Author Topic: SpaceX customers' views on reuse  (Read 54473 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« on: 04/06/2017 05:28 PM »
I don't think we have a thread on different SpaceX customers' (and potential customers) views on re-use?

Obviously SES have been very supportive and publicly vocal in that support for some time. NASA too, although less vocally?

SpaceX plan/hope to reuse more and more boosters, but not clear who for (beyond SES and FH demo). Let's capture others views (pro or anti) in this thread.

Here's one to kick things off:

Quote
Gen. Raymond, head of Space Command, praises SpaceX's use of AFSS and says USAF would be comfortable flying on reused Falcon rocket. #33SS

https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/850034744087777280

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #1 on: 04/06/2017 05:57 PM »
Slightly varying reports of what the Gen said:

Quote
Gen Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command, says he's "open" to using previously flown rockets for launches of military assets. #33SS
https://twitter.com/pfswarts/status/850038411910148100

Quote
Gen Raymond says he's ready to fly a military payload on a used booster. #SpaceSymposium #33ss
https://twitter.com/pat_defdaily/status/850034233477394432

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #2 on: 04/07/2017 01:28 PM »
Here's a write-up by Irene Klotz of the general's remarks:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-spacex-military-idUSKBN1782ZS

Quote
"I would be comfortable if we were to fly on a reused booster,” General John "Jay" Raymond told reporters at the U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. “They’ve proven they can do it. ... It’s going to get us to lower cost.”

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #3 on: 04/09/2017 02:05 AM »
Cross posting from the GPS-IIIA-3 thread with quoted comments post that award announcement.  I don't believe that Ms. Leon's comments (reported 2017-03-15) are substantially different from Gen. Raymond's (reported 2017-04-06) in the previous post.  Her's highlight the work still to be done before the AF would actually buy a launch using a pre-flown core while the General's are more big picture about their general willingness to consider doing so.

SpaceNews has a follow-up article on this contract award.

You won't be suprised to know that SpaceX won on price, but this quote is interesting on AF's view of re-use:

Quote
Meanwhile, [Claire] Leon said that the Air Force has no plans to fly payloads on Falcon 9 rockets with previously-flown first stages. The service has specifically requested SpaceX not to fly re-used hardware.

“We would have to certify flight hardware that had been used which is more qualification, more analysis, so we’re not taking that on quite yet,” she said. “If it proves to be successful for commercial, we might consider that in the future.”

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-low-cost-won-gps-3-launch-air-force-says/

Claire Leon is the launch enterprise director for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center
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Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #4 on: 04/09/2017 08:21 AM »
Cross posting from the GPS-IIIA-3 thread with quoted comments post that award announcement.  I don't believe that Ms. Leon's comments (reported 2017-03-15) are substantially different from Gen. Raymond's (reported 2017-04-06) in the previous post.  Her's highlight the work still to be done before the AF would actually buy a launch using a pre-flown core while the General's are more big picture about their general willingness to consider doing so.

SpaceNews has a follow-up article on this contract award.

You won't be suprised to know that SpaceX won on price, but this quote is interesting on AF's view of re-use:

Quote
Meanwhile, [Claire] Leon said that the Air Force has no plans to fly payloads on Falcon 9 rockets with previously-flown first stages. The service has specifically requested SpaceX not to fly re-used hardware.

“We would have to certify flight hardware that had been used which is more qualification, more analysis, so we’re not taking that on quite yet,” she said. “If it proves to be successful for commercial, we might consider that in the future.”

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-low-cost-won-gps-3-launch-air-force-says/

Claire Leon is the launch enterprise director for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center

Economically, that is the (second)best case vor SpaceX: a customer who demands new rockets and who is willing to pay the price of those. This adds fresh rocket-stages to the pool of available rockets without having to worry about when the rockets will amortise their construction costs (the actuall best case is NASA, who is willing to pay the price-tag of the new rockets without actually demanding that they need to be pristine).

The worst case scenario would be customers, who demand the reused rockets so much, that none of them is willing to pay the fee for a fresh rocket (Similar to airplanes, where the first flight of a plane isn't ridiculously expensive just to cover the production costs).

I think, as soon as a few reused flights happened successfully, most private customers will be happy to use already used rockets, it lowers the launch price.

Offline macpacheco

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #5 on: 04/09/2017 12:57 PM »
Economically the best thing is all customers signing reuse launch contracts without restrictions.
Boosters get flown 100 times, new boosters are made when needed.
The extra profit on a new booster launch contract money unlikely pays for the extra cost of building and testing it. The reflight flow for newly recovered boosters skips McGregor, so the savings isn't just manufacturing. I wouldn't be surprised if by the 3rd or 4th reflight refurb already costs about the same as McGregor resources alone.
NASA will likely require a ton of paperwork on reflown boosters, which might actually make it double logical to use new boosters on CRS/crew launches. Low thermal stress/lots of spare fuel on CRS launches.
NASA CRS missions pay a lot more but there's the Dragon costs, the mountain of additional paperwork and several extra requirements. The big $$$ advantage of serving NASA is on the development contracts where NASA paid for Crew/Cargo Dragon and part of F9 R&D costs.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 07:48 PM by macpacheco »
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Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #6 on: 04/09/2017 02:22 PM »
It would be nice to let the customers' views be presented here -- they are the ones shelling out tens of millions for launch services, not us.  As a 'guideline' I suggest that if you are not buying rocket rides, then you are OT.

For example:
Quote
Martin Halliwell(SES): You've got to decouple the engineering from the emotion.  Engineering team at SpaceX is second to none.

or

Quote
Irene Klotz: Do you have other costumers that weren't as brave as SES that are now signed up?  What is life-limiting factor?

Musk: NASA has been supportive.  Commercial, SES has been most supportive.  Next thing is how to achieve rapid reuse without major hardware changeouts.  Aspirations of zero hardware changes and 24hrs reflight.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 02:29 PM by AncientU »
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Offline faramund

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #7 on: 04/09/2017 10:10 PM »
But SpaceX sets the prices - say if customer's decide that reused stages are safer than new stages. Then SpaceX would set a cost for a reused stage higher than a new one, and if people really, really didn't want a new one, and SpaceX wanted a new stage for every 10 launches, and a new stage cost $60m. They could always just add $6m to the cost of every reused stage, and then just scrap each stage after its done 10 launches. If necessary, and assuming a reused launch cost $30m, they could always add another $3m to each launch's cost, and do a dummy launch to certify the new rocket.

Online ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #8 on: 04/10/2017 01:23 AM »
I think customer views on reuse will change very quickly if SpaceX can get a few customer payloads successfully flown on reused boosters.

Also, I think SES's words will change a lot of minds.  They were very clear that they have people embedded with SpaceX so they have a huge amount of insight into the internals at SpaceX and SES was not concerned at all that they were taking a significant risk with their payload.  It makes the people who were concerned look ignorant.  Nobody wants to feel ignorant, and nobody wants to see a competitor getting a better deal.

Offline faramund

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #9 on: 04/10/2017 10:57 PM »
I'm very interested in seeing what the insurance difference will be for forthcoming launches. I wonder if it will be announced?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #10 on: 04/10/2017 11:19 PM »
Economically the best thing is all customers signing reuse launch contracts without restrictions.
Boosters get flown 100 times, new boosters are made when needed.
"Best" for who exactly? SX or the customer?
Quote from: macpacheco
The extra profit on a new booster launch contract money unlikely pays for the extra cost of building and testing it. The reflight flow for newly recovered boosters skips McGregor, so the savings isn't just manufacturing. I wouldn't be surprised if by the 3rd or 4th reflight refurb already costs about the same as McGregor resources alone.
So what do think the implications for your line of reasoning are?
Quote from: macpacheco
NASA will likely require a ton of paperwork on reflown boosters, which might actually make it double logical to use new boosters on CRS/crew launches. Low thermal stress/lots of spare fuel on CRS launches.
NASA CRS missions pay a lot more but there's the Dragon costs, the mountain of additional paperwork and several extra requirements. The big $$$ advantage of serving NASA is on the development contracts where NASA paid for Crew/Cargo Dragon and part of F9 R&D costs.
As Jim has pointed out NASA asked for a New Dragon price because they did not feel SX had a strong handle on refurb prices for the capsules. I think that's now changed.

In the same way I would expect as statistics accumulate on booster reuse NASA will revisit what they think are reasonable prices for refurbed Dragons, Dragon 2's and S1's.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 11:21 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #11 on: 04/10/2017 11:25 PM »
But SpaceX sets the prices - say if customer's decide that reused stages are safer than new stages. Then SpaceX would set a cost for a reused stage higher than a new one, and if people really, really didn't want a new one, and SpaceX wanted a new stage for every 10 launches, and a new stage cost $60m. They could always just add $6m to the cost of every reused stage, and then just scrap each stage after its done 10 launches. If necessary, and assuming a reused launch cost $30m, they could always add another $3m to each launch's cost, and do a dummy launch to certify the new rocket.
Quite correct.

Worst case is that reuse substantially lowers SpaceX's costs, but raises prices to customers.

That's worst case because it gives the customer basically nothing and will result in zero market growth.  since I don't think the benefits to the customer are that clear cut I expect SX to offer re-flowns at less than new prices (which is both fair and what every other transportation system does).

You can investigate this further by downloading my reusability cost game and setting the parameters for either 10 reuses (with no refurb costs) or dialing in what  you refurb costs will be per flight.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #12 on: 04/11/2017 02:33 AM »
Back on topic.  In NASA's pre-launch briefing for CRS-10, Dan Hartman--Deputy Manager, ISS Program--addressed NASA's near term plans for reusing the Dragon capsule and future plans for reuse of the Falcon 9 boosters in response to a question from Stephen Clark from SFN.

Quote from: Dan Hartman, NASA Dep. Manager ISS Program
Our plan for CRS-11, it's going to be the Dragon [that will be reused].  Not the Falcon, not a reused booster.  We've done a lot of work with SpaceX, over the last year and a half or two, looking at delta-verification requirements that we need to be comfortable to satisfy ourselves that Dragon can approach the ISS, get within the ellipsoid, and be done safely.  So, a lot of technical work is happening.  I'll tell you, everything is leaning good.  That the next dragon mission that we'll launch will be reused. 
     As far as the booster, we've just started those discussions.  We've got some teams off generating how we'll even go about requesting information from SpaceX.  Laying out our plan.  I imagine we'll have some sort of preliminary review on that in the April/May time period.   I think planning-wise, it may not happen this year.  But shortly thereafter.

The exchange can be found at time mark 22m:25s in the below youtube video.


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Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #13 on: 04/11/2017 12:47 PM »
A couple more data points were added by Blue Origin... Two customers (Eutelsat and OneWeb) already signed up for what will likely be 'flight proven' rockets.  Not a certainty, but Blue has never even mentioned expendable and NG development in the same sentence.

SpaceX also has a few other customers signed up for such launches... and SES gave the nod for a couple of the next launches to be on reused boosters during the presser.  EM acted surprised (in a positive way).

With Air Force, NASA, and several commercial ventures all moving in this direction, the rest of the commercial market should start stepping up very soon.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 12:53 PM by AncientU »
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Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #14 on: 04/11/2017 03:45 PM »
This article has a wealth of customer veiw statements. But one of the more significant is the underwriter comment. https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/03/31/spacex-flies-rocket-for-second-time-in-historic-test-of-cost-cutting-technology/
Quote
“I think a bunch of companies are waiting to see (what happens),” an insurance underwriter who works in the satellite and launch markets said before the SES 10 mission. “A lot of it does have to do with the insurance market. If this goes successfully, then a lot of customers are going to assume that the insurance community is OK with reused stages, which will be the case.”

“The bottom line is reused rockets are here to stay,” the underwriter said.

If the underwriters do not charge more for a reused booster and SpaceX charges less then the commercial sat world will accept use of the reused boosters with only a slight hesitation at first but letting the drive to cost cutting make their mind up for them.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #15 on: 04/11/2017 05:53 PM »
Note: SES was charged 0.01% more for the reflight by their underwriter according to Martin Halliwell.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 05:53 PM by AncientU »
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Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #16 on: 04/11/2017 06:06 PM »
Note: SES was charged 0.01% more for the reflight by their underwriter according to Martin Halliwell.
If your value is correct that is an increase of $50K in premiums on a premium that costs $40M on a $500M (sat +launch value) for a launch insurance. Not much of a risk factor change.

Risk factors from insurance rates of underwriters:
New - 1 failure in every 12.5 launches
Used - 1 failure in every 12.4844 launches
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 06:12 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #17 on: 04/11/2017 06:29 PM »
Note: SES was charged 0.01% more for the reflight by their underwriter according to Martin Halliwell.
If your value is correct that is an increase of $50K in premiums on a premium that costs $40M on a $500M (sat +launch value) for a launch insurance. Not much of a risk factor change.

The value is a direct quote from the CTO at SES, I don't think you'll find a better source. According to a recent SpaceNews article, insurance for a flight on Ariane 5 could be purchased for 4% of insured value, and rates for Falcon 9 were similar: http://spacenews.com/space-insurers-warn-that-current-low-rates-are-not-sustainable/

Of course, if SES is also are insuring the cost of the launch, the cheaper flight rate on a used booster also factors in: at 4% premiums, the (approximately) $18.6M reflight discount should result in a premium $746k lower. A slightly higher rate will quickly eat this savings, but not at the 0.01% rate increase levels.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #18 on: 04/11/2017 06:42 PM »
Note: SES was charged 0.01% more for the reflight by their underwriter according to Martin Halliwell.
If your value is correct that is an increase of $50K in premiums on a premium that costs $40M on a $500M (sat +launch value) for a launch insurance. Not much of a risk factor change.

The value is a direct quote from the CTO at SES, I don't think you'll find a better source. According to a recent SpaceNews article, insurance for a flight on Ariane 5 could be purchased for 4% of insured value, and rates for Falcon 9 were similar: http://spacenews.com/space-insurers-warn-that-current-low-rates-are-not-sustainable/

Of course, if SES is also are insuring the cost of the launch, the cheaper flight rate on a used booster also factors in: at 4% premiums, the (approximately) $18.6M reflight discount should result in a premium $746k lower. A slightly higher rate will quickly eat this savings, but not at the 0.01% rate increase levels.
Thanks about that. So not only is the launch costs going down, but because the risk factor has little change the premiums are going down too because the amount of insurance required went down. 

So the underwriter statement is just a matter of a short amount of time before commercial does not care about new or used status of the booster coming true.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #19 on: 04/11/2017 07:44 PM »
...
The value is a direct quote from the CTO at SES, I don't think you'll find a better source. According to a recent SpaceNews article, insurance for a flight on Ariane 5 could be purchased for 4% of insured value, and rates for Falcon 9 were similar: http://spacenews.com/space-insurers-warn-that-current-low-rates-are-not-sustainable/
...

Worthwhile to include the full text:

Quote
“Ariane 5 insurance rates are around the 4 percent mark,” said Russell Sawyer, executive director of Willis Towers Watson’s Inspace brokerage. “If you had talked about launch and in-orbit rates being that low 15 years ago, everybody would have thought you were crazy.”

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket can be insured for only slightly higher rates than Ariane 5. Russia’s Proton vehicle, which has suffered multiple failures in the past five years, is insured at around triple the rate for Ariane 5, according to figures produced by underwriter SCOR Global.

Proton's rate is shocking... customers will certainly notice this surcharge (as well as the basis for it) that wipes out the cost advantage of going with Proton -- 8% increase on a $500M satellite would be $40M of increased premium.  On the other hand, the 'slightly higher' rates for Falcon 9 would be more than compensated by lower launch costs.
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