Poll

How many starships will be in operational service by the end of 2030?

0
3 (4%)
1-3
5 (6.7%)
4-6
6 (8%)
7-10
7 (9.3%)
10-25
20 (26.7%)
25-50
12 (16%)
50-100
16 (21.3%)
100-1000
6 (8%)
>1000
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 75

Voting closed: 05/31/2023 04:15 am


Author Topic: How Many Starships Will Be In Operational Service By The End of 2030?  (Read 6977 times)

Offline jongoff

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I was having a discussion with someone today, and he was arguing that artificial gravity research facilities were probably not worth doing, because at the current Raptor production rate, SpaceX would likely have 1000 Starships operational by the early 2030s, and have performed dozens if not hundreds of landings on the Moon by then. I'm not sure what to say about that other than that I admire his optimism. What do you think? How many Starship tail numbers will SpaceX have operating at the same time on Dec 31st 2030?

For sake of this poll:
1- If a Starship has been used expendably, it doesn't count.
2- Any Starships that have retired or crashed before 2030 don't count either.
3- Only Starships that have flown at least once, and are still in flying condition, with plans to fly again, count for purposes of this poll.

Thoughts?

~Jon

Offline Robotbeat

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How many Falcon 9 boosters count under this definition? My guess would be the same as whatever that is.
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Offline jongoff

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How many Falcon 9 boosters count under this definition? My guess would be the same as whatever that is.

I'm not sure of how many they have currently that would fit this definition (flown at least once, still in flyable condition), but it's probably in the 5-20 range. I don't spend much time in the SpaceX threads, but wouldn't be surprised if someone had the number somewhere.

~Jon

Offline Robotbeat

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How many Falcon 9 boosters count under this definition? My guess would be the same as whatever that is.

I'm not sure of how many they have currently that would fit this definition (flown at least once, still in flyable condition), but it's probably in the 5-20 range. I don't spend much time in the SpaceX threads, but wouldn't be surprised if someone had the number somewhere.

~Jon
According to this excellent Wikipedia article, there are 20. So I voted 10-25. I feel pretty comfortable with that range. It could be more, as some of the “retired” F9 boosters could be flyable-ish and there may be more F9 boosters that are built than are shown here. But… 10-25 seems very reasonable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_first-stage_boosters
« Last Edit: 05/10/2023 04:40 am by Robotbeat »
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 deltaV

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Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.

I assumed the question was for ships, not boosters, since boosters only exist to push ships into space, and ships are the only component of the Starship system that directly produce revenue (i.e. they carry the cargo and offload it where the customer wants).
« Last Edit: 05/10/2023 02:55 pm by Coastal Ron »
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 tyrred

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By 2030. Including tankers, passenger ships, and cargo ships in my count.

Or else the production line and concept got something seriously wrong.

100 is low for an operational ballistic missile system. Yes, yes, that's not what starship is intended for; but I can't help but think of the original Minuteman system and what a paradigm shift it was, what with all of the infrastructure involved to get it operational so quickly.

100 is a solid win for a spacecraft fleet aspring to airline-like operations.

100 operational by 2030 is ridiculously high for a fully and rapidly reusable spaceship, viewed through the lens of where they are now.

100 is the future I want to see.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2023 06:20 am by tyrred »

Offline Warren Platts

Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.

It's gotta be both stages. I don't think the 2nd stage can get to orbit by itself.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline laszlo

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The poll is for 7 years from now. 7 years ago there were no operational starships whereas today, by the conditions of this poll there are exactly - no operational starships (there are also no operational launch sites). So if this was a linear function then 7 years from now would also be 0.

I think that the biggest impediment will be the launch infrastructure, followed by the arrival of a customer base, especially if SpaceX follows capitalist principles and charges what the market will bear.

I don't see the Minuteman example as applicable because there the US government had very deep pockets and a politically urgent need to defend against the "missile gap" and a "nuclear Pearl Harbor" (the conventional one having been only about 20 years before). Today you basically have Starlink, a proposed Mars landing and a moonshot that is politically meaningless to the vast majority of Americans who do not hang out on this forum. The urgency and money is just not there.

Same for the F9 numbers. Those are for a fully-developed system skewed by Starlink launches.

Recognizing that starship is in its early years at the front end of a steep learning curve and that progress will someday be exponential, I picked 1-3 will meet the conditions of this poll.

Online EspenU

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Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.

It's gotta be both stages. I don't think the 2nd stage can get to orbit by itself.
Once they get into proper production they won't pair booster and ship. It would then make sense to have fewer boosters that ships.
Which means that the poll can't be for both booster and ship together.

Offline rfdesigner

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I started writing this assuming they'd continue with their 40% growth rate they've achieved over the last decade (that's roughly what I calcualate their potential mass to orbit growth to be.. always assuming a full load to orbit)

I have a suspicion that Starship will behave differently, as the second stage becomes reusable, and the turn round time steadily shrinks, the mass to orbit will IMHO grow faster, and will actually be limited not by spaceX but by what the market needs for any given price point.  SpaceX could offer launches free and they'd still get only so many customers (clearly more than currently exist)

So where does that leave us?

Well looking back at falcon 9 the number of ships haven't grown that much, the growth has come from greater reuse and faster turn round times.  With starship, they are already able to make 4 or 5 ships a year, and that is only going to improve rapidly.  Once reuse is a thing production rates will probably plateau, as personnel are transferred to refurb from manufacturing.   But even so I think the market will define growth more than capability.

So, I suspect this will boil down to just how many ships SpaceX need for starlink, the Moon and Mars.  Clearly getting the ships made for as little as possible is key to providing more ships for exploration...   in short, it's a very complex question, but I don't think we'll see a supply defined market.

I'm going to go with my first guess based on SpaceX 40% growth giving about 1 per week in 2030, which is a number I have read somewhere, but that's for ship building, as recovery rates grow, that will explode the number of ships in service. I'll start with 1 recovery next year then continuous improvement to 140 ships in 2030, with the 100th launch in 2028 which I think is roughly the threshold to think about human flight with Starship.  I hope that's a little pessimistic, but there's a lot of hurdles to clear between now and then.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2023 12:24 pm by rfdesigner »

Offline DeimosDream

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At a minimum 6. 2x each cargo, tankers, and passenger Starships... plus unflown spare and expended models not being counted. More likely I'm thinking about a dozen. Optimistically two dozen.

How many Falcon 9 boosters count under this definition? My guess would be the same as whatever that is.

I'm not sure of how many they have currently that would fit this definition (flown at least once, still in flyable condition), but it's probably in the 5-20 range. I don't spend much time in the SpaceX threads, but wouldn't be surprised if someone had the number somewhere.

~Jon
According to this excellent Wikipedia article, there are 20. So I voted 10-25. I feel pretty comfortable with that range. It could be more, as some of the “retired” F9 boosters could be flyable-ish and there may be more F9 boosters that are built than are shown here. But… 10-25 seems very reasonable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_first-stage_boosters
By this polls rules there are 13. Five of the twenty haven't yet flown and two have reached the 15-flight certified limit and currently have no plans to fly again.

Offline phantomdj

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Do Starships used by NASA to send cargo to the moon or those permanently on the moon that are still in use for possible living quarters count? Are they considered operational?
SpaceX has become what NASA used to be in the '60's, innovative and driven.

Offline Steve G

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None: Project will be abandoned for smaller, more-manageable, less over-sized version.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.
By 2030 a single SH is supposed to be able to support multiple launches per day. A single (non-p2p) SS cannot return to the launch site in less than about 12 hours, and most SS missions are likely to be much longer. My guess is the ratio is about 10 SS to each SH, not counting really long duration (Mars) and non-EDL (HLS, Depot). So no, not pairs, and the number of SH is tiny compared to the number of SS, so just count SS.

I believe one SH and one SS could easily support the equivalent of today's world-wide launch rate (number of launches) and about 200 times today's payload mass to orbit, although you need at least two SS variants and therefore two SS, plus backups. Therefore, a proper answer to this poll requires a guess about some fundamental qualitative changes in the space market.

Offline jongoff

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Is this poll asking about first stages (super heavies) or second stages (starships) or pairs of one of each? This is ambiguous since "Starship" can refer to the second stage and also to the whole launch system including both stages.

For sake of this poll, let's go with the 2nd stages. My thinking is there will almost certainly be more of those than boosters, so probably easier to just pick one or the other, and the upper stages are more likely to be the bottleneck on total flight rate.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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By 2030. Including tankers, passenger ships, and cargo ships in my count.

Or else the production line and concept got something seriously wrong.

100 is low for an operational ballistic missile system. Yes, yes, that's not what starship is intended for; but I can't help but think of the original Minuteman system and what a paradigm shift it was, what with all of the infrastructure involved to get it operational so quickly.

100 is a solid win for a spacecraft fleet aspring to airline-like operations.

100 operational by 2030 is ridiculously high for a fully and rapidly reusable spaceship, viewed through the lens of where they are now.

100 is the future I want to see.

To be clear, the poll wasn't necessarily about what you want to happen, but what you think is the most likely to happen. But if you want to stick with 100, that's your choice.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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The poll is for 7 years from now. 7 years ago there were no operational starships whereas today, by the conditions of this poll there are exactly - no operational starships (there are also no operational launch sites). So if this was a linear function then 7 years from now would also be 0.

I think that the biggest impediment will be the launch infrastructure, followed by the arrival of a customer base, especially if SpaceX follows capitalist principles and charges what the market will bear.

I don't see the Minuteman example as applicable because there the US government had very deep pockets and a politically urgent need to defend against the "missile gap" and a "nuclear Pearl Harbor" (the conventional one having been only about 20 years before). Today you basically have Starlink, a proposed Mars landing and a moonshot that is politically meaningless to the vast majority of Americans who do not hang out on this forum. The urgency and money is just not there.

Same for the F9 numbers. Those are for a fully-developed system skewed by Starlink launches.

Recognizing that starship is in its early years at the front end of a steep learning curve and that progress will someday be exponential, I picked 1-3 will meet the conditions of this poll.


I'm glad there's at least one person more conservative than me on this thread. :-)

Offline jongoff

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By this polls rules there are 13. Five of the twenty haven't yet flown and two have reached the 15-flight certified limit and currently have no plans to fly again.

Deimos,

Thanks for providing that data! I knew someone had run the numbers on F9. That provides some good context.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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Do Starships used by NASA to send cargo to the moon or those permanently on the moon that are still in use for possible living quarters count? Are they considered operational?

I'd say that a Starship that sent cargo to the moon, but was say hanging out on the lunar surface or lunar orbit and only needed propellant and an inspection to fly again, I'd count it. But if they've started converting it into living quarters, I wouldn't count it.

That said, do you expect there to be a lot of such ships by 2030?

~Jon

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