Author Topic: New Glenn Rocket to Launch Telesatís Global LEO Satellite Constellation  (Read 19046 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Blue "press release" (all they do is a mailing list for fans, still no obvious set up for the media).

Telesat has selected our powerful New Glenn rocket to launch Telesat's innovative LEO satellite constellation into space.

Weíre happy to announce weíve signed a multi-launch agreement with Telesat to play a key role in the deployment of their LEO constellation, which will provide fiber-like broadband services anywhere on Earth.
 
Hereís a quote from our CEO, Bob Smith:
 
ďBlue Origin is honored that Telesat has selected our powerful New Glenn rocket to launch Telesatís innovative LEO satellite constellation into space. We are excited to be partnering with this industry leader on their disruptive satellite network architecture. New Glennís 7-meter fairing, with its huge mass and volume capabilities, is a perfect match for Telesatís constellation plans while reducing launch costs per satellite.Ē
 
New Glennís 7-meter fairing has twice the payload volume as any other launch provider in the market, making it an ideal solution for Telesat to lower their satellite deployment costs. The two companies will collaborate on a range of technical activities to assure cost and performance objectives are achieved throughout the multi-launch program.
 
This partnership, along with New Glennís selection by the U.S. Air Force for a launch services agreement, gives New Glenn the opportunity to demonstrate its heavy-lift and volume capabilities to civil, commercial and national security customers when it begins launching in 2021.
 

Telesat release:
https://www.telesat.com/news-events/blue-origins-powerful-new-glenn-rocket-launch-telesats-advanced-global-leo-satellite

Ottawa, Canada, January 31, 2019 Ė Telesat and Blue Origin have signed a multi-launch agreement that paves the way for the powerful New Glenn rocket to play a key role in Telesatís deployment of its global LEO satellite constellation that will deliver fiber-like broadband services anywhere on Earth. Telesatís LEO program will gain significant cost savings and other advantages by launching with Blue Originís heavy-lift New Glenn.

With this agreement, two of the most innovative and ambitious companies in the space industry are combining their expertise, capabilities, and resources to transform the global broadband and launch markets. Telesat and Blue Origin have established a strong working relationship and will collaborate on a range of technical activities to assure cost and performance objectives are achieved throughout the multi-launch program.

Telesatís LEO constellation will leverage the companyís innovative, patent-pending orbital architecture and global priority spectrum rights, as well as the most advanced antenna, digital processing, optical link and manufacturing technologies. Telesat LEO will offer an unsurpassed combination of capacity, speed, affordability, security and resiliency with latency equal to, or better than, the most advanced terrestrial networks. Able to serve the entire globe, Telesat LEO will help satisfy many of the worldís most challenging communications requirements. It will accelerate 5G expansion, bridge the digital divide with fiber-like high speed services into rural and remote communities, and set new levels of performance for commercial and government connectivity on land and in key maritime and aeronautical broadband markets, which are among the fastest growing in todayís satcom industry.

Founded and backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is developing New Glenn, a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle that will send people and payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. New Glennís massive 7-meter fairing has more than two times the payload volume of the largest fairing in the market today. New Glenn is powered by 7 BE-4 engines with the capability to deliver 45 metric tons to LEO. Blue Origin expects New Glenn to have its maiden flight in 2021 from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Blue Origin is also presently launching and landing its fully reusable New Shepard suborbital vehicle taking research and technology payloads to space today and astronauts later this year.

ďBlue Originís powerful New Glenn rocket is a disruptive force in the launch services market which, in turn, will help Telesat disrupt the economics and performance of global broadband connectivity,Ē said Dan Goldberg, Telesatís President and CEO. ďTelesat and Blue Origin share a vision of leveraging state-of-the-art space technologies and engineering excellence to improve the lives of people around the globe and give our respective customers a significant and sustainable advantage in their own highly competitive markets. Telesat is working with a range of world-class companies to build, deploy and operate our advanced, global LEO network. We are delighted to welcome Blue Origin and their New Glenn rocket to the team.Ē

ďBlue Origin is honored that Telesat has selected our powerful New Glenn rocket to launch Telesatís innovative LEO satellite constellation into space,Ē said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. Adding, ďWe are excited to be partnering with this industry leader on their disruptive satellite network architecture. New Glennís 7-meter fairing, with its huge mass and volume capabilities, is a perfect match for Telesatís constellation plans while reducing launch costs per satellite.Ē
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Offline vaporcobra

For the same reasons that OneWeb was unlikely to use SpaceX launch services, it's not at all surprising that Telesat went to Blue Origin. Vulcan or Atlas would have been far too expensive for a full constellation, while the apparent instability of the Russian launch industry is probably not something a prospective constellation operator wants to add to their list of worries.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2019 11:53 am by vaporcobra »

Online jacqmans

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Photo that came with the BO news release
Jacques :-)

Offline johnlandish

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https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/1090946739719335937

Peter B.De Selding reports that their are options for a 192 - 292 - 512 satellite constellation that New Glenn may fly.

Offline GWH

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For the same reasons that OneWeb was unlikely to use SpaceX launch services, it's not at all surprising that Telesat went to Blue Origin. Vulcan or Atlas would have been far too expensive for a full constellation...

Vuclan's pricing shouldn't be far off from SpaceX, plus they have a pretty large fairing. If ULA was bolder they would be trying to sell a 7m fairing. I can't compare to Blue since their price point is a huge unknown. Only stating because I feel this was a huge missed opportunity for ULA.

Offline ZachF

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NG is starting to get a pretty solid launch manifest.

Things are going to start getting pretty 'interesting' soon for launch providers that don't have reusability IMHO.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2019 03:35 pm by ZachF »
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Offline Zed_Noir

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Wonder if Telesat is getting cut-rate launch prices from Blue Origin. Since BO really doesn't need to show profits for the early New Glenn launches if they grabbed a large market share and squeezes out Arianespace and the tertiary tranche of launch providers for commercial payloads.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Wonder if Telesat is getting cut-rate launch prices from Blue Origin. Since BO really doesn't need to show profits for the early New Glenn launches if they grabbed a large market share and squeezes out Arianespace and the tertiary tranche of launch providers for commercial payloads.

Introductory pricing (i.e. Penetration pricing, or Promotional pricing) is a standard technique when entering a new market, so offering a discount of some sort for the first series of customers would not be unusual for Blue Origin to use. SpaceX did it too.
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Offline Zed_Noir

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Wonder if Telesat is getting cut-rate launch prices from Blue Origin. Since BO really doesn't need to show profits for the early New Glenn launches if they grabbed a large market share and squeezes out Arianespace and the tertiary tranche of launch providers for commercial payloads.

Introductory pricing (i.e. Penetration pricing, or Promotional pricing) is a standard technique when entering a new market, so offering a discount of some sort for the first series of customers would not be unusual for Blue Origin to use. SpaceX did it too.

I agree. But the end result is still competitors being squeeze out of the market, which SpaceX did.

Offline GreenShrike

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Vuclan's pricing shouldn't be far off from SpaceX,

Vulcan's pricing shouldn't be far off from *Falcon Heavy* (~$100M for a base Vulcan, IIRC). The smallest Vulcan in ULA's recent tech summary had a 17.8t to LEO capacity -- using two SRBs (which is kind of curious).  Nevertheless, if the Telesat comsats are as fluffy as Starlink's, then Falcon Heavy would run out of fairing volume long before reaching capacity. As such, launches on a Falcon Heavy (or a heavier Vulcan) don't seem worthwhile without a 7m fairing.

Thus, if there was a choice between ULA or SpaceX vehicles, it would be between the Vulcan and the Falcon 9, putting Vulcan at a distinct disadvantage from a vehicle history perspective. In addition to launch costs, of course.


I can't compare to Blue since their price point is a huge unknown.

Which is why I think Blue got the contract. They could use a good series of launches to establish a track record and, thanks to their benefactor, their business is... less sensitive than most to the need to make profit. As such, selling a batch of New Glenn launches at or marginally above costs could be seen as valuable for the company -- like SpaceX's experimental landings, it would let Blue earn while they learn, with at least their costs covered.

Conversely, I don't think ULA's owners would look favourably on such business behaviour. More's the pity for ULA...


Only stating because I feel this was a huge missed opportunity for ULA.

Well, let's review the field.

With SpaceX projecting itself to be busy launching Starlink, a competitor to Telesat's plans, I think SpaceX were well back in the running. That said, with OneWeb standing as a stark example, I don't think Telesat ('s investors) would be as willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. (Though one can argue OneWeb did it accidentally, the lesson remains.)  Accordingly, Telesat would have kept the launch costs per sat that Falcon 9 could offer firmly in mind when reviewing their other options.

And while I expect New Glenn to cost more than F9 -- it's expending a stage rather closer to the size of F9's recovered S1 than F9's expended S2 -- any additional performance it offers over an F9 could actually be utilized due to the larger fairing on NG -- unlike Vulcan and FH. This means more cost per launch but also more sats per launch, so the launch cost-per-sat between NG and F9 would be closer to a wash, and Telesat wouldn't be losing significant amounts of money by selecting Blue.

On the other hand, if NG costs as much as Vulcan, then the increased capacity and larger fairing mean the per-satellite costs are actually going to be lower on NG, and Telesat *would* be losing money selecting ULA. And if Blue was willing to take a haircut on profit margins to get a bunch of flights on its early manifest, then even more so.

Overall I think ULA wasn't even seriously in the running. They're more set up for bespoke single launches than a long series of launches at rock-bottom pricing.

Ariane 62 probably suffers from the same issue as Soyuz -- too expensive for the capacity -- and Ariane 64 from the same issue as FH -- too much capacity and only a 5m fairing, so the higher price is wasted.

Once Japan's national launches are taken care of, I don't think H3, with its projected F9-like pricing, will have sufficient commercial launch slots left over to get a constellation up in a reasonable amount of time.

Similarly, I think India's medium-lift GLSV Mk3 would have an insufficient number of commercial launch slots for a constellation.

And ITAR, of course, puts the kibosh on China and the Long March series.


All in all, Blue seems quite a reasonable choice for Telesat. Now Blue just has to execute.


Interestingly, Blue could even play dial-a-payload for the first few flights, flying fewer sats to reserve additional booster prop for increased landing margins on early missions, while flying more sats later on once procedures and recovery margins are refined.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Introductory pricing (i.e. Penetration pricing, or Promotional pricing) is a standard technique when entering a new market, so offering a discount of some sort for the first series of customers would not be unusual for Blue Origin to use. SpaceX did it too.

I agree. But the end result is still competitors being squeeze out of the market, which SpaceX did.

OK, yes, that is the intended result - to steal marketshare from other competitors. Which is what pretty much every company tries to do, so Blue Origin is not being any different than everyone else.

And introductory pricing doesn't have to be just for the first launch or two, it could go on for years worth of launches. It really depends on what the goals of the Blue Origin business plan are.
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Offline Lar

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With SpaceX projecting itself to be busy launching Starlink, a competitor to Telesat's plans, I think SpaceX were well back in the running. That said, with OneWeb standing as a stark example, I don't think Telesat ('s investors) would be as willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. (Though one can argue OneWeb did it accidentally, the lesson remains.)  Accordingly, Telesat would have kept the launch costs per sat that Falcon 9 could offer firmly in mind when reviewing their other options.

Can you clarify the "OneWeb standing as a stark example" thought? ( and still remain on topic? )
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Offline corneliussulla

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Seen this coming a few years ago. Blue Origin is robbing SX of the funds to develop the BFR. Bezos is selling flights for well below his cost of delivery. Bezos is the biggest obstacle between man and a 2020ies landing on Mars.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Seen this coming a few years ago. Blue Origin is robbing SX of the funds to develop the BFR. Bezos is selling flights for well below his cost of delivery. Bezos is the biggest obstacle between man and a 2020ies landing on Mars.

I think it's too early to say that SpaceX is the one losing out when Blue Origin wins a launch contract. Remember the launch industry wants 3-4 options for launching their payloads, and I'd say that Russia and ULA are the ones that are more likely losing out to Blue Origin.

I think Arianespace and SpaceX are the two most likely not to lose out to Blue Origin right now.
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Offline krsears

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Seen this coming a few years ago. Blue Origin is robbing SX of the funds to develop the BFR. Bezos is selling flights for well below his cost of delivery. Bezos is the biggest obstacle between man and a 2020ies landing on Mars.

SpaceX has some serious Conflicts of Interest in this and would not (likely to) have been in line to launch this contract in any case.   If not Blue Origin, then ArianeSpace would have gotten the contract (ULA is far too expensive per launch for an endeavor of this nature IMO).

So I say "Congrats to Blue Origin!" and look forward to the progress that competition brings.

Kendall

Offline GreenShrike

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Can you clarify the "OneWeb standing as a stark example" thought? ( and still remain on topic? )

OneWeb bought Soyuz flights for something on the order of Falcon 9 pricing, and that was presumably with Arianespace giving OneWeb a sweetheart deal for a 21-flight block buy. It's not a stretch to think that SpaceX wouldn't give a discount on a large batch of flights as well, and their rocket can, broadly speaking, put twice the mass on orbit as Soyuz can. Whether it took F9 half or two-thirds or three-quarters of the number of Soyuz flights, it's clear that OneWeb is spending hundreds of millions of dollars more in launch costs with Arianespace than would be required with SpaceX.


Last year OneWeb was seeking additional capital. With their sats rolling off the factory floor and now needing launchers, it seems it was time to start paying Arianespace. And yet OneWeb didn't have much luck.

Why? Well, one can easily imagine creditors looking at their business plan and asking why they're not flying on SpaceX and reducing their capital needs by hundreds of millions. Contracts, OneWeb would reply. But what is flying on Arianespace getting you that flying on SpaceX doesn't? What additional benefit is there, when both rockets will provide the same service by lifting the sats to the same orbit?

And the only answer is that OneWeb is tied to the contract they made with Arianespace and are now unwilling or unable to break. Which is all well and good, but it does mean that OneWeb is effectively putting hundreds of millions to the torch -- and putting their fledgling business in a much worse financial state -- for essentially nothing.

Is anyone terribly surprised that financiers are less willing to bet on OneWeb and that OneWeb was having issues securing additional funds?


Then, in December, OneWeb announces that suddenly they don't need to fly 300 of their planned satellites. 600 will now do just fine, they say. Their sats are testing so well they can get away with just the minimum coverage for complete service. It's just coincidence that cutting their satellite order and launch needs by a third will strongly curtail their immediate financial requirements. No, really -- just coincidence.

In 2016, OneWeb bet against SpaceX. Now they get to pay for it -- literally.


As for Telesat, in the current market SpaceX is quite simply the pricing leader. It would be better for their competitors if they were unreliable, but they're not -- flying shiny new cores or no. And with their manifest backlog substantially reduced and with three pads available for launches, their scheduling issues seem behind them as well. In fact, their scheduling was so open last year, that they were selling flights on used cores using quicker launches as the main incentive rather than reduced pricing.

Which means it's objectively difficult for SpaceX's competitors to present a better value proposition to clients. Reliability is a wash, scheduling is a wash or even better for SpaceX and SpaceX's pricing is lowest.

And shareholders know this.

All of which is the long way of saying that Telesat has a business to run with a limited amount of capital, and with launch becoming a commodity service, they have every reason to spend as little as they can, and spending more just makes getting their new service harder to get off the ground while gaining them no benefit.

New Glenn can match F9 pricing, either per launch or per sat, if only because Blue has a reduced need for profit and an increased need to prove their rocket.

But I'm sure that if New Glenn was significantly more per-sat than F9, SpaceX would have a freshly signed contract to loft another constellation -- future competitor or no, as spending hundreds of millions in additional launch costs just to deny your competitor probably rather less in profits seems more schoolyard logic than real business sense.

All in all, spending more on launch then you absolutely need to is simply a waste of already scarce capital.

As OneWeb has painfully found out.
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Offline MikeAtkinson

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If I were a banker/investor I would have the following concerns:

1. Most aerospace projects overrun, will New Glenn be able to launch the Telesat satellites when needed. Blue Origin record so far has not been very good.

2. About half of new launchers fail in their first few flights. Landing and Blue Origin lack of orbital experience are added risks. Any failure adds delay in deployment and increases costs.

3. New Glenn might not meet its flight rate goals, at least initially. If Blue Origin have cut us a sweetheart deal, perhaps they will place full price launches ahead in the queue if New Glenn flight rate is low.

4. Delays could be very expensive: lost customers, delayed revenue and satellite obsolescence before their on-orbit life expires (5 years technology cycle, can't afford to spend most of the time on the ground waiting for a launch).
 
5. It already looks like the Telesat constellation will be the third to enter service which will make it hard to gain customers, am I going to get my money back (with profit) even if there are delays.

6. As an investor I would worry about lack of control, I would have direct influence of Telesat, but only indirect and limited influence over Blue Origin. Blue Origin has been run almost as a hobby by Bezos so far, what if his priorities change and Telesat are left hanging.

All of these concerns might have answers and the worries become irrelevant (due to the passing of time), I think Telesat will have a hard time convincing bankers and potential investors that the risks are minimal. High risks demand high rewards putting up the cost of financing.

Offline Lar

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GreenShrike, thank you for that detailed and cogent analysis! It was exactly what I was hoping to get with my question (although I admit I expected a different answer, I agree with your analysis)
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Offline Zond

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Can you clarify the "OneWeb standing as a stark example" thought? ( and still remain on topic? )

OneWeb bought Soyuz flights for something on the order of Falcon 9 pricing, and that was presumably with Arianespace giving OneWeb a sweetheart deal for a 21-flight block buy. It's not a stretch to think that SpaceX wouldn't give a discount on a large batch of flights as well, and their rocket can, broadly speaking, put twice the mass on orbit as Soyuz can. Whether it took F9 half or two-thirds or three-quarters of the number of Soyuz flights, it's clear that OneWeb is spending hundreds of millions of dollars more in launch costs with Arianespace than would be required with SpaceX.

The reason to choose Arianespace was not only based on the cost. They hoped and probably still hope to get a loan from the French export-credit agency: https://spacenews.com/amid-concerns-oneweb-gets-vague-about-constellations-cost/. So the shareholders can't complain that Oneweb didn't pick SpaceX as a launch supplier because choosing Arianespace is/was part of the plan to get Oneweb financed.

Offline TrevorMonty

Can you clarify the "OneWeb standing as a stark example" thought? ( and still remain on topic? )

OneWeb bought Soyuz flights for something on the order of Falcon 9 pricing, and that was presumably with Arianespace giving OneWeb a sweetheart deal for a 21-flight block buy. It's not a stretch to think that SpaceX wouldn't give a discount on a large batch of flights as well, and their rocket can, broadly speaking, put twice the mass on orbit as Soyuz can. Whether it took F9 half or two-thirds or three-quarters of the number of Soyuz flights, it's clear that OneWeb is spending hundreds of millions of dollars more in launch costs with Arianespace than would be required with SpaceX.

The reason to choose Arianespace was not only based on the cost. They hoped and probably still hope to get a loan from the French export-credit agency: https://spacenews.com/amid-concerns-oneweb-gets-vague-about-constellations-cost/. So the shareholders can't complain that Oneweb didn't pick SpaceX as a launch supplier because choosing Arianespace is/was part of the plan to get Oneweb financed.
Oneweb have reserved five NG launches. Unfortunately for Oneweb NG is couple years to late for their inititial deployment.

New LV development delays plus real possibility of early launch failure means deployment delays for Telesat constellation. They would've allowed for this in their business plan.

 Bigger 7m fairing will allow for cheaper satellite by not affording complicated origami folding of solar panels and rf antennas. Harris are already developing 5m reflector specficially for 7m fairing. If Vulcan and Ariane 6 want to compete they will also need to offer 7m fairing.

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