Author Topic: Implications of ITS (formerly MCT) for other space agencies and companies  (Read 46120 times)

Offline AncientU

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #40 on: 09/18/2016 11:54 AM »
I'm sure this has been discussed before, but if a space economy develops, then fuel depots in space become a necessity, I would think.

So, if SpaceX masters the ability to produce large quantities of rocket fuel on Mars, does it become more cost effective to launch MCT tankers out of Mars's gravity well for long haul delivery of fuel to depots in Earth orbit, than it is to launch the fuel from Earth's deeper gravity well instead?

Or do the additional energy costs to get it from Mars to Earth orbit cancel out the gravity well advantages? If the former, then SpaceX could monopolize the fuel delivery business for the space economy - until such time as other sources of in-space fuel are found.

Now the Interplanetary Transport System...
https://twitter.com/elonmusk

Fuel distribution is key to opening the Solar System.  Depots in LEO, supplied with <<$1M/tonne propellant are step one, followed by similar depots at high orbits, especially EML-1/2.  Methlox and Hydrolox, plus water and other bulk supplies.  From there, anyone building a refuelable vehicle can go anywhere.

Depot system will eventually be supplied from non-terrestrial locations, but only because of bootstrapping off of the Earth-based system.

This is also the key to finally having a start on a solution to orbital debris.  In-space trash collectors will have fuel to maneuver and chase down debris.  We are going to need this clean-up to start within the next ten years.
(And to pay for it... a surcharge could be placed on orbital fuel to fund the trash collectors. A previously-proposed bounty system could pay for debris actually deorbited or moved to a controlled 'compound' -- impounded, as it were.)
« Last Edit: 09/18/2016 12:58 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline TheTraveller

I'm sure this has been discussed before, but if a space economy develops, then fuel depots in space become a necessity, I would think.

So, if SpaceX masters the ability to produce large quantities of rocket fuel on Mars, does it become more cost effective to launch MCT tankers out of Mars's gravity well for long haul delivery of fuel to depots in Earth orbit, than it is to launch the fuel from Earth's deeper gravity well instead?

Or do the additional energy costs to get it from Mars to Earth orbit cancel out the gravity well advantages? If the former, then SpaceX could monopolize the fuel delivery business for the space economy - until such time as other sources of in-space fuel are found.

Now the Interplanetary Transport System...
https://twitter.com/elonmusk

Fuel distribution is key to opening the Solar System.  Depots in LEO, supplied with <<$1M/tonne propellant are step one, followed by similar depots at high orbits, especially EML-1/2.  Methlox and Hydrolox, plus water and other bulk supplies.  From there, anyone building a refuelable vehicle can go anywhere.

Depot system will eventually be supplied from non-terrestrial locations, but only because of bootstrapping off of the Earth-based system.

This is also the key to finally having a start on a solution to orbital debris.  In-space trash collectors will have fuel to maneuver and chase down debris.  We are going to need this clean-up to start within the next ten years.
(And to pay for it... a surcharge could be placed on orbital fuel to fund the trash collectors. A previously-proposed bounty system could pay for debris actually deorbited or moved to a controlled 'compound' -- impounded, as it were.)

Yup infrastructure building time.

Will need ITS refueling, repair, rest & journey interchange stops. Which means accommodation, food, drinks, clothing, tech gadgets, recreation, medical, etc for crew & pax.
« Last Edit: 09/18/2016 01:18 PM by TheTraveller »
"As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas.
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Offline AncientU

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #42 on: 09/18/2016 01:22 PM »
For this to be long term viable, lots of other players need to plug into the system.  A 'simple' transportation company can make big bucks selling (distributing) fuel and supplies if they are in demand.
« Last Edit: 09/18/2016 01:24 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline Lemurion

I see a number of implications following from SpaceX successfully fielding MCT/ITS.

Lots of people have mentioned Blue Origin as a beneficiary, using its own heavy-lift systems to exploit the markets that SpaceX opens with MCT/ITS, but I haven't seen much mention of Bigelow. Blue in particular wants people in space, and Bigelow is best positioned to provide the infrastructure for those people to live in.


Online Pipcard

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #44 on: 09/27/2016 08:53 PM »
So Musk said in today's presentation that he wants to encourage others around the world to develop their own interplanetary vehicle architectures. (can't link to the exact time right now because I am on a tablet)

edit: 1:54:25 (from the uncut presentation with all the dumb questions)
« Last Edit: 10/01/2016 08:52 PM by Pipcard »

Offline Ludus

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #45 on: 09/28/2016 03:49 PM »
It's interesting that in all the beautiful graphics of the Heart of Gold class Spaceship in different settings, it never has any logos, flags or markings.

The presentation suggests SpaceX wants to make them in quantity and they will be surprisingly cheap once they get production up. They will cost about as much as airliners.

Assuming SpaceX considers ITS a system it has to own in order to keep tight control of engineering and operational standards, it still might lease SpaceShips. Other parties might have wide discretion about outfitting and missions. The ship would be painted in whatever livery desired and you could send it where you wish while paying SpaceX to operate it, launch it etc.

Virgin Galactic might lease one for earth and lunar orbit space tourism. NASA might use one for a Europa mission. The UAE might use a few for it's own Mars settlement. The Sultan of Brunei might want one for the first Spaceship yacht. The US AirForce could obviously find a use for few.

A paint job makes quite a difference. Being able to have your very own livery on a cool genuine Spaceship may be a bigger selling point than one might think at first. Most countries, large corporations or other entities could have their own real space program.

SpaceX would mostly build variants of the Spaceship. There would be a order of magnitude more spaceships built than BFR boosters. Of Spaceships, tankers would fly the most but more cargo ship variants would be built than anything (the presentation didn't show them but I'd assume something that looks like a Tanker but has cargo doors from the nose to the midsection a bit like the shuttle bay, and tanks like the passenger variant.)
« Last Edit: 09/28/2016 04:08 PM by Ludus »

Offline envy887

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #46 on: 09/28/2016 07:26 PM »
There's the small problem of orbital rockets being advanced weapons systems. The US government will have a small issue with SpaceX selling them to just anyone with cash.

Offline Alastor

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #47 on: 09/28/2016 07:46 PM »
Actually, this raises another question :
If there is a colony on Mars, who will have legal authority on it ?

Especially if the initial facilities are build by SpaceX employees.
Will it be independant ?
Will it be considered as being a SpaceX's own little country ?
Will it be under the law of a specific country ? If so, which one ? Why should it be ?

I can see this becoming easily an issue !

Offline Ludus

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #48 on: 09/28/2016 07:56 PM »
There's the small problem of orbital rockets being advanced weapons systems. The US government will have a small issue with SpaceX selling them to just anyone with cash.

I don't think there's any problem with the sort of contract I'm suggesting under ITAR or other US law. That's why I'm talking about a contract more like a lease that retains SpaceX ownership and operational control. The customer gets exclusive use, a lot of say about configuration, the right to any paint job they want and any use allowed by law (operated by SpaceX). It would be a lot like leasing a jet under a contract where the OEM flies and operates it for you. It's "your" jet. You can configure the cabin how you like. Within the law you can have it flown where and when you want. You can personalize the livery and put your name in big bold letters on the side if you want. None of these things give you rights that are a security threat.

The SpaceShips are what are leased not the booster system and they are owned and operated by SpaceX.

US law doesn't care if a Spaceship has a different bold paint job. Missions would be governed by US law exactly the same as if SpaceX was doing the mission on it's own under it's own logo.
« Last Edit: 09/28/2016 08:18 PM by Ludus »

Offline Ludus

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #49 on: 09/28/2016 08:04 PM »
Actually, this raises another question :
If there is a colony on Mars, who will have legal authority on it ?

Especially if the initial facilities are build by SpaceX employees.
Will it be independant ?
Will it be considered as being a SpaceX's own little country ?
Will it be under the law of a specific country ? If so, which one ? Why should it be ?

I can see this becoming easily an issue !

It is an interesting question. SpaceX missions to Mars under the Space Treaty are under the Aegis of US regulation and control. If SpaceX established a Mars colony it would be under US authority. If SpaceX contracted with parties outside the US to provide services setting up and servicing their Mars colony it could be different. Some sovereign legal authority would have to assume responsibility though. Under current treaty it would not be independent either by itself or under SpaceX.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #50 on: 09/28/2016 08:08 PM »
Actually, this raises another question :
If there is a colony on Mars, who will have legal authority on it ?

Especially if the initial facilities are build by SpaceX employees.
Will it be independant ?
Will it be considered as being a SpaceX's own little country ?
Will it be under the law of a specific country ? If so, which one ? Why should it be ?

I can see this becoming easily an issue !

It is an interesting question. SpaceX missions to Mars under the Space Treaty are under the Aegis of US regulation and control. If SpaceX established a Mars colony it would be under US authority. If SpaceX contracted with parties outside the US to provide services setting up and servicing their Mars colony it could be different. Some sovereign legal authority would have to assume responsibility though. Under current treaty it would not be independent either by itself or under SpaceX.
Theory of authority not practice.

Technically when someone on site sets the first "law", then things potentially change. That's the bootstrap for policy.

Offline sanman

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #51 on: 09/28/2016 08:14 PM »
If SpaceX builds a spaceship this big, then doesn't it suddenly produce a political imperative for the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, etc to now respond by scaling up their own plans? I can imagine all sorts of scientists and engineers dusting off old ideas for bigger rockets which had previously been nixed as too expensive or too ambitious, and now getting a hearing from those who control the purse strings.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #52 on: 09/28/2016 08:22 PM »
Actually, this raises another question :
If there is a colony on Mars, who will have legal authority on it ?

Especially if the initial facilities are build by SpaceX employees.
Will it be independant ?
Will it be considered as being a SpaceX's own little country ?
Will it be under the law of a specific country ? If so, which one ? Why should it be ?

I can see this becoming easily an issue !

It is an interesting question. SpaceX missions to Mars under the Space Treaty are under the Aegis of US regulation and control. If SpaceX established a Mars colony it would be under US authority. If SpaceX contracted with parties outside the US to provide services setting up and servicing their Mars colony it could be different. Some sovereign legal authority would have to assume responsibility though. Under current treaty it would not be independent either by itself or under SpaceX.
Theory of authority not practice.

Technically when someone on site sets the first "law", then things potentially change. That's the bootstrap for policy.

Sure. Just talking about the formal status under law so far. Everything will be new. The law doesn't deal with hypotheticals.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #53 on: 09/28/2016 08:31 PM »
If SpaceX builds a spaceship this big, then doesn't it suddenly produce a political imperative for the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, etc to now respond by scaling up their own plans? I can imagine all sorts of scientists and engineers dusting off old ideas for bigger rockets which had previously been nixed as too expensive or too ambitious, and now getting a hearing from those who control the purse strings.

I don't know. It might have the opposite effect if it provided an affordable commercial platform to operate in Space that had nothing really to do with launch. Until now with expendable rockets, Space was just a demo for weapons systems. It might be harder to conflate space programs with missile programs if you could operate a huge Indian spaceship capable of taking 100 people to Mars for the same cost as building a slightly improved suborbital rocket.

Countries might actually be tempted to compete doing bold leading edge things in Space instead of repeating the things others did half a century ago.


Online ZachF

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #54 on: 09/28/2016 08:39 PM »
A cargo MCT could probably launch a dozen GEO sats at once... with 300mt to LEO the MCT-cargo hovers in LEO, opens it's cargo bay, and an arm lifts them out and away where a smaller rocket carries them to the desired GTO.

If SpaceX could even get a fraction of the reusability they want, they could probably put up each satellite for a mere pittance compared to today's costs (ie a few million apiece).

Online ZachF

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #55 on: 09/28/2016 08:43 PM »
If SpaceX builds a spaceship this big, then doesn't it suddenly produce a political imperative for the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, etc to now respond by scaling up their own plans? I can imagine all sorts of scientists and engineers dusting off old ideas for bigger rockets which had previously been nixed as too expensive or too ambitious, and now getting a hearing from those who control the purse strings.

Chinese perhaps... Russians have no money anymore, India is still very far behind, Europe doesn't really care about space.

Russia's economy is barely larger than Mexico's with oil under $50/barrel.

Offline laszlo

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Re: Implications of MCT for other space agencies and companies
« Reply #56 on: 09/28/2016 08:45 PM »
And what if when Elon gets all the technical details worked out, but before colonization starts, life is discovered on Mars and the world decides that it'd be unethical to interfere with another planet's evolution and declares Mars a protected zone and prohibits colonization and performing?

Or if the people who are afraid of anything new decide that anything returning from Mars has too much chance of causing the very plague that Elon is attempting to safeguard against?

It seems to me that he better be working on the legal and social aspects because even if he has a monopoly on getting to Mars, there is no monopoly on stopping him.

Offline biosehnsucht

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When has indigenous life ever stopped us before?

Online Eer

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Hadn't thought of it, but yes, this could kick off a new wave of colonial competition, couldn't it?

We've thought a bit about SX leasing ships to other countries and agencies for their use, but not so much about whether the thought of a US flag carrier plying the route to Mars might not engender some competitive efforts, once it's shown to be feasible.

Wouldn't be the first time countries competed for a new world ...

Offline sanman

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Another thing - what will ITS do to the rest of the private space launch industry? Drive them out of business?

How the heck will ULA or anybody else be able to make any money from launching satellites, when one single ITS launch could send up everything in one go?

Arguably, national space programs will still maintain their monopolies to retain their existing launch systems as part of their "national technical means" because it's a strategic necessity. But what in the world do private companies do?

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" - will the rest of the space industry just sort of re-form itself or re-align itself around SpaceX's market disruption? If/when ITS comes into service, then it's like a tsunami on the marketplace.

What will the price/kg to LEO be in the era of ITS? How will this impact the satellite industry?
Will every university and major corporation now send up their own dedicated satellites just because they can afford it? Will Earth's orbital space become ridiculously cluttered?

Will the extreme payload capacity of ITS now enable some new solutions to tackle all the space junk in orbit?

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