Author Topic: BFR and the space industry  (Read 11278 times)

Online gosnold

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BFR and the space industry
« on: 10/03/2017 06:38 PM »
I saw a comment in the SpaceX Mars section about how we should start thinking about what a 20$/kg launch cost would enable, and I did not find a thread specifically dedicated to that. So here's one, to debate and discuss.

I'll start by a little bit of extrapolation based on the 2017 State of the Satellite Industry Report .
Here's the share of the different parts of the industry:

Here's a graph of the revenue from different applications:


So what do you think BFR would change for these applications? What new applications would it make possible?
« Last Edit: 10/03/2017 06:39 PM by gosnold »

Offline rakaydos

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #1 on: 10/03/2017 07:50 PM »
For starters, SpaceX's "Starlink" network is poised to take a hefty bite out of the Satelite Service market.
The size and capability of orbital assets will massively increase as there becomes an affordable superheavy lift.

Additional markets will likely appear as well. Asteroid mining, lunar base servicing, mars gas station servicing, and serious outer system exploration.

I've heard it said that the BFR's cost to orbit is better than an actual magic space elevator. Everything that the space elevator, launch loop, or other magic launch infrastructiure was supposed to unlock, BFR simply does better.

Online speedevil

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #2 on: 10/03/2017 10:32 PM »
A _ridiculous_ number of things today are more expensive than $20/kg.

Essentially all manufactured electronics. (Even more once you take the case off).

The tesla model 3. (barely).

When even a nice motorhome costs more per kilo than your space lift cost, how you optimise things becomes so utterly different.

Going onto science things, much, if not most scientific hardware is well over that.
The giant magellan telescope has a moving part of 1100 tons, and will cost around a billion - so $1000/kg.

Lift cost almost goes away, and if you count the ability to get up to service the thing, the landscape changes utterly again.

It's at the point that ridiculous and insane things like Clarkian manned stations at GEO for commsats become feasible.

Offline Ludus

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2017 01:04 AM »
Lunar and Asteroid resources start to seem a lot less like distant sci fi. Serious capital may flow into what would have seemed absurdly bold plans to do things like move resource rich asteroids to easier to exploit orbits, especially if there is a legal framework setting standards for claims to space resources.

Offline AncientU

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2017 01:18 AM »
If you look at the satellite services table, you'll see that broadband is only $1.5-2B over the course of the covered years.  Starlink is looking to increase this by a few orders of magnitude. 

The internet is a Trillion Dollar industry and space isn't a player-- yet.  That is where the value/growth will come from over the next 5-10 years
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #5 on: 10/04/2017 01:46 AM »
Assuming BFR works to $10-20/kg, the following don't make sense:

Commercial lunar propellant being sold in Earth orbit. Still useful on the Moon, but too expensive in Earth orbit, particularly LEO.

Same for asteroid water. Useful at the asteroid, too expensive in Earth orbit.

Space elevator. Estimated cost is about $220/kg to orbit.
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

Online sanman

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #6 on: 10/04/2017 02:56 AM »
It certainly seems worth asking what the payloads will be for BFR, once it comes into service.

Sure, there'll be the existing satellites, but how long will they keep the launch manifest full?

The real market will have to be for space tourism and exploration. But given that this market doesn't yet exist, how long will it take for market participants to emerge, in developing payloads for launch?

It seems like players like Bigelow Aerospace, who are the only ones ready with hab technology, will be critical in ensuring that  space tourists have somewhere to travel to.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #7 on: 10/04/2017 03:04 AM »
The constellation is designed to fill out BFR's manifest. 12000 satellites replaced possibly as soon as every 4 years means 3000 satellites per day. Mueller talked about truly large satellites, so I think the idea is to grow them over time. Could imagine 50-150 ton satellites, which means 1000-3000 BFR launches per year.

And frankly, Bigelow isn't required for hab tech. If your spaceship can fit 100 people for 3-6 months, do a stint on the surface, and be back after ~20-50 months in space, it essentially IS a hab. And for ~$150 fab costs (extrapolated down from last year) at 800-900m^3, it's almost three times B330's volume for about a tenth the cost, has gorgeous windows, and can loop around the Moon, land on the Moon, or loop around Venus or something while you enjoy the cruise.
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 Cinder

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #8 on: 10/04/2017 03:47 AM »
So that would mean that for a very large majority of all missions for the first decade or so of BFR, the bigger Bigelow habs would not be worthwhile either?  Is it mistaken to perceive that to mean a very Model T like landscape, for that period at least?
The pork must flow.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #9 on: 10/04/2017 03:54 AM »
I wouldn't say that.
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 KelvinZero

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #10 on: 10/04/2017 05:36 AM »
SpaceX may have unused cargo space on a bunch of early flights. It might be in their interest to initially give essentially free cargo to certain projects, such as creating a space tourist destination.

(edit: sorry, missed bit where RobotBeat said full manifest)
« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 05:40 AM by KelvinZero »

Online Nibb31

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #11 on: 10/04/2017 06:07 AM »
Sure, there'll be the existing satellites, but how long will they keep the launch manifest full?

I don't think the existing satellite industry is ready for the fast turnaround that is planned for BFR. It usually takes weeks to integrate, fuel, and checkout satellites at the launch facility. So they are going to have to change the way they build satellites and create new procedures for stack integration.

Online sanman

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #12 on: 10/04/2017 06:36 AM »
If BFR makes satellites for LEO so cheap, then LEO will end up more cluttered than ever. How many cubesats do you really need, anyway?

The better route is to develop ASAP the bigger and more ambitious payloads meant to go farther out, and cater to those markets. That will build up the operational experience and infrastructure for the cis-lunar economy sooner rather than later.

So the more interesting question is, where are those prospective market participants, and how quickly will they be ready to step up?


The constellation is designed to fill out BFR's manifest. 12000 satellites replaced possibly as soon as every 4 years means 3000 satellites per day. Mueller talked about truly large satellites, so I think the idea is to grow them over time. Could imagine 50-150 ton satellites, which means 1000-3000 BFR launches per year.

Didn't Iridium lure new launch startups, which quickly died when Iridium didn't happen? If that problem happens again, then that would pull the rug out from under SpaceX.


Quote
And frankly, Bigelow isn't required for hab tech. If your spaceship can fit 100 people for 3-6 months, do a stint on the surface, and be back after ~20-50 months in space, it essentially IS a hab. And for ~$150 fab costs (extrapolated down from last year) at 800-900m^3, it's almost three times B330's volume for about a tenth the cost, has gorgeous windows, and can loop around the Moon, land on the Moon, or loop around Venus or something while you enjoy the cruise.

But habs, whether in orbit or on the surface for a Moon base, would serve as an anchor destination for space tourists to travel to. Even cruise ships typically offer stopovers as highlights of the journey. A Moon base could continually expand, starting out as a research station and eventually becoming a full-blown settlement.

But what I think Bigelow needs to do is to upgrade the Transhab technology, to allow the walls to be inflated/filled with a curable foam, to harden them. And that's just until Musk can bring over his Tunnel Boring Machines to build a real underground Moon base.
« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 07:38 AM by sanman »

Offline JamesH65

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #13 on: 10/04/2017 09:06 AM »
The constellation is designed to fill out BFR's manifest. 12000 satellites replaced possibly as soon as every 4 years means 3000 satellites per day. Mueller talked about truly large satellites, so I think the idea is to grow them over time. Could imagine 50-150 ton satellites, which means 1000-3000 BFR launches per year.

And frankly, Bigelow isn't required for hab tech. If your spaceship can fit 100 people for 3-6 months, do a stint on the surface, and be back after ~20-50 months in space, it essentially IS a hab. And for ~$150 fab costs (extrapolated down from last year) at 800-900m^3, it's almost three times B330's volume for about a tenth the cost, has gorgeous windows, and can loop around the Moon, land on the Moon, or loop around Venus or something while you enjoy the cruise.

3000 per YEAR, not day. 2 orders of magnitude out.

Online MP99

Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #14 on: 10/04/2017 09:10 AM »


Assuming BFR works to $10-20/kg, the following don't make sense:

Commercial lunar propellant being sold in Earth orbit. Still useful on the Moon, but too expensive in Earth orbit, particularly LEO.

Same for asteroid water. Useful at the asteroid, too expensive in Earth orbit.

Agreed.

More to the point, if SpaceX makes reusable Earth boosters and upper stages, and also uses technology comparable to the upper stage to make reusable Lunar landers, ISTM there are no circumstances where prop in LEO delivered from the Moon would be cheaper than from Earth?

Cheap touch labour on the ground, and volume infrastructure for propellant supply will always keep it ahead of Lunar supply, cost wise. (At least until there is massive infrastructure on the Moon.)

This is another argument in favour of BFR.

Cheers, Martin

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Offline high road

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #15 on: 10/04/2017 09:24 AM »
Well, it's not only the cost that drops, isn't it? SpaceX is also a very capable vehicle. If it's intended to keep a crew alive on the way to and from Mars, might it be used to have that crew service satellites and telescopes, either in Earth orbit or even heliocentric orbits? As long as trip times are less than the journey to Mars, and several targets in similar orbits can be serviced at the same time, the cost of those missions drops significantly. Sure, not exactly 20$/kg due to lower launch frequency, but quite low still. And that would build up quite a lot of confidence for the eventual trip to Mars.

Could you imagine the development cost savings if you know when designing a vehicle, there would be humans present to, just as an example, help JWST unfold or change Keplers reaction wheels if need be?

Offline Athrithalix

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #16 on: 10/04/2017 10:49 AM »
The other question that could be asked, is what is the down-cost? How much would you be asked to pay to bring something down on BFS that didn't go up on it? This would have implications for zero-g manufacturing, and asteroid mining I suppose, though asteroid mining might actually be pushed back if raw material in orbit becomes so cheap to launch.

I imagine that there would be a delicate balance between the cost of sending mass up, bringing it down, and mineral prices that would have to be pretty ideal for it to be worth bringing rare metals from asteroids down to Earth in this manner.

Anyway, yes, does anyone know (or can anyone estimate) how much you'd pay to land something on the BFS?

Online speedevil

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #17 on: 10/04/2017 11:03 AM »
The other question that could be asked, is what is the down-cost? How much would you be asked to pay to bring something down on BFS that didn't go up on it? This would have implications for zero-g manufacturing, and asteroid mining I suppose, though asteroid mining might actually be pushed back if raw material in orbit becomes so cheap to launch.

Down mass is free, if the BFS is there anyway, if there is enough spare fuel. Until you reach either the limit of the system to safely slow that downmass - 20-30 tons on BFS perhaps, or you hit ~80% or whatever of capacity on the up journey, and no longer have fuel margin.

If you need a special launch, then it's about 7-10 times the cost.


Offline Ludus

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Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #18 on: 10/04/2017 03:27 PM »
This would be a good creative challenge for engineering teams at universities and companies something like SpaceX’s competition for a Hyperloop.

Have a few categories. If you have X capabilities at Y budget, what would you do?

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: BFR and the space industry
« Reply #19 on: 10/05/2017 05:26 PM »
Down mass is free, if the BFS is there anyway, if there is enough spare fuel.

Free to whom? The price will be what the market will bear; not the cost to SpaceX of providing the service.

An analogy is all those container ships carrying good from China to the US. They have to go back anyway; but if you want them to carry some cargo for you, you still have to pay.

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