Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 421823 times)

Offline spacenut

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #600 on: 09/01/2015 07:35 PM »
Using hydrolox, it makes sense that it is that big.  It has a 12 ton LEO payload capacity, small for it's size, but comparable to Atlas, Delta, and Falcon 9.  Now, what would be the operating costs, and how many times could it be reused?   

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #601 on: 09/01/2015 07:41 PM »
Over in an L2 SpaceX thread, Ronpur50 put together a simple size comparison of some extant launchers with some speculation on the SpaceX BFR:

I had this image of some rockets...

With Ron's permission, I elided the L2 work and added the 273-foot Skylon C1, which I present here. Not a small ship.
It's big.

Perhaps it would help if there was also say a 747-8 (250' 2")  or an A380 (239')  in there.

Good thing it's not a tail sitter, isn't it?
"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 john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #602 on: 09/01/2015 08:15 PM »
OK, I'll try to explain it one more time...

A Skylon is an investment good. Whatever irrational stuff single players in the market might be prepared to do at some point, if it's going to work in the long term it needs to earn it's total operating cost. Building the thing. Building the operating infrastructure. Flying the thing and it's infrastructure. Repairing them and replacing them end of life with new ones.
I agree if the system is to operate without any government subsidies.

It's interesting to compare SABRESkylon against every other LV to see how they measure up on that scale.
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No different cost allocation will make any of these smaller. Yes, one party or the other might throw a subsidy or two in there but the same is happening today with the competition. It#s not going to make the cost any smaller, only sometimes the price.

The question will be: what will that total cost be and how much will it be lower compared to existing solutions.

Figures that are mostly irrelevant here are for example initial development cost for the technology because even if you fail to get them recovered the technology is still there.
You still persist in thinking this is a government programme. If the costs are not fully recovered the business is insolvent and closes.
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The latter is why there's no way in the world SpaceX's reuse scenario could reduce the launch cost 10-fold or so without a dramatic rise in launch rates, the cost of keeping the whole company around doesn't go away just because the company pretty much doesn't have an awful lot to do every day anymore. That's also the very reason why launch costs increased so dramatically with diminishing launch rates at the end of the cold war. All the technology was already developed and even a lot of the LVs already built but all the infrastructure and people were still needed.
And as long as the only way for the LV mfg to recover their costs is also to launch them that will always be the case. The number of launches they can directly handle (and those staff are also part of the "standing army" who have to be paid)  is a key part of why no other common transport system operates this way. IRL One company builds. Many companies operate them.
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Skylon will be no exception to that. If they sell a handful of the things and launch rates don't increase and they stop building them then the cost to keep the existing ones alive will be high. Because you'll still need an awful lot of that infrastructure and people without revenue from new sales.
But you've failed to explain why that scenarios is any more credible than REL's expectation they will sell enough to break even IE cover their development costs and make profit. Why do REL only manage to sell a handful other than "Because I say so" ?

Basically you're argument seems to come down to "But they might not sell enough of them."

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A good example is Concorde. When that business case came apart due to the oil price shock the initial investment was completely written off (and covered by governments) yet operating the things was still way more expensive than it would have been in a successful scenario because now the few planes flying around needed a standing army of specialists only servicing so few of them.
I don't think we'll be seeing a "Hydrogen" price shock where it rises 4x, as was seen with oil in 1973, when it rose to (gasp) $12/barrel.

Again why do you think that the world (both governmental and non governmental institutions) would collectively say "No, we don't want to own a fully reusable, on demand space access for payloads up to 15 tonnes to LEO. With 2 skylons flying we'll just buy flights when we need them. "

That was basically the UK's rationale for abandoning Black Arrow but I doubt any reasonable government would be so stupid today.
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No, cost reductions have to go along with launch rate increases and dramatic ones, everything else will not make a difference. Especially not accounting practices.
So let's see for your scenario to happen a few Skylons get built but the support charges go sky high because a few Skylons get built and the price per unit mass stays sky high.

Is that roughly correct?

So nobody else lowers their prices?
Nobody else buys a Skylon as well to compete?
The increased support costs due to the small mfg run mean that the rest of the industry can continue to charge it's existing price levels?

A failure rate of <1 in 400 and intact abort (allowing return of payloads following all failed launches) is no marketing advantage to Skylon operators.

You actually believe this to be a credible scenario for how the future market will develop?

Perhaps you could outline the evidence you have to support this outcome?
« Last Edit: 09/01/2015 08:50 PM by john smith 19 »
"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 tl6973

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #603 on: 09/01/2015 08:31 PM »
Now, what would be the operating costs, and how many times could it be reused?

The operating costs are a subject of great debate on this thread. I have not researched it in-depth enough to form an opinion of my own, but there is an interesting assessment here:

https://freespaceeconomics.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/skylon-special-report-the-operator-business-case/

The author is Francsco Nicoli and has been quite active here so he might be happy to field any further questions you have arising from reading. It's worth pointing out that his economic analysis is split between the business case for operating Skylon and the business case for building Skylon

As for the number of reuses (also a very hot topic), Reaction Engines have stated that the design goal is for 200 reuses per Skylon vehicle
 

Offline pippin

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The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #604 on: 09/01/2015 09:05 PM »
I agree if the system is to operate without any government subsidies.
What have government subsidies to do with all this?

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You still persist in thinking this is a government programme. If the costs are not fully recovered the business is insolvent and closes.
YOU are the only one talking about government all the time.
I'm talking about real-life business.
It's you who's coming up with all these governments buying Skylons without looking at price and cost just to have "assured access", that's not me.

In real life, if a business doesn't fully recover it's initial investment but it's assets are still valuable it gets restructured or sold or the investors pour in more money to keep it alive to not lose everything. Every second construction project works that way and industry is full of companies that have undergone that process. Bought a car one day? The manufacturer might be one of those companies.
Ever flown with an airline? Same.

That's why the initial cost doesn't matter as much as the running cost: If it was too expensive and could not recover the investment: bad day for the investor. If it works well and  not necessarily a bad day for the company.

If it can't recover it's budget and doesn't work or doesn't cover the running cost, that's when companies get shut down.

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But you've failed to explain why that scenarios is any more credible than REL's expectation they will sell enough to break even IE cover their development costs and make profit. Why do REL only manage to sell a handful other than "Because I say so" ?
Where did I say that any scenario is more likely than any other? I wasn't talking about any probabilities or such.

Listen. You either try to understand what I'm saying and I mean the whole message or this has no sense. Picking a single sentence, quoting it out of context, claiming something completely unrelated and postulation that would be a proof for something will lead nowhere.

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Basically you're argument seems to come down to "But they might not sell enough of them."
Sure. because that's the only case where your arguments in favor of why breaking up the business case makes any difference has any relevance.

In the case where they keep churning out a new Skylon every month and these are flying twice a wee each we DO have a dramatic growth in launch rate or what is your idea that all these Skylons are doing? Sitting in backyards for the amusement of investors?

You claim that Skylon works fine business wise without any increase in launch rate meaning they can't sell more than a handful of them, when I point out what that means economically then you claim they would sell more. Sorry, that doesn't compute.

And if they are doing that, if every government just wants to have a Skylon and just fly it once a year then yes, the costs per flight for the Skylon system will be very high. They might still get priced ANYWHERE, just as it is today but the cost will be high.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2015 09:20 PM by pippin »

Offline momerathe

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #605 on: 09/01/2015 10:23 PM »
It's big.

Perhaps it would help if there was also say a 747-8 (250' 2")  or an A380 (239')  in there.

Good thing it's not a tail sitter, isn't it?

a couple of comparison images I've seen previously:



thermodynamics will get you in the end

Offline SteveKelsey

Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #606 on: 09/01/2015 10:44 PM »
A small plea I make from time to time on this thread

Please can we consider the implications of Skylon for what are currently non-space faring nations-i.e. the majority.

The options for those nations wishing to acquire LEO and beyond are somewhat limited at the present.
A nation can spend money with one of the  incumbents, thereby achieving a limited LEO access at this time, and only if the existing carriers  are happy to provide the service. This is only attractive if you limit your ambition to satellite missions. If you have greater ambition, this route is closed to you.

Or, you can develop your own space access system. This means developing the technical, manufacturing, logistical and operational expertise and the investment in all the infrastructure. This takes time and money- as an example consider the Chinese space program which was given significant assistance from Russia and yet has still taken a couple of decades ( at least) and significant investment to achieve its current level.

Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.

As a launch system Skylon may, or may not be cost competitive with SpaceX at al  for individual launches, I tend to think it will be competitive but this has yet to be proven.  As an independent national  space access system  Skylon is in a market of one and is cheap.  I can imagine that when this becomes clear its market is rather larger than the current paradigm might suggest.
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #607 on: 09/01/2015 11:30 PM »
...
Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.

As a launch system Skylon may, or may not be cost competitive with SpaceX at al  for individual launches, I tend to think it will be competitive but this has yet to be proven.  As an independent national  space access system  Skylon is in a market of one and is cheap.  I can imagine that when this becomes clear its market is rather larger than the current paradigm might suggest.

The idea that a significant number of governments need or want independent LEO access is not a strong argument. It seems to have its roots in outdated ideas. Even the idea of a national airline (a far cheaper investment) is a concept that many governments as a whole are moving away from. Unless this capability is *very* affordable, or essential to defense of the national borders, it is not likely that a rush of smaller governments will place Skylon orders.

Believing that government orders for Skylon will solve the business model for REL is IMO dangerously close to wishful thinking.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2015 11:38 PM by Lars-J »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #608 on: 09/02/2015 12:19 AM »
{snip}
Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.

As a launch system Skylon may, or may not be cost competitive with SpaceX at al  for individual launches, I tend to think it will be competitive but this has yet to be proven.  As an independent national  space access system  Skylon is in a market of one and is cheap.  I can imagine that when this becomes clear its market is rather larger than the current paradigm might suggest.

IMHO The countries would do better to build a space port. Let multinational companies land and take off from it - for a suitable large fee (say 20% less than the US spaceports charge). European countries are overcrowded so finding land to build runways that are several miles long is very difficult. East-West runways are needed for equatorial orbits and North-South runways for polar orbits.

Countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn have a natural advantage for hosting a spaceport. The nearer to the Equator the runway is the heavier the cargo a Skylon can lift into orbit.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #609 on: 09/02/2015 12:39 AM »
IMHO The countries would do better to build a space port. Let multinational companies land and take off from it - for a suitable large fee (say 20% less than the US spaceports charge). European countries are overcrowded so finding land to build runways that are several miles long is very difficult. East-West runways are needed for equatorial orbits and North-South runways for polar orbits.

Runway orientations are determined by wind directions.  Are you saying that Skylon can't turn after takeoff?
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Offline oddbodd

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #610 on: 09/02/2015 01:43 AM »
IMHO The countries would do better to build a space port. Let multinational companies land and take off from it - for a suitable large fee (say 20% less than the US spaceports charge). European countries are overcrowded so finding land to build runways that are several miles long is very difficult. East-West runways are needed for equatorial orbits and North-South runways for polar orbits.

Runway orientations are determined by wind directions.  Are you saying that Skylon can't turn after takeoff?

Nothing to do with turning ability (which Skylon obviously has to have in order to land). Everything to do with the boost of earths rotation. You're already travelling eastwards at ~1,600 km/h. If you want to take off westwards you waste fuel/payload mass taking off, turning around, and getting up to the speed you would have had if you'd simply taken off eastwards in the first place. In something as marginal as achieving orbit, that is avoided wherever possible. Polar orbits are more expensive fuel wise anyway (because you don't get the rotational assist from earth) but again, doing a U-turn is wasteful of fuel/payload mass. This is why in the case of any HTOL vehicle you really, really want a west-east oriented runway, ideally with a huge body of water to the east. It's one reason (amongst many) why Kourou in French Guiana is so attractive as a launch site.

Offline pippin

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #611 on: 09/02/2015 02:12 AM »
Yea, and let's just ignore crap like ITAR....

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #612 on: 09/02/2015 02:25 AM »
Yea, and let's just ignore crap like ITAR....
I don't see how an American law would be relevant to Skylon and its clients.

Offline pippin

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The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #613 on: 09/02/2015 03:44 AM »
Depends on who builds the fuselage and what the payload is (and who built that), doesn't it?
« Last Edit: 09/02/2015 03:45 AM by pippin »

Offline Impaler

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #614 on: 09/02/2015 03:52 AM »

Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.


It is impossible to BUY independent space travel even if it came in the form of reusable vehicles because any technology this advanced requires very sophisticated maintenance and parts which makes the operator TOTALLY dependent on the manufacturer and the manufacturers government.  No nation that wants 'assured access to space' would make this kind of purchase.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #615 on: 09/02/2015 04:11 AM »
Depends on who builds the fuselage and what the payload is (and who built that), doesn't it?

ITAR is a good reason for Reaction Engines to reject any bid from an American firm without reading it.

Offline SteveKelsey

Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #616 on: 09/02/2015 06:19 AM »

Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.


It is impossible to BUY independent space travel even if it came in the form of reusable vehicles because any technology this advanced requires very sophisticated maintenance and parts which makes the operator TOTALLY dependent on the manufacturer and the manufacturers government.  No nation that wants 'assured access to space' would make this kind of purchase.

Thats not correct. and this has been covered before. The principle of Skylon is to offer aircraft like operation. Any nation capable of maintaining military aircraft should be able to maintain Skylon. The liquid hydrogen supply is the most challenging issue, followed by those who can launch locally ( i.e. near equatorial) and require a reinforced runway. Both these infrastructure items can be sub-contracted to skilled suppliers.

Additionally, Skylon self ferries. Self ferrying does not require a full fuel load and can use a shorter and less demanding runway and will allow nations to access equatorial runways should they be able to secure a contract   with a launch services provider.

As a business man I could see a good market in supplying those services as all that is required is the construction of the launch  facility( which could be sub-contracted again) and the provision of launch control expertise which, on Skylon, is significantly less demanding being essentially a big, very noisy A380 size jet.
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Offline Star One

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #617 on: 09/02/2015 06:26 AM »

Depends on who builds the fuselage and what the payload is (and who built that), doesn't it?

ITAR is a good reason for Reaction Engines to reject any bid from an American firm without reading it.

May not be an American firm might be someone like the USAF.

Offline SteveKelsey

Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #618 on: 09/02/2015 06:32 AM »
...
Or, you can buy your independent space access system with minimum of 200 launches ready developed for significantly less.

As a launch system Skylon may, or may not be cost competitive with SpaceX at al  for individual launches, I tend to think it will be competitive but this has yet to be proven.  As an independent national  space access system  Skylon is in a market of one and is cheap.  I can imagine that when this becomes clear its market is rather larger than the current paradigm might suggest.

The idea that a significant number of governments need or want independent LEO access is not a strong argument. It seems to have its roots in outdated ideas. Even the idea of a national airline (a far cheaper investment) is a concept that many governments as a whole are moving away from. Unless this capability is *very* affordable, or essential to defense of the national borders, it is not likely that a rush of smaller governments will place Skylon orders.

Believing that government orders for Skylon will solve the business model for REL is IMO dangerously close to wishful thinking.

Your argument stands only if you assume no change to the current paradigm, which is hard to sustain as commercial space is about changing this paradigm. Nations that cannot access space under the current  cost structure demonstrate no wish to do so. However you cannot say this situation will remain if access becomes significantly easier from a technical perspective and cheaper economically.

Musk was right. If air travel demanded the construction of a new Boeing for every trip, no one, government or commercial operator, would bother to fly the Atlantic. The same argument applies to space access.

Government, and large corporation, appetite for space access will increase with technically simpler and economically more rewarding systems. To argue that something that is simpler and cheaper will never expand a market goes counter to the evidence for every industrial innovation I know of, from Josia Wedgwood's mastery of the mass manufacture of china to the computer chip.
2001 is running a little late, but we are getting there.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #619 on: 09/02/2015 07:35 AM »

Depends on who builds the fuselage and what the payload is (and who built that), doesn't it?

ITAR is a good reason for Reaction Engines to reject any bid from an American firm without reading it.

May not be an American firm might be someone like the USAF.

USAF can ITAR waived.

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