Poll

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

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

Total Members Voted: 75

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


Author Topic: When Will Starship First Fly More than 1000x in a Single Year?  (Read 6774 times)

Offline jongoff

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

Offline jongoff

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

~Jon

Online Coastal Ron

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

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

So while I'm not saying never, I voted "after 2040" because I think getting the Mars operation foolproof enough to start colonization will take more than 10 years.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online lightleviathan

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

Offline rockets4life97

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

Offline MoodyBlues

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

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

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

Online DanClemmensen

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

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

Offline AmigaClone

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

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

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

Offline freddo411

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so much one would need to project forward:

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

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

==== Edit ====

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

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

Online DanClemmensen

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

Offline spacenut

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offline deltaV

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

Offline Zed_Noir

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

Online catdlr

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit

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

Edit 2

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

Offline deltaV

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

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

Offline Zed_Noir

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


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

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

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


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

Offline deltaV

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

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

Offline Zed_Noir

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<snip>
Edit 2

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

Offline go2mars

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I voted near-term. I won ďbeer-betsĒ on this site previously about SpaceX. Iíve always ridden on the optimistic/realistic side.

Offline spacenut

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With Starlink, for every 1 million customers, that gives you $1 billion in profit.  If he gets 100 million customers worldwide, that is $100 billion dollars profit.  The faster he gets all 42,000 satellites up, the faster he can earn billions in profit to finance Mars colonization.

I get $100 per month per cusomer = $1,200 per year.  Take away $200 per year for the cost of equipment and operations, that is $1,000 per year profit off Starlink.  $1,000 x 1,000,000 customers is $1 billion.  So basically for every million customers that is about $1 billion in profit.  It may not be that much profit, but Elon said he was going to finance Mars colonization with Starlink customers.  He could easily get 10 million or more in the US alone.  Then you have planes, ships, etc.  Now the military is interested.  Then you have European, Asian, and outer customers world wide.  India does not have a lot of infrastructure, so they have more cell phones in use than land lines because towers are easier to install than ground systems.  Same with Starlink. 

I think he can get the booster working and landing back at the launch tower.  I think Starship will get to orbit.  I think it can make it back through re-entry.  The landing to me is the hardest.  If all this can be mastered in the next 2-3 years, then within 10 years of manufacturing Starships and launch facilities, he could get 1,000 launches a year.  He will need more than Boca Chica though. 
« Last Edit: 10/11/2023 01:18 am by spacenut »

Offline Steve G

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They'll never reach 100, lucky if they launch 50.

First, what's the need for 1000 flights?

What's the cargo?

Who is paying for it?

How are they going to launch that many? Where's all that fuel coming from to support three launches a day? How is the GSE supposed to withstand that kind of thrust and heat for rapid reuse?

This Mars colonization fantasy is simply unaffordable. Musk can't afford it and no one other than multi-millionaires could buy their own passage. Who the hell will sacrifice their lives to live on a freezing, nearly airless desert for the rest of their lives? And Elon is talking about 100,000 per launch window? That's beyond delusional. Who's paying their passage, and support equipment? Not them unless there's a new generation of 100,000 billionaires who want to leave earth. Would a billionaire leave all their riches for a confined base with no luxuries? Would 100,000 people sell everything to live like that? Would they be qualified? Would they be healthy? Can babies be conceived and born on Mars? (We don't know)

What kind of government will it have? Military society or a loose democracy? The equipment the Mars flights requires to set up a base with in situ resource production, food production, power production, etc, will cost far more than the Starship flying it, and the Mars Starships rated for humans will cost several billion a piece, and there's no way they can carry supplies and provide space for more than a crew of 20, forget that 100 passenger nonsense. You can be certain the government won't be carrying a tab over a few billion per launch window.

Has anyone seriously thought this through? Musk certainly hasn't.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2023 02:35 am by Steve G »

Offline DeimosDream

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Never.

The only plausible market for 1000x is point-point transport, but point-to-point passenger transit is different enough that any Starship based derivative would iterate into a new system.

Offline M.E.T.

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They'll never reach 100, lucky if they launch 50.

First, what's the need for 1000 flights?

What's the cargo?

Who is paying for it?

How are they going to launch that many? Where's all that fuel coming from to support three launches a day? How is the GSE supposed to withstand that kind of thrust and heat for rapid reuse?

This Mars colonization fantasy is simply unaffordable. Musk can't afford it and no one other than multi-millionaires could buy their own passage. Who the hell will sacrifice their lives to live on a freezing, nearly airless desert for the rest of their lives? And Elon is talking about 100,000 per launch window? That's beyond delusional. Who's paying their passage, and support equipment? Not them unless there's a new generation of 100,000 billionaires who want to leave earth. Would a billionaire leave all their riches for a confined base with no luxuries? Would 100,000 people sell everything to live like that? Would they be qualified? Would they be healthy? Can babies be conceived and born on Mars? (We don't know)

What kind of government will it have? Military society or a loose democracy? The equipment the Mars flights requires to set up a base with in situ resource production, food production, power production, etc, will cost far more than the Starship flying it, and the Mars Starships rated for humans will cost several billion a piece, and there's no way they can carry supplies and provide space for more than a crew of 20, forget that 100 passenger nonsense. You can be certain the government won't be carrying a tab over a few billion per launch window.

Has anyone seriously thought this through? Musk certainly hasn't.

What do you mean Musk canít afford it?

Musk has stated that:

1. The reason he is accumulating assets on earth is to fund Mars colonization.

2. He plans to donate the majority of his assets to charity. That would be the Musk charitable foundation which he fully controls, and Iím sure he can set up funding the interplanetary spread of humanity as a charitable endeavour.

He is currently worth ~$240B. Five years ago that was about $20B. A more than tenfold increase. Where do you think his net worth will be 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

In short, considering the above, in 10 years time Elon alone is likely to be a trillion dollar market for Starship in his own right.


Offline DistantTemple

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They'll never reach 100, lucky if they launch 50.

First, what's the need for 1000 flights?

What's the cargo?

Who is paying for it?

How are they going to launch that many? Where's all that fuel coming from to support three launches a day? How is the GSE supposed to withstand that kind of thrust and heat for rapid reuse?

This Mars colonization fantasy is simply unaffordable. Musk can't afford it and no one other than multi-millionaires could buy their own passage. Who the hell will sacrifice their lives to live on a freezing, nearly airless desert for the rest of their lives? And Elon is talking about 100,000 per launch window? That's beyond delusional. Who's paying their passage, and support equipment? Not them unless there's a new generation of 100,000 billionaires who want to leave earth. Would a billionaire leave all their riches for a confined base with no luxuries? Would 100,000 people sell everything to live like that? Would they be qualified? Would they be healthy? Can babies be conceived and born on Mars? (We don't know)

What kind of government will it have? Military society or a loose democracy? The equipment the Mars flights requires to set up a base with in situ resource production, food production, power production, etc, will cost far more than the Starship flying it, and the Mars Starships rated for humans will cost several billion a piece, and there's no way they can carry supplies and provide space for more than a crew of 20, forget that 100 passenger nonsense. You can be certain the government won't be carrying a tab over a few billion per launch window.

Has anyone seriously thought this through? Musk certainly hasn't.
Sorry Steve, I am replying to this in order to keep your text in my thread so I can roll it out as an example later ... and see how Starship development and flight compares with yours and others' predictions.

I do think you are way, WAY off!!! "Starships rated for humans will cost several billion a piece" etc.

I voted 2035-2040.  12+ years. Lots of infrastructure, planning, and politics, as well as building ships and developing Mars payloads etc.

And as for cost! A "random" large number, say £1Bn fully considered cost for a human transport departure to Mars (including several refuelling flights, eclss, etc) x150 = £150Bn Definitely affordable to EM. He just blew £42Bn!In 10 years he could easily be worth £1Tn. 150 mars departures means ~ 1000 launches. Still affordable t 4X the price. Then there are world governments and space agencies who will pay to get a bit of the pie.

Mass production will smash these large numbers. Its part of EM's mo. Tesla, F9, Starlink (both satellites, and receivers), and of course Raptor. Remember before Dishy was released, and phased array antennas of that size were thought to cost £20K!!! and now they are under £500! How few years did that take?

Moon flights alone could be 12 per year by 2040. That's ~ 60+ launches! Then there will be orbital station work, Starlink, exploration....
We can always grow new new dendrites. Reach out and make connections and your world will burst with new insights. Then repose in consciousness.

Offline Robotbeat

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They'll never reach 100, lucky if they launch 50.

First, what's the need for 1000 flights?

What's the cargo?

Who is paying for it?
Starlink alone needs about 200-300 Starship launches per year. Thatís if the satellites donít grow beyond the current 2 tonnes.
Quote

How are they going to launch that many? Where's all that fuel coming from to support three launches a day? How is the GSE supposed to withstand that kind of thrust and heat for rapid reuse?Ö
they have about 7 launch pads planned. With no greater monthly launch rate than LC40 has already demonstrated, thatís around 400 already. If they build 15 launch pads and slightly increase the launch rate, thatís enough. 1000 launches sounds like a lot of fuel, but itís only about enough fuel for one or two large natural gas power plants.

A fleet of a dozen 777s, barely enough for a small cargo freight airline, would use more fuel. FedEx air freight alone did about 14 billion ton-miles of air cargo in 2020, with a typical efficiency of about 10 ton-miles per gallon, thatís equivalent to about 4,000,000 tonnes of fuel per year, 4 times as much as 1000 starship launches per year. Plus passenger travel is multiple times that.
Quote
Has anyone seriously thought this through? Musk certainly hasn't.
Projection.

Gish galloping with lots of questions is not an actual logic argument, itís just a rhetorical trick.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2023 01:29 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online neoforce

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Went with 2031-2035.  I'll be optimistic about reuse of booster and starship.  I don't think this requires catching on the tower (they can switch back to landing legs) nor does it require 3 launches from one pad in one day.   It does require that it is significantly funded by Elon spending enough of his wealth... if that doesn't happen there will be no demand and the answer will be never.

But with funding, and some optimistic estimates... 

By 2030 I'll assume they can build 1 Starship a week.  So, with four years at that production level, that is 200 Starships built between 2030 and 2034.  Of course they will be building them during 2035 and they will have some already in service.  But based on 200, the average each would have to fly in 2035 is 5 times.   Some will fly a lot more.  (Fuel to LEO) some will fly a lot less (off to Moon/Mars!)

Not going to estimate booster production... If they can build 1 starship a week, they can build enough boosters.  F9 reuse has shown that shouldn't be a blocker for starship.

Also by 2035, I'll assume 8 active launch pads and at any given time 2 are down for maintenance.  2 at Boca (with limits on launch maximums ended as Texas goes all in on being a spaceport state) 2 Florida existing falcon, and 2 in new LC39C area, 2 in Vandenberg.  Each launches on average every other day when active. 

Of course the goal is to catch, multiple flights a day, almost no downtime.  But I'm using a more conservative estimate to justify this is doable.

So, with enough boosters and ships, and that level of pad utilization, 6x365/2 is 1095.

Offline c4fusion

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Beginning of the next decade still seems very feasible considering the statements that Glenn Shottwell made in this article: https://spacenews.com/spacex-yet-to-select-launch-pad-for-next-axiom-space-private-astronaut-mission/.

She is right now aiming for 100 starship only flights in 2025.

Offline rfdesigner

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Beginning of the next decade still seems very feasible considering the statements that Glenn Shottwell made in this article: https://spacenews.com/spacex-yet-to-select-launch-pad-for-next-axiom-space-private-astronaut-mission/.

She is right now aiming for 100 starship only flights in 2025.

I think you meant this link https://spacenews.com/shotwell-says-spacex-ready-for-starship-static-fire-test/

IMHO, that was February, and we've all seen the regulatory delay since then, so I think we'd have to push that back by 6~9 months just for that one reason.

I never voted on the poll, but if I just apply continuation of the geometric growth SpaceX has achieved so far then I'd put the 1000x/year date out at 2037.  I suspect we'll see a lot more regulatory problems if nothing else, just from the sheer volume of launch applications.

Offline Paul451

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Judging by the comments, "Never" should have been split between "Never, because by then SpaceX will have built something bigger" and "Never, because there's no demand." They are very different opinions & world-views.

Tags: SpaceX Starship 
 

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