Author Topic: Reuse business case  (Read 257296 times)

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #820 on: 07/27/2022 03:21 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

Orbital rocket flight rate looks to be on an exponential growth curve. At least it does now that commercial rocket flights are the dominant driver.

SX F9 already has more flights than any other commercial rocket.  Communication constellations are providing the demand…why wouldn’t we expect the future to have thousands of flights?
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.
It never saturates due to continuous replacement.
That's what I said. Continuous replacement is a steady state that will not require the same cadence that was needed to build the constellation(s).
Pick some arbitrary numbers to get a rough-order-of-magnitude estimate: 10,000 satellites, two year replacement cycle, 50 satellites per launch.  That's 100 launches per year. You can do that with a single reusable launcher, and that launcher will take ten years to hit 1000 reuses.
Yes, it will. They need about the same launch rate to launch the constellation as to maintain it because they’re planning on relaunching the constellation every 4 years or so for upgrades.

Starship does about 50 Starlinks per launch, the larger constellation will need about 1000 launches every 4-5 years, or about up to 200 launches per year. Starship is also planning about a dozen launches per Artemis mission, and if you do a crewed and uncrewed flight every year, that’s about 25 more launches per year. The 1000 flights per year is if you increase the flight rate significantly and go to Mars. If you visited a lunar base with Starship missions as often as ISS is visited today, that’d be about 100 launches per year. So a total of 300-400 launches per year seems to have reasonable demand. Mars missions to build a sizable settlement could easily require thousands or tens of thousands of flights per year.

If Kuiper becomes comparable to Starlink but uses a fully reusable launcher a tenth the payload (ie Terran-R in fully reusable mode, about Falcon 9 droneship), it’d need 4000-5000 launches every 4-5 years, or about 1000 launches per year. If you build one reusable launch stack per year (much more than the Shuttle rate of 5 vehicles over a 30 time period), that’s 1000 flights per vehicle in its lifetime steady state.

So it’s not unreasonable at all to get to 1000 flights per vehicle, especially for a vehicle of around F9 capacity or smaller, let alone the Delta II or Atlas 401 workhorses of ULA (and predecessors). If you tried to launch the full proposed Starlink constellation of about 60,000 tons of on-orbit mass on the Delta II 6 ton payload rocket, that’s 10,000 flights. Every 4 years, that’s 2500 flights per year. Wouldn’t be hard to get to 1000 uses per vehicle.

And at that reliability and reuse level, point to point time-sensitive cargo becomes a viable market. Which could help bootstrap enough flight history for human flights point to point (similar or better safety per mile compared to general aviation, which could eventually prove out enough reliability for true airliner-like passenger aviation).
« Last Edit: 07/27/2022 03:29 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #821 on: 07/27/2022 03:23 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
If you announced 10 years ago that you want to build a satellite megaconstellation of 30,000 1.25ton satellites, you'd be laughed out too and considered totally crazy. Yet, here we are.
It wasn’t long ago that droneship landing was considered “impossible” by some (short-sighted, clearly) experts…
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #822 on: 07/27/2022 03:30 pm »
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.
”space junk chaos” is a troll. And besides, proper regulation would actually INCREASE the feasible megaconstellation size by making orbits safe enough to have higher satellite numerical density, and additional launches to clean up space debris could further increase launch demand.

Telecommunications is far more valuable than, say, platinum group metal mining will ever be.
Sorry, I bundled three different issues into "space junk", and I apparently triggered your troll filter. The three issues are: literal junk (dead satellites and pieces thereof), cluttered orbits, and RF interference.  I agree with you: for actual literal junk, some sort of sweeping operation will solve the problem. For cluttered orbits avoidance maneuvers are used and they consume fuel, but regulation will mitigate the problem.

RF interference is a basic issue. I'm discussing interference between LEO satellites, not interference with other spectrum users. It appears that cost-effective user antennas will have directivity of at best about 2 degrees. This means that for a particular point on the Earth's surface, satellites within two degrees of each other cannot use the same frequencies to transmit or receive to/from that point. There is therefore an optimal number of satellites to maximize RF bandwidth use, and adding satellites past that point will not increase total effective bandwidth. Bigger satellites can be used because they create smaller footprints and therefore get better spatial reuse of spectrum, but more satellites will not help.  I do not know what the optimal number of satellites is, but it's not infinite, so there is a limit to exponential growth.

Online meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #823 on: 07/27/2022 03:33 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

Orbital rocket flight rate looks to be on an exponential growth curve. At least it does now that commercial rocket flights are the dominant driver.

SX F9 already has more flights than any other commercial rocket.  Communication constellations are providing the demand…why wouldn’t we expect the future to have thousands of flights?
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.
It never saturates due to continuous replacement.
That's what I said. Continuous replacement is a steady state that will not require the same cadence that was needed to build the constellation(s).
Pick some arbitrary numbers to get a rough-order-of-magnitude estimate: 10,000 satellites, two year replacement cycle, 50 satellites per launch.  That's 100 launches per year. You can do that with a single reusable launcher, and that launcher will take ten years to hit 1000 reuses.
If it takes 4 years to launch the constellation and the sats live 4 years than there's no difference in the rates, right?
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #824 on: 07/27/2022 03:57 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

Orbital rocket flight rate looks to be on an exponential growth curve. At least it does now that commercial rocket flights are the dominant driver.

SX F9 already has more flights than any other commercial rocket.  Communication constellations are providing the demand…why wouldn’t we expect the future to have thousands of flights?
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.
It never saturates due to continuous replacement.
That's what I said. Continuous replacement is a steady state that will not require the same cadence that was needed to build the constellation(s).
Pick some arbitrary numbers to get a rough-order-of-magnitude estimate: 10,000 satellites, two year replacement cycle, 50 satellites per launch.  That's 100 launches per year. You can do that with a single reusable launcher, and that launcher will take ten years to hit 1000 reuses.
If it takes 4 years to launch the constellation and the sats live 4 years than there's no difference in the rates, right?
Sure, but what I think we usually see is an increase in tempo from the beginning of the build-out to the end of the build-out, so the steady-state rate drops back to the average of the build-out rate. The ramp-up during build-out cannot be extrapolated. Maybe I'm wrong and there is not a ramp during build-out.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #825 on: 07/27/2022 04:32 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
Because Elon has a vision and he has spoken of this number. Sure, it's crazy, but Elon's crazy visions have actually come true in the past, so maybe this one will too. He has spoken of 1000 restarts for a Raptor, and he has spoken of "thousands" of ships in the Mars fleets, I don't think this would be thousands of reuses for any individual Starship. Logistically, the SH will get the most reuses, because one SH boosts many SS.
This is the reuse business case for ULA. Like 2/3 of this board is for spaceX dreams, but not this spot.

Offline freddo411

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #826 on: 07/27/2022 04:49 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

Orbital rocket flight rate looks to be on an exponential growth curve. At least it does now that commercial rocket flights are the dominant driver.

SX F9 already has more flights than any other commercial rocket.  Communication constellations are providing the demand…why wouldn’t we expect the future to have thousands of flights?
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.

I agree.   There may be other demand drivers besides constellations.    LEO Tourism, Lunar Tourism, Mars colonists, and 10 other things that no one would take seriously at this point.   

Offline freddo411

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #827 on: 07/27/2022 05:00 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

The USA exceeded 1,000 total launches to orbit sometime around the year 2000.

The USSR / Russia is near 3,000 total launches to orbit.

The total for everyone else exceeded 1,000 fairly recently.

The current global total for successful launches to orbit is approximately 5,500. The global average is approximately 80 launches per year, although there has been considerable variation.

Everything I'm saying is approximate because I couldn't find any total numbers more recent than 2019, just charts.
Global launch rate has increased dramatically in the last few years, now exceeding the Cold War peak, in part due to Falcon 9 reuse (but also a lot due to China, a new superpower adding superpower-like launch rates to the total).

2004     54
2005     55
2006     67
2007     68
2008     69
2009     78
2010     74
2011     84
2012      78
2013       81
2014      92
2015      86
2016     85
2017     90
2018    114
2019     102
2020  114
2021  144

(From Ed Kyle’s awesome website which shut down a few months ago 😭)

Last year beat the 1967 record for orbital launch attempts (was 139 in 1967).

I suspect it’ll be even higher this year. And with Kuiper and OneWeb and Starlink and Artemis, 2023 and 2024 should be higher still.

A crude exponential fit to this data shows ~2065 as the year with 1000 flights
« Last Edit: 07/27/2022 05:03 pm by freddo411 »

Online meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #828 on: 07/27/2022 05:47 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

The USA exceeded 1,000 total launches to orbit sometime around the year 2000.

The USSR / Russia is near 3,000 total launches to orbit.

The total for everyone else exceeded 1,000 fairly recently.

The current global total for successful launches to orbit is approximately 5,500. The global average is approximately 80 launches per year, although there has been considerable variation.

Everything I'm saying is approximate because I couldn't find any total numbers more recent than 2019, just charts.
Global launch rate has increased dramatically in the last few years, now exceeding the Cold War peak, in part due to Falcon 9 reuse (but also a lot due to China, a new superpower adding superpower-like launch rates to the total).

2004     54
2005     55
2006     67
2007     68
2008     69
2009     78
2010     74
2011     84
2012      78
2013       81
2014      92
2015      86
2016     85
2017     90
2018    114
2019     102
2020  114
2021  144

(From Ed Kyle’s awesome website which shut down a few months ago 😭)

Last year beat the 1967 record for orbital launch attempts (was 139 in 1967).

I suspect it’ll be even higher this year. And with Kuiper and OneWeb and Starlink and Artemis, 2023 and 2024 should be higher still.

A crude exponential fit to this data shows ~2065 as the year with 1000 flights

The word "exponential" is thrown around with the same carelessness as "orders of magnitude".
Also, any process driving current growth is only a few years old.

In short - don't try to fit an exponent to historical trends.

Instead, look at the constellation plans, assume at least Starlink is going to happen, and you already have an incredible increase in both number of launches and even more so in tonnage to orbit.

Whether Vulcan will see any of it in the long run is an open question.  I personally doubt it.  SMART or so SMART, this will be based on economics.
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Online meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #829 on: 07/27/2022 05:49 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.

Orbital rocket flight rate looks to be on an exponential growth curve. At least it does now that commercial rocket flights are the dominant driver.

SX F9 already has more flights than any other commercial rocket.  Communication constellations are providing the demand…why wouldn’t we expect the future to have thousands of flights?
The current demand spurt is driven by Starlink. Possibly there will be one or two other constellations, but eventually the number of LEO comms satellites will saturate the market and/or will be regulated to stop the space junk chaos. At that point, actual build-out will cease and be replaced by a one-for-one upgrade strategy, replacing satellites with bigger newer satellites. I don't "see "thousands" of launches needed for this. Some new demand will need to evolve. If launch cost is radically lowered, maybe something like asteroid mining will become cost-effective.
It never saturates due to continuous replacement.
That's what I said. Continuous replacement is a steady state that will not require the same cadence that was needed to build the constellation(s).
Pick some arbitrary numbers to get a rough-order-of-magnitude estimate: 10,000 satellites, two year replacement cycle, 50 satellites per launch.  That's 100 launches per year. You can do that with a single reusable launcher, and that launcher will take ten years to hit 1000 reuses.
If it takes 4 years to launch the constellation and the sats live 4 years than there's no difference in the rates, right?
Sure, but what I think we usually see is an increase in tempo from the beginning of the build-out to the end of the build-out, so the steady-state rate drops back to the average of the build-out rate. The ramp-up during build-out cannot be extrapolated. Maybe I'm wrong and there is not a ramp during build-out.

I'm confused.  break it down for me.

A constellation is launched over a period of about four years, and since the satellites last about four years, the minute it's deployed you start replacing satellites at the same pace.

Are you saying that during the first and fourth year there are more launches than during years 2 and 3?  Any evidence?  And even if so - any consequence to that?
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Offline freddo411

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #830 on: 07/27/2022 07:07 pm »

2016     85
2017     90
2018    114
2019     102
2020  114
2021  144



A crude exponential fit to this data shows ~2065 as the year with 1000 flights

The word "exponential" is thrown around with the same carelessness as "orders of magnitude".
Also, any process driving current growth is only a few years old.

In short - don't try to fit an exponent to historical trends.

Instead, look at the constellation plans, assume at least Starlink is going to happen, and you already have an incredible increase in both number of launches and even more so in tonnage to orbit.

Whether Vulcan will see any of it in the long run is an open question.  I personally doubt it.  SMART or so SMART, this will be based on economics.

Yeah, exponential growth is not a given, just look at 1990 to 2005 launch rates.   Fair criticism.

But you'll will probably be wrong in your launch rate prediction in 5 or 10 years if you bet on only the launches you know about right now.   

I'm very comfortable predicting exponential growth in an emerging market.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #831 on: 07/27/2022 07:09 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
Because Elon has a vision and he has spoken of this number. Sure, it's crazy, but Elon's crazy visions have actually come true in the past, so maybe this one will too. He has spoken of 1000 restarts for a Raptor, and he has spoken of "thousands" of ships in the Mars fleets, I don't think this would be thousands of reuses for any individual Starship. Logistically, the SH will get the most reuses, because one SH boosts many SS.
This is the reuse business case for ULA. Like 2/3 of this board is for spaceX dreams, but not this spot.
Sorry, I missed that because I just focused on "Reuse business case" and not on the full thread title. Elon is still the reason people are talking about "1000 flights/uses", which is the question you asked.  Just focusing on the market ULA is apparently targeting, I must agree with you that 1000 uses is the height of stupidity.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #832 on: 07/28/2022 04:50 am »
The other market players, like Relativity and Blue Origin, have similar ambitions.

And ULA is targeting the same market. Kuiper is a full competitor to Starlink and would saturate the F9-like fully reusable launch vehicles being developed. So unless you think competing with SpaceX is stupid, then ULA wouldn't be stupid for considering 1000 uses like Relativity and Blue Origin.

People who dismiss the idea out of hand or call it stupid deserve to lose in this market. Too bad, DanClemmensen, that you're repeating the same misreading that deadman is doing.

The point which both of you are misunderstanding (or ignoring) wasn't that ULA needs 1000 flights per vehicle. The point was that very high reuse means a level of proven reliability far beyond what ULA has done. So they cannot "focus on reliability" as they'll be crushed if they try to do that with a moderate flightrate expendable rocket while their competitors are pursuing extremely high reuse rockets with far *better* proven reliability. This is a key aspect to the business case for reuse.  High reuse, if it works, eventually just takes away the entire market from folks who cannot or will not do high reuse.
« Last Edit: 07/28/2022 05:08 am by Robotbeat »
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #833 on: 07/28/2022 05:29 am »
People who dismiss the idea out of hand or call it stupid deserve to lose in this market. Too bad, DanClemmensen, that you're repeating the same misreading that deadman is doing.
:) I see that you missed the <sardonic> tags in my message.  :)
By "agreeing" with deadman, I was implicitly saying that deadman was relegating ULA to the dustbin of history.

Offline libra

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #834 on: 07/28/2022 10:36 am »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
If you announced 10 years ago that you want to build a satellite megaconstellation of 30,000 1.25ton satellites, you'd be laughed out too and considered totally crazy. Yet, here we are.

Never heard of Teledesic, Iridium and Globalstar ? it all started in June 1990 with Motorola. 32 years ago. Learn your history...

Dear Gosh, that thread is really a nest of SpaceX delusions, topped with aggressiveness at anybody who dare to disagree with "Saint Elon" visions.

Offline Tommyboy

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #835 on: 07/28/2022 11:52 am »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
If you announced 10 years ago that you want to build a satellite megaconstellation of 30,000 1.25ton satellites, you'd be laughed out too and considered totally crazy. Yet, here we are.

Never heard of Teledesic, Iridium and Globalstar ? it all started in June 1990 with Motorola. 32 years ago. Learn your history...

Dear Gosh, that thread is really a nest of SpaceX delusions, topped with aggressiveness at anybody who dare to disagree with "Saint Elon" visions.

Which of those proposed a constellation anywhere near close to 37,5kT of satellites?

Offline tea monster

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #836 on: 07/28/2022 12:02 pm »
This is how I put it earlier on in the thread. It's very simple and is nothing about Elon, apart from that Elon and Peter Beck are the only ones who seem to get it. This is surprising, as this is really really simple.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that you are operating a shipping company, and someone comes up to you and wants you to ship a package from New York to Los Angeles. Due to technology limitations, you can only use your cargo plane one time. Each time you send a package anywhere, the price has to include employee pay, fuel, infrastructure - and a new cargo plane. Surprise, not many people can afford to ship stuff across the country. The only people who can send packages are large corporations and governments.

Someone comes along and says "Hey, what if we build these planes so that they are reusable?" You all have a good laugh at this person and tell him that what he suggests is ridiculous as you only ship a few packages a year. He'd never recoup the cost of developing a reusable cargo plane. It's not worth it.

That last paragraph is where you are now.

Online meekGee

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #837 on: 07/28/2022 01:25 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
If you announced 10 years ago that you want to build a satellite megaconstellation of 30,000 1.25ton satellites, you'd be laughed out too and considered totally crazy. Yet, here we are.

Never heard of Teledesic, Iridium and Globalstar ? it all started in June 1990 with Motorola. 32 years ago. Learn your history...

Dear Gosh, that thread is really a nest of SpaceX delusions, topped with aggressiveness at anybody who dare to disagree with "Saint Elon" visions.

Oh we've heard this before from the ULA folks, and hey, have at it.

"It cannot/should not be done because some version of this was already tried by existing players in the past and didn't work."

And sadly those are not just personal fan opinions but seem to reflect management attitudes at ULA and other oldSpace companies.

Excpet SpaceX launch is a lot cheaper, demand is a lot higher, and the new constellations (Starlink and Kuiper) are much larger.

So... sit back and enjoy the show.  I know I am.
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Offline spacenut

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #838 on: 07/28/2022 01:29 pm »
Well, not matter what anyone says.  SpaceX has proven the reuse case.  Rocketlab is following, along with the Electron and Neutron rockets.  ULA can't until it's parent companies Boeing and Lockheed decide to come off of some money to develop a reusable launch vehicle. 

Offline Redclaws

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Re: Reuse business case
« Reply #839 on: 07/28/2022 01:29 pm »
Why is anyone even talking about 1000 flights/uses. Its the height of stupidity, that number is probably around the total number of orbital launches the US has ever done.
If you announced 10 years ago that you want to build a satellite megaconstellation of 30,000 1.25ton satellites, you'd be laughed out too and considered totally crazy. Yet, here we are.

Never heard of Teledesic, Iridium and Globalstar ? it all started in June 1990 with Motorola. 32 years ago. Learn your history...

Dear Gosh, that thread is really a nest of SpaceX delusions, topped with aggressiveness at anybody who dare to disagree with "Saint Elon" visions.

10 years ago, you would’ve been laughed off because of those failures.  Starlink is already way larger than any of them.

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