Author Topic: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer?  (Read 374227 times)

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1380 on: 09/13/2017 10:09 AM »


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

https://aca.accela.com/KINGCOUNTY/
Nice work. That certainly sounds like they can ramp up to the level OAG reckoned they'd need.
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Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1381 on: 09/13/2017 04:57 PM »
[Taipei Times] CHPT moving into aerospace with new buyer
Quote
Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Co (CHPT, 中華精測), the nationís biggest probe card supplier, yesterday said it had landed a major order to supply advanced probe cards for commercial satellite development, expanding its business scope to the aerospace industry amid rumors that SpaceX is involved.

Probe cards are interfaces between systems and chip wafers typically used to test for faulty circuits and other errors before the wafers are cut into chips.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1382 on: 09/13/2017 05:03 PM »
[Taipei Times] CHPT moving into aerospace with new buyer
Quote
Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Co (CHPT, 中華精測), the nationís biggest probe card supplier, yesterday said it had landed a major order to supply advanced probe cards for commercial satellite development, expanding its business scope to the aerospace industry amid rumors that SpaceX is involved.

Probe cards are interfaces between systems and chip wafers typically used to test for faulty circuits and other errors before the wafers are cut into chips.

Major order sounds like production, not R&D.
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Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1383 on: 09/14/2017 01:47 AM »
Certainly seems like SpaceX is spinning up.

Quote
>
"We plan to start small-volume production in 2019 after passing customers qualification in 2018. The plant will then enter mass production in 2020," Huang said.
>
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 01:48 AM by docmordrid »
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Online LouScheffer

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1384 on: 09/14/2017 02:29 AM »
Certainly seems like SpaceX is spinning up.

Quote
>
"We plan to start small-volume production in 2019 after passing customers qualification in 2018. The plant will then enter mass production in 2020," Huang said.
>

Wow - a time estimate from SpaceX that does not immediately prompt a reaction of "That's absurd!".  Elon must not be personally involved with this part of the company.

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1385 on: 09/14/2017 02:44 AM »
Certainly seems like SpaceX is spinning up.

Quote
>
"We plan to start small-volume production in 2019 after passing customers qualification in 2018. The plant will then enter mass production in 2020," Huang said.
>

Wow - a time estimate from SpaceX that does not immediately prompt a reaction of "That's absurd!".  Elon must not be personally involved with this part of the company.

That's a timeline for a supplier to begin making test equipment for one part of a SpaceX satellite.

Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1386 on: 09/14/2017 09:20 AM »
Certainly seems like SpaceX is spinning up.

Quote
>
"We plan to start small-volume production in 2019 after passing customers qualification in 2018. The plant will then enter mass production in 2020," Huang said.
>

Wow - a time estimate from SpaceX that does not immediately prompt a reaction of "That's absurd!".  Elon must not be personally involved with this part of the company.

That's a timeline for a supplier to begin making test equipment for one part of a SpaceX satellite.
I also believe Gwynne Shotwell once described the constellation as "Elon's personal project"
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Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1387 on: 09/14/2017 01:27 PM »
Kinda surprised they are using non US test gear but ok...
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 01:27 PM by Lar »
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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1388 on: 09/14/2017 03:49 PM »
Kinda surprised they are using non US test gear but ok...
I'm wondering if that's test gear for chips in the ground stations which should vastly outnumber the satellites..

Offline kaiser

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1389 on: 09/14/2017 04:08 PM »
[Taipei Times] CHPT moving into aerospace with new buyer
Quote
Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Co (CHPT, 中華精測), the nationís biggest probe card supplier, yesterday said it had landed a major order to supply advanced probe cards for commercial satellite development, expanding its business scope to the aerospace industry amid rumors that SpaceX is involved.

Probe cards are interfaces between systems and chip wafers typically used to test for faulty circuits and other errors before the wafers are cut into chips.

Major order sounds like production, not R&D.

Major order could be development->prototype->production rolled into one.  Not uncommon on some things like this.  Provides the carrot; get this right and to our specs and we guarantee a certain amount of volume.  Or something like we'll cost share R&D and prototype, and then an IDIQ-style open order for large amounts of units.

Don't read too far into things; major order doesn't necessarily mean major production right at the start of the timeline.

Online meberbs

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1390 on: 09/14/2017 04:12 PM »
Kinda surprised they are using non US test gear but ok...
I'm wondering if that's test gear for chips in the ground stations which should vastly outnumber the satellites..
That would be my guess too. The last dates I saw estimated constellation would have initial capability in 2020. (Although based on FCC filings, they don't seem to have confidence in having full deployment before 2023.) Even expecting delays, test equipment for the satellites would need to be fully deployed before significant launches start, plus then time to actually do the launches. The schedule seems much more consistent with this being for the ground terminals. There is also the possibility of it being related to the vleo constellation, but it seems too early for that.

Also, if I am understanding it right, it is not fully confirmed that the deal is even with SpaceX, and even more so if it is related to the satellites at all (though it does make sense.)

Offline savuporo

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1391 on: 09/14/2017 04:29 PM »
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.

Very timely article on this

http://spacenews.com/fully-automated-satellite-assembly-lines-not-quite-yet/
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Offline RDMM2081

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1392 on: 09/14/2017 05:26 PM »
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.

Very timely article on this

http://spacenews.com/fully-automated-satellite-assembly-lines-not-quite-yet/

Great article link and definitely applicable to this conversation.  I take it as a datapoint however, basically, just a bunch of oldspace companies complaining that they haven't been able to find ways to apply robotics to their existing satellite production.

Here comes my view through Elon-Colored-Glasses.  SpaceX has already demonstrated a willingness to forego "proven technologies" like rad-hardened electronics for inexpensive and easier triple redundant avionics.  I'm sure there are other examples but they aren't coming to mind at the moment.  The point I'm trying to make is that a "new breed" of satellites (CommX specifically) which are designed from the ground up to be mass produced might indeed have more baked in applications for robotic assembly that the older manufacturers simply aren't able to realize.

Offline savuporo

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1393 on: 09/14/2017 05:55 PM »
Great article link and definitely applicable to this conversation.  I take it as a datapoint however, basically, just a bunch of oldspace companies complaining that they haven't been able to find ways to apply robotics to their existing satellite production.

I think you are misreading it a bit. The investment in automation always has a certain volume threshold or crossover point. As factory robotics is now finally undergoing a bit  of renaissance after decades of slow development, that volume crossover point is moving left as well, thanks to far more flexible systems being employed. Trading a lady at a desk with a screwdriver for short volume runs for a collaborative robot has become significantly easier over recent years, but it's still not widespread.
But oftentimes, for low production volumes there simply isn't ever going to be a payoff in automation, only a certain unit volume is going to justify it
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline RDMM2081

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1394 on: 09/14/2017 06:14 PM »
Great article link and definitely applicable to this conversation.  I take it as a datapoint however, basically, just a bunch of oldspace companies complaining that they haven't been able to find ways to apply robotics to their existing satellite production.

I think you are misreading it a bit. The investment in automation always has a certain volume threshold or crossover point. As factory robotics is now finally undergoing a bit  of renaissance after decades of slow development, that volume crossover point is moving left as well, thanks to far more flexible systems being employed. Trading a lady at a desk with a screwdriver for short volume runs for a collaborative robot has become significantly easier over recent years, but it's still not widespread.
But oftentimes, for low production volumes there simply isn't ever going to be a payoff in automation, only a certain unit volume is going to justify it

Of course, I'm sorry I didn't mean to bash the status quo quite so hard.  The entire industry up to this point has been as close to hand made, one of a kind, bespoke designs as to make little difference, and that was necessary to get to this point so I applaud their steadfastness to stick with it.  The results speak for themselves as well, handmade satellites have pretty good reliability statistics.  The reliability of "mass produced" satellites is not yet proven. In fact, it seems as though OrbComm has had some issues with this:  http://spacenews.com/three-orbcomm-og2-satellites-malfunctioning-fate-to-be-determined/ (I don't actually know how much automation, if any, was involved in the manufacture of this constellation, just that "constellation" class satellites seem more likely to use it).

And I also sold the article short, there are plenty of examples of manufacturers finding ways to successfully incorporate automation in their component or subassembly production.  All steps in the right direction as an entire industry evolves.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 06:16 PM by RDMM2081 »

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1395 on: 09/14/2017 06:28 PM »
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.

Very timely article on this

http://spacenews.com/fully-automated-satellite-assembly-lines-not-quite-yet/

Quote
To build OneWeb’s order of 900 identical 150-kilogram satellites, Holz said the company is focusing more on the automation of repeatable processes, like placing cells onto solar arrays. Automating some manual procedures reduces the amount of touch labor involved and consequently, the risk of human error, but doesn’t mean a full-blown takeover by robotic builders.

You’d get into more robotics maybe if you had another order of magnitude in terms of quantity of objects to build. We are not building one, but we’re not building a million either,” he said.

ConnX is 12,000 sats, over an order of magnitude more than OneWeb's 900 -- just for initial deployment.  SpaceX (EM/Tesla) is automation savvy, so plan to see these sats being built by robots.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 06:40 PM by AncientU »
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Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1396 on: 09/14/2017 08:53 PM »
This might be slightly offtopic but doesn't the thread title suffer from Betteridge's law of headlines?

SpaceX is planning to build and deploy it's own constellation but there is no indication that they plan to actually sell satellites. This is similar to how they're not interested in selling Merlins or SuperDracos. So far they're selling launch services and they want to move on the value chain and also provide space-based communication services.

Maybe when a new thread is created it should just be called "SpaceX constellation updates and discussion"

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1397 on: 09/14/2017 11:57 PM »
SpaceX is planning to build and deploy it's own constellation but there is no indication that they plan to actually sell satellites.

...

Quote from: Musk at Seattle announcement event
We're going to start off by building our own constellation of satellites but that same satellite bus and the technology we develop can be also be used for Earth science and space science, as well as other potential applications that others may have. So, we're open to both building our own as well as - we're definitely going to build our own but it's something we're going to be able to offer to others.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer?
« Reply #1398 on: 09/15/2017 03:14 PM »
Would be crazy to build this technology and then lock the door when DoD comes calling.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #1399 on: 09/15/2017 03:38 PM »

ConnX is 12,000 sats, over an order of magnitude more than OneWeb's 900 -- just for initial deployment.  SpaceX (EM/Tesla) is automation savvy, so plan to see these sats being built by robots.

The intensity of the focus on factory automation at Tesla right now probably also has some spillover into this. This is a continuous source of demand for SpaceX reusable rockets with satellites that will be upgraded and mass produced indefinitely, not just a discrete project. Emphasis on the machine that builds the machine makes sense here.
« Last Edit: 09/15/2017 03:39 PM by Ludus »

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