Author Topic: Reuse business case  (Read 257294 times)

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #880 on: 07/29/2022 11:04 pm »
If I understand it correctly, they justify SMART instead of booster reuse because the architecture ULA to enable Vulcan to do all these missions means the first stage flies high and fast, which makes booster recovery too expensive.

They also claim that the entire rocket is less than half the cost of a mission and that that the booster's cost is dominated by the cost of the engines.  If so, that means that saving the booster versus saving just the engines might only save a couple of percent of the total cost of a mission, and that isn't worth the expense of development and the sacrifice to performance.
The whole idea that rocket tanks are just cheap hardware is a strangely persistent one even among aerospace folks.

Can anyone remind me how expensive the Shuttle external tank was? Same idea…

If I recall correctly, well under 10% of the cost of a mission.
About $52 million out of a $361 million 1993 mission cost (not counting civil servant travel time and space network usage) at 8 flights per year, in 1993 dollars. $107 million in today’s money.
The funny part is that the same folks, when looking at F9 reuse, claimed that it's not going to save that much anyway since missions costs >> rocket costs.

And there's pretty good evidence that that's true.  F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.  Is that because reuse doesn't save much money or because SpaceX is trying to extract as much money as they can from their customers?  No one outside of the company knows the answer to that, but the truth is probably a combination.
Haha yes, that meme.

SpaceX is turning those stages around in 3 weeks now, including barge-back time, ground handling, and preparation for launch.  We know the engines largely stay attached, or there'd be 9 engines arriving and leaving every 6 days at the cape... We know the maritime operations are cheap as well.

So how expensive can that process be? 

And thanks to the combined efforts of the rest of the sector, competitive pricing is sky high.  Thanks ULA, thanks Arianne, you're literally financing the Mars effort.

As I said before - arrange all the misinformation in a circle and at the center lies the desired false conclusion: SpaceX is actually expensive and SMART is actually smart.
« Last Edit: 07/29/2022 11:38 pm by meekGee »
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #881 on: 07/30/2022 01:57 pm »
If I understand it correctly, they justify SMART instead of booster reuse because the architecture ULA to enable Vulcan to do all these missions means the first stage flies high and fast, which makes booster recovery too expensive.

They also claim that the entire rocket is less than half the cost of a mission and that that the booster's cost is dominated by the cost of the engines.  If so, that means that saving the booster versus saving just the engines might only save a couple of percent of the total cost of a mission, and that isn't worth the expense of development and the sacrifice to performance.
That's what they say, and seems to be true for Vulcan. ULA picked the Vulcan architecture a long time ago, and it is a lineal descendant of the Atlas V architecture: liquid fueled core, high-energy Centaur second stage, and a variable number of strap-on SRBs. They picked this flexible proven architecture long before Falcon 9 ever flew. The architecture is optimized for flying the core stage high and fast, and as a consequence booster recovery does not make economic sense for this architecture. But that argument does not generalize to all architectures, so ULA is now stuck with a rocket that cannot compete with Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy.

Offline edzieba

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #882 on: 08/01/2022 02:14 pm »
It’s not that cheap. Not a bloody chance. Using Shuttle ET as a guide (and it cost $100 million), it costs at least $10-20 million for the Vulcan tanks.

(And they’re already paying to recover the pod at sea in this comparison.)
Shuttle external tank cost is not a useful proxy for Vulcan tank cost.
Vulcan is not built in Michoud, not a hoop + stringer construction, nor made of Al-Li. It is also not manufactured on a cost-pus contract.
Ironically Falcon 9 has more commonality (being made of the same alloy with the same construction technique) and clearly is not as expensive to manufacture as the SLWT per-unit or volume-for-volume. ULA also already have all the tooling for manufacture of formed orthogrid tanks on-site and paid for, as those large routers, presses, and friction stir welders have been used for Atlas and Delta construction for many years. Unlike with Falcon 9, they do not have to build up tank production capacity from scratch.

One more reasonable question would be whether ULA have the production capacity to meet the proposed flight rate without tank re-use: it is well known that the Decatur plant was sized for an Atlas and delta flight rate that never materialised, but it is unclear if this capacity is still available, or if it would require tooling up vacant factory volume to meet desired core production rates.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #883 on: 08/01/2022 02:35 pm »
It’s not that cheap. Not a bloody chance. Using Shuttle ET as a guide (and it cost $100 million), it costs at least $10-20 million for the Vulcan tanks.

(And they’re already paying to recover the pod at sea in this comparison.)
Shuttle external tank cost is not a useful proxy for Vulcan tank cost.
Vulcan is not built in Michoud, not a hoop + stringer construction, nor made of Al-Li. It is also not manufactured on a cost-pus contract.
Ironically Falcon 9 has more commonality (being made of the same alloy with the same construction technique) and clearly is not as expensive to manufacture as the SLWT per-unit or volume-for-volume. ULA also already have all the tooling for manufacture of formed orthogrid tanks on-site and paid for, as those large routers, presses, and friction stir welders have been used for Atlas and Delta construction for many years. Unlike with Falcon 9, they do not have to build up tank production capacity from scratch.

One more reasonable question would be whether ULA have the production capacity to meet the proposed flight rate without tank re-use: it is well known that the Decatur plant was sized for an Atlas and delta flight rate that never materialised, but it is unclear if this capacity is still available, or if it would require tooling up vacant factory volume to meet desired core production rates.
This is actually a legitimate argument against reuse: when you reuse boosters, the booster production rate is much lower, so you cannot amortize the fixed production costs across as many boosters. SpaceX originally sized the Hawthorne booster production line for 30 boosters per year, but now they are only producing two or three a year. Clearly their expensive factory assets are underutilized. Even if they had brilliantly foreseen this and created a smaller factory, a factory that produces only two or three a year will have a much higher per-booster cost.  Therefore, <sarcasm> SpaceX cannot provide boosters as cheaply as ULA and must be losing money </sarcasm>.

Offline rpapo

Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #884 on: 08/01/2022 03:19 pm »
It’s not that cheap. Not a bloody chance. Using Shuttle ET as a guide (and it cost $100 million), it costs at least $10-20 million for the Vulcan tanks.

(And they’re already paying to recover the pod at sea in this comparison.)
Shuttle external tank cost is not a useful proxy for Vulcan tank cost.
Vulcan is not built in Michoud, not a hoop + stringer construction, nor made of Al-Li. It is also not manufactured on a cost-pus contract.
Ironically Falcon 9 has more commonality (being made of the same alloy with the same construction technique) and clearly is not as expensive to manufacture as the SLWT per-unit or volume-for-volume. ULA also already have all the tooling for manufacture of formed orthogrid tanks on-site and paid for, as those large routers, presses, and friction stir welders have been used for Atlas and Delta construction for many years. Unlike with Falcon 9, they do not have to build up tank production capacity from scratch.

One more reasonable question would be whether ULA have the production capacity to meet the proposed flight rate without tank re-use: it is well known that the Decatur plant was sized for an Atlas and delta flight rate that never materialised, but it is unclear if this capacity is still available, or if it would require tooling up vacant factory volume to meet desired core production rates.
This is actually a legitimate argument against reuse: when you reuse boosters, the booster production rate is much lower, so you cannot amortize the fixed production costs across as many boosters. SpaceX originally sized the Hawthorne booster production line for 30 boosters per year, but now they are only producing two or three a year. Clearly their expensive factory assets are underutilized. Even if they had brilliantly foreseen this and created a smaller factory, a factory that produces only two or three a year will have a much higher per-booster cost.  Therefore, <sarcasm> SpaceX cannot provide boosters as cheaply as ULA and must be losing money </sarcasm>.
Not quite true.  The Hawthorne plant continues to pop out second stages at a rate of 50-60 per year, and that uses pretty much the same tooling.  But, yes, the booster line is way underutilized now.

And AFAIK, Hawthorne builds all those Dragons, Trunks, fairings, Dracos, Merlins and Raptors.

But isn't this thread about ULA?
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Offline spacenut

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #885 on: 08/01/2022 03:21 pm »
It’s not that cheap. Not a bloody chance. Using Shuttle ET as a guide (and it cost $100 million), it costs at least $10-20 million for the Vulcan tanks.

(And they’re already paying to recover the pod at sea in this comparison.)
Shuttle external tank cost is not a useful proxy for Vulcan tank cost.
Vulcan is not built in Michoud, not a hoop + stringer construction, nor made of Al-Li. It is also not manufactured on a cost-pus contract.
Ironically Falcon 9 has more commonality (being made of the same alloy with the same construction technique) and clearly is not as expensive to manufacture as the SLWT per-unit or volume-for-volume. ULA also already have all the tooling for manufacture of formed orthogrid tanks on-site and paid for, as those large routers, presses, and friction stir welders have been used for Atlas and Delta construction for many years. Unlike with Falcon 9, they do not have to build up tank production capacity from scratch.

One more reasonable question would be whether ULA have the production capacity to meet the proposed flight rate without tank re-use: it is well known that the Decatur plant was sized for an Atlas and delta flight rate that never materialised, but it is unclear if this capacity is still available, or if it would require tooling up vacant factory volume to meet desired core production rates.
This is actually a legitimate argument against reuse: when you reuse boosters, the booster production rate is much lower, so you cannot amortize the fixed production costs across as many boosters. SpaceX originally sized the Hawthorne booster production line for 30 boosters per year, but now they are only producing two or three a year. Clearly their expensive factory assets are underutilized. Even if they had brilliantly foreseen this and created a smaller factory, a factory that produces only two or three a year will have a much higher per-booster cost.  Therefore, <sarcasm> SpaceX cannot provide boosters as cheaply as ULA and must be losing money </sarcasm>.

They stay busy producing all the second stages using the same tooling.  They are on par to launch 50-60 times this year.  That is 50-60 new second stages for each launch.  So their fixed production costs are spread over all those second stages, while still reusing boosters.  Saving a lot of money in the process.  Starship will eventually do the same.  Lots of Starlinks still to launch, lots of tanker flights to fuel Starships for trips to the moon and Mars.  Their thinking is beyond what NASA or the Spaceforce needs. 

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #886 on: 08/01/2022 03:23 pm »
It’s not that cheap. Not a bloody chance. Using Shuttle ET as a guide (and it cost $100 million), it costs at least $10-20 million for the Vulcan tanks.

(And they’re already paying to recover the pod at sea in this comparison.)
Shuttle external tank cost is not a useful proxy for Vulcan tank cost.
Vulcan is not built in Michoud, not a hoop + stringer construction, nor made of Al-Li. It is also not manufactured on a cost-pus contract.
Ironically Falcon 9 has more commonality (being made of the same alloy with the same construction technique) and clearly is not as expensive to manufacture as the SLWT per-unit or volume-for-volume. ULA also already have all the tooling for manufacture of formed orthogrid tanks on-site and paid for, as those large routers, presses, and friction stir welders have been used for Atlas and Delta construction for many years. Unlike with Falcon 9, they do not have to build up tank production capacity from scratch.

One more reasonable question would be whether ULA have the production capacity to meet the proposed flight rate without tank re-use: it is well known that the Decatur plant was sized for an Atlas and delta flight rate that never materialised, but it is unclear if this capacity is still available, or if it would require tooling up vacant factory volume to meet desired core production rates.
This is actually a legitimate argument against reuse: when you reuse boosters, the booster production rate is much lower, so you cannot amortize the fixed production costs across as many boosters. SpaceX originally sized the Hawthorne booster production line for 30 boosters per year, but now they are only producing two or three a year. Clearly their expensive factory assets are underutilized. Even if they had brilliantly foreseen this and created a smaller factory, a factory that produces only two or three a year will have a much higher per-booster cost.  Therefore, &lt;sarcasm&gt; SpaceX cannot provide boosters as cheaply as ULA and must be losing money &lt;/sarcasm&gt;.
Except for upper stages, that use the same number of domes, an engine, full avionics...  So it's not a complete disaster given that the number of launches is now 2x what the lines were sized for.

So in the long run, reuse allows such a flight rate that fabrication doesn't dwindle that badly.

Jetliner model applies. Do you think Boeing would make more 737s if they were single use?  Maybe, but not by much.
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #887 on: 08/01/2022 03:48 pm »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong. And I think people get confused regarding total mission cost vs launch cost.

The published launch price for a Falcon 9 is $67M, which will take up to 505 mT to GTO. This would be for commercial users.

The U.S. Government is not going to be paying more for the launch (maybe even less), and for NASA payloads the cost of the launch is pre-negotiated with the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. And as a note, government contracts people are VERY smart, and they understand how to negotiate contract pricing VERY well, so if SpaceX is advertising a price on their website, then the U.S. Government is not going to be paying more than that for the same service.

So the cost of LAUNCH is very stable, and that $67M launch cost hasn't changed substantially in a long time.

The confusion people have is when they look at the total mission cost, which includes not only the cost of the launch (which is where reuse is covered), and the cost of "other" services that customers require. Stuff like data, special handling, non-standard destinations, etc. As a for-profit company, SpaceX likely charges the going rate for these types of services, but they are separate from the launch costs, and have no bearing on booster reuse costs.

My $0.02
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Online Lee Jay

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #888 on: 08/01/2022 06:21 pm »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong.

Really?

https://web.archive.org/web/20080815163222/http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=18

"SpaceX today announced its new launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class vehicle. With up to a 17 ft (5.2 m) diameter fairing, Falcon 9 is capable of launching approximately 21,000 lbs (9,500 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its medium configuration and 55,000 lbs (25,000 kg) to LEO in its heavy configuration, a lift capacity greater than any other launch vehicle. In the medium configuration, Falcon 9 is priced at $27 million per flight with a 12 ft (3.6 m) fairing and $35 million with a 17 ft fairing. Prices include all launch range and third party insurance costs, making Falcon 9 the most cost efficient vehicle in its class worldwide."
Quote
And I think people get confused regarding total mission cost vs launch cost.

The published launch price for a Falcon 9 is $67M, which will take up to 505 mT to GTO. This would be for commercial users.

The U.S. Government is not going to be paying more for the launch (maybe even less), and for NASA payloads the cost of the launch is pre-negotiated with the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. And as a note, government contracts people are VERY smart, and they understand how to negotiate contract pricing VERY well, so if SpaceX is advertising a price on their website, then the U.S. Government is not going to be paying more than that for the same service.

So the cost of LAUNCH is very stable, and that $67M launch cost hasn't changed substantially in a long time.

Really?

March 22, 2022:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/spacex-raises-prices-for-launches-and-starlink-due-to-inflation.html

"The starting prices for a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket will each increase by about 8%. A Falcon 9 launch will cost $67 million, up from $62 million, and a Falcon Heavy launch will now run $97 million, up from $90 million."
« Last Edit: 08/01/2022 06:21 pm by Lee Jay »

Offline SpaceCadet1980

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #889 on: 08/01/2022 10:06 pm »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong.

Really?
Yes, really, unless with your post here you are trying to claim that 4*35 = 67? Otherwise you just proved you original claim to be blatantly false as anyone with any relevant knowledge would know.

And that is without giving any allowance for inflation, performance increases, the fact that you are quoting a price from 5 years before first launch (early launches can be low or negative margin in general since they are practically shakedowns to prove reliability, and that long before launch the price offered could easily differ from the reality simply because no one has a crystal ball.) And on top of all of that you are using price figures to the customer as a proxy for internal cost. We very well know that SpaceX should have plenty of margin considering what is known about the IXPE launch contract.

P.S. I really shouldn't have to mention why the $27 million number is irrelevant, it is not hard to check the size of a F9 fairing today.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #890 on: 08/01/2022 10:26 pm »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong.

Really?

https://web.archive.org/web/20080815163222/http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=18

"SpaceX today announced its new launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class vehicle. With up to a 17 ft (5.2 m) diameter fairing, Falcon 9 is capable of launching approximately 21,000 lbs (9,500 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its medium configuration and 55,000 lbs (25,000 kg) to LEO in its heavy configuration, a lift capacity greater than any other launch vehicle. In the medium configuration, Falcon 9 is priced at $27 million per flight with a 12 ft (3.6 m) fairing and $35 million with a 17 ft fairing. Prices include all launch range and third party insurance costs, making Falcon 9 the most cost efficient vehicle in its class worldwide."
Quote
And I think people get confused regarding total mission cost vs launch cost.

The published launch price for a Falcon 9 is $67M, which will take up to 505 mT to GTO. This would be for commercial users.

The U.S. Government is not going to be paying more for the launch (maybe even less), and for NASA payloads the cost of the launch is pre-negotiated with the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. And as a note, government contracts people are VERY smart, and they understand how to negotiate contract pricing VERY well, so if SpaceX is advertising a price on their website, then the U.S. Government is not going to be paying more than that for the same service.

So the cost of LAUNCH is very stable, and that $67M launch cost hasn't changed substantially in a long time.

Really?

March 22, 2022:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/spacex-raises-prices-for-launches-and-starlink-due-to-inflation.html

"The starting prices for a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket will each increase by about 8%. A Falcon 9 launch will cost $67 million, up from $62 million, and a Falcon Heavy launch will now run $97 million, up from $90 million."
SMH.
Price is not cost.
Cost is reduced via reusability.
Price can be anything SpaceX wants, subject to market constraints.

Any increase in price reflects on the inaptitude of the competitors who to this day haven't been able to cause SpaceX to reduce pricing.

It does NOT in any way indicate anything about their costs, as you're trying to claim.

How is this still lost on you?

The difference between SpaceX's price and cost, their margin, is how they're able to afford all the nice things. (And why investors think they are a real company)
« Last Edit: 08/01/2022 10:38 pm by meekGee »
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Online Lee Jay

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #891 on: 08/01/2022 11:44 pm »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong.

Really?

https://web.archive.org/web/20080815163222/http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=18

"SpaceX today announced its new launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class vehicle. With up to a 17 ft (5.2 m) diameter fairing, Falcon 9 is capable of launching approximately 21,000 lbs (9,500 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its medium configuration and 55,000 lbs (25,000 kg) to LEO in its heavy configuration, a lift capacity greater than any other launch vehicle. In the medium configuration, Falcon 9 is priced at $27 million per flight with a 12 ft (3.6 m) fairing and $35 million with a 17 ft fairing. Prices include all launch range and third party insurance costs, making Falcon 9 the most cost efficient vehicle in its class worldwide."
Quote
And I think people get confused regarding total mission cost vs launch cost.

The published launch price for a Falcon 9 is $67M, which will take up to 505 mT to GTO. This would be for commercial users.

The U.S. Government is not going to be paying more for the launch (maybe even less), and for NASA payloads the cost of the launch is pre-negotiated with the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. And as a note, government contracts people are VERY smart, and they understand how to negotiate contract pricing VERY well, so if SpaceX is advertising a price on their website, then the U.S. Government is not going to be paying more than that for the same service.

So the cost of LAUNCH is very stable, and that $67M launch cost hasn't changed substantially in a long time.

Really?

March 22, 2022:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/spacex-raises-prices-for-launches-and-starlink-due-to-inflation.html

"The starting prices for a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket will each increase by about 8%. A Falcon 9 launch will cost $67 million, up from $62 million, and a Falcon Heavy launch will now run $97 million, up from $90 million."
SMH.
Price is not cost.
Cost is reduced via reusability.
Price can be anything SpaceX wants, subject to market constraints.

Any increase in price reflects on the inaptitude of the competitors who to this day haven't been able to cause SpaceX to reduce pricing.

It does NOT in any way indicate anything about their costs, as you're trying to claim.

How is this still lost on you?

The difference between SpaceX's price and cost, their margin, is how they're able to afford all the nice things. (And why investors think they are a real company)


Do you have their costs?

Of course you don't, and if you did, it would be proprietary and you wouldn't be allowed to release it.

Offline SpaceCadet1980

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #892 on: 08/02/2022 12:18 am »
Do you have their costs?

Of course you don't, and if you did, it would be proprietary and you wouldn't be allowed to release it.
You are the one who made the claim of 4x costs, which is obviously untrue based on publicly available data, some of which you cited yourself. This is effectively 2 posts in a row that you have now admitted your original claim had no basis in reality and that you know it.

Also your false claim is being addressed in depth, because certain people seem to think it is ok to lie about SpaceX in non-SpaceX threads, since going into detail to point out the errors would be off topic. Unfortunately for you, this thread is in the ULA section because it is based on a ULA produced analysis, but said analysis is generic, so it is completely on topic to compare the predictions to actual results using SpaceX rockets (hint: reality says the model was wrong.)

All this is a distraction from the original point which was talking about a different number, how much rocket related costs factor into total mission cost.
The funny part is that the same folks, when looking at F9 reuse, claimed that it's not going to save that much anyway since missions costs >> rocket costs.
You had before this made a claim that this number was only 10%, to dismiss reuse as being useful, and then when this was shown to be wrong, you tried to reverse your story entirely and instead claimed that Falcon 9 costs far more than it does to dismiss resuse as saving money at all. Meanwhile in reality we have an example of a business (Starlink) that would have trouble being viable if it wasn't for a reduction in both rocket launch cost (especially per kg) and satellite build cost.

So why exactly are you so invested in reuse being bad that you keep tripping and contradicting yourself in your rush to put down SpaceX?

Offline su27k

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #893 on: 08/02/2022 01:06 am »
...F9 missions are far more costly than they were claimed to be in the beginning (in some cases more than 4x higher) and they've been steadily going up, even as reuse increases.

This is, of course, wrong.

Really?

https://web.archive.org/web/20080815163222/http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=18

"SpaceX today announced its new launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class vehicle. With up to a 17 ft (5.2 m) diameter fairing, Falcon 9 is capable of launching approximately 21,000 lbs (9,500 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its medium configuration and 55,000 lbs (25,000 kg) to LEO in its heavy configuration, a lift capacity greater than any other launch vehicle. In the medium configuration, Falcon 9 is priced at $27 million per flight with a 12 ft (3.6 m) fairing and $35 million with a 17 ft fairing. Prices include all launch range and third party insurance costs, making Falcon 9 the most cost efficient vehicle in its class worldwide."
Quote
And I think people get confused regarding total mission cost vs launch cost.

The published launch price for a Falcon 9 is $67M, which will take up to 505 mT to GTO. This would be for commercial users.

The U.S. Government is not going to be paying more for the launch (maybe even less), and for NASA payloads the cost of the launch is pre-negotiated with the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. And as a note, government contracts people are VERY smart, and they understand how to negotiate contract pricing VERY well, so if SpaceX is advertising a price on their website, then the U.S. Government is not going to be paying more than that for the same service.

So the cost of LAUNCH is very stable, and that $67M launch cost hasn't changed substantially in a long time.

Really?

March 22, 2022:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/spacex-raises-prices-for-launches-and-starlink-due-to-inflation.html

"The starting prices for a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket will each increase by about 8%. A Falcon 9 launch will cost $67 million, up from $62 million, and a Falcon Heavy launch will now run $97 million, up from $90 million."

It's called "inflation", also they have different prices for different level of performance back then, so you need to take that into account as well: https://web.archive.org/web/20080820131908/http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

$57.75M in 2008 dollars for 4,500 - 5,000kg to GTO, that translates to $81M today, so today's listed price of $67M is actually cheaper than the price they published two years before its first launch, and this doesn't even take into account the fact that today's F9 can do 5.5t to GTO in reusable configuration, instead of 4.5t to 5t to GTO.
« Last Edit: 08/02/2022 02:47 am by su27k »

Offline spacenut

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #894 on: 08/02/2022 02:37 am »
SpaceX has increased the Merlin's thrust since the beginning thus increasing it's capability as well as having a fully reusable booster.  I believe their sunk cost in the factory and tooling have long since paid for themselves, so they can enjoy a greater profit today as well as offering lower costs with used boosters, at least a few times, before using them for Starlink launches. 

I think they have well proven the reuse business case, because their reuse allows them to use the rockets to cheaply launch the Starlinks.  Starlink, in turn will bring in $1 billion a month profit for every 1 million subscribers before deducting any costs with users equipment.  This is how they are going to finance a Mars colony.  Everyone seems to forget that.  Reuse is everything for them, maybe not for others, but for them. 

Offline rpapo

Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #895 on: 08/02/2022 10:49 am »
SpaceX has increased the Merlin's thrust since the beginning thus increasing it's capability as well as having a fully reusable booster.  I believe their sunk cost in the factory and tooling have long since paid for themselves, so they can enjoy a greater profit today as well as offering lower costs with used boosters, at least a few times, before using them for Starlink launches. 

I think they have well proven the reuse business case, because their reuse allows them to use the rockets to cheaply launch the Starlinks.  Starlink, in turn will bring in $1 billion a month profit for every 1 million subscribers before deducting any costs with users equipment.  This is how they are going to finance a Mars colony.  Everyone seems to forget that.  Reuse is everything for them, maybe not for others, but for them.
It looks like your calculator needs new batteries.  The monthly subscription cost for Starlink is not $1000, but rather $110.  Unless you want to consider the mobile installations, which cost a lot more.  And that is revenue, not profit.

Once more, topic derailed.  ULA, because of corporate structure and decisions made long ago, has had to convince themselves that reuse really doesn't make a difference for them.  And as the backup and specialty launcher of choice for anything over 300kg (the limit for RocketLab's Electron), and well connected politically, they can probably survive for a while longer.  At least until Starship and Neutron come on line.
An Apollo amazing people by the time Apollo 8 launched.

Online LouScheffer

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #896 on: 08/02/2022 12:10 pm »
The thread is in the ULA section because it was started by George Sower’s spreadsheet looking at the reuse business case.
Presumably there must be an updated spreadsheet, as ULA now says SMART will repay the effort in 3 flights.  I doubt ULA would provide it, as it would be full of proprietary info.

However, I wondered if anyone had fiddled with Sower's original spreadsheet, making the assumptions more or less consistent with what we know of ULA, and showing a profit after 3 re-uses?
At the risk of an on-topic post, I tried changing the assumptions in the Sower spreadsheet (found in the first post in the thread).  I'm not sure I understand the exact definition of each of the parameters (which are better explained in this paper, but it does not seem to matter much). 

There are two parameters that change a lot.  The first is the penalty for re-use.  I guessed this as follow:  the 6 meter HIAD experiment massed 1200kg.  The paper above guesses a 10-12 meter HIAD for Atlas.  Since mass should scale roughly as the square of the size, I guess a 4000 kg mass.  But this is on the booster, so divide by 10 to get a 400 kg payload penalty.  That's 10% of a 4000kg payload and 2% of a 20,000kg payload, so the ratios here are 1.02 - 1.1.

Next is the recovered hardware portion of the total launch cost.  Here I assumed engines are $8M each, so $16M total.  For a $90M mission, that's 18% of the total, for a larger ($160M) mission it's 10%.

for the large missions, the small payload penalty (2%) always results in payback with only 2 launches, even though you are only recovering hardware worth only 10% of the mission cost.  Even tweaking the other parameters (such as refurb cost) it was quite hard to find any combination that needs 3 launches for payback.

For small missions, the 10% payload penalty makes payback hard, even though the recovered cost is greater (18%).   You get breakeven at 3 missions and gain at 4.  And unlike the large missions, it's quite sensitive to refurb costs.  If refurb costs are 20% rather than 10%, for example, it takes 4-5 missions to break even.

I suspect all of these conclusions are suspect, as the $/kg metric is not the most useful, in my opinion.  But it's an interesting exercise.

Offline spacenut

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #897 on: 08/02/2022 02:09 pm »
Sorry about the 1 million Starlinks would equal $1 billion per YEAR not Month.  Anyway, Starlink launches PROVE reuse business case, at least for SpaceX anyway. 

I would wonder if ULA got 20-30 launches a year contract for another LEO constellation, would they reconsider reuse instead of Smart reuse?  Or would they develop Smart reuse sooner. 

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #898 on: 08/02/2022 02:29 pm »
Sorry about the 1 million Starlinks would equal $1 billion per YEAR not Month.  Anyway, Starlink launches PROVE reuse business case, at least for SpaceX anyway. 

I would wonder if ULA got 20-30 launches a year contract for another LEO constellation, would they reconsider reuse instead of Smart reuse?  Or would they develop Smart reuse sooner.
You cannot directly transfer the Falcon 9 model to Vulcan. Booster reuse does not make economic sense for the Vulcan architecture. It's not a business thing, it's a technical thing. For ULA to do booster reuse, they would need a different rocket. For Vulcan, SMART may or may not make sense, but booster reuse does not make sense. Starlink only "proves" the reuse case for the Falcon 9 architecture. This is probably because Falcon 9 was designed with Starlink as its main customer.  by contrast, ULA apparently considered NSSL to be its main customer, so their design goals were different. (NOTE: this post is merely a recapitulation of stuff in this thread: I have no additional industry information.)

Online Lee Jay

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #899 on: 08/02/2022 02:37 pm »
...Falcon 9 was designed with Starlink as its main customer...

How could that be possible?

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