Author Topic: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO  (Read 43803 times)

Online deadman1204

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On the offnominal webcast/podcast this week, Eric Berger was the guest. He mentions that per sources he won't name but trusts, Bezos is not really interested in a LEO station. If he can get NASA money to pay for it, thats great. However if he doesn't, he'll just move on to lunar stuff.
The link below is timestamped for the middle of this conversation (about minute 31). Listen for the next 20-30 seconds to hear the specific comment I'm referring to.

https://www.youtube.com/live/9vhrBDoqQLc?feature=share&t=1864

This seems to mean that if Blue doesn't get enough NASA money, Blue Reef won't happen. Bezos won't be putting the money into it himself.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 06:50 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline JayWee

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In other words - he has no business plan for LEO.
But... weren't they talking about space/LEO manufacturing?

Offline meekGee

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In other words - he has no business plan for LEO.
But... weren't they talking about space/LEO manufacturing?
Given the upcoming unbearable cheapness of LEO launch, even if there is a process that's best conducted at zero g, you'll launch an encapsulated work cell, have it do its thing, and then land it.

There never was a business case for a manned manufacturing facility.

Similarly for tourism - launch, tour, land. A "Hotel" buys you nothing, and is additionally stuck in one orbit.

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Offline Robotbeat

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I’m honestly relieved. LEO is a good staging point, but it’s the ocean, not an island (let alone a continent). We need a physical place, which has physical resources, to make our future out there.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 08:28 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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Blue needs to decide whether they're a launch company first and foremost, or a lunar resources company that can gradually transition into a cis-lunar and cis-earth large structures company.  If you believe that Jeff still has the same vision that he started with, it's the latter.

His mistake was in thinking that Blue had to be a launch company in order to become the lunar resources company.  That was probably a pretty good assumption back in the early oh-oh's but, in retrospect, he fell victim to Akin's Law #39.  Since that mistake became apparent, anything that gives Blue an excuse to launch a lot probably seems like a way to climb out of the hole they're in.  Orbital Reef probably looks like a way to launch a lot--but only if somebody pays them to do it.

Not for nuthin', but SpaceX seems to have the same attitude about the lunar surface:  they're happy to take NASA's money to advance their long-term development plans but, if that money went away, they wouldn't keep going.

That's a competitive lane for Blue.  If they really want to be the company that enables humans to work and even live in cis-earth/cis-lunar space, the road to that runs over the surface of the Moon.  That makes Orbital Reef... premature.  They need to concentrate on the BE-7 and Blue Moon (and the National Team is a reasonable step to do that), and then step up their lunar manufacturing strategy.  The announcement this week tends to indicate that they're at least thinking about the problem the right way.

Offline Tywin

That debate doesn't seem qualified...two guys saying LEO doesn't matter.... ::)
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Offline GWH

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Offline Tywin

I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Or Berger is not objective...
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Online deadman1204

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In other words - he has no business plan for LEO.
But... weren't they talking about space/LEO manufacturing?
Not really, there is no business case. If you listen to the entire interview (Eric Berger is the space journalist from arstecnica), they go one to talk about how no one has a closed business case for a leo station yet. Its always been that "magic thing you manufacture in space" since the 70s. After 50 years, no one has any idea what that is though.


Offline Tywin

In other words - he has no business plan for LEO.
But... weren't they talking about space/LEO manufacturing?
Not really, there is no business case. If you listen to the entire interview (Eric Berger is the space journalist from arstecnica), they go one to talk about how no one has a closed business case for a leo station yet. Its always been that "magic thing you manufacture in space" since the 70s. After 50 years, no one has any idea what that is though.

Then Varda Space and others are dead too...
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

I'm obviously speculating but I suspect Jeff's reasoning went something like this:

1) Blue Origin should be the company that enables millions of people live and work in space.

2) Millions of people can live and work in space only if we can build large structures in space.

3) To build large structures in space, we need to get the building materials from the Moon.

4) To get materials from the Moon, we need transportation systems that can land the necessary ISRU and manufacturing systems.

5) To get those transportation systems, we're going to need a lander and a launcher to put the lander in space.

6) To build a launcher, we need to start small, so let's build a New Shepard vehicle and use it as a cash cow.

Point #5 was the critical error.

Quote
At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Big fairings are used to hold big pressure vessels, aka habitation modules.  But those don't weigh very much, and you can send them to cislunar space as well as LEO.

Ultimately, New Glenn is a competitor to Falcon Heavy.  If FH were what SpaceX was basing their BEO architecture on, Blue would be in an excellent position.  But now they're fighting the last war, and they have no prayer of competing for BEO business without an extensive modification of the architecture.  Jarvis might do that, and we might discover that doing cislunar and lunar surface transportation at a scale smaller than Starship turns out to be a good move.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Offline Lar

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Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Or Berger is not objective...
Both is also a possibility.

There are myriad threads here about Blue Origin vs SpaceX philosophy (or, why Jeff is the way he is...). We may never know the truth. It may not matter.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 09:02 pm by Lar »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Space tourism is a real, demonstrated business use case for LEO space stations. There are potentially others (a natural staging point for deep space missions, the nearest low gravity point for assembling very large satellites with people or low-latency telerobotics, etc) but this one has been proven.

If it’s enough… well that depends on how cheap you can get it. If you can get the costs down to, say, $500 million per year or lower, then it’s possible IMHO.

NASA shouldn’t invest in it for its own purposes unless it can do so for very cheap. Ideally, NASA would be the minority of revenue and that ought to be the mid-term goal of the program.
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Online deadman1204

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Or Berger is not objective...
I find this comment disturbing. Putting aside the matter that objectivity doesn't matter here - there is no opinion. He says people with direct knowledge have told him so.

Your post says that maybe Berger is biased therefore the entire thing should be ignored. This is nothing more than trolling.  Discuss the idea, attacking the messenger is a fox news type defense that has no place here.

Offline Robotbeat

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants
The most straightforward and obvious model of Jeff’s ideas of space utilization is that Jeff is at heart an O’Neillian. And O’Neil Cylinders are not stationed in LEO, they’re too big. They’re also too big to build with material launched from Earth, which is why the focus on lunar ISRU (although I have my doubts this will be cheaper, that is the logic).

Berger is almost certainly correct. I haven’t seen any evidence that Jeff is anything but an O’Neillian, and LEO is not a special place in the O’Neillian approach, other than a transit hub or something.
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Offline Robotbeat

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Or Berger is not objective...
Pray tell, what exactly do you mean by that?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Robotbeat

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I always figured LEO stations were Bezos' big thing, and lunar stuff was secondary.

Doesn't make a lick of sense to their priorities if it's not.

If lunar ISRU and all that is a bigger deal, then that makes sense for a long term vision. But if so why the hell did they put any time at all into New Shepard? Why deprioritize the 3 stage variant of New Glenn?

At its core New Glenn is a LEO rocket - big fairing and big lift capacity for big stuff to LEO. If he's not interested in LEO than why on Earth is New Glenn built the way it is? Why has space tourism been a theme in what's publicly known from them for years? They used to advertise on their site that future orbital tourism was a thing you could sign up for to learn more about.

Honestly I don't think Jeff knows what Jeff wants

Or Berger is not objective...
I find this comment disturbing. Putting aside the matter that objectivity doesn't matter here - there is no opinion. He says people with direct knowledge have told him so.

Your post says that maybe Berger is biased therefore the entire thing should be ignored. This is nothing more than trolling.  Discuss the idea, attacking the messenger is a fox news type defense that has no place here.
For once, I 100% agree with you! Cheers. 🍻
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Offline meekGee

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Space tourism is a real, demonstrated business use case for LEO space stations. There are potentially others (a natural staging point for deep space missions, the nearest low gravity point for assembling very large satellites with people or low-latency telerobotics, etc) but this one has been proven.

If it’s enough… well that depends on how cheap you can get it. If you can get the costs down to, say, $500 million per year or lower, then it’s possible IMHO.

NASA shouldn’t invest in it for its own purposes unless it can do so for very cheap. Ideally, NASA would be the minority of revenue and that ought to be the mid-term goal of the program.

Why does tourism require or even desire a LEO station?

A Starship like vehicle can give you all you want, without the need for continuous presence in space with all the cost that it entails. It can go to any orbit or around the moon, and is plenty spacious enough.

All the servicing that goes around human presence can be done at port instead of in orbit, which is so much cheaper.  You take everything you need with you for the trip, and after you land you refresh the galley, empty the tanks, vacuum the rugs, and go again.

Starships are more like cruise ships, since Space is more like the oceans.  It's the trip that's the destination.

--

It's a positive move by BO.  And in the very very long run, as stated upthread, the road to crazy large in-space habitats goes through the moon or asteroids anyway.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 10:04 pm by meekGee »
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Offline Lar

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Or Berger is not objective...
Pray tell, what exactly do you mean by that?
That he lets his biases influence his reporting[1].  And in particular he has a pro SpaceX bias. I think any fairly dispassionate[2] observer would agree with that assessment.

But so what? It doesn't matter, facts are facts. (so it doesn't matter if he's biased in this instance)

1 - Guess what? We ALL have biases. There is no perfectly[2] dispassionate voice out there.
2 - it's possible to be fairly dispassionate.[3]
3 - yes, I reused a footnote.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 10:11 pm by Lar »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Space tourism is a real, demonstrated business use case for LEO space stations. There are potentially others (a natural staging point for deep space missions, the nearest low gravity point for assembling very large satellites with people or low-latency telerobotics, etc) but this one has been proven.

If it’s enough… well that depends on how cheap you can get it. If you can get the costs down to, say, $500 million per year or lower, then it’s possible IMHO.

NASA shouldn’t invest in it for its own purposes unless it can do so for very cheap. Ideally, NASA would be the minority of revenue and that ought to be the mid-term goal of the program.

Why does tourism require or even desire a LEO station?

A Starship like vehicle can give you all you want, without the need for continuous presence in space with all the cost that it entails. It can go to any orbit or around the moon, and is plenty spacious enough.

All the servicing that goes around human presence can be done at port instead of in orbit, which is so much cheaper.  You take everything you need with you for the trip, and after you land you refresh the galley, empty the tanks, vacuum the rugs, and go again.

Starships are more like cruise ships, since Space is more like the oceans.  It's the trip that's the destination.

--

It's a positive move by BO.  And in the very very long run, as stated upthread, the road to crazy large in-space habitats goes through the moon or asteroids anyway.
Let’s say you want a station-like experience on Starship. Easy, because its volume is so huge. BUT only huge if you have few people, like the 12 people SpaceX currently offers per Starship flight on their website. Let’s say that costs $120 million. That’s $10m per person. But Starship is big enough to fit 480 people for a few hours. If they had a large station in LEO, you could launch 480 people at a time for the same $120 million (give or take). Then, the per-person launch costs are just $250,000 for the same price per launch. Up to a Factor of 40 reduction in launch costs if you don’t have to relaunch your space station for every trip! (Still need servicing, but I think you understand the value proposition here… you can drastically expand the number of people who could afford to go).

Starship is a Jumbo Jet. Sure, you can fit out a Jumbo Jet like a luxury yacht, but it’s ultimately built for mass transit (with sleeper cars if you want a trip all the way to Mars).

EDIT: same argument would apply to a large Blue Origin vehicle.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 10:24 pm by Robotbeat »
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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

Tags: blue bezos LEO station berger 
 

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