Author Topic: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO  (Read 43523 times)

Offline 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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Iím honestly relieved. LEO is a good staging point, but itís 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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Offline 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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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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Offline 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 Jeffís ideas of space utilization is that Jeff is at heart an OíNeillian. And OíNeil Cylinders are not stationed in LEO, theyíre too big. Theyíre 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 havenít seen any evidence that Jeff is anything but an OíNeillian, and LEO is not a special place in the OíNeillian 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?
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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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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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Offline Robotbeat

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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.
I donít think he has a persistent pro-SpaceX bias. He changes his perspective and opinion based on observed progress (and I can point out how he has done this multiple timesÖ this gives him a pro-reality bias, I supposeÖ). I do think he doesnít like the ďdefense contractor-congressional complexĒ approach, but thatís irrelevant here as Blue Origin is not an OldSpace defense contractor.

« Last Edit: 02/17/2023 10:23 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline meekGee

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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.
If you're biased because of facts you've observed, that doesn't count as a pre-conceived bias.

I used to think BO was a big deal. Over time, I got tired of how they carried on, and I now treat their PR accordingly.  They earned this lack of respect.

I still listen though, because maybe something will change.

I doubt Berger is any different. He has been observing much more closely, and has way better sources. I suspect he's had enough too.

"Unbiased" and "objective" don't mean that you appraise all companies and arrive at the conclusion that they're all equal.
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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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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.
Letís 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. Letís say that costs $120 million. Thatís $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 donít have to relaunch your space station for every trip! (Still need servicing, but I think you understand the value proposition hereÖ 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 itís 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.

My argument is that the 480 person station station would cost you more than individual Starship cruises.

Why?  Because the upmass (which is the only thing you'd be saving on) is cheap, but now you'll have to maintain an in-space hotel, including all the life support for example.  All the factors that go into making a manned Starship trip more expensive than a cargo launch would multiply because now it's a permanent habitat.  For example, for a one week trip  Starship would not need a closed life support system.  It'll carry oxygen, water and food from earth for basically no cost.

And Starships are self-contained and can go anywhere - LEO, HEO, lunar...  Can't do that with a station.

As per your cruise ship analogy - note that you could also pack the cruise ship like a jet plane and transport 50,000 people to a sea-borne hotel...  But you don't.  You give each one of them a cabin, and the model works, and again the ship can go to any destination, touch it, and sail right back.
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Offline GWH

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The most straightforward and obvious model of Jeffís ideas of space utilization is that Jeff is at heart an OíNeillian. And OíNeil Cylinders are not stationed in LEO, theyíre too big. Theyíre 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 havenít seen any evidence that Jeff is anything but an OíNeillian, and LEO is not a special place in the OíNeillian approach, other than a transit hub or something.

And the O'Neil cylinders are a good long term goal.... but "Grandatim Ferociter" and all. 

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Space tourism is a real, demonstrated business use case for LEO space stations...

I hate it when the media dumbs down a concept to something that no longer is valid, because there have never been "tourists" in space, only adventurers. And an adventurer is someone who "seeks dangerous or exciting experiences", whereas tourism is relatively risk free.

But even from that standpoint I'm not aware of a "proven" business case for LEO space stations. Sure, we've seen an interest in visiting a space station in LEO that was built using taxpayer money, but the relatively small amount of money that was spent to visit the ISS didn't demonstrate that there was a potential business for doing that in LEO. A profitable one, not one that is subsidized by taxpayers.

And while tourists do spend money to stay in hotels, all the talk about space hotels misses the point - the point of going to space is not to stay in a hotel! It is to do something unique while in space, but as of today we really don't know what that is, or how much infrastructure it will take in addition to the "beds in space" part.

Space tourism hasn't started yet.

Quote
...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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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.

Maybe there will eventually be a market for space tourism, and LEO would be the logical first place to demonstrate it. Even if that is true though, that may not be of interest to Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin.

I think LEO will be the logical place for transit points, where dedicated Earth-to-LEO transportation systems will transport people and cargo to LEO, offload it at the transit point, where it will then transfer to space-only transportation systems going beyond LEO. But that might not be of interest to Jeff Bezos either.

Hard to know what Jeff Bezos really wants to do in space based on what he has done with Blue Origin so far...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline sdsds

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We don't yet know much about what value it might be possible to extract from an LEO station. For example, using a rotating station in LEO that provides a lunar gravity simulator might be cost effective in the research, development and test cycle for certain technologies.
Does Bezos think about use cases where LEO is somehow a proxy for somewhere else? We don't know, and Berger's sources might not know either. That said, evidence does indicate he tends to have good sources!
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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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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.
Letís 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. Letís say that costs $120 million. Thatís $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 donít have to relaunch your space station for every trip! (Still need servicing, but I think you understand the value proposition hereÖ 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 itís 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.

My argument is that the 480 person station station would cost you more than individual Starship cruises.

Why?  Because the upmass (which is the only thing you'd be saving on) is cheap, but now you'll have to maintain an in-space hotel, including all the life support for example.  All the factors that go into making a manned Starship trip more expensive than a cargo launch would multiply because now it's a permanent habitat.  For example, for a one week trip  Starship would not need a closed life support system.  It'll carry oxygen, water and food from earth for basically no cost.

And Starships are self-contained and can go anywhere - LEO, HEO, lunar...  Can't do that with a station.

As per your cruise ship analogy - note that you could also pack the cruise ship like a jet plane and transport 50,000 people to a sea-borne hotel...  But you don't.  You give each one of them a cabin, and the model works, and again the ship can go to any destination, touch it, and sail right back.
Ēupmass is cheapĒ is a good argument if youíre a billionaire and can afford tens of millions for a ticket, not if youíre only able to afford $250,000Ö
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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 itís enoughÖ 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 itís possible IMHO.

NASA shouldnít 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.
Letís 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. Letís say that costs $120 million. Thatís $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 donít have to relaunch your space station for every trip! (Still need servicing, but I think you understand the value proposition hereÖ 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 itís 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.

My argument is that the 480 person station station would cost you more than individual Starship cruises.

Why?  Because the upmass (which is the only thing you'd be saving on) is cheap, but now you'll have to maintain an in-space hotel, including all the life support for example.  All the factors that go into making a manned Starship trip more expensive than a cargo launch would multiply because now it's a permanent habitat.  For example, for a one week trip  Starship would not need a closed life support system.  It'll carry oxygen, water and food from earth for basically no cost.

And Starships are self-contained and can go anywhere - LEO, HEO, lunar...  Can't do that with a station.

As per your cruise ship analogy - note that you could also pack the cruise ship like a jet plane and transport 50,000 people to a sea-borne hotel...  But you don't.  You give each one of them a cabin, and the model works, and again the ship can go to any destination, touch it, and sail right back.
Ēupmass is cheapĒ is a good argument if youíre a billionaire and can afford tens of millions for a ticket, not if youíre only able to afford $250,000Ö
Yes, but the upmass for a hypothetical space station that is as large
as you postulate is also huge, and the costs of maintaining continuous presence, upkeep and maintenance (MRO, really) while in orbit are much higher than for the cruise ship model.

And again - destinations.  I will bet the tourism will be strictly in cruise ship mode.  For whatever cost of launch at any point in time, you'll be able to get more !/$ using that model.
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Offline Robotbeat

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I think Gravitics, or even larger, is a model that could work. Not small, shuttle-bay-sized modular stations.

If we donít end up putting dozens or even hundreds of passengers on a Starship launch, the cost wonít be much different than Dragon, just roomier. Only the very rich will be able to afford it. That is not using Starship to its full potential.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 04:26 am by Robotbeat »
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Offline meekGee

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I think Gravitics, or even larger, is a model that could work. Not small, shuttle-bay-sized modular stations.

If we donít end up putting dozens or even hundreds of passengers on a Starship launch, the cost wonít be much different than Dragon, just roomier. Only the very rich will be able to afford it. That is not using Starship to its full potential.
If Pax flights are indeed common, as in P2P common, would a tourism flight remain $120M as you estimated?

P2P would mostly be booster-less, but with the super high reusability of the booster, its component in the cost would diminish.

So the cost would be the running cost of Starship over those days, and I can't see that being anywhere near $100M.
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Classic Bezos

Bezos pays his people to build a tourist rocket, using the wrong fuel frankly, that can fly over the Karman line, come back down and land upright,..... and then he doesn't use it.  Instead the people descend under parachutes and land in the scrub with braking rockets like 1970's Soyuz.

Then he skips over the small launcher, takes over a decade to build his giant, unusually configured rocket,.... and  now says he is uninterested, but only after scrapping the basis of his reuse plan. 

He aims for LEO, where long term use has been established, even if a business case is sketchy...  and now he says he is uniterested in that.  He shifts his aim to the Moon, where a bit of exploration has taken place but no one has ever stayed long or made anything beyond footprints, tire tracks, and golf divits.

He has a team put together a slap-dash collection of half thought out hardware for NASA's Moon landing program, then sues when told how many ways in which it fails to meet the requirements.

He runs non-profits to support the development of space,.... and turns them into advertising for fast food.

Bezos thinks he is a visionary, but he is not.
(Musk may be a delusional visionary, with his Occupy Mars, but he's got the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field set on stun and astounding technical accomplishments.  You can't blame people for buying in.)

I will have to ask my old colleagues who are working on (edit) Orbital Reef what they think of this.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 03:57 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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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.

IMO the most impactful thing they could have put resources to would have been propellant depots and in space stages.

Back 15 years ago when ULA published their white papers on the subject would have been a great time to start. Makes lunar way easier, builds the transportation architecture necessary to utilize ISRU, and might even provide some extra justification for a LEO station.

Offline JayWee

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I will have to ask my old colleagues who are working on Blue Reef what they think of this.
You mean this? https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=48837.msg2436985#msg2436985
Feels like it's related to Berger's claim.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 08:43 am by JayWee »

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BO is definitely looking at cis-lunar space, but as stated earlier, why deprioritize the third stage which would optimize New Glenn with a dedicated TLI capability? With all this NASA funding potential, (Human landing systems and lunar cargo) you'd think that getting New Glenn flying to demonstrate they can service cis-lunar space would be a desperate obsession, which doesn't appear to be the case. But, BO is also looking to maximize reusability, and having a three-stage New Glenn would likely mean both second and third stages would be expendable. So having reusable New Jarvis second stages-tankers fueling a reusable lunar tug may be what they are striving for (wild guess, of course) but with only one launch facility, and an unknown turnaround between launches, creates longer LEO loitering and boil-off issues. The BO enigma deepens. The fact that we know more about Chinese lunar aspirations than an American company is rather mind boggling.

Offline clongton

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I think LEO will be the logical place for transit points, where dedicated Earth-to-LEO transportation systems will transport people and cargo to LEO, offload it at the transit point, where it will then transfer to space-only transportation systems going beyond LEO. But that might not be of interest to Jeff Bezos either.

I agree with your point. LEO is where the environment changes completely. Going from atmosphere to pure vacuum means that you can't really build a spacecraft that can operate efficiently in both environments without compromising a lot of things in the design. Yes, it can be and has been done (Apollo) but it is far, far more efficient to have a vehicle designed to opperate efficiently in either environment, not both.

LEO is the perfect place for the space equivilant of an airport. You travel by ground transportation to the airport in a vehicle designed for the ground, where you board an aircraft, a vehicle designed to fly thru the air, to a destination where you board another ground transportation vehicle to take you to your final destination. You don't fly cars, trucks or trains in the air and you don't drive aircraft on the ground. What should be happening is getting into LEO in a vehicle dessigned to operate as efficiently as possible in the atmosphere where you transfer to a vehicle designed to operate as efficiently as possible in the vacuum of space. That's the most efficient and cost effective way to get to destination in space, like the moon or another planet.

I don't even think Starship is the best way to get to Mars for this same reason. I like the design but it is optimized for the atmosphere, to do the skydiver move to bleed off reentry energy and control its orinetation in the air. A better approach would be for Starship to go to the "airport" in LEO, where an interplanetary spacecraft is already docked and waiting, dock to it, and just be along for the ride to Mars, where the ground crew would then re-board it to descend to the Martian surface. Starship would be the ascent and descent vehicle, but the interplanetary journey would be onboard a vehicle designed for that purpose. My opinion.

Jeff seems to be floundering around, trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie without even knowing yet what flavor the pie is. If he ever properly figures it out he would be a major player in HSF but until then I have come to view him as a major distraction. I didn't used to feel that way but his actions and non-actions in the recent past have changed my opinion. It makes me worry about the future of the Vulcan launch vehicle. As much as I like SpaceX, I do NOT want them to be a monopoly. We need ULA and, if he ever gets his act together, Blue Origin.

For example, designing, building and operating the LEO "airport" would be a great way for BO to gain the necessary experience to properly plan and build an O'Neil cylinder, something that he originally said was his main goal.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 06:30 pm by clongton »
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Jeff seems to be floundering around, trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie without even knowing yet what flavor the pie is. If he ever properly figures it out he would be a major player in HSF but until then I have come to view him as a major distraction. I didn't used to feel that way but his actions and non-actions in the recent past have changed my opinion. It makes me worry about the future of the Vulcan launch vehicle. As much as I like SpaceX, I do NOT want them to be a monopoly. We need ULA and, if he ever gets his act together, Blue Origin.

Why should we care about the fate of ULA and Blue Origin?  Neither exert (nor will exert) much competitive pressure on SpaceX.

Offline Robotbeat

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Jeff seems to be floundering around, trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie without even knowing yet what flavor the pie is. If he ever properly figures it out he would be a major player in HSF but until then I have come to view him as a major distraction. I didn't used to feel that way but his actions and non-actions in the recent past have changed my opinion. It makes me worry about the future of the Vulcan launch vehicle. As much as I like SpaceX, I do NOT want them to be a monopoly. We need ULA and, if he ever gets his act together, Blue Origin.

Why should we care about the fate of ULA and Blue Origin?  Neither exert (nor will exert) much competitive pressure on SpaceX.
Blue might if they actually start executing. New Glenn is a good design, and they claim they want to go for full reuse eventually.
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I think LEO will be the logical place for transit points, where dedicated Earth-to-LEO transportation systems will transport people and cargo to LEO, offload it at the transit point, where it will then transfer to space-only transportation systems going beyond LEO. But that might not be of interest to Jeff Bezos either.

For example, designing, building and operating the LEO "airport" would be a great way for BO to gain the necessary experience to properly plan and build an O'Neil cylinder, something that he originally said was his main goal.

The "airport" metaphor might be adequate for lunar transit, but it's less apt for interplanetary destinations, where inclination and RAAN at time of departure are a big deal.

Another problem is that Orbital Reef isn't meant to be the airport; it's more like the Marriott and light industrial zone across the street from the airport.  Berger's comment was specifically about Blue's interest level in the Commercial LEO Destinations program.  If Eric's sources are correct, then I agree that CLD isn't an area in which Blue should show much interest, unless NASA is paying them enough to be interested.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 08:52 pm by TheRadicalModerate »

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Eric Berger's comment sort of confirms my personal crazy idea that the founding purpose of Blue Origin was New Shepard and everything else was handwaving and BS. Blue was founded around the same time as Virgin Galactic, in the days following the Xprize. The BE-1 engine was some kind of hybrid while BE-2 was kerosene and peroxide. Both look like rocket engines based around "benign" fuels that a commercial operation might use. High Test Peroxide is hardly benign except in compared to liquid oxygen. Neither engine were powerful enough for New Shepard so BE-3 Blue went to Hydrox, developed a perfectly good engine that they used on New Shepard but never tried to advance to and orbital rocket using it. Maybe they were waiting for a larger engine (BE-4) but a cluster of 7 BE-3s and a BE-3 upper stage engine would have given them a rocket comparable to Delta IV medium. And if Blue was waiting for that larger engine they seem lackadaisical about putting it together. It all seems as if Bezos lost interest in space once New Shepard was working.

But Blue just does not seem all that dedicated to creating a launch system.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Eric Berger's comment sort of confirms my personal crazy idea that the founding purpose of Blue Origin was New Shepard and everything else was handwaving and BS.

With all the investment Jeff Bezos has made in New Glenn, it is hard to see it as some sort of elaborate head-fake. Occam's razor leads us to believe that Jeff Bezos, at least for some period of time, was serious about New Glenn, and they certainly don't look like they are shutting down the program.

Quote
But Blue just does not seem all that dedicated to creating a launch system.

Well they certainly seem to be under-performing, considering Blue Origin started before SpaceX...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline meekGee

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I think LEO will be the logical place for transit points, where dedicated Earth-to-LEO transportation systems will transport people and cargo to LEO, offload it at the transit point, where it will then transfer to space-only transportation systems going beyond LEO. But that might not be of interest to Jeff Bezos either.

I agree with your point. LEO is where the environment changes completely. Going from atmosphere to pure vacuum means that you can't really build a spacecraft that can operate efficiently in both environments without compromising a lot of things in the design. Yes, it can be and has been done (Apollo) but it is far, far more efficient to have a vehicle designed to opperate efficiently in either environment, not both.

LEO is the perfect place for the space equivilant of an airport. You travel by ground transportation to the airport in a vehicle designed for the ground, where you board an aircraft, a vehicle designed to fly thru the air, to a destination where you board another ground transportation vehicle to take you to your final destination. You don't fly cars, trucks or trains in the air and you don't drive aircraft on the ground. What should be happening is getting into LEO in a vehicle dessigned to operate as efficiently as possible in the atmosphere where you transfer to a vehicle designed to operate as efficiently as possible in the vacuum of space. That's the most efficient and cost effective way to get to destination in space, like the moon or another planet.

I don't even think Starship is the best way to get to Mars for this same reason. I like the design but it is optimized for the atmosphere, to do the skydiver move to bleed off reentry energy and control its orinetation in the air. A better approach would be for Starship to go to the "airport" in LEO, where an interplanetary spacecraft is already docked and waiting, dock to it, and just be along for the ride to Mars, where the ground crew would then re-board it to descend to the Martian surface. Starship would be the ascent and descent vehicle, but the interplanetary journey would be onboard a vehicle designed for that purpose. My opinion.

Jeff seems to be floundering around, trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie without even knowing yet what flavor the pie is. If he ever properly figures it out he would be a major player in HSF but until then I have come to view him as a major distraction. I didn't used to feel that way but his actions and non-actions in the recent past have changed my opinion. It makes me worry about the future of the Vulcan launch vehicle. As much as I like SpaceX, I do NOT want them to be a monopoly. We need ULA and, if he ever gets his act together, Blue Origin.

For example, designing, building and operating the LEO "airport" would be a great way for BO to gain the necessary experience to properly plan and build an O'Neil cylinder, something that he originally said was his main goal.
True, but a station is still an artificial construct here. When a Mars ship is ready to go, it can be fueled and loaded by tanker, cargo, and passenger transports.

The departing ship IS the LEO station.

A lot of the station scenarios try to solve the question of "What can be done with a LEO station", instead of trying to solve specific problems and see if a LEO station comes up as the preferred solution.

It's ISS-esque thinking.  Pre-suppose a station, and then find things for it to do.

We need to start at the end: "There is a Starship about to depart, fueled and loaded" and ask ourselves what's the most cost efficient way to get there.

Actually, the question is "There is a fleet of many Starships ready to go" and you can see the problem of a space station - it has to scale with the number of ships.  So clearly you are better off using the departing ships as the staging points.

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Offline clongton

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The "airport" metaphor might be adequate for lunar transit, but it's less apt for interplanetary destinations, where inclination and RAAN at time of departure are a big deal.

The airport metaphore is most appropriate for lunar surface destinations. But it would also be useful for interplanetary missions staged from an EML-2 station. The spacecraft could go to either the lunar surface or the interplanetary station at EML-2 which, delta-v wise, is literally halfway to anywhere else in the solar system.
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Offline Greg Hullender

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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.
I thought his public statements (few as they've been) were that the moon was his goal. Elon wants to colonize Mars, but Bezos thinks it should be the moon. Yeah, the things they're doing don't seem to take them there directly, but, hey, the Falcon 9 doesn't exactly look like a Mars rocket either.

Sadly, I'm afraid I've joined the people who think the things Blue Origin is doing aren't going to take anyone anywhere anytime soon. Not counting suborbital (because "there's no there there!") I'd love to be surprised, of course.

Offline Coastal Ron

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I thought his public statements (few as they've been) were that the moon was his goal. Elon wants to colonize Mars, but Bezos thinks it should be the moon.

Well the current Blue Origin "Our Vision" statement is:
Quote
Blue Origin was founded with a vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. Blue Origin envisions a time when people can tap into the limitless resources of space and enable the movement of damaging industries into space to preserve Earth, humanityís blue origin.

Nothing specifically about the Moon in that, and I think Jeff Bezos has been pretty general about where humans would migrate to in space as they leave Earth.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online TheRadicalModerate

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With all the investment Jeff Bezos has made in New Glenn, it is hard to see it as some sort of elaborate head-fake. Occam's razor leads us to believe that Jeff Bezos, at least for some period of time, was serious about New Glenn, and they certainly don't look like they are shutting down the program.

I think this is right, but it ignores the likelihood that building a new launcher was a strategic blunder.

It was an understandable blunder, because there was no launcher capable of fulfilling the mission of jump-starting a cislunar economy when they started.  If Jeff and known that F9, FH, and Starship were all likely to beat Blue to the punch, he might have embarked upon a much different strategy, and Blue might already be on the Moon.  (They might also have paid a lot more attention to management and corporate culture.)

Now, they seem to be stuck reprising all the low points of the Sunk Cost Fallacy, trying desperately to make money off the strategic mistake, rather than cutting bait and fixing the mistake.

The launcher business sucks.  Even SpaceX knows that.  The profitable business is leveraging the launcher with profitable payloads, as SpaceX is trying to do with Starlink, and no doubt as they intend to do eventually with Mars traffic.  I think Blue knows this, but I also think they don't really know what the magical payload is that makes it all better.  (I don't think it's Kuiper; Amazon has a fiduciary responsibility that exceeds its loyalty to Jeff, and Starship--even at retail prices--is almost certainly cheaper than New Glenn will be.)

I thought his public statements (few as they've been) were that the moon was his goal. Elon wants to colonize Mars, but Bezos thinks it should be the moon.

Bezos thinks the Moon is the means to the end of getting millions of people to live and work in orbit, which is his ultimate goal.  As robotbeat said, Bezos is an O'Neillian. I think he's right.  I think this is much more likely than building a vibrant civilization on Mars.  But if SpaceX is wrong, they can eat Blue's lunar lunch any time they want to, and Blue can't defend itself.

The airport metaphor is most appropriate for lunar surface destinations. But it would also be useful for interplanetary missions staged from an EML-2 station. The spacecraft could go to either the lunar surface or the interplanetary station at EML-2 which, delta-v wise, is literally halfway to anywhere else in the solar system.

That's an airport with really high fuel costs--unless you have a mature lunar ISRU operation that takes them down by a factor of five or so.  But it does give you a lot more flexibility in terms of your orbital elements.

I think there's still a lunar pony hiding in the Blue pile of... technology.  Lunar ISRU + L2 refueling might be that pony.  But if they don't grab a shovel pretty quick and start looking for it, the pony will be dead.

Offline M.E.T.

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Eric Berger's comment sort of confirms my personal crazy idea that the founding purpose of Blue Origin was New Shepard and everything else was handwaving and BS.

With all the investment Jeff Bezos has made in New Glenn, it is hard to see it as some sort of elaborate head-fake. Occam's razor leads us to believe that Jeff Bezos, at least for some period of time, was serious about New Glenn, and they certainly don't look like they are shutting down the program.

Quote
But Blue just does not seem all that dedicated to creating a launch system.

Well they certainly seem to be under-performing, considering Blue Origin started before SpaceX...

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1530350640693665794?s=46&t=CE031FZBpdUf279lfvQXuA

Basically, Jeff has taken his eye off the ball.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 04:55 am by M.E.T. »

Offline JayWee

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Bezos thinks the Moon is the means to the end of getting millions of people to live and work in orbit, which is his ultimate goal.  As robotbeat said, Bezos is an O'Neillian. I think he's right.  I think this is much more likely than building a vibrant civilization on Mars.  But if SpaceX is wrong, they can eat Blue's lunar lunch any time they want to, and Blue can't defend itself.
That doesn't seem to square with the absolutely abysmal Option A HLS proposal though.
If that was the case, BO would be building moon landers as a core competency. Blue Moon appeared to be that, but it was thrown away in lieu of a multi-company bid. I wonder what they'll propose this time.



Offline TrevorMonty



I think LEO will be the logical place for transit points, where dedicated Earth-to-LEO transportation systems will transport people and cargo to LEO, offload it at the transit point, where it will then transfer to space-only transportation systems going beyond LEO. But that might not be of interest to Jeff Bezos either.

I agree with your point. LEO is where the environment changes completely. Going from atmosphere to pure vacuum means that you can't really build a spacecraft that can operate efficiently in both environments without compromising a lot of things in the design. Yes, it can be and has been done (Apollo) but it is far, far more efficient to have a vehicle designed to opperate efficiently in either environment, not both.

LEO is the perfect place for the space equivilant of an airport. You travel by ground transportation to the airport in a vehicle designed for the ground, where you board an aircraft, a vehicle designed to fly thru the air, to a destination where you board another ground transportation vehicle to take you to your final destination. You don't fly cars, trucks or trains in the air and you don't drive aircraft on the ground. What should be happening is getting into LEO in a vehicle dessigned to operate as efficiently as possible in the atmosphere where you transfer to a vehicle designed to operate as efficiently as possible in the vacuum of space. That's the most efficient and cost effective way to get to destination in space, like the moon or another planet.


I use to think that transferring vehicles for different legs of journey made sense but not so sure now. LEO to lunar surface is all propulsive about 6km/s. If aerobraking is used on return leg then its closer to 3km/s which is massive fuel saving which justifies carrying extra mass of heatshield. Using Stokes approach of cooling heatshield with LH saves on dry mass which helps on wayout.
I not sure we'd return this vehicle to earth surface, especially every trip in case of passengers. For cargo it's probably easier for it to do round trip from earth surface.

In case of Mars aerobraking can be used for landing then again for return leg. Landing on earth allows for refurbishing and loading.

Online Purona

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Bezos thinks the Moon is the means to the end of getting millions of people to live and work in orbit, which is his ultimate goal.  As robotbeat said, Bezos is an O'Neillian. I think he's right.  I think this is much more likely than building a vibrant civilization on Mars.  But if SpaceX is wrong, they can eat Blue's lunar lunch any time they want to, and Blue can't defend itself.
That doesn't seem to square with the absolutely abysmal Option A HLS proposal though.
If that was the case, BO would be building moon landers as a core competency. Blue Moon appeared to be that, but it was thrown away in lieu of a multi-company bid. I wonder what they'll propose this time.
it was never thrown away Blue Moon and HLS are the same system, but the HLS version is larger and supports an ascent module for docking.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 01:17 pm by Purona »

Offline RedLineTrain

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Jeff seems to be floundering around, trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie without even knowing yet what flavor the pie is. If he ever properly figures it out he would be a major player in HSF but until then I have come to view him as a major distraction. I didn't used to feel that way but his actions and non-actions in the recent past have changed my opinion. It makes me worry about the future of the Vulcan launch vehicle. As much as I like SpaceX, I do NOT want them to be a monopoly. We need ULA and, if he ever gets his act together, Blue Origin.

Why should we care about the fate of ULA and Blue Origin?  Neither exert (nor will exert) much competitive pressure on SpaceX.
Blue might if they actually start executing. New Glenn is a good design, and they claim they want to go for full reuse eventually.

Blue would have to have a pace of innovation faster than SpaceX.  Even discounting Starship, I don't think we should compare an organization that has a launch cadence of ~85 a year (and increasing) with an organization that hasn't yet made orbit.  It seems ridiculous to do so.

Perhaps Chuck would better say "I don't want SpaceX to be the only company launching," because if we're talking monopoly, that horse already left the barn maybe two years ago.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 03:24 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Robotbeat

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Well yes, my statement is conditional on, you know, actual execution. Just saying the overall design concept is pretty good and relevant to the 2020s, unlike Vulcan, SLS, Ariane 6, Firefly Alpha, Japan's H3, the vast majority of China's rockets, and all of Russia's.

ULA has been pretty decent at execution, for instance, but their overall design concepts are really not relevant to the 2020s.

If Blue had ULA's level of execution, they'd already be flying and would have been giving SpaceX some much-needed competition. Still not likely at the same level, but I just wanted to point out New Glenn is a good, modern design concept.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Yes, I agree that the design is relevant or could be redesigned to be relevant for the '20s.  But even if relevant, Blue doesn't appear to be ambitious enough on launch rate to impact SpaceX's market position appreciably.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Bezos thinks the Moon is the means to the end of getting millions of people to live and work in orbit, which is his ultimate goal.  As robotbeat said, Bezos is an O'Neillian. I think he's right.  I think this is much more likely than building a vibrant civilization on Mars.  But if SpaceX is wrong, they can eat Blue's lunar lunch any time they want to, and Blue can't defend itself.
That doesn't seem to square with the absolutely abysmal Option A HLS proposal though.
If that was the case, BO would be building moon landers as a core competency. Blue Moon appeared to be that, but it was thrown away in lieu of a multi-company bid. I wonder what they'll propose this time.
My opinion: their Option A HLS was exactly what NASA asked for (i.e., the NASA reference design) and at about the price NASA expected. It's not their fault that NASA's reference design was basically flags&footprints, or that SpaceX had a Starship-based concept ready to go. BO ("national team") did not think it was their mission to turn Artemis into a viable lunar program instead of a joke. Neither did SpaceX. It was an accident.

Offline the_big_boot

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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.

Then Varda Space and others are dead too...

you see the thing about Varda, even they are kinda against LEO stations. with the reasoning being that human space flight and the infrastructure for it is still very expensive and so for manufacturing stuff in space to really be viable you need as little to no human involvement in space as possible

Offline meekGee

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Yes, I agree that the design is relevant or could be redesigned to be relevant for the '20s.  But even if relevant, Blue doesn't appear to be ambitious enough on launch rate to impact SpaceX's market position appreciably.
The problem with NG was not the concept itself - it was basically a "me too" to the F9's "I'm first" design.

NG was to be a bigger and better F9, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But if you're going to be a follower, you need to be faster than the leader, and that's really hard when the leader keeps going this fast, and keeps innovating.

And on top of that, BO moved relatively slowly, and the combination of the two was devastating.

So now NG is losing out to Starship, and so they're pivoting to a reusable upper stage which is good - but again, only if they can move as fast as SpaceX.

Honestly, what advice would you have given JB (other than to not hire half of the Old Space leadership)?  "Be an Elon"?

It takes singular people to affect the level of change and innovation Musk did. In terms of technical depth, leadership, industrialism... That's the long and short of it.

Bringing it back to LEO/Lunar/Mars - I'd listen to what Musk has to say. SpaceX showed zero interest in orbital stations, and a very limited one in Lunar presence - even though they are positioned to dominate both.  There's a reason for that.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Bringing it back to LEO/Lunar/Mars - I'd listen to what Musk has to say. SpaceX showed zero interest in orbital stations, and a very limited one in Lunar presence - even though they are positioned to dominate both.  There's a reason for that.

Well SpaceX doesn't care about space stations because Elon Musk is focused on colonizing the surface of Mars, and his transportation system is optimized for getting people and cargo from the surface of Earth to the surface of Mars with the least amount of hardware. Musk is a "feel the soil between my toes" kind of guy, so I don't think he would ever spend his money on space stations.

Personally I don't see a market for people living in LEO, because it is too close to Earth. So it is not surprising to me that Jeff Bezos would not be interested in LEO, since if you are going to build colonies in space for humans to live, those colonies would likely be placed well beyond LEO. Kind of like having a vacation home, you don't buy one in the same neighborhood you live in, you get one well outside of where you live...  ;)

But with all the talk of moving people out into space, you'd think that Bezos would be more active in designing or proposing space stations that could be built using New Glenn, but that hasn't really happened either, so it is unclear what Jeff Bezos is actually passionate about vs just mildly interested.

Regarding LEO space stations, I think if we do have lots of people living in Earth local space, then there will be lots of space-only transportation systems. Once they become prevalent enough there will be a shift from do-everything vehicles like the Starship to more segmented transportation systems like we see here on Earth. So transit stations in LEO will make sense. But they are not needed now, that is true.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Bob Shaw

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Perhaps SpaceX or BO will buy Stoke and change the ground rules yet again. F9 extended first stage plus a Stoke plug nozzle second stage would make a fully reusable design, as would a Stoke-based upper stage on BOís offerings. Both Musk and Bezos have money to burn and Stoke would be a tiny purchase by their standards.

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Quote from: meekGee
The problem with NG was not the concept itself - it was basically a "me too" to the F9's "I'm first" design.

This is fundamentally flawed as a thesis. There is little indication that New Glenn was a "me too" in any way any more than SpaceX and Elon Musk using vertical landing on a pad, ship, or barge was a rip-off of what Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos were planning on doing with New Shepard and the then Orbital Transport System rocket to launch their biconic capsule that ultimately became New Glenn back in the late 2000s and early 2010s.




Offline Robotbeat

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Yup. SpaceX/Elon didn’t decide to go the direction of vertical landing for reuse until 2010. They were parachutes until that year.

Blue had decided to go the direction of vertical landing since just a few years after it was founded, about a decade earlier.  Its first VTVL testbed flew in 2005, called Charon (jet engines to simulate rocket flight). Its second was the rocket powered Goddard in 2006.

SpaceX was still 100% parachutes at this time.

New Glenn wasn’t “me too.” If anything, Falcon 9 was. Elon dismissed DC-X’s/Blue’s VTVL approach as too complicated/expensive until Masten Space Systems’ in-air relight showed even some guys in a “garage” could do it…

SpaceX had tried and failed to achieve recovery with parachutes with Falcon 1 and were about to attempt the same with Falcon 9 which flew successfully that year. (The first few Falcon 9s attempted parachute recovery… to the same result as the Falcon 1 attempts.)

Masten’s stunt convinced Elon to charter a study on VTVL with Falcon 9, and SpaceX soon went hard in that direction, with the redesign of Falcon 9 to the octoweb v1.1 configuration, throttleable Merlin 1D, the Grasshopper program, etc, and ultimately left Blue Origin in their dust…
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 06:59 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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Bezos thinks the Moon is the means to the end of getting millions of people to live and work in orbit, which is his ultimate goal.  As robotbeat said, Bezos is an O'Neillian. I think he's right.  I think this is much more likely than building a vibrant civilization on Mars.  But if SpaceX is wrong, they can eat Blue's lunar lunch any time they want to, and Blue can't defend itself.
That doesn't seem to square with the absolutely abysmal Option A HLS proposal though.
If that was the case, BO would be building moon landers as a core competency. Blue Moon appeared to be that, but it was thrown away in lieu of a multi-company bid. I wonder what they'll propose this time.

It squares with it if you assume that they're now desperate to recover some of the sunk costs on New Glenn.  They could afford to do the lander, but they didn't have the time or resources to do the ascender, and the transfer element was basically a hack to cover the delta-v deficit from not being able to count on the launcher being ready.

I'm dying to see what they think Boeing is going to bring to the party that Cygnus couldn't.  I wonder if they're looking at an EUS derivative.

Offline meekGee

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Yup. SpaceX/Elon didnít decide to go the direction of vertical landing for reuse until 2010. They were parachutes until that year.

Blue had decided to go the direction of vertical landing since just a few years after it was founded, about a decade earlier.  Its first VTVL testbed flew in 2005, called Charon (jet engines to simulate rocket flight). Its second was the rocket powered Goddard in 2006.

SpaceX was still 100% parachutes at this time.

New Glenn wasnít ďme too.Ē If anything, Falcon 9 was. Elon dismissed DC-Xís/Blueís VTVL approach as too complicated/expensive until Masten Space Systemsí in-air relight showed even some guys in a ďgarageĒ could do itÖ

SpaceX had tried and failed to achieve recovery with parachutes with Falcon 1 and were about to attempt the same with Falcon 9 which flew successfully that year. (The first few Falcon 9s attempted parachute recoveryÖ to the same result as the Falcon 1 attempts.)

Mastenís stunt convinced Elon to charter a study on VTVL with Falcon 9, and SpaceX soon went hard in that direction, with the redesign of Falcon 9 to the octoweb v1.1 configuration, throttleable Merlin 1D, the Grasshopper program, etc, and ultimately left Blue Origin in their dustÖ
Ideas are a dime a dozen, and I didn't say SpaceX invented vertical landing.

But SpaceX made the first vertical landing heavy booster and brought it to regular use.

BO (which hasn't invented vertical landings either) announced NG after F9 was flying regularly, and it was surprisingly (?) similar and bigger (FHish).

So forget ideology.  NG as a real hardware product was a me-too to F9/FH.  Remember that even at that time BO was positioning itself as a "fast follower" - ask the fan base!

If SpaceX beat BO to the punch of a working VTVL launcher even though BO "thought about VTVL earlier", that's just more of why so many people gave up on BO.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 08:05 pm by meekGee »
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Offline Robotbeat

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So I agree about ideas being dime a dozen, itís just that ďme tooĒ seems to imply they werenít already planning to make a booster very much like New Glenn when they most certainly were. Maybe you can quibble about propellant choice or size, but they very much were planning on a TSTO VTVL reusable launch vehicle.

ďme tooĒ also has negative connotations. Copying good approaches to be competitive is Good, Actually. Beats Not Invented Here.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 08:16 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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Since this is partially morphing into a "What Should Blue Do to Save Its Bacon?" thread, there's an issue that would complicate Blue moving to a high New Glenn launch cadence:  launch slots.

SpaceX has already eaten most of the Eastern Range.  That's OK today because Atlas is winding down, Vulcan isn't flying and won't fly very often when it is, Relativity and Firefly aren't really there yet, and if they were, SpaceX would crush them.  But a high-cadence New Glenn campaign, which presumably can compete on an equal footing with SpaceX for slots, would be a genuine threat, both to Starship and Starlink.

I'm sure the Eastern Range's capacity can be expanded into the low hundreds of flights per year.  But after that, the FAA and the air traffic control system are gonna start pushing back--hard.  Slots will then become a scarce resource.  This is ultimately a problem that SpaceX can fix with other launch sites, but for the remainder of the decade, competing with Blue for slots would seriously constrain SpaceX.

In a low-cadence regime for NG, SpaceX would probably ignore Blue.  But if Blue becomes a threat to SpaceX's needed launch cadence, SpaceX has plenty of tools to crush them.  Everything they're doing with Transporter to crush the little upstarts can be done with Starship to crush New Glenn.

This is yet another reason why Blue needs to carefully consider its strategy moving forward.  I don't see a way for New Glenn to be viable unless it launches at high cadence, but that won't be allowed to happen.  Without New Glenn, Orbital Reef is a dead end.  That leaves them with Blue Moon/SLD/SLT and whatever comes next, its attendant logistical support, and whatever cislunar and lunar surface projects they can dream up.  There's no "me too" market space left for them.

Offline meekGee

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So I agree about ideas being dime a dozen, it’s just that “me too” seems to imply they weren’t already planning to make a booster very much like New Glenn when they most certainly were. Maybe you can quibble about propellant choice or size, but they very much were planning on a TSTO VTVL reusable launch vehicle.

“me too” also has negative connotations. Copying good approaches to be competitive is Good, Actually. Beats Not Invented Here.
So that part is lost in the secrect of BO.

Hownlong prior to the announcement of NG (end of 2016) did they start really designing it, as opposed to just having general notions of VTVL boosters?

Because F9 first flew in 2010. It was on its third iteration by 2016, with FH being promised "any day now"...

Then NG is announced, and it's basically FH-sized+, using a more reuse-friendly propellant, a better (supposedly) landing vessel - but nothing fundamentally different.   A classic second-mover let's-do-it-right design.

By "something fundamentally different" I mean something like, say, Starship, which was announced shortly thereafter, or a stoke-level design.

BE-4 barely got started in 2011. And then got radically changed with the ULA deal, when?   So I'm not buying that NG was being designed before F9 established the template.
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Offline Robotbeat

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They had a Grasshopper type test program in 2005 and 2006.
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Offline meekGee

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They had a Grasshopper type test program in 2005 and 2006.
Not familiar.  Was the vehicle more like an orbital rocket or mote like a new Sheppard type vehicle?

I'm asking because BO's plan was always to go suborbital first (and yes, VTVL) so anything from that timeframe should be much more NS than NG/FH

I'm not giving either of these companies dibs on VTVL.  I'm saying that within the still large design space that falls under "VTVL", and given the timing, NG is clearly a "see your F9 and raise you NG".  It's the same thing basically only a tad better, and announced after F9 was proving what the right approach is.

For comparison, here are things that are not "pretty much the same":  Stoke, Relatively, Starship".

NG to F9 is like some of the newer luxury electric sedans compared with the model S.  Everyone had electric car ideas, but the S set the mold, and the others are not-so-fast followers
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Offline matthewkantar

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<snip>
I'm sure the Eastern Range's capacity can be expanded into the low hundreds of flights per year.  But after that, the FAA and the air traffic control system are gonna start pushing back--hard.  Slots will then become a scarce resource.  This is ultimately a problem that SpaceX can fix with other launch sites, but for the remainder of the decade, competing with Blue for slots would seriously constrain SpaceX. <snip>

I have been thinking about this recently. Is it possible to launch orbital flights from more than one pad in Florida at a time? Two flights in one window is half as many interruptions of flights/cruises/commerce in general.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 09:48 pm by matthewkantar »

Offline Robotbeat

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NS would work fine as part of an orbital rocket. Thatís kind of what the earlier iteration of New Glenn was.
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Offline meekGee

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NS would work fine as part of an orbital rocket. Thatís kind of what the earlier iteration of New Glenn was.
Maybe, though it's LH2 powered, and in its current form too heavy to be a first stage, but let's stipulate that it was.  (Or did you mean that NS would have been the upper stage?)

Anyway, after 10 years of meandering, and in light of F9, suddenly came the new NG, ("big brother") and any talk of using little brother disappeared.

I stand by my comment that NG was conceived as an F9 imitator/competitor/killer.





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Offline clongton

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Honestly, what advice would you have given JB (other than to not hire half of the Old Space leadership)?  "Be an Elon"?

Honestly? Believe it or not I'd suggest to him to team up with Elon, figure out the strengths and weaknesseses of each company, find a way to play TOGETHER to the strengths of each company, feed each company that piece of the pie that they do best and outright replace NASA for both human and robotic spaceflight. NASA will never, ever, be able to do what these two companies could do together because:

1. NASA's funding profile is not intended to advance spaceflight but to enrich the political masters.
2. Private companies are not necessarily beholden to any "lobbied"interests - neither company needs the lobbiests' money.
3. NASA's way of doing business actually stiffles inovation and holds back progress.
4. Well funded and run private comanies will ALWAYS beat the pants off of any government-funded agency every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
5. Together, these 2 companies could accomplish much more than either one separately. Their efforts would be truly synergistic.

That would be my advice to Mr. Bezos.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2023 10:37 pm by clongton »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Sure, but modifying a concept to increase the size due to competition is hardly ďme too.Ē Additionally, a big reason New Glenn is the size it is, and why BE-4 was delayed, is because they decided to sell the engines to ULA which wanted them significantly larger than Blue was originally planning to make them for New Glenn.
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Offline Starshipdown

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NS would work fine as part of an orbital rocket. Thatís kind of what the earlier iteration of New Glenn was.
Maybe, though it's LH2 powered, and in its current form too heavy to be a first stage, but let's stipulate that it was.  (Or did you mean that NS would have been the upper stage?)

Anyway, after 10 years of meandering, and in light of F9, suddenly came the new NG, ("big brother") and any talk of using little brother disappeared.

I stand by my comment that NG was conceived as an F9 imitator/competitor/killer.

You might be wrong, regardless.

He's talking about how NS was to be the tech demonstrator for the Orbital Launch Vehicle (OLV) which was the predecessor to New Glenn as part of Commercial Crew in the late 00s/early 10s.

The graphics posted by Robert shows this clearly and you can see it in the PM-2 prototype test flown in 2011 as a multi-engined vehicle. The idea was that NS would work out a lot of the tech, particularly the BE-3s, of which, at least 5 would power the hydrolox 1st stage of the OLV, though it wasn't clear what was going to be powering the disposable 2nd stage that in turn would put the biconic capsule into orbit. Much of the work for NS was done under the auspices of the Commercial Crew program. It's unfortunate that Blue got kicked from CC so Boeing could stay in and drink from the trough. Had Blue won the larger sums of money in the later rounds (billions of $$), it would've allowed for a much faster expansion of the company ala SpaceX in the 00s, and kept them focused tightly on an orbital rocket they could fly within five years since it was closely based on NS which likely would've flown also a few years earlier.

So where does New Glenn come in? New Glenn in the form we understand it today was clearly in the works before 2014 when the Blue-ULA partnership was announced, and BE-4 was at least conceptionally a thing in 2011. Even then it was a 500,000 lbf engine and only when ULA asked for it, was it increased to the current 550,000 lbf beast it is.

So, what would Blue need such an engine for back then? Clearly, they were looking beyond OLV and I suspect that the theory that what is now NG was actually going to be New Armstrong (NA) is correct. Hence the quick pivot after failing to go on in CC. It was an easy thing because Blue had already been long working towards it, and suddenly outside cash from ULA helped BE-4 along and become even more powerful.

Unfortunately, this is where people think Bezos and Blue made a mistake. They were hoping for securing other NASA and military/NRO contracts to fund NG, and when those didn't materialize as hoped, and Bezos could only put so much money into the company that he could, the development timeline for NG got stretched out for several more years. Had Blue stuck with the less ambitious OLV, they could've had it ready far sooner, and maybe won some commercial contracts to fund NA/NG with.

Offline meekGee

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Sure, but modifying a concept to increase the size due to competition is hardly ďme too.Ē Additionally, a big reason New Glenn is the size it is, and why BE-4 was delayed, is because they decided to sell the engines to ULA which wanted them significantly larger than Blue was originally planning to make them for New Glenn.

If F9 wasn't there, BO had any of a number of directions and sized to choose from.  The earlier "work out the kinks" work with NS and BE-3 didn't place any constraints on size or architecture.

BO knew they wanted VTVL, and beyond that the world was wide open to them. and maybe because of that, (and other distractions which are a different story...) they ended up meandering.  Nothing came out for the longest time, and during that time, F9 showed up, demonstrated a very clear architecture, and became the market leader.

So there was a moment of truth, and the resultant direction and scale happened to mimic and one-up F9.

You can't PROVE that this wasn't the plan all along, but before F9's maturation there was no announced plan, and after it, there was.

And then there was Starship, and again meandering, and then there was Jarvis.  There's a repeating pattern here, don't you think?

And mind you, there's nothing wrong with being a fast follower, or any follower.  It's just that the narrative of "this was our plan all along" sort of strains credibility.
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Offline deadman1204

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Perhaps SpaceX or BO will buy Stoke and change the ground rules yet again. F9 extended first stage plus a Stoke plug nozzle second stage would make a fully reusable design, as would a Stoke-based upper stage on BOís offerings. Both Musk and Bezos have money to burn and Stoke would be a tiny purchase by their standards.
I hope not. Either company would just stripe Stoke for parts.
We need more individual companies, not just giant conglomerates (spaceX is a big space company too).

Offline deadman1204

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Honestly, what advice would you have given JB (other than to not hire half of the Old Space leadership)?  "Be an Elon"?

Honestly? Believe it or not I'd suggest to him to team up with Elon, figure out the strengths and weaknesseses of each company, find a way to play TOGETHER to the strengths of each company, feed each company that piece of the pie that they do best and outright replace NASA for both human and robotic spaceflight. NASA will never, ever, be able to do what these two companies could do together because:

1. NASA's funding profile is not intended to advance spaceflight but to enrich the political masters.
2. Private companies are not necessarily beholden to any "lobbied"interests - neither company needs the lobbiests' money.
3. NASA's way of doing business actually stiffles inovation and holds back progress.
4. Well funded and run private comanies will ALWAYS beat the pants off of any government-funded agency every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
5. Together, these 2 companies could accomplish much more than either one separately. Their efforts would be truly synergistic.

That would be my advice to Mr. Bezos.
You are aware that spaceX largely exists because of NASA's business methods?
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 01:12 am by deadman1204 »

Offline Robotbeat

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NS would work fine as part of an orbital rocket. Thatís kind of what the earlier iteration of New Glenn was.
Maybe, though it's LH2 powered, and in its current form too heavy to be a first stage, but let's stipulate that it was.  (Or did you mean that NS would have been the upper stage?)

Anyway, after 10 years of meandering, and in light of F9, suddenly came the new NG, ("big brother") and any talk of using little brother disappeared.

I stand by my comment that NG was conceived as an F9 imitator/competitor/killer.

You might be wrong, regardless.

He's talking about how NS was to be the tech demonstrator for the Orbital Launch Vehicle (OLV) which was the predecessor to New Glenn as part of Commercial Crew in the late 00s/early 10s.

The graphics posted by Robert shows this clearly and you can see it in the PM-2 prototype test flown in 2011 as a multi-engined vehicle. The idea was that NS would work out a lot of the tech, particularly the BE-3s, of which, at least 5 would power the hydrolox 1st stage of the OLV, though it wasn't clear what was going to be powering the disposable 2nd stage that in turn would put the biconic capsule into orbit. Much of the work for NS was done under the auspices of the Commercial Crew program. It's unfortunate that Blue got kicked from CC so Boeing could stay in and drink from the trough. Had Blue won the larger sums of money in the later rounds (billions of $$), it would've allowed for a much faster expansion of the company ala SpaceX in the 00s, and kept them focused tightly on an orbital rocket they could fly within five years since it was closely based on NS which likely would've flown also a few years earlier.

So where does New Glenn come in? New Glenn in the form we understand it today was clearly in the works before 2014 when the Blue-ULA partnership was announced, and BE-4 was at least conceptionally a thing in 2011. Even then it was a 500,000 lbf engine and only when ULA asked for it, was it increased to the current 550,000 lbf beast it is.

So, what would Blue need such an engine for back then? Clearly, they were looking beyond OLV and I suspect that the theory that what is now NG was actually going to be New Armstrong (NA) is correct. Hence the quick pivot after failing to go on in CC. It was an easy thing because Blue had already been long working towards it, and suddenly outside cash from ULA helped BE-4 along and become even more powerful.

Unfortunately, this is where people think Bezos and Blue made a mistake. They were hoping for securing other NASA and military/NRO contracts to fund NG, and when those didn't materialize as hoped, and Bezos could only put so much money into the company that he could, the development timeline for NG got stretched out for several more years. Had Blue stuck with the less ambitious OLV, they could've had it ready far sooner, and maybe won some commercial contracts to fund NA/NG with.
Thing is that Blue Origin didnít need NASA. They should have had enough funding from Bezos to deliver an orbital rocket and start competing for regular launch contracts. SpaceX was able to do the first iteration of Falcon 9 for very little total money.

Iím not sure where the breakdown happened, but Blue Origin just did not execute effectively, and they still havenít. I really, really hope that is about to change.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Honestly, what advice would you have given JB (other than to not hire half of the Old Space leadership)?  "Be an Elon"?

Honestly? Believe it or not I'd suggest to him to team up with Elon, figure out the strengths and weaknesseses of each company, find a way to play TOGETHER to the strengths of each company, feed each company that piece of the pie that they do best and outright replace NASA for both human and robotic spaceflight. NASA will never, ever, be able to do what these two companies could do together because:

1. NASA's funding profile is not intended to advance spaceflight but to enrich the political masters.
2. Private companies are not necessarily beholden to any "lobbied"interests - neither company needs the lobbiests' money.
3. NASA's way of doing business actually stiffles inovation and holds back progress.
4. Well funded and run private comanies will ALWAYS beat the pants off of any government-funded agency every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
5. Together, these 2 companies could accomplish much more than either one separately. Their efforts would be truly synergistic.

That would be my advice to Mr. Bezos.
You are aware that spaceX largely exists because of NASA's business methods?

The COTS/CRS program that SpaceX won in 2008 was an anomaly at the time, and the amount of money that went into the COTS/CRS program was small compared to the existing programs at the time like ISS and Constellation.

Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o
I think it actually explains the slow progress.  His cash allows a lack of focus and a lack of urgency to get prioritized things done.   If you look at the magnificent facilities they built before building rockets versus SpaceX using tents to get products done with a sense of urgency says it all in my opinion.

Offline trimeta

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Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o
I think it actually explains the slow progress.  His cash allows a lack of focus and a lack of urgency to get prioritized things done.   If you look at the magnificent facilities they built before building rockets versus SpaceX using tents to get products done with a sense of urgency says it all in my opinion.
Which actually helps make the case that winning some of those earlier NASA contracts might actually have pushed Blue Origin to execute on plans. They didn't need money, they needed money which was contingent on delivering products. Even if it was a relatively negligible amount of money compared to what was being poured in anyway, having some direct financial incentive to achieve goals might have changed their trajectory.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Online TheRadicalModerate

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<snip>
I'm sure the Eastern Range's capacity can be expanded into the low hundreds of flights per year.  But after that, the FAA and the air traffic control system are gonna start pushing back--hard.  Slots will then become a scarce resource.  This is ultimately a problem that SpaceX can fix with other launch sites, but for the remainder of the decade, competing with Blue for slots would seriously constrain SpaceX. <snip>

I have been thinking about this recently. Is it possible to launch orbital flights from more than one pad in Florida at a time? Two flights in one window is half as many interruptions of flights/cruises/commerce in general.

Possible?  Sure.  But operationally feasible any time soon?

My bet is that nobody's going to think seriously about this until it becomes a crisis.  I'm also betting that SpaceX's plan for avoiding the crisis is simply to run anybody out of business who might interfere with their ability to launch at will.

Offline Robotbeat

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I think it's operationally feasible. It was done for Gemini (well, two sequential launches, one within an orbit of the other... so within the 2-3 hour window when the area needs to be clear) and I think it'll likely be done here eventually, as well.

The thing about Blue Origin is they have essentially unlimited money as it's funded by Bezos' Amazon slush fund. It can't be run out of business.

BTW, it's ironic to me, but the path of this conversation is kind of an argument in favor of a (modest) wealth tax... Bezos isn't hungry, and his pure wealth could serve as an obstacle for progress. SpaceX made its early successes back when E was just under a billionaire, and certainly not the 12 figure wealth he has now, and SpaceX has been a wealth source for him, not just a sink any longer... and where he has sunk some of his wealth lately has been a bit of a distraction. A bit of hunger has a way of focusing the mind. (But this is off-topic.)
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

First thing I would do is clarify what the requirements are, which starts with Jeff Bezos. It could be that he has been too fuzzy with defining what the requirements are, and management (who he pays) just goes along with the lack of progress (and the paycheck).

Assuming there are firm dates that Jeff Bezos wants, then I would make sure the entire organization not only knows what the dates are, but what the goals are - and WHY they are important. You have to get everyone on board with the goals. You have to make them believers, and then SUPPORT them in making it happen.

Then I would watch to see who in the organization is making progress, and who isn't, and start making staff adjustments. Because we can't assume that the current organization has the right people, since we're assuming that the goals have changed (which could just be from a date standpoint, not a product standpoint).

Bottom line though is that a sense of urgency needs to be instilled in the organization. Elon Musk was very good about communicating progress and what the current goals were (even if they were unrealistic), and that ensured that EVERYONE in the organization knew what top management WISHED would happen, which allowed everyone to understand the priorities, regardless if their immediate management was good at communicating it or not.

My $0.02
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline woods170

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<snip>
Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o

The slow speed of progress at Blue is actually perfectly understandable.

SpaceX HAD to perform exactly because they did not have unlimited funds available: after the $120M of Elon's own wealth the funding was gone, UNLESS SpaceX would get a new source of funding. Thus, the only way forward for them was making sure they got a (or rather: several) big juicy government contract(s) as fast as possible. Which meant having a viable product as fast as possible (Falcon 1), while at the same time already working on the next bigger-and-better thing (Falcon 9 and a cargo capsule). The need for getting "outside" cash to survive was such that moving fast was an absolute requirement.

The opposite is true for Blue Origin. They are getting a guaranteed amount of funding each year, regardless if they get their products flying or not. Bezos' continued self-funding of Blue Origin is like Boeing having a Cost Plus contract to develop the SLS Core Stage: it doesn't matter if the thing flies on time because the funding will continue anyway. Basically: the need to meet deadlines does not exist. And with THAT disappears any sense of urgency. And THAT, in turn, will result in a glacial speed of progress.

A guaranteed source of funding is therefore the best way to make sure that a project does NOT deliver on time.

That is just one of several reasons why people see more than just one similarity between Blue Origin and Old Space companies like Boeing. It also doesn't help that Blue Origin hired an Old Space guy to be their CEO. Bob Smith formerly worked for the Aerospace Corporation, United Space Alliance and Honeywell Aerospace (in that order). All three of those companies almost exclusively do (did) business with the U.S. government. Which basically translates into those companies tapping in an unlimited source of funding. At Blue, Bob Smith found the same exact situation: nearly unlimited funding. So, it was to be expected that at Blue, Bob Smith would "perform" in a similar manner: going slow.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 10:56 am by woods170 »

Offline JayWee

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<snip>
Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o

The slow speed of progress at Blue is actually perfectly understandable.
...
Basically: the need to meet deadlines does not exist. And with THAT disappears any sense of urgency. And THAT, in turn, will result in a glacial speed of progress.
...
A guaranteed source of funding is therefore the best way to make sure that a project does NOT deliver on time.
What you wrote is absolutely true.
One small counter-point though: One which Musk mentions from time to time - "I want to see it before I die". Why doesn't Bezos feel the same?


Offline M.E.T.

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Fire half the staff and make the other half write a summary of their key achievements for the last week?
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 11:38 am by M.E.T. »

Offline LouScheffer

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Honestly, what advice would you have given JB (other than to not hire half of the Old Space leadership)?  "Be an Elon"?

Honestly? Believe it or not I'd suggest to him to team up with Elon, figure out the strengths and weaknesseses of each company, find a way to play TOGETHER to the strengths of each company, feed each company that piece of the pie that they do best and outright replace NASA for both human and robotic spaceflight. NASA will never, ever, be able to do what these two companies could do together because:

1. NASA's funding profile is not intended to advance spaceflight but to enrich the political masters.
2. Private companies are not necessarily beholden to any "lobbied"interests - neither company needs the lobbiests' money.
3. NASA's way of doing business actually stiffles inovation and holds back progress.
4. Well funded and run private comanies will ALWAYS beat the pants off of any government-funded agency every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
5. Together, these 2 companies could accomplish much more than either one separately. Their efforts would be truly synergistic.

That would be my advice to Mr. Bezos.
You are aware that spaceX largely exists because of NASA's business methods?
Sure, but starting an operation (before it's commercially viable)  and advancing it after are two different operations.  Commercial aviation got its start from the early postal mail contracts from the government.  But once the market was established, and private companies got involved, the market grew immensely, largely without government support.   Of course there are arguments that the government contracts for military aviation still help prop up the consumer side, but I think it's clear there would still be a thriving passenger and air freight market, thousands of times larger than those initial postal contracts, even in the absence of military needs.

Offline clongton

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You are aware that spaceX largely exists because of NASA's business methods?

That's not correct. It IS true that SpaceX largely exists because of NASA funding, but NOT because of their business methods. NASA spends its money on what the political masters tell it to. Obedience to external funding masters who don't care at all about your ambitions or goals is not a business method that anyone in their right mind would want to promote.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 01:46 pm by clongton »
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Offline Jer

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Take the massive publicity and ego hit and abandon New Glenn and Kuiper. They're both outdated money pits with no chance of ever becoming profitable or even being lose-leaders. Focus on becoming the new universal U.S rocket engines supplier for the immediate future while developing the next generation LV.

Offline meekGee

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?
Fixing an ailing corp is super difficult and often unsuccessful. In order to do it you first have to acknowledge that it's sick, and that's already problem #1.

Once you do, you pretend someone bought the company for pennies and try to extract as much value as possible.

Twitter is a horrible example because of politics and personalities, but that general scenario occurs in many acquisitions. You appoint  a temporary CEO whose job is to figure what and who are worth salvaging, and whether restructuring is needed.

Lots of people get fired, sometimes entire departments (because bad employees invariably recruit more of the same)

It's super painful, but there's a chance you can preserve the things of value while discarding bad culture and inept employees.

But you need a buyout or a sense of urgency by the current owner. In BO's case, neither is likely to happen. They have plenty of money, and an echo chamber convincing themselves that they are about to be (or already are) successful.



 
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Offline woods170

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<snip>
Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o

The slow speed of progress at Blue is actually perfectly understandable.
...
Basically: the need to meet deadlines does not exist. And with THAT disappears any sense of urgency. And THAT, in turn, will result in a glacial speed of progress.
...
A guaranteed source of funding is therefore the best way to make sure that a project does NOT deliver on time.
What you wrote is absolutely true.
One small counter-point though: One which Musk mentions from time to time - "I want to see it before I die". Why doesn't Bezos feel the same?

Because Bezos sees the world differently. The stated goal of Blue Origin is to have millions of people living and working in outer space. Bezos once explained to some journalists (the first ones to visit the HQ in Kent, several years back) that Blue Origin will be a "generational" company. Jeff is aware that the stated company goal won't be met in his lifetime. He only has to make sure that the company is capable of supporting itself, from actually flying stuff for customers, to keep working towards its final goal.
Realistically speaking Bezos still has at least 20 years of life ahead of him. Plenty of time start launching stuff and start making money.

Offline Steve G

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Elon isn't a huge fan of LEO. He hasn't even flown in his own spaceship, unlike two other billionaires who both flew on their spaceships on their maiden human voyages. (VG first passenger flight, not human test flights, of course)
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 02:13 pm by Steve G »

Offline RedLineTrain

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

I would ask the big boss to give me clear direction on what he wants done.  He's supposed to be an O'Neillian, so why isn't he laser focused on O'Neill type stuff in LEO or the Legrangian points, bootstrapped by Kuiper in LEO?

I also may not have taken the job in the first place, knowing that company culture is extremely difficult to change.  Or I may have insisted that I head up Blue Origin Mark II and leave Blue Origin Mark I for dead.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 02:50 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline mn

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Some people 'neeeeed' everything they want (like my kids).

Some people barely want what they need.

EM absolutely neeeeeeeds to get to mars.

JB has not shown us that he 'needs' anything.

This is not something likely to change. People don't usually just change like that.

It will take some unexpected event to make BO actually succeed.

Sure they are likely to successfully start launching NG, but to succeed as in actually becoming a driving force in some aspect of space, not likely based on current 'needs'.

Offline Robotbeat

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

I would ask the big boss to give me clear direction on what he wants done.  He's supposed to be an O'Neillian, so why isn't he laser focused on O'Neill type stuff in LEO or the Legrangian points, bootstrapped by Kuiper in LEO?

I also may not have taken the job in the first place, knowing that company culture is extremely difficult to change.  Or I may have insisted that I head up Blue Origin Mark II and leave Blue Origin Mark I for dead.
A crucial part of the OíNeillian vision is ISRU, and this is usually assumed to be the Moon. OíNeill would test a linear accelerator concept sometimes (used for lunar launch in his vision). So Iíd say their lunar focus is appropriate. The solar cell thing from regolith is neat.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Take the massive publicity and ego hit and abandon New Glenn and Kuiper. They're both outdated money pits with no chance of ever becoming profitable or even being lose-leaders. Focus on becoming the new universal U.S rocket engines supplier for the immediate future while developing the next generation LV.

Good to acknowledge that Kuiper and New Glenn are more or less a single development program being handled by two companies.  Kuiper is calling the shots, and could probably be justified based on providing connectivity to AWS alone.  But people other than Bezos ultimately will need to be convinced it is justified.

Looking back on recent history, probably the biggest pivot point was Musk flying to Seattle and firing Starlink management for not moving quickly enough.  That they were quick enough for Bezos, but not for Musk, is enlightening.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

I would ask the big boss to give me clear direction on what he wants done.  He's supposed to be an O'Neillian, so why isn't he laser focused on O'Neill type stuff in LEO or the Legrangian points, bootstrapped by Kuiper in LEO?

I also may not have taken the job in the first place, knowing that company culture is extremely difficult to change.  Or I may have insisted that I head up Blue Origin Mark II and leave Blue Origin Mark I for dead.
A crucial part of the OíNeillian vision is ISRU, and this is usually assumed to be the Moon. OíNeill would test a linear accelerator concept sometimes (used for lunar launch in his vision). So Iíd say their lunar focus is appropriate. The solar cell thing from regolith is neat.

All very good as a long-term goal.  But I have an internal customer (Kuiper) that needs to launch to LEO stat.  This LEO imperative is a wonderful forcing function and I would hate to take any focus from that imperative.

After all, much much more money is going into Starlink/Starship than Kuiper/New Glenn.  Just look at all of those shiny new factories in Starbase, the Cape, Bastrop, Redmond.  I need to keep up.  Every bit of that $1 billion a year is precious.  And could you make it $2 billion a year, please?
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 03:44 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Robotbeat

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Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Take the massive publicity and ego hit and abandon New Glenn and Kuiper. They're both outdated money pits with no chance of ever becoming profitable or even being lose-leaders. Focus on becoming the new universal U.S rocket engines supplier for the immediate future while developing the next generation LV.
I totally disagree.

Every sort of successful launch vehicle or satellite/constellation evolves over time. The question is if the basic design concept would fight against that... or enable it.

SLS, for instance, would be *extremely* hard to evolve into a reusable or largely-reusable launch vehicle. The core stages super fast and high, it's enormous and so would be a huge challenge to apply TPS to, the RS-25 is a reusable engine BUT they specifically paid a whole bunch of money to redesign it to be non-reusable (short-sighted in the extreme IMHO) plus it can't airstart or restart in-flight and so can't be used with vertical landing. There are ways to maybe enable SLS to be fully reused if you borrow ideas from Energia or otherwise get creative with using a heavy upper stage to reduce staging velocity, etc... But you're stuck in a local optimum that's far from reuse. Liquid flyback boosters are likely the best you can get with that design, and it'd be better to just start over. The very body plan of the vehicle makes it incompatible with iterations for the future. (And no amount of iteration will enable geosynchronous satellites to have low latency... it's literally limited by the laws of physics. One of the few times where you can point to fundamental physical laws, first principles limitations to that business plan. People so often misuse "impossible" or appeal to laws of physics... but this time it actually applies.)

New Glenn, however, is already suited for reuse. It's large enough, has methalox engines (good performance, but not too low bulk density, low coking, etc...), a large number of engines suitable for VTVL recovery, and enough performance to do a fully reusable upper stage eventually. Kuiper is the same as Starlink, essentially, just... slower.

No fundamental design problem with New Glenn or Kuiper couldn't be fixed with rapid iteration and execution. That's the fundamental thing missing, and no wholesale scrapping of New Glenn or Kuiper would help add execution capability, IMHO.

Violent execution of New Glenn and Kuiper would fix the problem. Graditum Ferociter isn't working, and they never got to the Ferociter part anyway. They need a change in strategy. (And Kuiper might not have the problems that have plagued Blue Origin. Amazon is a very different organization, even though both hypothetically led by Bezos.)

It's an opaque organization (which could be part of the problem?), so as far as I know, they've already addressed it and we will be seeing the results of it soon.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 05:31 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Producing rocket engines is just not something that a large business can sink its teeth into as a main revenue source now that companies can produce their own or reuse them. The only place a large business can make money there is from munitions. A small or medium company, *maybe*. 500 employees, tops. But even that has problems as the truly successful launch companies in the last 10 years have all basically made their own engines. SpaceX, RocketLab, even partial successes like Astra, Virgin Orbit, Firefly. I have high hopes for Ursa Major, but... Blue as Another Aerojet-RocketDyne sounds like a recipe for failure. ULA isn't gonna grow massively any time soon and I don't think they can afford to support Blue Origin by themselves, or even BE-4 as that relied on cost-sharing with New Glenn.
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Offline LouScheffer

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<snip>
Unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has never needed to win government money to fund Blue Origin, or to develop New Glenn. Which is why the lack of progress at Blue Origin is so puzzling...  :o

The slow speed of progress at Blue is actually perfectly understandable.
[...]
A guaranteed source of funding is therefore the best way to make sure that a project does NOT deliver on time.
Some of the most spectacularly fast technology developments happened with guaranteed funding.  Examples include the Manhatten project, development of radar in WW-II, and the Apollo program.  What these did have, in addition to unlimited funding, was an extreme sense of urgency, due to hot and cold wars.
Quote
Basically: the need to meet deadlines does not exist. And with THAT disappears any sense of urgency.
This is the fundamental problem, not the guaranteed funding.  If the urgency exists, and is understood by all, then guaranteed funding become a plus, not a minus.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #100 on: 02/20/2023 08:05 pm »
Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Take the massive publicity and ego hit and abandon New Glenn and Kuiper. They're both outdated money pits with no chance of ever becoming profitable or even being lose-leaders. Focus on becoming the new universal U.S rocket engines supplier for the immediate future while developing the next generation LV.

Kuiper is not a Blue Origin project; it's an Amazon project.  Unless Blue can provide a competitive launch bid that will at least break even, New Glenn won't be getting much business from Amazon, which has a fiduciary duty to its public stockholders.

I don't think it's quite time to abandon NG, but it will be the moment that Starship demonstrates launch to orbit and booster reusability.  This will make NG uncompetitive for all LEO and GEO missions.  When that happens, here's what I would do:

1) Sell the BE-4 business to ULA.  If ULA wants any of the New Glenn pieces-parts, sell those to them too.

2) Re-brand the company as a cislunar and lunar surface services company.  Simultaneously, announce that Blue is going into the space-based solar power business, with the intention of manufacturing SBSP modules on the Moon and launching them to both GEO, for terrestrial specialty power, and LLO, for lunar surface power.

3) Immediately start negotiating with SpaceX for a block buy of cislunar flights, with the necessary tanker support.

4) By this time, Blue will either have won the SLD contract or they'll have lost it to Dynetics. 

a) If they won it, they're committed to providing that system, but I would figure out ways to consolidate modules onto a Starship launch to reduce costs. 

b) If they've lost it, they're going to need to do build the lander anyway.  I would take that opportunity to change the Blue Moon design to a reusable human descent/ascent module (instead of an expendable descent module and a reusable ascent module), and an expendable cargo lander capable of delivering at least 20t to the surface.  Use Starship's capacity to cislunar space to scale things up to the necessary sizes.  (Note:  This is probably the right thing to do even if they win SLD/SLT, but it'll have to take a back seat to satisfying NASA's requirements first.)

5) Bet the farm on both water and metals ISRU, with all of the necessary surface support:
a) Power and heat rejection systems.
b) Human habs for maintenance and operations personnel.
c) Prospecting and water extraction systems.
d) LUNOX-like regolith reduction, yielding lots of LOX and sponge metals.
e) Metals refining and manufacturing systems.
f) Solar cell production.

6) Commit to a catapult / railgun / maglev / whatever mass driver, and start building the parts to send to the moon.

I think that SBSP is a big gamble, but it's a lovely way of developing a wide variety of lunar industries that will be necessary to build big habitats in GEO and cislunar space.  Even if SBSP never grows up to be a real business, Blue would have all the infrastructure it needs to capitalize on whatever turns out to be the first big industrial application in orbit.

This is very much an "If you build it, they will come" strategy.  But that's what's required to be a competitive provider of the services needed to fulfill their mission statement.  It's what Elon is doing with Mars (irrationally, IMO, but history is made by irrational humans).  It's what all of the space trillionaires of the 2040's will have to do.  Might as well bet big rather than frittering away resources on a vanity project that has no hope of success.

If for some reason Starship fails (and it would pretty much have to fail completely to open a lane for New Glenn), then this is still the right long-term strategy, but NG can actually compete with F9 and FH.  Then Jeff will have been proven to have had the right strategy after all.  In that case, figuring out Jarvis and a Jarvis-based tanker become extremely high-priority items.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #101 on: 02/20/2023 09:33 pm »
Not that it isn't fun speculating about where Blue went wrong, but can anybody think of a way for it still to go right?  Suppose Jeff got out of the hot tub (a great line, BTW), fired Bob Smith, and put you in charge.  What would you do?

Take the massive publicity and ego hit and abandon New Glenn and Kuiper. They're both outdated money pits with no chance of ever becoming profitable or even being lose-leaders. Focus on becoming the new universal U.S rocket engines supplier for the immediate future while developing the next generation LV.

Kuiper is not a Blue Origin project; it's an Amazon project.  Unless Blue can provide a competitive launch bid that will at least break even, New Glenn won't be getting much business from Amazon, which has a fiduciary duty to its public stockholders.

You're fooling yourself it you think they are not linked. Bezos is still the executive chairman of amazon. Its not like he has no control. Also, the fact that kuiper bought flights from everyone BUT spaceX shows that his preferences are still very much in control.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #102 on: 02/20/2023 10:18 pm »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

If the goal is a massive lunar presence, then IMO:
- Put the engine team on BE4.1 that can be aggregated more densely.
- Change the goal of NG to be a training vehicle only. This will lubricate things. Incentivize for accelerating the schedule.
- Free Kuiper.  You already have all the moneys. Let Kuiper solve its own launch problems.
- Start on NA ASAP. Do that with a completely new org, transferring engineering talent from NG very carefully.

The new org is key.  There's something very dysfunctional with the current one, and such things are impossible to fix in place.
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Offline TrevorMonty

NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

If the goal is a massive lunar presence, then IMO:
- Put the engine team on BE4.1 that can be aggregated more densely.
- Change the goal of NG to be a training vehicle only. This will lubricate things. Incentivize for accelerating the schedule.
- Free Kuiper.  You already have all the moneys. Let Kuiper solve its own launch problems.
- Start on NA ASAP. Do that with a completely new org, transferring engineering talent from NG very carefully.

The new org is key.  There's something very dysfunctional with the current one, and such things are impossible to fix in place.
NG is big enough for job especially with lunar ISRU fuel. Blue aren't trying send 100s tons are year to surface to build city overnight like Elon.  Blue are taking more of bootstrap approach as demostrated by recent announcement on solar panels made from regolith. In lab they extracted Al, Si and Fe from regolith then used it to make solar cells and wire.


Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #104 on: 02/20/2023 11:03 pm »
You're fooling yourself it you think they are not linked. Bezos is still the executive chairman of amazon. Its not like he has no control. Also, the fact that kuiper bought flights from everyone BUT spaceX shows that his preferences are still very much in control.

If the specific cost of New Glenn was only 20% more than Starship, then I'm sure that Amazon would give the money to Blue out of loyalty.  But even if they both cost the same per launch, the specific cost of using New Glenn will be at least 150% that of Starship.

That's enough to make an auditor freak out, which is something that Amazon simply can't afford.  There's a lot of leeway in what a public company will do to accommodate its founder's various quirks, but siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars, which would otherwise go to the bottom line, to the founder's private endeavors is quite a bit outside a wink and a nod.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #105 on: 02/20/2023 11:33 pm »
NG is big enough for job especially with lunar ISRU fuel. Blue aren't trying send 100s tons are year to surface to build city overnight like Elon.  Blue are taking more of bootstrap approach as demostrated by recent announcement on solar panels made from regolith. In lab they extracted Al, Si and Fe from regolith then used it to make solar cells and wire.

I'd say that Blue Moon would have to be capable of landing 10t on the surface (expendably) to support an early-stage industrial program.  That's a gross mass of roughly 18t in LLO.  That would require roughly 50t of hydrolox in an NG Stage 2 before it left LEO, plus the ability to be refueled, plus the ability to restart for an LOI burn.

That's probably four launches: one expendable S2 with the Blue Moon and payload, plus 3 reusable Jarvis tankers, which isn't terrible.  Not as good as an expendable LSS, which can get 50t+ to the surface with one payload and 4 tanker launches.  But good enough to go about what should be Blue's real business, which is bootstrapping a lunar-based orbital economy.

It can't be over-emphasized:  This is not a business in which SpaceX is interested.  If Blue stands any chance of survival, it's gonna have to learn to hit 'em where they ain't.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #106 on: 02/20/2023 11:46 pm »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

If the goal is a massive lunar presence, then IMO:
- Put the engine team on BE4.1 that can be aggregated more densely.
- Change the goal of NG to be a training vehicle only. This will lubricate things. Incentivize for accelerating the schedule.
- Free Kuiper.  You already have all the moneys. Let Kuiper solve its own launch problems.
- Start on NA ASAP. Do that with a completely new org, transferring engineering talent from NG very carefully.

The new org is key.  There's something very dysfunctional with the current one, and such things are impossible to fix in place.
NG is big enough for job especially with lunar ISRU fuel. Blue aren't trying send 100s tons are year to surface to build city overnight like Elon.  Blue are taking more of bootstrap approach as demostrated by recent announcement on solar panels made from regolith. In lab they extracted Al, Si and Fe from regolith then used it to make solar cells and wire.
ISRU (in meaningful quantities) is not available until a very large factory is present on the moon.

You need a big chicken before you can get big eggs.

Even with a SpaceX-like refueling architecture, NG is very limited. It's a fifth the size of SH/SS (count the engines) and that's just not a lot of mass to work with.

The moon is closer than Mars but the delta-V is not that different.

ISRU on the moon will require very extensive infrastructure. Rock handlers of significant size requiring lots and lots of solar. You will need to land at least as much initial mass as SpaceX will. Maybe less solar, but more ground handling equipment etc.  If you're imagining a lab-scale mini -base, that's only for boots and flags.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #107 on: 02/21/2023 12:37 am »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #108 on: 02/21/2023 03:07 am »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size.

F9 could have been made fully reusable, but it was marginal, and Starship prevailed.  I think NG is large enough to be a viable fully reusable launcher, and the payload would be significant, but when you're talking lunar infrastructure and long term base, it's just not enough.

Use it as a training vehicle, and use the fact that JB is rich to move on to NA without having to rely on NG to pay the way.
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Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #109 on: 02/21/2023 03:55 am »
Elon isn't a huge fan of LEO. He hasn't even flown in his own spaceship, unlike two other billionaires who both flew on their spaceships on their maiden human voyages. (VG first passenger flight, not human test flights, of course)

Elon stated he wanted to fly in Dragon someday(I think he is too dang busy to want to do the training needed to do so). He is enough of a fan of Space to realize that you need to get a product ready in a relevant time frame in order to advance.

 I think Blue's mistake was going for new Shepard instead of an Orbital Vehicle esp. one about the size of F9. If he had such a vehicle he might not be able to beat Space X on price but he could compete against ULA for some EELV contracts. A profitable Blue Origin would free him to invest into things he was more intrested in  and if he had it soon enough he could have competed for the Commercial Cargo 2 contracts or been a choice for Dream Chaser.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #110 on: 02/21/2023 04:07 am »
ISRU (in meaningful quantities) is not available until a very large factory is present on the moon.

You need a big chicken before you can get big eggs.

So start with small eggs.

Starting at low scale is a feature, not a bug.  Irrespective of how much mass you can deliver in one mission, you're going to have to learn how to do stuff at modest scale before scaling up.  You can likely do that with 10t deliveries as well as you can with 175t ones.

Remember that we're discussing the scenario where NG turns out to be viable.  If that's the case, then New Armstrong will follow on, and surface payloads will scale up at just about the time you're ready to scale up your surface operations.

Per above, I think this is much less likely than Blue being forced to give up on New Glenn and use some other platform (likely Starship).  But either way, it depends on Blue being willing to move more R&D investments into lunar surface equipment and some pilot application like SBSP.  If they're not willing to do that, IMO they're doomed.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #111 on: 02/21/2023 04:53 am »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size....
Again, I just don't agree with this.

The most important thing about rapid reuse is flight rate, and being smaller actually *helps* that for a full RLV.

You can't just reuse the "expendable smallsat launchers are not viable" argument for reusable medium launch vehicles. New Glenn is heavy, nearly super heavy.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #112 on: 02/21/2023 04:55 am »
I think Blue Origin started too big with New Glenn. And New Shepard isn't a close enough analogue, plus flying almost always with crew is going to cause a pretty difficult choice between safety and launch rate which goes away if 90% of your launches are uncrewed.
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Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #113 on: 02/21/2023 06:49 am »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size....
Again, I just don't agree with this.

The most important thing about rapid reuse is flight rate, and being smaller actually *helps* that for a full RLV.

You can't just reuse the "expendable smallsat launchers are not viable" argument for reusable medium launch vehicles. New Glenn is heavy, nearly super heavy.

This comes down to a fundamental design philosophy difference between Elon/ Gwynne on the one hand, who both state that cost efficiency scales with size for reusable launchers, and those on the other side (yourself, Jon Goff, etc), who firmly argue for the opposite.

I guess itís all dependent on the assumptions, right. If a small, 2-ton payload upper stage can indeed whizz to orbit and back a thousand times, with little to no physical degradation, with airline-like reliability, at basically the cost of its fuel only, and if that fuel cost per kg of payload is less than Starshipís fuel cost per kg, then you will be right.

If that proves impractical, then Elon will be right.

I lean towards Elonís view.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 06:54 am by M.E.T. »

Offline mlindner

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #114 on: 02/21/2023 08:21 am »
Iím honestly relieved. LEO is a good staging point, but itís the ocean, not an island (let alone a continent). We need a physical place, which has physical resources, to make our future out there.

This is such a great quote. I'm going to steal an adapted version for my signature.
LEO is the ocean, not an island (let alone a continent). We create cruise liners to ride the oceans, not artificial islands in the middle of them. We need a physical place, which has physical resources, to make our future out there.

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

I am just to go out there and say that this discussion board seems to me right now to be pretty anti Blue Origin.

Can we have more positivity in the posts on this forum than those who want to point out how bad Blue Origin is, as well as Jeff Bezos. Perhaps those who want to continue that discussion should perhaps go back to the Space X forum, as those conversations are more suited there. In my 64 years, I have grown up with Project Gemini, Apollo, the Space Shuttle, the Space Station program, and the Russian equivalents. I have watched Blue Origin grow from their very humble beginning, and I am confident that they will achieve their ambitious plans, and they will succeed with their New Glenn program, as I do hope that Space X succeeds as well. I am cheering for Blue Origin, and their employees who are working very hard. In the end we are merely spectators, at a very interesting time...  lets enjoy the show!

Offline JCRM

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #116 on: 02/21/2023 09:27 am »
The solar cell thing from regolith is neat.

Neat, but an old idea. Good to see it actually being developed though.

Although with thin film solar far less neat than it was last century.

Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #117 on: 02/21/2023 12:48 pm »
Can we have more positivity in the posts on this forum than those who want to point out how bad Blue Origin is, as well as Jeff Bezos.

Just because reality is unpleasant doesn't make it a negative.
Identifying and acknowledging a problem is the first step to positive improvement.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 12:51 pm by clongton »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #118 on: 02/21/2023 02:41 pm »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size....
Again, I just don't agree with this.

The most important thing about rapid reuse is flight rate, and being smaller actually *helps* that for a full RLV.

You can't just reuse the "expendable smallsat launchers are not viable" argument for reusable medium launch vehicles. New Glenn is heavy, nearly super heavy.

This comes down to a fundamental design philosophy difference between Elon/ Gwynne on the one hand, who both state that cost efficiency scales with size for reusable launchers, and those on the other side (yourself, Jon Goff, etc), who firmly argue for the opposite.

I guess itís all dependent on the assumptions, right. If a small, 2-ton payload upper stage can indeed whizz to orbit and back a thousand times, with little to no physical degradation, with airline-like reliability, at basically the cost of its fuel only, and if that fuel cost per kg of payload is less than Starshipís fuel cost per kg, then you will be right.

If that proves impractical, then Elon will be right.

I lean towards Elonís view.
I actually donít think either perspective is wrong.

There is real economy of scale. Itís just that those insisting you have to be huge in order fro reuse to make sense are just fundamentally wrong from a physics/engineering perspective.

The real thing, again, is demand. For any given level of demand in tonnes per year, the smaller RLV will be able to have a higher flight rate, and this negates most (and maybe all) of the cost advantage of being large scale.

Starship is a 747. Like, literally. The payload and volume are comparable. New Glenn is roughly 757 or 737 sized. Terran-R A220 sized. Stoke is Cessna Caravan or a Dessault a Falcon. Thereís room for all of these in a large market. Not everything has to be a monster.

And thereís not an appreciable difference between a 737 and a 747 in terms of cost per passenger mile. I think the knee in the curve is around 20-50 tons.

Starship is a monster. Itís like a year 2100 rocket. Itís made for like 10 million tons per year launch demand. Weíre at 1000 tons per year.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 02:54 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #119 on: 02/21/2023 02:59 pm »
There is real economy of scale. Itís just that those insisting you have to be huge in order fro reuse to make sense are just fundamentally wrong from a physics/engineering perspective.


Size does matter, under X liftoff mass, reuse is indeed impossible. Under some Y liftoff mass, orbit is impossible. Why are no one meter tall TSTO launchers proliferating?

 Hugeness has its own problems for handling etc. SpaceX May have overreacted when they realized full reuse would hobble F9. B.O. did the trades and came up in between F9 and SS. Will be a while before industry finds the sweet spots. 

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #120 on: 02/21/2023 02:59 pm »
I think Blue Origin started too big with New Glenn. And New Shepard isn't a close enough analogue, plus flying almost always with crew is going to cause a pretty difficult choice between safety and launch rate which goes away if 90% of your launches are uncrewed.
Totally agree, its just such a huge step.

Also doesn't help that blue seems to have pivoted from a general launcher to a leo truck. They keep changing what ng is for.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #121 on: 02/21/2023 03:02 pm »
LEO truck isnít bad if youíre focused on reuse. LEO is where 90% of the commercial demand is gonna be, and itís way easier to get full reuse to work there. Refueling (or ďdistributed launchĒ to use ULAís terminology) allows you to go further.
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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

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #122 on: 02/21/2023 03:06 pm »
There is real economy of scale. Itís just that those insisting you have to be huge in order fro reuse to make sense are just fundamentally wrong from a physics/engineering perspective.


Size does matter, under X liftoff mass, reuse is indeed impossible. Under some Y liftoff mass, orbit is impossible. Why are no one meter tall TSTO launchers proliferating?

 Hugeness has its own problems for handling etc. SpaceX May have overreacted when they realized full reuse would hobble F9. B.O. did the trades and came up in between F9 and SS. Will be a while before industry finds the sweet spots.
The minimum x is very small. Generally for reaching orbit, your weight per cross section needs to be equal to or greater than the weight of the atmosphere (about equal to 10 meters of water) where youíre launching from or too much performance gets sucked out in drag. (This is partly why the Mars Sample Return rocket can be very small and launch at a non-vertical angleÖ the mass of the atmosphere above the MSR launch site is low.) But this can actually HELP you recover the rocket stage as the terminal velocity will be much lower.

Reuse is actually helped by small scale in that recovery options are much larger. At large scale you only have powered landing and maybe winged landing, everything by else is too rough on large, lightweight structures. (Or requires helicopters bigger than have ever flown.)

Fully reusable Falcon 9 wouldíve worked, but wouldnít have been worth it. But that is due to other issues than size alone.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 03:10 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #123 on: 02/21/2023 03:30 pm »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size....
Again, I just don't agree with this.

The most important thing about rapid reuse is flight rate, and being smaller actually *helps* that for a full RLV.

You can't just reuse the "expendable smallsat launchers are not viable" argument for reusable medium launch vehicles. New Glenn is heavy, nearly super heavy.

This comes down to a fundamental design philosophy difference between Elon/ Gwynne on the one hand, who both state that cost efficiency scales with size for reusable launchers, and those on the other side (yourself, Jon Goff, etc), who firmly argue for the opposite.

I guess itís all dependent on the assumptions, right. If a small, 2-ton payload upper stage can indeed whizz to orbit and back a thousand times, with little to no physical degradation, with airline-like reliability, at basically the cost of its fuel only, and if that fuel cost per kg of payload is less than Starshipís fuel cost per kg, then you will be right.

If that proves impractical, then Elon will be right.

I lean towards Elonís view.
I actually donít think either perspective is wrong.

There is real economy of scale. Itís just that those insisting you have to be huge in order fro reuse to make sense are just fundamentally wrong from a physics/engineering perspective.

The real thing, again, is demand. For any given level of demand in tonnes per year, the smaller RLV will be able to have a higher flight rate, and this negates most (and maybe all) of the cost advantage of being large scale.

Starship is a 747. Like, literally. The payload and volume are comparable. New Glenn is roughly 757 or 737 sized. Terran-R A220 sized. Stoke is Cessna Caravan or a Dessault a Falcon. Thereís room for all of these in a large market. Not everything has to be a monster.

And thereís not an appreciable difference between a 737 and a 747 in terms of cost per passenger mile. I think the knee in the curve is around 20-50 tons.

Starship is a monster. Itís like a year 2100 rocket. Itís made for like 10 million tons per year launch demand. Weíre at 1000 tons per year.

I don't think that we know for certain how the introduction of full reusability will unfold.  The assumption that there is room for several reusable launchers seems tenuous.  Given the drastically lower marginal costs of fully reusable launch, and the difficulty level of introducing a launcher and building launch cadence, the first out of the gate could have a huge, perhaps overwhelming medium-term advantage.  The size of that launcher may be less important.

Edit:  Another assumption is that a small reusable rocket will be easier to develop and to build launch cadence.  But that might not be so.  Building them large covers a lot of sins.  Understood that infrastructure considerations for these jumbos might dominate and that admittedly, if they go boom, the energy discharge on the large rockets will be impressive.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 03:49 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #124 on: 02/21/2023 06:01 pm »
Being able to move stuff around with a pickup truck trailer is pretty nice.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #125 on: 02/21/2023 07:30 pm »
Being able to move stuff around with a pickup truck trailer is pretty nice.
That's a perfect analogy.  A pickup truck is a viable vehicle.  But if you want to move an industrial amount of stuff, many trips with a pickup is not a viable solution.

That's why I'm saying it's a matter of goal.

NG a couple of years ago would have been ok as a satellite launcher. By the time it fields, it probably still will be, but it certainly won't dominate the market - it'll have an uphill battle to get any decent share of it.

NG for even a small lunar base (as opposed to a small lander for boots and flags) - it's too small.  The lander for such needs to be able to deploy large vehicles, large habitats...  The Apollo lander module was 15 tons, (starting with 100 tons in LEO) and had barely enough mass for 3 people and a buggy.

We talk about processing lunar rock for Oxygen and Solar cells and what not. That's a quarry's worth of various handling equipment.  It's not a 10-ton project or anywhere near that.

In Comparison, SH starts out at 2x Saturn V  and then does a bunch more fueling flights...  Per each outbound trip, of which they'll need several just to land the first crew.

In that context, NG is not even enough to start. You'll land a few people for a few days and then be stuck like NASA's moon program was, since you'll need a much bigger rocket to carry on beyond that.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2023 07:31 pm by meekGee »
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Online mandrewa

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #126 on: 02/21/2023 08:05 pm »
NG is not large enough for a forward-looking lunar program. It's just the minimum viable size in the age of full reusability.

Ö
I strongly disagree with both of these.

Arguably, the smallest viable full RLV is actually SMALLER than expendableÖ because you donít need the cost benefit of large scale as you can just launch again and again. Remember, reuse is largely enabled on the demand side by megaconstellations. Which are made out of basically smallsats (Öeven Starlink Gen2 full size is what, like 2.5t?). Stokeís rocket would be large enough for this and could potentially compete with Starship on a per-kg basis.

Elon has mentioned larger variations for the future, but he has more recently said that Starship may have actually been too big.

New Glenn may end up being the smallest orbital rocket Blue Origin ever makes, as Bezos said. But I donít think itís on the cutting edge of minimum viable size for full reuse. It may arguably be closer to the optimal size than Starship is.

Again, though, itís execution that matters most of all. And SpaceX is hardcore winning there.
That's why I added "Viable".  In theory you can make it really really small, but reuse penalty, and investment in reuse, both demand a certain size....
Again, I just don't agree with this.

The most important thing about rapid reuse is flight rate, and being smaller actually *helps* that for a full RLV.

You can't just reuse the "expendable smallsat launchers are not viable" argument for reusable medium launch vehicles. New Glenn is heavy, nearly super heavy.

This comes down to a fundamental design philosophy difference between Elon/ Gwynne on the one hand, who both state that cost efficiency scales with size for reusable launchers, and those on the other side (yourself, Jon Goff, etc), who firmly argue for the opposite.

I guess itís all dependent on the assumptions, right. If a small, 2-ton payload upper stage can indeed whizz to orbit and back a thousand times, with little to no physical degradation, with airline-like reliability, at basically the cost of its fuel only, and if that fuel cost per kg of payload is less than Starshipís fuel cost per kg, then you will be right.

If that proves impractical, then Elon will be right.

I lean towards Elonís view.
I actually donít think either perspective is wrong.

There is real economy of scale. Itís just that those insisting you have to be huge in order fro reuse to make sense are just fundamentally wrong from a physics/engineering perspective.

The real thing, again, is demand. For any given level of demand in tonnes per year, the smaller RLV will be able to have a higher flight rate, and this negates most (and maybe all) of the cost advantage of being large scale.

Starship is a 747. Like, literally. The payload and volume are comparable. New Glenn is roughly 757 or 737 sized. Terran-R A220 sized. Stoke is Cessna Caravan or a Dessault a Falcon. Thereís room for all of these in a large market. Not everything has to be a monster.

And thereís not an appreciable difference between a 737 and a 747 in terms of cost per passenger mile. I think the knee in the curve is around 20-50 tons.

Starship is a monster. Itís like a year 2100 rocket. Itís made for like 10 million tons per year launch demand. Weíre at 1000 tons per year.

But, to say the obvious, the Starship is the right size for going to Mars.  And it is also the right size for going to the Moon. 

Does anyone really want a smaller vehicle to go to Mars?  I don't think so.

Does anyone really want a smaller vehicle for going to the Moon?  There will be people arguing for that.  But if we are going for a permanent manned lunar base, which is what I think we should be doing, and then one of the things they will be doing at the base is extracting LOX from the regolith, which implies a lot of equipment, then I think the Starship is very fortuitously sized.  Maybe you could get away with it being smaller, but I really don't see how that would actually lower costs.

Now it may be useful to have a smaller vehicle for transporting people once there is already a functional lunar base with everything needed to support people already there on the Moon.  When we reach that point there will probably be an opportunity for something significantly smaller than the Starship.

Offline JCRM

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #127 on: 02/22/2023 09:03 am »

The assumption that there is room for several reusable launchers seems tenuous.  Given the drastically lower marginal costs of fully reusable launch, and the difficulty level of introducing a launcher and building launch cadence, the first out of the gate could have a huge, perhaps overwhelming medium-term advantage.  The size of that launcher may be less important.


But, if the marginal costs of a fully reusable launch are drastically lower, then  launch price is likely to be a far less significant factor in the selection of a launch service provider.

Offline JCRM

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #128 on: 02/22/2023 09:11 am »

But, to say the obvious, the Starship is the right size for going to Mars.  And it is also the right size for going to the Moon. 

Does anyone really want a smaller vehicle to go to Mars?  I don't think so.



Is it the right size? I doubt it.

Sure Musk has moved slightly from the we're just providing the transport, but I see no signs of a worked through mission plan.

I'd far rather go in a scorpion.

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #129 on: 02/22/2023 06:53 pm »
Being able to move stuff around with a pickup truck trailer is pretty nice.
That's a perfect analogy.  A pickup truck is a viable vehicle.  But if you want to move an industrial amount of stuff, many trips with a pickup is not a viable solution.

That's why I'm saying it's a matter of goal.

NG a couple of years ago would have been ok as a satellite launcher. By the time it fields, it probably still will be, but it certainly won't dominate the market - it'll have an uphill battle to get any decent share of it.

NG for even a small lunar base (as opposed to a small lander for boots and flags) - it's too small.  The lander for such needs to be able to deploy large vehicles, large habitats...  The Apollo lander module was 15 tons, (starting with 100 tons in LEO) and had barely enough mass for 3 people and a buggy.

We talk about processing lunar rock for Oxygen and Solar cells and what not. That's a quarry's worth of various handling equipment.  It's not a 10-ton project or anywhere near that.

In Comparison, SH starts out at 2x Saturn V  and then does a bunch more fueling flights...  Per each outbound trip, of which they'll need several just to land the first crew.

In that context, NG is not even enough to start. You'll land a few people for a few days and then be stuck like NASA's moon program was, since you'll need a much bigger rocket to carry on beyond that.
One of the reasons why I am such a Space X fan is because love him or hate him, Musk was the first the first to outline a viable business plan to get humanity to Mars. May not work, may not raise enough capital but at least it moves the ball down the court.

IMHO, where Blue goes wrong is at swing for an homerun(and missing) instead of steady base hits.  You may not need tons of equipment on the moon to start. NG and NA are sized right for the moon, but there in lies the failure. There isn't a commercial potential for the moon at the moment. There isn't one for Mars either. There could be in the future but at the moment earth orbit and esp. low earth orbit is where the market is.  It is where most satellites go and where commercial human Space Flight has taken place first.

What is needed isn't another Saturn V to nowhere. What is needed is an boot strapping process that makes each next step easier, more affordable, and more likely to happen.

If he had went smaller he would have cashflow that he could redirect towards improvement of product or towards the goal of the moon.  NG's problem isn't that is too small to support a moon base. It's problem is that it is too big and possibly too late to allow Blue to leverage it into more. 

So far Space X's booting strategy has been:

F1 which mostly failed but they got the CCargo contract and the Merlin Engine and a few contracts he latter launched.

Merlin engine is leveraged into F9 and FH. CCargo brings income and helps get the CCrew contract. F9 and FH bring in income and contracts and the investment needed to create Starship. Reuse of F9 lowers Costs to Space X and owning the rocket means that Star link is launched at cost.  Working on Starship put them in a good position to get the HLS contact and and FH the Dragon XL contract. FH also was the genesis of what would become the Dear Moon Project. F9 has got Axion flights as well as Polaris flights.

With Star link and SH and some luck Mars gets to be more doable(might still be a too far an stretch but Space X is closer to it's goal).

Blue on the other hand just does not have this. It isn't that it is too small to support a moon base, but who is going to pay? Bezos is may be rich but he is not rich enough to support the rocket needed to go there, the R/D to make ISRU work on the  moon(and note it could very well be cheaper on a cost bias to import solar panels and no one knows the best way to produce propellant yet.) as well as a base.

Starship alone would have been too much for Musk, but with working rockets and products you can attract contracts and investments to get things done.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2023 06:55 pm by pathfinder_01 »

Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #130 on: 02/23/2023 03:22 am »
NG for even a small lunar base (as opposed to a small lander for boots and flags) - it's too small.  The lander for such needs to be able to deploy large vehicles, large habitats...  The Apollo lander module was 15 tons, (starting with 100 tons in LEO) and had barely enough mass for 3 people and a buggy.

Why do you think large vehicles are heavy?  Empty space and air don't weigh very much.

FWIW, if you have an expendable hydrolox landerĻ and a refuelable but expendable Jarvis stage sent to TLI, you can land about 12.7t with two NG launches.  If pre-Jarvis New Glenn could deliver 45t to LEO, and we assume that a reusable Jarvis can take 35t to LEO, then:

1) First launch:  Reusable core, expendable (but refuelable) stage 2, expendable Blue Moon (1.4t dry, 8.6t prop, 12.7t payload) and 22.3t of prop left over in stage 2.

2) Second launch: Reusable core and reusable Jarvis tanker delivers 35t of prop to the expendable stage 2.

So two launches, including one expended Blue Moon and one second stage, gives you 12.7t of payload to the surface.

Quote
We talk about processing lunar rock for Oxygen and Solar cells and what not. That's a quarry's worth of various handling equipment.  It's not a 10-ton project or anywhere near that.

Why are you assuming that the whole thing is delivered in one mission?  For that matter, why are you assuming that it has to go from nothing to massive scale immediately?

Quote
In Comparison, SH starts out at 2x Saturn V  and then does a bunch more fueling flights...  Per each outbound trip, of which they'll need several just to land the first crew.

In that context, NG is not even enough to start. You'll land a few people for a few days and then be stuck like NASA's moon program was, since you'll need a much bigger rocket to carry on beyond that.

But that's not the context.  The context is one in which NASA keeps doing stupid things with Artemis and SpaceX doesn't care that much about the Moon.

If NASA stops doing stupid things, i.e., gets rid of SLS/Orion and moves a lot of its budget into lunar surface tech and ops, then Blue will have to be smart about leveraging NASA's infrastructure to accelerate the construction of profitable projects, or at least projects that can lead to profitable on-orbit structures.

Remember, I think that New Glenn won't succeed at all.  In that case, Blue should be building bigger modules for lunar tech and ops and landing them using Starship.  But that's not really the question.  The question is whether Blue could make a go of it if NG by some miracle becomes successful and Blue decides to invest heavily in the Moon as soon as possible.

I think the answer to that last question is "yes", but it's nowhere near as good a strategy as giving up on NG and betting big on surface manufacturing, in order to pave the way for large on-orbit structures.

______________
ĻWhy an expendable lander?  Because, unless your launch costs are well under $10M, the expendable lander is cheaper than the extra prop needed to recover it.

There's a case to be made that a recoverable Jarvis that can take a payload to LLO might be cheaper than the expendable version that doesn't have to save prop for TEI.  That one is worth figuring out.  But the lander has to be huge to get back to LLO, to say nothing of LEO or Earth's surface.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2023 03:24 am by TheRadicalModerate »

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #131 on: 02/23/2023 04:44 am »
NG for even a small lunar base (as opposed to a small lander for boots and flags) - it's too small.  The lander for such needs to be able to deploy large vehicles, large habitats...  The Apollo lander module was 15 tons, (starting with 100 tons in LEO) and had barely enough mass for 3 people and a buggy.

Why do you think large vehicles are heavy?  Empty space and air don't weigh very much.

FWIW, if you have an expendable hydrolox landerĻ and a refuelable but expendable Jarvis stage sent to TLI, you can land about 12.7t with two NG launches.  If pre-Jarvis New Glenn could deliver 45t to LEO, and we assume that a reusable Jarvis can take 35t to LEO, then:

1) First launch:  Reusable core, expendable (but refuelable) stage 2, expendable Blue Moon (1.4t dry, 8.6t prop, 12.7t payload) and 22.3t of prop left over in stage 2.

2) Second launch: Reusable core and reusable Jarvis tanker delivers 35t of prop to the expendable stage 2.

So two launches, including one expended Blue Moon and one second stage, gives you 12.7t of payload to the surface.

Quote
We talk about processing lunar rock for Oxygen and Solar cells and what not. That's a quarry's worth of various handling equipment.  It's not a 10-ton project or anywhere near that.

Why are you assuming that the whole thing is delivered in one mission?  For that matter, why are you assuming that it has to go from nothing to massive scale immediately?

Quote
In Comparison, SH starts out at 2x Saturn V  and then does a bunch more fueling flights...  Per each outbound trip, of which they'll need several just to land the first crew.

In that context, NG is not even enough to start. You'll land a few people for a few days and then be stuck like NASA's moon program was, since you'll need a much bigger rocket to carry on beyond that.

But that's not the context.  The context is one in which NASA keeps doing stupid things with Artemis and SpaceX doesn't care that much about the Moon.

If NASA stops doing stupid things, i.e., gets rid of SLS/Orion and moves a lot of its budget into lunar surface tech and ops, then Blue will have to be smart about leveraging NASA's infrastructure to accelerate the construction of profitable projects, or at least projects that can lead to profitable on-orbit structures.

Remember, I think that New Glenn won't succeed at all.  In that case, Blue should be building bigger modules for lunar tech and ops and landing them using Starship.  But that's not really the question.  The question is whether Blue could make a go of it if NG by some miracle becomes successful and Blue decides to invest heavily in the Moon as soon as possible.

I think the answer to that last question is "yes", but it's nowhere near as good a strategy as giving up on NG and betting big on surface manufacturing, in order to pave the way for large on-orbit structures.

______________
ĻWhy an expendable lander?  Because, unless your launch costs are well under $10M, the expendable lander is cheaper than the extra prop needed to recover it.

There's a case to be made that a recoverable Jarvis that can take a payload to LLO might be cheaper than the expendable version that doesn't have to save prop for TEI.  That one is worth figuring out.  But the lander has to be huge to get back to LLO, to say nothing of LEO or Earth's surface.

I'm talking about the machinery that processes lunar rock to create anything from oxygen to solar cells.  It's not empty structures - it's a lot of steel and is heavy.

And I'm all in favor of modular designs, but as you decrease the size of the modular units, you add mass penalty.  The lander itself is less mass efficient, and the equipment itself can't get broken down beyond a certain point.  And, assembly costs mass too.  You can break down a tractor into separate tracks, engine, body - and then you need another tractor to assemble it.  And you can't easily break it down to smaller units.
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #132 on: 02/23/2023 07:25 pm »
I'm talking about the machinery that processes lunar rock to create anything from oxygen to solar cells.  It's not empty structures - it's a lot of steel and is heavy.

And I'm all in favor of modular designs, but as you decrease the size of the modular units, you add mass penalty.  The lander itself is less mass efficient, and the equipment itself can't get broken down beyond a certain point.  And, assembly costs mass too.  You can break down a tractor into separate tracks, engine, body - and then you need another tractor to assemble it.  And you can't easily break it down to smaller units.

I seem to have more faith in mechanical and chemical engineers than you do.

Beyond that, note that you have a Starship unloading problem.  Even if you land 175t of payload on the surface, you still have to get it down off the LSS propulsion section.  Right now, that's proposed to be done with a 3m x 3m hatch and an elevator.  Seems unlikely that you're going to get much more than 10t at a time through that.

You can, of course, blow the whole fairing off before landing.  But even then, you have some kind of cantilevered nightmare to move heavy unitary payloads onto the ground.  At some point, you can build up external cranes for some of this stuff, but that's pretty far down the road on a base.

10t as a standard shipping container seems about right to me.

Offline c4fusion

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #133 on: 02/24/2023 05:08 am »
While I will say that I am a big SpaceX fan, I do think the comparisons between SpaceX and Blue Origin are a bit tired.  There is no reason for the two of them can stay in the launch business (as long as Jeff is willing) together since they still most likely to reach Orbit of the potentially full reusable rockets after SpaceX.  And there will always be a desire to have more than one company who can do that. 

To me the more interesting comparison and worry to Blue is to Stoke and Relativity Space.  Relativity's Terran R's stated capability is actually much closer to New Glenn than New Glenn is to Starship.  While there is no doubt that New Glenn is ahead of Relativity (owning to delivered engines and more parts seen), Blue Origin's track record isn't the best and there is a chance of Relativity figuring out Full Reusability (not launch) before Blue Origin.

Meanwhile, Stoke isn't in the same weight class as Blue Origin, it does have a couple advantages when compared.  Unlike Blue Origin, we have seen very fast progress on Stoke and unlike every other startup, their first rocket is designed to be reusable.  Depending on how fast they move, they can become the "other" launch provider to SpaceX by achieving a fully reusable craft before Blue Origin.

Anyways, this was a long winded way to say SpaceX isn't the only worry that Blue has in the launch segment.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #134 on: 02/24/2023 05:48 am »
...Musk was the first the first to outline a viable business plan to get humanity to Mars.

Musk is only copying what Werner Von Braun worked out 75 years ago! That project was also financially viable, provided you had a rich enough country to support it. :-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mars_Project
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Offline TrevorMonty





Meanwhile, Stoke isn't in the same weight class as Blue Origin, it does have a couple advantages when compared.  Unlike Blue Origin, we have seen very fast progress on Stoke and unlike every other startup, their first rocket is designed to be reusable.  Depending on how fast they move, they can become the "other" launch provider to SpaceX by achieving a fully reusable craft before Blue Origin.


Stoke may be ready to do upper stage suborbital tests but it is long way from developing booster and all launch infrastructure to go with it. 2025 is realistic target for first orbital launch.


Offline c4fusion

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #136 on: 02/24/2023 11:43 am »
Meanwhile, Stoke isn't in the same weight class as Blue Origin, it does have a couple advantages when compared.  Unlike Blue Origin, we have seen very fast progress on Stoke and unlike every other startup, their first rocket is designed to be reusable.  Depending on how fast they move, they can become the "other" launch provider to SpaceX by achieving a fully reusable craft before Blue Origin.
Stoke may be ready to do upper stage suborbital tests but it is long way from developing booster and all launch infrastructure to go with it. 2025 is realistic target for first orbital launch.

Definitely, it maybe even later, like 2026; however, that still might be before Jarvis starts flying.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #137 on: 02/24/2023 01:10 pm »
Meanwhile, Stoke isn't in the same weight class as Blue Origin, it does have a couple advantages when compared.  Unlike Blue Origin, we have seen very fast progress on Stoke and unlike every other startup, their first rocket is designed to be reusable.  Depending on how fast they move, they can become the "other" launch provider to SpaceX by achieving a fully reusable craft before Blue Origin.
Stoke may be ready to do upper stage suborbital tests but it is long way from developing booster and all launch infrastructure to go with it. 2025 is realistic target for first orbital launch.

Definitely, it maybe even later, like 2026; however, that still might be before Jarvis starts flying.

And so what if it does? It's a much smaller stage by far than Jarvis/Clipper.

Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #138 on: 02/25/2023 02:29 pm »
...Musk was the first the first to outline a viable business plan to get humanity to Mars.

Musk is only copying what Werner Von Braun worked out 75 years ago! That project was also financially viable, provided you had a rich enough country to support it. :-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mars_Project

It was a brilliant architecture and way ahead of its time. It included rotating space stations and inflatable modules. Electricity was provided by solar power.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #139 on: 02/25/2023 02:56 pm »
The Elon is also the leader of the Martians in Von Braunís The Mars Project, so maybe he still gets some credit? ;)
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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #140 on: 02/25/2023 04:19 pm »
...Musk was the first the first to outline a viable business plan to get humanity to Mars.

Musk is only copying what Werner Von Braun worked out 75 years ago! That project was also financially viable, provided you had a rich enough country to support it. :-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mars_Project
I'm reading the wiki article.  Musk's plans are very different from what's described there, in both the strategic and tactical levels.
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Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #141 on: 02/25/2023 06:24 pm »
I'm reading the wiki article.  Musk's plans are very different from what's described there, in both the strategic and tactical levels.

Here's a copy of his book about the project from the internet archives (linked in the wikipedia article). I remember watching him on tv talking about his Mars ambitions and explaining the project. It was fascinating.
https://archive.org/details/TheMarsProject-WernherVonBraun1953/mode/2up
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #142 on: 02/25/2023 08:05 pm »
I'm reading the wiki article.  Musk's plans are very different from what's described there, in both the strategic and tactical levels.

Here's a copy of his book about the project from the internet archives (linked in the wikipedia article). I remember watching him on tv talking about his Mars ambitions and explaining the project. It was fascinating.
https://archive.org/details/TheMarsProject-WernherVonBraun1953/mode/2up
It is, but to summarize the wiki:
Fleet of ~10 large ships, hydrazine powered, assembled in orbit, does a year mission to Mars.
They capture to orbit, and scout out an expedition location.
A recon crew then uses a glider to land using skids at the pole.
They then drive to the equator, and prepare a landing strip.
More gliders (this time wheeled) use the landing strip to land the main expedition.
At the end of exploration they pack up and ascent using fuel they carried with them.
No colony is established.
They rendezvous with the orbital ships, and fly back home.
The end.

There's almost nothing here that parallels what's being contemplated today, except that Earth-LEO is done with reusable rockets.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2023 02:25 pm by meekGee »
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How did we get down this rabbit hole in this thread? Itís better suited for a SpaceX colonizing Mars thread.

I just came on to comment that he canít be very serious about BO when heís considering using his money to fund the purchase of the NFLís Washington Commanders.

It just adds fuel to the ďjust another hobbyĒ speculation.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #144 on: 02/26/2023 02:34 pm »
How did we get down this rabbit hole in this thread? It’s better suited for a SpaceX colonizing Mars thread.

I just came on to comment that he can’t be very serious about BO when he’s considering using his money to fund the purchase of the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

It just adds fuel to the “just another hobby” speculation.
Well it was a response to the "Musk is merely replicating..." meme, which is actually relevant, because in order to do the kind of things Bezos and Musk are attempting, you need an insane amount of involvement.  Musk literally rewrote the book on "how to go about Mars".  You can't do that by hiring a robo-CEO, giving him a vague target and then doing other stuff.

Now me, I'd say that if Bezos had put as much detailed effort into his plans as Musk did, he'd actually had changed them a long time ago....  But that's projecting my own preferences on him.

The first part though is undeniable. You can't run a revolution from home.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2023 03:51 pm by meekGee »
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Offline Tywin

Musk is also have speculation about him buying the Manchester United...
The knowledge is power...Everything is connected...
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #146 on: 02/26/2023 06:47 pm »
Musk is also have speculation about him buying the Manchester United...
Commanders:United is like NS:SH.

It had to be said.

EDIT: nevermind...
« Last Edit: 02/26/2023 09:23 pm by meekGee »
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #147 on: 02/26/2023 06:58 pm »
Musk is also have speculation about him buying the Manchester United...

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1559760618537848832?s=20

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

I am not sure where this thread is going... but it has nothing to do with Blue Origin....

So, just to bring this back to the discussion. My point was if you have a company like BO which is so far behind on its rocket program and uncompetitive in every project they have bid on, that you should be spending your money on fixing it and not looking at other things to spend your money on.

Offline AlexP

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #150 on: 02/27/2023 12:45 pm »
I really don't think lack of money has been BO's problem. Time has been the bigger question, we were told a little while back that Bezos would be spending more of his with BO but yet to see any real evidence of that beyond the supposed push for Jarvis.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #151 on: 02/27/2023 12:50 pm »
This is why I love NASASpaceflight. I come here to read about whether Bezos is interested in LEO, instead I read about how Elon Musk is going to buy Manchester United :) :)

Joke aside, I prefer to see how initial launches of Vulcan and New Glenn go and then we'll see what happens next.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2023 12:50 pm by Svetoslav »

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #152 on: 02/27/2023 01:15 pm »
I really don't think lack of money has been BO's problem. Time has been the bigger question, we were told a little while back that Bezos would be spending more of his with BO but yet to see any real evidence of that beyond the supposed push for Jarvis.
It’s interesting to me how focused people are on the money thing. There’s a friend and professional colleague of mine who is insistent that it’s money that enabled SpaceX to succeed but Blue Origin to fail (to achieve orbit so far), in spite of the fact that Blue had way more no-strings-attached (ie no need to provide a product, so pure investment) money from the get-go.

In fact it could’ve been the lack of money that enabled SpaceX to succeed. Or rather, just the right amount of money. Plus hard work and a central point of technical authority that could cut through paralysis by analysis (and who started out not knowing that much about spaceflight but ended up learning by doing…).

Bezos could do the same thing, and I’m disappointed he hasn’t started.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2023 01:28 pm by Robotbeat »
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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #153 on: 02/27/2023 02:42 pm »
Re: the thread title
I have given this a lot of thought recently. In my opinion, the title speaks truth. One only needs to look back to when BO was first started. It is not Jeff's goal to become profitable in LEO, but to put millions of people living and working in space. The vehicle to do that is the O'Neil cylinder. The launch vehicles he is having designed and built are not really destined for a LEO business case. They are for putting enough infrastructure into space to begin construction of the cylinders. The ULA and NASA contracts are actually a sidebar to the goals for BO. He is, after all, a businessman who is not likely to snub the opportunity to get (unneeded) funding for his dream goal along the way. Thus BO is not actually competing with SpaceX. Space Race hysteria has been cooked up by fan-boys because that's what they want to see - a race. But in actuality, Jeff is not playing that game. His goal is unlikely to see SIGNIFICANT progress in his lifetime. He has said that multiple times. I think his modus operandi is closer to the Chinese slow, steady long term view than to the fan-boy-induced race to space hysteria. His goal is to make sufficient progress to guarantee, as far as anything can be guaranteed, that his dream survives him and continues along at a pace, after he has passed on, that is most likely to one day come to fruition. SpaceX is simply not involved, except as a parallel effort by someone else with a completely different end goal. So I've modified my view wrt Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin somewhat from what I have posted previously, and the reasons for that are stated above. Will he succeed? That's anybody's guess. But at the pace his company is proceding, which seems to me to be by design, it will be the next generation that will have a better idea than any of us here.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2023 02:54 pm by clongton »
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #154 on: 02/27/2023 02:49 pm »
I really don't think lack of money has been BO's problem. Time has been the bigger question, we were told a little while back that Bezos would be spending more of his with BO but yet to see any real evidence of that beyond the supposed push for Jarvis.
Itís interesting to me how focused people are on the money thing. Thereís a friend and professional colleague of mine who is insistent that itís money that enabled SpaceX to succeed but Blue Origin to fail (to achieve orbit so far), in spite of the fact that Blue had way more no-strings-attached (ie no need to provide a product, so pure investment) money from the get-go.

In fact it couldíve been the lack of money that enabled SpaceX to succeed. Or rather, just the right amount of money. Plus hard work and a central point of technical authority that could cut through paralysis by analysis (and who started out not knowing that much about spaceflight but ended up learning by doingÖ).

Bezos could do the same thing, and Iím disappointed he hasnít started.
We are all talking about objective differences but we should also consider that Musk is simply a much better engineer and industrialist.

Over the past 20 years he has been making decisions that in retrospect have been proven right, time after time. There is a pattern here.

I look at BO's road map and it's just a bunch of sci-fi tropes strung together in a way that doesn't even make sense. SpaceX on the other hand is following a plan that keeps building on earlier successes and is heading towards a realizable goal.

Look at corporate governorship. Compare Jeff Bezos and Bob Smith to Elon Musk and starlink management 1.0. Look at the level of involvement in any project for that matter. 

I agree that spending money on side projects is not Jeff Bezos's problem. Irrespective of his education I think his extraordinary skill set as a super-corporate-merchant that parallels the successes of Sears Roebuck and Sam Walton of previous eras, just doesn't extend to industrialism and space flight.

It's not about having too much or too little money. He's earned it through phenomenal success after working phenomenally hard. He can buy whatever he chooses to.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #155 on: 02/27/2023 02:57 pm »
The launch vehicles he is having designed and built are not really destined for a LEO business case. They are for putting enough infrastructure into space to begin construction of the cylinders. The ULA and NASA contracts are actually a sidebar to the goals for BO. He is, after all, a businessman who is not likely to snub the opportunity to get (unneeded) funding for his dream goal along the way. Thus BO is not actually competing with SpaceX.

NG is obviously intended to compete in launching LEO megaconstellations.  But Blue is missing the timing.  Meanwhile, SpaceX is upping the ante, with V2.0 of Starlink massing two tons.  NG may be too small to compete.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #156 on: 02/27/2023 04:58 pm »
Re: the thread title
I have given this a lot of thought recently. In my opinion, the title speaks truth. One only needs to look back to when BO was first started. It is not Jeff's goal to become profitable in LEO, but to put millions of people living and working in space. The vehicle to do that is the O'Neil cylinder. The launch vehicles he is having designed and built are not really destined for a LEO business case. They are for putting enough infrastructure into space to begin construction of the cylinders. The ULA and NASA contracts are actually a sidebar to the goals for BO. He is, after all, a businessman who is not likely to snub the opportunity to get (unneeded) funding for his dream goal along the way. Thus BO is not actually competing with SpaceX. Space Race hysteria has been cooked up by fan-boys because that's what they want to see - a race. But in actuality, Jeff is not playing that game. His goal is unlikely to see SIGNIFICANT progress in his lifetime. He has said that multiple times. I think his modus operandi is closer to the Chinese slow, steady long term view than to the fan-boy-induced race to space hysteria. His goal is to make sufficient progress to guarantee, as far as anything can be guaranteed, that his dream survives him and continues along at a pace, after he has passed on, that is most likely to one day come to fruition. SpaceX is simply not involved, except as a parallel effort by someone else with a completely different end goal. So I've modified my view wrt Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin somewhat from what I have posted previously, and the reasons for that are stated above. Will he succeed? That's anybody's guess. But at the pace his company is proceding, which seems to me to be by design, it will be the next generation that will have a better idea than any of us here.
Just the air inside O'Neill cylinders weighs a billion tons. The envelope, which must have significant thickness, will weigh more.  As will the soil, water, etc.

For perspective, all of Earth's combined annual iron ore production is a few billion tons.  These mines are huge, and rely on an industrial supply chain which is global.

NG can't put up anything remotely related to that amount of infrastructure.

You'll need millions of people already living in space before you can produce a habitat like an O'Neill cylinder.

NG, if and when it flies, will be a good reusable launcher for today's satellites. It can put a crew on the moon with great effort, but that's about that.

Other than in aspirational terms, there is no point talking about it now. BO needs to focus on something attainable like a lunar base/colony, and even for that they need a larger rocket.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #157 on: 02/27/2023 05:25 pm »
I thought you were exaggerating, but no, youíre right itís a billion ton. For 8km diameter, 32km long cylinder filled with air at 50% Earthís atmospheric pressure at sea level. Rule of thumb is that a good quality pressure vessel (like a Scuba tank) can be built that weighs the same as the compressed air inside of it, with appropriate safety margins.

Thatís just the largest one, tho.

Blue Origin is taking roughly the right approach if you believe the OíNeillian vision (I think the Moon is largely a dead end, tho). But they have to execute.

Blue has hinted at larger rockets a lot, but I actually think they started out too big for New Glenn. Even so, itís not a small rocket. Itís a good starting point for iteration, and I can see it getting up to 100 tonnes if they took a rapid iteration approach (which they arenít, unfortunately).

Falcon 9 more than doubled its payload capacity over its life. I donít think they need a bigger rocket than that, they need to execute their plan aggressively and then iterate upon that plan, adjusting the plan as they go.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2023 05:31 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #158 on: 02/27/2023 05:34 pm »
You guys are missing my point. I'm not saying his asperations are practical. I'm saying he's not trying to create a LEO business model. That's the same point Eric Berger was making too. LEO isn't his end goal. It's just a way station to pass thru. He knows he has to get to LEO, but only because it's a prerequisite to what he's actually doing. Suggesting he needs to do this or he needs to do that is totally and completely missing the point. Saying "BO needs to focus on something attainable" only reveals what YOU want him to do, not what he is actually doing. He's not interested in any of that stuff you want. He is not interested in LEO, no matter how much you think he should be. THAT is the point. All you are doing is painting him with the color that YOU think he should wear instead of the color he has already chosen for himself. Why? Because you know better that he does what he wants? I don't think so. He's NOT interested in LEO. Will he succeed? Not in this lifetime, no. But he already knows that and has said that multiple times. Whether you or I think his dream is achievable, or even possible, is irrelevant. It's HIS dream, not yours or mine. We don't get a say. All we can do is watch. So grab your popcorn and soda, sit back and watch the show. Cause he thinks he's going where no man has gone before. (Where have we heard that before?) And I think this show is going to be epic.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2023 05:39 pm by clongton »
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Offline Tommyboy

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #159 on: 02/27/2023 05:59 pm »
You guys are missing my point. I'm not saying his asperations are practical. I'm saying he's not trying to create a LEO business model. That's the same point Eric Berger was making too. LEO isn't his end goal. It's just a way station to pass thru. He knows he has to get to LEO, but only because it's a prerequisite to what he's actually doing. Suggesting he needs to do this or he needs to do that is totally and completely missing the point. Saying "BO needs to focus on something attainable" only reveals what YOU want him to do, not what he is actually doing. He's not interested in any of that stuff you want. He is not interested in LEO, no matter how much you think he should be. THAT is the point. All you are doing is painting him with the color that YOU think he should wear instead of the color he has already chosen for himself. Why? Because you know better that he does what he wants? I don't think so. He's NOT interested in LEO. Will he succeed? Not in this lifetime, no. But he already knows that and has said that multiple times. Whether you or I think his dream is achievable, or even possible, is irrelevant. It's HIS dream, not yours or mine. We don't get a say. All we can do is watch. So grab your popcorn and soda, sit back and watch the show. Cause he thinks he's going where no man has gone before. (Where have we heard that before?) And I think this show is going to be epic.
But who is going to continue his vision when Jeff kicks it? You still need someone with a similar vision and platinum card, and that can be difficult to find. I bet that if BO is not cashflow positive when Jeff is no more, BO will soon die as well.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #160 on: 02/27/2023 07:23 pm »
Stratolaunch is weirdly still alive. This is actually one area that I think Jeff might have planned better than Elon. (Although if Blue isnít on its feet soon, it wonít really matter.)
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #161 on: 02/27/2023 07:47 pm »
I thought you were exaggerating, but no, youíre right itís a billion ton. For 8km diameter, 32km long cylinder filled with air at 50% Earthís atmospheric pressure at sea level. Rule of thumb is that a good quality pressure vessel (like a Scuba tank) can be built that weighs the same as the compressed air inside of it, with appropriate safety margins.

Thatís just the largest one, tho.

Blue Origin is taking roughly the right approach if you believe the OíNeillian vision (I think the Moon is largely a dead end, tho). But they have to execute.

Blue has hinted at larger rockets a lot, but I actually think they started out too big for New Glenn. Even so, itís not a small rocket. Itís a good starting point for iteration, and I can see it getting up to 100 tonnes if they took a rapid iteration approach (which they arenít, unfortunately).

Falcon 9 more than doubled its payload capacity over its life. I donít think they need a bigger rocket than that, they need to execute their plan aggressively and then iterate upon that plan, adjusting the plan as they go.

And they come in pairs!

Also the walls will have to house everything.  Several millions of people, industry, agriculture, lakes, etc.  How much does your county weigh?

There's no path from here to there that's worth planning or preparing for. O'Neill Cylinders may be an outgrowth of very advanced lunar colonies, or asteroid civilization, or Mars->asteroid...  Or maybe they'll never make sense.  Who knows.

The thing is, you need a progression.  Get NG done, sure.  The window for making it profitable may or may not have closed by the time it flies, but BO is in a unique position where that doesn't matter.  Use NG to learn about space, and even land people on the moon.  But as soon as possible (as in, now), get going after NA, and give SpaceX some competition.  Build a vehicle that can go to the asteroids, and get set up a large scale lunar base.

BO needs near terms goals they're fully committed to, like SpaceX does. Or they'll continue to meander.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #162 on: 02/27/2023 07:51 pm »
Stratolaunch is weirdly still alive. This is actually one area that I think Jeff might have planned better than Elon. (Although if Blue isnít on its feet soon, it wonít really matter.)

I bet you're right, and Musk just figures if he's gone then let nature decide...

But, oddly, if Musk can keep it on track for another 10 years, once the Mars drive starts rolling, it may actually develop a life of its own.  And any vehicle that can make the trip will have work, and maybe that's when BO catches up.
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Offline tbellman

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #163 on: 02/27/2023 08:22 pm »
Just the air inside O'Neill cylinders weighs a billion tons. The envelope, which must have significant thickness, will weigh more.  As will the soil, water, etc.

Luckily, Island One is just some 70 million cubic meters in volume, and at half a bar pressure, the air would mass only around 40000-45000 tonnes.

You all do know that the 32km◊8km cylinder is the Island Three design, and that it would be preceded by the significantly smaller Island Two and Island One designs?

Now, I do agree that there are many steps between today and even Island One-sized orbital habitats, and that, as you said, you need near-time goals that you can commit yourself to and get experience from, in order to make progress towards the end goal.  It's just that it's so often that when people talk about O'Neill habitats, they only look at the Island Three design, and seem to think there was nothing inbetween that and now.  (And O'Neill was not wedded to those three designs.  They were really more feasibility studies -- what would it take to build habitats of those sizes; would it e.g. require breakthroughs in material science, or was 1970's technology enough?)

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #164 on: 02/27/2023 10:25 pm »
You guys are missing my point. I'm not saying his aspirations are practical. I'm saying he's not trying to create a LEO business model.

I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is."  So there are two ways forward:

1) Get interested in LEO, do the business development to be successful launching stuff to LEO, and be a launch company.  Note that Kuiper isn't going to be the cash cow that makes this easy: most of the launch contracts for the first tranche are going to ULA or Arianespace.

2) Figure out a way to be a cislunar and lunar surface operations company.  This is a tough row to hoe, but it's much closer to what Jeff wants to see in the long term.  It's a necessary predicate for enabling humans to live and work in orbit at high scale.  More importantly, it's a business where Blue hasn't been lapped by their competition.  But it's a high risk business, because nobody knows how to make money beyond earth orbit yet.

These are almost mutually exclusive.  The days of being able to enter the launch biz without putting everything you have into it are over.  Blue missed that opportunity by being too slow.  Jeff needs to do something really risky, or he might as well just climb back into the hot tub.

Offline ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #165 on: 02/28/2023 09:54 am »
You guys are missing my point. I'm not saying his aspirations are practical. I'm saying he's not trying to create a LEO business model.

I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is."  So there are two ways forward:

1) Get interested in LEO, do the business development to be successful launching stuff to LEO, and be a launch company.  Note that Kuiper isn't going to be the cash cow that makes this easy: most of the launch contracts for the first tranche are going to ULA or Arianespace.

2) Figure out a way to be a cislunar and lunar surface operations company.  This is a tough row to hoe, but it's much closer to what Jeff wants to see in the long term.  It's a necessary predicate for enabling humans to live and work in orbit at high scale.  More importantly, it's a business where Blue hasn't been lapped by their competition.  But it's a high risk business, because nobody knows how to make money beyond earth orbit yet.

These are almost mutually exclusive.  The days of being able to enter the launch biz without putting everything you have into it are over.  Blue missed that opportunity by being too slow.  Jeff needs to do something really risky, or he might as well just climb back into the hot tub.

I simply canít understand a serious space company not being interested in LEO. Itís where the sure money is. Government civil and military funding is robust. LEO satellite markets are proving to be highly elastic. Space tourism (which should be in Blue Originís blood) looks to be a huge untapped market: heck, look at the amount of money SpaceX have reportedly received from just two customers, Isaacman and Maezawa.

Lunar is no panacea. It is currently in favour but never underestimate the attraction of Mars. Success for Artemis III means that a practical Mars architecture has fundamentally been demonstrated. The risk of a loss of interest in the Moon and a pivot to Mars is real.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #166 on: 02/28/2023 12:28 pm »
I think clongton makes some really good points and that many of you are missing the point. You are first and foremost SpaceX fans (admit it) and therefore are projecting the SpaceX way and expectations onto BO. This is understandable and it's hard not to do.

However, the difference here (I believe) is the fact that Jeff Bezos is very wealthy. They don't *need* to rush. He can just fund BO, whether or not they are profitable, and if they want to, they can experiment with doing lunar stuff. A lot of people say "there's no market there", but hey, if Jeff wants to play around on the Moon, I guess why not.

It's frustrating to watch SpaceX and others doing exciting things and not compare the two.

Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #167 on: 02/28/2023 12:34 pm »
I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is." 

Quote
I simply can’t understand a serious space company not being interested in LEO. It’s where the sure money is.

Perfect example of people missing the boat.
The quote from Willie Sutton is accurate but the implied lesson is not. Willie Sutton went to the bank because he didn't have the money but the bank did, implying in this case that LEO is where the money is. For Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos is the bank. He doesn't have to go anywhere. He *IS* the bank.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2023 01:11 pm by clongton »
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Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #168 on: 02/28/2023 12:38 pm »
I think clongton makes some really good points and that many of you are missing the point. You are first and foremost SpaceX fans (admit it) and therefore are projecting the SpaceX way and expectations onto BO. This is understandable and it's hard not to do.

However, the difference here (I believe) is the fact that Jeff Bezos is very wealthy. They don't *need* to rush. He can just fund BO, whether or not they are profitable, and if they want to, they can experiment with doing lunar stuff. A lot of people say "there's no market there", but hey, if Jeff wants to play around on the Moon, I guess why not.

It's frustrating to watch SpaceX and others doing exciting things and not compare the two.

Exactly!
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Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #169 on: 02/28/2023 12:56 pm »
Luckily, Island One is just some 70 million cubic meters in volume, and at half a bar pressure, the air would mass only around 40000-45000 tonnes.

You all do know that the 32km◊8km cylinder is the Island Three design, and that it would be preceded by the significantly smaller Island Two and Island One designs?

Jeff may not be interested in LEO but if his ultimate goal is the O'Neill cylinder then he IS interested in the moon, because that's where all the material will come from to build them.  See this summary article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Neill_cylinder

To demonstrate that is the direction of his thinking, note that BO's newest project is creating Solar Cells from the lunar rigoleth. It clearly demonstrates that his interest in the moon is focused on ISRU applications. But not for moon bases! If I'm right, his aim is to produce as much as he can for the O'Neill cylinder on the moon. I'd wager his plans include ISRU factories on the lunar surface for the express purpose of creating O'Neill cylinders.

Is it practical? Who knows. But American physicist Gerard K. O'Neill certainly believed it was. And Jeff Bezos clearly agrees.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2023 01:18 pm by clongton »
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #170 on: 02/28/2023 01:39 pm »
You guys are missing my point. I'm not saying his aspirations are practical. I'm saying he's not trying to create a LEO business model.

I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is."  So there are two ways forward:

1) Get interested in LEO, do the business development to be successful launching stuff to LEO, and be a launch company.  Note that Kuiper isn't going to be the cash cow that makes this easy: most of the launch contracts for the first tranche are going to ULA or Arianespace.

2) Figure out a way to be a cislunar and lunar surface operations company.  This is a tough row to hoe, but it's much closer to what Jeff wants to see in the long term.  It's a necessary predicate for enabling humans to live and work in orbit at high scale.  More importantly, it's a business where Blue hasn't been lapped by their competition.  But it's a high risk business, because nobody knows how to make money beyond earth orbit yet.

These are almost mutually exclusive.  The days of being able to enter the launch biz without putting everything you have into it are over.  Blue missed that opportunity by being too slow.  Jeff needs to do something really risky, or he might as well just climb back into the hot tub.

I simply canít understand a serious space company not being interested in LEO. Itís where the sure money is. Government civil and military funding is robust. LEO satellite markets are proving to be highly elastic. Space tourism (which should be in Blue Originís blood) looks to be a huge untapped market: heck, look at the amount of money SpaceX have reportedly received from just two customers, Isaacman and Maezawa.

Lunar is no panacea. It is currently in favour but never underestimate the attraction of Mars. Success for Artemis III means that a practical Mars architecture has fundamentally been demonstrated. The risk of a loss of interest in the Moon and a pivot to Mars is real.
Maybe y'all are taking it too literally, especially since it wasn't even a direct quote.

How about instead: "JB is not interested in space habitats in LEO", as in he's not thinking about Reefs as anything but maybe a funded project that gets him some  experience.

I don't agree with him about the eventual value of such habitats (though physically they are possible) but at least that interpretation makes more sense.

He wants him cylinders in high orbit or even solar orbit.  Large enough to move heavy industry into. Shrug. It's definitely a high goal.
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Offline spacenut

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #171 on: 02/28/2023 01:51 pm »
L1 or L2 points are easier to reach from earth for a space manufacturing station as well as access to lunar materials.  But like most everyone said, Bezos needs a rocket.  New Glenn is a starter, followed by New Armstrong.  Bezos' does seem to spend a lot of time and money going after things other than New Glenn.  New engines, lunar lander, the Reef space station, etc.  I think he should focus on getting New Glenn going with two good engines, BE-4 and BE-3U.  He shouldn't get distracted by other things.  Even his constellation is a distraction, late, and SpaceX Starlink as well as other companies have already started launching and getting customers. 

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #172 on: 02/28/2023 01:54 pm »
The problem with the 'BO don't care about LEO, they want moon mining/workers in cislunar space/etc' idea is that it's not what BO have been doing. If they wanted to stimulate demand for people working in space, the fastest way to do that would to be to act as a private 'anchor customer' to multiple providers: launch providers, commercial station providers, lunar miners, etc e.g. set a lucrative incentive for raw metallics and similar delivered to E-M L1). In effect, rapidly bootstrapping the commercial space economy to the point it can self-sustain with multiple competitive providers and sufficient demand to allow economic cases to close that could not at small scale, by providing enough initial demand rather than waiting for it to grow organically or relying on NASA to serve as sole customer
Instead, they've spent a couple of decades and some $billion on attempting to approach the commercial launch market. It'd be like attempting to reach the goal of millions of people working on the oceans by working on screw propeller production - yes, that's one prerequesite, but it's reinventing the wheel. The vast majority of BO's R&D work could be replaced today by commercial procurement.

Offline ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #173 on: 02/28/2023 02:26 pm »
I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is." 

Quote
I simply canít understand a serious space company not being interested in LEO. Itís where the sure money is.

Perfect example of people missing the boat.
The quote from Willie Sutton is accurate but the implied lesson is not. Willie Sutton went to the bank because he didn't have the money but the bank did, implying in this case that LEO is where the money is. For Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos is the bank. He doesn't have to go anywhere. He *IS* the bank.

If Bezos isnít interested in the money why has Blue spent so many years desperately chasing every lucrative government contract?

The actions of Blue are not the actions of a company with a coherent master plan and limitless money.

Offline trimeta

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #174 on: 02/28/2023 02:31 pm »
The problem with the view "Blue Origin doesn't need money, that's what Bezos is for" is that without a profit motive (e.g., "we're building these things because there's a contract and a deadline"), things don't get done. Past a certain point (and BO is clearly past this point), the relationship between funding and progress is negative. Perhaps the argument is that Bezos doesn't care how long it takes, he doesn't care if things get accomplished within his lifetime, he just wants to move the ball forward a little bit so that the next generation can carry things onwards. But at some point BO is so slow they're at risk of "living in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than they do" (to quote Silicon Valley).

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #175 on: 02/28/2023 02:32 pm »
The quote from Willie Sutton is accurate but the implied lesson is not. Willie Sutton went to the bank because he didn't have the money but the bank did, implying in this case that LEO is where the money is. For Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos is the bank. He doesn't have to go anywhere. He *IS* the bank.

Without a healthy, sustaining LEO business, he needs a much bigger bank.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #176 on: 02/28/2023 03:22 pm »
Iím sure Jeff Bezos had some role in creating Kuiper. And if Iím honest, Kuiper might end up being more helpful for making humanity spacefaring than anything blue origin has done. It has essentially rescued ULA, for instance, and will provide launch demand for a bunch of other rockets. And by providing good competition for Starlink, it may cement LEO megaconstellations as an ongoing thing regardless of SpaceX.

Blue itself doesnít necessarily need to do anything special in LEO.

Competition that may reduce Starlink profits sounds bad, but itís not. It forces SpaceX to work hard, even if Elon disappears ( dying of old age, taken out by Putin or the ďULA sniperĒ or just going deeper into pointless culture warsÖ or semi-retiring like Bezos). And because Kuiper is a real business, it has a positive forcing function even without Jeff Bezos in the picture. Kuiper may even provide launch demand for Starship. (Even more possible if Starlink is spun off.)
« Last Edit: 02/28/2023 03:33 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #177 on: 02/28/2023 03:38 pm »
But then you actually have to compare Starlink against Blue's potential megaconstellation payloads.  Kuiper probably will be a good megaconstellation, but Starlink looks like it will be in a different class entirely at that time and Kuiper won't provide meaningful competition.  After all, Starlink Gen2 will be at least 7,500 two-ton sats.  OneWeb and Telesat keep getting smaller in the rear-view mirror.

All told, there's a good chance that Blue won't have a sustainable business in LEO, even though that's exactly what they need.  Both the launchers and their payloads need to be competitive.  Table stakes for LEO will be several billion dollars a year.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2023 03:55 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #178 on: 02/28/2023 04:03 pm »
A moat becomes a cage when companies become complacent. SpaceX doesnít seem to be in any danger of that at the moment, but Kuiper (and Blue) can help serve as insurance in case they do.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #179 on: 02/28/2023 04:09 pm »
SpaceX isn't defending and they don't need a moat.  Rather, they're salting Blue's fields as an afterthought.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #180 on: 02/28/2023 04:51 pm »
A moat becomes a cage when companies become complacent. SpaceX doesnít seem to be in any danger of that at the moment, but Kuiper (and Blue) can help serve as insurance in case they do.

Ironically, the company that's acting complacent is BO...
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #181 on: 02/28/2023 04:54 pm »
A moat becomes a cage when companies become complacent. SpaceX doesnít seem to be in any danger of that at the moment, but Kuiper (and Blue) can help serve as insurance in case they do.

Ironically, the company that's acting complacent is BO...
And they acted that way nearly from the beginning.
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Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #182 on: 02/28/2023 08:02 pm »
I agree that LEO is not his end goal.  But you can't operate a launcher and not be interested in LEO.  As Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is." 

Quote
I simply canít understand a serious space company not being interested in LEO. Itís where the sure money is.

Perfect example of people missing the boat.
The quote from Willie Sutton is accurate but the implied lesson is not. Willie Sutton went to the bank because he didn't have the money but the bank did, implying in this case that LEO is where the money is. For Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos is the bank. He doesn't have to go anywhere. He *IS* the bank.

We seem to be talking past each other a bit.  I think we both agree that Blue (or at least Jeff) are more interested in spinning up cislunar and lunar surface operations than managing LEO operations.  Where we differ, however, is whether Blue can continue to invest in New Glenn without de facto being sucked into the existing LEO economy.

I also disagree that Jeff's pockets are deep enough to swing for the fences on cislunar/lunar surface stuff and successfully manage a less-than-competitive launcher.  Blue will have to sink tens of $B into cislunar/surface with extremely high risk tolerance and a very long time horizon on return if they're to be successful.  Even Jeff will have trouble doing that while still keeping New Glenn afloat.

New Glenn is a mistake.  Even New Armstrong will likely be a mistake.  If you operate launchers, you are by definition "interested in LEO".  The proper course of action is to realize that Blue can't be competitive in launch and to contract those services from another provider (guess which one).  Then he can concentrate on the project in which he's actually interested--and possibly be successful in doing so.

Offline clongton

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #183 on: 02/28/2023 08:50 pm »
We seem to be talking past each other a bit.  I think we both agree that Blue (or at least Jeff) are more interested in spinning up cislunar and lunar surface operations than managing LEO operations.  Where we differ, however, is whether Blue can continue to invest in New Glenn without de facto being sucked into the existing LEO economy.

We are more in agreement than you think. First I never said anything about New Glenn at all. Second, I specifically stated something - to the effect - that whether or not his dream/approach is practical is a different matter. Something like that. The point I was trying to make is that Bezos does have a dream he wants to get underway and it is NOT to be competitive in a LEO destination business model. He's not interested in LEO except insofar as it's someplace he has to go to in order to continue his journey. Of course he will take advantage of opportunities that offer themselves, the same way that Musk took advantage of the HLS for lunar surface missions. Musk has absolutely no interest in going to the moon. None. But giving NASA a lunar HLS does help his Mars ambitions, so long as it doesn't become a major distraction. Bezos will do the same thing to further his ambitions if presented with a LEO opportunity to do so, but he also will carefully manage it to prevent it becoming a distraction. It can't be said enough: Jeff Bezos is not interested in LEO. He's not interested in doing business in LEO. He has a far more ambitious vision and those who insist that he must first establish a business case for LEO are simply too limited in their thinking to comprehend where Jeff is going.
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Offline seb21051

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #184 on: 10/16/2023 03:32 am »
Some thoughts I had. I expect to get hammered hard, but my ego should be able to take it. If not, I'll go cry in the corner. Some may agree, some will (vehemently) disagree. Understand this: none of this is intended as criticism, simply observations and opinions based on such observations.

Very little has been said about the personality that is JB. What are his strengths?

1. Very good salesman and entrepreneur.
2. Very astute businessman. Kept ploughing AZ's profits back into the business for the longest time, against the wishes of the markets, etc. He could see the way clear as to how to make AZ as big as it has become - this was fundamental to his success, seeing a clear path. It probably didn't all come to him as one massive Project Management Chart on day one. But he surely could see the next right step to take most days.
3. Was able to really excel at building AZ, and allowing tech infrastructure to blossom, like the cloud, the in-house electronic products, the software, the AI, etc.
4. Not an engineering mind. Understands little about the design process, manufacturing, software. Looks to subordinates to supply that type of expertise. Does not understand at a fundamental level how engineers think.
5. Good at keeping said subordinate's noses to the grindstone as long as he can see a clear path to monetizing their efforts.
6. Everything he does in business he seems to see through the filter of monetization. Except his hobbies, there monetization seems less important, almost a secondary consideration. It seems that that's what BO essentially was, for a long time. Now, BO seems to be cleaning house, somewhat. CEO and other Executives leaving, as well as 40 engineers and software folks, out of about 10K employees. Perhaps the bottom 0.1% of non-performing folks?

Personality traits:

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.
2. Insecure, in his love of money for money's sake. And everything it buys him. massive real estate, expensive boats, etc.
3. Does seem to learn lessons from some mistakes, like the problems all the law suits created for his and BO's reputations.
4. Does not easily admit to mistakes or failures, very secretive. The biggest driver of a vulnerable ego is fear; fear of ridicule, of being seen as a failure. Like 45.

Drives/motivations:

1. Make a lot of money. He succeeded.
2. Some kind of huge space business, feeding a childhood fascination.
3. Since he cannot seem to see a direct way to create such a money machine, he is looking to what other more successful companies are doing, and attempting to copy them, thinking he can simply crush them as BO gets (hopefully) bigger and more successful.  Problem is, selling knick-knacks is relatively easy; Space is hard. Explains why he decided to follow the Old-Space Model (OSM) for so long. To him, they were successful, and would continue to be. But, it takes a very special and singular type of person to successfully cause such a tremendous disruption in something as difficult and stagnant as the space industry. Now he's realizing that the New Space Model (NSM) is where the pot of gold lives.
4. So he takes a page from the Consultant's Report and looks to make some NSM changes. But very timidly. Trying to keep one foot in the OSM camp, and one in the NSM. Figuring he'll play both sides and win that way.
5. He is not the only one who is misunderstanding Musk. But, there are quite a few (the NSMs) who get Musk's efforts and way of thinking quite well. JB isn't there yet.

So, what will happen in his future? Will he finally get the NSM buzz or not? And if he does, will he embrace it to the extent required to lift him out of his depression? Because I think the longer he hangs on to the OSM, or any hybrid thereof, the more depressed he will get. BO will not become Space Amazon, unless he can corner, oh, something like the Lunar/Asteroid Mining Industry. Imagine figuring out the shortest effective path to that! He has till 2029 when Psyche hits its destination.

Step one: Budget enough to design and manufacture the best and lightest mining equipment and refineries.
Step two: Budget enough to design and manufacture 50Kton Payload Space Semis to get the mining equipment transported to the mine-face, and bring the ore to the refineries, and thence the finished products to their destinations at L1/L2.
Step three: Start training people/robots to build Huge Cylinders in Space.

Ok, JB, that is the challenge, if you're up to it.
« Last Edit: 10/16/2023 03:59 am by seb21051 »

Offline whitelancer64

*snip*

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.

*snip*

Isn't that completely the other way around? Elon Musk is famous for being vindictive, easily angered, and lashing out.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline seb21051

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #186 on: 10/16/2023 04:27 am »
*snip*

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.

*snip*

Isn't that completely the other way around? Elon Musk is famous for being vindictive, easily angered, and lashing out.

Entirely possible.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #187 on: 10/16/2023 04:35 am »
Just came here to say that we all know Bezos is not interested in LEO, seeing as he hasnít gone there yet despite having a Space Launch company for 20 years.
« Last Edit: 10/16/2023 04:39 am by M.E.T. »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #188 on: 10/16/2023 05:08 am »


*snip*

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.

*snip*

Isn't that completely the other way around? Elon Musk is famous for being vindictive, easily angered, and lashing out.

I don't think he was comparing the two.  This was a standalone analysis.

But besides that, IMO the problem with JB is not a personality issue.  It's just that he doesn't have a feasible plan.

JB is super capable, but he's not the engineer EM is, and he's landed on a track ("oneillian"?) that's just not viable.

EM couldn't make O'Neill cylinders happen either, but EM knew it, and has chosen a different plan.

That's the long and short of it. Musk is following a plan that makes sense. Bezos can't connect the dots, realistically, between here and millions of people working in space.
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Online chopsticks

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #189 on: 10/16/2023 06:19 am »
*snip*

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.

*snip*

Isn't that completely the other way around? Elon Musk is famous for being vindictive, easily angered, and lashing out.

Entirely possible.
Both maybe?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #190 on: 10/16/2023 06:41 am »
Some thoughts I had. I expect to get hammered hard, but my ego should be able to take it. If not, I'll go cry in the corner. Some may agree, some will (vehemently) disagree. Understand this: none of this is intended as criticism, simply observations and opinions based on such observations.


Very little has been said about the personality that is JB. What are his strengths?

1. Very good salesman and entrepreneur.
2. Very astute businessman. Kept ploughing AZ's profits back into the business for the longest time, against the wishes of the markets, etc. He could see the way clear as to how to make AZ as big as it has become - this was fundamental to his success, seeing a clear path. It probably didn't all come to him as one massive Project Management Chart on day one. But he surely could see the next right step to take most days.
3. Was able to really excel at building AZ, and allowing tech infrastructure to blossom, like the cloud, the in-house electronic products, the software, the AI, etc.
4. Not an engineering mind. Understands little about the design process, manufacturing, software. Looks to subordinates to supply that type of expertise. Does not understand at a fundamental level how engineers think.
5. Good at keeping said subordinate's noses to the grindstone as long as he can see a clear path to monetizing their efforts.
6. Everything he does in business he seems to see through the filter of monetization. Except his hobbies, there monetization seems less important, almost a secondary consideration. It seems that that's what BO essentially was, for a long time. Now, BO seems to be cleaning house, somewhat. CEO and other Executives leaving, as well as 40 engineers and software folks, out of about 10K employees. Perhaps the bottom 0.1% of non-performing folks?

Personality traits:

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.
2. Insecure, in his love of money for money's sake. And everything it buys him. massive real estate, expensive boats, etc.
3. Does seem to learn lessons from some mistakes, like the problems all the law suits created for his and BO's reputations.
4. Does not easily admit to mistakes or failures, very secretive. The biggest driver of a vulnerable ego is fear; fear of ridicule, of being seen as a failure. Like 45.

Drives/motivations:

1. Make a lot of money. He succeeded.
2. Some kind of huge space business, feeding a childhood fascination.
3. Since he cannot seem to see a direct way to create such a money machine, he is looking to what other more successful companies are doing, and attempting to copy them, thinking he can simply crush them as BO gets (hopefully) bigger and more successful.  Problem is, selling knick-knacks is relatively easy; Space is hard. Explains why he decided to follow the Old-Space Model (OSM) for so long. To him, they were successful, and would continue to be. But, it takes a very special and singular type of person to successfully cause such a tremendous disruption in something as difficult and stagnant as the space industry. Now he's realizing that the New Space Model (NSM) is where the pot of gold lives.
4. So he takes a page from the Consultant's Report and looks to make some NSM changes. But very timidly. Trying to keep one foot in the OSM camp, and one in the NSM. Figuring he'll play both sides and win that way.
5. He is not the only one who is misunderstanding Musk. But, there are quite a few (the NSMs) who get Musk's efforts and way of thinking quite well. JB isn't there yet.

So, what will happen in his future? Will he finally get the NSM buzz or not? And if he does, will he embrace it to the extent required to lift him out of his depression? Because I think the longer he hangs on to the OSM, or any hybrid thereof, the more depressed he will get. BO will not become Space Amazon, unless he can corner, oh, something like the Lunar/Asteroid Mining Industry. Imagine figuring out the shortest effective path to that! He has till 2029 when Psyche hits its destination.

Step one: Budget enough to design and manufacture the best and lightest mining equipment and refineries.
Step two: Budget enough to design and manufacture 50Kton Payload Space Semis to get the mining equipment transported to the mine-face, and bring the ore to the refineries, and thence the finished products to their destinations at L1/L2.
Step three: Start training people/robots to build Huge Cylinders in Space.

Ok, JB, that is the challenge, if you're up to it.
I agree with much of what you are saying with a couple of exceptions.  Bezos vision is too far out to have a coherent plan.  He needs to focus on more near term goals as steps towards his long term goals like Musk has.  Getting New Glenn and the lunar lander done should be his primary focus.  Orbital Reef is too far out right now.  No one knows for sure if there will be a big enough market for commercial space stations of the size they are looking at in the rest of this decade.  None of those plans matter if he doesn't get New Glenn flying.  He has a commitment to get his lunar lander done and that could lead to commercial opportunities on the Moon in the next decade.  But once again none of that matters if he doesn't get New Glenn and his lunar lander done.

Once this next generation of vehicles is done, it will become much clearer how to get to the next step in developing a cis-lunar economy.  O'Neil cylinders, commercial space stations, etc. needs to be just aspirational until his foundation is in place.  If he gets a lot of business launching large constellations of satellites (Kuiper and possible others) it will give him a company more capable of developing commercial opportunities on the Moon and out to the asteroids.  He is going too slow because he's bitten off more than he can chew.  And yes he does need to embrace more o a New Space Mentality.

I also think he would be better off being more transparent with Blue because he would get more feedback on what he's doing right and doing wrong.  It would also build more trust early with potential customers.  With his personality, I doubt he will change easily.  Musk pivots on a dime when he sees a better way (switching form carbon fiber to stainless steel).  The only pivot I've seen Blue make is with the design of their lunar lander after their first design showed major problems and they got significant outside feedback.  That should be a lesson learned.

Offline seb21051

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #191 on: 10/16/2023 06:45 am »
*snip*

1. Vulnerable ego. Allows someone like Musk to get to him. Leading to vindictiveness, anger, lashing out and small mindedness.

*snip*

Isn't that completely the other way around? Elon Musk is famous for being vindictive, easily angered, and lashing out.

Entirely possible.
Both maybe?

A definite possible maybe.

Offline seb21051

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #192 on: 10/16/2023 07:22 am »
Interesting piece about Dave Limp, BO's new CEO: Wonder if he was one of the 27,000 victims of Jassy's Roomba clean sweep?

So they are going from an Old Space Grizzly to an ex AZ Electronics Products SVP (And head of Kuiper?) who had a hand in losing AZ around $10B, with the job of right-sizing and streamlining the BO Playpen. I look forward to the next season of fun, pranks, japes and adventures!

Also, I think Gradatim Ferocitor would make an awesome TV series title. Free with Prime, of course.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2023/08/longtime-chief-of-amazons-money-losing-hardware-business-will-depart-this-year/
« Last Edit: 10/16/2023 07:38 am by seb21051 »

Offline tyrred

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #193 on: 10/16/2023 07:28 am »
Blue and Bezos are not interested in LEO.

Yes, we know. It is painfully clear.

Why do I feel compelled to comment here?

The people employed at Blue Origin. To create an economy in space.

They may be close to you. Some of them are bright-eyed youngsters, hoping to build a brighter future at their first aerospace job. Some of them are industry veterans, who went where their expertise pays better than other more successful aerospace companies, or the culture is less stressful.

What is all their talent and work for? Where is it heading?

Will it survive Bezos' billions?

It's really sad, when I think back to the days of New Goddard. It made me really hopeful to watch that hop so long ago.

A part of me really hopes that Blue's motto "graditim ferociter" is going to kick the bucket.

Hopefully the day New Glenn launches, they replace it with "proxime ferociter" and actually f•Ä|πg compete.
« Last Edit: 10/16/2023 07:36 am by tyrred »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #194 on: 10/16/2023 08:55 am »
<snip>
So, what will happen in his future? Will he finally get the NSM buzz or not? And if he does, will he embrace it to the extent required to lift him out of his depression? Because I think the longer he hangs on to the OSM, or any hybrid thereof, the more depressed he will get. BO will not become Space Amazon, unless he can corner, oh, something like the Lunar/Asteroid Mining Industry. Imagine figuring out the shortest effective path to that! He has till 2029 when Psyche hits its destination.

Step one: Budget enough to design and manufacture the best and lightest mining equipment and refineries.
Step two: Budget enough to design and manufacture 50Kton Payload Space Semis to get the mining equipment transported to the mine-face, and bring the ore to the refineries, and thence the finished products to their destinations at L1/L2.
Step three: Start training people/robots to build Huge Cylinders in Space.

Ok, JB, that is the challenge, if you're up to it.
For step two maybe hiring someone else to do space logistics if that is cheaper and/or quicker.

So could concentrated more on step one.

Oh, JB shouldn't expect everything to work out at start after step 3. He will have to be patience and be willing to spend as needs arise.

Offline woods170

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Re: Per Eric Berger, Blue and Bezos not really interested in LEO
« Reply #195 on: 10/16/2023 01:58 pm »
Just came here to say that we all know Bezos is not interested in LEO, seeing as he hasnít gone there yet despite having a Space Launch company for 20 23 years.

Fixed that for ya!

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