Author Topic: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel  (Read 6323 times)

Offline Danderman

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #15 on: 11/22/2013 04:22 PM »
This kind of analysis cannot be taken seriously, in the sense of someone using it as a template for a real space venture. The principle problem is lack of a concept of operations - without which the expenses cannot be taken seriously.

There is therefore a lot of magic in the expense side of the analysis. Basically, the analysis starts with zero expenses, and then adds in what expenses are known. The reverse needs to occur - start with the ISS US Segment operating budget, and remove those expenses that can be determined are not required for this venture.

One last note - what is the plan for visiting vehicles to attach to the station?

Online Oli

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #16 on: 11/22/2013 06:20 PM »
NASA ISS Operation and Management expenditures in 2013: $1493m (doesn't include research and transportation, another 1.5bn).

We ignore the russians/japs/euros and their billions of contributions. Lets say it accounts for inefficiency or supplies that aren't needed for a simple hotel.
 
6 people to the station every 2 weeks + 5 cargo flights for $100m/launch (31 launches a year).

(1493+31*100)/(26*6) = ~30m per seat.

Doesn't include building the station.

Will you find 156 tourists a year for that price?  ;)
« Last Edit: 11/22/2013 06:40 PM by Oli »

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #17 on: 11/22/2013 06:54 PM »
NASA ISS Operation and Management expenditures in 2013: $1493m (doesn't include research and transportation, another 1.5bn).

We ignore the russians/japs/euros and their billions of contributions. Lets say it accounts for inefficiency or supplies that aren't needed for a simple hotel.
 
6 people to the station every 2 weeks + 5 cargo flights for $100m/launch (31 launches a year).

(1493+31*100)/(26*6) = ~30m per seat.

Doesn't include building the station.

Will you find 156 tourists a year for that price?  ;)

Some of the ISS expenses vs. a private station can be lower due to improvements in technology (i.e. Ground staff could be reduced. The TDRS system can in theory be replaced with a small satellite and purchasing time on commercial com satellites.) And due to it being run for profit (i.e. only employing enough people to get the job done.).
« Last Edit: 11/22/2013 06:54 PM by pathfinder_01 »

Online Oli

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #18 on: 11/22/2013 07:26 PM »
^

I ignored supplies by HTV/Progress. I ignored international contribution to operation. I ignored the cost of actually building a station. I ignored the fact that you probably need additional people up there to maintain/operate the station instead of tourists.

And yet you still feel its necessary to bring up the "private can do everything NASA does at a fraction of the cost" "argument". You think people at NASA are not motivated enough to spend their budget on other things than ISS operation?
« Last Edit: 11/22/2013 07:26 PM by Oli »

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #19 on: 11/22/2013 07:42 PM »
^

I ignored supplies by HTV/Progress. I ignored international contribution to operation. I ignored the cost of actually building a station. I ignored the fact that you probably need additional people up there to maintain/operate the station instead of tourists.

And yet you still feel its necessary to bring up the "private can do everything NASA does at a fraction of the cost" "argument". You think people at NASA are not motivated enough to spend their budget on other things than ISS operation?

 Nah I am not for everything being private, but I do think it may be near the time where a commercial station has a small shot of working and by law they are limited to spend the whole budget on operations. A space station can be built in such a way that it does not need to be crewed 100% of the time. Skylab for instance was pretty functional (if empty) without its crew.  I do think you will need additional people to operate the station beyond tourist but space station crews have been as small as two people.

In theory using commercial rockets, assembling more on the ground and inflatables should cost less than the heavy on orbit assembly and shuttle dependence of the ISS. The real problem is if the costs can come down enough for profit.  An resupply mission of Cygnus or Dragon could be had for about $154-$237 and could contain enough supply to keep a crew for 2-3 months (depending on size of crew and efficiency of the life support system. ).  A crewed flight is a real unknown but if you donít have to developed the manned spacecraft and the station it helps not to mention that the commercial crew spacecraft are aiming for reusability which means the owner might be willing to make a small deal for profit.

Also in theory a space station is nothing but a satellite. Why do unmanned satellites of varying sizes need MUCH less staff to keep functioning but the station need WAY, WAY more? Yeah it is manned and yes there are special issues to it being manned but there are also lots of things on earth that are man or unmanned and the staffing ratio doesn't explode near as much.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2013 07:54 PM by pathfinder_01 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #20 on: 11/22/2013 10:58 PM »
The TDRS system can in theory be replaced with a small satellite and purchasing time on commercial com satellites.)

Really? Do tell! Are dedicated channels on commercial comsats really that cheap?

« Last Edit: 11/22/2013 10:59 PM by Danderman »

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #21 on: 11/22/2013 11:06 PM »
The TDRS system can in theory be replaced with a small satellite and purchasing time on commercial com satellites.)

Really? Do tell! Are dedicated channels on commercial comsats really that cheap?

Ah no, but I do see a differnt kind of model for operations. I can see a station acting to extend the time on Orbit for tourists right not all you get is 3 days on the ISS, what if you could get say a week or two, I think something like that might sell and work.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #22 on: 11/22/2013 11:37 PM »
The TDRS system can in theory be replaced with a small satellite and purchasing time on commercial com satellites.)

Really? Do tell! Are dedicated channels on commercial comsats really that cheap?

Ah no, but I do see a differnt kind of model for operations. I can see a station acting to extend the time on Orbit for tourists right not all you get is 3 days on the ISS, what if you could get say a week or two, I think something like that might sell and work.

The historical time at the station for tourists has been something like 6 days, with 2 days of free flight time.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #23 on: 11/22/2013 11:42 PM »
Ah no, but I do see a differnt kind of model for operations. I can see a station acting to extend the time on Orbit for tourists right not all you get is 3 days on the ISS, what if you could get say a week or two, I think something like that might sell and work.

The historical time at the station for tourists has been something like 6 days, with 2 days of free flight time.

Yep, Wikipedia has a nice table: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism#List_of_flown_space_tourists
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Offline Danderman

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #24 on: 11/26/2013 03:38 PM »
Ah no, but I do see a differnt kind of model for operations. I can see a station acting to extend the time on Orbit for tourists right not all you get is 3 days on the ISS, what if you could get say a week or two, I think something like that might sell and work.

The historical time at the station for tourists has been something like 6 days, with 2 days of free flight time.

Yep, Wikipedia has a nice table: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism#List_of_flown_space_tourists

which reveals that mission length for space tourists has actually been a little longer than the standard 8 day missions.


Offline Danderman

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #25 on: 11/26/2013 03:41 PM »
Why do unmanned satellites of varying sizes need MUCH less staff to keep functioning but the station need WAY, WAY more? Yeah it is manned and yes there are special issues to it being manned but there are also lots of things on earth that are man or unmanned and the staffing ratio doesn't explode near as much.

The assumption here is that NASA is running up expenses for ISS that are not reasonable.

Given that this thread is about the expenses of running space stations, it would be useful to explore the NASA budget for ISS ops, and demonstrate those expenses that are really not necessary for a commercial operation.

If, for example, the assertion is that TDRS ops costs for ISS are too expensive, then demonstrating that commercial alternatives would be cheaper would be useful.

It should be noted that Bigelow opted for a single ground station for comm with its subscale models.

Offline billh

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #26 on: 11/26/2013 04:18 PM »
ISS is a vastly more complex spacecraft than anything Bigelow would build. Surely a much simpler system would be much cheaper to operate.

Online dcporter

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #27 on: 11/26/2013 06:17 PM »
ISS is a vastly more complex spacecraft than anything Bigelow would build. Surely a much simpler system would be much cheaper to operate.

What are some examples of this though? E.g. could you do a single ground station for a station with humans onboard?

Offline daveklingler

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #28 on: 11/26/2013 07:03 PM »
ISS is a vastly more complex spacecraft than anything Bigelow would build. Surely a much simpler system would be much cheaper to operate.

What are some examples of this though? E.g. could you do a single ground station for a station with humans onboard?

Actually, I've wondered about using a commercial constellation, aka Iridium, Globalstar or Orbcomm.  Russia already uses Iridium for its ground rescue communications.
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Offline daveklingler

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Re: Viability of a Private/Commercial Space Hotel
« Reply #29 on: 11/26/2013 07:48 PM »
And yet you still feel its necessary to bring up the "private can do everything NASA does at a fraction of the cost" "argument".

That's a perfectly valid argument, and if the situation has changed since the Union's inception, we have yet to see any evidence.  For example, in 1794, $688,000 was allocated for the first six U.S. naval ships, and an additional $1,088,000 was needed to cover the overruns.  Rather than build the ships in one giant shipyard, the work was spread among six new shipyards in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Sound familiar?

The space program was originally sold to Kennedy on the premise that it would keep the defense complex workforce employed post-Korea.  You can find more detail about how the work was spread around the country in various books; my favorite is "Journey to Tranquility" by Young, Silcock and Dunn.  Congress doesn't vote for the space program because they love space exploration. 

You think people at NASA are not motivated enough to spend their budget on other things than ISS operation?
Small programs can be efficient, but large programs tend to become targets for enterprising politicians.

Regarding your rhetorical question, I'm sure that many folks at NASA HQ and the various centers, which operate fairly independently, are motivated to spend less in several areas and more in other areas, but that's not the way the budget allocation works.  NASA's not given an allowance and told to spend it wisely.

My own research suggests pretty clearly that NASA takes what Congress and the contractors are willing to give them.  Referencing the Air Force NAFCOM study (http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/586023main_8-3-11_NAFCOM.pdf), it's at least reasonable to multiply NASA's costs by 40%.  If you're trying to cost out a commercial space operation and modeling it on NASA's costs, that's what I would do.

Using NASA's costs allow you to come at the research from one end, but as many other approaches should be taken as possible.  The other, as Chalmer has attempted, is to realize that NASA's way of doing things isn't necessarily the way that a commercial entity would do them now. 

Creating a rough Systems Requirements study allows you to fill in the holes with solutions you deem adequate and appropriate, then cost out the solutions and see whether there's any place to innovate with something more clever.  Then you can create a schedule, figure out a more defined budget, adjust the original study with the results, and keep iterating until you have something resembling a business plan.
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