Author Topic: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)  (Read 251387 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Thread 11 for general discussion on SpaceX and their vehicles.

Previous threads (now over 2.8 million views for these 10 SpaceX threads alone):

Thread 1:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19228.0

Thread 2:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22769.0

Thread 3:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24179.0

Thread 4:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=25597.0

Thread 5:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28006.0

Thread 6:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=29476.0

Thread 7:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30385.0

Thread 8:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31402.0

Thread 9:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32719.0

Thread 10:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33598.0


SpaceX news articles on this site:
Old: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21862.0 (links)

Then recent news articles, not linked above, as we moved to a tag group system:
All recent: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/spacex/


L2 SpaceX - Now in its own dedicated all-vehicle section:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?board=60.0


NOTE: Posts that are uncivil (which is very rare for this forum), off topic (not so rare) or just pointless will be deleted without notice.

Offline Dudely

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #1 on: 08/07/2014 12:23 PM »
Regarding Boeing and the like developing reusability:

I think over the next year we will see projects start up at all the various large rocket companies that start as feasibility studies into various ways of developing their own reusable technology.

A few might decide it is not worth it yet, and a few will decide that since they were thinking of developing a new rocket anyway, they will blank-slate a new reusable rocket similar to the f9, but probably a different size.

Most companies will remain a few years behind SpaceX due to their aggressive R&D, but after 10-15 years almost no one will have willfully chosen not to integrate SpaceX's technology refinements to better their own line of products.


Especially if the stars keep aligning in SpaceX's favor.

Online AncientU

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #2 on: 08/07/2014 12:34 PM »
An historical highlight from first Thread, 2.8 million views ago:

Quote
Why exactly is this thread needed??? Any SpaceX updates are going to be about Falcon or Dragon anyway.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19228.msg494814#msg494814

A few other interesting topics have emerged in those five years...
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Llian Rhydderch

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #3 on: 08/07/2014 04:14 PM »
Regarding Boeing and the like developing reusability:

I think over the next year we will see projects start up at all the various large rocket companies that start as feasibility studies into various ways of developing their own reusable technology.

A few might decide it is not worth it yet, and a few will decide that since they were thinking of developing a new rocket anyway, they will blank-slate a new reusable rocket similar to the f9, but probably a different size.

Most companies will remain a few years behind SpaceX due to their aggressive R&D, but after 10-15 years almost no one will have willfully chosen not to integrate SpaceX's technology refinements to better their own line of products.


Especially if the stars keep aligning in SpaceX's favor.

I quite agree with the main thrust of your post.

However, keep in mind that it is quite often not the first developer of new technology that stays out in front for decades in an industry.  Oftentimes, the quick follower, one who is able to see that which has (now) proven to be possible technologically, will put some twist on it to perhaps improve it, or build it more efficiently, or market it better, etc.

I am very supportive of a NewSpace endeavors that look to change the economic model for space access; and SpaceX seems at present to be the poster child for getting 'er done, bringing down prices, while developing some rad new technology.  But others will follow SpaceX' success, as the market in space transport grows over time.

I think SpaceX will have quite an early run of it.  But competitors will want to enter the market if ordinary commercial profits can be made in this new flavor of an industry.  And if the institutional environment is not excessively limited by government regulation, competitors will actually enter that market.  And some will succeed.
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Online abaddon

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #4 on: 08/07/2014 04:49 PM »
On the other hand, if SpaceX is as successful (even to a degree) as their ambitions... still very far from proven to be a reality... they might just be like Amazon.  You know, first serious online retailer, competing against all of the entrenched brick-and-mortar giants of retail.  Online retail was unproven at the time and there were huge claims made about it, which took a long time to actually materialize, with a lot of boom and bust companies littering the path to get there.  Where are the Amazon "fast followers" that are competing with them now that Amazon has proved the model?  What we have are some preexisting retail chains with their own online stores, but none of them are in the same league as Amazon, and many of them are struggling to stay relevant.

Maybe we'll end up with SpaceX dominating commercial rocketry and only government "assured access" type launchers remaining.  I think that's easily as plausible as some fast follower emerging and beating them at their own game.  (And both of these are less plausible than the more mundane outcome of SpaceX forcing evolutionary changes on the rocket industry but failing to make a revolutionary impact, which is still a very possible outcome).

It's difficult to forecast the future with any real accuracy, easier to wait and see what actually happens ;).

Online meekGee

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #5 on: 08/07/2014 05:09 PM »
What differentiated Amazon from the other companies was execution.

A friend of mine happened to walk into their building many years ago, he had a meeting scheduled (they were just another start-up back then) and he found the building seemingly abandoned.

According to him, he wondered the floor for a while, then heard voices from below and went down to the basement where he found everyone, including senior management and actually including Bezos, packing boxes.  They apologized - they said they had a large wave of orders and were behind.

He waited, had his meeting, went back home, and bought stocks as soon as he was able...

« Last Edit: 08/07/2014 05:30 PM by meekGee »
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Offline deruch

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #6 on: 08/08/2014 02:14 AM »
Regarding Boeing and the like developing reusability:

I think over the next year we will see projects start up at all the various large rocket companies that start as feasibility studies into various ways of developing their own reusable technology.

A few might decide it is not worth it yet, and a few will decide that since they were thinking of developing a new rocket anyway, they will blank-slate a new reusable rocket similar to the f9, but probably a different size.

Most companies will remain a few years behind SpaceX due to their aggressive R&D, but after 10-15 years almost no one will have willfully chosen not to integrate SpaceX's technology refinements to better their own line of products.


Especially if the stars keep aligning in SpaceX's favor.

I quite agree with the main thrust of your post.

However, keep in mind that it is quite often not the first developer of new technology that stays out in front for decades in an industry.  Oftentimes, the quick follower, one who is able to see that which has (now) proven to be possible technologically, will put some twist on it to perhaps improve it, or build it more efficiently, or market it better, etc.

I am very supportive of a NewSpace endeavors that look to change the economic model for space access; and SpaceX seems at present to be the poster child for getting 'er done, bringing down prices, while developing some rad new technology.  But others will follow SpaceX' success, as the market in space transport grows over time.

I think SpaceX will have quite an early run of it.  But competitors will want to enter the market if ordinary commercial profits can be made in this new flavor of an industry.  And if the institutional environment is not excessively limited by government regulation, competitors will actually enter that market.  And some will succeed.

The point could just as easily be made that SpaceX is the quick follower improving on the legacy launch companies' and taking over.  I recognize that in your post, "reuse" is the technology your talking about but it could just as easily be general "rocket launch".  Either way, interesting times.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But, in practice, there is.  --Jan van de Snepscheut

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #7 on: 08/08/2014 04:11 AM »
However, keep in mind that it is quite often not the first developer of new technology that stays out in front for decades in an industry.  Oftentimes, the quick follower, one who is able to see that which has (now) proven to be possible technologically, will put some twist on it to perhaps improve it, or build it more efficiently, or market it better, etc.

If our goal is to expand humanity out into space, then we certainly need more companies following in the footsteps of SpaceX and challenging SpaceX by continuing to lower the cost to access space.  So I hope you are right.

However the launch business is a very capital-intensive business, and you need to have something unique to offer your initial customers in order to get traction.  Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin could internally fund such an effort, but established companies like them are not "built" for disruptive thinking, they are more into incremental improvements.  And you really need an intrapreneur (i.e. internal entrepreneur) that can stick around for a long period of time to guide such an effort, and that too can be a challenge.

There has certainly been a lot of hope that Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin would be a fast follower, but so far it's not readily apparent that they will be.  Stratolaunch might do well in the smallsat market, and is even backed by a billionaire, but still that's smallsats, not the big stuff.  And then there is the new Orbital ATK, which I'm not sure what to make of as far as potential for creating a new generation of low cost launchers.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but I'm not sure if there is a known player that can step up to the challenge.  But I would love to be wrong on this because we need the space transportation sector to be diverse.

And just as SpaceX came "out of nowhere" 12 years ago, there is always the chance that a new entrant will be just as disruptive as SpaceX has been.  Let's hope for that too.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online guckyfan

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #8 on: 08/08/2014 05:50 AM »
However, keep in mind that it is quite often not the first developer of new technology that stays out in front for decades in an industry.  Oftentimes, the quick follower, one who is able to see that which has (now) proven to be possible technologically, will put some twist on it to perhaps improve it, or build it more efficiently, or market it better, etc.

If our goal is to expand humanity out into space, then we certainly need more companies following in the footsteps of SpaceX and challenging SpaceX by continuing to lower the cost to access space.  So I hope you are right.
.....................

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but I'm not sure if there is a known player that can step up to the challenge.  But I would love to be wrong on this because we need the space transportation sector to be diverse.

And just as SpaceX came "out of nowhere" 12 years ago, there is always the chance that a new entrant will be just as disruptive as SpaceX has been.  Let's hope for that too.

I fully agree. Competition would be good. However that would have to come with a really novel idea, not by following SpaceX. Just copying them and beating their prices seems hard as SpaceX is already very efficient, it seems.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #9 on: 08/08/2014 07:45 AM »
I fully agree. Competition would be good. However that would have to come with a really novel idea, not by following SpaceX. Just copying them and beating their prices seems hard as SpaceX is already very efficient, it seems.

Hey, everyone wants to invest in SpaceX but few get the chance. If you emulate them you can attract some of that cheddar.
When someone is wishing for a pony, there's little to be gained by suggesting a unicorn would be ever better.. ya know, unless it's sarcasm.

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #10 on: 08/08/2014 07:54 AM »
On the other hand, if SpaceX is as successful (even to a degree) as their ambitions... still very far from proven to be a reality... they might just be like Amazon.  You know, first serious online retailer, competing against all of the entrenched brick-and-mortar giants of retail.  Online retail was unproven at the time and there were huge claims made about it, which took a long time to actually materialize, with a lot of boom and bust companies littering the path to get there.  Where are the Amazon "fast followers" that are competing with them now that Amazon has proved the model?  What we have are some preexisting retail chains with their own online stores, but none of them are in the same league as Amazon, and many of them are struggling to stay relevant.

A major factor is cost of entry. If costs of entry are low, you get a lot of people trying their hand at the business. If costs of entry are high, you often see no new competitors, except where the incumbents are seen as either grossly inefficient or failing to spot the potential of paradigm-changing technologies. A good example of the difference is to compare the airline business with the aircraft manufacturing business. (Governments can modify this for public policy reasons - see Airbus or car manufacturing.)

The launch business was seen as one with a high cost of entry, but SpaceX has demonstrated it's not as high as once thought!

Online AncientU

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #11 on: 08/08/2014 11:43 AM »
However, keep in mind that it is quite often not the first developer of new technology that stays out in front for decades in an industry.  Oftentimes, the quick follower, one who is able to see that which has (now) proven to be possible technologically, will put some twist on it to perhaps improve it, or build it more efficiently, or market it better, etc.

If our goal is to expand humanity out into space, then we certainly need more companies following in the footsteps of SpaceX and challenging SpaceX by continuing to lower the cost to access space.  So I hope you are right.
.....................

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but I'm not sure if there is a known player that can step up to the challenge.  But I would love to be wrong on this because we need the space transportation sector to be diverse.

And just as SpaceX came "out of nowhere" 12 years ago, there is always the chance that a new entrant will be just as disruptive as SpaceX has been.  Let's hope for that too.

I fully agree. Competition would be good. However that would have to come with a really novel idea, not by following SpaceX. Just copying them and beating their prices seems hard as SpaceX is already very efficient, it seems.

FedX followed by UPS.
Former started when there was no market for overnight deliveries (actually, there was a market, but status quo thought it impossible). High cost of entry business...
Concept/market demonstrated.

Latter took efficiency model and ran with it.  And world of business changed -- overnight.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #12 on: 08/08/2014 03:49 PM »
I think over the next year we will see projects start up at all the various large rocket companies that start as feasibility studies into various ways of developing their own reusable technology.
I think most of them are still in "unsubstantiated" mode. It's such a wild excursion from the decades-old industry status quo that it doesn't really fit into anyone's planning. The price pinch does fit, but that's valid regardless of reusability. Even if/once stages are landed and reused that attitude can continue because reuse isn't economic reuse. Then assuming SpaceX actually starts signing contracts at lower cost assuming reuse, give it another few quarters.

After that, I don't think anyone is set up to develop something like this without it being an externally funded project.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #13 on: 08/08/2014 08:34 PM »
I fully agree. Competition would be good. However that would have to come with a really novel idea, not by following SpaceX. Just copying them and beating their prices seems hard as SpaceX is already very efficient, it seems.

FedX followed by UPS.
Former started when there was no market for overnight deliveries (actually, there was a market, but status quo thought it impossible). High cost of entry business...
Concept/market demonstrated.

Latter took efficiency model and ran with it.  And world of business changed -- overnight.

For FedEx though they could lease existing, proven transportation hardware whereas new rocket companies have to build their own hardware from scratch.

It's not an apt analogy.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Jim

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #14 on: 08/09/2014 03:50 AM »

FedX followed by UPS.
Former started when there was no market for overnight deliveries (actually, there was a market, but status quo thought it impossible). High cost of entry business...
Concept/market demonstrated.

Latter took efficiency model and ran with it.  And world of business changed -- overnight.

It also had failed initiatives - Zapmail.

Offline Lars_J

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #15 on: 08/14/2014 12:14 AM »
SpaceX tweeted a new (?) image, looks like the Orbcomm launch: https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/499700680970346497
Quote
SpaceX ‏@SpaceX
Last week’s launch marks 60 Merlin 1D engines designed & built by SpaceX that have powered Falcon 9 to space. Woot!
« Last Edit: 08/14/2014 12:15 AM by Lars_J »

Offline llanitedave

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #16 on: 08/14/2014 03:01 AM »
Yep -- has legs AND it's clean!
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline luinil

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #17 on: 08/14/2014 08:17 AM »
This picture is not new, but it's great, I have it as my phone wallpaper since the launch !

Offline Jet Black

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #18 on: 08/14/2014 08:29 AM »
And just as SpaceX came "out of nowhere" 12 years ago, there is always the chance that a new entrant will be just as disruptive as SpaceX has been.  Let's hope for that too.

I think Reaction Engines stand a good chance, certainly in terms of LEO stuff. Once we do start colonizing other planets, it will be hard in my opinion for one company to dominate any more, because resource limitations will drop like crazy.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

Offline Zardar

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 11)
« Reply #19 on: 08/14/2014 10:47 AM »
<snip>

I think Reaction Engines stand a good chance, certainly in terms of LEO stuff. Once we do start colonizing other planets, it will be hard in my opinion for one company to dominate any more, because resource limitations will drop like crazy.

Resource limitations?
I don't think there's much of a global shortage of Aluminium/LOX/Kerosene

The more important resource limitations might be:
(A) The availability of skilled labor to design/build/checkout/(re)launch the rockets
(B) The cash to pay that labor.

and, tied very closely to that,  B2  -  sufficient customer(s) willing to pay over their own cash  for launch services rendered.

('their own cash' means non taxpayer-extracted  money spent on defense or subsidies)

Once more competitors enter the market, the constraints on the labor force will get tighter, and pricing pressure will get tougher.

Closing the business case for space exploration is, and will be, a difficult one.

Very-Long-Term, if you are doing most of the work in the 'off-world-colonies', you might have more control  of the labor costs (company town style), and you might avoid local earth taxes, but then you will have to carry the off-world infrastructure costs also (health/education/food etc)

But do be on the lookout for various variations of the old colony scam, i.e. where a bunch of mother-country business people take 'real' money from a load of people, ship them off somewhere else and expect them to basically "grow their own food" , and send anything extracted of value back through a closed trade channel.
(Of course, the original business people keep and spend the real money in the mother country.)

<Might be slightly off topic - mods, feel free to move!>




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