Author Topic: Will the FH be profitable?  (Read 44584 times)

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #260 on: 02/12/2018 08:26 PM »
Payload penalty for expended center core vs fully expendable is only 10%. Cost reduction vs fully expendable is still huge though, with the cost for an expended center launch being only 95 million (a little more than an expendable F9). From what I understand that means about 20 tons to GTO for 95 million.
I think that should resolve the question of whether FH can be profitable.

Offline JamesH65

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #261 on: 02/12/2018 09:28 PM »
Honestly, I don't want to bring it up again, but stuff like this makes me rethink SpaceX profit (again)

Stuff like what?
Conservatism and multiple paths to retaining market share in the face of unexpected delays is bad how?

How they can make an accounting profit on a rocket whilst constantly redesigning it.

Same way all the other rockets companies do it. Or do you think they have all stable designs that never change between launches?

Hint. they all change in some way between launches. It may turn out the F9 Block 5 is the first rocket to not be changed in some way between  launches, because their iterative design process and ability to recover bosters has weeded out all the stuff that needs changes. Other companies do not have that advantage.

Online Lar

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #262 on: 02/12/2018 09:36 PM »
(mod) Way too much thrashing about. The thread may have run its course but if it's to survive, a bit more analytical posts and a bit fewer of the "what?" kind might be a really good idea.

(fan) SpaceX are Silicon Valley. Constant iteration is how you make the greatest profit. I suspect they are making bank on each F9 launch at this point. Especially the reused ones, but even new. Despite iterating.
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Online RotoSequence

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #263 on: 02/12/2018 10:08 PM »
One of the big questions with big rockets is what kind of payloads will launch on them. It's hard to imagine what you'd want to launch into space that would mass 60+ tons and stick around in Low Earth Orbit, prior to the establishment of deep space industry. BFR might be necessary to enable deep space industry, but now that Falcon Heavy has flown, companies should be safe to start designing BFR-ready payloads of up to 60 tons, with Falcon Heavy available as a fallback vehicle if BFR is delayed.

Online Dave G

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #264 on: 02/12/2018 10:25 PM »
One of the big questions with big rockets is what kind of payloads will launch on them. It's hard to imagine what you'd want to launch into space that would mass 60+ tons and stick around in Low Earth Orbit, prior to the establishment of deep space industry. BFR might be necessary to enable deep space industry, but now that Falcon Heavy has flown, companies should be safe to start designing BFR-ready payloads of up to 60 tons, with Falcon Heavy available as a fallback vehicle if BFR is delayed.

It doesn't matter.  With full reusability, BFR cost per launch will be less than Falcon 1.  Way less than Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

So if they only launch 3 tons, it will be much cheaper to launch it on BFR than on F9 or FH.

Online RotoSequence

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #265 on: 02/12/2018 10:28 PM »
It doesn't matter.  With full reusability, BFR cost per launch will be less than Falcon 1.  Way less than Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

So if they only launch 3 tons, it will be much cheaper to launch it on BFR than on F9 or FH.

The point being, if BFR is delayed, they can still launch on Falcon Heavy if the customer decides their payload is time-critical for payloads of up to 60 tons to LEO.

Offline Rocket Jesus

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #266 on: 02/13/2018 12:31 AM »
(mod) Way too much thrashing about. The thread may have run its course but if it's to survive, a bit more analytical posts and a bit fewer of the "what?" kind might be a really good idea.

(fan) SpaceX are Silicon Valley. Constant iteration is how you make the greatest profit. I suspect they are making bank on each F9 launch at this point. Especially the reused ones, but even new. Despite iterating.

Major difference being that F9 has a high flight rate and high demand.  FH does not.  Hence, it does not appear they can make a healthy profit on FH at the listed SpaceX price.

Offline mme

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #267 on: 02/13/2018 01:11 AM »
Honestly, I don't want to bring it up again, but stuff like this makes me rethink SpaceX profit (again)

Stuff like what?
Conservatism and multiple paths to retaining market share in the face of unexpected delays is bad how?

How they can make an accounting profit on a rocket whilst constantly redesigning it.
Block 5 is in the bag.  Any future redesigns are to expand the market, not for yucks.

Hence, "if needed."
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline mme

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #268 on: 02/13/2018 01:30 AM »
(mod) Way too much thrashing about. The thread may have run its course but if it's to survive, a bit more analytical posts and a bit fewer of the "what?" kind might be a really good idea.

(fan) SpaceX are Silicon Valley. Constant iteration is how you make the greatest profit. I suspect they are making bank on each F9 launch at this point. Especially the reused ones, but even new. Despite iterating.

Major difference being that F9 has a high flight rate and high demand.  FH does not.  Hence, it does not appear they can make a healthy profit on FH at the listed SpaceX price.
Elon's said 3-4 flights a year.  My entirely made up numbers are 3-4 years to payoff development.  Then it's all gravy. Part of the new fairing development is for recovering them which supports more profit and/or higher flight rate. Don't worry.  Gwynne Shotwell and Bret Johnsen are really, really good at their jobs.

P.S. Don't forget about Blue Origin. If SpaceX doesn't keep evolving Blue will do to them what the Russians did to the US commercial launch providers in the 90s.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #269 on: 02/13/2018 02:06 AM »
(mod) Way too much thrashing about. The thread may have run its course but if it's to survive, a bit more analytical posts and a bit fewer of the "what?" kind might be a really good idea.

(fan) SpaceX are Silicon Valley. Constant iteration is how you make the greatest profit. I suspect they are making bank on each F9 launch at this point. Especially the reused ones, but even new. Despite iterating.

Major difference being that F9 has a high flight rate and high demand.  FH does not.  Hence, it does not appear they can make a healthy profit on FH at the listed SpaceX price.
Maybe.

Or perhaps ... they are pricing it with lowest earnings possible, in order to encourage the greatest possible application of it's unique capabilities, to get the broadest market acceptance possible, given the difficulty to inspire payload growth.

All new launchers/providers from this point forward share a common problem - the market is too small and too marginalized, capabilities now include payload growth of a substantial amount (as well as really small ones too). 

One key need for any new launch system under development - payloads worthy of the follow-on. While Vulcan Centaur, with one "dial a rocket" covers the contractual needs now (and with indigenous engines unlike Atlas V), SX needs FH to complete the same need with two. With excess capacity beyond contractual need, they (and New Glenn) invite larger scale payloads well beyond contract anticipated payload growth, pushing the button on new mission starts.

Even if FH doesn't succeed in direct ROI due to flying too few missions, it could succeed by starting the payload flow for its successors, where in that event both the losses/gains flow to BFR/S.

Equally important here is the realization of Musk's mention of fairing and F9US "tailoring", possibly "dial a payload"? An advantage of FH over BFR/S is that it works by conventional payloads like EELV/Vulcan/Ariane/others, and SX might be willing to adapt to suit to win larger payload awards, which addresses current sources of payloads. That may not be the case for the follow on, which not only doesn't have a jettison-able fairing, it likely will deliver surface payloads directly to the surface, as well as tankers for liquids/props/cryogens/industrial agents.

Perhaps FH functions as an "in between" present and future, leaving F9 as a present payloads launcher?

But you're right, as it stands, one doesn't see "PROFIT" written all over FH.

Offline Rocket Jesus

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #270 on: 02/13/2018 02:37 AM »

Elon's said 3-4 flights a year.  My entirely made up numbers are 3-4 years to payoff development.

We're yet to see that type of demand, at least for the time being.  Published FH manifest does not reflect sustained demand of 3-4 flights a year for several years.  FH has been offered for years, yet there are only 4 flights listed on FH manifest.



Same way all the other rockets companies do it. Or do you think they have all stable designs that never change between launches?

Hint. they all change in some way between launches. It may turn out the F9 Block 5 is the first rocket to not be changed in some way between  launches, because their iterative design process and ability to recover bosters has weeded out all the stuff that needs changes. Other companies do not have that advantage.

I am well aware that launch vehicle design changes constantly between launches for all rockets.  In comparison to other launch service providers, SpaceX design changes are often quite significant.  Given the low flight rate of FH, any large design changes become comparatively more expensive.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #271 on: 02/13/2018 02:59 AM »
Expendable F9 missions can and will be moved to recoverable FH. Payloads that couldn’t even fly on F9e wouldn’t be on the manifest until FH has been proven, which now it has.
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #272 on: 02/13/2018 03:14 AM »
Expendable F9 missions can and will be moved to recoverable FH. Payloads that couldn’t even fly on F9e wouldn’t be on the manifest until FH has been proven, which now it has.

I’ve been ponder that trade off point.  When does F9e give way to FHr?

If they can make Block 5 as re-useable as targeted then yes, we should never see another Falcon 9 booster expended. 

Seems 4, maybe 3 with fairing reuse would be the minimum.

I believe, we’ll find out in the next couple years. I can’t wait.
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Online envy887

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #273 on: 02/13/2018 03:44 PM »

Elon's said 3-4 flights a year.  My entirely made up numbers are 3-4 years to payoff development.

We're yet to see that type of demand, at least for the time being.  Published FH manifest does not reflect sustained demand of 3-4 flights a year for several years.  FH has been offered for years, yet there are only 4 flights listed on FH manifest.



Same way all the other rockets companies do it. Or do you think they have all stable designs that never change between launches?

Hint. they all change in some way between launches. It may turn out the F9 Block 5 is the first rocket to not be changed in some way between  launches, because their iterative design process and ability to recover bosters has weeded out all the stuff that needs changes. Other companies do not have that advantage.

I am well aware that launch vehicle design changes constantly between launches for all rockets.  In comparison to other launch service providers, SpaceX design changes are often quite significant.  Given the low flight rate of FH, any large design changes become comparatively more expensive.

If Block 5 is as reusable as they expect, there will be some migration of 5.5+ tonne payloads to FH. That's enough to sustain 3-4 per year. The only other options for those payloads are at best similarly expensive (expended F9, A5 upper berth, Atlas V 531 or larger, or Proton with extra insurance).
« Last Edit: 02/13/2018 03:45 PM by envy887 »

Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #274 on: 02/13/2018 04:31 PM »
Expendable F9 missions can and will be moved to recoverable FH. Payloads that couldn’t even fly on F9e wouldn’t be on the manifest until FH has been proven, which now it has.

It highly depends on the future B5 reusability.

As it is now, heavy cargo can be flown on previously flown F9s as a last use.. So currently no much demand for FH as they have a stockpile of these and customers obviously don't mind using them..

IF B5 get 10 flights or so, then we might see a need for FH for heavy cargo..if the don't have a F9 for throwing away..

Offline mme

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #275 on: 02/13/2018 04:40 PM »

Elon's said 3-4 flights a year.  My entirely made up numbers are 3-4 years to payoff development.

We're yet to see that type of demand, at least for the time being.  Published FH manifest does not reflect sustained demand of 3-4 flights a year for several years.  FH has been offered for years, yet there are only 4 flights listed on FH manifest.



Same way all the other rockets companies do it. Or do you think they have all stable designs that never change between launches?

Hint. they all change in some way between launches. It may turn out the F9 Block 5 is the first rocket to not be changed in some way between  launches, because their iterative design process and ability to recover bosters has weeded out all the stuff that needs changes. Other companies do not have that advantage.

I am well aware that launch vehicle design changes constantly between launches for all rockets.  In comparison to other launch service providers, SpaceX design changes are often quite significant.  Given the low flight rate of FH, any large design changes become comparatively more expensive.

If Block 5 is as reusable as they expect, there will be some migration of 5.5+ tonne payloads to FH. That's enough to sustain 3-4 per year. The only other options for those payloads are at best similarly expensive (expended F9, A5 upper berth, Atlas V 531 or larger, or Proton with extra insurance).
Exactly. I bet after FH has a few flights under it's belt (2-4) SX will increase the price of expendable F9 as an incentive.  Boosters will become assets for recurring revenue.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Online envy887

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #276 on: 02/13/2018 06:59 PM »

Elon's said 3-4 flights a year.  My entirely made up numbers are 3-4 years to payoff development.

We're yet to see that type of demand, at least for the time being.  Published FH manifest does not reflect sustained demand of 3-4 flights a year for several years.  FH has been offered for years, yet there are only 4 flights listed on FH manifest.



Same way all the other rockets companies do it. Or do you think they have all stable designs that never change between launches?

Hint. they all change in some way between launches. It may turn out the F9 Block 5 is the first rocket to not be changed in some way between  launches, because their iterative design process and ability to recover bosters has weeded out all the stuff that needs changes. Other companies do not have that advantage.

I am well aware that launch vehicle design changes constantly between launches for all rockets.  In comparison to other launch service providers, SpaceX design changes are often quite significant.  Given the low flight rate of FH, any large design changes become comparatively more expensive.

If Block 5 is as reusable as they expect, there will be some migration of 5.5+ tonne payloads to FH. That's enough to sustain 3-4 per year. The only other options for those payloads are at best similarly expensive (expended F9, A5 upper berth, Atlas V 531 or larger, or Proton with extra insurance).
Exactly. I bet after FH has a few flights under it's belt (2-4) SX will increase the price of expendable F9 as an incentive.  Boosters will become assets for recurring revenue.

The $90M for FH could end up a little lower to undercut A5 and Proton. I think both of those are right around $90M for 6-7t to GTO.

Offline rockets4life97

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #277 on: 02/13/2018 07:17 PM »
The $90M for FH could end up a little lower to undercut A5 and Proton. I think both of those are right around $90M for 6-7t to GTO.

With its excess capability, couldn't FH put a GTO satellite into a better orbit than A5 or Proton for that $90M?

Online envy887

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #278 on: 02/13/2018 07:21 PM »
The $90M for FH could end up a little lower to undercut A5 and Proton. I think both of those are right around $90M for 6-7t to GTO.

With its excess capability, couldn't FH put a GTO satellite into a better orbit than A5 or Proton for that $90M?

I don't think so. Supersync insertions only work up to about GEO-1600 before lunar perturbations start causing issues. A5 goes to GEO-1500 due to better launch inclination.

Online Lar

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Re: Will the FH be profitable?
« Reply #279 on: 02/13/2018 07:37 PM »
Expendable F9 missions can and will be moved to recoverable FH. Payloads that couldn’t even fly on F9e wouldn’t be on the manifest until FH has been proven, which now it has.

It highly depends on the future B5 reusability.

As it is now, heavy cargo can be flown on previously flown F9s as a last use.. So currently no much demand for FH as they have a stockpile of these and customers obviously don't mind using them..

IF B5 get 10 flights or so, then we might see a need for FH for heavy cargo..if the don't have a F9 for throwing away..

B5 plan is 10 flights, then refurbish, not discard...  So it's only at 100 flights that there's an "F9 for throwing away"... that makes the case for F9e to FHr even more compelling.
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