Author Topic: Threshold for economic orbital manufacturing/assembly  (Read 797 times)

Offline gin455res

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At what payload volumes does it become cheaper to launch satellite parts to an orbital assembly facility, and do any of the planned comms networks come anywhere close?

Reasons I see for orbital assembly/manufacturing.

1) satellite skeleton no longer needs to survive launch conditions so can be less massive. (Would it enable very light-weight antenna and solar panels, too?)

2) upper-stage (drop) tankage could be processed into structure.

reasons I see against
1) plane change costs
2) overhead costs (human space flight or robotic assembly)

Is this a non-starter completely, or just in the short to medium-term?

Offline TrevorMonty

There are two markets here in orbit assembly like you described and Persistent Platforms. PP are SSL and DARPA idea where you have platform in GEO which provides power, thermal control, aerials and even back haul Comms. Customers just provide payload and pay a fee to have it delivered and installed, then ongoing rental.

Overtime platform expands (3d printed truss and aerial) with more payloads.

Besides making it cheaper for existing GEO customer, the lower entry point would open GEO up to new ideas and players. Prices could be <$50m for installed payload ( electronics, aerial, transport costs, ground support). Everything else is provided by platform owner for monthly fee. Because of redundant systems in platform and ability to repair and upgrade, insurance costs should be lower all round.

Offline Lar

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Re: Threshold for economic orbital manufacturing/assembly
« Reply #2 on: 04/14/2017 10:40 AM »
Persistent platforms sound like they are a good stepping stone to on orbit assembly and eventual manufacturing from more and more basic materials.

Initial trusses are brought up in pieces or sections. They're extended with on orbit forming tech from sheet stock (in coils) which stock is eventually supplied from asteroid mining... this is an evolution over decades but it's a possible path.  Similarly for solar cell power.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 10:41 AM by Lar »
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