Author Topic: Predictions for 2018  (Read 48982 times)

Offline Svetoslav

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Predictions for 2018
« on: 11/27/2017 12:53 pm »
Okay, I love predictions and whether they will come true or not. Maybe a little earlier, but starting with my traditional predictions thread. Again, I remind that my comments are only opinions and interpretations about current trends in space exploration.

This time I prefer to err on the side of caution, especially after my debacle last year to predict what was going to happen in 2017.

Here I go again:

1. Smallsat launchers: we'll see more flights from Vector and Electron, perhaps we'll see the debut of Virgin Orbit. We may see a rocket going to orbit between December 2017 and January 2019.

2. SpaceX: Another good year with reusability and frequent rocket launches. Crewed Dragon will be delayed until 2019. Neither Boeing, nor SpaceX will send people to space. Falcon Heavy conducting a successful flight.

3. Virgin Galactic: There will be powered flights in 2018, but they will be less frequent than anticipated (once per three weeks). Manned flight to space (above 80kms, the boundary used in the USA for space) will occur in November 2018 at the earliest, more likely in 2019.

4. Blue Origin: More delays in 2018. Several unmanned tests in summer-autumn period. No manned flight yet.

5. Planetary exploration: Hayabusa and Osiris-REX reaching their asteroid targets. Both take photos. Japan has bad history with interplanetary exploration and rocket engines, and I don't expect things to have improved for Hayabusa - so I predict there could be trouble.  Osiris-ReX is fine. ExoMars-Trace Gas Orbiter starts delivering pictures and data. Another flawless year for Juno.

6. Lunar Exploration. More delays for the Google Lunar Xprize program. We may see a launch attempt in 2018, but I don't believe it will be successful. Landing on the Moon is hard, so I don't believe Chandrayaan-2 will make it to the surface flawlessly too. I'm quite pessimistic here.

7. Russian space : We'll see at least one flight from Vostochny. We'll see a flight test of an Angara rocket, perhaps the lightweight Angara-1.2. 2018 will be the decisive year for the Nauka module and we'll see either another big delay or (possibly) even cancellation.

8. Mars Exploration : InSight will launch and land successfully. NASA has experience, I don't expect nasty surprises here.

9. CubeSats: I expect this part of the industry to continue growing, with more than 200 CubeSats delivered into orbit.

10: Orion and SLS : Even more delays, launch date now firmly in 2020.

Offline jebbo

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #1 on: 11/27/2017 01:23 pm »
Wondered if there was a thread for next year.  Anyway, I'm restricting myself to a few areas:

1. Number of orbital launches will exceed 100 for the first time since 1990.

2. SpaceX.
- Will miss their 30 launches target, but will exceed 25.
- FH will launch at least twice, with at least one success.
- Construction at Boca Chica will begin in ernest.
- First Starlink test satellites will launch

3. Blue Origin.
- More progress on BE-4.
- More New Shepard flights.
- Glimpses of new hardware when their factory at the Cape is open.
- Will demonstrate something unexpected and dramatic (like they did with NS)

4. Space science.
- TESS will launch and return 1st science data, with multiple exoplanets (easy win ;) ).
- More interstellar objects like `Oumuamua will be found (algorithms will be tweaked as we now know they exist).
- Another planet will be confirmed around Proxima Centauri (maybe; dependent on HARPS time allocation). Firm launch date for JWST before end Q2 2019.
- In the next observing run of LIGO (late 2018) there will be a 10+ minute alert before a NS/NS merger allowing much better observation of the kilonova.

--- Tony
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 01:26 pm by jebbo »

Online ZachS09

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #2 on: 11/27/2017 01:24 pm »
Here are my 10 predictions for 2018:

1: SpaceX will launch 29 missions during the year of 2018. All landing attempts are successful.

2: ULA’s last Delta II will fly successfully, giving the rocket 100 consecutive successes since May 1997.

3: ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 will land successfully on the Moon, but stops transmitting after a few hours due to an unknown problem.

4: The Parker Solar Probe will be delayed into 2019 for whatever reason. Don’t know why I’m thinking this.

5: Blue Origin will continue to make progress, with hardly any delays, as to the development of New Glenn and eventual manned suborbital flights of New Shepard.

6: Orbital ATK’s NGL officially gets its first payload contracts, leading up to the retirement of Minotaur-C (Taurus).

7: Arianespace will launch 12 times during 2018; three of which are Vega, three of which are Soyuz, and the other six being Ariane 5.

8: NASA will do everything they can to change EM-1’s launch date from 2020 to December 2019.

9: Rocket Lab’s Electron mission, if it succeeds on its second test flight, will be certified for future cubesat launches.

10: NASA’s InSight launches successfully (props to Atlas V for its success rate), but fails to stick the landing due to one of its landing engines prematurely shutting down during the descent burn.
Liftoff for St. Jude's! Go Dragon, Go Falcon, Godspeed Inspiration4!

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #3 on: 11/27/2017 04:03 pm »
2018 will be the year RLVs really prove themselves as the way to go, so I'm gonna focus on SX first, with what I expect from them in a 'nominal' scenario. I don't like vague predictions, way more fun to try and guess the details:

With F9/FH, the partial reuse era is now mature:
- F9 + FH total 31 successful launches including the in-flight abort test, 1/3 of the overall worldwide attempts   
(>100 for the first time in 30 years);
- FH flies twice;
- Only 1 expendable flight, in Q1;
- Of the 29 F9 missions only 6 fly on a new booster: excluding FHs, only 5 B5 cores will make their maiden flight in 2018 (with the fifth one at the end of the year, only flying once or twice);
- 1st Block 5 flies Q1, DM-1 is the second one produced;
- After DM-1, in April/May, only 2 - 3 flight worthy used non-Block 5 cores remain, which get retired: space x now only flies B5; and has already launched 9-10 missions, 20 F9 left + 1 FH.
- These 20 mission fly on just 4 boosters: the DM-1 booster, the DM-2 booster, another built in between the two, which gets used in parallel with DM-1, and the last built in Q4, which gets used in parallel with DM-2 and only flies 1-2 missions in 2018.
- After its maiden flight, the DM-1 booster gets reused 4 times and is then retired. The DM-2 booster is the fourth overall B5 booster produced, and has its maiden flight in september, taking astronauts to the ISS from the US soil for the first time since 2011™. It also carries 6 of the 8 remaining F9 missions for the year.
- FH successfully launches STP-2 and Arabsat and the second mission to fly sports 3 reused B5 cores from the other one. (No more conversions between F9 boosters and FH side cores).
The takeaway is that almost 20 missions will fly on just 3 boosters in 2018, and that's only going to improve in 2019. SX stops selling expendable F9 boosters, stops discounting reused ones, and only offers 1 commercial price of a little less than 60M$ for 2019 for F9.

BFR/BFS: the era of full reuse is being developed:
-Raptor undergoes its first full-scale test in early 2018;
-SpaceX workforce continues shifting towards BFR and Mars development, with a major shift in the second half of the year: the 2nd FH launch has already occurred, block 5 is flying regularly and Dragon 2 DM-2 and certification are the only 'previous era' projects left.
-Mid to late 2018 SX begins construction of the first BFS, which lacks the heat-shield. The first hops will only occur in 2019 when Raptor is qualified for flight;
-Starlink demo sats get launched early 2018, testing goes well and SX is gearing up for production starting 2H 2018.
-At the 2018 IAC Elon Musk shows the progress SX has made with the BFR program (FS Raptor tests with guidance for production, updates on BFS production facilities and undergoing production, details about the suborbital testing program) and talks about yet another way of exploiting the BFR: orbital and lunar tourism.

-New Glenn production starts at the new CC facility, great progress with the launch/testing facilities;
-The BO landing ship shows up;
-NS launches its first astronaut, a month before SpaceX orbits the first crew;
-ULA downselects BE-4 for Vulcan after full throttle testing early 2018.

-business as usual with their flying vehicles;
-Tory Bruno updates us more and more frequently about Vulcan production hardware;

-Demonstrated reusability is no longer something that can be ignored at an institutional level
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 04:24 pm by AbuSimbel »
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Offline scienceguy

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #4 on: 11/27/2017 05:09 pm »
SpaceX will reach orbit 27 times with Falcon 9, and 2 times with Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX will recover 100% of the first stage boosters that they try to.

There will be a carbon nanotube/graphene production breakthrough. The effects will not be felt right away.

The NASA TESS spacecraft will launch without incident.

The NASA Insight lander will launch after a minor delay.

Mars will make it closest approach to Earth in 15 years, so there will be fake news circulating around Facebook about Mars being as big as a full moon, just like that email from 15 years ago.

An Earth-size planet will be found in the habitable zone of Epsilon Eridani, just 10.5 light years away. The discovery will not be 100% certain, though, as E. Eridani is quite an active star.

SpaceX's circumlunar tourist flight will be delayed till 2019.

SLS and Orion will be canceled, to be replaced by an orbital spaceplane.

Japan's SELENE-2 will launch without incident.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 05:33 pm by scienceguy »
e^(pi*i) = -1

Offline jebbo

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #5 on: 11/27/2017 05:14 pm »
Mars will make it closest approach to Earth in 15 years, so there will be fake news circulating around Facebook about Mars being as big as a full moon, just like that email from 15 years ago.

Lol, and I'd bet on another round of "Nibiru" nonsense. Also another discovery that isn't immediately 100% explicable will cause "it's aliens" froth.

--- Tony

Offline Bubbinski

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #6 on: 12/01/2017 02:15 am »
Okay here goes....

- the balloon goes up in one of the big geopolitical hotspots and missiles go flying. Military satellites and their handlers “burn the midnight oil” and a few of them are destroyed or damaged. The world is saved from all out destruction in the barest nick of time but hundreds of thousands or even several millions of lives and a few cities are still lost. Space priorities change somewhat and space debris mitigation plus satellite replacements become top priority.

- despite the war, SpaceX gets in 22 F9 and 2 Falcon Heavy launches, all successful. The first Heavy flies in January and its payload delivers quite the “wow” factor that has the public talking. 2 SpaceX flights will be last minute satellite launches ordered up by the Pentagon. The Dragon 2 launches on an un-crewed flight successfully late in the year as does the Starliner, but crewed flights postponed till early 2019 due to delays.

- Blue Origin flies people above the Karman line on New Shepard in the fall. Virgin Galactic also flies above the Karman line with a limited load to prove its space capabilities.

- Stratolaunch makes its first flight and is pressed into service late in the year launching Pegasus rockets to fly a couple of urgently needed satellites, also contracted by the Pentagon to fly outsized cargo.

- Electron, ULA, Orbital ATK, Arianespace all fly (most of) their manifests successfully, though a few payloads are delayed to 2019. China comes back from 2017’s problems, so does India. Russia suffers at least one failure. Japanese program shines as a bright spot for that country with successful military launches.

- ISS makes it through the year crewed and undamaged though with plenty of anxious moments due to debris concerns and world politics. The crew members serve as an inspirational example of international cooperation that is frequently commented on in the media, their impassioned plea for world peace is broadcast worldwide during the worst of the global crisis.

- Insight launches successfully in May and lands safely on Mars too, the landing is cheered on by an American public (and world) in need of something to cheer for, and Osiris-Rex, BepiColombo, Chandrayaan, Chang’e, Hayabusa 2 also make positive headlines and inspire the world, and the Mars rovers and Juno keep on trucking.

- One Lunar X-prize flight launches into space, but the prize award conditions aren’t met.

- Planet 9 is discovered. TESS launches and starts its discoveries. At least one possible Earth-like planet is discovered nearby (less than 20 light years from us), and an exomoon is finally confirmed.

- I finally make it to at least one launch. (TESS, Insight, Dragon, Starliner are possibilities). I also finish at least one space related model. The Lego Space Shuttle in same scale as the Saturn is green lighted and I get one after some difficulty.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline brickmack

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #7 on: 12/01/2017 05:21 am »
Fun, I think I hit about half my guesses for 2017...

FH flies by the end of January. The first successful Falcon upper stage recovery is performed by June, but no upper stage (maybe components) will be reflown in 2018, probably never (not until BFR). Over 30 total Falcon missions are flown, over half of which are reflights, and Block 3 and 4 are retired. Flight-like Raptor is successfully test fired

SpaceX performs both Dragon 2 demo flights. Boeing will complete the unmanned demo of Starliner, probably not the manned flight. Commercial contracts will be signed using both systems.

SLS and Orion are canceled. Lockheed will propose a commercial version of Orion to compete for lunar Commercial Crew. The cancelation of SLS puts the final nail in the coffin for OrbitalATKs EELV bid. Blue Origin and SpaceX will fight over LC-39B. DSG development continues, but the program is drastically restructured now that its no longer bound to SLS-Orions performance

Blue Origin flies passengers on NS, and rides the hype train to announce their orbital crew vehicle (a propulsively landing lifting body). Full-scale ground test articles for New Glenn are built, and manufacturing of flight hardware begins.

ULA and Arianespace both admit the futility of their current "next gen" vehicles, and drastically redesign them (in ULAs case, requiring a relaxation of RD-180 imports as Vulcan is delayed by at least a year). Atlas V and Ariane 5 receive upgrade plans to bridge the gap. Vega evolution concepts beyond Vega C are terminated. ACES development continues

Electron has a successful orbital flight, and manages an average cadence of 1 per month, approaching twice a month by the end of the year. A reusable derivative is announced. LauncherOne has a successful orbital flight. Firefly makes progress. Vector fizzles, as do most other smallsat launchers

Nauka, again, fails to be delivered on schedule. Roscosmos formally cancels the program, and realigns to replace it with an NEM-derived module, which will hopefully fly eventually

Hubble will experience a critical equipment failure. NASA begins formal planning (likely an RFP for a commercial solution) for either a deorbit or a repair mission

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #8 on: 12/05/2017 10:12 am »
More predictions please ;) I am reading the thread actively and I'm a little disappointed it's less active than previous years ;)

Offline EgorBotts

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #9 on: 12/05/2017 10:19 am »
I think it's not, and I'll participate as last year, but if I may, you started it rather early (usually it's in the mid-december range).

Offline jgoldader

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #10 on: 12/15/2017 04:55 pm »
Looks like I ended up 5/9 for 2017, which isn't too bad.  We weren't as DOOOMED as I thought.  So putting on my tinfoil hat:

1) Falcon Heavy demo lost in stage 1 flight (this is an obligatory holdover from 2017).  (Edit: happily, 0/1!)

2) SLS EM-1 slip to mid-2020 (and beyond?  +1)

3) EM-2 slips to NET 2024 (Edit: given the Oct. 10, 2018 IG report, considering EM-2 included EUS when I made this prediction, I'm going to give myself +1)

4) By year's-end, rumors of a 2020 slip for JWST (Edit: ugh, +1)

5) Big budget troubles for WFIRST result in loss of coronagraph or even threatened mission cancellation (the White House budget proposal did not include WFIRST; +1)

6) No Falcon 9 losses. (+1)

7) Renewed emphasis on small missions at NASA following JWST/WFIRST experiences (not yet, at least. 0/1)

8.) Another interstellar asteroid is discovered, this one with a spectrum resembling an M-class asteroid (metal), starting "space alien invasion" rumors.  Asteroid rounds the Sun and heads back into interstellar space, bringing sighs of either relief or disappointment. (Nope, 0/1)

9) Major shake-up in Russian space following another launch failure in 2018.  (Certainly had a launch failure, the Soyuz, but no shake-up; giving myself half a point)

10) Both Commercial Crew missions fly flawlessly. (Nope, 0/1)

11) Voyager 2 crosses heliopause (added 12/31/17) (Yessss! +1)

Looks like 6.5/11, as of 12/17/18
« Last Edit: 12/17/2018 09:52 am by jgoldader »
Recovering astronomer

Offline Lar

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #11 on: 12/15/2017 07:09 pm »
Predictions for 2018

- SpaceX will not lose any payloads this year and will end the year with a robust flight cadence.  (I guessed 30 in the poll)
- SpaceX will launch less than 3 missions with expendable cores
- SpaceX will recover at least 95% of the cores they attempt to recover
- FH will launch at least twice, at least once successfully
- BC will not launch anything in 2018 but progress will be made
- We'll see a "full duration" firing of a Raptor in essentially flight configuration
- We'll see a testbed vehicle using Raptors to reduce BFS risk unveiled but it won't fly
- CommsX constellation will see at least the first two test satellites launched (rideshare)
- TBC will win at least one major infrastructure project and start serious tunneling
- Dragon 2 will enter service, or at least trials, including with passengers
- Tesla will unveil a rover prototype
- SpaceX will solve fairing recovery and by the end of the year (say, last 4 missions) at least 1/2 of recoverable fairings will be recovered
- Elon will keynote IAC again but the 17->18 changes in BFR/S will be less than the 16->17 changes, indicating design maturity

- Starliner will not launch any passengers in 2018

- ULA will select BE4 over AJ for Vulcan
- ULA will get closer to ACES but won't be all the way there
- ULA will launch at least one IVF experiment on a Centaur
(repeats of last year)
- ULA will remain in denial about reuse even as SpaceX eats their lunch

- Blue will launch New Shepard at least 4 times, all with paying cargo. no humans though.
- Blue will unveil a New Glen vehicle of some sort (fit test, static test article, etc) and make progress on their pad.
- Jeff Bezos will make at least one snarky and patently false comment about SpaceX, or will be snarky instead of congratulatory when SpaceX does something historic
- Blue will continue to be way less open than SpaceX

- SLS will not be cancelled but will slip in some way...

- Rocketlabs Electron will launch at least 4 times. At least two launches will be a success.

- VG won't launch paying passengers

- NSF will debut a new look and many people will whinge about it
- Tapatalk signatures will continue to plague forum posts
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #12 on: 12/15/2017 07:50 pm »
Okay - here's my thoughts...

- SpaceX will have no payload losses
- They will launch a total of 31 times (I predicted 18 for 2017, which is not too far off...). This will include two FH flights. Of the 29 F9 flights, 18 will be flight proven and will use 10 distinct cores (due to introduction of Block 5)
- Block 5 will be introduced (duh)
- Of the 35 cores, 29 will be recovered - three failures and three expendable Block 3/4
- Full duration Raptor test
- In-flight abort will be awesome
- Elon will announce ISRU hardware
- Flight suit will be fully revealed
- Test crewed flight to ISS
- Antennas at BC will become operational
- re-announcement of tourist flight around moon for 2019. Still no names.
- Boca Chica will actually begin construction in earnest. On land, not water, BFR facility.
- There WILL actually be a Tesla orbiting the sun - amazing.


- Tory will make another big announcement about space habs with Bigelow, but no actual hardware
- ULA will continue to fly slowly and with no failures
- Good but status quo


The Europeans will push on with the Ariane 6, even though no one in the world who cares about such things as rockets thinks it makes any sense in this new age of reusable. But what can they do (they think), they've already bet on the wrong horse...


Another 200+ exoplanets are added to the known list and it's pretty much taken for granted that it's more unusual for starts to be devoid of planets then vice versa.

JWST will NOT slip further and the boon of exoplanets and interstellar interlopers will fuel the funding of WFIRST

Russia will still be struggling with corruption

China silently pushes ahead

Two missions actually launch landers to the moon for the XPrize, though both after March. One succeeds. Neither is Moon Express.


NSF will retain it's terrible name instead of biting the bullet and changing it to something more accurate. Possibly having something to do with being run by a Brit...

The _Other_ NSF will throw up its hands in despair and change its name to Notional Science Foundation and then realize it made no difference - though perhaps more accurate in this climate (so - climate change)

I will keep flogging people to read my excellent novel...

- Brought to you Not By TapATalk...

Edit: Fixed my bad math - 29 cores recovered not 30 (only 35 cores launched on 31 missions)

« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 07:28 pm by Johnnyhinbos »
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Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #13 on: 12/16/2017 09:48 am »
Couple of easy ones, but I’m trying to be better than my 2017 predictions.

Orbital Vehicles:
- Falcon Heavy will fly, but not in January.
- No Falcon 9 will be reused more than 3 times.
- BFR will drop the cradle landing, and the ship design will change again.
- Agile Aero won’t make any major progress.
- At least one group will have a LOX and carbon/epoxy ignition event.
- Rocket Lab will fly at least 3 times.
- Blue Origin will get to full power and duration on BE-4, and unveil some New Glenn hardware.
- ULA will downselect to BE-4 / RL10 for Vulcan and ACES.
- No private companies will successfully land on the Moon.

Suborbital Vehicles:
- While some of the XCOR IP may trickle into the world, it won’t have a Firefly / EXOS type of restart.
- Masten will continue to fly, but won’t do any major envelope expansion.
- Masten will get to thermal steady state on their 25k methane engine, but won’t integrate pumps.
- SS2 will get to 80 km “space”, but not 100 km space.
- SS2 will do at least one powered flight from Spaceport America.
- Vector will get above 100 km, but not to orbit.
- Blue Origin will do 7 New Shepard flights, but only one with people.
I tried it at home

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #14 on: 12/16/2017 04:26 pm »
I’ll give this a go

- There is at least one successful Falcon Heavy flight
- 20<X<30 Falcon 9 flights. One of the boosters they try to land crashes
- At IAC 2018 Elon displays several things about BFR, but none of those pieces are fitting together yet
- Boca Chika is prepared with the intention of the first flight from there in Q1 2019
- An Unmanned Dragon II test flight
- Dragon II Manned either happens in December or is pushed to 2019, probably the latter
- No Manned Lunar flyby :(

- 1 or 2 Manned (trained test pilots) New Shepard Flights
- BE-4 declared “complete”
- Activity in the new Cape factory
- Shocking amounts of progress towards a flying New Glenn

NASA (isn’t it weird that we no longer put them at the top of the list?)
- EM-1 goes to Q-2 2020
- SLS and Orion are not, for better or worse, cancelled
- A commercial crew model program for a Lunar Lander is created and even funded due to a well timed Dragon II test quieting dissent
- An official international agreement on the Deep Space Gateway is reached. There ends up being a shockingly small amount of US involvement. The US will build a lander and transport the modules on SLS and Orion. International partners will build the modules themselves.
- Planning for a DSG commercial resupply contract begins, but there is no funding
- slightly off topic but important, Democrats gain a reasonable majority in both houses of the United States congress

- Continues successful flight streak
- Finally picks BE-4 for Vulcan
- By the end of the year Vulcan actually starts to FEEL like a thing that’s going to happen

Aerojet Rocketdyne
- Panic due to above

- All flights are successful
- Success with satellite servicing after minor issues
- For OATK it’s “the year of NGL”. The design is finalized, contracts are signed, further solid tests are conducted, and a real name is finally picked

Rocket Lab
- “Still Testing” succeeds and operations begin

Relativity Aerospace
- Surprise News involving how near they are to having a launcher, maybe even a launch

Firefly Aerospace
- See Relativity

Google Lunar XPrize
- At least two launch. They may or may not be successful, give it a 25% chance each

- At least one failure

- More Manned flight

- more robotic exploration

Ongoing flights
- Most continue to be successful
- At least one research spacecraft is lost, likely something to do with reaction wheels
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline hkultala

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #15 on: 12/16/2017 04:30 pm »

SLS will continue being developed, and the first rocket is getting ready
to be launched at early 2019.


* F9/Dragon will fly a crewed mission
* Falcon Heavy will launch 3 times.
* The lunar flyby tourist mission will slip to 2019
* F9 will launch >25 times. Most launches will happen from SLC-40.
* More than half of the F9 launches will use already used 1st stage.

* F9 will get one first stage engine failure which does not cause LOM but causes Loss of the 1st stage, compensating for the lost thrust means too much fuel burned to get back, OR the failing engine is the center engine. Following flights are delayed couple of weeks while they investigate the reason for the engine failure. The failure happens to branch new, not reused engine.

* F9 1st stage landing accuracy keeps getting better slowly. All landings on 2018H2 are less than meter away from the center of the pad.

* Full-size raptor being tested.

* SpaceX shows images of the first sub-orbital BFS prototype being manufactured, but it does not yet fly during 2018.


* New Shepard flies multiple commercial tourist hops

* New Glenn 1st stage makes a successful static burn but the whole rocket does not perform orbital mission yet


* Angara-5 will fly one flight.

* Soyuz and Proton keep launching many times and manage to survive a year without failures


* Rocket lab Electron flies multiple successful flights.

* BE-3 officially selected for Vulcan

Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #16 on: 12/16/2017 04:40 pm »

1. SpaceX will be the largest launch provider, in terms of number, mass to LEO equivalent and mass to GTO (GEO-1500m/s)
2. FH flies a customer mission so SpaceX will have the largest operational launcher.
3. Raptor flight engine completes its major development phase, qualification test in 2019.
4. BFR design past CDR equivalent, tooling and factory in process of being commissioned by year end.
5. BFS cargo design past PDR equivalent.
6. Some test articles for BFR/BFS components completed.
7. majority of F9 launches will use refurbished boosters.
8. More than one core has flown three times.
9. No F9 core flies more than 3 times.
10. StarLink makes steady progress.

Commercial Spaceflight
11. More large GEO spacecraft orders than this year (but still at a low level).
12. More large GEO spacecraft launched than ordered, so launch backlog is reduced.
13. More cubesats, nanosats and other satellites under 100kg launched than ever before. Total mass of those satellites is also a record.
14. At least one more LEO constellation announced (>5 sats).
15. Consolidation in GEO satellite operators.
16. GEO satellite operators start announcing tie-ups with OneWeb and SpaceX Starlink.
17. Direct broadcast satellite revenues fall.
18. Total space economy grows by 3%
19. Chinese commercial activity grows much faster than the rest of the world, which has basically no growth.
20. First commercial response to BFR and NG, not much money invested, but lots of talk about applications when launch costs are greatly reduced.

Human Spaceflight
21. ISS extended until 2028
22. Talk of new modules for ISS, RPI issued as a first step.
23. Talk of (plan for) Chinese visit to ISS or 2021.
24. Chinese make slow steady progress, lots of talk of future station and moon activity, but nothing finalised.
25. SpaceX circum-lunar mission delayed to 2019, but we learn who the customers are, more similar missions are announced.
26. Elon Musk uses IAC to announce moon architecture based on BFR/BFS starting in 2024, Mars delayed until 2026.
27. NASA completes pivot to moon before mars, but funding other than SLS/Orion not available.
28. ESA continue to push moon village idea, start funding various precursor projects and studies (at a fairly low level).
29. Lunar Gateway continues, architecture widely seen as expensive for its utility with SLS/Orion missions used for buildup and some lunar mission plans bypassing it completely.
30. Commercial human spaceflight growing rapidly with CRS, commercial crew and the first of the new wave of space tourism.

31. At least one new well-funded smallsat launcher will be announced, and probably several other less well funded launchers.
32. A 5 tonne to LEO launcher announced, reusable 1st stage.
33. China, India, ESA and Japan will all greatly enhance their reusable rocket programs.
34. Both total profits and revenues will go down for space launch, due to continued fierce competition and price erosion.
35. No surprises in science missions, observatories, robotic probes and rovers. Programs do not go a lot over budget or get pushed to the right more than the general expectations for such missions, lots of good science performed but nothing really startling discovered.
36. Tabby's star continues to puzzle.
37. Lots of new extra-solar planets discovered.
38. NSS starts to pivot to using constellations of smaller, cheaper, dis-aggregated satellites.
39. Ariane 6 widely seen as a temporary stopgap, while ESA gets its reusable plans in order.
40. ULA starts Vulcan redesign with the aim of a fully reusable rocket, current Vulcan design continues but SMART is dropped.
41. Blue Origin makes progress on NG, BE-4 and NS, but at a slow pace. Announces preliminary specs for NA.

Offline envy887

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #17 on: 12/16/2017 07:14 pm »

SLS will continue being developed, and the first rocket is getting ready
to be launched at early 2019.

This one is already wrong. NASA is trying valiantly to keep the SLS schedule from slipping out of 2019 into 2020. They aren't even trying to claim it's going to fly in early 2019 anymore.

Offline saliva_sweet

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #18 on: 12/16/2017 07:59 pm »
Vulcan CDR will be "making progress", but will not complete in 2018. Engine downselect will not occur officially. The reality is that Vulcan is not going to happen.

Instead, New Glenn launch site will be completed and hardware will materialize. New shapard will make one unmanned flight.

Both commercial crew companies (Boeing and SpaceX) will complete uncrewed tests, neither will fly with crew.

SpaceX will have a launch failure of a brand new core.

Other countries beside US will not make appreciable progress the field of space.

edit: except, debatably, New Zealand. Rocket lab will launch three times.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 08:21 pm by saliva_sweet »

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #19 on: 12/16/2017 11:03 pm »
-22 SpaceX missions including one Falcon Heavy. // fell short at 21 launches
Falcon Heavy first launch is a partial failure. //center core landing failed
-  First StarLink constellation test sats go up
-  BFR undergoes another downsizing to fit the available budget and near term applications.
-  BFR proposed for NASA's new moon detour and EELV use.
- 19 out of 22 missions have successful landings. // 12 out of 21 missions
- Unmanned Dragon 2 mission delayed to late 2018. Manned dragon 2019.
- SpaceX Lunar Mission slips to 2020.// postponed to a later date on Starship/SuperHeavy as #DearMoon project
- Cradle landing is going to be tested on a previously landed F9 booster that has been converted.

Rocket Lab:

-Next flight succeeds
-At least 8 flights this year including 1 test flight.

Blue Origin

- Successful test program for BE4. It is picked for ULA's Vulcan.
- New Shepard has the first successful manned flights before the fall.
- New Shepard has at least 12 flights in 2018.
- New Glenn reusable second stage teased.
- Plans for an additional launch site are unveiled.
- First details of Blue's orbital capsule revealed.

Virgin Galactic

- SS2 has three powered suborbital flight by the years end. No accidents. // Four powered flights including one above 50 miles.
- First flight above 50 miles before the fall.
// Happened in December

Google X-Prize

- Two attempts this year. Both will fail on landing.//cancelled


- Russia has two launch failures.
- MLM Nauka flies to the station by December.
- Negative perceptions of Russia after 2016's election put under pressure cooperation in the ISS, RD180 usage on Atlas V.
- Russia proposes at least one design for a future reusable rocket. 


- A pretty much flawless year of missions for ArianeGroup/ESA
- A number of European politicians call for cancelling or changing course on Ariane 6.
- Several programs for reusable technologies are given significant funding boosts.
- By the end of the year, a contingency plan for Ariane 6 will emerge for competing with reusable vehicles.
- This will be a 5m reusable booster powered by a cluster of Prometheus engines, using the same production line and pads as current Ariane 6 to keep costs low. The upper stage will be identical to A6.
- The first full scale test booster will be tested in 2022 and based on the Callisto program.


- NASA has a year of flawless missions but will be in a state of flux due to the incoming administration.
- SLS/Orion get a temporary funding surge to close the gap between missions.
- A second MLP is ordered. EUS is expedited with additional funding.
- Deep Space Gateway is cancelled.//wrong, continued as "LOP-G"
- NASA puts out a request for proposals for a crewed lunar lander.
- Lockheed Martin proposes a lander derived from Orion.
- Planet 9 is discovered.
- Curiosity discovers a completely unexpected chemical on Mars. //Organics in the soil and methane cycles in the atmosphere


- No launch failures
- Chang'e 5 sample return is pushed forward to December and is successful. // Delayed beyond 2018
- In 2018, they fly 30 missions. // They are on 32 missions and still going!
- The announcement of a U.S lunar return spurs China to accelerate its own manned lunar missions.
- China will initiate a contract to buy RD-180 engines to expedite Long March 9.


- They have a single successful launch.
- Work on a booster capable of lifting 1 metric ton to LEO begins.


- Fraying international relations convinces Turkey to starting the process of developing independent access to space.

- A successful year with no failures.
- JAXA proposes to contribute a cargo lander to a future U.S lunar program.

- Record number of launches for India
- Increased privatization of the Indian space industry.
- One launch failure.
- Plans for a human capsule resurface. // Manned missions now planned
- A deal is made with NASA to allow an Indian astronaut visit the ISS on a commercial crew vehicle in 2020.


- ULA picks BE4 for Vulcan.
- ULA proposes for distributed launch in 2018 as a means to support a human lunar return in collaboration with SLS/Orion.
- There is a contingency program under study at ULA for powered stage recovery.

Bonus Prediction

- Before the end of the year a new startup pursuing RLVs is revealed. The initial vehicle is designed for launching small-sats. // Exos revealed Jaguar, a reusable booster based on Morpheus landing tech. Landspace and Linkspace both revealed concepts for future reusable boosters. PLD is pursuing reuse


« Last Edit: 12/31/2018 12:03 pm by Darkseraph »
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman


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