Author Topic: SpaceX vs BlueOrigin - Whose Approach / Business Strategy is Better?  (Read 224378 times)

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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AFAIK Blue Origin is planning to convert a /several surplus panamax tankers into landing vessels. This is the maximum vessel size (800') that can utilize the spaceport berth, planned by port Canaveral. VLCC are far larger.

Any idea why a tanker is preferable to - say - a container ship ?
I think it's easier to convert the oil tanks into ballast tanks. This way the ship becomes heavier, lies lower in the water and becomes more stable. During the voyage back to port, the ballast tanks could be empty to lower drag and thus fuel consumption.
Container ships typically have their bridge placed more to the center of the ship. This way the containers can be stacked higher at the front, before the front view is distorted to much.
Bulk carriers and oil tankers have their bridge at the rear or at the front.





I think this could also be a interesting solution. A lowered center section that can be submerged a couple about a feet. This eleviates cooling requirements for the landing deck, but you risk exposing the rockets engines to salt water. (Really good corrosion environment; salt water)


Let me add that BlueOrigin has announced they will, land on a moving vessel. They'll use stabalizer fins to stabilize the vessel. (this is used on cruiseships)
« Last Edit: 01/10/2018 03:55 PM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline sanman

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What opportunities are there for Blue Origin to draw lessons from SpaceX's successes and failures, to modify its strategies accordingly?

In what ways is SpaceX most likely to influence what Blue does?

While SpaceX may have a "first mover" advantage in many ways, it also has to bear the risks of being a pathbreaker. Like the old saying goes, "the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land".

Where can Blue benefit from being a "second mover" following behind SpaceX?

Offline Don S

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Since it is a Tanker it could haul fresh water for deck cooling streams during landings.

Offline Aurora

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Has Blue Origin started on the conversion / construction of the Landing Ship?   Where will the landing ship be retrofitted?     

Offline rpapo

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What opportunities are there for Blue Origin to draw lessons from SpaceX's successes and failures, to modify its strategies accordingly?

In what ways is SpaceX most likely to influence what Blue does?

While SpaceX may have a "first mover" advantage in many ways, it also has to bear the risks of being a pathbreaker. Like the old saying goes, "the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land".

Where can Blue benefit from being a "second mover" following behind SpaceX?
Because SpaceX has, as a matter of policy, not filed patents on their work, Blue Origin is free to borrow what they see of SpaceX's techniques and use them in their own work without fear of legal reprisal.  They can't steal the designs outright (and have shown little inclination to do so: they seem to be a proud bunch), but they can certainly borrow ideas, especially when they have been seen to work.  This reduces their risk, should they care to do so.

Of course, this same logic applies to other companies and nations.  We have already seen a Chinese company talk about something rather like a mini Falcon (legs and all), and we have seen others begin to break the former taboo against using many smaller rocket engines rather than one or two very large ones per stage.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline DJPledger

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Looks like customers are choosing NG over FH for heavy comsat launches. Looks like BO have got it right by offering 7m dia. fairing on NG while SpaceX has made the mistake of not offering a fairing of larger than 5.2m dia. on FH.

Offline envy887

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Looks like customers are choosing NG over FH for heavy comsat launches. Looks like BO have got it right by offering 7m dia. fairing on NG while SpaceX has made the mistake of not offering a fairing of larger than 5.2m dia. on FH.

Actually heavy launches on many light commsats, not "heavy commsats".

New Glenn only has 2 announced launches of large GTO commsats (JSAT and Eutelsat). I highly doubt the size of the fairing had anything to do with those contracts. GTO commsats are generally mass-constrained due to the high energy orbit, and operators don't buy satellites that can't go on more than one launch provider - if that provider has problems then the operator is SOL. The 7 meter fairing might allow stacked launches, though AFAIK Blue has not mentioned this (and Ariane does dual launch in a 5 meter fairing anyway).

The bulk of NG's current manifest is the 5 OneWeb launches. LEO constellation operators will happily fill up a fairing with a larger dispenser and more satellites. They don't have to worry about provider redundancy since fewer birds can easily ride on a smaller vehicle (OneWeb also has contracts with Soyuz through Ariane and with Virgin Orbit).

This is clearly a part of the market for which FH is not optimal - however this thread is Blue v. SpaceX, not FH v. NG. It's not at all clear that NG will be cheaper per small LEO sat than F9 is... and even if it is, the countering SpaceX strategy clearly is going to be to one-up NG with BFR.

Edit: SpaceX has "offered" a longer fairing, which would increase volume available for dual launch or for LEO constellations. It would also help them compete for some NSS launches. But AIFIK they have not seen enough market demand to develop a longer fairing.
« Last Edit: 03/23/2018 12:25 PM by envy887 »

Offline ugordan

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Looks like BO have got it right by offering 7m dia. fairing on NG while SpaceX has made the mistake of not offering a fairing of larger than 5.2m dia. on FH.

Mistake in the sense that they physically cannot increase the diameter much more than 5 m due to physics, transonic buffeting considerations, etc? There's an upper limit on what fairing vs core diameter ratio you can achieve and so the fairing diameter was fixed by the 12 feet diameter road-transportable limit imposed on the core.
« Last Edit: 03/23/2018 09:06 AM by ugordan »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Mistake in the sense that they physically cannot increase the diameter much more than 5 m due to physics, transonic buffeting considerations, etc? There's an upper limit on what fairing vs core diameter ratio you can achieve and so the fairing diameter was fixed by the 12 feet diameter road-transportable limit imposed on the core.

SpaceX must have got some special exemption. General maximum width is 8.5 feet (2.59 m) with the maximum being 10 feet (3.05 m) for fire engines!

http://www.dot.ca.gov/trafficops/trucks/width.html

For railways its 10'8" (3.25 m).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge
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Offline Archibald

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Blue Origin wants to use Panamax tankers as landing ships ?  :o
Amazing. Although probably far more expensive that SpaceX plain simple barges.
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Archibald

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What opportunities are there for Blue Origin to draw lessons from SpaceX's successes and failures, to modify its strategies accordingly?

In what ways is SpaceX most likely to influence what Blue does?

While SpaceX may have a "first mover" advantage in many ways, it also has to bear the risks of being a pathbreaker. Like the old saying goes, "the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land".

Where can Blue benefit from being a "second mover" following behind SpaceX?
Because SpaceX has, as a matter of policy, not filed patents on their work, Blue Origin is free to borrow what they see of SpaceX's techniques and use them in their own work without fear of legal reprisal.  They can't steal the designs outright (and have shown little inclination to do so: they seem to be a proud bunch), but they can certainly borrow ideas, especially when they have been seen to work.  This reduces their risk, should they care to do so.

Of course, this same logic applies to other companies and nations.  We have already seen a Chinese company talk about something rather like a mini Falcon (legs and all), and we have seen others begin to break the former taboo against using many smaller rocket engines rather than one or two very large ones per stage.

Very interesting, too. Well, it's a bit like the Boeing 247. It set new standards for airliners in 1932, and then many look alikes were legally created by others aircraft manufacturers. DC-2, DC-3, Lockheed Electra, Bloch MB-220, Convair 240, Martin 404, Lisunov Li-2, and many, many others.





What I mean is that for the last six decades Space Transportation has been searching for a space DC-3 / 707 / 747 to drop prices drastically and open the last frontier to the masses.
then, once such vehicle will be created, there is no patent standing: everybody will create clones of it.
« Last Edit: 03/24/2018 08:27 AM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline john smith 19

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Let me add that BlueOrigin has announced they will, land on a moving vessel. They'll use stabalizer fins to stabilize the vessel. (this is used on cruiseships)

Crazy idea and completely OT but....

Those fins. They look like they could operate in 2 axes.

Has anyone considered making them grid fins as well?
« Last Edit: 03/24/2018 11:54 AM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Mistake in the sense that they physically cannot increase the diameter much more than 5 m due to physics, transonic buffeting considerations, etc? There's an upper limit on what fairing vs core diameter ratio you can achieve and so the fairing diameter was fixed by the 12 feet diameter road-transportable limit imposed on the core.

SpaceX must have got some special exemption. General maximum width is 8.5 feet (2.59 m) with the maximum being 10 feet (3.05 m) for fire engines!

http://www.dot.ca.gov/trafficops/trucks/width.html

For railways its 10'8" (3.25 m).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge

There is a difference between 'standard vehicle widths' and 'wide loads'.

SpaceX rocket cores would qualify as 'wide loads' and be required to operate with 'chase' and 'tail' cars, amber warning lights, (and probably) white wig-wags, and 'corner' flags.  There may also be restrictions on time of day and day of week that they are allowed on the highway.

There would be extra permitting required for the driver and company as well.

Pretty standard stuff on the US highways really, where one's daily commute will likely encounter wider construction equipment on low-boy flats than a SpaceX core.  Or even a 14' wide double wide mobile/modular home or office being moved in two pieces down the Interstate.

Edit:  Many US States do not require the lead and chase cars for widths 12 feet and under.
« Last Edit: 03/24/2018 04:21 PM by Cherokee43v6 »
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Offline Archibald

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Quote
For railways its 10'8" (3.25 m).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge

When they ferried large solid rocket motors by rail, the maximum diameter was 156 inch, that is, 3.96 m.

Everything bigger, such as Aerojet monster 260 inch, had to be manufactured not too far from The Cape.
« Last Edit: 03/25/2018 09:40 AM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Eerie

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Let me add that BlueOrigin has announced they will, land on a moving vessel. They'll use stabalizer fins to stabilize the vessel. (this is used on cruiseships)

Crazy idea and completely OT but....

Those fins. They look like they could operate in 2 axes.

Has anyone considered making them grid fins as well?

Unless you want a supersonic water vehicle (speed of sound in water is 1531 m/s, so just imagine going through water at that speed - you'd need a ship made of Vibranium) there doesn't seem to be an advantage.

Offline spacenut

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Exemptions can be made for road transport.  Mobile homes in America are up to 16' wide (about 5.5 meters).  They can travel on roads with escort vehicles usually front and rear warning other drivers with "wide load" signs and flashing yellow lights.  Height may not exceed the 12' or about 3.8 meters due to overhead bridges.  Thus the size of Falcon 9.  So SpaceX didn't have to get any special exemption, just escort vehicles.  Also traveling at night via the Interstate system, they can avoid heavy traffic especially around large cities during rush hours. 

Railroads are older and have more curves, bridges and tunnels that a large diameter or a very long cargo cannot get by.  The solid boosters of the shuttle were 12' in diameter (maximum railroad limit), but they had to be broken down by segments in order to navigate railroad turns.  Turns for a very long load are easier to navigate on the interstate system with two lanes, and emergency lanes allowing longer turns when necessary.

Rockets such as NOVA in the 1960's were 12m wide and could only be transported via river and inland waterway barge.  12m may possibly be the limit of barges in America, thus NOVA and the 2016 ITS rocket. 
« Last Edit: 03/25/2018 03:27 PM by spacenut »

Online Lar

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Gridfins, road transport etc? Off topic.
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Online high road

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So, with both a NS and an Electron launch due no sooner than this month, shouldn't we include Rocket Lab in this comparison? Three different goals, three different market segments, three different strategies, two different financing approaches.

I'd love to see all of them succeed, regardless of whether the more exotic goals are achieved during my lifetime. But some will probably be more successful than others, especially in the short run.

Online Lar

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One could start another thread that was a three way comparo. But that is not this thread. RL is off topic for this thread.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline GWH

So which is the better business strategy:

1. Come out in open competition to the existing market, fighting your way tooth and nail to access new markets?

OR

2. Begin building rockets and developing new engine technology, find customers for your engines. Then as you get closer to launch, enter the exact same market as your customers and compete toe to toe against them?

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