Author Topic: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?  (Read 14829 times)

Offline laszlo

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #20 on: 08/02/2016 04:46 PM »
So far, while there are strong indications, everything involved with reusing an F9 is purely experimental. There is absolutely no evidence (yet) that it will both work and be economically viable. That won't happen until enough successful reflights are done to prove that it works and to be able to determine the actual financials.

You're misusing the phrase "absolutely no evidence".  You say "there are strong indications" in one sentence and "absolutely no evidence" in the next.

Evidence is anything that tends to indicate something.  It can be stronger or weaker.  You seem to be claiming there is "absolutely no evidence" until the very strongest possible evidence is completely assembled.

So, your use of the term "evidence" is inconsistent with the standard understanding of the term in the English language.

So much argument could be avoided if people would just use the standard meanings of words.

"Strong indications" refers to the contrast between experimental results and completed engineering from the previous sentence. "Absolutely no evidence" refers to the combination of both working and being economically viable in the current sentence. Since they're referring to two different things (that's why they're two separate sentences), there is no contradiction.

You're right in that there's evidence of reuse working, but the economic viability is still in the process of being tested. Since there has yet to be a single reflight (by SpaceX, at least), there is no evidence, just educated speculation about the actual cost of reuse.

My point is not that it is impossible, just an observation as to why 2019 is too early any answer to the question of when reused stages will be the majority.

Offline AncientU

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #21 on: 08/02/2016 05:04 PM »
<snip>
 there is no evidence, just educated speculation about the actual cost of reuse.


Do you really believe that the folks at SpaceX have no evidence?

Granted that you and I are just speculating -- they probably know to the dollar what it is now costing to get a used core back on the pad and are seeking ways to reduce each of those costs.  Perfect knowledge of costs won't arrive until they have reflown cores many times, but they are well beyond no evidence.
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Offline JamesH65

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #22 on: 08/03/2016 10:36 AM »
<snip>
 there is no evidence, just educated speculation about the actual cost of reuse.


Do you really believe that the folks at SpaceX have no evidence?

Granted that you and I are just speculating -- they probably know to the dollar what it is now costing to get a used core back on the pad and are seeking ways to reduce each of those costs.  Perfect knowledge of costs won't arrive until they have reflown cores many times, but they are well beyond no evidence.

Agreed. If there was no evidence that economic reusability was possible, then they would NOT have even started on that road. So there is clearly numerical evidence that it is possible, and this must have been in place before they even started on reusability. And now they have evidence, not yet conclusive, that the engineering is also possible - they have landed stages, and they have re-tested the landed stages.  So they have an awful LOT of evidence that reusability will work. What they don't have is CONCLUSIVE evidence which I guess they can only have when they actually relaunch.

But to say there is no evidence is clearly inaccurate.

Offline Lar

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #23 on: 08/03/2016 12:24 PM »
"Success has to be a possible outcome" -Musk
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"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online wannamoonbase

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #24 on: 08/03/2016 12:57 PM »
I think 2019 is reasonable to see 50% flights on reused cores. 

For us fans that watch daily it feels like slow progress on a day to day basis but SpaceX has shown dramatic improvement over a period of 2-3 years.

It maybe hard to get past 50% if NASA insists on new cores for Dragon crew and cargo as that will be a good percentage of flights.  And I'm basing my assumption on a geuss-timate flight rate of 20-24 flights per year.  (They maybe able to launch more than that, but that maybe the amount of paying customers available).  A massive over the top year would probably be around 30 launches (one every 12 days)
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #25 on: 08/03/2016 01:27 PM »
And now they have evidence, not yet conclusive, that the engineering is also possible - they have landed stages, and they have re-tested the landed stages.  So they have an awful LOT of evidence that reusability will work. What they don't have is CONCLUSIVE evidence which I guess they can only have when they actually relaunch.

But to say there is no evidence is clearly inaccurate.

They have the stages landed. They have testfired the stage that has endured the most severe conditions during landing. Hans Königsmann has declared they believe they have that stability problem with the hottest reentries solved. They must have a very good idea by now how much it will cost them to get them back to flight worthy conditions.

We don't have the data. But I see them fairly glowing with confidence and conclude they know they have economic reuse solved. Maybe not yet 100 per core, but more than the 2 or 3 they need to have substantial savings.

IMO what's left to do is convince the market and work on the details to get past 20 and in the direction of their aim of 100+.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #26 on: 08/03/2016 03:24 PM »
This is rather like the discussion we saw prior to SpaceX's first stage recoveries.  I believe that once SpaceX re-flies a few F9 stages, the chorus from the Doubting Thomases will fade away right quick... ;)
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #27 on: 08/03/2016 03:38 PM »
This is rather like the discussion we saw prior to SpaceX's first stage recoveries.  I believe that once SpaceX re-flies a few F9 stages, the chorus from the Doubting Thomases will fade away right quick... ;)
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Online Alastor

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #28 on: 08/03/2016 04:45 PM »
By the way, wouldn't it be fun if the first time they refly a stage, they didn't announce it, and a few days later went something like "Oh, by the way, it was the second flight of stage #XXX ! ", like if it was something routine ? ;D

I bet you'd have a few jaws touching the floor (EDIT : Slamming the floor !!!) in the audience !  ;D

The more I think of it, even if it doesn't make any damn PR sense, they HAVE to do it !
« Last Edit: 08/03/2016 04:47 PM by Alastor »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #29 on: 08/03/2016 08:18 PM »
Given the great technical progress SpaceX has made (with booster recovery and now multiple re-fires) for me the key issue is how quickly customers are comfortable to switch to re-used boosters.

Let's assume SES are the first to re-use a booster in October and all goes well. Will other customers quickly follow suit?

I'm not so sure, particularly after CRS-7 where a latent issue unexpectedly appeared. But over the next couple of years my guess is that there'll be enough takers that 2019 is a reasonable estimate for re-use becoming the majority.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #30 on: 08/03/2016 09:24 PM »
From a standpoint of floorspace and manpower you can replace the manufacture of a 1st stage with the production of 2 US. So that the flight rate could double with the same manufacture level of effort. This would mean that the average number of flights per a single 1st stage would be 4. At this point max number of flights in one year would be ~30. This assumes the current level of manufacturing effort is not expanded and remains at 18 full vehicles (a set of 1 1st stage and 1 US). Such that a flight rate of 24 would be the 50/50 point. This flight rate could be as early as end of year 2017.

A flight rate of 28/29 would be a 75% used 1st stages flights. When adding in FH flights to flight rates and manufacturing rates the numbers become highly variable for flight rates depending on the ratios of FH to F9 flights.

What I am basically saying is that when flight rates go beyond 24/yr used core use will likely outnumber new.

At the moment 2017 shows >24 flights. But I am sure a few of these will slip into 2018 which would move the "more used than new" to occur in 2018 or even latter. Core reuse will at first be a method for increasing flight rate without increasing manufacture level of effort.
« Last Edit: 08/03/2016 09:26 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #31 on: 08/07/2016 03:05 PM »
Floorspace for stages is one thing, but remember also that a F9R needs only 10% of the engine manufacturing capacity of an expendable F9- so where is all that extra capacity going to go?

Also, my guess is that the first few reflown cores may only fly two or three times before lessons learned make them obselete and they are retired favour of more robust vehicles.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #32 on: 08/07/2016 09:10 PM »
Floorspace for stages is one thing, but remember also that a F9R needs only 10% of the engine manufacturing capacity of an expendable F9- so where is all that extra capacity going to go?

Also, my guess is that the first few reflown cores may only fly two or three times before lessons learned make them obselete and they are retired favour of more robust vehicles.
Well, consider that they've only launched 7 cores per year so far (this year being the greatest year), and they we want to get to like 80 flights per year, some of them Falcon Heavy. Plus the cores don't have infinite life, and some Falcon Heavy center cores will be outright expended. I don't think they'll have a problem finding use for their engine manufacturing capacity.

And once MCT enters the scene and is launched a few times, the equation significantly changes. But that's kind of a separate discussion. They may even stockpile Merlin 1Ds and eventually retire that part of their manufacturing line as they transition to making MCTs. (and even with as much reuse as possible, they'll still need more manufacturing capacity than they currently have to handle building enough MCTs) Or maybe some other vehicle as well, too early to really tell. So instead of speculating further, I'll wait a month and a half.

(EDIT: This post sounds overly optimistic. I'm talking about limits, here, not what will most likely happen. And in the "most likely" case, they'll probably have a mix of expended and reused stages, so manufacturing capacity still won't be idle.)
« Last Edit: 08/07/2016 09:12 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #33 on: 08/07/2016 09:16 PM »
I prefer to think about it this way:

SpaceX wants to get 40-80 launches per year out of Falcons, and many of those will be Falcon Heavies. No way in heck that's feasible with their current manufacturing capacity (demonstrated ~7/year, maybe capable of 15-30 cores without expansion) without significant reuse.

It's the other side of the coin. Reuse as a way to dramatically enhance flight rate given a fixed manufacturing capacity.
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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #34 on: 08/09/2016 05:16 PM »
Not sure where to post this:

Quote
Shotwell: “a lot of interest” from customers on flying on reused Falcon 9. May fly two of them this year. #smallsat

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/763060451680722944

Offline AncientU

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #35 on: 08/10/2016 12:47 AM »
You found the correct thread.
Several threads are using that quote in discussions -- it may be the second most interesting quote of the talk.
(The first was shipping a Raptor to McGregor.)
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #36 on: 08/17/2016 07:30 AM »
Given the new developments. The info that the engines of the test core had minor modifications to the present production status. The info that the insurance companies are willing to raise their premiums only moderately. They are now setting up the test core for more firings. They expect two launches of used bosters soon, maybe this year.

They may get into the situation, that next year demand on used cores, from customers who want to change their contracts from new to reused, will exceed their capacity until they have a workshop ready with a rocket washing facility and for recoating of thrust structure and interstage. Next year the HIF at LC-39A will be busy with FH and commercial crew and will no longer be availabe to work on used boosters.

That's assuming of course that they have no failures on their first two reflights.

Offline AncientU

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #37 on: 08/17/2016 11:45 PM »
Given the new developments. The info that the engines of the test core had minor modifications to the present production status. The info that the insurance companies are willing to raise their premiums only moderately. They are now setting up the test core for more firings. They expect two launches of used bosters soon, maybe this year.

They may get into the situation, that next year demand on used cores, from customers who want to change their contracts from new to reused, will exceed their capacity until they have a workshop ready with a rocket washing facility and for recoating of thrust structure and interstage. Next year the HIF at LC-39A will be busy with FH and commercial crew and will no longer be availabe to work on used boosters.

That's assuming of course that they have no failures on their first two reflights.

A big switch like this will mean that launch has become a commodity.  Boosters will have become generic and all tailoring (not sure how much this will be) will be on second stage, flight profile, orbit, etc.  A single booster could deliver crew to ISS, commercial to GTO, LEO propellant, whatever... this part of launch would then be considered a commodity.
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Offline dorkmo

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #38 on: 08/30/2016 09:29 AM »
i guess another behind the scenes question is "how much does the insurance cost for a reused booster?"

Insurance rates for Falcon 9 dropped surprisingly fast to near Ariane levels. I don't think it will take many successful flights for F9R to reach similar values. Big question is the first reflight.

Quote
There also was “no material change” in the insurance rate compared to using a new Falcon 9 rocket, indicating insurers’ confidence in the launch vehicle, Halliwell said.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-rocket-20160829-snap-story.html

interesting

Offline IRobot

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Re: When will reused first stages be the majority of launches?
« Reply #39 on: 08/30/2016 11:08 AM »
I prefer to think about it this way:

SpaceX wants to get 40-80 launches per year out of Falcons, and many of those will be Falcon Heavies. No way in heck that's feasible with their current manufacturing capacity (demonstrated ~7/year, maybe capable of 15-30 cores without expansion) without significant reuse.

It's the other side of the coin. Reuse as a way to dramatically enhance flight rate given a fixed manufacturing capacity.
There is another thing to it: reuse means landing, and they need landing to their Mars ambitions.
Even if they made no money with reuse (after R&D expenses are covered), the initial R&D effort was required for a Mars program.

Not to mention the vast experience and sense of safety that they will have by the time they land something on Mars.

It is very different to send a lander to Mars that has a well proven landing history compared to sending one which was never live tested.
« Last Edit: 08/30/2016 11:11 AM by IRobot »

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