Author Topic: SpaceX vs BlueOrigin - Whose Approach / Business Strategy is Better?  (Read 76404 times)

Online Robotbeat

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NG is 3 stages.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Online Lars-J

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NG is 3 stages.

Not initially, the 2 stage version with a 5m fairing will fly first. But I have my doubts that the 3 stage version of NG will ever fly, I think they are working on a reusable 2nd stage instead.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Okay, I just want to point out that Blue Origin's orbital rocket is NOTIONAL. Got that? It doesn't exist. It's a paper rocket.

Personally I don't think that's what matters, to me what matters is what's the likelihood that it will exist?

In my mind that likelihood is very high, albeit with more uncertainty about how close it gets to its paper specs. Jeff Bezos is clearly very serious about this and has the resources to make it happen. For me the biggest unknown is whether Blue Origin have the people capable of fully achieving the vision. NS shows they know what they're doing. Yes of course they'll have issues and failures. So did SpaceX and so would anyone being this ambitious.

Offline high road

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It seems to me that the arrival (operationalization) of New Glenn will be the landmark moment which alters the relative perceptions of the 2 companies. At that point, we'll be seeing this whole other new orbital rocket reusably launching and landing - something nobody else in the world can do, except SpaceX. At that point, the optics will undergo a sea-change, along with overall public perceptions. And given the size of New Glenn, it's going to make quite a splash, to make F9R seem small. New Glenn will then be seen as competing with Falcon Heavy, rather than with the smaller F9R.

At that juncture, who's going to dominate the headlines more, and be seen as the 'space leader'?

(Or will it just come down to who blows up less often?)
SpaceX will be testing ITS at around that time. So SpaceX. (Not that I'm worried about Blue Origin. Doesn't really matter that SpaceX will have a bunch of advantages, as Bezos is stupendously wealthy and so will be able to keep up just fine.)

The real crazy thing is what it implies when you have TWO very competitive reusable and then fully reusable launch companies with very similar capabilities:

now F9 then FH then fully reusable FH then New Glenn the fully reusable New Glenn. Then at about the same time as New Glenn starts flying, ITS will also fly and then some time later, New Armstrong which will likely be about the same capability.

Nobody else in the entire world is anywhere near just that first level of partially reusable Falcon 9. By the time Europe and others will have /started/ comparable partial RLV programs, we'll be watching ITS and probably the beginnings of New Armstrong. America will have like crazy scifi space capabilities compared to everyone else (and kind of already does with the regular F9 landings). Poor ULA, Ariane, Roscosmos, CNSA, etc...

People are just barely starting to realize where this is headed. I can see why they'd have been skeptical before SpaceX had started sticking landings and before New Shepard (and the announcement of New Glenn, all backed by the insanely rich Bezos), but now it should be pretty obvious the direction things are going. Everything larger than a refrigerator and competitively bid (without being sold at a loss) will be launched on an (at least partial VTVL) RLV within 5-7 years, and almost certainly by either SpaceX or Blue Origin.

Well, well. Seems that both sides of the comparison are quickly losing touch with reality. NG starting to fly makes BO the new champion of spaceflight? When FH has been working out the kinks, literally on the fly, for a few years? Not likely at all. It'll all come down to the lowest failure rate and prices, and it'll probably be a hard fought battle. Let's hope so at least, cause that's what brings prices down.

And ITS flying at about the same time as NG? When do you expect NG to fly? Agreed that it will likely be delayed, but SpaceX isn't exactly immune to that either.

It will indeed be interesting to see how those other agencies react. Get their governments to keep their workforce employed by investing in new launcher designs, pressure their governments to not purchase launch services commercially (although governments don't have much of a say in most of the launches).

I'm wondering what will hapen to all the engineers going out of a job. Hopefully, they'll get a job in designing more payloads to send uphill.

Online Robotbeat

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It should be noted that SpaceX is already much larger in employment than ULA, and Blue Origin will likely employ nearly as many people. And both will grow a lot.

Also, what stands in the way of NG eventually flying? SpaceX's problem was technical and financial. No one had done first stage VTVL recovery like that, and running out of money was always possible especially in the F1 days. Well, neither of those things are a problem for Blue Origin.

The fact that something hasnt happened yet doesn't mean we can assume it probably won't happen. Assuming it won't happen is what a lot of SpaceX's competitors thought, and it's really a guaranteed way to be caught flat footed when disruptive innovation occurs.

I'm saying that Blue Origin and SpaceX are going to have the competitive medium and heavy lift markets nearly entirely to themselves within 7 years unless something dramatically changes with the course of their competitors, which I find unlikely right now.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline edkyle99

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NG is 3 stages.

Not initially, the 2 stage version with a 5m fairing will fly first. But I have my doubts that the 3 stage version of NG will ever fly, I think they are working on a reusable 2nd stage instead.
Right, and the numbers given for LEO and GTO payload are for the two-stage version (with first stage recovery).  A three-stage version would boost a lot more to GTO.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 06:16 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline corneliussulla

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It appears Musk is rethinking BTR,BFS and is looking at a smaller rocket on the way to the full blown ITS. This sounds like a NG killer, 8 -10 m core raptor powered rocket with in orbit refuelling and 2nd stage capable of landing on moon , earth, Mars. 2nd stage with cargo and human qualified versions. BO NG powered by BE4 DOA I would think.

Offline high road

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It appears Musk is rethinking BTR,BFS and is looking at a smaller rocket on the way to the full blown ITS. This sounds like a NG killer, 8 -10 m core raptor powered rocket with in orbit refuelling and 2nd stage capable of landing on moon , earth, Mars. 2nd stage with cargo and human qualified versions. BO NG powered by BE4 DOA I would think.

Oh great. I wasn't worried enough already that if BO would decide to skip NS for NG, they are likely to drop NG for the next best thing before it flies commercially as well.

Offline Jim

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It appears Musk is rethinking BTR,BFS and is looking at a smaller rocket on the way to the full blown ITS. This sounds like a NG killer, 8 -10 m core raptor powered rocket with in orbit refuelling and 2nd stage capable of landing on moon , earth, Mars. 2nd stage with cargo and human qualified versions. BO NG powered by BE4 DOA I would think.

Huh? Why?  nonsense.  NG will likely fly before Spacex version.  Also, what the Spacex version better? 

8 -10 m core raptor powered rocket with in orbit refuelling and 2nd stage capable of landing on moon , earth, Mars. 2nd stage with cargo and human qualified versions.

NG can do all that too

Offline Darkseraph

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Given the factory and launch infrastructure are actually being built for New Glenn and it has secured launch contracts, it is a little hyperbolic to claim it will be DOA because of mini-ITS. ITS doesn't even have a frozen design on paper yet. It's much more probable that ITS was descoped partially due to the threat of New Glenn making it DOA. New Glenn will almost certainly arrive sooner than mini-ITS for the above reasons.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline Coastal Ron

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I think there are two major factors at play regarding the mini-BFS:

1. SpaceX may have determined that they don't have the money, capabilities and/or time to jump straight into a full-sized BFS for Mars, so the mini-BFS is their intermediate pathfinder.

2. SpaceX may be thinking that a mini-BFS can provide significant profits if used for Earth-local launch needs, which would ultimately speed up the development of the full-sized BFS for Mars.

Could be both, but might be just one of those.

Since we don't know the targeted capabilities of a notional mini-BFS, or whether SpaceX plans for it to be just for testing purposes vs offering it for external customer use, it's hard to say if it would compete with the Blue Origin New Glenn. I suspect not, since I think initially the New Glenn will compete with existing launchers, including Falcon 9.

And I don't see a head-to-head competition between SpaceX and Blue Origin (i.e. Musk vs Bezos) since both of them have different goals. Sure there is overlap, but I'm not sure we're seeing direct competition between the two yet.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline envy887

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Given the factory and launch infrastructure are actually being built for New Glenn and it has secured launch contracts, it is a little hyperbolic to claim it will be DOA because of mini-ITS. ITS doesn't even have a frozen design on paper yet. It's much more probable that ITS was descoped partially due to the threat of New Glenn making it DOA. New Glenn will almost certainly arrive sooner than mini-ITS for the above reasons.

SpaceX does have a factory and several launch sites and lots of launch contracts (which are not necessarily fixed to specific vehicles, see Falcon 1), so it's not like they are behind in any of those areas. I also doubt the NG design is wholly frozen either - there will certainly be changes coming during testing, particularly BE-4 testing.

SpaceX is also including full reuse as baseline for the next-gen vehicle, while New Glenn does not (initially). That's a significant potential advantage, even if NG launches several years earlier.

Online abaddon

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Given the factory and launch infrastructure are actually being built for New Glenn and it has secured launch contracts, it is a little hyperbolic to claim it will be DOA because of mini-ITS. ITS doesn't even have a frozen design on paper yet. It's much more probable that ITS was descoped partially due to the threat of New Glenn making it DOA. New Glenn will almost certainly arrive sooner than mini-ITS for the above reasons.
On the other hand, one of them has a viable engine that has undergone numerous firings on a test stand, the other does not.  That's assuming the current sub-scale Raptor is suitable for the "mini-ITS", which seems likely.  Will be very interesting to see what happens here, I've always thought that ITS was too big too soon, and SpaceX should have a NG-class rocket.

That all said, saying that NG is "DOA" or other such nonsense is really silly.

Offline Darkseraph

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Given the factory and launch infrastructure are actually being built for New Glenn and it has secured launch contracts, it is a little hyperbolic to claim it will be DOA because of mini-ITS. ITS doesn't even have a frozen design on paper yet. It's much more probable that ITS was descoped partially due to the threat of New Glenn making it DOA. New Glenn will almost certainly arrive sooner than mini-ITS for the above reasons.

SpaceX does have a factory and several launch sites and lots of launch contracts (which are not necessarily fixed to specific vehicles, see Falcon 1), so it's not like they are behind in any of those areas. I also doubt the NG design is wholly frozen either - there will certainly be changes coming during testing, particularly BE-4 testing.

SpaceX is also including full reuse as baseline for the next-gen vehicle, while New Glenn does not (initially). That's a significant potential advantage, even if NG launches several years earlier.

SpaceX have tested a subscale raptor, not the full up version that is roughly equivlant to BE4 in thrust. The full scale version will likely be qualified later than Blue's engine. As for any incarnation for the ITS, if will have to be assembled elsewhere than their current facilties in Hawthorne - either close to a water way or adjacent to the launch site itself. It is simply too big to be transported by road. If any SpaceX super rocket was going to be launching in the near future, there should be ground broken on a large assembly facility right now. That has not happened yet and to public knowledge there has been no competition to select a state to build such a facility in yet. A launch pad would also be selected by now or a plan to modify an existing pad to gigantic methalox rockets.
None of these things have happened yet therefore it's very probably to conclude any SpaceX gigantic rocket is years away and certainly behind New Glenn.

The Dead on Arrival comment applied to eiither company, is unsubstantiated hyperbole.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline rockets4life97

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My impression is SpaceX's new vehicle (miniBRF/ITS) will compete with New Armstrong, not New Glenn. New Glenn will initially compete with F9 and FH for payloads.

Offline envy887

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Given the factory and launch infrastructure are actually being built for New Glenn and it has secured launch contracts, it is a little hyperbolic to claim it will be DOA because of mini-ITS. ITS doesn't even have a frozen design on paper yet. It's much more probable that ITS was descoped partially due to the threat of New Glenn making it DOA. New Glenn will almost certainly arrive sooner than mini-ITS for the above reasons.

SpaceX does have a factory and several launch sites and lots of launch contracts (which are not necessarily fixed to specific vehicles, see Falcon 1), so it's not like they are behind in any of those areas. I also doubt the NG design is wholly frozen either - there will certainly be changes coming during testing, particularly BE-4 testing.

SpaceX is also including full reuse as baseline for the next-gen vehicle, while New Glenn does not (initially). That's a significant potential advantage, even if NG launches several years earlier.

SpaceX have tested a subscale raptor, not the full up version that is roughly equivlant to BE4 in thrust. The full scale version will likely be qualified later than Blue's engine. As for any incarnation for the ITS, if will have to be assembled elsewhere than their current facilties in Hawthorne - either close to a water way or adjacent to the launch site itself. It is simply too big to be transported by road. If any SpaceX super rocket was going to be launching in the near future, there should be ground broken on a large assembly facility right now. That has not happened yet and to public knowledge there has been no competition to select a state to build such a facility in yet. A launch pad would also be selected by now or a plan to modify an existing pad to gigantic methalox rockets.
None of these things have happened yet therefore it's very probably to conclude any SpaceX gigantic rocket is years away and certainly behind New Glenn.

The Dead on Arrival comment applied to eiither company, is unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Blue has only tested subscale power packs. SpaceX has tested subscale powerpacks and an all-up engine almost a year ago. It's a bit early to say that BE-4 will be qualified first, though it does seem likely.

I think SpaceX can build a much bigger rocket in Hawthorne than you are allowing, at least up to 8 meter diameter and perhaps 10 meters. The 10 meter S-II was built not that far away, and as it happens, launched from a current SpaceX pad.

NG is a lot more competitive with FH than any next-gen rocket, though. And it's way behind FH.

Offline Darkseraph

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An ITS-Lite could potentially built at Hawthorne, but you would have to then teleport it to the launch site! There is no convenient way to transport a stage that large from Hawthorne to a waterway. Individual subcomponents such as engines will possibly be built at Hawthorne but its incredibly unlikely entire 7 Metre+ stages will be assembled there.

As for New Armstrong, Blue Origin has yet to give any specifications or timelines for that vehicle. It is probably far off in the future competing with the next-gen version of ITS. For at least the next decade or more, it probably makes far greater sense to fly a smaller reusable vehicle more frequently than flying a larger vehicle less often. I'm expecting SpaceX and Blue Origin to both just fly ITS-Lite and New Glenn at a higher rate: Using cloud computing as a metaphor, scaling out rather than scaling up.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Online abaddon

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SpaceX have tested a subscale raptor, not the full up version that is roughly equivlant to BE4 in thrust. The full scale version will likely be qualified later than Blue's engine.
This is straying off topic, but briefly; SpaceX is planning on using more engines than BO.  A mini-ITS using the "subscale" Raptor seems plausible.  Any thought from me that SpaceX is ahead of BO in engine development is predicated on the thought that they might decide to use "subscale" Raptor directly.  Quite possible that isn't happening, in which case, I'd say it's pretty murky "who is ahead".  Anyway, some good quality reasonable discussion going on here, so cheers for that :).

Online Lars-J

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My impression is SpaceX's new vehicle (miniBRF/ITS) will compete with New Armstrong, not New Glenn. New Glenn will initially compete with F9 and FH for payloads.

No, I don't think so. I think the new ITS will be only slightly larger than NG. (Perhaps 9m diameter compared to 7m diameter, similar height) And all launchers compete with each other, when larger launchers can launch multiples payloads.

Online Robotbeat

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NG and ITSy (that's its name now) are nearly the same rocket. VTVL reuse (both stages eventually). Staged combustion methane oxygen engines. NG may be 40t and ITSy 100t, but still close to the same kind of rocket, and since all payloads are less than that, the distinction between 40 and 100 tons isn't too important yet.

Closer than almost any other two rockets.

They're both reasonable designs and will compete with one another. At this point, I'm confident to say both will be built in some incarnation.
« Last Edit: 07/21/2017 02:42 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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