Author Topic: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer?  (Read 326166 times)

Offline meekGee

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #40 on: 01/13/2015 10:03 PM »
I'm a bit sceptic about how many business models there are for large constellations. Imaging is something already well covered by others using very small, very cheap sats in very low orbits. Navigation is a given, too, because it's essentially available for free.
Which leaves global networks based on LEO constellations, certainly a market and probably one that can take a new entrant. Much more cyclic than Elon's traditional government service business.

I don't think imaging is even close to being saturated.  Just consider real-time imaging and what it implies.

And we're very far from a high quality global communication network with any appreciable bandwidth.

But I doubt you get people to invest in an entire satellite-building venture if you can't present a convincing case that it will be kept busy.


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Online pippin

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #41 on: 01/13/2015 10:07 PM »
I'm not saying it's saturated but there's at least half a dozen imaging constellations being worked on. And that's not "old tech". You won't see a few hundred constellations, these things have network effects, too.

Now, global communication networks, I agree there's a lot going to come here.

But that's two business models. My main point was that I don't see too many additional ones for whole constellations. Of course, you often don't see business models coming but still, there's usually little _really_ new stuff coming.

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #42 on: 01/13/2015 10:12 PM »
For 1000 people and 700 satellites and the timescales Elon has indicated, it works out at about 5 man-years per satellite, so less than $500,000 in direct labor costs. Remarkably little, component and infrastructure costs will be much more than that - large clean rooms will be required to manufacture 700 satellites in a few years.

Offline meekGee

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #43 on: 01/13/2015 10:13 PM »
I'm not saying it's saturated but there's at least half a dozen imaging constellations being worked on. And that's not "old tech". You won't see a few hundred constellations, these things have network effects, too.

Now, global communication networks, I agree there's a lot going to come here.

But that's two business models. My main point was that I don't see too many additional ones for whole constellations. Of course, you often don't see business models coming but still, there's usually little _really_ new stuff coming.

Yes, they are worked on, but each is trying to re-invent the wheel.  That market will consolidate, and I don't think Musk is too late for that party.  Besides, he's got as good a view into that industry as any of them.

If he again stays out of the way of the operators, and simply offers a low cost constellation-optimized platform, he may not need to compete with them business wise.

Real time imaging constellations are also a giant communication challenge, which just adds to the potential.
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Offline jak Kennedy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #44 on: 01/13/2015 10:14 PM »
Hopefully Elon will be able to tell the DoD that he doesn't have any free slots for their birds till 2025. "That's a negative AF space command, The pattern is full"

Online pippin

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #45 on: 01/13/2015 10:15 PM »
He won't be able to stay out of the business of the operators when we talk imaging since most of the new entrant operators there are planning (or doing it) to build their own sats, vertically integrating themselves.

Offline meekGee

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #46 on: 01/13/2015 10:26 PM »
He won't be able to stay out of the business of the operators when we talk imaging since most of the new entrant operators there are planning (or doing it) to build their own sats, vertically integrating themselves.

How much of that is set in stone already?   I hear a lot of talk, and some doves are flying, but are they getting enough bandwidth and longevity out of them?   I'm sure they all came to Musk when looking for launchers, and I wonder if he just saw 10 groups trying to re-invent the same wheel - and maybe made them the offer for their "real" constellation?

A real-time imager moving at 8 km/sec has to snap a 250 m frame 32 times a second, for a resolution of 10 cm at a frame size of 2500 pixels - for no overlap.   That's a hell of a lot of communication bandwidth, and thus a lot of power.  I don't know if the current micro-sats can do all that.

If you're talking real time video surveillance, it gets even worse.

So I don't think the current offerings are the final word by any stretch of the imagination.
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Offline Razvan

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #47 on: 01/13/2015 11:06 PM »
We need to wait until Friday for the official announcement and see what Elon really intends to do: is he going to enter the market in a triple quality of sats producer, launcher and operator or is he stlll into some kind of cooperation with Greg Wyler?

Evidently, he's believable when talking about manufacturing sats, even of yet unknown generation technology, or talking about launching them.

As operator, I wouldn't bet though. Even if price wise the sat could be very competitive, going through multiple tier chain operation, the product could end up dead. At the same time, as he put it so many times, he is already too busy with Tesla, SpaceX, Giga Battery Plant a.s.o., so I wouldn't foresee any interest going into operation field.

He may also have some corp interested to heavily invest into this new venture - such as Panasonic with Battery Plant in Nevada.

Friday could be the day of big news...

Offline Avron

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #48 on: 01/13/2015 11:15 PM »
sounds like this with mean a second site for engineers working at Spacex.. and will bring us global wifi that much quicker.. can wait to get rid of my monopolies

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #49 on: 01/13/2015 11:45 PM »
We need to wait until Friday for the official announcement and see what Elon really intends to do: is he going to enter the market in a triple quality of sats producer, launcher and operator or is he stlll into some kind of cooperation with Greg Wyler?

[...]

Friday could be the day of big news...

connected to the fact, that the falcon heavy thread is locked without any obvious reason, there might be something going on (smelling a conspiracy theory and whistling the x-files theme).

Online QuantumG

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #50 on: 01/13/2015 11:46 PM »
Here's a transcript of the Bloomberg interview.

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/musk-says-spacex-will-develop-satellites-in-seattle-2015-01-14

By the end his words-per-minute were making my fingers sting. I think he's excited about the new satellite office. :)
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.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #51 on: 01/14/2015 12:17 AM »
Takeaway: he's a big believer in lots of smaller, more frequently replaced and more advanced satellites vs. (as he put it) the Battlestar Galactica model.
DM

Offline hrissan

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #52 on: 01/14/2015 12:36 AM »
Here's a transcript of the Bloomberg interview.

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/musk-says-spacex-will-develop-satellites-in-seattle-2015-01-14

By the end his words-per-minute were making my fingers sting. I think he's excited about the new satellite office. :)
Enormous thanks to you! Somehow Elon is the person whose english I understand the worst of all people I ever heard speaking.

Offline ericspittle

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #53 on: 01/14/2015 12:46 AM »
Here's a transcript of the Bloomberg interview.

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/musk-says-spacex-will-develop-satellites-in-seattle-2015-01-14

By the end his words-per-minute were making my fingers sting. I think he's excited about the new satellite office. :)
IMO it's hard not to get excited about his dreams. Thank you for posting the transcript.

Online mr. mark

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #54 on: 01/14/2015 03:00 AM »
Wondering if SpaceX will get in the ion/electric propulsion game for satellite boost like Boeing is doing. The technology could be helpful as a stepping stone for deep space.

Offline mme

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #55 on: 01/14/2015 05:34 AM »
Wondering if SpaceX will get in the ion/electric propulsion game for satellite boost like Boeing is doing. The technology could be helpful as a stepping stone for deep space.
I could be wrong, but I would think that "small" satellites would target lower orbits.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Online Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #56 on: 01/14/2015 05:51 AM »
It certainly should not be that surprising that SpaceX is entering this field:
1. They already have experience now in building spacecraft (Dragon), even if not for long missions (yet)
2. This is technology they need to master if they are serious about Mars.

So why not?

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #57 on: 01/14/2015 07:04 AM »
It certainly should not be that surprising that SpaceX is entering this field:
1. They already have experience now in building spacecraft (Dragon), even if not for long missions (yet)
2. This is technology they need to master if they are serious about Mars.

So why not?

and think about it this way. cygnus is a spacecraft derived from a satellite system. spaceX just goes the same way, but the opposite direction.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #58 on: 01/14/2015 07:11 AM »
I could be wrong, but I would think that "small" satellites would target lower orbits.
Well, satellite co-location in geostationary slots is possible.

Something I've picked up watching talks about this. There's trades that can be made with the satellite for things like coverage beams in different areas. You can have a certain amount of fixed beams, then some steerable beams (but those take more mass). For a satellite with a long service life you aren't quite sure where the demand is going to be so you keep the steerable beams in reserve.

Extend that to what Musk seems to be talking about. You'd have several satellites co-located, shorter lives but more frequent launches, able to take over for each other in case of failure. I don't know how small they'd be (potentially not that small), but you'd definitely want to get out of the situation where the payload is an order of magnitude more than the launch. So, a very aggressively cost optimized design, with lots of identical units built and launched to different orbital slots for different customers.

Imagine 20 orbital slots, each requiring a launch per year. That's a decent satellite business.

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?
« Reply #59 on: 01/14/2015 12:31 PM »
Note: I've moved a few recent posts not quite related to satellites to the General Falcon & Dragon Discussion thread.  ;)

I wonder what kind of satellites is Mr. Musk et al. planning to build - LEO/MEO communication sat constellation? Or Imaging satellites? Commercial navigation fleet that beats GPS? Bear in mind that satellites have had quite a bit of evolution ahead of rockets, so I am not quite sure how much "revolutionary space" is there for Mr. Musk et al. to blast into.  ;)

Also I wonder if they are focusing on the satellite bus (a.k.a. making real "Lego spacecraft") or the specific payloads, or both? Somehow I just can't see them start developing optical sensors, radar antenna systems or atomic clocks, unless they are needed for the Mars Doctrine (TM).....  ::)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

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