Poll

When will SpaceX first reach an annual flight rate of >1000flt/yr for Starship

Before 2027
1 (1.3%)
2027-2028
0 (0%)
2029-2030
1 (1.3%)
2031-2035
14 (18.7%)
2035-2040
13 (17.3%)
After 2040
9 (12%)
Never, Starship will never get to a >1000/yr flight rate
37 (49.3%)

Total Members Voted: 75

Voting closed: 10/19/2023 09:04 pm


Author Topic: When Will Starship First Fly More than 1000x in a Single Year?  (Read 9400 times)

Offline jongoff

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I haven't watched it, but apparently in his IAC 2023 remarks, Elon supposedly talked about getting to 3-4 Starship launches per day at some point in the foreseeable future (ie ~1000 flights in a year).  When do you think that will happen? I'll be generous and include both fully orbital flights and suborbital point to point flights.

Offline jongoff

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I'll stick my neck out and vote for never. I think that even getting to 100flts/yr is something that is going to take them many years to achieve, and that trying to fly something Starship sized that frequently is just never going to end up making sense. Or that they'll evolve past Starship to some new design at some point in the future before they get to that flight rate. I know guessing never is always ballsy, but I think I have a reasonably good chance of being right. If I'm wrong, I would be shocked if it was within the next decade.

~Jon

Offline Coastal Ron

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...If I'm wrong, I would be shocked if it was within the next decade.

Yeah, just projecting out the ramp up of flights to Mars, with that 26 month launch window to Mars really slowing down the iteration process of validating they are ready to go full bore colonization, I think they will have a challenge getting to three flights per day.

So while I'm not saying never, I voted "after 2040" because I think getting the Mars operation foolproof enough to start colonization will take more than 10 years.
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 lightleviathan

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Honestly, with the current architecture I don't Starship will get even 200 flights per year. But as SpaceX continuously upgrades it, by the start of 2040, Starship may get to 1000 flights per year.

Offline rockets4life97

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I don't think there is any realistic opportunity before 2040 and then we may be talking about something evolved from the current Starship. Remember is has been 13 years since the first F9 launched. Hard to think they are going from first orbit to 1000 flights in only a few years more.

Offline MoodyBlues

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"never" was my vote, it's been 13 years and 268 flights for falcon, and it might last, what, another 5 years, before being replaced by SS? as fast as Spacex develops new systems, i think SS will be lucky to get to a 1,000 flights over it's life-time...

They are at ~100 per year in 2023 (with Falcon 9) and expect 40% growth next year.
40% annual growth gives 1000 in 6 years.
Keeping 40% annualy may be difficult at some time, assuming 25% that's 10 years to go from 100 to 1000.

So maybe about 10 years to reach 1000, plus a few years to get to 100 on Starship.
Let's round it to 2035, we'll see...

Offline DanClemmensen

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Never.   1000/yr is for the Mars colony fleet, but by the time that fleet flies SpaceX will have replaced Starship with a larger system. At a minimum, they will use enormous tankers to reduce the number of tanker flights. Using only Starship, tankers are about 80% of the flights for the colony mission.

Yes, initial Mars efforts will be Starship only, but these use maybe 30 Starships/yr.  Starlink upgrade/replenishment needs about 100/yr to maintain and improve a constellation of 40,000 satellites.   (5-year lifetime=8,000 satellties/yr, 80 satellties/launch = 100 launches). All other launches: maybe 50. In 2023, F9 will launch maybe 47 non-starlink, so one-for-one replacement with no consolidation as an upper bound, adjusted  down for consolidation and up for new business. This is 180/yr, some time after 2029.

Offline AmigaClone

I'm fairly certain that the current version of Starship will never go into Earth orbit 1000x in a single year - except perhaps as a publicity stunt.

I can see a later, larger member of the Starship 'family' of launch vehicles reaching Earth orbit over 1000x a year when colonizing Mars.

The only other way I can see SpaceX launching the current version of Starship 1000x a year would be if point-to-point flights became viable.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2023 07:26 pm by AmigaClone »

Offline freddo411

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so much one would need to project forward:

* completely different regulatory env
* Many more launch sites
* Demand?
* diminished social pressures against space
* Financing?
* technological/engineering challenges are the easiest part

It's physically possible, but no way I could predict when it happens.

==== Edit ====

I did not vote.   I would never be naive enough to state:  "never".   

I could happen in less than ten years, or 100 years from now.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2023 07:07 pm by freddo411 »

Offline DanClemmensen

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so much one would need to project forward:
* Many more launch sites
  ...
Not really. The insane 1000/yr is for the Mars fleet, and about 80% of the launches would be tankers. A single launch site with a single tower could in theory launch three or more tankers per day.  That site might be more efficient if it had a catcher tower in addition to its launch tower.

Offline spacenut

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IF, big IF, they can manufacture 1 ship a month or say 10 per year probably 1,000.  That is at Boca Chica.  They will also manufacture them at Florida.  This could double to say 20 per year.  In 5 years with two facilities, two launch sites, and maybe two offshore launch sites, that is 100 ships launching every one every 3-1/2 days, it could make 1000 launches a year to build and supply a Martian colony, fuel depots, moon base, satellite replacements.  Not unforeseeable. 

Musk said it would take about 10 cargo ships going to Mars for every crewed ship.  It will take 9-10 fuel launches to supply these ships with fuel.  That is at least 100 for one simple synod going to Mars. 

Starlink is supposed to be 42,000 LEO satellites.  Even after building the network of satellites, they will age, be deorbited and have to be replaced.  At 100 satellites per launch that is 420 launches over a period of time. 

With cheap Starship flights, NASA will probably rely more heavily on Starships for their lunar program.  Then it can be expanded beyond Artemis size. 

At this point NASA may want to build a very large nuclear powered spacecraft or a rotating zero G space station.  This could begin to happen by 2035 or 2040. 

They said landing a booster couldn't be done or would be to expensive to do.  It has been proven otherwise.  Never say Never. 

Offline deltaV

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I think it would be possible to get Starship ready to do 1000 flights per year by around 2028 but I don't think it will actually do that many flights because I don't think there will be enough payloads. Sure a Mars colony can use a virtually unlimited amount of payload but I don't see where the money for those payloads would come from in the near future. I voted "after 2040" but "never" is also quite plausible - I don't know whether SpaceX will evolve Starship gradually or build a new rocket.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2023 01:10 am by deltaV »

Offline Zed_Noir

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I think it would be possible to get Starship ready to do 1000 flights per year by around 2028 but I don't think it will actually do that many flights because I don't think there will be enough payloads. Sure a Mars colony can use a virtually unlimited amount of payload but I don't see where the money for those payloads would come from in the near future. I voted "after 2040" but "never" is also quite plausible - I don't know whether SpaceX will evolve Starship gradually or build a new rocket.
Propellants is cheap.

Online catdlr

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I think it would be possible to get Starship ready to do 1000 flights per year by around 2028 but I don't think it will actually do that many flights because I don't think there will be enough payloads. Sure a Mars colony can use a virtually unlimited amount of payload but I don't see where the money for those payloads would come from in the near future. I voted "after 2040" but "never" is also quite plausible - I don't know whether SpaceX will evolve Starship gradually or build a new rocket.
Propellants is cheap.


My Opinion: 
That may be true, but unless SpaceX produces its own or purchases it (like it's doing now), there could be a potential supply chain issue manufacturing and delivering that much. Let alone environmentalists generating issues with the huge amount of methane being burned and released into the atmosphere (for initial launches).
Off soap box.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2023 06:03 am by catdlr »
It's Tony De La Rosa, ...I don't create this stuff, I just report it.

Offline M.E.T.

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If the payload demand is there, they are quite capable of rapidly expanding operations to meet it. Therefore, what youíre not considering is Elonís age.

In a decadeís time he will be in his early 60ís. He is impatient to see his Mars vision realised in his lifetime. So I quite expect him to liquidate his multi trillion dollar non-SpaceX fortune at that point and fully dedicate it to Mars settlement.

So how many Starship payloads plus launches can $2 trillion dollars buy? A 150t tanker payload worth of methane and oxygen costs what? $200k? So a mere $10B dollars buys you 50,000 Starship tanker loads worth of payload. Add launch costs of $10M per launch so thats another $500B.

At ~7 refuelling flights per Mars departure ship, the first $500B expenditure has bought Elon enough fuel in orbit for ~7000 Mars departures. So next he spends another $10M dollars per Mars ship launch, so thats another $70B in launch costs. So now he has spent about $600B. Assuming he started with $2 trillion, that leaves $1.4 trillion to pay for payloads for the 7000 Mars ships. That equates to about $200M per ship to pay for either crew life support, specialized cargo for Mars and other expenditures.

So in summary, $2 trillion buys Elon 7,000 Mars colony ships with cargo and crew, landed on Mars. By total coincidence, 7000x150t = 1050,000t landed on Mars. So thatís his million tons to Mars.

Total launches - 50,000 tanker launches to LEO + 7,000 Mars departures. Thatís 57,000 total launches. Starting in say 2033 (10 years from now), thatís gonna need a lot more than a thousand launches per year if he wants it done in 10-15 years (before he reaches say 75 years of age).

So I predict a rapid escalation once Elon decides the time has come to go all in on Mars.

Edit

This was typed poolside on my phone, so will have to check my head math later.

Edit 2

What this also made me realise is how mind bogglingly rich Elon is, and how much you can do with a trillion dollars.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2023 07:16 am by M.E.T. »

Offline deltaV

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That may be true, but unless SpaceX produces its own or purchases it (like it's doing now), there could be a potential supply chain issue manufacturing and delivering that much. Let alone environmentalists generating issues with the huge amount of methane being burned and released into the atmosphere (for initial launches).

1000 Starships per year is 1.6 GW, the size of a large nuclear power plant (http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2022/ph240/beardslee1/). That's probably not enough to matter from an engineering standpoint - that's about 0.16% of the US gas consumption and launch pads are invariably on the coast where shipping liquid natural gas is easy. But it could be politically problematic for a few dozen Mars residents to be consuming more energy than the entire countries of Ethiopa (112M people) and Congo (96M people) consume in electricity. If you put Starship in the list of ~220 countries sorted by electricity consumption (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption) Starship would be in the top half! I'm guessing that if rockets launch this frequently they will probably be forced to use carbon neutral propellants, which could raise propellant costs by an order of magnitude (not sure exactly).

Offline Zed_Noir

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I think it would be possible to get Starship ready to do 1000 flights per year by around 2028 but I don't think it will actually do that many flights because I don't think there will be enough payloads. Sure a Mars colony can use a virtually unlimited amount of payload but I don't see where the money for those payloads would come from in the near future. I voted "after 2040" but "never" is also quite plausible - I don't know whether SpaceX will evolve Starship gradually or build a new rocket.
Propellants is cheap.


My Opinion: 
That may be true, but unless SpaceX produces its own or purchases it (like it's doing now), there could be a potential supply chain issue manufacturing and delivering that much. Let alone environmentalists generating issues with the huge amount of methane being burned and released into the atmosphere (for initial launches).
Off soap box.

The amount of methane burn by a thousand Starship launches annually is almost nothing compare to the amount use for power generation, heating and industrial usage.

Eventually expect SpaceX to produce propellants inhouse. Mostly liquid oxygen from fractional distillation of air from the atmosphere, which will generated noble gases side products as well. Methane should be readily available commercially for the foreseeable near future.


Note - got ninja'd by @M.E.T. and @DeltaV  :(

Offline deltaV

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1000 Starships per year is 1.6 GW, the size of a large nuclear power plant (http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2022/ph240/beardslee1/). That's probably not enough to matter from an engineering standpoint - that's about 0.16% of the US gas consumption and launch pads are invariably on the coast where shipping liquid natural gas is easy. But it could be politically problematic for a few dozen Mars residents to be consuming more energy than the entire countries of Ethiopa (112M people) and Congo (96M people) consume in electricity. If you put Starship in the list of ~220 countries sorted by electricity consumption (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption) Starship would be in the top half! I'm guessing that if rockets launch this frequently they will probably be forced to use carbon neutral propellants, which could raise propellant costs by an order of magnitude (not sure exactly).

It gets worse. Musk's goal seems to be 1000 starships each doing 1000 flights / year, i.e. 1M flights / year (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1217990326867988480). That will take more than the US's entire natural gas consumption and about half of the entire world's electricity consumption! That's challenging both politically and engineering-wise.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2023 07:38 am by deltaV »

Offline Zed_Noir

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<snip>
Edit 2

What this also made me realise is how mind bogglingly rich Elon is, and how much you can do with a trillion dollars.
Think Tesla is worth more than a couple of trillion dollars, IMO. If Elon decides to sell Tesla to push hard for Mars. It is much more than a car manufacturer.

Tags: SpaceX Starship 
 

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