Author Topic: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion  (Read 546837 times)

Offline William Barton

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #945 on: 02/18/2010 05:02 PM »
A benefit calculator estimates my total compensation is 28.7% higher than my simple salary.  FWIW.

I know younger folks at SpaceX making in the 70s and 80s (consider the cost of living in Southern California when you compare) but accumulating options.  Some work packages have incentive/bonus structures too.

70-80s seems like a reasonable salary in context. Unexercised options are burdened as obligations in accounting (which is one reason why more and more companies have gone over to "use it or lose it" vacation and sick leave policies). But that counts more toward a comapny's credit rating with the banking system than anything else. An unexercised option is not "flowing cash," although there is an accounting coefficient for including it in cash flow. I don't remember what it is, but it's an actuarial figure for what statistical percentage of options will be exercised in an average year. A young "gee whiz" company like SpaceX would have a very low coefficient, for obvious reasons. You might even be able to get historical data on Appple or Microsoft, and see the rate at which option-accruing employees cashed out and went to live at the beach.

Online Nate_Trost

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #946 on: 02/18/2010 06:06 PM »
Regardless of how we are trying to define a burdened employee rate, I stand by an estimate that between salary, taxes, benefits and insurance, SpaceX is probably now in the range of $7m to $10m a month. California is not a cheap place to have employees and Southern California is not a cheap place to live.

No, they aren't all aerospace engineers, but how much does an experienced machinist go for in Southern California? What exactly do you think are the low paying jobs at SpaceX and how many of them are there?

They seem to run about as light as possible on the admin side, I'd be curious to see what you're estimation of their personnel cost numbers are.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #947 on: 02/18/2010 06:15 PM »
Regardless of how we are trying to define a burdened employee rate, I stand by an estimate that between salary, taxes, benefits and insurance, SpaceX is probably now in the range of $7m to $10m a month. California is not a cheap place to have employees and Southern California is not a cheap place to live.

No, they aren't all aerospace engineers, but how much does an experienced machinist go for in Southern California? What exactly do you think are the low paying jobs at SpaceX and how many of them are there?

They seem to run about as light as possible on the admin side, I'd be curious to see what you're estimation of their personnel cost numbers are.

I would not be surprised if more of the labor intense parts of their manufacturing process eventually moved to their TX location and the California location becomes mostly final assembly.

If I was in Musk's position I would try to avoid much of CA's high cost of living if possible and practical.

Of course the California government could be giving him tax breaks and there is a large existing aerospace talent pool.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2010 06:19 PM by Patchouli »

Offline William Barton

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #948 on: 02/18/2010 06:25 PM »
Regardless of how we are trying to define a burdened employee rate, I stand by an estimate that between salary, taxes, benefits and insurance, SpaceX is probably now in the range of $7m to $10m a month. California is not a cheap place to have employees and Southern California is not a cheap place to live.

No, they aren't all aerospace engineers, but how much does an experienced machinist go for in Southern California? What exactly do you think are the low paying jobs at SpaceX and how many of them are there?

They seem to run about as light as possible on the admin side, I'd be curious to see what you're estimation of their personnel cost numbers are.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm curious to know what the real figures are, insofar as they can't be know for a non-public company that doesn't have to publish its figures. Obviously, SpaceX is going to have all the jobs a company of its type has to have to operate. There have to be janitors, accountants, HVAC people, secretaries (well, nowadays, "admins"), and so on as far as you care to think about how companies work. The flip side of the question is, exactly how many of the 900 employees are aerospace engineers? 700? 142? You tell me? How many aerospace engineers work for Boeing, out of how many employees total? My only objection was to the original post (not yours) which suggested you could come up with operating costs for SpaceX by multiplying 900 by $250,000. I don't think so, but I don't have the actual figures. My point of comparison is, I can tell you approximately how many engineers of all sorts worked for a yacht manufacturer roughly 30 times the size of SpaceX (used to: most have been laid off this past year or so). It was about 5% of the employees. The engineers were not assembling yacht engines. Is SpaceX employing $250K/year aerospace engineers to assemble Merlin 1-Cs?

Online Nate_Trost

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #949 on: 02/18/2010 08:26 PM »
Well, that's partially why I tried to move to discussion by salary ranges, versus engineers/not-engineers. While not paying six-figures by any stretch of the imagination I doubt the assembly jobs are minimum wage either. Even with a headcount of 900 and 3 facilities, there aren't necessarily that many office/facilities staff who would fall into a 'low-paid' category. I could be grossly wrong, but I'd be surprised if more than ~10% of their workforce had salaries under $50k/year.

Offline Kitspacer

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #950 on: 02/18/2010 08:58 PM »
What's the factual basis for these engine-out and under-performing Merlin predictions?

Factual? None at all.  It is merely a coming together of basic statistics and gut feeling.  Nine engines having to work together seems to be asking for trouble.  Either one will not work entirely correctly or some unforseen interaction between the nine will have affects on them or the vehicle as a whole

I just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed something. My gut feeling is, the Cluster's Last Stand theory is wrong and that it's based on some unproven statistical assumptions. Saturn I was at the dawn of the space age, and seemed to work okay despite eight engines having to work together. Can't exactly say the same for N-1, of course, but it's not a fully comparable case, either. To the best of my knowledge, those NK's had never flown successfully before, and still haven't. Theoretically, you'd have to apply that set of statistics to Taurus II when estimating it's chances of success. But only theoretically.

Here's a related question: At the time of Saturn I development, had any US team successfully developed a rocket with more than 2 engines in its first stage? All I can think of is Atlas and Titan I (two engines each [if my understanding the two outboard "engines" on Atlas were one engine with two chambers is correct]). Viking, Vanguard, Redstone, Thor, Jupiter are the big single-engine rockets I can think of. Anything else?
 
Not quite. in the Atlas 1, there were 3 separate engines: 2 booster units of a nominal 150,000 lbs each: which were then jettisoned after a two-minute plus burn and a third "sustainer" engine of some 60,000lbs which ran until burnout.  It was in-effect a 1-1/2-stage launch vehicle. Incidentally, on the N1-7L(L for last!) launch all 30 ran like a top.  But, the persistent vibration problem caused eventual vehicle breakup just before All Burnt.
On the other hand, Saturn dealt with a potential and similar problem by a -6 sec shutdown of the four center engines, keeping reaction loading on separation down to manageable levels: see "Stages to Saturn". A very reliable launcher that could have been upgraded to almost EELV standard very easily due to its' clustered modular design. Bit heavy though. :D  Taurus II will be using the same engines as the N-1: as did the late-lamented Kistler who would have given us real reusable LV's, had Musk not seen his chance and put the boot in to kill competition in COTS.  See? Not quite off topic! ;D

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #951 on: 02/18/2010 10:09 PM »

Not quite. in the Atlas 1, there were 3 separate engines: 2 booster units of a nominal 150,000 lbs each: which were then jettisoned after a two-minute plus burn and a third "sustainer" engine of some 60,000lbs which ran until burnout. 

Not quite true.  For the Atlas B, C, D, SLV-3 variants, G, H, and Atlas I & II vehicles , the booster package was one engine with two nozzles.   Only the Atlas E&F had complete separate booster engines.

Offline vt_hokie

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #952 on: 02/18/2010 10:47 PM »
Well, that's partially why I tried to move to discussion by salary ranges, versus engineers/not-engineers. While not paying six-figures by any stretch of the imagination I doubt the assembly jobs are minimum wage either. Even with a headcount of 900 and 3 facilities, there aren't necessarily that many office/facilities staff who would fall into a 'low-paid' category. I could be grossly wrong, but I'd be surprised if more than ~10% of their workforce had salaries under $50k/year.

Where I worked, the technicians made essentially as much (or even more with overtime) than we did as engineers.  Their base pay was very close to our salaries, and we generally didn't get paid anything for overtime.  We did get stock options, but they proved to be worthless when the company went Chapter 11!

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #953 on: 02/18/2010 11:10 PM »
There is a video.

I suspect there are *videos* (more than just one camera), some by SpaceX and some by others.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Art LeBrun

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #954 on: 02/19/2010 02:39 AM »

Not quite. in the Atlas 1, there were 3 separate engines: 2 booster units of a nominal 150,000 lbs each: which were then jettisoned after a two-minute plus burn and a third "sustainer" engine of some 60,000lbs which ran until burnout. 

Not quite true.  For the Atlas B, C, D, SLV-3 variants, G, H, and Atlas I & II vehicles , the booster package was one engine with two nozzles.   Only the Atlas E&F had complete separate booster engines.


How about two thrust chambers with nozzles and one turbopump assembly? The visible Atlas clue was the one turbine exhaust. If you had two turbine exhausts you had an E or F Atlas.
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Offline Lampyridae

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #955 on: 02/19/2010 04:02 AM »
I'm curious where the $250K "average salary" figure bandied about here comes from. Salary.com gives $81,828, which seems a whole lot more reasonable. Many doctors (GPs) don't make $250K a year.

http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_compresult_national_EN04100017.html


The $250k is not just pay and pensions it will include raw materials, rent of buildings and property taxes.

Lampyridae's post said, "Multiply the average aerospace engineer's annual salary by 900." That's simply not the way business accounting is done. Raw materials, rent, and property taxes come off your corporate income tax, for example. We have a "bean counter" around here somewhere could probably do a better job talking about this stuff than I can (my corporate wouldview is rather backplane-driven). See my reply to Jim for some additional thoughts. In any case, I think we've established the average aerospace engineer's annual salary is a bit lower than has been bandied about here.

Hey, I'm aware of how corporate accounting works! At least, I hope so, since I'm doing an MBA! ;D  The point I was trying to make is that labour costs add up, and they're a big chunk of overall expenditure. A biiiig chunk. Consider this: if they go on GM's 2006* labour costs model ($75/hour) that's a whopping $135 million a year, for 900 people doing 8 hours of labour a day (excluding overtime). If they paid like Toyota*, then that would be some $100 million. This is awfully close to the bone and leaves very little budget for pension, insurance, recruitment, vacation houses etc. etc.**

Even for a mass production company like Philips or GE, labour (direct and indirect) costs still dwarf PPE acquisition and depreciation. In these companies, PPE assets are equivalent to 1 year's labour costs (if you're not using slave labour).

*No two companies report labour costs the same way. Both are probably around $60-$65 an hour if you account for everything. BTW, that's Toyota USA not Japan, which royally screws their employees by working them to the bone.

**US auto workers' paychecks including all allowances only add up to about $40-45 an hour. So you can see that "labour" is kinda loaded, it can carry up to double what the paycheck says it should.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2010 04:25 AM by Lampyridae »
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Offline mlorrey

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #956 on: 02/19/2010 04:28 AM »
Well, that's partially why I tried to move to discussion by salary ranges, versus engineers/not-engineers. While not paying six-figures by any stretch of the imagination I doubt the assembly jobs are minimum wage either. Even with a headcount of 900 and 3 facilities, there aren't necessarily that many office/facilities staff who would fall into a 'low-paid' category. I could be grossly wrong, but I'd be surprised if more than ~10% of their workforce had salaries under $50k/year.

I'm at university in Burbank and I don't see the cost of living in the area to be that out of line with the rest of the country. LA is not San Jose. I know my university pays first year instructors with masters degrees $45,000... That tells me that your imagined range of pay at Hawthorne is a bit of an overestimate.

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #957 on: 02/19/2010 06:13 AM »
If the the spaceflight now article about orbital offer the Orion LAS on the market is true:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1002/18orionlas/

Then I have 2 questions.

If Orbital offered a resized LAS for Dragon, would the R&D and production techniques they have developed for Orion be applicable to a Dragon LAS, meaning less than a 2-3 year development time?

How likely would a deal between Orbital and SpaceX for LAS be considering they are competing for future cargo contracts for ISS?
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #958 on: 02/19/2010 07:11 AM »
{snip}

How likely would a deal between Orbital and SpaceX for LAS be considering they are competing for future cargo contracts for ISS?

This is a old old story.  In many industries a company's biggest customers turn out to be its rivals.

If there is a major conflict of interest then Orbital's LAS division could be sold off, possibly via a management buy out.

Offline Sen

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion
« Reply #959 on: 02/19/2010 07:20 AM »
If the the spaceflight now article about orbital offer the Orion LAS on the market is true:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1002/18orionlas/

Then I have 2 questions.

If Orbital offered a resized LAS for Dragon, would the R&D and production techniques they have developed for Orion be applicable to a Dragon LAS, meaning less than a 2-3 year development time?

How likely would a deal between Orbital and SpaceX for LAS be considering they are competing for future cargo contracts for ISS?

Id say not very. If nasa decides it will be so thats one thing. But spacex has voiced a preference for an in house liquid fueled system. Wanting to do things in house controll desighn revisions, cost etc. Contractors and subcontractors on contracted systems not so much.  And it may cost more to optimize the system for each launch vehicle capsule then it would cost to develop new systems.

There are also less...logical reasons for not wanting too. But if its decided by nasa to to go that route rather then new development programs, or if its the more sound business choice then possibly.

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