Author Topic: RocketLab vs Blue Origin - Whose Approach / Business Strategy is Better?  (Read 80058 times)

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6807
  • California
  • Liked: 8462
  • Likes Given: 5371
I think people underestimate how difficult propulsive recovery/landing is. SpaceX makes it look easy, but even they fail. (Spectacularly even)

Even if they can write the software, the most essential thing BY FAR is a reliable restartable engine with a deep throttle range. Rocketlab does not have this, and don’t know what they want yet. This is the long pole in their development, and any projected schedule is pretty meaningless until they are deep into development of that engine.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2021 04:09 am by Lars-J »

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1741
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1924
  • Likes Given: 1277
What no one has mentioned yet that I think is very relevant is Rocket Lab's Photon.

Rocket Lab started out needing a kick stage to provide better orbit insertion and performance,  then quickly evolved it into what is now close to a full fledged satellite bus. They are also manufacturing satellite components for sale.

It's an example of taking a need, developing a solution, then leveraging that solution to increase market share and appeal.  Rocket lab is heading in the direction of being a turn key launch and satellite platform provider. It all fits with the main appeal of RL: dedicated service to where you want to go. I expect that to continue with Neutron.

You don't see any of that with Blue. All 3 of their major programs exist pretty independently of each other. While Blue Moon could launch on New Glenn neither really benefit from each other. In fact it looks like not only will Blue Moon launch on Vulcan first,  Vulcan is ultimately better suited for the role due to higher performance to TLI.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2021 04:19 am by GWH »

Offline DreamyPickle

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 955
  • Home
  • Liked: 921
  • Likes Given: 205
Electron recovery is not getting cancelled, they will very likely refly and much faster than New Glenn.

They can also put legs on Electron for hop tests. Even if they won't do this for recovering orbital boosters this can be used to test the software. They could even use heat-damaged boosters for this.

When launching constellations both New Glenn and Neutron will launch multiple satellites at once so the capacity of an individual launch doesn't matter. All that matters is $/kg and Neutron has a good chance of ending up cheaper.

The biggest read flag is that RocketLab hasn't selected the engine.

Offline GWH

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1741
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1924
  • Likes Given: 1277
When launching constellations both New Glenn and Neutron will launch multiple satellites at once so the capacity of an individual launch doesn't matter. All that matters is $/kg and Neutron has a good chance of ending up cheaper.

For that to happen BO would have to really fail or RL be extremely cheap. Expendable rockets are always cheaper per kg as the rocket gets larger, reuse won't change that. A $150million New Glenn would be $3,333/kg to LEO, so Neutron would need to be less than $26.6 million. While I am skeptical on New Glenn a price of $150 would be insane. Neutron at $26.6M seems reasonable and competitive.

As we've seen though $/kg is less important than $/payload and launch cadence.

That's where I think Neutron has an edge. Sure you can stuff New Glenn to the gills for your constellation and get better $/satellite. But that also means manufacturing needs to be completed all at once, shipped to site, integrated, then launched in a massive batch.  Compared to multiple smaller launches this means more bottlenecks, more short term resources, more complicated deployment, and much higher consequences of launch failure.

For all but the largest constellations a rocket sized like Neutron and not NG is much better suited for deploying constellations at the rate of manufacture in a constant production process. Industry as a whole functions more efficiently that way. I haven't even mentioned benefits of iterative development like Starlink has followed.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2021 12:44 pm by GWH »

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 39250
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 25201
  • Likes Given: 12104
Both well be competing for constelllation launch business from Amazon, Telesat and Oneweb. None of which are likely launch on Market leader given it has competing constellation.

Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk
I actually disagree. I think constellation companies will play everyone against each other to negotiate a lower price. Including "market leader."

Neutron will force "market leader" to offer a competitive price while encouraging Blue Origin to get their act together and deliver.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 39250
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 25201
  • Likes Given: 12104
When launching constellations both New Glenn and Neutron will launch multiple satellites at once so the capacity of an individual launch doesn't matter. All that matters is $/kg and Neutron has a good chance of ending up cheaper.

For that to happen BO would have to really fail or RL be extremely cheap. Expendable rockets are always cheaper per kg as the rocket gets larger, reuse won't change that. A $150million New Glenn would be $3,333/kg to LEO, so Neutron would need to be less than $26.6 million. While I am skeptical on New Glenn a price of $150 would be insane. Neutron at $26.6M seems reasonable and competitive.

As we've seen though $/kg is less important than $/payload and launch cadence.

That's where I think Neutron has an edge. Sure you can stuff New Glenn to the gills for your constellation and get better $/satellite. But that also means manufacturing needs to be completed all at once, shipped to site, integrated, then launched in a massive batch.  Compared to multiple smaller launches this means more bottlenecks, more short term resources, more complicated deployment, and much higher consequences of launch failure.

For all but the largest constellations a rocket sized like Neutron and not NG is much better suited for deploying constellations at the rate of manufacture in a constant production process. Industry as a whole functions more efficiently that way. I haven't even mentioned benefits of iterative development like Starlink has followed.
Neutron is larger in diameter than Falcon 9 and could eventually have enough performance to have a Falcon 9-like payload but with full reuse. And could have a higher flight rate than New Glenn.

New Glenn, Falcon 9, and Neutron are all close enough in capacity that what matters for cost per kg to orbit won't be which is bigger but what company is most efficient at executing. Falcon 9 has an edge now, but RocketLab has executed on their Falcon-1-like rocket better than Market Leader did, so it's quite possible RocketLab will be able to outcompete New Glenn just by better/faster execution and greater efficiency.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2021 09:20 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 14117
  • N. California
  • Liked: 13993
  • Likes Given: 1390
I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline AU1.52

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 656
  • Life is like riding a bicycle - Einstein
  • Ohio, USA, AU1
  • Liked: 669
  • Likes Given: 719
I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?


The one with the most orbital launch experience? What do we think is the percentage change BO will get to Orbit on their 1st attempt? 50 / 50 or more? Land successfully?


Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6807
  • California
  • Liked: 8462
  • Likes Given: 5371
I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?

Ok, laughable was not the right way to phrase it. It is plausible Neutron could beat New Glenn, I admit that.

But until Rocketlab selects an engine for Neutron and starts doing tests with components of such engine, it is difficult to view Neutron as a project that has actually started. (vs being announced)
« Last Edit: 03/05/2021 04:50 pm by Lars-J »

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 14117
  • N. California
  • Liked: 13993
  • Likes Given: 1390
I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?


The one with the most orbital launch experience? What do we think is the percentage change BO will get to Orbit on their 1st attempt? 50 / 50 or more? Land successfully?
That's what I'm saying..

BO might (just might) launch NG first simply because they started so much earlier, but if that rocket doesn't nail that flight all the way to landing it will take them forever to iterate.

And even launching first is in question since they have never done anything orbital.

I sometimes wonder just how severe the stagnation toll is at BO.  So many years of no results have got to leave a mark.  People age or leave, design intent is lost.. In that respect they are the exact opposite of Rocket Lab
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 14117
  • N. California
  • Liked: 13993
  • Likes Given: 1390


I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?

Ok, laughable was not the right way to phrase it. It is plausible Neutron could beat New Glenn, I admit that.

But until Rocketlab selects an engine for Neutron and starts doing tests with components of such engine, it is difficult to view Neutron as a project that has actually started. (vs being announced)

Agreed...

Peter Beck's next announcement will be his Musk moment...  Make or break...

It'll either be a clear executable plan that shows he's been on this for a while and that Neutron is not a panicky hail Mary, or it won't (did I just triple negative?)
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online TrevorMonty



I think the idea that Neutron will launch before New Glenn (as expressed by some) is pretty laughable. I don't find it credible at all.

Blue Origin has engines that are near complete. The launch infrastructure is almost done, and factory in place. They are building pathfinder elements and are about to start fit tests. They have experience with propulsive landing from 3 (!!!) vehicles. They have huge financial resources.

Meanwhile Rocketlab don't even have an engine selected, or knows how many they will use. No launch site. No factory. No experience with propulsive landing. Hoping to do it on a shoe-string budget. ($200m)

I get while comparing them is interesting, but Blue Origin would have to be much slower than they currently are IMO not to beat Rocketlab with a new rocket.

My prediction: New Glenn launches in 2023. Neutron in 2025. (if it comes to fruition)

Laughable?

There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?

Ok, laughable was not the right way to phrase it. It is plausible Neutron could beat New Glenn, I admit that.

But until Rocketlab selects an engine for Neutron and starts doing tests with components of such engine, it is difficult to view Neutron as a project that has actually started. (vs being announced)

Agreed...

Peter Beck's next announcement will be his Musk moment...  Make or break...

It'll either be a clear executable plan that shows he's been on this for a while and that Neutron is not a panicky hail Mary, or it won't (did I just triple negative?)
Neutron isn't make or break for RL. Their business forecast has space systems making up 40% of their revenue. There will also be launch revenue from Electron which still has bright future.

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk


Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13463
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 11864
  • Likes Given: 11081
I think it's telling[1] that we are even having this discussion and it's plausible that RL might just beat Blue to first reuse, or even, with some luck, to first launch.  Other threads have convinced me there is room for both of them if they both execute...

1 - of just how bad things at Blue must be....
"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 M.E.T.

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2296
  • Liked: 2894
  • Likes Given: 504
When launching constellations both New Glenn and Neutron will launch multiple satellites at once so the capacity of an individual launch doesn't matter. All that matters is $/kg and Neutron has a good chance of ending up cheaper.

For that to happen BO would have to really fail or RL be extremely cheap. Expendable rockets are always cheaper per kg as the rocket gets larger, reuse won't change that. A $150million New Glenn would be $3,333/kg to LEO, so Neutron would need to be less than $26.6 million. While I am skeptical on New Glenn a price of $150 would be insane. Neutron at $26.6M seems reasonable and competitive.

As we've seen though $/kg is less important than $/payload and launch cadence.

That's where I think Neutron has an edge. Sure you can stuff New Glenn to the gills for your constellation and get better $/satellite. But that also means manufacturing needs to be completed all at once, shipped to site, integrated, then launched in a massive batch.  Compared to multiple smaller launches this means more bottlenecks, more short term resources, more complicated deployment, and much higher consequences of launch failure.

For all but the largest constellations a rocket sized like Neutron and not NG is much better suited for deploying constellations at the rate of manufacture in a constant production process. Industry as a whole functions more efficiently that way. I haven't even mentioned benefits of iterative development like Starlink has followed.
Neutron is larger in diameter than Falcon 9 and could eventually have enough performance to have a Falcon 9-like payload but with full reuse. And could have a higher flight rate than New Glenn.

New Glenn, Falcon 9, and Neutron are all close enough in capacity that what matters for cost per kg to orbit won't be which is bigger but what company is most efficient at executing. Falcon 9 has an edge now, but RocketLab has executed on their Falcon-1-like rocket better than Market Leader did, so it's quite possible RocketLab will be able to outcompete New Glenn just by better/faster execution and greater efficiency.

The main theme of posts like the above on RL is the “non-uniqueness” (for want of a better term), of SpaceX. Well, I think you are wrong on that. Peter Beck is not another Elon Musk, (and let’s not even get to equivalents for Gwynne Shotwell and Tom Mueller).

The argument seems to be that SpaceX’s achievements are easy to replicate and even exceeded by another company that just has a similar “innovative mindset”. Well, I think SpaceX is not that easy to emulate.

I note you also refer to Neutron in the present tense above, not to suggest that it already exists, sure, but clearly accepted as an eventual fait accompli.

Well, there is in fact no guarantee that RL will ever master first stage reuse, let alone the full reuse you are already proposing. Neutron is a paper rocket at this point. And the idea that Beck is going to achieve X,Y or Z just because Elon did it, seems to be based on faith and a desire for it to be so, rather than on facts.
« Last Edit: 03/06/2021 08:48 am by M.E.T. »

Offline DreamyPickle

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 955
  • Home
  • Liked: 921
  • Likes Given: 205
There are already excessive mentions of the Market Leader and of the Market Leader's Leaders.

Unfortunately RocketLab has not yet announced the engine and materials to be used on Neutron so there is not much concrete information to discuss. It's easier to iterate faster on a smaller vehicle so it's possible for Neutron to out-compete New Glenn.

Offline M.E.T.

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2296
  • Liked: 2894
  • Likes Given: 504
There are already excessive mentions of the Market Leader and of the Market Leader's Leaders.

Unfortunately RocketLab has not yet announced the engine and materials to be used on Neutron so there is not much concrete information to discuss. It's easier to iterate faster on a smaller vehicle so it's possible for Neutron to out-compete New Glenn.

Fine, let’s keep the “Market Leader” nameless then. The point is, for RL to overtake BO they would have to match the achievements of said “Market Leader” in the development of Neutron.

Offline high road

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1688
  • Europe
  • Liked: 837
  • Likes Given: 152
Yeah Lars, tell me about it, which one RL or BO, has working orbital launch business...          ; )

True! But do you think that alone will power Neutron across the finish line before New Glenn? If I were a betting man, I would bet on Blue Origin. But I could certainly be wrong. :)

Here's the real question: which will sooner re-fly a booster? I think this will be a much closer race.

Agreed. I did a poll on Twitter on this very topic a few days back. About two thirds thought Blue would fly NG before RL would fly Neutron, but it was a lot closer when I asked who would fly a rocket with a previously flown first stage first. Blue has such a lead that them not getting NG to flight first would be really surprising. But RL could move faster on getting into regular reuse.

~Jon

Rocket Lab still need to decide what engine they want to use. Blue Origin has had a suborbital vehicle that 'will start operations after about two more tests' for the last five years, while NG just got postponed. They built a giant factory with no experience with a functional orbital rocket, that will need time consuming refurbishment as they tweek their pathfinder. They designed an orbital rocket that's so expensive it better land on the first try, so expect tons of time consuming tweeks before the first launch. And given Blue's NS history, those tweeks will likely resemble SLS-tweeks more than Starship tweeks in terms of delays.

Who launches first is still up in the air IMO, and not because Rocket Lab moves exceptionally fast. I would be surprised if NG enters regular operations first.

Offline Cheapchips

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1029
  • UK
  • Liked: 854
  • Likes Given: 1923
The bigger rocket has about 5-6 times the payload capacity (to LEO, with first stage re-use).

Your image did made me think a fairer cost comparison would look something more like this:

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6807
  • California
  • Liked: 8462
  • Likes Given: 5371
There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?

I'd recommend a listen to the latest MECO podcast, an longish interview with Peter Beck about Neutron: https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/183

Based on that, I would have to downgrade my already somewhat pessimistic estimate of how quickly Neutron could be reused. In the interview he states that they are not doing hop tests, and I very much get the impression that they are not planning/expecting for Neutron to be reusable from day 1. It sounds more like an accelerated F9 style development where they will experiment until they get it working.

So then the time until first re-flight will depend on how fast the can build Neutron and iterate on the design.

Propulsive landing is tricky, especially with a brand new engine. The only successful VTVL rockets so far (orbital and sub-orbital) have done this through gradual envelope expansion hop tests. But then again both New Glenn and Neutron are skipping this, so maybe they know something.  :) (or not)
« Last Edit: 03/09/2021 07:51 pm by Lars-J »

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 14117
  • N. California
  • Liked: 13993
  • Likes Given: 1390
There are ok odds that BO-NG will attempt its first flight before RL-N.

But let's assume for a moment that both first flights fail.

Who do you think will attempt its follow-up flight first?

I'd recommend a listen to the latest MECO podcast, an longish interview with Peter Beck about Neutron: https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/183

Based on that, I would have to downgrade my already somewhat pessimistic estimate of how quickly Neutron could be reused. In the interview he states that they are not doing hop tests, and I very much get the impression that they are not planning/expecting for Neutron to be reusable from day 1. It sounds more like an accelerated F9 style development where they will experiment until they get it working.

So then the time until first re-flight will depend on how fast the can build Neutron and iterate on the design.

Propulsive landing is tricky, especially with a brand new engine. The only successful VTVL rockets so far (orbital and sub-orbital) have done this through gradual envelope expansion hop tests. But then again both New Glenn and Neutron are skipping this, so maybe they know something.  :) (or not)
I know, right?

It depresses me how much of the non-SpaceX competitive landscape evaluation boils down to "who will be slower and how".

The thread should be renamed to "whose approach is worse".

/Walking away with little steam emojis rising above my head
« Last Edit: 03/09/2021 07:58 pm by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Tags:
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
0