OneWeb Ltd.  As stated before, the types of employees that have been hired are different at the two companies.  Almost exclusively engineers at SpaceX Seattle.  This is not surprising, given that OneWeb is funding and building its satellites through partners and that SpaceX is doing most work in-house.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1374 on: 08/19/2017 08:04 PM »
Once SpaceX receives it's FCC approval for the constellation the detail specifications for the sats would be basically complete. With a stable set of requirements the cost side of the business case for sats manufacture will be able to be done with high fidelity. But the launch if using FH needs to await the FH demo launch for that side of the costs to also be able to be done for the business case with high fidelity.

But then that only is half the business case. The other half is the revenue estimates. That is still a big question mark. But the profitability of the venture is more likely the cheaper the cost side can be made for a given capability. There is a market out there for the service but its size and sensitivity to price is an unknown. Size of the market in total revenue generated varies due to price but the algorithm values for the estimation of this is also unknown so an optimization of price to get the best total revenue is an unknown. For this side of the business case it is mostly on faith that the market is there. But there are very strong indicators that the market does exist but its elasticity is the major unknown and can be the make or break for LEO internet services constellations. If SpaceX can get the costs down enough and the capabilities high enough then they could compete with existing terrestrial internet backbone. This market is a high fidelity known entity. Such that any revenue estimates from this market can be done with a good fidelity. If the business case with just this market will make the project profitable then there is sufficient details with supporting documentation to get VC funding to do a quick development and deployment (3 years to no more than 5 years to an operational status).

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1375 on: 09/12/2017 04:02 PM »
What SpaceX has at the moment is a small sat fab lab. They have yet to build their small sat super fab facility. In order to populate to even just 800 sats in 3 years of launching they would have to produce 23 sats a month. Their fab lab facility might be able to produce 25 sats in a year, more likely they would be hard pressed to produce 12 sats in a year due to lack of floor space. Likely a single F9 will launch up to as many as 27 sats at once. A 6 month long production line would need floor space to be able to simultaneously work on as many as 180 sats. But to have a factory large enough to manufacture sats at a high enough rate to populate a 4000 sat constellation in 7 years, let alone the proposed 12000 constellation, would require the floor space to work on simultaneously 300 sats. This facility will not be small. The sat manufacturing area would be some 30,000 sq feet. But also auxiliary space is needed to manufacture the components and office space, support space, storage rooms, etc and the size could reach ~100,000 sq feet. Most of the floor will be operating simi to full clean room standards.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1376 on: 09/12/2017 05:59 PM »
But also auxiliary space is needed to manufacture the components and office space, support space, storage rooms, etc and the size could reach ~100,000 sq feet. Most of the floor will be operating simi to full clean room standards.
Thanks once again for putting some numbers on what "big" in this context actually means.

I'm not sure people have realized just how big this task really is. Not just big, but also quite a lot above regular levels of "factory clean."

Either Hawthorne or Texas is going to need a build out or SX is going to need to go shopping again.

That said the constellation is (in theory) the only current plan they have that can generate the kind of revenue (massive) that they need to fund the scale of projects they've been talking about, even with their efficiencies in design and mfg.
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Offline oiorionsbelt

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1377 on: 09/12/2017 06:20 PM »


Either Hawthorne or Texas is going to need a build out or SX is going to need to go shopping again.

Seattle.
https://www.geekwire.com/2017/spacex-lab-satellite-development-redmond/

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1378 on: 09/12/2017 06:52 PM »


Either Hawthorne or Texas is going to need a build out or SX is going to need to go shopping again.

Seattle.
https://www.geekwire.com/2017/spacex-lab-satellite-development-redmond/

While that article mentions the 40,000 square feet at 23020 NE Alder Crest Drive (Building 117), I note that, according to permit records, SpaceX apparently also has ~45,000 square feet in the adjacent building 23040 NE Alder Crest Drive (Building 116).

So SpaceX has at least three buildings in Seattle.

18390 NE 68th Street -- 30,000 square feet
23020 NE Alder Crest Drive (Building 117) -- 40,000 square feet
23040 NE Alder Crest Drive (Building 116) -- 45,000 square feet

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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1379 on: 09/12/2017 08:14 PM »
What SpaceX has at the moment is a small sat fab lab. They have yet to build their small sat super fab facility. In order to populate to even just 800 sats in 3 years of launching they would have to produce 23 sats a month. Their fab lab facility might be able to produce 25 sats in a year, more likely they would be hard pressed to produce 12 sats in a year due to lack of floor space. Likely a single F9 will launch up to as many as 27 sats at once. A 6 month long production line would need floor space to be able to simultaneously work on as many as 180 sats. But to have a factory large enough to manufacture sats at a high enough rate to populate a 4000 sat constellation in 7 years, let alone the proposed 12000 constellation, would require the floor space to work on simultaneously 300 sats. This facility will not be small. The sat manufacturing area would be some 30,000 sq feet. But also auxiliary space is needed to manufacture the components and office space, support space, storage rooms, etc and the size could reach ~100,000 sq feet. Most of the floor will be operating simi to full clean room standards.

One factor will be the high density automated factory that EM keeps talking about.  There is no reason that (clean) robots cannot manufacture/assemble/test most of this hardware.  This would keep the dirtiest components (people) off of the factory floor.

I suspect that half of your estimated floor space would suffice... for fabricating the 2,000 sats per year (one per standard work hour) needed for LEO and VLEO constellations.  (Tesla are shooting for 500,000 cars per year in 5.3M sq.ft. -- 10sq. ft. per unit per year manufactured.)

Note: From above, one 40,000sq.ft facility should suffice for their own constellation; the second 45,000sq.ft. space will be for DoD and other customers' sats/constellations.
« Last Edit: 09/12/2017 08:53 PM by AncientU »
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