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 6980 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.

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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.
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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.

Offline 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.

Online 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

Offline jongoff

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

That's why I included zero as an option. I would say though for sake of this poll, that if Starship gets shrunk by less than 50% (ie still >50mT to LEO), that I'd still count it as a Starship for this poll. I'd only call it zero and say that isn't Starship if they went dramatically smaller.

~Jon

Online DanClemmensen

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How many Falcon 9 boosters count under this definition? My guess would be the same as whatever that is.
I don't understand how the current number of F9 boosters is relevant to the number of SS in 2030. After trying hard, I can see no way to correlate these numbers. It's hard to list all the ways they are different. The only way they are similar is that they are SpaceX products with rocket engines.

Offline whitelancer64

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

The number of Starships in operation seems to me to be a red herring.

The main problem is if we land on the Moon and Mars and start doing the requisite research there and...

1. we find that that level of g is not sufficient for human health without a lot of complications.

and / or 2. we find that Moon / Mars g is insufficient for producing healthy mammalian / human embryos / babies.

If it is sufficient / with manageable complications, then the need for AG research (at least at Moon / Mars levels) is significantly diminished. We can just go to those places without worrying about it. A rotating research station or two at higher g levels (maybe .5 or .75 g) could still be useful.

If it's not, then the need for AG research becomes higher, maybe even a priority. If we are to become a spacefaring species, then we need to find out what range of g is conducive to good human health. If we can't manage that on Mars, then we will need to find out what partial g levels can achieve that, and perhaps the best way to do that is with a rotating space station, maybe a fairly large one where identical experiments can be conducted at various g levels simultaneously.
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Offline jongoff

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At the request of someone on Twitter, I added a >1000 Starships option. Because SpaceX is supposedly building a factory that will crank out many hundred Starships per year. I'm not making a value judgement, just wanted to let people know in case you were feeling overly constrained by the 100-1000 Starships option.

I should note, that I setup the poll so that you can change your vote all the way to the end of the voting period (sometime near the end of May). So if you really wanted to vote for >1000 Starships, but I was cramping your style, you can adjust your vote now.

~Jon
« Last Edit: 05/10/2023 09:55 pm by jongoff »

Offline spacenut

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I don't know but I think it could be anywhere between 10 and 50.  Depending on getting it working properly, a second or third launch pad at the Cape, and maybe an offshore pad at Boca Chica.  I think they can manufacture 3-4 per year at Boca Chica including boosters.  Once they seal the design, Florida manufacturing will crank up another 3-4 or more per year. 

Online Zed_Noir

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If no major issues cropped up with Starship development. By 2030 there will be slightly over 100 Starships in operation. Estimate about 62% tankers, 32% Mars transports & 6% other variants. Not including depots and Moonships (HLS lander & Lunar habitats) as well as point to point semi-ballistic transports.

Figure about 18 Starships being produced annually. There will be a few revised version 2.0 of the Starship introduced around 2028 not include in the poll estimate. Production of the version 1.0 Starship will end after about 125 units.

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>"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."

"At least once" and "with plans to fly again" don't really fit with how I think it should be counted.

A. During first mission, eg on way to Mars, should I think count.
B. If it has apparently safely landed and while there are no known plans for a further flight but, as far as we know, it is suspected/best guess to be in flyable condition, then I think this should count. OTOH if it is in e.g. graveyard orbit with no plans to return then it shouldn't count (but that is settled by 1 really)
C. Built and tested prior to mission specific testing like DDR/WDR/static fire should IMHO count.

Ships and boosters may stay fairly even for a while. Then the turnaround times will start coming down but will booster or ship be faster turnaround? Ship has more re-entry heating so needs more examination? So booster turnaround faster would be my guess. Eventually, hopefully, there will be more flights to Mars but probably not many by 2030 so the ratio will start increasing eventually but I am not sure what stage will we be at in 2030.

Probably hopelessly optimistic but my guess might be in the region of 20 boosters ( 3 sites, 6+ per site fairly early on before turnaround times are reduced) and perhaps as many as 50 ships (3 launch sites, 3-5 types, 1-5 of each type per site).

3-5 types: Tanker/refueler, large satellite deployer, pez dispenser, Moon lander, Mars cargo. I.e. I'm not optimistic for passenger versions by 2030 other than already contracted moon landers).

I answered 50 to 100 to the poll but it seems I am not sticking to the laid out terms of what to count.

Offline Hog

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Another take on the thread question.  What type of "Operational Service" will Space X be able to offer a customer by the end of 2030. That term implies quite a lot.

President Reagan gave the STS Orbiter Vehicles the Operational Service" stamp of approval following STS-4. Four STS test flights, all on the same vehicle OV-102 Columbia.  They disabled the seats, dropped the pressure suits for a "shirt sleeve" environment, all following a crewed first powered flight test that was STS-1.  Imagine a crew of 2 on the IFT we saw fly out of Texas?

Also, being your OWN customer helps. But you still have to satisfy safety, environmental, government. Governmental vs.   modern industry.
and
STS being partially reusable whilst  SS/SH's entire stack is designed for reuse.  STS-1 launched April 1981  STS-4, the fourth test flight launched June 1982.  STS-5 launched a satellite Nov 1982 and proved her operational reusability during the STS-6 mission.  OV-099 Challenger launched and proved her operational reusability during STS-7 June 1983 again deploying satellites.  Columbia next flew November 1983 for STS-9 with a largest to date, 6 man crew including John Young's last spaceflight. thus proving operational reusability So thats 2 OVs proving reusability or "Operational Service" during that timeframe.   

The question is, how much does that apply to SS/SH? SS isnt saddled to crew like STS was.  Though both enjoy a robust Booster stage. lol  I don't think there will be a huge amount of operational Starships, but they should exist by then surely.  HLS is an operational Starship isn't it?  My guess, less than 10.
Paul

Offline rpapo

Another take on the thread question.  What type of "Operational Service" will Space X be able to offer a customer by the end of 2030. That term implies quite a lot.

President Reagan gave the STS Orbiter Vehicles the Operational Service" stamp of approval following STS-4. Four STS test flights, all on the same vehicle OV-102 Columbia.  They disabled the seats, dropped the pressure suits for a "shirt sleeve" environment, all following a crewed first powered flight test that was STS-1.  Imagine a crew of 2 on the IFT we saw fly out of Texas?

Also, being your OWN customer helps. But you still have to satisfy safety, environmental, government. Governmental vs.   modern industry.
and
STS being partially reusable whilst  SS/SH's entire stack is designed for reuse.  STS-1 launched April 1981  STS-4, the fourth test flight launched June 1982.  STS-5 launched a satellite Nov 1982 and proved her operational reusability during the STS-6 mission.  OV-099 Challenger launched and proved her operational reusability during STS-7 June 1983 again deploying satellites.  Columbia next flew November 1983 for STS-9 with a largest to date, 6 man crew including John Young's last spaceflight. thus proving operational reusability So thats 2 OVs proving reusability or "Operational Service" during that timeframe.   

The question is, how much does that apply to SS/SH? SS isnt saddled to crew like STS was.  Though both enjoy a robust Booster stage. lol  I don't think there will be a huge amount of operational Starships, but they should exist by then surely.  HLS is an operational Starship isn't it?  My guess, less than 10.
It really depends on whether they have started building the Mars fleet by then (Starfleet?).  I myself would hesitate to do that before all the operational kinks are worked out, but I am not Elon Musk.  He is a rule unto himself.
Following the space program since before Apollo 8.

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