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SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX Reusability => Topic started by: Radical_Ignorant on 05/25/2016 06:09 PM

Title: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Radical_Ignorant on 05/25/2016 06:09 PM
I've seen discussion about this spread around multiple topics. Please kill this topic if there is already one but I couldn't find it on my phone browser.

So there are various guesses but often vehicle price is guessed as 70% first stage, 30% upper stage. So initial impression is that flying reused booster can reduce launch cost by 70%. Of course that's not true, because there is refrubrishment cost, launch operation cost,  payload integration cost etc. Still it sounds like if reusing 1st stage could reduce cost by about 50%. And we still are not talking about price as it makes no sense for Space X to reduce their profit from service provided so it is about cost reduction which is different from price reduction.
Let's assume that this 50% cost price is good enough to include price of stage if split among multiple launches so it's 50% cost reduction for all launches.

Is that the case? No. Because building stage is only part of it's cost. There is also R&D cost per stage which is independent from if stage is build or not. There are for sure people here who know how  big part is this. But please keep in mind it's not development of Falcon9 cost. It's quite pernament cost of keeping engineering department in house. Which is used to improve technology continuesly. And I believe it's quite a cost. So Space X needs to earn enough by their services to pay for it. Since they are continuesly innovating this can be treated as kind of fixed cost indendent from if rockets are build or not. This cost could be reduced once tech is developed but nobody (except some imaginary investors and short sighted clients) really want Space X to be scalled down.

Finally there is keeping production line cost. Those are employees which are not hired by temporary work agency. Nobody want SpaceX to lose higly qualified work force.

So finally my reasoning is that reusing (in short term) saves very little. Some raw materials and outsorced parts, but those are not many.

What reusability allows is to use resurces currently engaged in building stages to be used for other purposes. If there is market increase  some of those can be transferred to build more second stages. Now for the same operational cost there can be more launches and there ara real savings.

But if launch rate doesn't grow enough or SpaceX doesn't  scale down there is only limited saving.

So assuming reusability is given and SpaceX won't scale down, which I believe are true assumtions, cost reduction allowed by this humongous achievement is dependent from demand side and can be very small if there is no increase in launch rate.

Space X has some backlog so some increase is possible. But how big is that?

And am I missing something? Maybe raw materials and outsorced parts are really costly? Or my reasoning is flawed?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: bstrong on 05/25/2016 06:45 PM
There have been lots of discussions on this, and pretty much everyone agrees that you need a high launch rate to justify reuse. The main disagreement is over what exactly that launch rate is and how likely SpaceX is to achieve it.

I recommend these threads:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35829.0
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37390.0
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Radical_Ignorant on 05/25/2016 07:35 PM
Sorry - my fault, or mobile opera to have something to blame :p
Economics of reusability is exactly the thread which I failed to found. Thanks a lot for pointing me there.

And this thread probably should be removed since it's duplicate to keep things clear. I couldn't do that myself.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/25/2016 08:19 PM
The Economics of Reusability topic is old, last posted in 2014. It's a good topic to review for context, but probably since it's locked, discussion should continue here[1].

1 - Ignore the fact that I merged them together, realised it was old and locked, and then unmerged them. Just ignore it, I say!!!
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/25/2016 11:46 PM
Gwynne Shotwell stated that a reused core would have a price reduced by 30%.  Since she seemed to be talking about now, I'd assume that she was talking about the present launch rate and manifest.  This should be a good price point to start the discussion.

Assuming the reused vehicle costs zero to refurbish*, the rest of launch costs plus profit (without considering the first stage) equal that 70% remaining -- nominally $43M.  If refurbishment costs are x, then the rest of launch costs are $43M minus x minus profit.

Note: Some say that SpaceX isn't making a profit, and others say they are losing money on each launch, so profit can be thought of as positive, zero, or negative.

* Recovery costs are part of 'refurbish'
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: SoulWager on 05/26/2016 04:31 AM
The key issue has always been elasticity of demand, and the key issues for elasticity of demand are risk tolerance and time. Even a 50% discount is still be a lot of money for a startup.

I think SpaceX may need to fill its manifest gaps with home grown payloads while waiting for the satellite manufacturers to catch up. Hopefully that satellite internet thing works out.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/26/2016 07:12 AM
There have been lots of discussions on this, and pretty much everyone agrees that you need a high launch rate to justify reuse.

I have to disagree on this. It's an old assumption, based on the expectation that a reusable design is a lot more expensive than an expendable one, requiring a lot of flights to recover cost. The Falcon reusable family is barely more expensive than expendable. It makes money with the first reuse.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: abaddon on 05/26/2016 01:52 PM
It makes money with the first reuse.
Assuming cost to recover & refurbish is lower than cost to manufacture, yes.  I have a really hard time seeing them burn $25-$30 million or whatever to recover & refurbish a first stage, so I agree.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Rocket Science on 05/26/2016 02:02 PM
I'm just going to add a thought. Just because a stage it deemed "reusable" and launched it may not be "reliable"... One needs to factor this into the cost structure estimates...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/26/2016 02:15 PM
I'm just going to add a thought. Just because a stage it deemed "reusable" and launched it may not be "reliable"... One needs to factor this into the cost structure estimates...

If rocket failures form a bathtub curve the reused stages will be more reliable than new ones, at least for a few launches.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Dudely on 05/26/2016 02:36 PM
It makes money with the first reuse.
Assuming cost to recover & refurbish is lower than cost to manufacture, yes.  I have a really hard time seeing them burn $25-$30 million or whatever to recover & refurbish a first stage, so I agree.

A stage costs no more than $15 million. We know this because expendable FH costs 30 million > expendable F9.

If recovery and refurbishment cost 3 million they have saved roughly 80% of their costs. They could then lower the price to about 50 million and have the same profit per mission.

I have heard Gwyne say they expect to go as low as 43 million for reused flights but I don't see how the math works.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/26/2016 03:45 PM
I'm just going to add a thought. Just because a stage it deemed "reusable" and launched it may not be "reliable"... One needs to factor this into the cost structure estimates...

IMO reusable implies reliable. An unreliable stage won't fly, SpaceX or any other provider cannot afford it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: nadreck on 05/26/2016 04:01 PM

A stage costs no more than $15 million. We know this because expendable FH costs 30 million > expendable F9.



I don't see where you can infer that it is expendable first stages on the launch vehicles quoted at $62M and $90M on http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities). The inference from the performance limits written in small print right below the price is that they are recoverable launches.  However, I do infer that an expendable F9 must cost more than $90M or there would be no incentive to use an FH.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: schaban on 05/26/2016 04:20 PM
I think what gets constantly overlooked are savings on logistics.
You save on whole operations between California, Texas and Florida for the most costly piece of equipment. Including tests.
You eliminate static fire and WDR.
those are significant parts of launch cost. much bigger then leasing ships
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Rocket Science on 05/26/2016 04:22 PM
I'm just going to add a thought. Just because a stage it deemed "reusable" and launched it may not be "reliable"... One needs to factor this into the cost structure estimates...

IMO reusable implies reliable. An unreliable stage won't fly, SpaceX or any other provider cannot afford it.
Yes I agree in theory, however the conclusion can not be drawn until repeated successful "reliable-reused" flights have been demonstrated...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tp1024 on 05/26/2016 05:21 PM

A stage costs no more than $15 million. We know this because expendable FH costs 30 million > expendable F9.



I don't see where you can infer that it is expendable first stages on the launch vehicles quoted at $62M and $90M on http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities). The inference from the performance limits written in small print right below the price is that they are recoverable launches.  However, I do infer that an expendable F9 must cost more than $90M or there would be no incentive to use an FH.

If we assume that reusability reduces maximum payload by about 30% and take 22.2 tons to GTO as a baseline for FH, then a reusable FH should have a payload of just under 16 tons. FH could carry two 8ton payloads. If a single 8-ton-payload costs $90mio, they will probably try to get two payloads. (The market being what it is, they will probably be in the 6-7ton range.)

So, it is reasonable to assume a (fully expendable) launch price on the order of $180mio for FH. Triple the price of a fully expendable F9. And why shouldn't that be the case?

FH will require a special core stage that will not benefit from the same economies of scale as a regular F9, more quality control to ensure proper detachment of the boosters plus the necessary equipment. It does need dedicated erectors and launch pads that must somehow be financed. I would also consider it likely that FH will get a bigger upper stage than F9, a beefier payload adapter (the current one is only suitable up to 10.5 tons payload) and probably also a bigger fairing.

There will be some extra cost, so the price is quite justified. Frankly, $90mio for an FH launch without reuse strikes me as quite ludicrous.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: abaddon on 05/26/2016 05:30 PM
So, it is reasonable to assume a (fully expendable) launch price on the order of $180mio for FH. Triple the price of a fully expendable F9. And why shouldn't that be the case?
Only one S2, interstage, PLF.  Any non-hardware cost (range fees, payload processing, etc) are likely to be closer to F9 than triple F9 costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: nadreck on 05/26/2016 05:53 PM


If we assume that reusability reduces maximum payload by about 30% and take 22.2 tons to GTO as a baseline for FH, then a reusable FH should have a payload of just under 16 tons. FH could carry two 8ton payloads. If a single 8-ton-payload costs $90mio, they will probably try to get two payloads. (The market being what it is, they will probably be in the 6-7ton range.)

If you look at http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39181.msg1521480#msg1521480 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39181.msg1521480#msg1521480) which was modeled with the original full thrust numbers you will see that this is not the case. Also why would they mix an LV cost for F9 with a shared payload cost for FH side by side?

You can also play with my spreadsheet model see http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227) and the posts it refers to for more details.


So, it is reasonable to assume a (fully expendable) launch price on the order of $180mio for FH. Triple the price of a fully expendable F9. And why shouldn't that be the case?

The side boosters have been described by Elon as almost identical to F9 cores and current estimates by a number of members on NSF (myself included) are that S1 cores cost between $20M and $25M to produce.


There will be some extra cost, so the price is quite justified. Frankly, $90mio for an FH launch without reuse strikes me as quite ludicrous.

Exactly my point $90M is for a launch with all cores recoverable. In fact with all cores RTLS'ing  (EDIT to add a parenthetic: "at least as far as my modelling suggests")
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Mader Levap on 05/26/2016 09:59 PM
A stage costs no more than $15 million. We know this because expendable FH costs 30 million > expendable F9.
Wrong. 60 milion is for expendable F9, but 90 milion is for at least partially reusable FH.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/27/2016 04:53 AM
Let me see if I can clear uop some confusion that seems to run rampant on this subject.

The terms expendable and reusable when applied in the context of flight profiles does not drive costs. It is whether the booster per GS is new or used. This is because recovery is still a much higher risk than launch and basing costs on flight profiles would be at first backwards with a fully expendable actually costing less than a recovery. In fact it would always be that way. But a recovery gets you back a stage that can be reused that for the next launch would enable offering a discount.

The other confusion comes from the association that is made because the two items are next to each other of price and payload. The prices are for new boosters. The payload is for a recovery profile. The point being that with new boosters an expendable profile would have the same price.

Now for where that $90M price for FH came from. Back when the F9 was priced at $54M and there was two hardware versions for FH of crossfeed and no-crossfeed, the $90M number was associated with the no-crossfeed. A value of $125M was shown for the crossfeed. The key here is that the current makeup of the FH is a no-crossfeed and would follow closely to that pricing of $90M. But also that $90M was for new and not used boosters as well. Although reuse was on the horizon it was not part of the pricing workups at that time.

The conclusion is that with other statements of GS is that the price of a F9 with used booster would be ~$43M and a FH with all 3 used boosters probably ~$50M (~6M more because of the cost of refurbishment etc of the 2 extra boosters). In modeling the cost of manufacture the cost of a 1st stage of $17M makes all the number s come out right if SpaceX only makes the same total profit on an FH flight (lower profit margin) that they do on a F9 flight. Making all other costs and profit for a flight besides the cost of the 1st stgaes manufacture to be ~40M for either F9 or FH. So the differences in price for an F9 with used booster and a FH with 3 used boosters will be ~$6M more vs $30M more when both have all new boosters.

It that latest which will have the largest impact on the space industry.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/27/2016 05:55 AM
Lets not forget that part of Falcon 9 reliability is due to extensive over design for reuse.
A while back there was talk that Musk's demand that a Merlin engine needed margins for dozens of flights added at least an year (I don't recall if it held the first Falcon version or the v1.0 series).
Most of that has been invested and is a sunk cost.
I don't see SpaceX going back and removing margins to reduce manufacturing costs.

But the benefit that Falcon 9 had a single launch failure that was not a design problem, but rather a QA failure caused by a bad outsourced part attests that there's a LOT of implicit advantages to the SpaceX design concept, regardless of reuse (a big implicit benefit IMO).

Then we're left with added costs to recover birds:
1 - Maintaining ASDS + entourage (tug/support ship/personnel) and the ground LZ
2 - ground transportation cost from port to hangar / LZ to hangar
3 - costs to re qualify the first few recovered boosters until they're confident they nailed the process, consumables (reapplying SPAM, re painting)
4 - Future design changes to improve landing odds and improve the conditions of toasty re-entries like JCSAT booster.

Bottom line is SpaceX is already incurring most of those costs without any payback yet, and Musk seems OK with that.
There are way too many variables to allow us to estimate the costs (with useful accuracy) moving forward.
I think it would be fair to make the Tesla -> SpaceX analogy that:
Falcon 1 was a prototype
Falcon 9 first gen was like the Tesla Roadster
Falcon 9 v1.1 and full thrust was like the Tesla Model S
but the end game are the Methalox rockets which are still in the drawing board, and pursuing reuse right now is providing ultra valuable data to enable the next generation rockets to be fully reusable from the get go. Those are like the Model 3 (high volume car).

The engineer in me only cares that SpaceX doesn't go bankrupt until they deliver fully MetaLox rockets. Cost details matter very little until then. The extra ISP afforded by MetaLox allows SpaceX to do stuff that's just impossible today, like standard boostback / gentler re-entry burns (if those are actually needed).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ludus on 05/28/2016 03:50 AM
If you assume reuse is completely successful as planned, the marginal cost of a launch would drop immediately and dramatically. Doing a launch with a reused core that's already been written off would cost a small fraction of using a new core. The difference between the reuse marginal cost and the reuse price would still have to contribute as much to the rest of SpaceX balance sheet as a new core launch. Otherwise they're losing money. That still allows space for both significant price cuts and bigger profits.

The big issue is how quickly can SpaceX repurpose it's complex, expensive capacity to build rockets (fixed cost) to take advance of the reuse. This is happening at a point that SpaceX has a big backlog in it's manifest and is just starting to ramp up production of cores. If they can earn as much or more per launch as they would have using a new core, they can work their way through the manifest faster while offering cuts in their already market leading prices (and capturing more business) while still covering fixed costs. They have to build proportionately more second stages in a period where an increasing number of launches are core reuse. They have to adjust the ramp up of their booster core production to match the reuse rate increase.

Because marginal internal costs for reused core launches would be MUCH lower, SpaceX could afford an increasing number of launches for internal purposes like the Internet Constellation or Red Dragons.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Nibb31 on 05/28/2016 07:08 AM
If you assume reuse is completely successful as planned, the marginal cost of a launch would drop immediately and dramatically. Doing a launch with a reused core that's already been written off would cost a small fraction of using a new core. The difference between the reuse marginal cost and the reuse price would still have to contribute as much to the rest of SpaceX balance sheet as a new core launch. Otherwise they're losing money.

The first stage hardware is only a small part of the cost of the launch service. There are many complex operations involved in launching a rocket: the logistics, the infrastructure, payload integration, stacking, fueling, mission control, pre-launch and post-launch operations, as well as all the administrative overhead and the R&D. The biggest center of cost is the payroll for all the people who do all that work, and none of that is affected by core reuse.

Nobody seriously expects SpaceX to save more that 20% in costs through reusing the 1st stage.

Quote
That still allows space for both significant price cuts and bigger profits.

It's one or the other really. SpaceX is already the cheapest shop in town with a growing backlog. They have nothing to gain by cutting prices.

In fact, if they want their Mars plans to come into fruition, they are going to need deeper pockets, because nobody else is going to pay for them. So their best option would be not to cut prices and to use any cost savings to pay for Musk's expensive hobby.

I suspect that whether the core is reused or not will be transparent to the user, just like you don't get the flight history of a Boeing 737 when you book a flight as a passenger. I don't see them handing out discounts for pre-flown boosters. After all, customers don't buy rockets, they buy a launch service.

SpaceX will likely be offering a service to put a given payload into a given orbit for a given price, which would be calculated based on the total dV cost. Planning the trajectory, operating the launch, recovery, maintenance, fleet management, etc... is their job and those internal costs will be spread over the number of launches that they expect to get out of the hardware, just like any other transportation service.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/28/2016 09:12 AM
Nobody seriously expects SpaceX to save more that 20% in costs through reusing the 1st stage.

Except SpaceX perhaps. They are talking about launch prices in the 40 million $ range which would be over 30% price cut and we can safely assume their profit in $, not in % will remain at least the same per launch, or else they would cut less.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Nibb31 on 05/28/2016 09:37 AM
Nobody seriously expects SpaceX to save more that 20% in costs through reusing the 1st stage.

Except SpaceX perhaps. They are talking about launch prices in the 40 million $ range which would be over 30% price cut and we can safely assume their profit in $, not in % will remain at least the same per launch, or else they would cut less.

Which assumes that a Falcon 9 first stage alone costs over $20 million to make and that the rest of the rocket hardware, infrastructure costs, R&D, personnel, logistics, operations, account for less than 60% of the total cost.

I find that cost structure hard to believe.

Experience show that you've got to take a lot of the optimistic PR that comes out of SpaceX and Musk's twitter account with a pinch of salt.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ikarie XB-1 on 05/28/2016 10:35 AM
Elon reasons from first principles and some of his statements are also reduced to first principles. Obviously, even if S1 was rendered free as in beer, cost of launch wouldn't drop even to one half, let alone by an order of magnitude. It's just that w/o stage reuse, there's not even a path towards substantially lowering costs. I find it hard to believe that building S1s in California and then qualifying them in Texas is that cheap - even with vertical integration and in startup mode. Returned cores should soon enough require limited checkup/refurb in known spots before being flight ready.

I believe the notional 30% price reduction fully preserves (if not increases) SpaceX's margins in $ terms. That implies through reuse their internal costs drop by at least $19m, which means S1 must cost somewhat more than that to amortise initial mfg costs. A good indication of internal S1 costs from factory to pad. R&D costs are largely independent on whether you build new cores or reuse existing ones - in either case they had to be designed first.

Also interesting that they're spending effort to reuse the relatively cheap fairings. Could be either a good exercise or those couple of million $ make up a significant enough portion of internal costs of launch - in post S1 reuse scenario.

Also Jurvetson's 'financial porn' comments could be understood as a fact that SpaceX would be doing fine with reasonable margins flying expendable as they are, but once reuse enters the picture, their margins in % terms will give Apple a blush...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/28/2016 12:29 PM
If you assume reuse is completely successful as planned, the marginal cost of a launch would drop immediately and dramatically. Doing a launch with a reused core that's already been written off would cost a small fraction of using a new core. The difference between the reuse marginal cost and the reuse price would still have to contribute as much to the rest of SpaceX balance sheet as a new core launch. Otherwise they're losing money.

The first stage hardware is only a small part of the cost of the launch service. There are many complex operations involved in launching a rocket: the logistics, the infrastructure, payload integration, stacking, fueling, mission control, pre-launch and post-launch operations, as well as all the administrative overhead and the R&D. The biggest center of cost is the payroll for all the people who do all that work, and none of that is affected by core reuse.

Nobody seriously expects SpaceX to save more that 20% in costs through reusing the 1st stage.

Quote
That still allows space for both significant price cuts and bigger profits.

It's one or the other really. SpaceX is already the cheapest shop in town with a growing backlog. They have nothing to gain by cutting prices.

In fact, if they want their Mars plans to come into fruition, they are going to need deeper pockets, because nobody else is going to pay for them. So their best option would be not to cut prices and to use any cost savings to pay for Musk's expensive hobby.

<snip>

Taking the three bolded statements in order:
1) The $19M reduction advertised by GS indicates that first stage cost minus retrieval/refurbishment equals that figure.  Assuming rework costs are $3-5M, the first stage hardware costs are $22-24M -- let's use $24M (40% or so of the launch price).  The first stage is quoted at 75% of the F9 hardware costs.  Entire F9 would then cost $32M.  This leaves $30M-ish for all other operations plus profit.
2) Gwynne Shotwell does, and she's not nobody.
3) In someone else's world, the best option would be to not cut prices, but this is Elon Musk's world.  He has declared that cutting the cost to orbit is why SpaceX was founded. He could already be charging significantly more per launch and be competitive -- but the fact that he is not doing that is an important data point informing against your 'best option.' 

By the way, his expensive hobby happens to be NASA's stated goal for the last few decades.  And I think they will finally have an affordable ride to reach that goal.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/28/2016 08:00 PM
The first stage hardware is only a small part of the cost of the launch service. There are many complex operations involved in launching a rocket: the logistics, the infrastructure, payload integration, stacking, fueling, mission control, pre-launch and post-launch operations, as well as all the administrative overhead and the R&D. The biggest center of cost is the payroll for all the people who do all that work, and none of that is affected by core reuse.

Nobody seriously expects SpaceX to save more that 20% in costs through reusing the 1st stage.

This is a good point but I suggest there's a flaw with the conclusion you are trying to draw.

1) As is expressed above, the cost of hardware is not a small part.  If it were the case for reuse would be greatly reduced.  Hardware is a significant cost.

2) True there are many other costs however absent the extreme hypothetical that SpaceX contracts for everything launch related on a mission by mission basis, most of those costs are fixed.  The question is what are the marginal costs associated with a launch and how much can those marginal costs be driven down.

3) The fixed costs would be amortized across the yearly launches and from an accounting perspective you would be able to calculate profit for each launch.

4) So I think the proper articulation of the benchmark against which to compare hardware costs would be variable costs per launch.  Fuel, Refurb, Replacement Parts, delta Processing and Handling, range related costs, rentals, contract labor, allocation of additional labor required by increase launch cadence,.

5) Elon stated 100x reduction.  While I don't read that statement too literally, I do think it suggests that a very large reduction is possible.  Let me suggest it would be something on the order of Elon being able to purchase a launch pre-SpaceX or from SpaceX for market price vs. the marginal cost to SpaceX to let Elon give away a launch for free.
 


Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/28/2016 09:47 PM
Once first stage reuse with minimal refurbishment becomes standard practice, two major reductions are still possible -- build reusable second stage/fairing and increase launch rate/efficiency.  The latter has been discussed at length with 1-2 hour roll-out to launch, automated roll-out, no static fire in future, etc.  Doubling the launch rate with same ground ops crew halves the per launch cost.  The former is postponed except for fairing recovery... but it will resurface again (maybe in 1-2 years).  Fairing recovery seems incongruous until you realize that cost, though small, is seen as significant down the road... not a good sign for those who believe that there is little cost reduction possible from this point forward.

It is possible to get to $20-30M on this path in next few years.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/29/2016 01:15 AM
When I look at the cost of F9 operations optimisticly but with a spreadsheet backing up my estimations I do not see costs (internal to SpaceX and no -profit) getting as low as $20M. My lowest number for costs (not price) [full reusability] is ~$23M with a price of ~$30M. Note this price is also a profit reduction per launch ($7M of profit vs current). But the real shocker here is that FH could have as low of a cost (not price) of $30M and a price of $40M. While that $23M for F9 could be shaved down as much as $3M (refurbishment cost 0) the FH would see a reduction of $9M making an FH cost (not price) nearly the same as an F9 per launch. Litterally just $2M different even if the manufacturing costs are amortized accross 20 launches.

On another note is that once SpaceX figures out what their costs are for reuse they could get to the "it does not matter if it is launch #1 or #20 the price is the same". In this scenario, it takes only 2 succesfull flights of a booster to break even with all costs. If the average is 20 flights except the very infrequent failure that would cause the booster to not be reused if recovered or not recovered SpaceX will not have many cases if any where they don't break even on costs for a booster. Once SpaceX is at this point then the all flights have same price and that price is the used booster price. SpaceX sacrifices $1-4M [20 down to 5 flights per booster] in profit, maybe. They could have reduced their costs for the reuse that increased their profit to equal the amortization charge for manufacturing costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ikarie XB-1 on 05/29/2016 02:50 AM
I like how they aim to standardise on a single GTO launch/landing trajectory, regardless of payload flown. This should commoditise their operations to a degree and could lower per mission NRE costs. The same trick could probably work for S2 as well, should they ballasted payloads for nominal mass and always target the same orbital parameters. Clearly it's more valuable to customise the S2 trajectory to minimise sat's final delta-V to GTO than it is to save a bit of launch costs. Could 2~3 standard flight profiles to choose from do the trick?

Also, I imagine the number of different payload interfaces required by different sat buses is finite and not very high. Once they've been through most, isn't the initial NRE and effort amortised? From that point on, it's just the variable costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Nilof on 05/29/2016 05:04 AM
I think a lot of people here are forgetting that SpaceX is vertically integrated. They do not have significant marginal costs associated with making new Falcon 9 rockets, so calculations of the internal cost of a booster are mostly meaningless unless you consider it as an alternative cost. SpaceX has mostly fixed costs due to keeping their workforce employed, and the marginal costs that they do have (such as range use) would be mostly independent of reuse.

Reuse isn't really a way to reduce costs, it is a way to increase the launch rate without increasing the size of the production line. A booster doesn't get any cheaper because you reuse it if the fixed costs and the launch rate stay constant. You need to take advantage of the new capabilities of your launcher.

Regarding the cost of the F9/FH variants, I interpret the F9 cost as the price for a new rocket, but which SpaceX is allowed to use in their development program. In other words, the cost is reduced because it helps SpaceX to introduce reuse earlier, which allows them to expand their launch rates in the future making this a direct investment in their growth from their perspective. From an investor's perspective, company growth is a form of profit, so reduced cashflow due to investments in growth are reasonable.

For FH it could be either way, but I don't expect SX to ever fly the FH without side core RTLS because of how early the boosters separate.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Geron on 05/29/2016 07:32 AM
What I think a lot of people are missing is that SpaceX has ambitions beyond building first stages.

I believe that when they master first stage reuse and have an armada of falcon 9 and heavy first stages, they will not leave their production lines idle. Instead they will either be building payloads in the form of satellites or dragons; or habitats; cargo; isru infrastructure; and/or methalox rocket parts.

The falcon 9 rocket line is a means to an end. When I visited SpaceX I was told that the vision is to have many many launch sites launching almost daily. They plan to get their with methalox rockets as they are easier to reuse.

Their track record for successful landings with falcon 9 is looking better every month, but coking may be an issue with multiple reuses with rp 1.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/29/2016 11:46 AM
When I look at the cost of F9 operations optimisticly but with a spreadsheet backing up my estimations I do not see costs (internal to SpaceX and no -profit) getting as low as $20M. My lowest number for costs (not price) [full reusability] is ~$23M with a price of ~$30M. Note this price is also a profit reduction per launch ($7M of profit vs current). But the real shocker here is that FH could have as low of a cost (not price) of $30M and a price of $40M. While that $23M for F9 could be shaved down as much as $3M (refurbishment cost 0) the FH would see a reduction of $9M making an FH cost (not price) nearly the same as an F9 per launch. Litterally just $2M different even if the manufacturing costs are amortized accross 20 launches.

On another note is that once SpaceX figures out what their costs are for reuse they could get to the "it does not matter if it is launch #1 or #20 the price is the same". In this scenario, it takes only 2 succesfull flights of a booster to break even with all costs. If the average is 20 flights except the very infrequent failure that would cause the booster to not be reused if recovered or not recovered SpaceX will not have many cases if any where they don't break even on costs for a booster. Once SpaceX is at this point then the all flights have same price and that price is the used booster price. SpaceX sacrifices $1-4M [20 down to 5 flights per booster] in profit, maybe. They could have reduced their costs for the reuse that increased their profit to equal the amortization charge for manufacturing costs.

Would you be willing to share your spreadsheets? (Maybe you have on another thread, so a link would be great.) Would be very interested in seeing what factor(s) you find to be holding the cost/price at this level -- I agree that this is achievable, but not a floor.  Also, is this $23M figure for RTLS or down range recovery?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 12:30 AM
I think a lot of people here are forgetting that SpaceX is vertically integrated. They do not have significant marginal costs associated with making new Falcon 9 rockets, so calculations of the internal cost of a booster are mostly meaningless unless you consider it as an alternative cost. SpaceX has mostly fixed costs due to keeping their workforce employed, and the marginal costs that they do have (such as range use) would be mostly independent of reuse.

Reuse isn't really a way to reduce costs, it is a way to increase the launch rate without increasing the size of the production line. A booster doesn't get any cheaper because you reuse it if the fixed costs and the launch rate stay constant. You need to take advantage of the new capabilities of your launcher.

Regarding the cost of the F9/FH variants, I interpret the F9 cost as the price for a new rocket, but which SpaceX is allowed to use in their development program. In other words, the cost is reduced because it helps SpaceX to introduce reuse earlier, which allows them to expand their launch rates in the future making this a direct investment in their growth from their perspective. From an investor's perspective, company growth is a form of profit, so reduced cashflow due to investments in growth are reasonable.

For FH it could be either way, but I don't expect SX to ever fly the FH without side core RTLS because of how early the boosters separate.

I think this overstates a few things including how vertically integrated they are.

1) Employment is not a fixed cost. People can be laid off or hired as needed. In SpaceX's case, they will likely be re-tasked where possible to other funded ventures such as CC or satellites with no real bearing on the cost per rocket.

2) As long as SpaceX is reusing only the first stage, they will need to produce fresh second stages for every launch.

3) They do in fact have suppliers, material costs, and transportation costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 12:35 AM
I don't know how much it has been stated, but the real issue I'm seeing is with second stage reuse being tied to Mars transportation. I'm not quite understanding the business case for reusing an interplanetary stage that makes 4 trips per decade (assuming Mars launch windows) unless it also doubles as a well-used transportation system to Earth orbit. However Elon is adamant that the Falcon line will take care of the satellite market for the foreseeable future and has indicated that the second state reuse plans aren't compatible with the Falcon rocket architecture.

I attached a porkchop plot showing the delta-v space for Mars as the sum of hyperbolic excess velocities. Sorry, I didn't spend any time making it pretty. The point the plot makes is simply that the Mars windows are not really voluntary.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/30/2016 12:39 AM
I think this overstates a few things including how vertically integrated they are.

1) Employment is not a fixed cost. People can be laid off or hired as needed. In SpaceX's case, they will likely be re-tasked where possible to other funded ventures such as CC or satellites with no real bearing on the cost per rocket.

2) As long as SpaceX is reusing only the first stage, they will need to produce fresh second stages for every launch.

3) They do in fact have suppliers, material costs, and transportation costs.

These points are true but the point remains that the variable costs of an additional launch are the comparison point for  reuse savings calculations.

1)  If the are reusing more and the cannot layoff (I don't think they do the between launches) or need to hire due to increased cadence, that is a variable cost in the short term.

2)  2nd Stages are a variable cost until they get to reuse.

3)  Suppliers, material, and transportation are only variable to the extent they are variable.  If they have to rent Range Resources that's variable.  If they need more SPAM, that's variable.  If they don't integrate transportation, that's variable except for gas and maintenance.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 12:47 AM
I think this overstates a few things including how vertically integrated they are.

1) Employment is not a fixed cost. People can be laid off or hired as needed. In SpaceX's case, they will likely be re-tasked where possible to other funded ventures such as CC or satellites with no real bearing on the cost per rocket.

2) As long as SpaceX is reusing only the first stage, they will need to produce fresh second stages for every launch.

3) They do in fact have suppliers, material costs, and transportation costs.

These points are true but the point remains that the variable costs of an additional launch are the comparison point for  reuse savings calculations.

1)  If the are reusing more and the cannot layoff (I don't think they do the between launches) or need to hire due to increased cadence, that is a variable cost in the short term.

2)  2nd Stages are a variable cost until they get to reuse.

3)  Suppliers, material, and transportation are only variable to the extent they are variable.  If they have to rent Range Resources that's variable.  If they need more SPAM, that's variable.  If they don't integrate transportation, that's variable except for gas and maintenance.

Everything you're saying is true. I think that SpaceX will naturally have to reorganize their entire organization to optimize around reuse eventually anyway and I think that means that they will try to eliminate fixed costs where they have the luxury to even if they lose some of their vertical integration. That should be on the table at least.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/30/2016 01:24 AM
I don't know how much it has been stated, but the real issue I'm seeing is with second stage reuse being tied to Mars transportation. I'm not quite understanding the business case for reusing an interplanetary stage that makes 4 trips per decade (assuming Mars launch windows) unless it also doubles as a well-used transportation system to Earth orbit. However Elon is adamant that the Falcon line will take care of the satellite market for the foreseeable future and has indicated that the second state reuse plans aren't compatible with the Falcon rocket architecture.

I attached a porkchop plot showing the delta-v space for Mars as the sum of hyperbolic excess velocities. Sorry, I didn't spend any time making it pretty. The point the plot makes is simply that the Mars windows are not really voluntary.
Realize that the interplanetary stage will be reused multiple times per each mission cycle:
1) launch
2) refuel and fire again from Earth orbit toward Mars
3) landing on Mars
4) refuel and ascent from Mars
(possible refueling in Mars orbit, perhaps not required)
5) landing on Earth

The stage has to be intact at each stage, not shedding parts that it'll need in the rest of the mission. So you ALREADY need a reusable stage (really a spacecraft, but I'll stick with your terminology) just so the architecture works, so you might as well use it again. And getting 10-15 mission cycles out of each manufactured stage makes a non-insignificant reduction in cost! ...even if it is over 2-3 decades.

...additionally, SpaceX will require the stage to do refueler duty and cargo duty. They need the stage to be capable of a lot more than 10-15 reuses in those configurations.

And yeah, the potential cost reduction of 4-5 mission cycles per decade is still important. They need the cost as low as possible in order to achieve the sub-$500k/person ticket price, and at the full swing of 80,000 people to Mars per year, they'll need that reuse just to keep up.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 01:49 AM
The reusable second stage will be shuttling enormous amounts of propellent and cargo in LEO, roughly 5000 tonnes per 100 people sent to Mars. That's not feasible with disposable upper stages.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 01:53 AM
I don't know how much it has been stated, but the real issue I'm seeing is with second stage reuse being tied to Mars transportation. I'm not quite understanding the business case for reusing an interplanetary stage that makes 4 trips per decade (assuming Mars launch windows) unless it also doubles as a well-used transportation system to Earth orbit. However Elon is adamant that the Falcon line will take care of the satellite market for the foreseeable future and has indicated that the second state reuse plans aren't compatible with the Falcon rocket architecture.

I attached a porkchop plot showing the delta-v space for Mars as the sum of hyperbolic excess velocities. Sorry, I didn't spend any time making it pretty. The point the plot makes is simply that the Mars windows are not really voluntary.
Realize that the interplanetary stage will be reused multiple times per each mission cycle:
1) launch
2) refuel and fire again from Earth orbit toward Mars
3) landing on Mars
4) refuel and ascent from Mars
(possible refueling in Mars orbit, perhaps not required)
5) landing on Earth

The stage has to be intact at each stage, not shedding parts that it'll need in the rest of the mission. So you ALREADY need a reusable stage (really a spacecraft, but I'll stick with your terminology) just so the architecture works, so you might as well use it again. And getting 10-15 mission cycles out of each manufactured stage makes a non-insignificant reduction in cost! ...even if it is over 2-3 decades.

...additionally, SpaceX will require the stage to do refueler duty and cargo duty. They need the stage to be capable of a lot more than 10-15 reuses in those configurations.

And yeah, the potential cost reduction of 4-5 mission cycles per decade is still important. They need the cost as low as possible in order to achieve the sub-$500k/person ticket price, and at the full swing of 80,000 people to Mars per year, they'll need that reuse just to keep up.

The biggest problem I'm seeing isn't so much whether they have the opportunity to use it 10-15 times in 2-3 decades. It's whether it is even possible to iterate towards something that enduring and robust and fund the initial R&D and capital costs for something with such a long time horizon.

That obligatory bout of skepticism aside, I think it would do to sort of lay out the requirements for 80,000 people per year and $500k/passenger.

1) You have 4-5 launch windows per decade to lift 800,000 people onto TMI. If each ship holds 100 people, then that's 800 launches total. If you aren't loitering a city full of people in orbit, then that's at least 160 launches during window years or 3 per week if they are spread out over the year. With three pads, this is 1 per week per pad however, this still means people will have to loiter in parking orbit for up to 6 months.

2) If you reuse each interplanetary stage on subsequent launches, in one decade you have to manufacture at least 160 interplanetary ships or about 16 per year during the ramp up.

3) The cost per interplanetary ship must be at maximum $250m assuming zero fixed launch costs if the costs are to be recovered in one decade.

My take is that (1) is unprecedented, (2) is feasible but currently unfunded, and (3) is unprecedented but possible. The key is again producing a manned spaceship that lasts at least a decade and can function unaided for at least 6-9 months at a time for a sustainable cost. I agree that the mission architecture itself assumes that  craft survives planetary entry in a flight-ready condition, but that's only one of the technological blockers. There are no historical references for this kind of thing.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 01:57 AM
The reusable second stage will be shuttling enormous amounts of propellent and cargo in LEO, roughly 5000 tonnes per 100 people sent to Mars. That's not feasible with disposable upper stages.

5,000 tons? About a quarter of the LEO mass will make it to Mars. That's quite the haul.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 02:01 AM
The reusable second stage will be shuttling enormous amounts of propellent and cargo in LEO, roughly 5000 tonnes per 100 people sent to Mars. That's not feasible with disposable upper stages.

5,000 tons? About a quarter of the LEO mass will make it to Mars. That's quite the haul.

Musk estimated 10 cargo flights per passenger flight, all hauling 100t of payload and probably about as much dry mass (engines, structure, heatshield, etc.). That's thousands of tons in LEO, once you include propellent.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 02:03 AM
The reusable second stage will be shuttling enormous amounts of propellent and cargo in LEO, roughly 5000 tonnes per 100 people sent to Mars. That's not feasible with disposable upper stages.

5,000 tons? About a quarter of the LEO mass will make it to Mars. That's quite the haul.

Musk estimated 10 cargo flights per passenger flight, all hauling 100t of payload and probably about as much dry mass (engines, structure, heatshield, etc.). That's thousands of tons in LEO, once you include propellent.

I think the likely explanation is that we're not talking about a 100t payload fully reusable launcher and/or we're not talking about only 100 people because I'm fairly certain that we're not talking about a 5,000 ton starship.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/30/2016 02:08 AM
There will be no frequent missions to Mars until there's full reuse. None.
Even with full reuse, SpaceX needs low cost turn around (gas up, perhaps reapply some ablative material here and there, and fly again).
I predict there will be a handful of FH missions to Mars (either with a M1D or Raptor 2nd stage) and just a handful of non Mars planetary missions.
I feel thorn apart here at NSF, since I'm part scientist, part engineer, part businessmen, with the norm of the overwhelming majority here being not business people at all.
SpaceX needs tens of billions in free cashflow to finish MCT design and build the first 10 MCT vehicles.

Stop mixing things up. Right now SpaceX primary concern is have a profitable cash cow, while designing Raptor engine+rockets, some of those rockets will be built to launch sats to GTO, and do some sort of Cargo/Crew missions to LEO (probably with a shuttle sized vehicle that will do about 2x a current cargo mission plus a full Dragon Crew load per flight).

Sorry to burst your bubble. Maybe I deserve a good smacking from the moderators.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 02:09 AM
I don't see how a bigger expendable launcher is any cheaper. Colonization isn't feasible unless the launcher is cheaply and quickly reusable, including the second stage. That's true no matter what the scale.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 02:13 AM
I don't see how a bigger expendable launcher is any cheaper. Colonization isn't feasible unless the launcher is cheaply and quickly reusable, including the second stage. That's true no matter what the scale.

I don't mean to suggest that expendable launchers are cheaper. I'm just wondering how feasible it is to lower the cost of an interplanetary stage by aiming to reuse it 4 times/decade. It sort of seems like the goal you have after you've been building something similar for decades and all the investors are lined up though there is something to be said for "getting to the point." Unaided, this would take at least a century of steady progress and the combined resources of all space-faring nations it would seem.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 02:26 AM
The vast majority of launches will not be interplanetary though. To send a 11 ships to Mars (one with 100 passengers, ten with 100t cargo each) will require not 11 but about 50 launches of 100t each to LEO (to orbit the 5000t I mentioned before).

A cheaply reusable super heavy lift upper stage is absolutely indispensable to making colonization work.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 02:33 AM
The vast majority of launches will not be interplanetary though. To send a 11 ships to Mars (one with 100 passengers, ten with 100t cargo each) will require not 11 but about 50 launches of 100t each to LEO (to orbit the 5000t I mentioned before).

A cheaply reusable super heavy lift upper stage is absolutely indispensable to making colonization work.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a ship that is equally useful as a LEO hauler and a manned Mars expedition ship. I would assume two separate versions under normal circumstances.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: DAZ on 05/30/2016 02:44 AM
It would seem having so much expensive infrastructure sitting around for 2 years at a time with nothing to do would doom such a project to economic failure.  Trying to move 100 – 800 people every 2 years with an eventual goal of 800,000 – 1 million spread over 2 to 3 decades would also appear to be a recipe for failure.  It would make more sense for the 1st few cycles to carry 10 – 20 people at a time with their associated equipment to establish the initial colony and then expanded the system into something much more efficient.

As has probably been discussed before, using a Mars cycler with transit stations at both Earth and Mars would make much more sense.  The cargo would go by SEP which could be launched at any time and spiral out until they can leave during the appropriate window.  When it gets closer to the appropriate window the people can launch and stay at a station at ELL2 and then leave to catch the Mars cycler.  At the Mars end they could depart and wait at the Mars station to catch the landing craft down.

The beauty of using a Mars cycler is that almost all of the living space, radiation shielding, power and food/water production is only launched once.  It doesn’t slow down at the Mars end nor at the earth end.  By using the infrastructure to build more infrastructure you are more akin to building a road than just a simple boat like the Mayflower.

On each cycle SEP tugs could bring more modules and supplies to the Mars cycler.  These cycles would be on both the inbound and the outbound trip thus doubling the number of opportunities.  The people would only be going on the outbound side.  On each outbound the people could add the new modules and thus increase the number of people this cycler could handle on each trip.  This means the system could be expanded and thus make use of all of the infrastructure over the entire departure Mars cycle instead of just being clustered around a small 2 to 3 week window.

As most of the people would be going outbound at 1st there would only be in need in the beginning for an outbound cycler.  As commerce increases eventually a Mars – Earth inbound cycler could be constructed.  In the beginning the most logical cycler to use would be the Aldrin cycler.  At the moment there are 18 other cyclic orbits known.  Each of these with different time periods per cycle and earth to Mars transit times.  But as the commerce between Earth and Mars increases it might make sense to add at least some of these other cyclic periods to the overall system.  This would increase the number of transit times available to Mars from approximately once every 2 years to an occasional of multiple times every 2 years.

What SpaceX’s long-term plans are only SpaceX knows.  But it would seem that the economics would force the maximum use of the infrastructure if a long-term project is to have any chance at all of succeeding.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 02:54 AM
It would seem having so much expensive infrastructure sitting around for 2 years at a time with nothing to do would doom such a project to economic failure.  Trying to move 100 – 800 people every 2 years with an eventual goal of 800,000 – 1 million spread over 2 to 3 decades would also appear to be a recipe for failure.  It would make more sense for the 1st few cycles to carry 10 – 20 people at a time with their associated equipment to establish the initial colony and then expanded the system into something much more efficient.

As has probably been discussed before, using a Mars cycler with transit stations at both Earth and Mars would make much more sense.  The cargo would go by SEP which could be launched at any time and spiral out until they can leave during the appropriate window.  When it gets closer to the appropriate window the people can launch and stay at a station at ELL2 and then leave to catch the Mars cycler.  At the Mars end they could depart and wait at the Mars station to catch the landing craft down.

The beauty of using a Mars cycler is that almost all of the living space, radiation shielding, power and food/water production is only launched once.  It doesn’t slow down at the Mars end nor at the earth end.  By using the infrastructure to build more infrastructure you are more akin to building a road than just a simple boat like the Mayflower.

On each cycle SEP tugs could bring more modules and supplies to the Mars cycler.  These cycles would be on both the inbound and the outbound trip thus doubling the number of opportunities.  The people would only be going on the outbound side.  On each outbound the people could add the new modules and thus increase the number of people this cycler could handle on each trip.  This means the system could be expanded and thus make use of all of the infrastructure over the entire departure Mars cycle instead of just being clustered around a small 2 to 3 week window.

As most of the people would be going outbound at 1st there would only be in need in the beginning for an outbound cycler.  As commerce increases eventually a Mars – Earth inbound cycler could be constructed.  In the beginning the most logical cycler to use would be the Aldrin cycler.  At the moment there are 18 other cyclic orbits known.  Each of these with different time periods per cycle and earth to Mars transit times.  But as the commerce between Earth and Mars increases it might make sense to add at least some of these other cyclic periods to the overall system.  This would increase the number of transit times available to Mars from approximately once every 2 years to an occasional of multiple times every 2 years.

What SpaceX’s long-term plans are only SpaceX knows.  But it would seem that the economics would force the maximum use of the infrastructure if a long-term project is to have any chance at all of succeeding.

The Aldrin Cycler has several drawbacks. I've attached it here.

1) The synodic period of Earth-Mars cycling is extremely long and by definition requires multi-year transits. (Note the long semi-major axis). Each cycler class is a multiple of one synodic period (2.41 years).

2) Feasible launch windows are infrequent no matter how many cyclers exist since cyclers that come in on off years have huge excess velocities and are generally non-Hohmann.

3) Rendezvous are one-shot, risky, and require a LOT more delta-v.

4) You still have to transport the cargo and the fuel. In the end, you're just saving on structural mass and the fuel to accelerate structural mass.

If it's just about the optimal orbital mechanics of the Earth-Mars transit system, I'll post a paper here later on this summer I'm working on for NSF to tear apart if you wish. I'm working on something hopefully better than cyclers.

Attached after the image is a recent-ish paper with cycler classes and the source of the image.

Edit: I just wanted to add that most cyclers assume a gravity assist at Earth encounter so they come quite close to the planet at great velocity. In order for an SEP tug to meet a cycler, it would have to accumulate quite a bit of velocity and be a good bit of the way to Mars. It also might be functionally impossible to go from LEO to a cycler orbit with SEP in a time frame not measured in years. We're talking about mili-Newtons and tons and an extremely large delta-v. At the very least the rendezvous may happen after Mars.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 02:57 AM
Probably three: manned, cargo, and propellent tanker, differing mostly in how payload is stored. They would use the same launcher and engines, and probably be built on the same production line. All would need about the same payload and Delta v performance, and all would need to be capable of Mars and/or Earth EDL.

I don't see how building one version to be reusable while the others are expendable saves any cost or time. They all need landing capability (and return, for Mars ships) anyway.

The vast majority of launches will not be interplanetary though. To send a 11 ships to Mars (one with 100 passengers, ten with 100t cargo each) will require not 11 but about 50 launches of 100t each to LEO (to orbit the 5000t I mentioned before).

A cheaply reusable super heavy lift upper stage is absolutely indispensable to making colonization work.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a ship that is equally useful as a LEO hauler and a manned Mars expedition ship. I would assume two separate versions under normal circumstances.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 02:59 AM
Probably three: manned, cargo, and propellent tanker, differing mostly in how payload is stored. They would use the same launcher and engines, and probably be built on the same production line. All would need about the same payload and Delta v performance, and all would need to be capable of Mars and/or Earth EDL.

I don't see how building one version to be reusable while the others are expendable saves any cost or time. They all need landing capability (and return, for Mars ships) anyway.

The vast majority of launches will not be interplanetary though. To send a 11 ships to Mars (one with 100 passengers, ten with 100t cargo each) will require not 11 but about 50 launches of 100t each to LEO (to orbit the 5000t I mentioned before).

A cheaply reusable super heavy lift upper stage is absolutely indispensable to making colonization work.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a ship that is equally useful as a LEO hauler and a manned Mars expedition ship. I would assume two separate versions under normal circumstances.

I never suggested anything should be expendable.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 03:11 AM
I never suggested anything should be expendable.

Fair enough. Reusability isn't optional, for many reasons, so the cost savings for long term stuff will have to come from component commonality with hardware that's flown very often.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/30/2016 03:33 AM
I'm just wondering how feasible it is to lower the cost of an interplanetary stage by aiming to reuse it 4 times/decade. It sort of seems like the goal you have after you've been building something similar for decades
...
I don't disagree with this part. There will be a massive upfront investment required to get any reusable system flying. The feasibility of it all is TBD.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/30/2016 06:05 AM
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a ship that is equally useful as a LEO hauler and a manned Mars expedition ship. I would assume two separate versions under normal circumstances.

I see it working out this way: A MCT will have an engine section and a cargo or passenger section. The engine section will have tanks big enough to work as a tanker as well. With tanks that big it can do fast transfer even in unfavorable launch windows. It just needs another fueling flight.

So a new MCT will start its life as a tanker. No passenger or cargo section added, saving weight. Only a cap with heatshield on top. It will do 5 or whatever flights as a tanker until it is proven reliable. Then a cargo or passenger section gets added and it will do ~10 or whatever flights to Mars. At the end of its life the cargo section gets removed and it works as a tanker again. This way you can get at least 40 launches out of the expensive part, the engine section.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 05/30/2016 06:42 AM
Gucky, I like the plan. However, I would put less Mars flights on the menue. If they keep flying the same engine section ~10 times to Mars, they will need to support the same hardware, software, all the replacement parts, etc for about 30 years. Thats a pretty long time. It is more likely that technology advances fast enough to make a replacement of an MCT as a Mars shuttle every ~3 trips more likely. That way, they can phase out old technology every 10 years or something which is much more reasonable.

It doesnt really hurt either because the engine section can do just more tanker runs, or even cargo to LEO or GTO missions. In fact, a MCT for GTO missions would be quite cost efficient since the entire rocket gets re-used naturally. Dont know what the payload limits would be though.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/30/2016 06:45 AM
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a ship that is equally useful as a LEO hauler and a manned Mars expedition ship. I would assume two separate versions under normal circumstances.

I see it working out this way: A MCT will have an engine section and a cargo or passenger section. The engine section will have tanks big enough to work as a tanker as well. With tanks that big it can do fast transfer even in unfavorable launch windows. It just needs another fueling flight.

So a new MCT will start its life as a tanker. No passenger or cargo section added, saving weight. Only a cap with heatshield on top. It will do 5 or whatever flights as a tanker until it is proven reliable. Then a cargo or passenger section gets added and it will do ~10 or whatever flights to Mars. At the end of its life the cargo section gets removed and it works as a tanker again. This way you can get at least 40 launches out of the expensive part, the engine section.

I'm not sure the engine is the most expensive part of a manned interplanetary spacecraft.

What you prescribed is what I understood as the best case scenario, but that puts a floor on the price because the most complex and novel component, the cargo and passenger interplanetary stage, is the one that will be reused the least and will have to last an incredibly long time to be reused at all. Literally years in deep space. It raises the $15m question for Elon. Is his $15m 1/10th or so of a spaceship to Mars because in normal accounting, that's off by (at least) two orders of magnitude.

Gucky, I like the plan. However, I would put less Mars flights on the menue. If they keep flying the same engine section ~10 times to Mars, they will need to support the same hardware, software, all the replacement parts, etc for about 30 years. Thats a pretty long time. It is more likely that technology advances fast enough to make a replacement of an MCT as a Mars shuttle every ~3 trips more likely. That way, they can phase out old technology every 10 years or something which is much more reasonable.

It doesnt really hurt either because the engine section can do just more tanker runs, or even cargo to LEO or GTO missions. In fact, a MCT for GTO missions would be quite cost efficient since the entire rocket gets re-used naturally. Dont know what the payload limits would be though.

Here is my second worry beyond the frequency of interplanetary stage reuse. How do you iterate towards the correct design? We all watched SpaceX redesign the Falcon 9 over the years before they got the stages to land and we can expect several more iterations before they achieve "rapid" reuse. That's just the nature of bleeding-edge engineering. How many chances do they get to nail down MCT's architecture in a way that really optimizes against any contingency in a sustainable way? How many flights before you even put people on that voyage? Rationally, the process to reusable interplanetary spacecraft should take at least half a century if we were in a rush.

However, rather than just be skeptical, might I suggest that perhaps a more sustainable path to this kind of thing might actually be the moon after all? So many technologies can be qualified getting there and it's only a few days away. Tickets will sell just as well or better too.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/30/2016 08:04 AM
It doesnt really hurt either because the engine section can do just more tanker runs, or even cargo to LEO or GTO missions. In fact, a MCT for GTO missions would be quite cost efficient since the entire rocket gets re-used naturally. Dont know what the payload limits would be though.

I see the problem with a long use time. However it is the only way to get many reuses. Airframes of planes are the same. They get used a long time despite changes to newer versions. Keep attachment points and fuel type the same so that different iterations can be supported by the same GSE.

Unfortunately you cannot get around this by doing more tanker flights. The ratio Mars/tanker is fixed at betwen 3-1 and 4-1. The only development that could get many flights and a shorter life span would be large demand for flights in cislunar space. This may happen but I doubt Elon Musk counts on it when doing his Mars design.

I don't see the cost for passenger compartments that high, at least not when they are produced in significant numbers. The complex and expensive part will be development. Development of ECLSS will be ongoing and changes towards lower production and maintenance costs will be implemented in existing stages I expect. It will be an evolutionary process as early passenger MCT will not have to support 100 people.

Edit: The propulsion unit has more cost than the engines. There are engines, thrust structure, tanks - probably insulated, the avionics, the sensor suite and above all the cost of integrating everyting.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/30/2016 11:55 AM

<snip>

Here is my second worry beyond the frequency of interplanetary stage reuse. How do you iterate towards the correct design? We all watched SpaceX redesign the Falcon 9 over the years before they got the stages to land and we can expect several more iterations before they achieve "rapid" reuse. That's just the nature of bleeding-edge engineering. How many chances do they get to nail down MCT's architecture in a way that really optimizes against any contingency in a sustainable way? How many flights before you even put people on that voyage? Rationally, the process to reusable interplanetary spacecraft should take at least half a century if we were in a rush.

However, rather than just be skeptical, might I suggest that perhaps a more sustainable path to this kind of thing might actually be the moon after all? So many technologies can be qualified getting there and it's only a few days away. Tickets will sell just as well or better too.

I believe that iteration toward the correct design has begun.  F9 is demonstrating or will demonstrate a set of technologies and approaches that will be directly applicable to BFR (and FH obviously), so that 15,000,000lbf booster can be born reusable -- a few iterations will no doubt be needed, but this is much more affordable if the basic scheme is proven.  In a similar manner, a reusable second stage can and I believe will be built for FH to iterate MCT technologies, those needed on Earth end, in transit, and at Mars end.  Refueling technology will be proven early with a reusable FH tanker.  Red Dragon is building on iterations with the tech on Dragon 2 which is building on the tech from Dragon (1).  EDL with RD will lay foundation for EDL with FH reusable second stage -- mini-MCT if you will.  And on and on.  It's iterations all the way down.

This is the key to SpaceX's potential to realize their vision... each thing they do is done in light of that vision.  By the time MCT flies, there will be little but the enormity (scale) factor to be iterated.

Notes:
1) The Moon is slated to be used as a proving ground.
2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/30/2016 12:58 PM
2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...

So you expect them to land people around 2030? Sounds reasonable to me.  :)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/30/2016 02:45 PM
Everything you're saying is true. I think that SpaceX will naturally have to reorganize their entire organization to optimize around reuse eventually anyway and I think that means that they will try to eliminate fixed costs where they have the luxury to even if they lose some of their vertical integration. That should be on the table at least.

I look at it from a different perspective.  It seems that reorganization would be one that would make sense from a business standpoint where generating maximum profit relative to how much skin SpaceX has in the game.  While certainly some vertical integration like components might go somewhere else, but I wouldn't think there would be any large move in this direction.

I'm thinking the goal is to build a enterprise in the commercial launch business with comfortable enough margins that easily supports fixed costs that have the capacity to address marginal launches without incurring anything other than the variable costs.  This provides the opportunity for a closely add some launches for only the variable cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/31/2016 03:46 PM

Unfortunately you cannot get around this by doing more tanker flights. The ratio Mars/tanker is fixed at betwen 3-1 and 4-1. 

Not sure I agree with this in all cases. If a given airframe is, at birth, either a tanker, or a cargo hauler, or a passenger carrier, then yes, you are correct.  But IF an airframe can carry modular payloads (or can serve as a tanker when empty of a module altogether) then yes, there is a way to get more flights on an airframe in a given time period.  As described above. What's the hole in the logic?

Even if it's a one time (not costless) conversion, there still is a way to do the conversion and get more flights...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/31/2016 04:09 PM
My reasoning is that the ratio between tank flights and flights to Mars is fixed. 3 to 4 tanker launches are needed for one flight to Mars.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jim on 05/31/2016 04:30 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/31/2016 04:52 PM
My reasoning is that the ratio between tank flights and flights to Mars is fixed. 3 to 4 tanker launches are needed for one flight to Mars.

Suppose you don't replace an airframe until you get 10 flights on it. How many synods before you replace? Assume a static fleet to make this contrived example simpler

If you have 5 airframes. 4 tanker and 1 cargo (assume cargo is all you are doing, again, to make this contrived example simpler) ... then yes, it takes 10 synods before you get 10 flights on an airframe. 

But if you have only 2 airframes, that can play whatever role you want...  call them A1 and A2
Synod 1: A1 plays the role of cargo. A2 tanker. A1 launches 1 time. A2 launches 4 times to fill up A1. Total launches 5.
Synod 2: A2 plays the role of cargo. A1 tanker. A2 launches 1 time.  A1 launches 4 times to fill up A2. Total launches now 10. (5 for each airframe)

repeat that pattern for 2 more synods, and you'll find that you got to 10 launches each in just 4 synods.

If you add new builds (say, for example adding 2 new builds a synod) and increase the number of outbound cargo/passenger flights as you can, it gets to even fewer synods before you replace.  Just put it in a spreadsheet and work it, you'll convince yourself.

This depends on two things: fast turnaround, so the same tanker can be used more than once, and convertability with little effort.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/31/2016 04:53 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)

It is slow! For sure. But everything is slower these days and SpaceX doesn't have a significant fraction of GDP at its disposal, this is (a lot closer to) self funded.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/31/2016 05:22 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: bstrong on 05/31/2016 05:31 PM
My reasoning is that the ratio between tank flights and flights to Mars is fixed. 3 to 4 tanker launches are needed for one flight to Mars.

The fact that the system is designed/optimized for Mars doesn't mean it can't be gainfully employed in cislunar space, as well. Assuming BFS can also be put to use for missions requiring less performance than Mars, the ratio doesn't have to be fixed.

IMO, figuring out how to keep all the parts of the system fully utilized between Mars windows is one of the key challenges for closing the Mars business case.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jim on 05/31/2016 05:57 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/31/2016 06:01 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)

It is slow! For sure. But everything is slower these days and SpaceX doesn't have a significant fraction of GDP at its disposal, this is (a lot closer to) self funded.

Assume for the sake of the argument you have Musk's 100x reuse economically, with at or better performance levels he posts. Assume a political imperative for 2-3 nations to go up against  1-2 nations in a similar "space race" for a few "long stay" HSF Mars landing missions (not flag and footprints).

Assume you finish Vulcan/Atlas/Ariane and SLS Block 1b as ELVs.

Then you have "public/private" partnership to go to Mars, say at 50% funding of Apollo/Saturn.

With them busting butts instead of stepping on each others ... I'd bet good money you'd have something in three synods. And more set by the timing/success of the synods then anything else.

Unlike Apollo/Saturn we know what we're doing (for Mars), have the capability/experience. And the right tools. And can work together when it matters. Economies of scale/reuse might dominant above other considerations.

It currently doesn't matter. So we don't work together. Other considerations dominate. So each steps on each others ...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/31/2016 06:22 PM
Sure. A partnership of organizations using expendables could do something, and something significant, for public expenditure levels of 50% of Apollo, with some clear headed thinking about how to spend that budget thoughtfully and efficiently. 

But I suspect that Musk can and will do it for less, and that it will be a larger footprint (in the sense of tonnes landed and infrastructure built). But that's my ideology talking, I freely admit. Blackstar would no doubt say exactly the opposite.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/31/2016 07:02 PM
Sure. A partnership of organizations using expendables could do something, and something significant, for public expenditure levels of 50% of Apollo, with some clear headed thinking about how to spend that budget thoughtfully and efficiently.

Because govt "overspending" private coupled with private efficiencies govt can't imagine, plus govt + heritage doing what they do best instead of what they both do worst ... matters. Not just American govt/industry either, they are all in the same boat.

Quote
But I suspect that Musk can and will do it for less, and that it will be a larger footprint (in the sense of tonnes landed and infrastructure built). But that's my ideology talking, I freely admit.

He has to take lots longer (>15 synods). Also his footprint per synod will vary due to economic conditions, such that planning will tend to drastically "compress" as each synod approaches. That's my "reality undistortion field" talking.

Quote
Blackstar would no doubt say exactly the opposite.

IMHO you should listen to the "post RD" Blackstar. His current perspective (and biases) are irrelevant because the communities he's close to, have yet to get the effects of ULA/SX "business rewriting", which are unstable as well ATM.

When Shelby finds peace with SX eating 20-30% of ULA's "lunch" as steady state, there's a hint that things will be stabilizing. Don't see it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: woods170 on 05/31/2016 07:43 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.
Yeah, but not manned missions to Mars.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/31/2016 08:10 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.

How many 'groups' in this non-monolithic organization are sending people to Mars?
(What woods170 said)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: llanitedave on 05/31/2016 08:14 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)

NASA didn't have to make a profit while paying its own way there.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dante2308 on 05/31/2016 08:37 PM

2) By the time SpaceX lands people on Mars, they will have been working toward this reusable interplanetary spacecraft for a quarter century.  They work fast...


That is slow.  Moon landing was 8 years from the start of the program and 19 from starting from complete scratch (first large US indigenous liquid fueled rocket)

The Apollo Program is significantly less complex than a resuable-based Mars colonization program in almost every way imaginable and would have been beyond the reach of NASA at the time of Apollo. Any manned exploration of Mars on any time scale cannot be declared "slow" when it happens. There are no other data points.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/31/2016 08:39 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.

They may be able to do things quickly, but do they actually do things quickly (or allowed to)? Not quite the same thing - example would be useful.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/31/2016 08:44 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.

They may be able to do things quickly, but do they actually do things quickly (or allowed to)? Not quite the same thing - example would be useful.

An example that includes going to Mars, that is...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/31/2016 08:52 PM
I have this vision of Jim beset by a horde of yapping yorkies... all saying "but Mars is different" or "NASA's not monolithic" or "NASA isn't (mostly) self funding this" etc....

Hmm.. now how do I look as a terrier???

I think the point is made, all analogies break down if you look at them too closely. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: llanitedave on 05/31/2016 09:28 PM

Hmm.. now how do I look as a terrier???

Quite snapped together, if I do say so myself.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jim on 05/31/2016 11:11 PM

Relative to NASA today, it is light speed.

Still wrong.  Again, NASA is not monolithic, there are groups within that can do things quickly.

They may be able to do things quickly, but do they actually do things quickly (or allowed to)? Not quite the same thing - example would be useful.

An example that includes going to Mars, that is...

Spacex hasn't made it to Mars at this time.  Quit talking like it is a given
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: kch on 05/31/2016 11:20 PM
I have this vision of Jim beset by a horde of yapping yorkies ...

I've had that vision for quite some time (and I'd bet Jim has, too)!  ;)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 06/01/2016 12:11 AM
I am reluctant to shut down interesting lines of discussion but there seem to be at least two that are tangential to the purpose of this thread.   I leave it to my betters whether that observation is accurate or needs redress.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: LouScheffer on 06/01/2016 12:15 AM
I have this vision of Jim beset by a horde of yapping yorkies... 
Quite off topic, but believe it or don't, people have been killed by Yorkies...  See  Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States  between 1979 and 1998 (http://sfdogmauling.com/fataldogattacks.pdf), page 839.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 06/01/2016 02:48 AM
I am reluctant to shut down interesting lines of discussion but there seem to be at least two that are tangential to the purpose of this thread.   I leave it to my betters whether that observation is accurate or needs redress.
I think he's telling you lot to get back on topic. (clearly he's not talking to ME... er wait...)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 06/01/2016 09:20 AM
My reasoning is that the ratio between tank flights and flights to Mars is fixed. 3 to 4 tanker launches are needed for one flight to Mars.

You are correct, I didnt think of that. Yes, the number of trips to Mars vs. the number of tanker flights is fix if you only consider Mars flights. Therefore, it is not possible to launch a BFS thrust structure segment more often to reduce the time it needs to be in service for the entire fleet. Only for individual stages as Lar demonstrated.

I would suggest to look at LEO delivery runs. BFR/BFS might be designed with Mars as target but I don't see a reason why it can't be used also to deliver satellites and payloadsto LEO/GTO/Moon. The launches to GTO might even outnumber launches to Mars initially. Also for the planned internet constellations, BFR would be ideal because it could loft a lot of inexpensive satellites at once to an orbital plane. There are many more uses in BFR besides Mars even today or in the near future. Space Tourist hotels would be an other destination that is .. frankly .. even more likely to emerge than a Mars colony.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 06/01/2016 01:01 PM
I am reluctant to shut down interesting lines of discussion but there seem to be at least two that are tangential to the purpose of this thread.   I leave it to my betters whether that observation is accurate or needs redress.
I think he's telling you lot to get back on topic. (clearly he's not talking to ME... er wait...)

The OP clearly intended a discussion of Falcon reuseability and costs, but the title of the thread is not very specific. All the MCT discussion probably better fits in the MCT speculation thread, but I don't know that it's really that far OT here.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Pipcard on 07/10/2016 02:36 AM
The $62 million price point for Falcon 9 v1.2 is for 5.5 t to GTO (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities).

So what then is the price of an F9 when launching its full expendable capacity of 8.3 t to GTO? Is $62 million dependent on something like barge reuse?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/10/2016 03:30 AM
The $62 million price point for Falcon 9 v1.2 is for 5.5 t to GTO (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities).

So what then is the price of an F9 when launching its full expendable capacity of 8.3 t to GTO? Is $62 million dependent on something like barge reuse?
$62 million almost certainly doesn't actually require reuse, but it may be that SpaceX is charging more if the customer requires or desires an expendable launch.

Some of that may be market segmentation, but a lot of it is SpaceX going, "Hey, reuse is central to our goals long-term, and if you're not going to allow us to attempt reuse, it's going to cost you more." But that doesn't mean they can't do just fine with $62 million and a fully expended Falcon 9.

tl;dr: Price is not cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/10/2016 01:52 PM
The $62 million price point for Falcon 9 v1.2 is for 5.5 t to GTO (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities).

So what then is the price of an F9 when launching its full expendable capacity of 8.3 t to GTO? Is $62 million dependent on something like barge reuse?
$62 million almost certainly doesn't actually require reuse, but it may be that SpaceX is charging more if the customer requires or desires an expendable launch.

Some of that may be market segmentation, but a lot of it is SpaceX going, "Hey, reuse is central to our goals long-term, and if you're not going to allow us to attempt reuse, it's going to cost you more." But that doesn't mean they can't do just fine with $62 million and a fully expended Falcon 9.

tl;dr: Price is not cost.
SpaceX is not yet ready to give discounts where the booster is recovered. So the price of $62M for 5.5mt or 8.3mt is the same at this point. The difference being the ability to "test" recovery. Once reuse is normalized then the price for 5.5mt will drop but the price for 8.3mt would stay at $62M. $62M is the expendable price. SpaceX has yet to set the reuse price.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: edkyle99 on 07/10/2016 02:27 PM
SpaceX is not yet ready to give discounts where the booster is recovered. So the price of $62M for 5.5mt or 8.3mt is the same at this point.
You may be right, but there is to date no evidence to support this assertion.  SpaceX web site specifically says $62 million for "up to 5.5 metric tons to GTO", while also saying that max payload to GTO is 8.3 metric tons.  To me that sounds like higher price for more than 5.5 tonnes.  It also suggests, to me, that payload beyond 5.5 tonnes requires expending the first stage.

We'll see.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/11/2016 04:41 PM
SpaceX is not yet ready to give discounts where the booster is recovered. So the price of $62M for 5.5mt or 8.3mt is the same at this point.
You may be right, but there is to date no evidence to support this assertion.  SpaceX web site specifically says $62 million for "up to 5.5 metric tons to GTO", while also saying that max payload to GTO is 8.3 metric tons.  To me that sounds like higher price for more than 5.5 tonnes.  It also suggests, to me, that payload beyond 5.5 tonnes requires expending the first stage.

We'll see.

 - Ed Kyle
Yes we will see.

But I believe the 5.5mt value is a notice to future payloads that if they are less than that weight then they could take advantage of a lower price, whatever that may be in the future. While larger payloads would have to pay the current price.

Also there may be as many as three prices for an F9:

- As low as $42M for an RTLS flight. The up to 30% reduction stated by SpaceX's Ms Shotwell.

- As low as $52M for an ASDS flight. This is because there is a higher risk of stage loss during recovery and the artificial life shortening because of this would be an higher price to average out the lower recovery rate. I used a recovery rate for ASDS of 80% and for RTLS a very high value at near the same as the launch failure rate of 95%. The added cost due to lower recovery rate adds up to $10M to the costs.

- $62M for an expendable flight.

In general the ASDS recovery rate is still a "?". As is the RTLS recovery rate. Both of these values play into reusability costing.

A BTW is that an FH all RTLS price could be as low as $52M meaning there would after FH is reliably flying no expendable F9s and the offer for them would be removed. This also meands that a FH ASDS center recovery would be $62M and a FH all ASDS recovery as high as $82M. Not much of a savings over the current $90M price.

But here the $90M price is a question. And that is whether the price is an all expended or for at least booster recovery. There is some indication that the price is for at least booster recovery (ASDS).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: cuddihy on 07/14/2016 11:15 AM

A BTW is that an FH all RTLS price could be as low as $52M meaning there would after FH is reliably flying no expendable F9s and the offer for them would be removed. This also meands that a FH ASDS center recovery would be $62M and a FH all ASDS recovery as high as $82M. Not much of a savings over the current $90M price.

But here the $90M price is a question. And that is whether the price is an all expended or for at least booster recovery. There is some indication that the price is for at least booster recovery (ASDS).

Jim has implied on another thread that this has actually already effectively happened -- i.e. that SpaceX, no matter what the website says, is actually no longer accepting F9 expendable orders, and only would by exception, presumably for explicit, non-monetary reasons like prestige or perhaps something critical to a market segment like EELV. Makes sense if their backlog is now such that FH would be able to fly those missions fully reusable, but the timeline to prove out FH is still uncertain.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 08/15/2016 03:49 PM
From:SpaceNews - SpaceX successfully launches JCSAT-16 (http://spacenews.com/spacex-successfully-launches-jcsat-16-satellite-faces-crowded-end-year-manifest/)
Quote
SES has said it wants a substantial discount on SpaceX’s already low price in exchange for being the first customer. But SES has made clear to investors that regular use of partially reusable rockets is a key component of SES’s strategy for reducing capital spending. SES insurance underwriters have said they will not insist on major premium increases to cover a launch with a reused first stage.

Hadn't seen that bold nugget mentioned and this seemed the best place.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: First Mate Rummey on 08/15/2016 05:34 PM
I read the 62M$ for 5.5t as the price/mass that permits a (potential) recovery. I suspect in the future they'll keep the mass limitation but lower the price when reusing core is standard. If you really want a new core the price will increase. If you have to orbit > 5.5t you'll also have to pay more since the first stage cannot be recovered.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: dror on 08/15/2016 06:16 PM
...

But I believe the 5.5mt value is a notice to future payloads that if they are less than that weight then they could take advantage of a lower price, whatever that may be in the future. While larger payloads would have to pay the current price.

Also there may be as many as three prices for an F9:
...

From:SpaceNews - SpaceX successfully launches JCSAT-16 (http://spacenews.com/spacex-successfully-launches-jcsat-16-satellite-faces-crowded-end-year-manifest/)
Quote
SES has said it wants a substantial discount on SpaceX’s already low price in exchange for being the first customer. But SES has made clear to investors that regular use of partially reusable rockets is a key component of SES’s strategy for reducing capital spending. SES insurance underwriters have said they will not insist on major premium increases to cover a launch with a reused first stage.

I belive, as has been suggested elsewhere, that prices will be lower for reused stages, not for reusable ones.
At least at start and for quite a long time.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 08/15/2016 06:33 PM
I read the 62M$ for 5.5t as the price/mass that permits a (potential) recovery. I suspect in the future they'll keep the mass limitation but lower the price when reusing core is standard.

SpaceX lists the Falcon 9 for $62M on their website, with the ability to place up to 5.5mT to GTO.

Quote
If you really want a new core the price will increase.

I think you have that backwards.  The current price is for new core, and SpaceX reserves the right to recover that core.  I don't think the customer has a choice in that respect.  However, SpaceX will sell a service that exceeds the 5.5mT capability, and as we've already seen they may not try to recover the stage, and I'm not sure we know what the price of that launch is.

But if SpaceX perfects reusability the price for the 5.5mT to GTO is supposed to be less than $62M if the customer chooses a stage that has previously flown.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/15/2016 06:38 PM

But no, they aren't free.

You have two costs here (at least). The cost of the RLV above that of the ELV it could have been with the same technology base, and the cost of recovery and non-trivial, non "gas-n-go" handling prior to vehicle integration.

These are non-trivial costs, a fair fraction of the total LV cost.

Free in the sense that whether or not they cost more to manufacture than a stage designed to be expendable-only, they have been paid for on their first flight. 

You don't know that. You'd have to have access to SX financials to know that.

All you know is that the costs have been expended to build, test, qualify, integrate, launch and recover a vehicle. Note that "recover" cost. More than an ELV.

For all you know, they could have a financial model that batches into, say, 100 launches, with a phase in of reuse, where a part of the "reuse to come" has already been part of the LV provider's embedded fixed cost.

Quote
That will change later, when SpaceX lowers its price in response to the assumption of stage re-use, but as long as launches are priced based on the assumption of an expended booster, then that successfully returned boosters higher cost doesn't really matter, as its cost has already been recovered. So "Free" in that sense.
Source for these three, broad, assumptions?

The financial "good news" is that it appears that the flight test program is drawing to a close.

The uncertainties here are in what changes to the CONOPs/vehicle will do to costing.

Again, not an enthusiast here but a businessman with pragmatics. You do know it is a business that is very pragmatic ...

Shotwell already announced that the price of the first ride on a relaunched booster would be about 30% lower, so that claim is not exactly an assumption.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: deruch on 08/18/2016 03:09 AM
The current price is for new core, and SpaceX reserves the right to recover that core. 

The current price is for a launch service for payloads up to 5.5mT to GTO.  It doesn't say anything about the type of core.  Assuming SpaceX is totally serious about their reuse plans and that the booster stages are actually capable of many reflights (i.e. more than just 3 or 4), they'll have to stop differentiating between "new" and "previously flown" boosters.  In the long run, with many multiple reuses, the only price differentiation that makes sense is whether (and possibly the calibrated likelihood) they can recover the booster on a mission.  In which case, charging more for missions that will preclude recovery makes perfect sense.

It makes sense for SpaceX to offer a discount to current customers willing to accept the risk of early adopters and to use those missions and their testing to determine exactly what the flight number/type limits are for their recovery.  But after that initial discount period, and again assuming everything works out, I imagine they'll just move to an overall lower price for the offered launch service that is agnostic to whether the booster is new or used. 

There just aren't enough missions on their current manifest that will require expended stages.  With the impressive performance gains they've been able to eke out of the Falcon 9 and their equally impressive achievements in improving the successful landing rate, they are likely to be attempting recovery of the boosters on very nearly all currently manifested missions.  How large a booster fleet do they need?  They'll move production to upper stages and only need a few boosters to make up for failed landings and fleet retirement as booster flight limits are reached.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 08/18/2016 04:44 AM
The current price is for new core, and SpaceX reserves the right to recover that core. 

The current price is for a launch service for payloads up to 5.5mT to GTO.  It doesn't say anything about the type of core.

As I recall, at least Gwynne Shotwell has addressed this specifically and said that for now their customers will have the option to choose unflown cores or previously flown cores.  AND, if they choose previously flown cores they get a discounted price, which is supposedly around 70% the full price.

Quote
Assuming SpaceX is totally serious about their reuse plans and that the booster stages are actually capable of many reflights (i.e. more than just 3 or 4), they'll have to stop differentiating between "new" and "previously flown" boosters.

I agree that at some point in the future it won't matter.  But since reusability has not been proven or validated yet, and there are potentially unknown risks, SpaceX differentiates the difference between a never-flown core and a previously-flown core by using a different purchase price for those two options.

Quote
There just aren't enough missions on their current manifest that will require expended stages.

So far SpaceX is exceeding their initial projected recovery rate, which if reusability is perfected could mean that SpaceX could move quicker to a higher mix of reused cores.  It will depend on what their customers want though.

Quote
How large a booster fleet do they need?  They'll move production to upper stages and only need a few boosters to make up for failed landings and fleet retirement as booster flight limits are reached.

There are a number of business assumptions SpaceX is making that we don't have insight into.  As a scheduling professional I can make a number of assumptions, but without knowing what the future "demand" will be it's difficult to forecast what they will do.

And if a 1st stage core can be reflown 10 times, then yes, there won't be a need to build new 1st stage cores very often, and the current production line will just stay busy building 2nd stages.  Which is not a bad problem to have if that happens...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/18/2016 11:36 PM
The current price is for a launch service for payloads up to 5.5mT to GTO.  It doesn't say anything about the type of core.  Assuming SpaceX is totally serious about their reuse plans and that the booster stages are actually capable of many reflights (i.e. more than just 3 or 4), they'll have to stop differentiating between "new" and "previously flown" boosters.

I like this articulation and feel it is likely to represent how the pricing model will work.  They will discount for some number of launches confirming reusability but after that they set the price of the launch service to account for demand and strategic objectives with addons to the base launch service extra.  Most importantly, it is my opinion that the base price will be based on the market and their strategic objectives and not specifically a reflection of the launch cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 08/18/2016 11:56 PM
Most importantly, it is my opinion that the base price will be based on the market and their strategic objectives and not specifically a reflection of the launch cost.

That would be a change from how they price today, where so far they have offered extremely stable public pricing.  And for reusability to really catch on I think the pricing of their services needs to be predictable, since it is the combination of lower pricing and certainty that the prices won't rise that will allow companies to test out new products and services that take years to develop and get ready for launch.

If SpaceX is perceived to have prices that could rise unpredictably, I don't think the market will expand fast enough to need or use a fleet of reusable rockets - not when satellite owners will still want to keep other launch providers busy enough so that SpaceX doesn't become a monopoly (which no one should want).

My $0.02
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/19/2016 12:36 AM
That would be a change from how they price today, where so far they have offered extremely stable public pricing.

I'm not suggesting the price will be unstable. 

I'm trying to suggest they will pick their stable price point that reflects the market, how they want to maximize monetizing it, and their strategic objectives.  I guess it's nuance but I feel like a lot of price discussion implicity assumes that the price point with be tied to their costs.  Like if they can save $40M with reuse they'll reduce the price point by $20M.  I think they will not do that.

Feels to me like they will pick a price point that maximizes how they monetize the market and (as a strategic objective) decide how much to concede from their savings.

 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/19/2016 12:48 AM

That would be a change from how they price today, where so far they have offered extremely stable public pricing.  And for reusability to really catch on I think the pricing of their services needs to be predictable, since it is the combination of lower pricing and certainty that the prices won't rise that will allow companies to test out new products and services that take years to develop and get ready for launch.

If SpaceX is perceived to have prices that could rise unpredictably, I don't think the market will expand fast enough to need or use a fleet of reusable rockets - not when satellite owners will still want to keep other launch providers busy enough so that SpaceX doesn't become a monopoly (which no one should want).

My $0.02

I would expect the opposite... prices could fall unpredictably.  They are 'over achieving' on recovery, and reuse with little refurb appears in the near future.  If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

In this environment, companies could fairly confidently test new products and services.  As capital expenditures decrease (SES planning for example), a virtuous cycle may be established.

On the other hand, if you are competing in this launch market, investments in next generation of launchers (like Ariane 6 or Vulcan planning for a halving of 2010-2015 prices by 2020-2025) will always be behind the curve.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 08/19/2016 05:43 AM
If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

That will eventually happen. However IMO not as long as there is a single customer who demands new cores. They could and would keep first launch prices and maybe even increase with shrinking production.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/19/2016 10:54 AM
A two tier pricing structure may exist for a while, but as the cost gap grows (and additional reliability of the bathtub curve is understood) the high tier will disappear. IMO, of course.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: WmThomas on 08/19/2016 11:05 PM
If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

If SpaceX soon starts reflying stage one often, they will be pad and processing-constrained, not production-constrained. But without a system that lets them fly weekly or more often, they can't drop prices all that much.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 08/20/2016 12:25 AM
If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

If SpaceX soon starts reflying stage one often, they will be pad and processing-constrained, not production-constrained. But without a system that lets them fly weekly or more often, they can't drop prices all that much.
They've shown a 2 week turnaround on a single pad and so far have maintained about 1 launch per month steady state. Once they have their 4 pads running at the same pace and can do test-firings on the pad for reused stages, I see no reason why they couldn't fly once or twice a week with all their pads combined.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/20/2016 01:07 PM
If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

If SpaceX soon starts reflying stage one often, they will be pad and processing-constrained, not production-constrained. But without a system that lets them fly weekly or more often, they can't drop prices all that much.
They've shown a 2 week turnaround on a single pad and so far have maintained about 1 launch per month steady state. Once they have their 4 pads running at the same pace and can do test-firings on the pad for reused stages, I see no reason why they couldn't fly once or twice a week with all their pads combined.

GS said two per month per pad... that's two per week as their goal.
Work is long underway to deal with pad and processing constraints... a 4-hour roll-out to launch was discussed on last launch broadcast.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/20/2016 04:23 PM
...
All you know is that the costs have been expended to build, test, qualify, integrate, launch and recover a vehicle. Note that "recover" cost. More than an ELV.

For all you know, they could have a financial model that batches into, say, 100 launches, with a phase in of reuse, where a part of the "reuse to come" has already been part of the LV provider's embedded fixed cost.
...
Again, not an enthusiast here but a businessman with pragmatics. You do know it is a business that is very pragmatic ...

As you say, it's a pragmatic business. Why would they leave money on the table (they could certainly charge more and still have more payloads than they can launch) and at the same time eat the cost of building, flying, recovering, and reusing the vehicle? That's bleeding money both ways for the last 5 years, with no end in sight.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 08/20/2016 06:38 PM
...
All you know is that the costs have been expended to build, test, qualify, integrate, launch and recover a vehicle. Note that "recover" cost. More than an ELV.

For all you know, they could have a financial model that batches into, say, 100 launches, with a phase in of reuse, where a part of the "reuse to come" has already been part of the LV provider's embedded fixed cost.
...
Again, not an enthusiast here but a businessman with pragmatics. You do know it is a business that is very pragmatic ...

As you say, it's a pragmatic business. Why would they leave money on the table (they could certainly charge more and still have more payloads than they can launch) and at the same time eat the cost of building, flying, recovering, and reusing the vehicle? That's bleeding money both ways for the last 5 years, with no end in sight.

Agreed.

Suggest that the reason would be that they are working to such a financial model as earlier suggested, as a long term pricing where the "early" launch services are under margin while longer term over margin, based on meeting performance objectives as recovery/reuse/gas-n-go progresses.

In that case, the "bleeding money" is like building construction financing, which has aggressive compounding in the "construction"/development phase, and a long "tail-off" during the operational phase-in following.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/20/2016 06:55 PM
How does the already announced reduced prices for rides on reused boosters fit into this financial model? If reuse is already costed in, there shouldn't be room to drop prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 08/20/2016 07:48 PM
I would expect the opposite... prices could fall unpredictably.  They are 'over achieving' on recovery, and reuse with little refurb appears in the near future.  If they end the year with ten cores in the barn and have relaunched twice successfully, then all launch prices could begin to collapse toward the discounted first reuse launches.

From a customer standpoint, price predictability is far better when you know what the highest price is, not the lowest.  And while prices could fall faster than the market expects, there is likely a floor that will occur fairly quickly due to inherent costs SpaceX has to cover if they want to make a profit - and they have to make a profit on Falcon 9 flights if they want to fund their Mars efforts.

Conversely, there is no real limit to how high prices can rise, so once customers see prices rising they will likely become very hesitant make long-term commitments that require stable pricing.

Quote
In this environment, companies could fairly confidently test new products and services.  As capital expenditures decrease (SES planning for example), a virtuous cycle may be established.

I think SpaceX is hoping to start some sort of virtuous cycle once they achieve some degree of reusability and lower launch prices.

Quote
On the other hand, if you are competing in this launch market, investments in next generation of launchers (like Ariane 6 or Vulcan planning for a halving of 2010-2015 prices by 2020-2025) will always be behind the curve.

These are great times for those of us outside of the launch services sector, but if/when SpaceX does achieve some degree of reusability that justifies significantly lower customer launch prices, there could be major changes ahead for the rest of the launch providers.  And that is both good and scary...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 08/20/2016 08:35 PM
Initially the norm is new booster and the customer deciding to fly with a reused booster an exception such that SpaceX will give them a discount. But soon thereafter the reused booster will be the norm such that the pricing will not be whether flying a new or used booster but on the risk of recovery.

For RTLS (low risk mostly LEO orbits) becomes the base price.

Then for ASDS (moderate to high based on payload and orbit specifics mostly GTO orbits) several prices or a published  algorithm that gives price based on orbit drop-of delta V, inclination and payload weight.

And finally the no recovery which SpaceX is unlikely to ever sell for F9's once FH is flying (except if the customer is willing to accept significant schedule uncertainty to wait for a close to end of life booster).

Same pricing would be true for FH but slightly more complex since there are more variations on recovery risks.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/20/2016 08:52 PM
How does the already announced reduced prices for rides on reused boosters fit into this financial model? If reuse is already costed in, there shouldn't be room to drop prices.

Reuse only reduces the hardware side of costs (assuming all of the hardware testing at McGregor, transportation across the country, etc. are included in hardware costs), and that only on the first stage; 25% of hardware cost is locked in as long as second stage is expended.  This is around half the cost of a launch, I believe.  The other half, launch operations, is where further reductions will be realized.  Increased launch rate, better flow, dropping tests like WDR/static fire, automated roll-out, quicker/more efficient turn-around of recovered boosters, etc. have great potential for equivalent or better cost reductions than the hardware side.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 08/20/2016 09:04 PM
Yes, with full absorption cost financial model no further improvement would be had.

Yes, CONOPs improvements would advance things independent of manufacturing.

Thirdly, new developments might affect/improve both still further.

Bottom line: we don't know how complicated the financial model is here, and our assumptions may be altogether wrong.

One of the things to keep in mind is that SX business model and financial skills are a very significant part of their strengths against global rivals, who only have to deal usually with attending to governmental financial needs, which don't require as much skill as commercial does.

Like bringing a shotgun to a water gun fight. Don't make the mistake of underestimating this effect.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/20/2016 09:29 PM
You think launch ops currently cost upwards of $30 million expended on every mission? That seems pretty high to me. And they would be eating most of that cost if hardware is $50 to 60 million (which Elons says it does) and they are only charging about $65 million for a commercial launch.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/20/2016 10:24 PM
You think launch ops currently cost upwards of $30 million expended on every mission? That seems pretty high to me. And they would be eating most of that cost if hardware is $50 to 60 million (which Elons says it does) and they are only charging about $65 million for a commercial launch.

Here is how I came to this cost break-out(based on EM's 75% of hardware cost is first stage):
Quote
The $19M reduction advertised by GS indicates that first stage cost minus retrieval/refurbishment equals that figure.  Assuming rework costs are $3-5M, the first stage hardware costs are $22-24M -- let's use $24M (40% or so of the launch price).  The first stage is quoted at 75% of the F9 hardware costs.  Entire F9 would then cost $32M.  This leaves $30M-ish for all other operations plus profit.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40377.msg1541230#msg1541230

YMMV
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/21/2016 01:03 AM
You're assuming they want to pass the entire savings on to customer immediately. I think they will eventually, but first need to recover some of the many millions they spent developing a recoverable and reuseable system.

Musk has said
Quote
Our pricing right now assumes no reusability. None of our prices are contingent on that. Any reusability we're able to achieve would only allow us to reduce prices from where they are today. The more often we're able to fly and the more often we're able to reuse the stages and the less work they require between flights, the lower the costs can be. The boost stage is roughly 70% of the cost of a launch. So, if we're able to reuse it and refly it with minimal work between flights, and customers are comfortable with that - and it might take a few years for customers to get comfortable with that - then obviously there's as much as - ultimately - a 70% reduction from where things are today.

[emphasis mine]

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/spacex-press-conference-at-the-national-press-club-2014-04-25
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/21/2016 12:50 PM
Hadn't seen that quote... there are two different EM statements, then, so we'll have to wait for clarification.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/21/2016 07:30 PM
You're assuming they want to pass the entire savings on to customer immediately. I think they will eventually, but first need to recover some of the many millions they spent developing a recoverable and reuseable system.

Musk has said
Quote
The boost stage is roughly 70% of the cost of a launch. So, if we're able to reuse it and refly it with minimal work between flights, and customers are comfortable with that - and it might take a few years for customers to get comfortable with that - then obviously there's as much as - ultimately - a 70% reduction from where things are today.

Is there something public that supports your belief they will eventually pass the entire savings to the customer?

That statement there by EM reads to me as information about the cost to SpaceX rather than a price (cost) to the customer.  There is a several major drivers of very big incentive for SpaceX to book profits.  Is it not the case that the GS 30% discount is simply the "bait" to hook the customers necessary to proof reliable reuse such that they can go back to selling "launch services" rather than having the customer worry about the booster details?

Absent better information, I'm inclined to believe that the 30% is temporary and that their standard list price for launch services when reuse is no longer considered any different from non-reuse will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons (PR, general boost to the industry).

It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 08/21/2016 08:09 PM
The only thing that matters here regarding external pricing of services is "revenue recognition", e.g. when monies received becomes linked with expenses for that "sale", due to the GAAP "matching principle".

The rest is inside the financial model. The accounting to customer need not match the internal accounting, because they serve different purposes - costs in the organization are structured around operating groups/divisions such that those can be managed comprehensively as a measure of the organization as a whole.

For FAR (and other accounting), the structure is centered around other means to state the functioning of the activity, irrespective of the way that the firm's means for visibility/management of its operations, as the intent is to validate proper adherence/compliance to government rules/requirements. There can be many "layers" of this, that all need reconciliation.

Accounting here is by no means obvious and single valued. Musk does mean what he says, but that does not mean that in every way to account for it, the same gross discounts would apply/match, because all of the definitions/terms are written intentionally differently for those interests for their own agendas, and the differences are considerable as the agendas are. Maddeningly so, and often ironically in the desire for control/containment, they end up working against the agendas, because the rigidity of the forms of accounting neglect the flexibility of a situation.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/21/2016 11:33 PM
<snip>
Absent better information, I'm inclined to believe that the 30% is temporary and that their standard list price for launch services when reuse is no longer considered any different from non-reuse will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons (PR, general boost to the industry).

It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.

The price that the current market can bear is significantly higher than they are charging, and a significant amount of their 'profit' is being rolled back into R&D for future unprofitable-to-the-extreme adventures.
Maximizing their profit doesn't seem to be their business model to date... certainly that could change, but I don't see any indication of that new M.O.   Do you?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ludus on 08/22/2016 02:13 AM
SpaceX has been in a sort of start up mode until now. Trying to break into a very conservative market, having publicly posted low prices was a major selling point. Charging at the market wouldn't have built up a big manifest.

With a breakthrough into reusability they can do even better and have prices no competitor can even get close to. I don't think that implies cutting prices to match reduction in costs. Nothing about posting launch prices implies that they can't cut even better deals with particular customers for any reason they want though. They can price optimally to get all the business that's available to them. A major surge in launch rate and profits is necessary to pay for what would a couple years ago have seemed like ridiculously ambitious spending plans for BFR/MCT.

I don't think SpaceX ever intends to pay dividends or do anything with profits but reinvest them, but they'll need a lot to do what they're planning.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 08/22/2016 11:13 AM
100 launches per year at 60m a launch = 6 billion dollars a year!
6 billion a year should pay for a lot.
Of course to get 100 launches per year? Is there that many launches from all providers now? At some point we need more people needing things launched. Which means lower prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/22/2016 12:32 PM
Is there something public that supports your belief they will eventually pass the entire savings to the customer?
...

"Eventually" is a long time, and SpaceX doesn't have profit as a primary mission. They NEED profit in the short term to accomplish their mission, but it's not their long-term goal.

Per Musk:
Quote
Well, cheaper is one way to say it, another way to say it is we're trying to make space accessible to everyone. We want it to be such that if you want to go to orbit or beyond, then you can do so. We want to open up space for humanity, and in order to do that, space must be affordable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBaLYDbk4fY

Also, IMO they will eventually face competitive pressure from someone (probably BO) and have to lower their prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 08/23/2016 08:23 PM
100 launches per year at 60m a launch = 6 billion dollars a year!
6 billion a year should pay for a lot.
Of course to get 100 launches per year? Is there that many launches from all providers now? At some point we need more people needing things launched. Which means lower prices.
A simple look at this year 2016 with 16 paid F9 flights and 3 of those being a CRS that's a total of paid for launches made this year of 16*$62M + 3 *$70M = $1.2B.

For 2017 the numbers will be bigger (hopefully) by 50% or close to $2B.
18-19 F9 + 3 FH + 3 CRS + 2 CC
19* $62M + 3*$90M +3*$70M + 2 *$80M = $1.8B

The question is that if 30% reduction in launch price is made in general (all launches no consideration of new or used booster) but a launch rate is increased by 30% to  25 F9 and 4 FH for 2018 over that of 2017 then the revenue will not drop year over year between 2017 and 2018.

Meaning that by 2020 they could easily be at $2B/year in launch operations + Dragon operations (Paid customers not SpaceX internal flights such as RD or "CommX"). If then add a %B or 2 from comm services revenue they could be headed into the $5B+ numbers by mid 2020's. Even with further reductions in launch services prices.

The major impact of lower launch costs is the goal of more launches seen in more tonnage to orbit, whether by using bigger boosters (BFR/BFS or FH) or launching reusable vehicles very often (more than once a week).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MP99 on 08/24/2016 07:09 AM


You're assuming they want to pass the entire savings on to customer immediately. I think they will eventually, but first need to recover some of the many millions they spent developing a recoverable and reuseable system.

SpaceX ultimately want to drive a larger market - market elasticity.

I suspect they will reserve really low prices for customers who want to order multiple flights in new markets. They may be their own first customer here with their CommSat constellation.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/24/2016 01:13 PM
<snip>
 standard list price will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons

It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.

The price that the current market can bear is significantly higher than they are charging, and a significant amount of their 'profit' is being rolled back into R&D for future unprofitable-to-the-extreme adventures.
Maximizing their profit doesn't seem to be their business model to date... certainly that could change, but I don't see any indication of that new M.O.   Do you?

That's not what I said.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 08/25/2016 08:09 AM
That statement there by EM reads to me as information about the cost to SpaceX rather than a price (cost) to the customer. 
Correct.
Quote
There is a several major drivers of very big incentive for SpaceX to book profits. 
That would be the VC investors and any planned IPO.
Quote
Is it not the case that the GS 30% discount is simply the "bait" to hook the customers necessary to proof reliable reuse such that they can go back to selling "launch services" rather than having the customer worry about the booster details?
So you're not making a statement, you're asking a question. AFAIK SX have not set permanent pricing for the flights using reused 1st stages.
Quote
Absent better information, I'm inclined to believe that the 30% is temporary and that their standard list price for launch services when reuse is no longer considered any different from non-reuse will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons (PR, general boost to the industry).
IOW Charge customers what the market will bear and keep the rest of the profits. Just like every launch vehicle services company.
Quote
It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.
Historically this is exactly what has happened.   That's the BAU model.

First off this would destroy a very large amount of good will that SX has built up. Secondly it gives no incentive for organizations that were considering an orbital solution as the least affordable option to solve their business problem to put it up their list of options.

Suspicion that the market would not expand enough to re-coup their investment given the kind of prices (other suppliers) thought they could give customers is probably the  reason why incumbents have never gone any further than paper exercises (usually government funded) to do this.

To get significant market growth SX has to lower it's prices for some of its launches to see price elasticity. How much is significant is a tricky question.  Some think 30$ is significant. Some do not.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Zach Swena on 08/25/2016 09:21 PM
It is easy to get confused between cost savings and prices.  Personally, I think spacex will make the reused booster prices just low enough to gauge how much growth room there is for lower priced launches.  Aside from trying to prove the launch market can grow, they probably will maximize profit as much or more then other launch providers for the reused vehicles.  The motivation for this would be to fund the development of their mars architecture. 

Once they have the mars rocket operational, they can probably do two stage RTLS for almost any payload class currently used.  That is the point where it makes sense for them to offer the extra low launch cost.  That way they can increase the flight rate of their super heavy fully reusable launcher with both minimal fixed and incremental cost compared to the current situation where they have certain manufacturing capacity limits on expended parts for each launch short of expanding factory and processing space.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: wannamoonbase on 08/25/2016 09:56 PM
It is easy to get confused between cost savings and prices.  Personally, I think spacex will make the reused booster prices just low enough to gauge how much growth room there is for lower priced launches.  Aside from trying to prove the launch market can grow, they probably will maximize profit as much or more then other launch providers for the reused vehicles.  The motivation for this would be to fund the development of their mars architecture. 
...

Agreed, and there are a lot of unknowns and risks while developing reuse.  It'd be foolish for SpaceX to go too quickly or give away too much early on.

The reuse price does need to be low enough to attract customers, but that maybe avoided by providing a quicker launch for some.  Wait for a new booster or fly soon on a refurbished vehicle.

Mars ain't cheap, make profit when and where they can.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/26/2016 01:34 PM
There is a several major drivers of very big incentive for SpaceX to book profits. 
That would be the VC investors and any planned IPO.
Incomplete answer and not at all the two most important ones that I was considering:

1)  Employees who can monetize some of their equity-based compensation via annual or bi-annual liquidity events. [Specifically discussed by EM in an Employee Letter]
2)  Capital to plow back into the broader goals.

Quote
Quote
Absent better information, I'm inclined to believe that the 30% is temporary and that their standard list price for launch services when reuse is no longer considered any different from non-reuse will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons (PR, general boost to the industry).
IOW Charge customers what the market will bear and keep the rest of the profits. Just like every launch vehicle services company.

Seriously?   How difficult is it to read the text in RED italics  underline bold and still conclude that IOW I'm saying MAX PROFITS?  Especially when I said "minus" "strategically" "concede[d profit for]" "PR, general boost to the industry"?


Quote
Quote
It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.
To get significant market growth SX has to lower it's prices for some of its launches to see price elasticity. How much is significant is a tricky question.  Some think 30$ is significant. Some do not.

I'm simply trying to suggest, passing along all savings is IN MY OPINION very unlikely whereas others have said they expect that to be the case.  They have very valid reasons to not pass along a reasonably sized portion of the savings, reasons THAT FURTHER THE BROADER MISSION OF SPACE-X and reasons that are not Greedy or Just like every other Launch Vehicle Services Company. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Zach Swena on 08/26/2016 01:58 PM
I'm simply trying to suggest, passing along all savings is IN MY OPINION very unlikely whereas others have said they expect that to be the case.  They have very valid reasons to not pass along a reasonably sized portion of the savings, reasons THAT FURTHER THE BROADER MISSION OF SPACE-X and reasons that are not Greedy or Just like every other Launch Vehicle Services Company.

Agreed, the action (maximizing profit in the near term) is similar to other launch services companies, but the motivation is vastly different.  Spacex has a goal of developing the technology, equipment, and infrastructure to allow human space travel at the planetary level and beyond.  They will do what best forwards that goal.  I would also argue that waiting for the huge price cut till they have a fully reusable vehicle also makes the most sense if their goal was only to reduce launch prices drastically.  It does not make sense to expand the production of expendable components to the scale to meet the theoretical demand that they would need to close the business case for a minimum priced falcon 9 when they could spend that same capital to develop a fully reusable vehicle.  Full reuse also should have a much better ratio of profit to fixed infrastructure costs even at the lower price.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/26/2016 02:29 PM
...
I'm simply trying to suggest, passing along all savings is IN MY OPINION very unlikely whereas others have said they expect that to be the case.  They have very valid reasons to not pass along a reasonably sized portion of the savings, reasons THAT FURTHER THE BROADER MISSION OF SPACE-X and reasons that are not Greedy or Just like every other Launch Vehicle Services Company.

I did say EVENTUALLY in the post that started all this. Eventually, a number of factors will force them to pass on a significant majority of the launch cost reductions in the form of price cuts to a significant number of customers (though perhaps not all customers). Those factors could be competition, a desire to dramatically increase launch rate, and the simple fact that Mars colonization isn't feasible at current prices.

For instance, I doubt they will charge internal customers (e.g. CommX) prices much above reuseable cost for a launch. However, Falcon 9 might be retired or significantly different from it's current form by the time they do that for external customers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/26/2016 02:31 PM
I'm simply trying to suggest, passing along all savings is IN MY OPINION very unlikely whereas others have said they expect that to be the case.  They have very valid reasons to not pass along a reasonably sized portion of the savings, reasons THAT FURTHER THE BROADER MISSION OF SPACE-X and reasons that are not Greedy or Just like every other Launch Vehicle Services Company.

Agreed, the action (maximizing profit in the near term) is similar to other launch services companies, but the motivation is vastly different.  Spacex has a goal of developing the technology, equipment, and infrastructure to allow human space travel at the planetary level and beyond.  They will do what best forwards that goal.  I would also argue that waiting for the huge price cut till they have a fully reusable vehicle also makes the most sense if their goal was only to reduce launch prices drastically.  It does not make sense to expand the production of expendable components to the scale to meet the theoretical demand that they would need to close the business case for a minimum priced falcon 9 when they could spend that same capital to develop a fully reusable vehicle.  Full reuse also should have a much better ratio of profit to fixed infrastructure costs even at the lower price.

I'm among those who think SpaceX will pass the bulk of savings from reuse on to customers immediately.

Reasoning goes like this:
1. SpaceX is currently funding a massive research and development effort with profit margin as-is*.
2. A significant portion of profit seems to be from CRS and other NASA support efforts, which are solidly booked into mid-2020s (over 20 NASA flights on manifest). These flights are also supplying a nice stream of shinny new, completely funded boosters.
3. Infrastructure development (heading for four launch sites, refurb facilities, barges, etc.) is based on launching greater than or equal to the stated goal of 2 per month per pad... 100 per year.
4. Lowest price in the market has fleshed out the SpaceX manifest to $10ish Billion and growing, though current manifest is only a quarter of the goal of 100 flights per year.
5. The missing link in this entire strategy is a display of market elasticity...
6. Lower prices -- reflecting the bulk of savings from reuse -- are the only path to keeping the manifest growing and priming the market elasticity pump.
7. Increasing flight rate with existing profit PER FLIGHT (on lower cost vehicles) improves profitability, so Raptor and BFR/BFS will have increasing R&D revenue.

So, increasing flight rate is the way SpaceX will maximize cash flow, near term and long.
My opinion only.

 * If it is true that SpaceX is losing lots of money on each flight, they'll be out of business soon. 
All of this will be OBE.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/26/2016 02:39 PM
...
 * If it is true that SpaceX is losing lots of money on each flight, they'll be out of business soon. 
...

They would have been out of business a long time ago if they were losing lots of money on every flight. They already have way too many negative cash-flow projects for launching Falcon 9's to be anything other than profitable.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/26/2016 02:50 PM
I did say EVENTUALLY in the post that started all this. Eventually, a number of factors will force them to pass on a significant majority of the launch cost reductions in the form of price cuts to a significant number of customers (though perhaps not all customers). Those factors could be competition, a desire to dramatically increase launch rate, and the simple fact that Mars colonization isn't feasible at current prices.

For instance, I doubt they will charge internal customers (e.g. CommX) prices much above reuseable cost for a launch. However, Falcon 9 might be retired or significantly different from it's current form by the time they do that for external customers.

I generally agree but here is how I see the factors you cited.

1)  Competition.  Starting from the premise of Reusability, I don't see where the competition is coming from but it may develop and pricing certainly permits and aggressive stance toward it if it develops.
2)  Launch Rate.  Starting from the premise of Reusability and more launch facilities, there's plenty of room to increase launch rate by consolidating the existing market and with modest pricing-based growth.  I tend to think it will be hard to drive growth that outweighs the reduced margins of very aggressive price reductions for typical commerical customers.  I could be wrong.  Just gut-feel.
3)  Mars.  One of the "Strategic Concessions" I've always envisioned are in-house launches (CommX, staging to LEO), pro-bono launches (for some kind of worthy non-commercial endeavor), and Mars Colonization at-cost launches.  The profits from the commercial side enable these low-margin services.



Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Kabloona on 08/26/2016 03:32 PM
You're assuming they want to pass the entire savings on to customer immediately. I think they will eventually, but first need to recover some of the many millions they spent developing a recoverable and reuseable system.

Musk has said
Quote
The boost stage is roughly 70% of the cost of a launch. So, if we're able to reuse it and refly it with minimal work between flights, and customers are comfortable with that - and it might take a few years for customers to get comfortable with that - then obviously there's as much as - ultimately - a 70% reduction from where things are today.

Is there something public that supports your belief they will eventually pass the entire savings to the customer?

That statement there by EM reads to me as information about the cost to SpaceX rather than a price (cost) to the customer.  There is a several major drivers of very big incentive for SpaceX to book profits.  Is it not the case that the GS 30% discount is simply the "bait" to hook the customers necessary to proof reliable reuse such that they can go back to selling "launch services" rather than having the customer worry about the booster details?

Absent better information, I'm inclined to believe that the 30% is temporary and that their standard list price for launch services when reuse is no longer considered any different from non-reuse will be the price that maximizes their profit minus the amount of their profit they are strategically willing to concede for various selfish reasons (PR, general boost to the industry).

It would be extraordinarily suprising to me if they passed anything close to full savings on to customers.

Let's not forget that Musk is not an ordinary businessman. He has talked at length publicly about the potential cost savings of reuse, implying that the customer would benefit from those savings. He seems truly passionate in the belief that spaceflight is too expensive *for the customer* and after all his talk, he's now in a position to start backing it up.

So yes, he has a business incentive to make a profit, but he also has a personal "mission" to reduce to cost of spaceflight, and I expect him to push the latter as aggressively as he can while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 08/26/2016 04:07 PM
and I expect him to push the latter as aggressively as he can while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

That's all I mean by "strategic concessions off market rates". 

Maybe he wants to sell launches for a fraction over cost.  I don't think that allows for his other objectives and I think the other objectives require significantly less than a full concession.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 08/26/2016 07:31 PM

Maybe he wants to sell launches for a fraction over cost.  I don't think that allows for his other objectives and I think the other objectives require significantly less than a full concession.

I think musk may once again pull a rabbit out of his hat and think of some clever way to make his "other objectives" pay their way.
For example:
1. Very cheap delivery of science payloads to any surface in solar system.
Universities, NASA don't have to develop launch vehicle, entry, descent, landing. Could subtract a lot off science missions.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 08/28/2016 01:24 PM

For instance, I doubt they will charge internal customers (e.g. CommX) prices much above reuseable cost for a launch. However, Falcon 9 might be retired or significantly different from it's current form by the time they do that for external customers.
A significant cost driver will be running the Mars settlement programme afffordably. But that's an internal customer, so again does not help anyone outside looking for a lower $/lb price.

Maybe he wants to sell launches for a fraction over cost.  I don't think that allows for his other objectives and I think the other objectives require significantly less than a full concession.
1. Very cheap delivery of science payloads to any surface in solar system.
Universities, NASA don't have to develop launch vehicle, entry, descent, landing. Could subtract a lot off science missions.
It's an interesting idea but keep in mind NASA like developing EDL systems, they just don't like the bill for TPS.

OTOH being someone other than NASA and yet being able to put a science payload on Mars/Venus/Mercury/Whatever could be product SX could sell.

Agreed, the action (maximizing profit in the near term) is similar to other launch services companies, but the motivation is vastly different. 
From an economics PoV (note the thread title) who cares?

If you're right the net effect is no drop in price and I think that guarantees there will be no market expansion.  Those who can afford to run mission at SX's asking price will do so. Those who can't, won't.  :(

Things get interesting if they can keep the profit they earn per flight fixed IE their % margin rises. Then every additional flight they win benefits them regardless of market growth. Wheather this is a viable option is unclear.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jcc on 08/28/2016 07:03 PM
I think for the first few years of Falcon 9 reuse, they can't cut prices by anything more than 20-30% or even less, because the cost of recovery/referb/recert will still be relatively high. They will have to cut launch prices by something otherwise there will be a lot of "I told you it wasn't worth doing" by competitors and skeptics.

As the reuse process is streamlined, their real costs will decrease, so they could cut prices more, but they have every reason to let their margins and profits rise, and use that money to fund their Mars program.

They do want to take some of the existing market from competitors, but I don't think they have an interest in putting ULA, Orbital ATK, Arianespace and other out of business. The long term goal is to have much lower cost and higher reliability for space access for everyone, so the best way to guarantee that is having a competitive environment where companies actually compete. I think they do that by that pursuing vigorously a strategy to dramatically increase efficiency and encourage competition, rather than predatory pricing to kill competition.

To that I would add that if they do launch a 4000 satellite constellation, they will be creating a vastly expanded market all on their own. Other companies may do something similar, so that is thousands more birds. That is not a one-time thing, they have to maintain a constant launch cadence to maintain the constellation. In order to do this cost-effectively, launch services need to become much cheaper. So there is your market elasticity right there, increased based on cheaper launch prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 08/28/2016 08:30 PM
Unless I'm missing something, then just the rumoured $300m price tag of the Red Dragon mission in 2018 will already exceed the total gross profits earned from all of SpaceX's 16 or so commercial launches this year (based on the assumption that each launch currently costs them around $50m and that they're earning around $65m per launch).

So where are all the billions for BFR, MCT etc. going to come from? In my view, it has to come from steady profits earned from their ramped up commercial launch manifest in years to come. So, if they are currently earning $10m gross profit per $65m launch, I would expect them to try and earn at least the same profit number from a $30m launch in 2 years time. There is no reason why they cannot charge $30m per launch if their competitors are still charging $100m per launch or more.

That alone should allow them to scoop up most of the market, in addition to expanding the market size significantly. But even then, if they get to a hypothetical 100 launches per year, then a profit of $10m per launch still only earns them around $1bn in gross profit annually. This is still far too small to fund the type of Mars plans that Elon has lined up.

I think they should milk the cash cow while they have cornered the market, and build up as large a cash reserve as possible to sink into R&D for Mars colonization. Try and make $20m profit per launch. Or $30m. That is easily achievable if you are still 50% cheaper than your closest competitor.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 08/28/2016 09:07 PM
They don't need billions to do BFR/BFS. They need cash flow. They can get adequate cash flow if they raise launch frequency with the assistance of a flow of booster reuse. The tipping point is greater than 51 percent global telecom (plus other) payloads. That will cause a imbalance in costing of other LVs that force the bimodal distribution of launch pricing to split widely.

Other global LV's still continue, but once you sweep too much onto F9/FH manifest, then it become self-reinforcing.

Nor does it destabilize in down years - you just scale back operations, ready to scale up when needed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 08/28/2016 09:12 PM
They don't need billions to do BFR/BFS. They need cash flow. They can get adequate cash flow if they raise launch frequency with the assistance of a flow of booster reuse. The tipping point is greater than 51 percent global telecom (plus other) payloads. That will cause a imbalance in costing of other LVs that force the bimodal distribution of launch pricing to split widely.

Other global LV's still continue, but once you sweep too much onto F9/FH manifest, then it become self-reinforcing.

Nor does it destabilize in down years - you just scale back operations, ready to scale up when needed.

Are you suggesting that they run it all on massive debt then, with just sufficient cash flow to service that debt on an ongoing basis? If so, that seems awfully risky to me, and reduces your ability to absorb mishaps, failures and unexpected challenges without breaking stride.

A healthy pot of money gives you that much more flexibility. If they can really reduce the cost of a launch to something around $20m, they can wipe out all the competition even if they charge $30m or $40m per launch for the next 5 years. And pour all of that surplus cash into building BFR and MCT.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 08/28/2016 09:24 PM
They don't need billions to do BFR/BFS. They need cash flow. They can get adequate cash flow if they raise launch frequency with the assistance of a flow of booster reuse. The tipping point is greater than 51 percent global telecom (plus other) payloads. That will cause a imbalance in costing of other LVs that force the bimodal distribution of launch pricing to split widely.

Other global LV's still continue, but once you sweep too much onto F9/FH manifest, then it become self-reinforcing.

Nor does it destabilize in down years - you just scale back operations, ready to scale up when needed.

Totally agree...SpaceX for the next couple of years needs to raise launch frequency.  Most people on the board projected SpaceX doing 12 maybe 13 launches this year.  2016 will be the highest number of launches for SpaceX.  Now next year and 2018 with 3  or 4 launches sites - with no mishaps - I would expect SpaceX to be launching at least 24 times per year.  Now if you were ULA - would you not like to be launching 24 times a year and increasing?  Now - put in resuseability - I would take the those prices down to $50 million.  I can beat you they will find buyers for those launches.  They have too many buyers now - if the price is lower - demand will go up.  Remember the airforce thought the price for the recent contract that SpaceX won to be about $140 million.  If SpaceX raised the price of its launch to $100 million do you think ULA would have won?  Nope.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: the_other_Doug on 08/28/2016 09:26 PM
It's not exactly like SpaceX says "We want to fly Red Dragon" and someone else says "Great, that'll be $300 million, please."

You plan out the amount of spending you need to be doing -- sometimes by the fiscal year, sometimes by the quarter, sometimes even for a given month -- to get you to landing a Red Dragon on Mars.

You then arrange your cash flow to cover the spending that needs to be done.  Sometimes (often, actually) that cash flow has to be enhanced with things like bank loans and venture capital.  But if you have healthy revenues, you just continue to pay off old short-term loans and get new ones, and balance it all on the bigger payoffs projected for the near- and -medium-term future.

So, as long as SpaceX achieves the cash flows it has projected to cover the financial house of cards that every American corporation ends up playing with, there really isn't a problem from the funding side.  The corporate banking/VC/etc. funding system in the U.S. is designed to cushion and support corporate expansions much larger than this.

Of course, the economies of re-use will need to provide the anticipated profit margin for the house of cards to remain standing, I think...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 08/28/2016 09:29 PM
They don't need billions to do BFR/BFS. They need cash flow. They can get adequate cash flow if they raise launch frequency with the assistance of a flow of booster reuse. The tipping point is greater than 51 percent global telecom (plus other) payloads. That will cause a imbalance in costing of other LVs that force the bimodal distribution of launch pricing to split widely.

Other global LV's still continue, but once you sweep too much onto F9/FH manifest, then it become self-reinforcing.

Nor does it destabilize in down years - you just scale back operations, ready to scale up when needed.

Totally agree...SpaceX for the next couple of years needs to raise launch frequency.  Most people on the board projected SpaceX doing 12 maybe 13 launches this year.  2016 will be the highest number of launches for SpaceX.  Now next year and 2018 with 3  or 4 launches sites - with no mishaps - I would expect SpaceX to be launching at least 24 times per year.  Now if you were ULA - would you not like to be launching 24 times a year and increasing?  Now - put in resuseability - I would take the those prices down to $50 million.  I can beat you they will find buyers for those launches.  They have too many buyers now - if the price is lower - demand will go up.  Remember the airforce thought the price for the recent contract that SpaceX won to be about $140 million.  If SpaceX raised the price of its launch to $100 million do you think ULA would have won?  Nope.

This is what I mean.

Reduce the price just enough to price out the competition, while still raking in absurd profits. By stealing market share in that way, SpaceX will already increase their launches to 30 plus per annum, and then more after that.

Then, if they wish the market to grow further, they simply reduce prices by the amount necessary to achieve the market size they want. But there is no sense in throwing away profits by reducing your already low prices even further, just because you happen to have the ability to launch absurdly cheaply.

Rather rake in that money and put it to good use.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 08/28/2016 09:31 PM
It's not exactly like SpaceX says "We want to fly Red Dragon" and someone else says "Great, that'll be $300 million, please."

You plan out the amount of spending you need to be doing -- sometimes by the fiscal year, sometimes by the quarter, sometimes even for a given month -- to get you to landing a Red Dragon on Mars.

You then arrange your cash flow to cover the spending that needs to be done.  Sometimes (often, actually) that cash flow has to be enhanced with things like bank loans and venture capital.  But if you have healthy revenues, you just continue to pay off old short-term loans and get new ones, and balance it all on the bigger payoffs projected for the near- and -medium-term future.

So, as long as SpaceX achieves the cash flows it has projected to cover the financial house of cards that every American corporation ends up playing with, there really isn't a problem from the funding side.  The corporate banking/VC/etc. funding system in the U.S. is designed to cushion and support corporate expansions much larger than this.

Of course, the economies of re-use will need to provide the anticipated profit margin for the house of cards to remain standing, I think...

Fair point. It just seems to me that if you are eventually able to provide a service at 20% of the cost of your closest competitor, you can go a long way in avoiding the need for the house of cards.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jcc on 08/28/2016 10:19 PM
As far as Red Dragon, they will be spending a lot of cash to do it, but that is meant to be a demo mission to establish a regular service that will pay for itself and earn profit in its own right. Payload to Mars for a fraction of the cost of NASA, ESA or Russia, and larger payloads than anyone else has landed, just using FH and RD. And hopefully with a better success rate.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 08/29/2016 04:08 AM
... they can wipe out all the competition ...
Reduce the price just enough to price out the competition ...

Neither of those is going to happen. Foreign governments would not permit it and even the US government has learned the lesson of what happens if you have only one launch provider. SpaceX should aim for a healthy market share but realise there's a political limit to what that share is.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/29/2016 04:02 PM
... they can wipe out all the competition ...
Reduce the price just enough to price out the competition ...

Neither of those is going to happen. Foreign governments would not permit it and even the US government has learned the lesson of what happens if you have only one launch provider. SpaceX should aim for a healthy market share but realise there's a political limit to what that share is.

SpaceX has already priced out the competition from the market segments they serve. But that won't last forever. Once they validate their business model, other competition will get into the market. And some might make it to market even sooner than that (Blue Origin, most likely).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 08/29/2016 10:22 PM
SpaceX has already priced out the competition from the market segments they serve. But that won't last forever. Once they validate their business model, other competition will get into the market. And some might make it to market even sooner than that (Blue Origin, most likely).
If by that you mean anything below 16 tonnes to LEO then you'd be right.

Once  you move to GTO it's a different story and a very different (unpublished) price, which is partly why Arianespace (along with it's considerably longer successful launch record) is still in business.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 08/29/2016 11:04 PM
...
Once  you move to GTO it's a different story and a very different (unpublished) price, which is partly why Arianespace (along with it's considerably longer successful launch record) is still in business.

SpaceX publishes prices for GTO launch: 62 million for 5.5 metric tons to GTO.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 08/30/2016 12:27 AM
SpaceX has already priced out the competition from the market segments they serve. But that won't last forever. Once they validate their business model, other competition will get into the market. And some might make it to market even sooner than that (Blue Origin, most likely).
If by that you mean anything below 16 tonnes to LEO then you'd be right.

Once  you move to GTO it's a different story and a very different (unpublished) price, which is partly why Arianespace (along with it's considerably longer successful launch record) is still in business.
By the way, Ariane 5 had twice as many full (and partial) launch failures in its first 20 launches than SpaceX has had with Falcon 9. And SpaceX's launch rate (at least so far this year) is twice that of the usual Ariane 5 launch rate and is improving significantly every year. Arianespace's longer successful launch record will not last, and the counter is reset when they move to Ariane 6.

...if SpaceX continues to undercut Ariane, and as SpaceX hits more of its stride and approaches a similar reliability record, the situation will soon accelerate until Ariane 6, when the reliability record will flip.

The situation of Ariane vs SpaceX looks quite dire for Ariane given the weak sauce Ariane 6 proposal.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/31/2016 12:29 AM
Quote
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in March that the launch provider hopes to offer price reductions of as much as 30 percent to customers willing to launch their satellites on a reused rocket.

Quote
A 30 percent discount would put Falcon 9 prices near $43 million, at least compared to SpaceX’s online list price. Shotwell said further cuts could come as SpaceX improves on the time and cost of turning around flown rocket stages for another launch.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/08/30/ses-agrees-to-launch-satellite-on-flight-proven-falcon-9-rocket/

Listen to the boss.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 08/31/2016 01:27 AM
...
Once  you move to GTO it's a different story and a very different (unpublished) price, which is partly why Arianespace (along with it's considerably longer successful launch record) is still in business.

SpaceX publishes prices for GTO launch: 62 million for 5.5 metric tons to GTO.


Ariane was on launch 200 or so when the first F9 flew six years ago.  They've since cancelled their Ariane 5 upgrade, are going to the Ariane 6 in early 2020s which is cutting price by 50%, and investing in reusable rocket technology.  The cost advantage that SpaceX has today doesn't yet reflect the 30% potential reduction for reusable booster or the economies of increased launch rate discussed by GS and quoted above.  By 2020 when Ariane 6 is being tested, the $100M euro target price could well be less favorable than the cost disadvantage Ariane 5 experiences today.  And the European community will be $5B euros into it...

Yes, Arianespace is still in business, but they are no longer on top and their relative trajectory is not looking good.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: philw1776 on 09/04/2016 09:33 PM
Quote
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in March that the launch provider hopes to offer price reductions of as much as 30 percent to customers willing to launch their satellites on a reused rocket.

Quote
A 30 percent discount would put Falcon 9 prices near $43 million, at least compared to SpaceX’s online list price. Shotwell said further cuts could come as SpaceX improves on the time and cost of turning around flown rocket stages for another launch.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/08/30/ses-agrees-to-launch-satellite-on-flight-proven-falcon-9-rocket/

Listen to the boss.

Made a spreadsheet analyzing re-use of F9 first stages assuming various mfg costs, launch ops costs, core recovery costs and refurbish & re-test costs.  Re-use should be very lucrative.

However you need to factor in Recovery % which decreases the # of re-useable cores rapidly unless % is high, and most of all Failure % which also removes cores from the re-use pool.

For example (see attached spreadsheet) at an imaginary failure rate of 0% and recovery rate of 90%, still only 39% of the cores make their 10th flight.  So core robustness is not the limiting factor.
Conversely at a current failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 90% only 23% of the cores make their 10th flight.
And at a failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 80% only 8% of the cores make their 10th flight.  Recovery % really matters.

Lots of room for improvement.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: the_other_Doug on 09/04/2016 09:36 PM
Quote
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in March that the launch provider hopes to offer price reductions of as much as 30 percent to customers willing to launch their satellites on a reused rocket.

Quote
A 30 percent discount would put Falcon 9 prices near $43 million, at least compared to SpaceX’s online list price. Shotwell said further cuts could come as SpaceX improves on the time and cost of turning around flown rocket stages for another launch.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/08/30/ses-agrees-to-launch-satellite-on-flight-proven-falcon-9-rocket/

Listen to the boss.

Made a spreadsheet analyzing re-use of F9 first stages assuming various mfg costs, launch ops costs, core recovery costs and refurbish & re-test costs.  Re-use should be very lucrative.

However you need to factor in Recovery % which decreases the # of re-useable cores rapidly unless % is high, and most of all Failure % which also removes cores from the re-use pool.

For example (see attached spreadsheet) at an imaginary failure rate of 0% and recovery rate of 90%, still only 39% of the cores make their 10th flight.  So core robustness is not the limiting factor.
Conversely at a current failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 90% only 23% of the cores make their 10th flight.
And at a failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 80% only 8% of the cores make their 10th flight.  Recovery % really matters.

Lots of room for improvement.

True -- but the recovery % is trending in the right direction, I think...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: philw1776 on 09/04/2016 09:42 PM
Yes, already better than the original 70% cited, HOWEVER we don't know what % of the recovered cores are re-flyable.  Right now they're as Musk has said, learning as they go so any % #s are premature.

I should have added another %, the % of recovered cores able to be re-flight certified, and every time you multiply by a % the answer gets smaller.  Lots of work to do.  Time to do it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 09/05/2016 12:20 PM
Quote
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in March that the launch provider hopes to offer price reductions of as much as 30 percent to customers willing to launch their satellites on a reused rocket.

Quote
A 30 percent discount would put Falcon 9 prices near $43 million, at least compared to SpaceX’s online list price. Shotwell said further cuts could come as SpaceX improves on the time and cost of turning around flown rocket stages for another launch.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/08/30/ses-agrees-to-launch-satellite-on-flight-proven-falcon-9-rocket/

Listen to the boss.

Made a spreadsheet analyzing re-use of F9 first stages assuming various mfg costs, launch ops costs, core recovery costs and refurbish & re-test costs.  Re-use should be very lucrative.

However you need to factor in Recovery % which decreases the # of re-useable cores rapidly unless % is high, and most of all Failure % which also removes cores from the re-use pool.

For example (see attached spreadsheet) at an imaginary failure rate of 0% and recovery rate of 90%, still only 39% of the cores make their 10th flight.  So core robustness is not the limiting factor.
Conversely at a current failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 90% only 23% of the cores make their 10th flight.
And at a failure rate of 5% and recovery rate of 80% only 8% of the cores make their 10th flight.  Recovery % really matters.

Lots of room for improvement.

Exactly... have tried to get that point across for a couple months.  It will require a 93.3% recovery rate to get half of the cores to ten flights.

You raise another interesting point, though.  At 5% ongoing failure rate, lots of non-statistical bad things begin to happen, such as frequent interruptions for return-to-flight, declining manifest due to loss of confidence (crew flights will be first to go), and general lack of good will toward their way of doing business.  These items and others like them are difficult to quantify, but will have much greater impact than a spreadsheet can reveal.

In other words, SpaceX may not achieve any of its goals if they have a significant ongoing launch failure rate.  Much more troubling than barge recovery rate...

First of many articles that will pour out on this topic:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/business/spacexs-explosion-reverberates-across-space-satellite-and-telecom-industries.html?_r=0

Quote
The explosion investigation and launchpad repair seem sure to scuttle SpaceX’s aggressive launch plans this year. The company had hoped for as many as 18 rocket launches this year. It has had eight so far; last week’s would have made nine. Over all, SpaceX has had 27 successful launches of Falcon 9 rockets.

The Florida accident is also rippling through the insurance market. Insuring the risk of getting a satellite into space comes in two stages. The preflight insurance is intended to mainly cover the risk of damage to the rocket and satellite on their way to the launchpad. Premiums are a fraction of a percent.

Launch policies, which take effect when the rocket is fired up, are costly, ranging from 5 to 15 percent historically.

But the Falcon 9 exploded during a prelaunch test. So launch policies did not kick in. And the insurance payout will fall on the roughly two dozen preflight insurers.

Richard Parker, managing director of Assure Space, an underwriting agency, is waiting to see the cause of the explosion. If it is a design or manufacturing flaw or an operational error, launch rates for SpaceX flights may well go up. His firm had underwritten a launch policy on last week’s flight at 6 percent, he said.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: philw1776 on 09/05/2016 03:53 PM

Exactly... have tried to get that point across for a couple months.  It will require a 93.3% recovery rate to get half of the cores to ten flights.

You raise another interesting point, though.  At 5% ongoing failure rate, lots of non-statistical bad things begin to happen, such as frequent interruptions for return-to-flight, declining manifest due to loss of confidence (crew flights will be first to go), and general lack of good will toward their way of doing business.  These items and others like them are difficult to quantify, but will have much greater impact than a spreadsheet can reveal.

In other words, SpaceX may not achieve any of its goals if they have a significant ongoing launch failure rate.  Much more troubling than barge recovery rate...

First of many articles that will pour out on this topic:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/business/spacexs-explosion-reverberates-across-space-satellite-and-telecom-industries.html?_r=0

Quote
The explosion investigation and launchpad repair seem sure to scuttle SpaceX’s aggressive launch plans this year. The company had hoped for as many as 18 rocket launches this year. It has had eight so far; last week’s would have made nine. Over all, SpaceX has had 27 successful launches of Falcon 9 rockets.

The Florida accident is also rippling through the insurance market. Insuring the risk of getting a satellite into space comes in two stages. The preflight insurance is intended to mainly cover the risk of damage to the rocket and satellite on their way to the launchpad. Premiums are a fraction of a percent.

Launch policies, which take effect when the rocket is fired up, are costly, ranging from 5 to 15 percent historically.

But the Falcon 9 exploded during a prelaunch test. So launch policies did not kick in. And the insurance payout will fall on the roughly two dozen preflight insurers.

Richard Parker, managing director of Assure Space, an underwriting agency, is waiting to see the cause of the explosion. If it is a design or manufacturing flaw or an operational error, launch rates for SpaceX flights may well go up. His firm had underwritten a launch policy on last week’s flight at 6 percent, he said.


As launch cadence increases, failure rate has more and more effect with long indeterminate hiatus for RTF.  Assuming their internal costs are in control as Elon and Gwynne assert, THE most important metric for SX has to be failure rate.  It kills quarterly revenue causing cash flow problems and worse yet it can lose customers.  A downward spiral.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Kabloona on 10/05/2016 05:19 PM
This is more about "price" than "cost," but I couldn't find a "price" thread.

Gwynne Shotwell now saying SpaceX will offer 10% discount for customers flying on a reused F9 booster,  much less than the 30% number being discussed earlier.

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-shotwell-on-falcon-9-inquiry-discounts-for-reused-rockets-and-silicon-valleys-test-and-fail-ethos/

Gwynne floated the 30% figure back in March:

http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Blackstar on 10/08/2016 01:18 AM
This is more about "price" than "cost," but I couldn't find a "price" thread.

Gwynne Shotwell now saying SpaceX will offer 10% discount for customers flying on a reused F9 booster,  much less than the 30% number being discussed earlier.

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-shotwell-on-falcon-9-inquiry-discounts-for-reused-rockets-and-silicon-valleys-test-and-fail-ethos/

Gwynne floated the 30% figure back in March:

http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/

And from the first article:

"At this point that is a reasonable reduction and then, as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve that, then we might get a little bit more. But in general, it’s about 10 percent right now."

So, even at best, reusability will get a little bit more than 10% reduction in price. One can only conclude that SpaceX's models indicate that they're not going to save much money with reusability, because they're not going to pass much savings to the customer.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 10/08/2016 01:57 AM
So, even at best, reusability will get a little bit more than 10% reduction in price. One can only conclude that SpaceX's models indicate that they're not going to save much money with reusability, because they're not going to pass much savings to the customer.
"only conclude" ??

Actually one can conclude all sorts of things from that... for example, that they have decided their manifest is full enough that they don't need to discount heavily yet, and would rather get more revenue for a while.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Kabloona on 10/08/2016 02:59 AM
This is more about "price" than "cost," but I couldn't find a "price" thread.

Gwynne Shotwell now saying SpaceX will offer 10% discount for customers flying on a reused F9 booster,  much less than the 30% number being discussed earlier.

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-shotwell-on-falcon-9-inquiry-discounts-for-reused-rockets-and-silicon-valleys-test-and-fail-ethos/

Gwynne floated the 30% figure back in March:

http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/

And from the first article:

"At this point that is a reasonable reduction and then, as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve that, then we might get a little bit more. But in general, it’s about 10 percent right now."

So, even at best, reusability will get a little bit more than 10% reduction in price. One can only conclude that SpaceX's models indicate that they're not going to save much money with reusability, because they're not going to pass much savings to the customer.

Seems to me the key phrase is "as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve (reusability), then we might get a little bit more (price reduction)..."

Which says to me they're simply trying to recoup the major investment they've made in recoverability efforts, the ASDS fleet, etc, before dropping the price significantly.

So it seems they're counting heavily on the appeal of a "previously flown" booster as a flight-proven item that sells itself without a big discount. I don't think they'll have any problem finding takers at "only" 10% off. And the first stage has proven itself to be quite robust.

Now to fix that pesky second stage...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Blackstar on 10/08/2016 03:04 AM
So, even at best, reusability will get a little bit more than 10% reduction in price. One can only conclude that SpaceX's models indicate that they're not going to save much money with reusability, because they're not going to pass much savings to the customer.
"only conclude" ??

Actually one can conclude all sorts of things from that... for example, that they have decided their manifest is full enough that they don't need to discount heavily yet, and would rather get more revenue for a while.

There's gotta be a pony in there somewhere, huh?

They were talking 30% seven months ago, only 10% now. So I guess you'd think it is a good thing if they started talking 5%, huh?

And note that this is actually the opposite from the way that companies usually work. They usually offer big discounts up front to attract customers, then they raise their prices. That's how airplane manufacturers do it--the first buyers get deep discounts, the latter ones not so much.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Blackstar on 10/08/2016 03:07 AM
Seems to me the key phrase is "as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve (reusability), then we might get a little bit more (price reduction)..."

Which says to me they're simply trying to recoup the major investment they've made in recoverability efforts, the ASDS fleet, etc, before dropping the price significantly.


Except she did not say they would "drop the price significantly."

She said "a little bit more."

You do realize that "little bit" and "significantly" are not synonyms?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/08/2016 03:30 AM
The revolution in space launch has been postponed by 20%, again.

If they figured out that "their manifest is full" that means they have realized they won't be able to fly any more often than they do now, reusability or not.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: su27k on 10/08/2016 03:52 AM
Someone has to pay the bill for rebuilding SLC-40, there's also the development cost of ITS, where else do you think the money would come from?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: HMXHMX on 10/08/2016 04:01 AM
Labor. Labor. Labor.

Say it three times.

If the rocket is free, the propellant is free, the range is free, and the insurance is free, take the number of bodies required by the company, multiply by whatever FTE cost you want and divide by the number of launches.  That's the minimum cost per flight.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/08/2016 04:25 AM
So, even at best, reusability will get a little bit more than 10% reduction in price. One can only conclude that SpaceX's models indicate that they're not going to save much money with reusability, because they're not going to pass much savings to the customer.
"only conclude" ??

Actually one can conclude all sorts of things from that... for example, that they have decided their manifest is full enough that they don't need to discount heavily yet, and would rather get more revenue for a while.

There's gotta be a pony in there somewhere, huh?

They were talking 30% seven months ago, only 10% now. So I guess you'd think it is a good thing if they started talking 5%, huh?

And note that this is actually the opposite from the way that companies usually work. They usually offer big discounts up front to attract customers, then they raise their prices. That's how airplane manufacturers do it--the first buyers get deep discounts, the latter ones not so much.

Companies with the lowest prices on the market, whose services are in high demand, usually aren't offering discounts to anyone. Especially when the market is relatively inelastic and they have a lot of R&D that needs revenue.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 10/08/2016 10:15 AM
Labor. Labor. Labor.

Say it three times.

If the rocket is free, the propellant is free, the range is free, and the insurance is free, take the number of bodies required by the company, multiply by whatever FTE cost you want and divide by the number of launches.  That's the minimum cost per flight.

Valid point. However, I could have sworn that the reason why SpaceX offers rides for less money than other firms is due to the lower labor cost (looks at Jim).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/08/2016 10:57 AM
Labor. Labor. Labor.

Say it three times.

If the rocket is free, the propellant is free, the range is free, and the insurance is free, take the number of bodies required by the company, multiply by whatever FTE cost you want and divide by the number of launches.  That's the minimum cost per flight.

Most of these people will do development and building a new type of rocket. It is not part of the cost of flight. You are arguing that the rockets will pay for development which is what will happen, but that's from profits out of the launch, not part of the launch cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: HMXHMX on 10/08/2016 11:25 AM
Labor. Labor. Labor.

Say it three times.

If the rocket is free, the propellant is free, the range is free, and the insurance is free, take the number of bodies required by the company, multiply by whatever FTE cost you want and divide by the number of launches.  That's the minimum cost per flight.

Most of these people will do development and building a new type of rocket. It is not part of the cost of flight. You are arguing that the rockets will pay for development which is what will happen, but that's from profits out of the launch, not part of the launch cost.

Sooner or later, launch customers pay for everything. Either that, or the taxpayer pays.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/08/2016 11:26 AM
Labor. Labor. Labor.

Say it three times.

If the rocket is free, the propellant is free, the range is free, and the insurance is free, take the number of bodies required by the company, multiply by whatever FTE cost you want and divide by the number of launches.  That's the minimum cost per flight.

Most of these people will do development and building a new type of rocket. It is not part of the cost of flight. You are arguing that the rockets will pay for development which is what will happen, but that's from profits out of the launch, not part of the launch cost.
Umm, accountant, lawyer and janitor payroll are part of your launch costs, if you only have a single revenue stream.

Also, citation needed on " most people are in R&D", I don't think that's true
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/08/2016 12:29 PM
Most of these people will do development and building a new type of rocket. It is not part of the cost of flight. You are arguing that the rockets will pay for development which is what will happen, but that's from profits out of the launch, not part of the launch cost.
Umm, accountant, lawyer and janitor payroll are part of your launch costs, if you only have a single revenue stream.

Also, citation needed on " most people are in R&D", I don't think that's true

You quoted my post, read it again.

Development and building a new rocket is not the same as R&D. The new rocket is ITS.

Also support posts like accountant, lawyer and janitor costs are split between all parts of the company, they are not launch cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/08/2016 12:44 PM
Also support posts like accountant, lawyer and janitor costs are split between all parts of the company, they are not launch cost.

The cost of the company is the cost of the launch as long as you have one revenue stream, which is launch services. The more you launch and the higher the revenue, the thinner you spread these costs across a single launch. It's pretty simple, really.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 10/09/2016 05:54 AM
Seems to me the key phrase is "as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve (reusability), then we might get a little bit more (price reduction)..."

Which says to me they're simply trying to recoup the major investment they've made in recoverability efforts, the ASDS fleet, etc, before dropping the price significantly.


Except she did not say they would "drop the price significantly."

She said "a little bit more."

You do realize that "little bit" and "significantly" are not synonyms?

You don't tell your customers or potential customers that with a 10% reduction SpaceX will have nice, big, fat profit margins. People get miffed if they think you're coining it at their expense! Far better to imply there'll be a little more cost reduction in future and have them be pleasantly surprised at consequent price reductions rather than have them thinking 'about time!'
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/09/2016 06:10 AM
Also support posts like accountant, lawyer and janitor costs are split between all parts of the company, they are not launch cost.

The cost of the company is the cost of the launch as long as you have one revenue stream, which is launch services. The more you launch and the higher the revenue, the thinner you spread these costs across a single launch. It's pretty simple, really.

You are saying development cost of the next car generation is part of the production cost of the present car generation. That's not simple, it's simply wrong.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: b0objunior on 10/09/2016 08:15 AM
Also support posts like accountant, lawyer and janitor costs are split between all parts of the company, they are not launch cost.

The cost of the company is the cost of the launch as long as you have one revenue stream, which is launch services. The more you launch and the higher the revenue, the thinner you spread these costs across a single launch. It's pretty simple, really.

You are saying development cost of the next car generation is part of the production cost of the present car generation. That's not simple, it's simply wrong.
I think he's talking about net profit, still wrong thought.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/09/2016 08:31 PM
If a company needs to recover their R&D investment, which is normal practice, then discounts on RLV launch costs a going to be small.
What say there is no requirement to recover R&D investment, then launch costs only need to cover operational costs plus modest profit. Blue may well be in this situation, Bezos is funding Blue to get more people into space, not to grow his future in near term.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/10/2016 04:28 PM
Seems to me the key phrase is "as we recover some of the costs associated with the investment that we put into the Falcon 9 to achieve (reusability), then we might get a little bit more (price reduction)..."

Which says to me they're simply trying to recoup the major investment they've made in recoverability efforts, the ASDS fleet, etc, before dropping the price significantly.


Except she did not say they would "drop the price significantly."

She said "a little bit more."

You do realize that "little bit" and "significantly" are not synonyms?

Shotwell is obviously tempering expectations, that's part of her job.

Lars Hoffman, who is also a senior SpaceX exec, put it a little bit 8) differently a few weeks ago:

Quote
Hoffman: expect to take a couple years to refine the refurb process and costs. See “significant” cost savings in a few years. #AIAASpace
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775816294234857474 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775816294234857474)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: DOCinCT on 10/10/2016 05:15 PM
Also support posts like accountant, lawyer and janitor costs are split between all parts of the company, they are not launch cost.

The cost of the company is the cost of the launch as long as you have one revenue stream, which is launch services. The more you launch and the higher the revenue, the thinner you spread these costs across a single launch. It's pretty simple, really.

You are saying development cost of the next car generation is part of the production cost of the present car generation. That's not simple, it's simply wrong.

You either borrow the money to pay for the development costs or you self-fund it out of revenue stream (profits).  Boeing is $30Billion in the hole on the 787 aircraft which has been amortized over 10 years. They won't break even until they sell 1,100 planes, thus recouping the investment.  Sales of existing planes helped pay for that cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/10/2016 05:27 PM

You either borrow the money to pay for the development costs or you self-fund it out of revenue stream (profits).  Boeing is $30Billion in the hole on the 787 aircraft which has been amortized over 10 years. They won't break even until they sell 1,100 planes, thus recouping the investment.  Sales of existing planes helped pay for that cost.

None of this makes those cost part of the launch cost of the present generation of rockets. And that's where the argument started.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/12/2016 03:02 AM
http://spacenews.com/shotwell-says-spacex-homing-in-on-cause-of-falcon-9-pad-explosion/

Quote
Two more full-duration static-fire tests are planned for the stage to gain confidence for limited reuse of the first stage. “We’ll feel pretty good about reflying each stage once or twice” once those tests are complete, she said. An updated version of the Falcon 9, to be rolled out next year, should be able to reuse its first stage up to 10 times


Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Radical_Ignorant on 10/15/2016 11:12 PM
Financial house of cards. That's nice. Yeah. What cost is, that's quite a question. It's not that SpaceX is outsourcing rocket production and cost is in bill for the booster. It's some artificial figure. And it is also true that SpaceX has some running costs and income from launch services. As GS stated less than 10% of company is working on other things than current rocket, so basically idea that SpaceX operating costs divided by nr of launches is their cos is pretty close. Especially that EM likes vertical integration and costs of materials are not big. So that's pretty good approximation IMHO. Reusability can free up some resources to achieve greater launch rate and thus reduce cost. But still bottleneck to this can be in  some launch process operations.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gosnold on 10/17/2016 05:33 PM
I found this interesting slide in a CNES presentation (IAC-16,D2,4,6,x32453) at the last IAC.

Also, there was a presentation from RuAG about fairing reusability (IAC-16,D2,5,13,x35869), and they think it is feasible. They are working on it. I attached one slide with the estimated savings.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/17/2016 06:06 PM
If a company needs to recover their R&D investment, which is normal practice, then discounts on RLV launch costs a going to be small.
In pretty well every other industry except the launch business, where historically major new developments have been funded either directly by governments or with very substantial funding by a government who expects to use the vehicles heavily. IE the EELV programme.
Quote
What say there is no requirement to recover R&D investment, then launch costs only need to cover operational costs plus modest profit. Blue may well be in this situation, Bezos is funding Blue to get more people into space, not to grow his future in near term.
We'll see either way.

So 2 reuses or 10 reuses is not going to bring down the launch cost very much at all.   :(

It just won't

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/17/2016 08:33 PM
...
So 2 reuses or 10 reuses is not going to bring down the launch cost very much at all.

Cost or price? I can't imagine even 1 reuse not bringing the per launch expended cost down significantly.

Price, however needs a driver. SpaceX has no real reason to lower the price right now.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 10/18/2016 12:28 PM
If a company needs to recover their R&D investment, which is normal practice, then discounts on RLV launch costs a going to be small.
In pretty well every other industry except the launch business, where historically major new developments have been funded either directly by governments or with very substantial funding by a government who expects to use the vehicles heavily. IE the EELV programme.
Quote
What say there is no requirement to recover R&D investment, then launch costs only need to cover operational costs plus modest profit. Blue may well be in this situation, Bezos is funding Blue to get more people into space, not to grow his future in near term.
We'll see either way.

So 2 reuses or 10 reuses is not going to bring down the launch cost very much at all.   :(

It just won't

Why should SpaceX drops launch price when they are still cheaper than anyone else? They can use a few years of launches to get some real cash in for R&D; as others drop their price, they have the margin to drop theirs. The only reasons to drop now would be to increase market size, but since they have a long manifest waiting anyway, there is no point. Which is a shame, as there are scientists waiting for cheaper launch costs. They will just have to wait a bit longer.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/18/2016 12:34 PM
Why should SpaceX drops launch price when they are still cheaper than anyone else?..
For the same reason why Spirit Airlines charges less.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/18/2016 12:50 PM
Why should SpaceX drops launch price when they are still cheaper than anyone else?..
For the same reason why Spirit Airlines charges less.
They charge less because they can increase total revenue through a variety of mechanisms, most of which don't apply to the orbital launch market. Also, they have competition that's much more competitive than SpaceX's.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/19/2016 03:13 AM
...
So 2 reuses or 10 reuses is not going to bring down the launch cost very much at all.   :(

It just won't
Yeah it would.

Let's say SpaceX can't actually produce more than 9 Falcon cores per year (let's forget upper stages for now). That means they can do 9 F9 launches or 3 Heavies or some mixture in between. That's it. That's as good as they've done so far, but this here would be at the limit of their production capability. No more growth possible.

If they can reuse stuff 10 times (with minimal refurb, for the sake of this argument), that means, say, 20 Falcon 9s and 20 Falcon Heavies per year (assume some of the center cores are expended). Or 90 Falcon 9s per year.

An order of magnitude more launches with the same manufacturing line. That'd DRAMATICALLY cut down on the cost per launch to SpaceX, thus giving them huge profits or allowing large price reductions.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/19/2016 03:19 AM
...
So 2 reuses or 10 reuses is not going to bring down the launch cost very much at all.

Cost or price? I can't imagine even 1 reuse not bringing the per launch expended cost down significantly.

Price, however needs a driver. SpaceX has no real reason to lower the price right now.
Cost. Price is whatever SX want to charge customers. And I'll repeat SX is not  cheaper than all other suppliers in the comm sat market. It is competitive with Arianespace in this sector.  It's not I'd-be-crazzzy-to-buy-a-launch-from-anyone-else good.If you're worried about launch risk however you'd go with Ariane 5 right now.

While you throw away the upper stage system price drops to roughly the refurb cost of the lower stage  plus the cost of the new upper stage.

As a customer I'd want substantially  lower prices because SX are getting half their rocket back. I certainly don't want to pay the full (expendable) launch price. Can I have that offset against the cost of a future launch? 

I'll remind people $62m to LEO is only relatively cheap to orbit. Look at how the round trip costs between 2 cities roughly on opposite sides of this planet (roughly the same energy cost) by air compare to see what real low cost means.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/19/2016 03:24 AM
An order of magnitude more launches with the same manufacturing line. That'd DRAMATICALLY cut down on the cost per launch to SpaceX, thus giving them huge profits or allowing large price reductions.
This story only works if there are enough payloads out there that will accept using F9 or FH at the prices SX charge.

BTW Shotwell stated the FH core will be different to the F9 lower stage which implies they will not be interchangeable. Once you commit to making that core an FH core you've also committed to a certain mix of F9 and FH launches. Not necessarily an issue as long as you don't have a surge of launches that exhausts your store of the right kind of cores or your refurb capability.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 10/19/2016 09:13 AM
As a customer I'd want substantially  lower prices because SX are getting half their rocket back. I certainly don't want to pay the full (expendable) launch price. Can I have that offset against the cost of a future launch? 

As a customer, you can complain all you like, but if SpaceX are cheaper, and you go with someone else because you are not getting a discount since SpaceX are getting half their rocket back, then you are making a bad business decision. You are paying more for the same service, because you are being petty. Shareholders might have something to say about that.

SpaceX just need to be cheaper, whether reusable or not, for people to use them in preference.




Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/19/2016 11:18 AM
As a customer, you can complain all you like, but if SpaceX are cheaper, and you go with someone else because you are not getting a discount since SpaceX are getting half their rocket back, then you are making a bad business decision. You are paying more for the same service, because you are being petty. Shareholders might have something to say about that.

SpaceX just need to be cheaper, whether reusable or not, for people to use them in preference.
All things being equal you might be right. But then you factor in their recent safety record IE your chance of getting to orbit.

The 2nd explosion will have an effect on sales that only a successful RTF will cure.  :(

My interest is solely on lowering the price of launch for a viable payload by a lot.

2-10 flights of re use and an expendable US won't deliver that.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: llanitedave on 10/19/2016 12:42 PM
As a customer, you can complain all you like, but if SpaceX are cheaper, and you go with someone else because you are not getting a discount since SpaceX are getting half their rocket back, then you are making a bad business decision. You are paying more for the same service, because you are being petty. Shareholders might have something to say about that.

SpaceX just need to be cheaper, whether reusable or not, for people to use them in preference.
All things being equal you might be right. But then you factor in their recent safety record IE your chance of getting to orbit.

The 2nd explosion will have an effect on sales that only a successful RTF will cure.  :(

My interest is solely on lowering the price of launch for a viable payload by a lot.

2-10 flights of re use and an expendable US won't deliver that.

You imply that a successful RTF is somehow unlikely?  I do think your concerns are way overblown, and your expectations are unrealistic.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 10/19/2016 01:35 PM
The key people who answer about recent failures is the insurance companies. And so far they have said no change in premium.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: savuporo on 10/19/2016 02:09 PM
The key people who answer about recent failures is the insurance companies. And so far they have said no change in premium.

Statements made about 2 hours after kaboom, with no details available.
Its a developing story, and the duration of investigation, nature of failure, independent assessments, market reaction etc will all affect these things. This is not '15 minutes car insurance call with no hidden fees' exactly, much more nuanced and individual deals often can get very different terms, too.
You can really assess the impact after 2-3 new contracts have been placed
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/19/2016 06:53 PM
The key people who answer about recent failures is the insurance companies. And so far they have said no change in premium.

Statements made about 2 hours after kaboom, with no details available.
Its a developing story, and the duration of investigation, nature of failure, independent assessments, market reaction etc will all affect these things. This is not '15 minutes car insurance call with no hidden fees' exactly, much more nuanced and individual deals often can get very different terms, too.
You can really assess the impact after 2-3 new contracts have been placed

In insurance terms, AMOS-6 was a pre-launch test failure. Pre-launch premiums will almost certainly rise, and not only for Falcon 9 launches, because a lot of premium payments were wiped out by just the AMOS claim.

the LAUNCH insurance market is a different beast. There haven't been many claims recently, and a lot of insurance is available at very low prices. It doesn't appear there will be a significant change to those premiums (for Falcon 9 or anyone else) unless there's an actual launch failure.

If there's any reliable sources indicating that premiums for a F9 launch on a used booster are higher, I haven't seen them. SES has indicated that the insurance costs are the same for used and new boosters.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/19/2016 10:33 PM
You imply that a successful RTF is somehow unlikely?
No. If I thought that I would have said that. However in any real situation there is a finite possibility that would happen, although AFAIK it's never happened with any other LV's RTF
Quote
I do think your concerns are way overblown, and your expectations are unrealistic.
I have no concerns over SX's RTF and my expectations of how much SX's reuse of the F9 first stage will lower their prices are very modest. 

I've never expected the partial reuse approach would give the (potential) price lowering full reuse would give (to the $6m/launch level Shotwell talked about). It's looking like people with be lucky if it delivers anything below BAU. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 10/19/2016 11:11 PM
You imply that a successful RTF is somehow unlikely?
No. If I thought that I would have said that. However in any real situation there is a finite possibility that would happen, although AFAIK it's never happened with any other LV's RTF
Quote
I do think your concerns are way overblown, and your expectations are unrealistic.
I have no concerns over SX's RTF and my expectations of how much SX's reuse of the F9 first stage will lower their prices are very modest. 

I've never expected the partial reuse approach would give the (potential) price lowering full reuse would give (to the $6m/launch level Shotwell talked about). It's looking like people with be lucky if it delivers anything below BAU. 

FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit ???

Oh John, you're so predictable. Skylon always will hit the most optimistic assumption based estimates, and everything else won't hit even the pessimistic assumption based estimates.

I'd expected SpaceX to get more aggressive on price but I have some ideas (as do others in the thread) on why they might feel they don't need to. Price != Cost though.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/20/2016 03:31 AM
Considering ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Masten, and even Ariane are pursuing reuse to some extent, maybe we should have a thread about "Expendability effect on costs."
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/20/2016 07:24 AM
FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit ???
Business As Usual. The shorthand term for when a company morphs into the Big Aerospace mindset.  :(
Quote
Oh John, you're so predictable. Skylon always will hit the most optimistic assumption based estimates, and everything else won't hit even the pessimistic assumption based estimates.
This thread has nothing to do with Skylon but since you brought it in REL have worked hard to look at the worst case in terms of pricing and development costs.

So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

I'll skip the pad explosion centered on the 2nd (expendable) stage which even when it flies will be the one part that will not be fully testable until launch.
Quote
I'd expected SpaceX to get more aggressive on price but I have some ideas (as do others in the thread) on why they might feel they don't need to. Price != Cost though.
As anyone on this thread should be aware.  Thanks for reminding us of this important fact.

But price to customer is what expands the market and it's what must come down if people wat to see serious expansion. A semi expendable architecture could deliver frequent enough access to LEO to support things like in space mfg but the price per unit mass eliminates AFAIK every possible product such a facility could make.

As for space tourism I'm quite sure Bigelow would have done it by now if a $6m/flight fully reusable F9 existed. Likewise NASA (or even some universities) might consider the first dedicated mission to Uranus (orbital plan nearly 90deg to the ecliptic). Likewise Saturn has had little attention, although both are as big as Jupiter.

I'll be very excited to see SX RTF. I hope it will be off their new pad opening in November, which seems the earliest possible. I don't think the damaged pad will be back in operation before next year. What I really want to see is that launch price lowered.

Classic "Big Aerospace" policy is charge what the market will bear. 

Let's see if SX will take the gamble and see if they offer it at a better price wheather the business will come at that price.  They don't have to but it'll be a real test of their faith in their vision.

Then I'll look forward to their first booster reflight.

Edit/Lar: fixed John's quotes for him. Left the snark.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/20/2016 04:15 PM
So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/20/2016 05:56 PM
So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.
If you mean $6m that's the figure Shotwell was talking about in 2014 at that years comm sat conference.  she seemed to think it was doable with the technology SX had on hand at the time.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 10/21/2016 07:48 AM
So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.
If you mean $6m that's the figure Shotwell was talking about in 2014 at that years comm sat conference.  she seemed to think it was doable with the technology SX had on hand at the time.

That's your interpretation. She did not say that.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: GWH on 10/21/2016 07:31 PM
So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.
If you mean $6m that's the figure Shotwell was talking about in 2014 at that years comm sat conference.  she seemed to think it was doable with the technology SX had on hand at the time.

That's your interpretation. She did not say that.

Musk has said a single order of magnitude  cost reduction with partially expendable launch system. Another order of magnitude by going fully reusable. 
Saying that they really meant with a new generation of hardware is disingenuous.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/21/2016 08:18 PM
No it isnt. It's disingenuous to put words in either Musk's or Shotwell's mouth. Musk speaks in generalities and first principle relations. Unless otherwise specified, interpret Musk's statement in that way.

He thinks it is possible in principle to get up to an order of magnitude cost reduction using partial reuse (a good case being Falcon Heavy). He thinks it's possible in principle to get two orders of magnitude cost reduction with full reuse.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/21/2016 08:30 PM
And Shotwell's comment implied full Reusability.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: GWH on 10/22/2016 12:28 AM
Yes Gwynne Shotwell spoke on full reusability costs of Falcon 9. 
"but its pulling all of those kinds of pieces together, that allow us to fly Falcon 9 for a nice price reduction in the industry. But the real key to changing things dramatically is this concept of re-usability. That's when you go from flying a 60 million dollar mission to flying a 5, 6 or 7 million dollar mission."
http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/singapore-satellite-industry-forum-2013-opening-keynote-gwynne-shotwell-2013-06-23

Elon Musk speaking in generalities but directly regarding Falcon 9:
"[1:29]
If you can perfect this technology to the point where you can begin actually reusing boosters can you give us a sense of what that might mean for lowering launch costs?
Yeah, absolutely. The Falcon 9 rocket costs about $60 million to build. It's kind of like a big jet. But, the cost of the propellant, which is mostly oxygen and the gas, is only about $200,000. That means that the potential cost reduction over the long term is probably in excess of a factor of 100."
http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/postlanding-teleconference-with-elon-musk-2015-12-22

Not trying to put words in either Musk's or Shotwell's mouth.  That being said I think that the assumption they were talking about the potential of Falcon 9 (with full reusability) is a more fair statement than:

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.

Maybe they are at the realization NOW that their methane based architecture is needed, but looking back I don't think it's fair so say that was their plan all along (see the original, full reuse F9 and associated quotes):
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a7446/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023/
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 10/22/2016 01:02 AM
This thread should be renamed Launch Failure Effect on Costs.

What we are seeing now is the attempt to pay for 10 months of not launching in the last 20 months, plus cost of rebuilding LC-40.  Not surprising the discount is disappearing... and a base price increase wouldn't be a surprise either.  Cannot separate reusability effects on costs from these recent kabooms; failures take a huge financial toll*.

Two or ten reuses are steps on a path to reuse being the industry standard. 
But those are walking steps, not running yet.

They are still far ahead of whomever is second in the reuse and low cost games.

* Something in the neighborhood of a billion dollars I'd estimate.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Dante2121 on 10/22/2016 12:15 PM

But price to customer is what expands the market and it's what must come down if people wat to see serious expansion. A semi expendable architecture could deliver frequent enough access to LEO to support things like in space mfg but the price per unit mass eliminates AFAIK every possible product such a facility could make.

Made in Space is getting excitingly close to demonstrating profitable space mfg - even at today's launch costs.  Discussion starts here in the 3D space printing thread.

Next year Made in Space is going to start trial manufacturing ZBLAN on the ISS.

http://www.engineering.com/3DPrinting/3DPrintingArticles/ArticleID/12662/Made-In-Space-to-Make-Fiber-Optics-in-Space.aspx

This is really cool because the material is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per kilogram - e.g.it could be wildly profitable even with today's launch costs.

https://sites.google.com/site/cmapproject/case-studies/exotic-glasses-and-fibers
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/22/2016 02:55 PM
So far I've heard SX prices go from (projected) $6m (full reuse) to a desire for 50% below expendable price with SX countering with maybe  a 30% price discount and now possibly none.

They never said they would reach that price with Falcon. They are clearly planning to reach that price with their methane architecture, even with ITS.
If you mean $6m that's the figure Shotwell was talking about in 2014 at that years comm sat conference.  she seemed to think it was doable with the technology SX had on hand at the time.
$6m Falcon 9 launch prices REQUIRES both a reusable upper stage/PLF and very high flight rate, as in multiple launches per week. They may have been the original plan for Falcon 9, but that clearly isn't the plan now.

And a reusable upper stage has never been "on hand" technology.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/22/2016 05:51 PM
Maybe they are at the realization NOW that their methane based architecture is needed, but looking back I don't think it's fair so say that was their plan all along (see the original, full reuse F9 and associated quotes):
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a7446/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023/
Indeed. A fully reusuable F9 seemed to be the plan up till around 2014. I'd love to know what SX have learned that turned that around. :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/22/2016 05:56 PM
$6m Falcon 9 launch prices REQUIRES both a reusable upper stage/PLF and very high flight rate, as in multiple launches per week. They may have been the original plan for Falcon 9, but that clearly isn't the plan now.
I'd certainly agree with the reusable US, and a reusable PLF would simplify this however high flight rate would be needed to maintain revenue.  Obviously the belief was the massively lowered launch cost would greatly increase the number of people willing to use space rather than a last resort.
Quote
And a reusable upper stage has never been "on hand" technology.
True.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/22/2016 07:21 PM
Maybe they are at the realization NOW that their methane based architecture is needed, but looking back I don't think it's fair so say that was their plan all along (see the original, full reuse F9 and associated quotes):
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a7446/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023/
Indeed. A fully reusuable F9 seemed to be the plan up till around 2014. I'd love to know what SX have learned that turned that around. :(
That's the same time ITS started to be formulated. I suspect a lot of it was that they realized they really wanted to move to methane long term because of the lack of coking. I don't think kerosene can ever be as fast turnaround as methane due to kerosene's coking requiring some cleaning. They decided not to do a rocket using both methane and kerosene for handling simplicity and because a methane stage really wants to be bigger.

For LEO, they would definitely have enough performance for a reusable upper stage, especially for Falcon Heavy. But you can improve costs even more if you have a single core vehicle that's fully reusable and uses a propellant that enables rapid reuse (i.e. No major coking). I don't think ITS will be the only methane rocket they build long term.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Pipcard on 10/22/2016 07:58 PM
If a single core fully reusable FH is so much better/simpler operationally than a three-core of an equivalent capacity, should SpaceX have developed a suborbital reusable test vehicle akin to New Shepard, or a reusable Falcon 1, to test out the viability of maintaining reusable engines vs expending them, then go straight to an FH-class single core launcher like New Glenn?

Or was going for the single/triple-core family the right decision at the time? With the consideration of lower flight rates (i.e. today's), a partially reusable launcher (with expendable upper stage) would be more viable because of the higher payload penalty and development costs of upper stage reuse, but the expended upper stage would be oversized for smaller payloads if it were a single core 50 tonne launcher. The idea of being oversized will not matter with full reuse, but that requires higher launch rates and demands than today.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Prettz on 10/22/2016 11:05 PM
SpaceX could not have gone with a wider rocket than Falcon 9 regardless, so it doesn't matter. Without road transportability, that blows away the initial plan for low costs and high flight rate.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Pipcard on 10/22/2016 11:23 PM
Musk said in the infamous Q&A section (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YxNYiyALg?t=1h27m24s) of his ITS presentation that the booster and spaceship, too large for road transportability, might be manufactured among "multiple states," and that's he's considering Louisiana (Michoud) as one of them. So that point may be moot.

Or what about just building the wider rocket near the launch site?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Prettz on 10/22/2016 11:40 PM
I thought you were talking about instead of making F9 and FH.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Pipcard on 10/22/2016 11:46 PM
I thought you were talking about instead of making F9 and FH.
I am still talking about alternate history; I was using Musk's statement as an example.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/23/2016 12:41 AM
FH is still probably a better approach for them even if they had a "do-over." Road transportability is a big problem, and would've meant SpaceX wouldn't have built a factory in the middle of LA, which had a bunch of cheap facilities at the time SpaceX was building out their factories and a large labor pool of aerospace workers and also all the other advantages of being in an actual, real city. And SpaceX wants to do polar as well as equatorial and ISS launches plus testing in McGregor (a facility which they got CHEAP with an included huge test stand which they used for their many initial flights), which means they would have to transport stages a lot, and road is still the best way to do that if you can manage it. And they were operating expendably for a long time, since they hadn't yet discovered/invented practical reuse concepts, so that meant transporting every stage for every flight, probably multiple times: from factory near/in a big city to somewhere in the boonies to test--McGregor being great because it was so cheap and already built--and then to a coast to launch.

SpaceX's ITS only needs equatorial for its main mission, and probably can't be tested in McGregor anyway. And it will be fully reusable from the start, so once built and acceptance testing (we don't yet know where for either of those things), it doesn't need to be moved to a new launch site each launch. But they couldn't have done this at first, because they were necessarily operating expendably. So no, I don't think it'd make sense for them to have chosen a bigger diameter. Things COULD'VE gone differently, but it's definitely not a mistake that they went the way they did. It was pretty strongly determined.

Blue Origin is having to build a factory in Florida. They claim to not want to enter the DoD market or otherwise directly compete with ULA, so they don't need polar launch. They can get by with one launch site, and so road transportability is not an issue for them. Especially since they seemed to have finally gotten a handle on a reasonable reuse method that should work nearly off the bat (they have their experience from New Shepard and can draw on some lessons from SpaceX, too), and anyway, they probably can't afford to operate expendably like SpaceX.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 10/24/2016 03:51 AM
F1 is too small and FH too big for most payloads today. F9 is basically perfect in size and much better suited for SpaceX operations flows.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/24/2016 08:31 AM
F1 is too small and FH too big for most payloads today. F9 is basically perfect in size and much better suited for SpaceX operations flows.
Which is why I'm sceptical about the argument that upping the payload size lowers the $/lb price only if you can use the full payload.

People forget SX were talking an F3 and an F5 after the F1 but they both went away when they found no market for intermediate sizes.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/24/2016 11:59 AM
there was a market for F5. Just that there was a larger one for F9 and they could also launch F5 payloads on F9. Heck, they launched F1 payloads with F9.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 10/24/2016 12:14 PM
there was a market for F5. Just that there was a larger one for F9 and they could also launch F5 payloads on F9. Heck, they launched F1 payloads with F9.

Doesn't the same apply to BFR/BFS.
It can launch anything and if fully and rapidly reusable should be (very) cheap.
So if launches a small payload the excess capacity/space will be filled with something.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/24/2016 06:05 PM
there was a market for F5. Just that there was a larger one for F9 and they could also launch F5 payloads on F9. Heck, they launched F1 payloads with F9.

Doesn't the same apply to BFR/BFS.
It can launch anything and if fully and rapidly reusable should be (very) cheap.
So if launches a small payload the excess capacity/space will be filled with something.
It's cheap in $/lb if the extra payload is used by someone else.

Otherwise you just bought a very oversized launcher to send up a small payload.  :(

"It's only X $/lb if you use FH" still needs an absolute cost several x bigger than the F9.

I'm interested in low $/lb at a payload size people can fully use.


Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Arb on 11/16/2016 05:29 PM
A couple of recent documents have just been listed on NTRS that may be of interest to readers of this thread.  One is a conference paper and the other is the presentation slides that accompany it.

Is It Worth It? - the Economics of Reusable Space Transportation

Abstract
...
Abstracts usually include the conclusion; this one is pure tease (and long-winded at that). Would someone who's read the papers kindly provide a TL:DR. Many thanks.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 11/16/2016 07:36 PM
I wanted to spare my time and looked at the presentation. I am not impressed, its on exactly the same level of insight as we have established within this very forum already. Is this type of explanatory power common for economics papers? I am only used to computer science and astronomy papers. Such a content would never be accepted for any publisher I know. The conclusion "It depends" is a tautology and always valid. And it doesnt even explore the variables it depends on. It doesnt come with an economic model. It doesnt have any predictive power. You cant make any decision based on the presented information. Sorry to give it such a harsh review, but this is just not worth the time to read. No new insights expected.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 12/01/2016 09:06 AM
Sorry to give it such a harsh review, but this is just not worth the time to read. No new insights expected.
I've skimmed it.

Lots of chaff with a few grains of wheat in here.

Actually discusses price elasticity and does do a DCF on a simplistic model of an RLV. The pareto analysis is also interesting. Top 3 items on the Atlas are "Systems engineering & prgramme management, 1st stage engine, launch and mission operations." IOW 2 of these, making up about 34% of the whole mission cost, are not physical at all. This suggests there is significant scope for improvement in these items.

Beyond that.
You could cut half the words and still be left with a coherent paper. Also note this company was involved in the X33/Venturestar programme.  :( Also note the comment on page 9

"Some apologists for investment in reusable systems predict potentially important benefits to humankind if reusable transportation reduces the cost of access to space to such a significant degree that space is opened up to ever more, as yet untapped uses. "

I guess that would include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the list of "apologists."

Apparently this is part of a training course from the "International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association."

Not impressed.  :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jet Black on 12/01/2016 11:38 AM
there was a market for F5. Just that there was a larger one for F9 and they could also launch F5 payloads on F9. Heck, they launched F1 payloads with F9.

Doesn't the same apply to BFR/BFS.
It can launch anything and if fully and rapidly reusable should be (very) cheap.
So if launches a small payload the excess capacity/space will be filled with something.

That really depends on whether you can get enough compatible payloads that want to go into compatible orbits at the same time.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 12/01/2016 12:06 PM

Quote
Doesn't the same apply to BFR/BFS.
It can launch anything and if fully and rapidly reusable should be (very) cheap.
So if launches a small payload the excess capacity/space will be filled with something.

That really depends on whether you can get enough compatible payloads that want to go into compatible orbits at the same time.
for geosynchronous they are all compatible. Same altitude, same inclination. A slighter lower orbit will rotate around to the correct position. It can take as little delta-V as you like.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: deruch on 12/02/2016 03:55 AM
I guess that would include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the list of "apologists."
Note, "apologist" in this context is not a perjorative usage but merely describing someone who offers arguments in support of a position/idea.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 12/02/2016 10:10 AM
I guess that would include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the list of "apologists."
Note, "apologist" in this context is not a perjorative usage but merely describing someone who offers arguments in support of a position/idea.

It also implies there is something to apologise for, which I do not think is the case. It's the wrong word.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: allhumanbeings07 on 12/02/2016 10:33 PM
I guess that would include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the list of "apologists."
Note, "apologist" in this context is not a perjorative usage but merely describing someone who offers arguments in support of a position/idea.

It also implies there is something to apologise for, which I do not think is the case. It's the wrong word.

It's a completely neutral term for describing the nature of someone's position in a debate, and used exactly how it should be here... is it *wrong* for physicists to say that quarks have colors if they don't mean what the most common definition of color means? Is it *wrong* for us to say that rockets have stages if that causes someone who knows nothing about rockets to wonder where the actors are?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/03/2016 05:57 AM
Think "apologetics." Not at all a negative term.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: sdsds on 12/03/2016 06:11 AM
It also implies there is something to apologise for

You are correct the author is implying something. But it isn't that there is something to "say you are sorry" about.

The main place where the term apologist is used is in the context of religious apologetics. There is also a common tendency to use the term "religion" to refer to strongly held secular beliefs, particularly in new technology fields. The author is thus simply implying that some of those who believe strongly in reusable spaceflight technology believe humankind as a whole will benefit from its introduction.

I rather agree with your point that there would have been better words to use in that sentence that would have been less likely to cause confusion. Were I the author's editor I would have suggested zealot. Or fanatic. Or simply ... fan.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: DOCinCT on 12/03/2016 02:27 PM
A couple of recent documents have just been listed on NTRS that may be of interest to readers of this thread.  One is a conference paper and the other is the presentation slides that accompany it.

Is It Worth It? - the Economics of Reusable Space Transportation

Abstract
...
Abstracts usually include the conclusion; this one is pure tease (and long-winded at that). Would someone who's read the papers kindly provide a TL:DR. Many thanks.
Best slide is #17 "cost of transportation systems"   might be worth comparing the cost breakdown there with eter B. de Selding's article http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/
As to a conclusion, the author doesn't really have one other than it depends.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/31/2017 07:05 AM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: jg on 04/01/2017 12:32 AM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Also remember that "fast followers" (or slow followers) won't have as healthy prices to repay their re-usability development costs.  The new entrants get to compete at a much lower price point for each "test" flight and are going to get to subsidize flights to win contracts.

This is a situation where the later entrants have a higher entry cost.  Bezos has so much money it may not matter, but others who want to follow are going to find it tough to get profitable paid missions to perfect their implementations.  They do have the advantage of knowing it *can* be done, of course.
                 - Jim
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: su27k on 04/01/2017 03:17 AM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 04/01/2017 02:58 PM
Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.

Sounds right to me. It does contrast extremely with rocket development cost of other launch service providers. Maybe the whole development cost after the 1.0. That was 300 million $, right?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Prettz on 04/01/2017 03:04 PM
Would that $1 billion include the cost of all the recovery-related hardware on all the boosters they've launched thus far? That would make sense to me.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: mme on 04/01/2017 05:16 PM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.
The performance upgrades where required for reusability.  Basically all development after v1.0 was because parachute recovery failed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MP99 on 04/01/2017 06:09 PM


Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.

Sounds right to me. It does contrast extremely with rocket development cost of other launch service providers. Maybe the whole development cost after the 1.0. That was 300 million $, right?

Recovery does depend on having the performance to spare, and on having the mass fractions to make that penalty not too large.

Cheers, Martin

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: meekGee on 04/02/2017 08:44 AM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.
The performance upgrades where required for reusability.  Basically all development after v1.0 was because parachute recovery failed.
Propulsive RTLS started, from what I know, just a bit after the first F9 flight.  The parachutes were something they experimented with, but it was not the main plan from a very early date.

The "cost of reusability" figure IMO includes the hardware - GH and launches with experimental hardware.  Otherwise $1B is too high.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 04/02/2017 01:49 PM
Yes, if you include all vehicle mods, Merlin upgrades, landing legs, sport interstages, ASDSs, fleet operations, Grasshopper/Dev testing, etc., and the engineering/labor to make these tests happen -- all stuff that could simply been ignored if they were splashing all stages, then $1B isn't too unreasonable.  Might even say the rebuilding of LC-40 is a cost of reusability (fast operational flow) testing, but drawing an exact line is not possible.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 04/05/2017 02:40 PM
I'm trying to understand the practical nature of the "100 fold decrease to overall coast" statement Musk made in the post-launch news conference for SES-10.  So, have I done this right...

If a baseline F9 cost $62M (SpaceX website) then to find the price after a 100 fold decrease, it's:

62/x = 100 fold.

Solving for x, I get 38.

So a 100 fold reduction in cost leads to a new value of $38M for a flight-proven core after a $24M reduction.

Have I done that right?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 04/05/2017 02:44 PM
I'm trying to understand the practical nature of the "100 fold decrease to overall coast" statement Musk made in the post-launch news conference for SES-10.  So, have I done this right...

If a baseline F9 cost $62M (SpaceX website) then to find the price after a 100 fold decrease, it's:

62/x = 100 fold.

Solving for x, I get 38.

So a 100 fold reduction in cost leads to a new value of $38M for a flight-proven core after a $24M reduction.

Have I done that right?

I took a hundred fold reduction as meaning two orders of magnitude. Meaning 62m/100 = $620k or 1% of the original cost. But I guess it depends on the exact context of the quote.

If it is 100 fold applied only to the booster cost, then it is a reduction of 99% of the booster cost, which would be 62m x 70% x 99% = a $42.9m saving, once the 100 fold reduction comes into effect.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 04/05/2017 02:47 PM
I'm trying to understand the practical nature of the "100 fold decrease to overall coast" statement Musk made in the post-launch news conference for SES-10.  So, have I done this right...

If a baseline F9 cost $62M (SpaceX website) then to find the price after a 100 fold decrease, it's:

62/x = 100 fold.

Solving for x, I get 38.

So a 100 fold reduction in cost leads to a new value of $38M for a flight-proven core after a $24M reduction.

Have I done that right?

I took a hundred fold reduction as meaning two orders of magnitude. Meaning 62m/100 = $620k or 1% of the original cost. But I guess it depends on the exact context of the quote.

I don't think that jives with SpaceX's statements of offering the first few flight-proven core customers 10% discount
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 04/05/2017 02:58 PM
Was the 100 fold reduction not applicable in the long term, rather than immediately?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: kaiser on 04/05/2017 03:01 PM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.

As always, it's more complex than what you saw.  But I agree that $1B covers likely more than just the reusability.  Edit:  I also get a bit less engineering hours than you, about half....these engineers have lots of overhead (specialty software, high end computers, lab space, etc that drives rates fairly high in my estimation).  Usually over half of your money during development/design is spent on hardware, so even less than that.  Then it would be a couple hundred engineers for a couple of years, which seems fair.

But remember that these didn't just spring forward out of nowhere.  They had to initially test the grid fins in some chamber, and so on.  Not to mention design and iterate/optimize that design.  You have a whole set of capital equipment for implementing it, which is quite expensive.

Also, I attended a talk from a SpaceX employee about how they gathered a team of physicists and mathematicians and essentially re-wrote from scratch all of the aerodynamic/fluid flow equations and software.  What everyone is using works great on regular CPUs, but they realized that they couldn't throw enough horsepower at the problem for them to be able to solve all of the tricky issues with respect to iterating on reuse.  It would take many weeks for even a small design alteration to get fluid flow answers back.

So, they re-formulated all of the equations so that they could run on a GPU.  Non-trivial task that they had large a pretty good chunk of high end physicists and mathematicians working on.  But once complete, it allowed them to quickly iterate and run optimization sweeps on the design.

Then add in the millions of dollars of servers full of GPUs to serve as the computing cluster, and it adds up.

BTW, that talk was at Nvidia's Developer Conference probably 2-3 years ago if I remember right...they usually have them online for those whom want to watch it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: saliva_sweet on 04/05/2017 03:56 PM
Was the 100 fold reduction not applicable in the long term, rather than immediately?

IIRC from the presser, it was the ITS BFR that was supposed to give 100x reduction in $/kg.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/05/2017 04:20 PM
Yes, Elon has long talked about a 100-fold reduction in terms of the long-term aim, with full (all stages) and rapid re-use. He's basing that on the cost of propellant vs pre-SpaceX prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 04/05/2017 04:22 PM
In the SES-10 press conference Elon said SpaceX have spent something like a billion dollars developing re-usability. So there's a lot of development cost to pay off. Elon said there will be a 'meaningful' discount for re-using a booster now but they won't pass on full savings so development cost can be recouped.

Actually I'm not sure the $1B figure is for reusability alone, seems way too high for just the test program/grid fin/legs/ASDS etc. $1B is about 1000 engineers for 5 years, I think that's the total R&D they have invested in F9, which include all the performance upgrades too.
The performance upgrades where required for reusability.  Basically all development after v1.0 was because parachute recovery failed.
Um, the performance upgrades were required in any case, IMHO... F9 1.0 wasn't capable of serving the GTO market well, again IMHO.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 04/05/2017 05:09 PM

Um, the performance upgrades were required in any case, IMHO... F9 1.0 wasn't capable of serving the GTO market well, again IMHO.

what was the gto performance of v1.0 expendable?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 04/05/2017 05:40 PM

Um, the performance upgrades were required in any case, IMHO... F9 1.0 wasn't capable of serving the GTO market well, again IMHO.

what was the gto performance of v1.0 expendable?

4680 kg, according to

https://web.archive.org/web/20101222155322/http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

It never flew to GTO, though.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/05/2017 06:02 PM
Quote
Shotwell: cost of refurbishing F9 first stage was “substantially less” than half of a new stage; will be even less in the future. #33SS

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/849679544923697152 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/849679544923697152)

Edit to add: important extra point

Quote
Shotwell: Falcon booster refurbishment cost substantially less than 1/2 cost of new build; more done for SES-10 than future flights. #33SS

https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/849679956988674048 (https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/849679956988674048)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: speedevil on 04/08/2017 01:16 PM
Quote
Shotwell: cost of refurbishing F9 first stage was “substantially less” than half of a new stage; will be even less in the future. #33SS

If the stated aim is to get F9 flying within a day, I can't see how you'd spend even a small fraction of that.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/09/2017 07:27 PM
Quote
Shotwell: cost of refurbishing F9 first stage was “substantially less” than half of a new stage; will be even less in the future. #33SS

If the stated aim is to get F9 flying within a day, I can't see how you'd spend even a small fraction of that.

Well, yes. Fairly obvious I would have thought· If they can get it down to 24 hrs, the costs are going to drop substantially (even if those 24hrs are spread over longer periods). To do that, huge sensor suites in the rocket, which are actually pretty cheap, and good engineering to fix parts that are determined to fail earlier than needed.

This one was expensive because the first of anything is usually a pathfinder, and much more than subsquents.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/12/2017 06:15 PM
Quote
Shotwell: cost of refurbishing F9 first stage was “substantially less” than half of a new stage; will be even less in the future. #33SS

If the stated aim is to get F9 flying within a day, I can't see how you'd spend even a small fraction of that.
I believe she also stated that the next ones will be 1/10 that of the SES-10. So that puts refurbishment costs at <$2M.
https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/11/musk-wants-to-make-falcon-9-rocket-fully-reusable/ (https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/11/musk-wants-to-make-falcon-9-rocket-fully-reusable/)
Quote
For the next few rockets SpaceX aims to refly, Shotwell said engineers will do about a tenth of the work that they did to refurbish the booster that launched March 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the SES 10 communications satellite.
Costs = level of manpower "work" plus replaced parts value.

If no parts are replaced then the cost of refurbishment is just the labor. So we have a floor for minimum costs. Now add the average cost of replaced parts which would probably be only another $2M (an M1D costs less than $2M) and you get a value for refurbishment at somewhere around $2-4M.

That is a savings of $20M+ over a new booster. The question becomes  how much will SpaceX allocate to paying back reusability development costs and how much to a customer discount.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/12/2017 08:22 PM
I think the best strategy is to offer really good deals on bulk purchase (multi-launch of similar satellites), while keeping the price for single satellites only a bit below that at present.

Growth in the market is going to come through large constellations and repeated launch of similar missions (tourism, dragonlab, etc.). Over the next few years, this bulk market is one that SpaceX are uniquely able to fill. A $5 M profit margin on a 100 launch deal will make much more money than a $20 M margin on all the currently winnable commercial contracts for GEO communication satellites.

Growing the market is in my opinion the best strategy, but it will take many years for the market to react to price signals (very inelastic in the short term, it seems moderately elastic in the medium term, 5-10 years). So promising very low prices in 5 years for bulk purchase, while keeping prices high in the short term should maximise profit.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/13/2017 05:08 PM
I believe that the pricing structure is headed towards the following:

1) If the contract specify use of new booster customer will be charged an additional fee.

2) Based on the landing mission mode (RTLS, ASDS, EXPD) this will control the basic price. There will be probably a stiff penalty for use of EXPD mode. These prices would assume no specificity by the contract on vehicle usage status.

This type of pricing structure will probably take over once the usage rate of used boosters get to the 70% level. But until then the pricing structure is a price and then discounts.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: hkultala on 04/13/2017 08:36 PM

Um, the performance upgrades were required in any case, IMHO... F9 1.0 wasn't capable of serving the GTO market well, again IMHO.

what was the gto performance of v1.0 expendable?

4680 kg, according to

https://web.archive.org/web/20101222155322/http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

It never flew to GTO, though.

I think this is not v1.0.

I think that In the page they are advertising the planned second model of Falcon 9 which was supposed to have higher thrust "Merlin 1C+" engines, and they payloads are for that model. But instead they managed to make the even more powerful Merlin 1D engine and this version with the "merlin 1C+" never flew.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 04/13/2017 08:55 PM

Um, the performance upgrades were required in any case, IMHO... F9 1.0 wasn't capable of serving the GTO market well, again IMHO.

what was the gto performance of v1.0 expendable?

4680 kg, according to

https://web.archive.org/web/20101222155322/http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

It never flew to GTO, though.

I think this is not v1.0.

I think that In the page they are advertising the planned second model of Falcon 9 which was supposed to have higher thrust "Merlin 1C+" engines, and they payloads are for that model. But instead they managed to make the even more powerful Merlin 1D engine and this version with the "merlin 1C+" never flew.

You're right, it says "Data reflects the Falcon 9 Block 2 design."

Wonder if that's v1.1...?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/13/2017 09:05 PM
No, it's a version of v1.0 that never flew.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 04/13/2017 11:41 PM
No, it's a version of v1.0 that never flew.

It must have morphed into v1.1, since we know that FT/v1.2 is Block 3.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/16/2017 08:11 AM
I believe she also stated that the next ones will be 1/10 that of the SES-10. So that puts refurbishment costs at <$2M.
https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/11/musk-wants-to-make-falcon-9-rocket-fully-reusable/ (https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/11/musk-wants-to-make-falcon-9-rocket-fully-reusable/)
Quote
For the next few rockets SpaceX aims to refly, Shotwell said engineers will do about a tenth of the work that they did to refurbish the booster that launched March 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the SES 10 communications satellite.

Yes, it can just be heard on a video of the talk, with transcription by RedLineTrain: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39167.msg1667230#msg1667230 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39167.msg1667230#msg1667230)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/16/2017 05:27 PM
The main kicker here is the effect such low refurbishment costs have on the cost per flight of an FH. At 10 flights per booster the average savings per flight is ~$20M for an F9. But for an FH it is $60M. Putting the pricing of an FH at about $15M more than an F9. If the new price of an F9 eventually gets to a value of $45M then the price for a FH would be ~$60M. That last flight flying as an expendable fully loaded would make the $/kg to LEO only $937.

Now drop the price another $3M for reusing the faring.
Price $57M - $/kg $890.

Added:
By 2020 the $/kg potential could be as low as $800 this is a factor of 10 from where the $/kg was at prior to F9's first flight in 2010 ($10,000/kg for an Atlas V 551 - best cost performance of all US LVs). So a factor of 10 over 10 years. What will the next ten years bring? $80/kg! (This is the goal of the ITS BTW).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 04/16/2017 05:43 PM
A year ago, Jeffries put together a simple reusability model (http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/) that was referenced by Space News.  I found it pretty helpful at the time in thinking about the impact of reusability so I put it in a spreadsheet.

After talk of fairing and second stage reuse became more concrete, I broke out the costs into four components:  first stage, second stage, fairing, and flight ops and calculated various reuse scenarios for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.  Attached is the slightly more complicated model.  Variables in red can be changed to suit.

Feedback welcome.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/16/2017 06:44 PM
Thanks for the spreadsheet.

Now for the other item. How long will it take for SpaceX to recover their $1B investment in reuse.

At 25 flights / yr and 70% being used boosters and SpaceX recovering $10M to pay against this charge per reused booster flight it will be 6 years for them to recover this development cost. Number of flight goes up or % of reused to new goes up then the time for this recovery will shorten. At 90% and 35 flights per year it would take only 4 years. So with SpaceX's flight projections the recovery period will be closer to 4 than it will be to 6. Putting recovery period ending in 2021. So in 2022 the prices could drop an additional $10M for an F9 and as much as $30M for an FH. The key here is that SpaceX is still making the same amount of profit per flight as they are now but at prices are a lot lower.

This is a very stiff competition price point profile. Other LV's would be hard pressed to keep up unless they were fully reusable. These price drops would occur only 2 years after the NG and Vulcan are operating.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 04/16/2017 07:15 PM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.  Remember that a lot of the experiments are done on hardware that otherwise is going into the ocean and is otherwise paid for. 1B buys a LOT of barge time/ tug time/fins and legs, etc

I would be interested in any rough budgets that people might have. We know tug rates and barge rates and stuff....

ok now i'm convincing myself that maybe it is 1B... but it's a self funded 1B ...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Eric Hedman on 04/16/2017 07:18 PM
The main kicker here is the effect such low refurbishment costs have on the cost per flight of an FH. At 10 flights per booster the average savings per flight is ~$20M for an F9. But for an FH it is $60M. Putting the pricing of an FH at about $15M more than an F9. If the new price of an F9 eventually gets to a value of $45M then the price for a FH would be ~$60M. That last flight flying as an expendable fully loaded would make the $/kg to LEO only $937.

Now drop the price another $3M for reusing the faring.
Price $57M - $/kg $890.

Added:
By 2020 the $/kg potential could be as low as $800 this is a factor of 10 from where the $/kg was at prior to F9's first flight in 2010 ($10,000/kg for an Atlas V 551 - best cost performance of all US LVs). So a factor of 10 over 10 years. What will the next ten years bring? $80/kg! (This is the goal of the ITS BTW).
Those kind of cost improvements, other than computers, don't tend to keep going at the same breakneck pace over the long haul without some other technological revolution.  Something beyond re-usability and optimal scale will probably be needed to get costs down to $80/kg.  I would be happy to see anything under $800/kg for the next couple of decades.   Even $800/kg will probably be enough of a reduction to open up significant growth in a space economy.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 04/16/2017 07:22 PM
And that's where the kicker comes in. Although some think that there are some fixed costs that will go up (and thus not be truly fixed) if the traffic volume goes up 10x, that is likely to drive down cost just from efficiency reasons. Not with the current ranges though.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RonM on 04/16/2017 07:22 PM
That $1B R&D resulted in technology that will apply to ITS and any other VTVL rockets SpaceX will develop. F9/FH programs don't have to recover the entire cost for them to be a success.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 04/16/2017 07:42 PM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.

I would describe the $1 billion as a number that doesn't impact the way in which SpaceX will run its business going forward.  They will look more to cash-on-hand and supporting and keeping busy the 6,000 employees on the payroll as they change to being an RLV provider.  And in this sense, they need to be thoughtful and careful.

I was a little shocked at learning the 6,000 number.  They haven't even ramped up for their constellation.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/16/2017 08:26 PM
Thanks for the spreadsheet.

Now for the other item. How long will it take for SpaceX to recover their $1B investment in reuse.

At 25 flights / yr and 70% being used boosters and SpaceX recovering $10M to pay against this charge per reused booster flight it will be 6 years for them to recover this development cost. Number of flight goes up or % of reused to new goes up then the time for this recovery will shorten. At 90% and 35 flights per year it would take only 4 years. So with SpaceX's flight projections the recovery period will be closer to 4 than it will be to 6. Putting recovery period ending in 2021. So in 2022 the prices could drop an additional $10M for an F9 and as much as $30M for an FH. The key here is that SpaceX is still making the same amount of profit per flight as they are now but at prices are a lot lower.

This is a very stiff competition price point profile. Other LV's would be hard pressed to keep up unless they were fully reusable. These price drops would occur only 2 years after the NG and Vulcan are operating.

One way of looking at things, allocates only the extra profit margin from launches that SpaceX would have done anyway but the full profit margin from launches that SpaceX pick up because reusability brings down the cost.

So if without reusability a launch costs $60M with a profit of $15M and after cost reductions due to reusability the profit margin goes up to $20M, those flights have $5M to pay off the development cost of reusability. But if the number of launches goes up from 20/year to 30/year then the entire profit from those extra 10 launches can be allocated to pay off the reusability cost. So the first 20 launches in a year that they would have got gives $100M and the 10 extra launches give $200M. [all figures completely made up for illustration purposes only]

A second advantage of reusability is that it avoids SpaceX hitting the limits of Hawthorne factory (about 40 cores per year). Using expendable launches CommX plus their normal commercial customers would exceed that limit, so they would have considerable capital cost and time bringing a new factory on-line and expanding their Texas testing facilities.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/16/2017 08:44 PM
I was a little shocked at learning the 6,000 number.  They haven't even ramped up for their constellation.
Considering they have 6 major development projects (block 5, resuable US, CommX, Raptor, ITS and Dragon 2), numerous smaller development projects, 2 operation pads and 2 being built, attempting a launch cadence of 2 per month, etc. and that they are vertically integrated so that most of the costs fall on them, it is amazing the headcount is so low.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Eric Hedman on 04/16/2017 08:54 PM
A second advantage of reusability is that it avoids SpaceX hitting the limits of Hawthorne factory (about 40 cores per year). Using expendable launches CommX plus their normal commercial customers would exceed that limit, so they would have considerable capital cost and time bringing a new factory on-line and expanding their Texas testing facilities.
Great point!  If launch demand grows significantly that will be a big advantage for both SpaceX and Blue Origin.  Anyone without a reusable first stage will have a much higher overhead to maintain.  The reusable in space ACES stage might be the sweet spot for ULA in the long haul for the same reason.  It brings us back to the fuel depot argument.  Cheap fuel to a depot and a reusable in space tug instead of an expendable second or third stage to get out of LEO.  Add in SEP tugs and you have a pretty good cost effective solution for all sorts of destinations.  Everything reusable.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Eric Hedman on 04/16/2017 09:06 PM
I would like the terminology to change.  Call rockets from SpaceX and Blue origin just rockets.  Call everything else from other companies throwaway, disposable or single use rockets and put the negative connotation on them.  You don't ever hear anybody call a 787 a reusable airplane.  It's just assumed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: joek on 04/16/2017 09:13 PM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.  Remember that a lot of the experiments are done on hardware that otherwise is going into the ocean and is otherwise paid for. 1B buys a LOT of barge time/ tug time/fins and legs, etc

Given that F9v1.0 (block 1) reportedly cost $400M... If SpaceX is counting from zero, fairly easy to believe, possibly minus some outliers such as CCtCap- or DOD-specific spend?  That would put post-v1.0- R&D at ~$600M.  If counting from F9v1.0, that would put total R&D at ~$1.4B (including FH?); does not seem too far out of line in comparison to other efforts.

Then again, I'd agree as you suggest that the way SpaceX has conducted their R&D makes it difficult to quantify... did the cost of every flight also count against reuse R&D?  Maybe for accounting purposes, but not necessarily from a cash perspective.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: joek on 04/16/2017 09:33 PM
I believe that the pricing structure is headed towards the following:

1) If the contract specify use of new booster customer will be charged an additional fee.

2) Based on the landing mission mode (RTLS, ASDS, EXPD) this will control the basic price. There will be probably a stiff penalty for use of EXPD mode. These prices would assume no specificity by the contract on vehicle usage status.

This type of pricing structure will probably take over once the usage rate of used boosters get to the 70% level. But until then the pricing structure is a price and then discounts.

Generally agree, but I think you can simplify...
Customer: I want payload [mass] P delivered to location/trajectory Q at time R.
SpaceX: Price is $X.  We'll figure out the rest.
Customer: And I want a new/unused/non-flight-proven vehicle.
SpaceX: Price is $X+/-$Z.[1]  Time R depends on inventory/availability.[2]

[1] May be a premium in the near term; may be a discount in the future.
[2] You want new and you want it soon... gonna cost.  Take first available from inventory (new or used) and you get it sooner.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: LouScheffer on 04/17/2017 11:19 AM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.  Remember that a lot of the experiments are done on hardware that otherwise is going into the ocean and is otherwise paid for. 1B buys a LOT of barge time/ tug time/fins and legs, etc

I would be interested in any rough budgets that people might have. We know tug rates and barge rates and stuff....

ok now i'm convincing myself that maybe it is 1B... but it's a self funded 1B ...
I think this type of calculation is much more interesting for ULA (or other new vendors) than SpaceX.  Let's assume it costs about $1B more to develop an re-usable rocket than an expendable, as Musk has stated.

SpaceX has already spent the money - it's a sunk cost.  Whether or not this was a good investment is irrelevant going forward.  Provided it saves them anything at all, even only $1M per launch, it's still worth it for them to go reusable.

But for someone who has not spent the $1B for re-usability yet, these are very interesting numbers.  How much can I save per launch?  How many do I need to sell to recover my development cost?  What kind of market share changes will I see with re-use?  This type of calculation appears all the time in the airline industry (see discussion of how long it will take the 787 and A380 to pay back their development cost).  Surely Boeing and LM, already experienced in this type of analysis, are applying this to Vulcan development and whether or not it should include re-usability.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/17/2017 05:40 PM
A thought about where that recovered $1B would go during the 4 years it would take to recover the funds. At $250M a year that is quite a large fund for SpaceX to fund additional rocket developments. Now add another $250M from other profits you get a yearly R&D budget of $500M. Over 5 years that is $2.5B. This should be sufficient for the beginnings of ITS development.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 04/17/2017 05:57 PM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.  Remember that a lot of the experiments are done on hardware that otherwise is going into the ocean and is otherwise paid for. 1B buys a LOT of barge time/ tug time/fins and legs, etc

I would be interested in any rough budgets that people might have. We know tug rates and barge rates and stuff....

ok now i'm convincing myself that maybe it is 1B... but it's a self funded 1B ...
I think this type of calculation is much more interesting for ULA (or other new vendors) than SpaceX.  Let's assume it costs about $1B more to develop an re-usable rocket than an expendable, as Musk has stated.

SpaceX has already spent the money - it's a sunk cost.  Whether or not this was a good investment is irrelevant going forward.  Provided it saves them anything at all, even only $1M per launch, it's still worth it for them to go reusable.

But for someone who has not spent the $1B for re-usability yet, these are very interesting numbers.  How much can I save per launch?  How many do I need to sell to recover my development cost?  What kind of market share changes will I see with re-use?  This type of calculation appears all the time in the airline industry (see discussion of how long it will take the 787 and A380 to pay back their development cost).  Surely Boeing and LM, already experienced in this type of analysis, are applying this to Vulcan development and whether or not it should include re-usability.



My desire to see the numbers was to see if 1B is reasonable... I was thinking initially it might be a bit fluffy for customer consumption...

Re the A380, I heard (in Aviation Week???)  that the latest projection on paying back dev't cost is "never".
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 04/17/2017 11:10 PM
I would like the terminology to change.  Call rockets from SpaceX and Blue origin just rockets.  Call everything else from other companies throwaway, disposable or single use rockets and put the negative connotation on them.  You don't ever hear anybody call a 787 a reusable airplane.  It's just assumed.

That will happen when the numerical balance between expendable and reusable rockets shifts towards the latter. A similar thing happened with the introduction of jet aircraft.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/19/2017 05:49 PM
I would like the terminology to change.  Call rockets from SpaceX and Blue origin just rockets.  Call everything else from other companies throwaway, disposable or single use rockets and put the negative connotation on them.  You don't ever hear anybody call a 787 a reusable airplane.  It's just assumed.

That will happen when the numerical balance between expendable and reusable rockets shifts towards the latter. A similar thing happened with the introduction of jet aircraft.
If by EOY 2018 or 2019 SpaceX is flying 20 reused booster flights and the total number of launches worldwide is 100 then the percentage of reuse to expendable is 20% reused to 80% expendable worldwide. If SpaceX expands their launch rate to 50 from 30 and those additional increase the world total to 120 with the the reuse count being 90% or 45 launches then the reuse to expendable ratio would be 37.5%/62.5%. Now add another expansion of 20 launches with 80% reused (the NGs) with total worldwide of 140 the ratio goes to 44%/56%. So sometime in the 2020's it is possible that the reuse launches will outnumber the expendable launches. As the number of launches on reuse capable vehicles grow and the number of expendable launches shrink.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/22/2017 04:39 PM
An item that just popped up in my thoughts on another thread is the manpower levels needed to support a launch every 2 weeks. At $1-2M for refurbishment and parts between flight that represents 5,000 to 10,000 manhours of refurbishment work on a booster. A crew of 25 would take from 5 to 10 weeks to do the refurbishment. To support an every other week flight the refurbishment crews should number in the 60 to 125 personnel. And they would be constantly busy with no down time unless the pad/vehicle is also in a significant launch downtime for some reason (failure investigation or severe weather event like a huricane).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 04/22/2017 10:48 PM
I am not sure I buy that 1B number as an actual out of pocket cost... I think it might be padded for customer benefit.

I would describe the $1 billion as a number that doesn't impact the way in which SpaceX will run its business going forward.  They will look more to cash-on-hand and supporting and keeping busy the 6,000 employees on the payroll as they change to being an RLV provider.  And in this sense, they need to be thoughtful and careful.

I was a little shocked at learning the 6,000 number.  They haven't even ramped up for their constellation.

6,000 also doesn't include running four pads flat out.  With 400+ wanted ads out there as an indicator, and these new personnel demands on the near horizon, growth will continue to be robust for several years.  Breaking 10,000  by 2020 is possible, IMO. (They've doubled in size in the last 3-4 years...)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 04/22/2017 11:26 PM
6,000 also doesn't include running four pads flat out.  With 400+ wanted ads out there as an indicator, and these new personnel demands on the near horizon, growth will continue to be robust for several years.  Breaking 10,000  by 2020 is possible, IMO. (They've doubled in size in the last 3-4 years...)

They definitely need big-time revenue.  Perhaps they will go after the other satellite verticals.  We all need a 10,000 satellite reconnaissance constellation, after all.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/23/2017 05:23 PM
6,000 also doesn't include running four pads flat out.  With 400+ wanted ads out there as an indicator, and these new personnel demands on the near horizon, growth will continue to be robust for several years.  Breaking 10,000  by 2020 is possible, IMO. (They've doubled in size in the last 3-4 years...)

They definitely need big-time revenue.  Perhaps they will go after the other satellite verticals.  We all need a 10,000 satellite reconnaissance constellation, after all.
Re-flight rate of only 67% here is the potential revenue/profit estimates (values are in Millions of US dollars):

                                                            Per Flight      At re-flight rate of 20 /yr out of total 30 flights
Normal Price per flight                             $62.00            $620.00
Discounted Flight Price for Reused booster  $50.00          $1,000.00
Normal Profit on Flight                             $10.00             $300.00
Additional Margin assigned for R&D            $10.00            $200.00
Total funds available for reinvestment /yr                          $500.00
Total revenue /yr                                                        $1,620.00

Is this big enough for you?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/24/2017 08:49 PM
An item that just popped up in my thoughts on another thread is the manpower levels needed to support a launch every 2 weeks. At $1-2M for refurbishment and parts between flight that represents 5,000 to 10,000 manhours of refurbishment work on a booster. A crew of 25 would take from 5 to 10 weeks to do the refurbishment. To support an every other week flight the refurbishment crews should number in the 60 to 125 personnel. And they would be constantly busy with no down time unless the pad/vehicle is also in a significant launch downtime for some reason (failure investigation or severe weather event like a huricane).
Thanks for that. These are the missing numbers for the modelling game.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/25/2017 11:01 AM
An item that just popped up in my thoughts on another thread is the manpower levels needed to support a launch every 2 weeks. At $1-2M for refurbishment and parts between flight that represents 5,000 to 10,000 manhours of refurbishment work on a booster. A crew of 25 would take from 5 to 10 weeks to do the refurbishment. To support an every other week flight the refurbishment crews should number in the 60 to 125 personnel. And they would be constantly busy with no down time unless the pad/vehicle is also in a significant launch downtime for some reason (failure investigation or severe weather event like a huricane).
Thanks for that. These are the missing numbers for the modelling game.

Does that make any sense though when combined with the SpaceX desire to have 24hr refurb times? Which in my view is not about 24hr turnaround, but being able to do all the maintenance required to refly in 24hr, which means very cheap to do indeed. They don't need to have a booster ready in 24hrs, but to be able to have it refurbed in those timescales reduces costs hugely.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 04/25/2017 11:44 AM
I think 2M for refurb costs is high if you're talking 24 hour turnarounds. Airliners are at similar price points (within an order of magnitude) for initial cost of the vehicle and don't spend nearly that much getting ready for their next flight. Maybe when they have scheduled overhauls and have to replace an engine

You may say that SpaceX can't achieve these turnaround times and costs but that's their goal. They may not make it... but I'm thinking a crew of 500 spending 2M in small parts? no.  I could see the average cost being 1M IF you include the once every 10 flights heavy overhaul that might include some engine changeouts if an engine was found to be marginal.... but even that seems high.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/25/2017 09:09 PM
I think 2M for refurb costs is high if you're talking 24 hour turnarounds. Airliners are at similar price points (within an order of magnitude) for initial cost of the vehicle and don't spend nearly that much getting ready for their next flight. Maybe when they have scheduled overhauls and have to replace an engine

You may say that SpaceX can't achieve these turnaround times and costs but that's their goal. They may not make it... but I'm thinking a crew of 500 spending 2M in small parts? no.  I could see the average cost being 1M IF you include the once every 10 flights heavy overhaul that might include some engine changeouts if an engine was found to be marginal.... but even that seems high.
For general aviation passenger services the rule of thumb has been that total costs per flight were 3x the fuel costs. Given Musk has said F9 costs about $200K in propellant that would be about about $600-800K. However since unless the US is fully recoverable that will have to be written off and that's around $17m.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/03/2017 01:16 PM
Elon Musk has said they spent about a billion dollars developing recovery and reuse. So that needs to be recovered before they are making money with reuse. How long that takes depends on how much they discount the rockets for launch and how much it costs to refurbish them for the next launch. The issue boils down to the question - when do they make more money by reusing rockets than they spent on making them reusable?

An additional facet of this is "how much of your capabilities have you intentionally sacrificed to make your rocket reusable?" which is what ULA has been asking.

Which is a bogus question.

Payload has a fixed mass. You get paid for orbiting this payload. Any extra performance you have over this weight on this flight would not earn you a single extra dollar.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass and land the stage, you "sacrificed" nothing for reusing this state.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass only by expending the stage, you are no worse than your competitors who do not have reuse option at all.

ULA are not stupid, they know this too. They are just not yet resigned to accept the new reality.

1) Extra performance can certainly earn more money on many missions.

2) The extra performance required for reuse means a bigger rocket, which is more expensive than a smaller rocket. However, this is offset to some extent by 1), where more performance can earn more money on an expendable mission.

3) You have to design the recovery systems, which are part of the fixed development cost - even the expendable rockets must bear those. And expending a recoverable rocket is always going to be somewhat more expensive than expending a rocket designed to be expendable.

However, all of the above are offset by the fact that later flights of the same rocket are FAR cheaper than building a new one. Including expendable flights, where you can get all the performance on a rocket that's already paid for itself many times over. THIS is the point of reuse. It's cheaper to build 1 oversized rocket with 10 lives than 10 undersized rockets.

The part I don't get about ULA's response is that SpaceX is beating them on price while throwing away reuseable rockets. How can ULA possibly compete economically now that SpaceX has started reusing them?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Joffan on 05/03/2017 04:43 PM
I think even the billion-dollar budget for reusability is a bit of a red herring. Some of that expenditure has more benefits than just the ability to reuse the lower stage, so that continually improves the value of the SpaceX service.

As a simple example, the ability to review a used stage informs and improves the next increment of design of new stages. As a more subtle example, the continued engagement of capable people in exciting work maintains a high quality of staff (and work) at SpaceX.

Agreed that SpaceX will make more money from reused stages than from continuing the expendable path, so in fact they will become more profitable also. However I think Musk is still holding to his intention to continue lowering the cost of access to space, and trusting that the benefit in gradually expanding the market for launches will allow that to be an on-going process: sales volume feeding efficiency investments, feeding cost reduction, feeding sales volume etc.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RyanC on 05/03/2017 09:05 PM
Now for the other item. How long will it take for SpaceX to recover their $1B investment in reuse.

At 25 flights / yr and 70% being used boosters and SpaceX recovering $10M to pay against this charge per reused booster flight it will be 6 years for them to recover this development cost.


What if.... Space X doesn't intend to fully recover their $1B investment?

What if they:

A.) Just charge a good portion of the cost off to the MCT/ITS accounts as a "sunk cost" for development of MCT/ITS reusable stage technology?

B.) Count it as a "sunk cost" to capture more of the marketplace for orbital launches?

Remember, SpX doesn't operate like LockMart/Boeing/ULA/NoGrumman, but more like Amazon, which continually plows profits back into the company to grow it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/03/2017 09:12 PM
I think 2M for refurb costs is high if you're talking 24 hour turnarounds. Airliners are at similar price points (within an order of magnitude) for initial cost of the vehicle and don't spend nearly that much getting ready for their next flight. Maybe when they have scheduled overhauls and have to replace an engine

You may say that SpaceX can't achieve these turnaround times and costs but that's their goal. They may not make it... but I'm thinking a crew of 500 spending 2M in small parts? no.  I could see the average cost being 1M IF you include the once every 10 flights heavy overhaul that might include some engine changeouts if an engine was found to be marginal.... but even that seems high.
For general aviation passenger services the rule of thumb has been that total costs per flight were 3x the fuel costs. Given Musk has said F9 costs about $200K in propellant that would be about about $600-800K. However since unless the US is fully recoverable that will have to be written off and that's around $17m.

Not counting the US, that's totally irrelevant to refurb costs, and you know it.

The topic being discussed was how much refurb costs them. NOT how much the total mission cost is.

I'm interested in people's spitballs on what fairing refurb will cost. I am thinking you don't want to just keep painting over old logos as that increases the weight of the fairing each time.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ulm_atms on 05/03/2017 09:45 PM
I'm interested in people's spitballs on what fairing refurb will cost. I am thinking you don't want to just keep painting over old logos as that increases the weight of the fairing each time.

Hopefully the atmosphere will remove some/most of the painting/logos (especially if the painting is ablative tps paint)   ;D

But my guess would be the cost of 1. Getting the fairing back to the "refurb center"  2. Cost of consumables (RCS gasses,parachutes, etc...) 3.  Paint/tps and 4.  Possibly the materials that keep the two halfs together depending on how singed the edges get on return.  If all that is over 1M total I would be surprised.

So my spitball is less then 1M, hopefully closer to $500K
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/03/2017 10:13 PM
I think if we're trying to accurately model costs we need to separate recovery from refurb... S1 recovery may be less (if it's RTLS) or more, if it's ASDS.... The exact amount for recovery varies by mission too, as the ASDS may be farther or closer, and there may be a scrub that adds a day of labor/rental.

Recovery ends and refurb starts when the stage rolls in the facility (you could say "when the stage is loaded on the transporter" I guess)

Similarly depending on the profile flown, the bouncy castle may be closer or farther from shore. But I think the variability there is lower?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/04/2017 08:44 AM
I don't see why the expectation is that SpaceX will substantially reduce prices in accordance with their reusability cost savings. Musk said that they first want to recover the $1B reusability investment. But why stop even there?

I saw the calculations upthread showing 4 years required for recovery of the $1B investment. But what stops SpaceX from dropping their current launch price by just a marginal amount - from $62m to say $55m, and making a $30m gross profit per F9 launch for the foreseeable future?

At $62m they are already cheaper than  any of their competitors. Going down another $7m would undercut everyone else even further, while still giving SpaceX massive profits per launch.

With a 70 launch manifest, at $30m profit per launch they could recover their $1B investment in just over 30 launches - possibly the number of flights they will do in one year in 2018. And still have a massive and growing manifest ahead.

And even after that, why not continue charging say $50m per launch until someone else can do it for $49m? Even at current prices they are charging towards 30 launches per year, so its not like demand isn't there.

30 launches at $30m profit per launch is better than 50 launches at only $10m profit per launch.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/04/2017 09:45 AM
I don't see why the expectation is that SpaceX will substantially reduce prices in accordance with their reusability cost savings. Musk said that they first want to recover the $1B reusability investment. But why stop even there?

I saw the calculations upthread showing 4 years required for recovery of the $1B investment. But what stops SpaceX from dropping their current launch price by just a marginal amount - from $62m to say $55m, and making a $30m gross profit per F9 launch for the foreseeable future?

At $62m they are already cheaper than  any of their competitors. Going down another $7m would undercut everyone else even further, while still giving SpaceX massive profits per launch.

With a 70 launch manifest, at $30m profit per launch they could recover their $1B investment in just over 30 launches - possibly the number of flights they will do in one year in 2018. And still have a massive and growing manifest ahead.

And even after that, why not continue charging say $50m per launch until someone else can do it for $49m? Even at current prices they are charging towards 30 launches per year, so its not like demand isn't there.

30 launches at $30m profit per launch is better than 50 launches at only $10m profit per launch.

Entirely agree. All they have the ensure is that they are cheaper than the competition and at least as reliable. I suspect they are almost there with both of those - still a few reused boosters to try to get some decent reliability figures.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/04/2017 02:45 PM
I don't see why the expectation is that SpaceX will substantially reduce prices in accordance with their reusability cost savings. Musk said that they first want to recover the $1B reusability investment. But why stop even there?

I saw the calculations upthread showing 4 years required for recovery of the $1B investment. But what stops SpaceX from dropping their current launch price by just a marginal amount - from $62m to say $55m, and making a $30m gross profit per F9 launch for the foreseeable future?

At $62m they are already cheaper than  any of their competitors. Going down another $7m would undercut everyone else even further, while still giving SpaceX massive profits per launch.

With a 70 launch manifest, at $30m profit per launch they could recover their $1B investment in just over 30 launches - possibly the number of flights they will do in one year in 2018. And still have a massive and growing manifest ahead.

And even after that, why not continue charging say $50m per launch until someone else can do it for $49m? Even at current prices they are charging towards 30 launches per year, so its not like demand isn't there.

30 launches at $30m profit per launch is better than 50 launches at only $10m profit per launch.

Entirely agree. All they have the ensure is that they are cheaper than the competition and at least as reliable. I suspect they are almost there with both of those - still a few reused boosters to try to get some decent reliability figures.

Not so fast... lowering the price is the forcing function for market expansion.
Market expansion is essential for SpaceX to obtain needed revenue -- long term gain vs short term profits.  This is why a private company is necessary for a while.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/04/2017 03:14 PM
Yeah I don't see going 50M, then going 48M when someone else goes 49M as fitting the model well.... Musk wants to force this. The West was exploited a LOT better by railroads than wagon trains... because railroad freight rates were so much better.

This might be a bit off topic though.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: WmThomas on 05/04/2017 04:00 PM
Now for the other item. How long will it take for SpaceX to recover their $1B investment in reuse.

I think the $1B number Elon threw out is being misunderstood. I think that was more like the cost of all Falcon 9 development to date.

Elon didn't explain what that estimate meant and I haven't seen any serious attempt to make sense of that number.  SpaceX has spent a lot on launch pads, building rockets, Dragon, etc. Reuse would include the autonomous drone ships, Grasshopper and FR-Dev, Raptor, and lot of R&D. But $1 Billion? I don't buy it.

Also, note that Raptor development and a good deal of Falcon 9 and Dragon development were paid for by the government, the Air Force and NASA respectively. So SpaceX isn't even out $1B net on the Falcon 9 development, I don't think.

I'd be interested in other people's estimates of what Elon meant and what SpaceX's development expenses have been, and what funded it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/04/2017 04:15 PM
I don't see why the expectation is that SpaceX will substantially reduce prices in accordance with their reusability cost savings. Musk said that they first want to recover the $1B reusability investment. But why stop even there?

I saw the calculations upthread showing 4 years required for recovery of the $1B investment. But what stops SpaceX from dropping their current launch price by just a marginal amount - from $62m to say $55m, and making a $30m gross profit per F9 launch for the foreseeable future?

At $62m they are already cheaper than  any of their competitors. Going down another $7m would undercut everyone else even further, while still giving SpaceX massive profits per launch.

With a 70 launch manifest, at $30m profit per launch they could recover their $1B investment in just over 30 launches - possibly the number of flights they will do in one year in 2018. And still have a massive and growing manifest ahead.

And even after that, why not continue charging say $50m per launch until someone else can do it for $49m? Even at current prices they are charging towards 30 launches per year, so its not like demand isn't there.

30 launches at $30m profit per launch is better than 50 launches at only $10m profit per launch.

Entirely agree. All they have the ensure is that they are cheaper than the competition and at least as reliable. I suspect they are almost there with both of those - still a few reused boosters to try to get some decent reliability figures.

Not so fast... lowering the price is the forcing function for market expansion.
Market expansion is essential for SpaceX to obtain needed revenue -- long term gain vs short term profits.  This is why a private company is necessary for a while.

I don't get this argument entirely. What does SpaceX gain by increasing demand to 100 flights instead of 50 from one year to the next if they make half the revenue per flight and thus have no increased gain from it?

What's the point of eventually making $1m profit per flight from 100 flights, if you could have achieved $20m per flight from just 5 fligths? Once ITS is operational, sure, they will benefit from an expanded market. But currently, they can't even service the manifest they do have.

For the foreseaable future they can rake in the cash and still have more demand than they can service. 3 years from now that may change. But until then they need all the cash they can get to invest in their next generation vehicle.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/04/2017 04:28 PM
Now for the other item. How long will it take for SpaceX to recover their $1B investment in reuse.

I think the $1B number Elon threw out is being misunderstood. I think that was more like the cost of all Falcon 9 development to date.

Elon didn't explain what that estimate meant and I haven't seen any serious attempt to make sense of that number.  SpaceX has spent a lot on launch pads, building rockets, Dragon, etc. Reuse would include the autonomous drone ships, Grasshopper and FR-Dev, Raptor, and lot of R&D. But $1 Billion? I don't buy it.

Also, note that Raptor development and a good deal of Falcon 9 and Dragon development were paid for by the government, the Air Force and NASA respectively. So SpaceX isn't even out $1B net on the Falcon 9 development, I don't think.

I'd be interested in other people's estimates of what Elon meant and what SpaceX's development expenses have been, and what funded it.

Here's Elon's quote: (https://github.com/robbak/SES10-post-launch-conference/blob/master/SES10-press-transcript.txt)
Quote
: I think just a little celebration is in order... If you just say, how much effort has SpaceX put into Falcon reusability, and nobody was paying us for reusability, so it had to be on our own dime, it's probably - at least a billion dollars that we spent developing this, so it'll take a while to pay that off. And then we need to get really efficient with the reuse of boosters and with the fairing. So I would expect the economics to start becoming sensible next year - so it's pretty close - and we expect the boosters to .. I mean, with no refurbishment, be capable of 10 flights, and with moderate refurbishment to be capable of 100 flights. So you can imagine that if the cost of the rocket is say 60 million dollars - really we're not re-using the whole thing, but - with the fairing, assuming fairing reuse works out, and as we optimize the cost of the reuse of the booster, really looking at maybe 3/4 of the rocket cost dropping by an order of magnitude, maybe more.

It doesn't sound like the $1 billion or more estimate specifically includes initial F9 development or anything that NASA or DOD paid for, although there is almost certainly a lot of overlap.

And I'm curious what "the economics to start becoming sensible next year" means. Does that mean the $1B investment will be paid off?

From Elon's answer, Falcon 9 costs $60 million, the booster costs $45 million, and the cost of the booster over it's lifetime is $4.5 million (or less) per flight, so the booster reuse cost savings is $40.5M per flight. If SpaceX is saving $40.5M in costs per reuse and only giving up 10% ($6.22M) in price that's a net profit of $32.3M per reuse, and they need 30 reuse flights to get $1B in savings. 30 reflights seems pretty aggressive by "next year".
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/04/2017 04:37 PM
Six reflights this year, 24 next -- if 3/4ths of flights are reused, that is 32 flights next year (about what they are planning).  If fraction reused takes longer to build up, maybe another year. 

Then they start launching the constellation, and the reusable launchers will repay the investment or more every year thereafter in the form of profit or reduced capital expenditure.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

By the way, NASA/DoD did not pay for the F9/FH.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/04/2017 05:01 PM
Six reflights this year, 24 next -- if 3/4ths of flights are reused, that is 32 flights next year (about what they are planning).  If fraction reused takes longer to build up, maybe another year. 

Then they start launching the constellation, and the reusable launchers will repay the investment or more every year thereafter in the form of profit or reduced capital expenditure.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

By the way, NASA/DoD did not pay for the F9/FH.

It's pretty optimistic to see it happen by next year, though I have no doubts that they can eventually get 30 reflights out of F9. If that's all it takes to repay for reuse development I'd say they are doing great; a 2-3 year 100% return on investment is just fine.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Mongo62 on 05/04/2017 06:11 PM
I don't understand this $1B figure. Isn't most of this simply the cost of developing the Merlin engine and the F9 system, through its various iterations? The incremental cost of developing reusability, given the initial version of the F9, does not seem anything like a billion dollars to me. The flight tests were essentially free, since they were added to commercial and government flights paid for by commercial and government customers, and the extra hardware needed was minimal. The grid fins and upgraded 'non-sticky' servos, as far as I know. The rest was already designed and built for the expendable version of F9. Add the cost of Grasshopper, the 'drone ships', landing zones, etc., and it still does not seem close to a billion dollars.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/04/2017 07:15 PM
I don't understand this $1B figure. Isn't most of this simply the cost of developing the Merlin engine and the F9 system, through its various iterations? The incremental cost of developing reusability, given the initial version of the F9, does not seem anything like a billion dollars to me. The flight tests were essentially free, since they were added to commercial and government flights paid for by commercial and government customers, and the extra hardware needed was minimal. The grid fins and upgraded 'non-sticky' servos, as far as I know. The rest was already designed and built for the expendable version of F9. Add the cost of Grasshopper, the 'drone ships', landing zones, etc., and it still does not seem close to a billion dollars.

Perhaps because you have a narrow view of what its about. Like perhaps direct/fixed costs.

There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs. Can easily see ways to find more than $2B in costs, so was surprised when he said just $1B. Think it is too low. Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda, as well as failed landings. If you don't use these as costs, you're cherry picking your numbers.

The more you invest in your business strategically, the less obvious the costs become. Which is why a lot of "hand to mouth" firms don't dare it.

Suggest that he's decided on a near term means of assessing SX by means of two timelines - one where they went all in on ELV, and the other where they did what they have done, i.e. this timeline.

That could get you easily $1B. And any accountant would accept this as reasonable guidance.

Now, he recovers that $1B to bring the two timelines back into synch. One way you could do that is to have the incremental cost savings and flight frequency increases "happen", such that as you use the benefits in a gradually increasing way, the delta between the timelines shrinks.

When it's shrunk to nothing, then all you have is the lost time it took to get there.

When it goes positive, you then have a means of valuing it as an competitive advantage over rivals. Which you could use to a)predict market share gains/dominance if unopposed, b)a measure of lead time ahead of rivals, or c) a lever on the market to drive demand where you'd like it to go to.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/04/2017 08:39 PM
Perhaps because you have a narrow view of what its about. Like perhaps direct/fixed costs.

There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs. Can easily see ways to find more than $2B in costs, so was surprised when he said just $1B. Think it is too low. Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda, as well as failed landings. If you don't use these as costs, you're cherry picking your numbers.
...

This gets tricky really fast. Developing an expendable vehicle has it's own set of opportunity costs. And there is no way to know that the same failures, or new ones, wouldn't have occurred while developing a ELV. Certainly the CRS-7 failure or a similar one was just waiting to happen.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/04/2017 11:23 PM
Of course the maximum benefit from reuse will be gained by who will be SpaceX's biggest customer: SpaceX, via the Internet constellation. Lowered implementation and  operating costs (replacements) for "CommX" also has to be figured in.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Joffan on 05/04/2017 11:28 PM
There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs.
Hmm. Has reuse really slowed their launch cadence ramp-up? Or were you thinking they'd be further ahead with some other project? Not Dragon 2 - that's been paced by NASA's budget. Falcon Heavy, perhaps? except that's actually being helped towards an affordable demonstration flight by reuse. So I don't know what opportunities you mean, specifically.

Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda
Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.

as well as failed landings.
What, the cost of the legs? the damage to the ASDS? - peanuts. Certainly you can't possibly mean the cost of the rocket bodies, since in the expendable scenario, they would be lost anyway.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jcc on 05/05/2017 01:23 AM
I don't understand this $1B figure. Isn't most of this simply the cost of developing the Merlin engine and the F9 system, through its various iterations? The incremental cost of developing reusability, given the initial version of the F9, does not seem anything like a billion dollars to me. The flight tests were essentially free, since they were added to commercial and government flights paid for by commercial and government customers, and the extra hardware needed was minimal. The grid fins and upgraded 'non-sticky' servos, as far as I know. The rest was already designed and built for the expendable version of F9. Add the cost of Grasshopper, the 'drone ships', landing zones, etc., and it still does not seem close to a billion dollars.

Maybe he gave an inflated price to scare away competitors.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: kaiser on 05/05/2017 04:10 AM
There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs.
Hmm. Has reuse really slowed their launch cadence ramp-up? Or were you thinking they'd be further ahead with some other project? Not Dragon 2 - that's been paced by NASA's budget. Falcon Heavy, perhaps? except that's actually being helped towards an affordable demonstration flight by reuse. So I don't know what opportunities you mean, specifically.

Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda
Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.

as well as failed landings.
What, the cost of the legs? the damage to the ASDS? - peanuts. Certainly you can't possibly mean the cost of the rocket bodies, since in the expendable scenario, they would be lost anyway.

Not the damage to the ASDS, the actual ASDS.  Just the cost of designing, procuring, modifying, licensing, testing, and operating both of those ships during the reuse testing phase is in the mid to high double digit millions.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/05/2017 11:27 AM
There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs.
Hmm. Has reuse really slowed their launch cadence ramp-up? Or were you thinking they'd be further ahead with some other project? Not Dragon 2 - that's been paced by NASA's budget. Falcon Heavy, perhaps? except that's actually being helped towards an affordable demonstration flight by reuse. So I don't know what opportunities you mean, specifically.

Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda
Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.

as well as failed landings.
What, the cost of the legs? the damage to the ASDS? - peanuts. Certainly you can't possibly mean the cost of the rocket bodies, since in the expendable scenario, they would be lost anyway.

Not the damage to the ASDS, the actual ASDS.  Just the cost of designing, procuring, modifying, licensing, testing, and operating both of those ships during the reuse testing phase is in the mid to high double digit millions.

Which is still a small proportion of $1B.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/05/2017 03:12 PM
There's  lots of other costs, including opportunity costs.
Hmm. Has reuse really slowed their launch cadence ramp-up? Or were you thinking they'd be further ahead with some other project? Not Dragon 2 - that's been paced by NASA's budget. Falcon Heavy, perhaps? except that's actually being helped towards an affordable demonstration flight by reuse. So I don't know what opportunities you mean, specifically.

Keep in mind the added cost of LOM's/RTF's brought on by the reuse agenda
Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.

as well as failed landings.
What, the cost of the legs? the damage to the ASDS? - peanuts. Certainly you can't possibly mean the cost of the rocket bodies, since in the expendable scenario, they would be lost anyway.

Not the damage to the ASDS, the actual ASDS.  Just the cost of designing, procuring, modifying, licensing, testing, and operating both of those ships during the reuse testing phase is in the mid to high double digit millions.

Which is still a small proportion of $1B.

~5% or so.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 05/05/2017 03:23 PM

Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.


How about they went to chilled LOX because they needed extra performance for reusability.
The question is:
would they have pushed for greater margins if they didn't want reusability?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/05/2017 06:14 PM

Citation required. I see no evidence that Falcon 9's failures were a product of the drive for resuability. Their startup launch failure rate has not been at a level that would suggest that the attempt to re-use has played into more failures than expected. As I mentioned above, recovery of intact stages is more likely to play in to better reliability and fewer future failures.


How about they went to chilled LOX because they needed extra performance for reusability.
The question is:
would they have pushed for greater margins if they didn't want reusability?

Maybe they needed extra performance to compete with Ariane and Proton?

Eventually, ELVs would have bumped hard into SpaceX's greater goals. They don't exist to make a quick buck. They exist to move humanity out into the solar system. How do you measure the opportunity cost of never being able to achieve your overarching goal?

ELVs might make more sense for ULA. They absolutely don't for SpaceX to Blue Origin.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Joffan on 05/05/2017 07:10 PM

as well as failed landings.
What, the cost of the legs? the damage to the ASDS? - peanuts. Certainly you can't possibly mean the cost of the rocket bodies, since in the expendable scenario, they would be lost anyway.

Not the damage to the ASDS, the actual ASDS.  Just the cost of designing, procuring, modifying, licensing, testing, and operating both of those ships during the reuse testing phase is in the mid to high double digit millions.
Failed landings don't add the acquisition of the ASDS as an extra cost. The reusability program requires ASDS.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/06/2017 01:33 AM
A lot of nonsense posts here. Will try one more time. With small words.

Anything that deals with the path to reuse, including propulsion enhancement (to cover losses), is part of that $1B.

In theory, anything post F9 1.0. That I as an accountant/CFO can categorize as such.

And we are talking GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) rules here, not whatever nonsense rules you think up on your own.

It's nothing even up for debate.

But then there are people who debate physics, law, ... and think of them as if they are a form of ideology/politics/rhetoric. They're not.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/06/2017 03:06 AM
A lot of nonsense posts here. Will try one more time. With small words.

Anything that deals with the path to reuse, including propulsion enhancement (to cover losses), is part of that $1B.

In theory, anything post F9 1.0. That I as an accountant/CFO can categorize as such.

And we are talking GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) rules here, not whatever nonsense rules you think up on your own.

It's nothing even up for debate.

But then there are people who debate physics, law, ... and think of them as if they are a form of ideology/politics/rhetoric. They're not.
Meaning the M1D and all its updates is part of those costs. Also included is the stage stretches, simulations, modeling software development, etc. That $1B represents a lot of work over more than 7 years.

As an equivalent in manyears that $1B equals 5,000 manyears of work. Which implies a large portion of the manpower of SpaceX has been charging toward this work since 2010. That manpower will after this start work on the ITS in ever increasing amounts. Such that that recovery and profit from launch totaling an almost $20M / launch will go toward paying the continuation of the R&D work of future LVs. Estimate is that this is a value of up to $0.5B per year or enough to fund the work of as many as 2000 persons per year doing R&D.

This sizes the SpaceX R&D teams as a significant portion of all of SpaceX's manpower (~1/3).

As SpaceX's manpower scales up for its operations this will also enable the scaling up of that significant portion of R&D staff. Such that 1 out of every 3 or 4 hires is for R&D work vs production/operations.

This is a very aggressive expansionist culture. It is also a self fulfilling cycle of lowering costs to be able to lower costs in the near future even more "rinse and repeat".
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/06/2017 08:34 AM
Anything that deals with the path to reuse, including propulsion enhancement (to cover losses), is part of that $1B.

In theory, anything post F9 1.0.

The problem is that there's no way for us to know what proportion of the cost of changes made (such as Merlin upgrades) were for re-use. Even as an ELV it's clear SpaceX would have upgraded to increase payload and thus the amount of the market F9 could serve.

$1B was Elon's off-the-cuff estimate of re-use cost but no way to know how accurate it is. So I think all we can take from this is that re-use development costs were substantial (at least 100s of millions, maybe well over a billion).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/06/2017 06:19 PM
Meaning the M1D and all its updates is part of those costs. Also included is the stage stretches, simulations, modeling software development, etc. That $1B represents a lot of work over more than 7 years.
Falcon 9 1.0 /M1C was a perfectly usable  Delta-II class vehicle with a significant manifest.

They would have been a successful provider, quite healthy financially, and likely focussed on gradual F9US capabilities/performance, then gradually phased in booster/M1C improvements much more gradually.

Quote
As an equivalent in manyears that $1B equals 5,000 manyears of work. Which implies a large portion of the manpower of SpaceX has been charging toward this work since 2010. That manpower will after this start work on the ITS in ever increasing amounts. Such that that recovery and profit from launch totaling an almost $20M / launch will go toward paying the continuation of the R&D work of future LVs. Estimate is that this is a value of up to $0.5B per year or enough to fund the work of as many as 2000 persons per year doing R&D.
Agree, but I'd say since 2009.

Quote
This sizes the SpaceX R&D teams as a significant portion of all of SpaceX's manpower (~1/3).

As SpaceX's manpower scales up for its operations this will also enable the scaling up of that significant portion of R&D staff. Such that 1 out of every 3 or 4 hires is for R&D work vs production/operations.

This is a very aggressive expansionist culture. It is also a self fulfilling cycle of lowering costs to be able to lower costs in the near future even more "rinse and repeat".
Musk would likely agree with this.

There was no business need to aggressively compete for either reuse or max/exceed ULA/Airbus-Safran.

Indeed, there was extremely good reasons to take F9 1.0 and make it a as reliable as Atlas V, with a more active manifest, and get the then Falcon 9H onto SLC-4E, as an alternative to DIVH.

Anything that deals with the path to reuse, including propulsion enhancement (to cover losses), is part of that $1B.

In theory, anything post F9 1.0.

The problem is that there's no way for us to know what proportion of the cost of changes made (such as Merlin upgrades) were for re-use. Even as an ELV it's clear SpaceX would have upgraded to increase payload and thus the amount of the market F9 could serve.
Yes there is. SX's original story. It would have covered the same market. Just done so in a different way.

(Keep in mind that anything that ULA does going forward, faces the same situation. If Vulcan/BE4, Vulcan/AR1, Atlas VI/AR1 ... they'll start out with lesser performance/higher cost, and converge on the market as is.)

Quote
$1B was Elon's off-the-cuff estimate of re-use cost but no way to know how accurate it is. So I think all we can take from this is that re-use development costs were substantial (at least 100s of millions, maybe well over a billion).

More like $2B. Because there are other "reuse investments" yet to make the mark, that have been invested in all along, just not fielded.

He is underplaying his hand. Which turns out to be wise at the moment.

My guess is that by doing so, with rivals in slow pursuit, the gradual, growing effect of global market launch prices declining, frequency increasing ... SX wins by not losing. "Trash talking" just looks like bitterness of outdistanced rivals.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/06/2017 06:33 PM
I don't understand this $1B figure. Isn't most of this simply the cost of developing the Merlin engine and the F9 system, through its various iterations? The incremental cost of developing reusability, given the initial version of the F9, does not seem anything like a billion dollars to me. The flight tests were essentially free, since they were added to commercial and government flights paid for by commercial and government customers, and the extra hardware needed was minimal. The grid fins and upgraded 'non-sticky' servos, as far as I know. The rest was already designed and built for the expendable version of F9. Add the cost of Grasshopper, the 'drone ships', landing zones, etc., and it still does not seem close to a billion dollars.

Maybe he gave an inflated price to scare away competitors.
Saying US$ 1 billion is deliberately inaccurate. The real number is neither half a billion nor 1.5 billion. Probably within 20%.
The most important effect of an imprecise number is to prevent competitors from accurately comparing their estimates with what SpaceX actually spent.
Its likely SpaceX spent less than US$ 1.5 billion in all F9 related R&D including Merlin, recovery, plus the ancillary costs like ASDS.

The math competitors should be doing right now is either follow SpaceX or go out of business for sure in 10 years.
The real scary scenario is by the time the competitor has booster reuse going on, SpaceX likely already has the whole stack reusable with total recovery+refurb costs under 10% of building a new booster+upper stage+fairing and with launch capability limited only by available pad capacity.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/06/2017 07:44 PM
Maybe he gave an inflated price to scare away competitors.
Saying US$ 1 billion is deliberately inaccurate. The real number is neither half a billion nor 1.5 billion. Probably within 20%.
The most important effect of an imprecise number is to prevent competitors from accurately comparing their estimates with what SpaceX actually spent.
Agree its hard to assess threat and scope/budget/schedule/program response.

This is a market that is used to multi-decade LV operation, so the gross competitive landscape doesn't change much.

What do you "target"? Believe that played a role in the Vulcan/ Ariane 6 decisions - they honestly didn't have any comfort in doing anything but the obvious. And, it's not gotten any clearer, as we're fast approaching a "Max-Q" of sorts with the potential for high return on reuse (24 hr, US, fairing, capsule, ...). It's not like Shuttle.

Quote
The math competitors should be doing right now is either follow SpaceX or go out of business for sure in 10 years.
They can also change business models.

Quote
The real scary scenario is by the time the competitor has booster reuse going on, SpaceX likely already has the whole stack reusable with total recovery+refurb costs under 10% of building a new booster+upper stage+fairing and with launch capability limited only by available pad capacity.
Even with all of these they'd still have launches. SX does not do everything, is not a "magic bullet".

What they'd do is steal the long term future, with limited cost recovery.

Think of it as top of the pyramid, with the bottom constantly eroding.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 05/06/2017 08:15 PM
The math competitors should be doing right now is either follow SpaceX or go out of business for sure in 10 years.

Launch customers don't want a monopoly for launch services, no matter how benign it supposedly may be.  Which means they will continue to spread around their business to a number of launch providers.

However, out of the worldwide selection of commercial launch providers, SpaceX is poised to be a low cost provider, as is Blue Origin.  ESA will likely get a steady stream of business due to it's European ownership, and ULA will likely be able to depend on a minimum amount of launch business from the U.S. Government.

But if you are a launch provider and you can't justify being either a primary or backup launch provider for a particular market segment, then your future won't look too bright.

Quote
The real scary scenario is by the time the competitor has booster reuse going on, SpaceX likely already has the whole stack reusable with total recovery+refurb costs under 10% of building a new booster+upper stage+fairing and with launch capability limited only by available pad capacity.

Blue Origin is helping to validate the reusable launch market, but it is far from proven yet.  But we do want more launch providers to follow.  So SpaceX and Blue Origin providing some market "pain" is good, because without it we won't have a complete changeover to a reusable launch future.

Which is why I'm honestly concerned about ULA, since they are at a point where they can either be the next launch provider to announce they are pursuing 1st stage reusability, or they will be vying to be one of the last to build an expendable launch system.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/06/2017 08:22 PM
.>
Which is why I'm honestly concerned about ULA, since they are at a point where they can either be the next launch provider to announce they are pursuing 1st stage reusability, or they will be vying to be one of the last to build an expendable launch system.

Or, they could do what seems to me the bloody obvious; rebranding. Buy reusable New Glenn boosters from Blue Origin, put a Centaur or ACES on top and apply a big "VULCAN" sticker to  the side.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/06/2017 08:57 PM
Another conclusion is that If SpaceX can actually work out the recovery reuse of an US then the FH (1st Stage +US+Faring) fully reusable woulkd have an internal SpaceX cost at very close to the same as an F9 (1st Stage +Faring) partial reusable. This internal cost value would be ~$30M.

But the real kicker is the payload capability difference FH-FR payload to LEO -> 20mt and the F9-PR payload to LEO ->16mt. Also you do not have to manufacture a new US for each flight. This increases the capability to fly more often.

If both are priced the same at $50M ($20M in profit for recovery of past development spending and future R&D work) the $/kg measure of the vehicles would be FH-FR $2,500/kg and the F9-PR $3,125/kg.

If then they are able to recover an US from GTO they then have a complete replacement and fully reusable stack for 90% of all of their manifested payloads. Suddenly the bottleneck of manufacture of an US for each flight goes away enabling the possibility of flying 1 a week from each operational pad 200+ launches a year. The manufacturing facility would still be going full tilt producing 20 US (10 uses) and 20 1st stages (30 uses because less stress and there are three boosters use per every 1 US use) a year.

Now with 200  launches per year and reducing the price to only a $5M margin ->$35M/launch the profit is still very large  at $1B/yr.

Also at these rates the other costs may also reduce enabling the costs to go down another $5M to $10M to $20 or $25M making the price as low as $25M/launch with SpaceX still making a $5M profit.

Suddenly the tourist business case of 6 tourists on a reused D2 where the total price of launching 6 tourist to LEO is $40M. Less than $7M per seat.

This is if SpaceX does not develop any other game changing LV technology vehicle. A probably price for an ITS that delivers 200 tourists to LEO at $60M/launch is $300,000/person. Practically the same price as the current suborbital price/person. A factor of 20 reduction in per seat price over that of the fully reusable FH+D2.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: speedevil on 05/06/2017 09:26 PM
Launch customers don't want a monopoly for launch services, no matter how benign it supposedly may be.  Which means they will continue to spread around their business to a number of launch providers.

To go off at a tangent (through still circling around the original thread title.).

Launch vehicle reliability is accepted to be of the order of a percent.

One of the reasons a monopoly is bad is that you can be left facing a several month shutdown on accident.

Might at some point it get to the point that 'yes, a stage exploded, but this vehicle has worked just fine 20 times', and not have a shutdown?

That is - you can have confidence that launch reliability is around the same, even with a stage being lost.

(It's in principle possible it gets to where passenger plane level reliability is expected, where this question may have an obvious 'no' answer, but that seems unlikely in the near future.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/07/2017 07:58 AM
If Ariane looses 2/3 of its launch volume can it still be a viable business ? Would the EU be interested in substantially increasing its subsidy to keep it afloat ?

As it stands, ULA is also at risk of going under, even with its US$ 1 billion / yr assured income. If SpaceX starts servicing more US Government launches than ULA and Blue Origin starts competing for those (that can be launched from FL), the whole rationale for the US$ 1 billion/yr payouts crumble.

Of those two, I think ULA is at much higher risk, since they already do very little commercial launches.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 09:24 AM
Another conclusion is that If SpaceX can actually work out the recovery reuse of an US then the FH (1st Stage +US+Faring) fully reusable woulkd have an internal SpaceX cost at very close to the same as an F9 (1st Stage +Faring) partial reusable. This internal cost value would be ~$30M.

But the real kicker is the payload capability difference FH-FR payload to LEO -> 20mt and the F9-PR payload to LEO ->16mt. Also you do not have to manufacture a new US for each flight. This increases the capability to fly more often.

If both are priced the same at $50M ($20M in profit for recovery of past development spending and future R&D work) the $/kg measure of the vehicles would be FH-FR $2,500/kg and the F9-PR $3,125/kg.

If then they are able to recover an US from GTO they then have a complete replacement and fully reusable stack for 90% of all of their manifested payloads. Suddenly the bottleneck of manufacture of an US for each flight goes away enabling the possibility of flying 1 a week from each operational pad 200+ launches a year. The manufacturing facility would still be going full tilt producing 20 US (10 uses) and 20 1st stages (30 uses because less stress and there are three boosters use per every 1 US use) a year.

Now with 200  launches per year and reducing the price to only a $5M margin ->$35M/launch the profit is still very large  at $1B/yr.

Also at these rates the other costs may also reduce enabling the costs to go down another $5M to $10M to $20 or $25M making the price as low as $25M/launch with SpaceX still making a $5M profit.

Suddenly the tourist business case of 6 tourists on a reused D2 where the total price of launching 6 tourist to LEO is $40M. Less than $7M per seat.

This is if SpaceX does not develop any other game changing LV technology vehicle. A probably price for an ITS that delivers 200 tourists to LEO at $60M/launch is $300,000/person. Practically the same price as the current suborbital price/person. A factor of 20 reduction in per seat price over that of the fully reusable FH+D2.

I want to understand the $30m price tag you estimated for a fully reusable FH. How is that calculated? It seems somewhat high to me, considering that Elon's goal is a price reduction of an order of magnitude or maybe even two orders of magnitude with full reusability.


By my count, to construct a FH rocket costs say $60m for the centre core, upper stage and fairing, and say another $80m for the two side boosters. So let's call that $140m. Spread that over 10 missions with only minimal refurbishment (say $1m refurbishment per mission) and you get to $150m for 10 missions.

That's $15m per launch. Add fuel, ground control costs and other peripheral launch costs and you maybe get to $20m per launch.

But that's if you spread the cost over just 10 launches.

According to Elon, Block 5 will require more extensive refurbishment after 10 launches. If you calculate the lifespan of a booster as 100 launches, with say $10m refurbishment per booster after 10 launches, that's an additional $270m refurbishment costs over the 100 launch lifespan of the 3 FH boosters. This needs to be added to the $140m initial construction cost, which gets you to just over $400m for the 100 launches.

Add the $5m fuel and peripheral launch costs per mission, and $1m minimal refurbishment cost for 90 of the 100 launches (the ones that don't get the major refurbishment) and you get to a rough estimate of around $1bn for 100 Falcon Heavy launches. That works out to around $10m per Falcon Heavy launch.

Maybe I missed some costs, but I suspect I actually erred in the other direction, with very high refurbishment costs per booster every 10 launches. That may actually be lower than I estimated.

Anyway, by my guestimate, with full reusability, we are looking at $20m per Falcon Heavy launch if it lasts 10 launches, and $10m or less if it lasts for 100 launches.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/07/2017 09:54 AM
>
I want to understand the $30m price tag you estimated for a fully reusable FH. How is that calculated? It seems somewhat high to me, considering that Elon's goal is a price reduction of an order of magnitude or maybe even two orders of magnitude with full reusability.

By my count, to construct a FH rocket costs say $60m for the centre core, upper stage and fairing, and say another $80m for the two side boosters. So let's call that $140m.
>

Except that they'll be making extensive use of flight proven  stages for the FH side boosters, throwing your numbers way off.  The FH maiden flight will use them.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 10:00 AM
>
I want to understand the $30m price tag you estimated for a fully reusable FH. How is that calculated? It seems somewhat high to me, considering that Elon's goal is a price reduction of an order of magnitude or maybe even two orders of magnitude with full reusability.

By my count, to construct a FH rocket costs say $60m for the centre core, upper stage and fairing, and say another $80m for the two side boosters. So let's call that $140m.
>

Except that they'll be making extensive use of flight proven  stages for the FH side boosters, throwing your numbers way off.  The FH maiden flight will use them.

OK. But those boosters had to be manufactured at some point, and thus would have incurred the $40m construction cost per booster originally. That cost has to be spread over the 100 launches, right?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/07/2017 10:08 AM
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/07/2017 10:13 AM
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.

Taking first flight out of the equation because we don't know yet how it will be valued. But after that we must assume that the stage will not fly if it does not have 100% confidence. So flight 99 should have the same value as flight 2.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 10:14 AM
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.

Ok, but to simplify matters, if each booster can fly 100 times, then from SpaceX's overall point of view it makes no difference whether it flies 8 times as a F9 and then 92 times as a FH side booster, or 100 times as an FH side booster only. So we might as well do the calculation as if the FH starts out with three new cores.

The cost of the new booster has to be carried by SpaceX at some point.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Kabloona on 05/07/2017 01:10 PM
Hat tip to gongora for bringing this to our attention in another thread. Interview with Gwynne Shotwell:

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/

Quote
In terms of when we might see significant price declines, Shotwell admits “it will take a few years” for the contracts to come in. However, SpaceX has invested a lot of money in this particular area. “We want to make sure we are fair about that cost. Frankly, the final spin on Falcon 9 will be rolling out a little bit later than mid-year, and that is really the stage that rolls in all the lessons learned on reusability that we have learnt to date. Those vehicles will be highly reusable — 10 times at least. When those vehicles are flying regularly, we will start seeing more pressure around the launch price side,” she adds.

So, final version of F9 rolling out this summer, will be reusable at least 10x. But it will be a few years before SpaceX recoups their investment and can pass significant cost savings on to customers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/07/2017 01:42 PM
Hat tip to gongora for bringing this to our attention in another thread. Interview with Gwynne Shotwell:

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/

Quote
In terms of when we might see significant price declines, Shotwell admits “it will take a few years” for the contracts to come in. However, SpaceX has invested a lot of money in this particular area. “We want to make sure we are fair about that cost. Frankly, the final spin on Falcon 9 will be rolling out a little bit later than mid-year, and that is really the stage that rolls in all the lessons learned on reusability that we have learnt to date. Those vehicles https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/Themes/nsf2/images/bbc/underline.gifwill be highly reusable — 10 times at least. When those vehicles are flying regularly, we will start seeing more pressure around the launch price side,” she adds.

So, final version of F9 rolling out this summer, will be reusable at least 10x. But it will be a few years before SpaceX recoups their investment and can pass significant cost savings on to customers.

This (bolded) is the best part.  Doesn't seem to have affected the bottom line cost in a negative way.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: DOCinCT on 05/07/2017 04:10 PM
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/07/2017 04:41 PM
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 04:59 PM
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.

I was about to respond to your original post. I see you've since clarified it to cast at least a little bit of doubt over the $30m estimate, but it is still held up as a target.

And that's what I don't understand. Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/07/2017 05:06 PM
...Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

I agree with you. The $30 million figure is useful as a pragmatic (but unlikely to be realized) lower bound on Falcon 9 launch costs with first-stage reuse alone. It does not make sense for SpaceX to lower their prices without competitive price pressure.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 05:12 PM
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.

I was about to respond to your original post. I see you've since clarified it to cast at least a little bit of doubt over the $30m estimate, but it is still held up as a target.

And that's what I don't understand. Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

The $30 million figure is useful as a pragmatic (but unlikely to be realized) lower bound on Falcon 9 launch costs with first-stage reuse alone.

Ah. Ok. It's basically the cost of the $5m fairing, the estimated $10m cost of the upper stage, plus some refurbishment and peripheral launch related costs which brings internal cost to SpaceX to around $20m per launch.

With fairing recovery - which now seems possible, they could drop that by maybe another $4m to the region of maybe $16m, without upper stage recovery. So yes, that would seem the lower cost bound without upper stage recovery.

But in terms of what SpaceX will charge, I don't see them cutting their profits to as low as $10m per launch for quite some time.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/07/2017 07:39 PM
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

It's really good to be under the cost curve and building launch frequency gradually.

The key win here is to move the market into your direction. As has been done.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/07/2017 09:09 PM
$30M in costs for a fully reusable FH or a partial reusable F9 (that is costs internal to SpaceX no profit added).
NOTE the cost of the 1st stage manufacture is estimated at $25M.
Also the all up costs (no profit) no reuse for an F9 is $53M add $9M for profit resulting in a price of $62M.

F9 Partial reusable

$15M for new US
$4M for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$7M for the launch processing and launch. This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M


FH Fully Reusable
$5M for US refurbishment($3M), recovery ($.5M) and amoritization over 10 flights ($1.5M)
$12M 3X for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$9M for the launch processing and launch. ($1M each extra for the two additioanal boosters). This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M

Over time and at higher flight rates the Launch processing, refurbishment costs, and slush margin may be reduced for a reduction of almost up to $10M for fully reusable FH but only $5M for a partial reusable F9. Possibly getting the costs per flight to as low as $20M in 7 years from now 2024/25. This then would also make the use of the fully reusable FH cheaper per flight than the partial reusable F9: FH $20M vs F9 $25M.

If you then add profit margin of only $5M to these high volume launches of the fully reusable FH, then the price per flight of up to 20mt to LEO becomes $25M or just $1,250/kg->$568/lb.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/07/2017 09:26 PM
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

Do they?  According to Salo's launch schedule, Falcon 9 has 42 flights left for 2017 and 2018.  That's quite a lot for any expendable launcher, but if SpaceX hits its reusable stride, it would seem that 2018 might still have some manifest availability.

Maybe the price drop to $55 million or whatever it is will fill their manifest.

2019 looks pretty crazy, what with the LEO constellation starting to go up.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/07/2017 10:13 PM
So WRT to the thread title reusability will probably increase SX profits by lowering their costs.

Reusability should improve reliability as SX now know how close to their designed operating limits various components have been.

If they deliver full reusability including the US then they will be in a position to save a lot of money.

But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

My main interest is in lowering the mission price to the end user both on a $/lb and an overall mission price basis (Pegasus is cheaper than an F9 flight, but it's also less than 1/20 the payload).

This does not sound like it's going to move the market forward very much. The market is what it is because of the price of launch for the size of payload. If that does not change radically there is absolutely no reason why any new customers will enter the market who wouldn't have done so anyway. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/07/2017 10:18 PM
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/07/2017 10:28 PM
$30M in costs for a fully reusable FH or a partial reusable F9 (that is costs internal to SpaceX no profit added).
NOTE the cost of the 1st stage manufacture is estimated at $25M.
Also the all up costs (no profit) no reuse for an F9 is $53M add $9M for profit resulting in a price of $62M.

F9 Partial reusable

$15M for new US
$4M for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$7M for the launch processing and launch. This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M


FH Fully Reusable
$5M for US refurbishment($3M), recovery ($.5M) and amoritization over 10 flights ($1.5M)
$12M 3X for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$9M for the launch processing and launch. ($1M each extra for the two additioanal boosters). This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M

Over time and at higher flight rates the Launch processing, refurbishment costs, and slush margin may be reduced for a reduction of almost up to $10M for fully reusable FH but only $5M for a partial reusable F9. Possibly getting the costs per flight to as low as $20M in 7 years from now 2024/25. This then would also make the use of the fully reusable FH cheaper per flight than the partial reusable F9: FH $20M vs F9 $25M.

If you then add profit margin of only $5M to these high volume launches of the fully reusable FH, then the price per flight of up to 20mt to LEO becomes $25M or just $1,250/kg->$568/lb.

Is that really the case?

We don't actually need a complicated calculation to estimate the savings associated with booster reusability. We simply need to know what an F9 launch actually costs SpaceX currently. I see you estimated $53m, with $9m profit added to that. I'm not sure what you base that on. Elon seemed to refer to the $60m figure as the cost of a rocket. I question whether they are even making a significant profit on their launches currently, as they have been in a market capture phase until now, trying to undercut their rivals to entice customers to take a risk with the newcomer instead.

So, if $60m is the cost of a launch, and Elon stated that 70% of that is the cost of the booster, then the booster costs around $42m. Even if a launch only costs SpaceX $53m as you suggest, then 70% of that still comes to $37m, not $25m as in your formula.

So, that means the savings from reusing a booster are actually much bigger the more a booster costs to construct. 

If we go with your $53m total cost estimate, then 30% of that (the non-booster cost) is $15.9m. If we assume 10 launches per booster only, then the $37m booster cost can be divided by 10 for each launch, so that's $3.7m. Add $1m refurbishment cost per launch, and you get to a total of $15.9m + $3.7m + $1m = $20.6m.

If, however, we go with a current launch cost of $60m, then the 30% non-booster related costs equal $18m. Over 10 launches, the $42m booster cost can be divided by 10, giving us $4.2m per launch. Add the $1m refurbishment cost and that gives you $18m + $4.2m + $1m = $23.2m

In both cases, we get to the low twenties, and that is assuming only 10 launches per booster. If we get to much higher reuse numbers, the cost will drop below $20m. And note that in both cases I built no fairing reuse in yet. That will drop it even further.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: John Alan on 05/07/2017 11:25 PM
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.

Put another way (my take on that quote)...  ;)
Sat designers ran the numbers... and decided a 3rd stage of sorts built into their bird (dual usage) lets them go to SpaceX asking for say 7500kg to GTO-3000 m/s (WAG #'s) and SpaceX says they can do that with a ASDS landing and decent fuel margins... for a lower cost then any other provider...

S2 drag re-enters within days (cleanup of space mess made) or maybe can be refired to deorbit post sep (if fuel allows)
Only thing is.. Sat Bird has to fire it's booster sooner then later to avoid the same fate...

End result is... the Sat Bird designers are maximizing actual working mass to orbit to fit what F9 can do with available  proven recovery throw weight of available block version of S1...
They may even be over sizing the Sat fuel tanks as designed to allow loading max prop for whatever rocket it does end up on (partial loading)...

That's an interesting turn of events in "how they do this business"...  ???

On edit...
Point being made is... the GTO-1800 m/s "standard" may be headed for the trash bin...
The Sat Bird designers may be thinking... "we can get our birds to automatically fly after separation (with no ground support/uplink) and boost themselves at least enough on their own to enter a stable orbit and then contact ground stations for further instructions"...
This ability lets them put heavier working payloads in orbit... 
 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/08/2017 12:19 AM
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

Do they?  According to Salo's launch schedule, Falcon 9 has 42 flights left for 2017 and 2018.  That's quite a lot for any expendable launcher, but if SpaceX hits its reusable stride, it would seem that 2018 might still have some manifest availability.

As a business, they already have addressed customer need to the extent that they can ramp to a major fraction of global launch demand in their payload/services category.

The second priority is not growth but to manage customer expectations, i.e. reliable outcomes.

The third would be to manage production lines and stage qualification to meet launch service rate.

These sit in front of manifest/demand.

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.

What that suggests is that sat vendors want to maximize what they can get out of a F9 launch, that they can use over the on orbit lifetime. That cost and time to launch matters most.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/08/2017 07:06 AM
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.
http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

Shows 5.5mT to GTO for $62m. I'm sure they will sell higher but I doubt they will sell at that price and I would be interested in finding out what that price is.

[EDIT. I note from Shotwell interviews their near term goal is a 2 week launch cadence ]
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/08/2017 10:48 AM
...

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

...

If you were a for-profit business, you'd be weighing the cost of that 3% success rate increment (97% on launch attempts) plus the cost of insurance versus the increased tens of millions of corporate dollars to purchase that increment (not spent like government dollars because they have to make a profit/stay in business).  You'd also see that insurance rates are essentially identical between the alternatives, meaning insurance companies who do this calculation for a living don't see a success rate difference worth reflecting in rates. 

There are probably some comm sats that make the launch decision for you, but that is something chosen when picking a sat design that went beyond anything but Ariane capability (before FH arrives on the market).  You can, likewise, chose a sat design that hits the sweet spot of reusable launchers...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/08/2017 12:04 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

Atlas V is $180m at best.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ictogan on 05/08/2017 01:12 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

Atlas V is $180m at best.
So you are saying that ULA is lying when listing the Atlas V base price at $109m?
https://www.rocketbuilder.com/
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: cppetrie on 05/08/2017 01:27 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

Atlas V is $180m at best.
So you are saying that ULA is lying when listing the Atlas V base price at $109m?
https://www.rocketbuilder.com/
A base price doesn't launch a 5.5mT satellite to GEO-1800m/s. That runs $137 million for a Q4/2018 launch. And that's just at their core services level. Want more service, tack on many more millions.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/08/2017 01:35 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

Atlas V is $180m at best.
So you are saying that ULA is lying when listing the Atlas V base price at $109m?
https://www.rocketbuilder.com/

I was not aware ULA started to publicly announce their prices. This is progress.

I would like to compare prices mentioned on website to the actual prices paid. US Govt missions tend to cost more (because more oversight and more paperwork), so lets look at commercial and foreign launches.

Anyone knows how much was paid for EchoStar 19 launch? For WorldView-4? WorldView-3? MEXSAT-2?
(This list of 4 non-US-govt launches goes back to 2013).

I see only one "sort-of" non-govt launch on the manifest, Solar Orbiter aka "SolO" (it's an ESA mission). How much will it cost for ESA?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/08/2017 02:03 PM
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.
http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

Shows 5.5mT to GTO for $62m. I'm sure they will sell higher but I doubt they will sell at that price and I would be interested in finding out what that price is.

[EDIT. I note from Shotwell interviews their near term goal is a 2 week launch cadence ]

Those prices on SpaceX's web site do not yet appear to reflect the reusability discount.  I would expect an update to those numbers at some point.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: abaddon on 05/08/2017 02:05 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"
You're not a customer.  An actual customer recently said:
Quote
Maxim Zayakov, chief executive of BulgariaSat, said the use of a reused first stage lowers the launch price and “makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites.” [...]The satellite is a major undertaking for BulgariaSat, which has been working on the project for nearly 12 years. “Elon Musk and his SpaceX team have convinced me that people like them bring us closer to a new quality of life through providing access to cutting-edge technology,” Zayakov said in a statement. “This is a chance for Bulgaria to join the efforts to develop these new aspects of [the] space industry.”

Link: http://spacenews.com/bulgarian-satellite-to-launch-on-reused-falcon-9-in-june
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ictogan on 05/08/2017 02:22 PM
But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

Atlas V is $180m at best.
So you are saying that ULA is lying when listing the Atlas V base price at $109m?
https://www.rocketbuilder.com/

I was not aware ULA started to publicly announce their prices. This is progress.

I would like to compare prices mentioned on website to the actual prices paid. US Govt missions tend to cost more (because more oversight and more paperwork), so lets look at commercial and foreign launches.

Anyone knows how much was paid for EchoStar 19 launch? For WorldView-4? WorldView-3? MEXSAT-2?
(This list of 4 non-US-govt launches goes back to 2013).

I see only one "sort-of" non-govt launch on the manifest, Solar Orbiter aka "SolO" (it's an ESA mission). How much will it cost for ESA?
Apparently NASA is providing that launch to ESA, so it might still have the usual government prices:
"The launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida will be aboard a NASA-provided launch vehicle."
- http://sci.esa.int/solar-orbiter/55772-solar-orbiter-launch-moved-to-2018/
NASA lists the cost to them for that launch as $172.7m:
https://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/march/nasa-awards-launch-services-contract-for-solar-orbiter-mission/
However this was 3 years back and ULA is known to have dropped their prices in the recent years. Their website shows a price of $136-138m(depending on fairing length) for an Atlas V 411 launch with all the services except for marketing, so given that it's still at least sort of a government launch and the prices may have dropped since then, the prices on their website sound reasonable.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/08/2017 02:27 PM
So WRT to the thread title reusability will probably increase SX profits by lowering their costs.

Reusability should improve reliability as SX now know how close to their designed operating limits various components have been.

If they deliver full reusability including the US then they will be in a position to save a lot of money.

But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

My main interest is in lowering the mission price to the end user both on a $/lb and an overall mission price basis (Pegasus is cheaper than an F9 flight, but it's also less than 1/20 the payload).

This does not sound like it's going to move the market forward very much. The market is what it is because of the price of launch for the size of payload. If that does not change radically there is absolutely no reason why any new customers will enter the market who wouldn't have done so anyway.

I doubt a F9 expendable launch is $100M. Back when SpaceX was pricing full-capability launches, they were about 16% more than an 80% capability launch, which puts an expendable mission at about $72M. And soon, you might be able to buy an expendable mission on a used booster for a discount. If the discount is 10% for reuse then up to 8.3 tonnes to GTO-1800 could be as low as $65M (FH RTLS could also be similar).

And the sticker price of $62.2M is ONLY for missions that require a new booster, but are under 5.5 tonnes to GTO-1800. If you can live with a used booster you can get the same service for at least 10% less than $62.2M, which is $56M or about half the cost of an Ariane launch.

Most commercial customers don't assume a lot of risk for launch failures. The payload and its first year revenue are typically insured, so as long as insurance is comparable then schedule reliability is the biggest factor. With reuse and more pads this could quickly become a factor strongly in SpaceX's favor, especially since they don't have to line up two payloads for a launch like Ariane.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/08/2017 03:06 PM
Apparently NASA is providing that launch to ESA, so it might still have the usual government prices:
"The launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida will be aboard a NASA-provided launch vehicle."
- http://sci.esa.int/solar-orbiter/55772-solar-orbiter-launch-moved-to-2018/
NASA lists the cost to them for that launch as $172.7m:
https://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/march/nasa-awards-launch-services-contract-for-solar-orbiter-mission/
However this was 3 years back and ULA is known to have dropped their prices in the recent years. Their website shows a price of $136-138m(depending on fairing length) for an Atlas V 411 launch with all the services except for marketing, so given that it's still at least sort of a government launch and the prices may have dropped since then, the prices on their website sound reasonable.

IOW, we don't know any Atlas V launch which was less than $172m for the customer.
So, I was wrong, Atlas V is not $180m, it's $170m. ;)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ethan829 on 05/08/2017 03:57 PM
IOW, we don't know any Atlas V launch which was less than $172m for the customer.
So, I was wrong, Atlas V is not $180m, it's $170m. ;)

Orbital ATK paid "closer to $100 million" for their Cygnus flights on Atlas V:

http://spacenews.com/atlas-price-cut-helps-orbital-atk-shake-off-antares-failure/ (http://spacenews.com/atlas-price-cut-helps-orbital-atk-shake-off-antares-failure/)
Quote
Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson declined to detail the reductions the company was able to secure for the launch but said ULA’s announced effort to bring Atlas 5 prices down from $150 million to something closer to $100 million was confirmed with the new contract.

Centennial, Colorado-based ULA is “serious about getting Atlas down to [those] levels. … We certainly saw some of that” in booking the March 2016 flight, Thompson said in a conference call with investors.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: DOCinCT on 05/08/2017 04:09 PM
So WRT to the thread title reusability will probably increase SX profits by lowering their costs.

Reusability should improve reliability as SX now know how close to their designed operating limits various components have been.

If they deliver full reusability including the US then they will be in a position to save a lot of money.

But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

My main interest is in lowering the mission price to the end user both on a $/lb and an overall mission price basis (Pegasus is cheaper than an F9 flight, but it's also less than 1/20 the payload).

This does not sound like it's going to move the market forward very much. The market is what it is because of the price of launch for the size of payload. If that does not change radically there is absolutely no reason why any new customers will enter the market who wouldn't have done so anyway.

I doubt a F9 expendable launch is $100M. Back when SpaceX was pricing full-capability launches, they were about 16% more than an 80% capability launch, which puts an expendable mission at about $72M. And soon, you might be able to buy an expendable mission on a used booster for a discount. If the discount is 10% for reuse then up to 8.3 tonnes to GTO-1800 could be as low as $65M (FH RTLS could also be similar).

And the sticker price of $62.2M is ONLY for missions that require a new booster, but are under 5.5 tonnes to GTO-1800. If you can live with a used booster you can get the same service for at least 10% less than $62.2M, which is $56M or about half the cost of an Ariane launch.

Most commercial customers don't assume a lot of risk for launch failures. The payload and its first year revenue are typically insured, so as long as insurance is comparable then schedule reliability is the biggest factor. With reuse and more pads this could quickly become a factor strongly in SpaceX's favor, especially since they don't have to line up two payloads for a launch like Ariane.
NASA pays more for a Commercial Cargo launch from SpaceX than your quoted figures.  Original contract was about $133M per launch; most recent contract is about the same by some estimates.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rockets4life97 on 05/08/2017 04:50 PM
NASA's commercial Cargo contracts with SpaceX include dragon.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/08/2017 05:12 PM
I doubt a F9 expendable launch is $100M. Back when SpaceX was pricing full-capability launches, they were about 16% more than an 80% capability launch, which puts an expendable mission at about $72M. And soon, you might be able to buy an expendable mission on a used booster for a discount. If the discount is 10% for reuse then up to 8.3 tonnes to GTO-1800 could be as low as $65M (FH RTLS could also be similar).

And the sticker price of $62.2M is ONLY for missions that require a new booster, but are under 5.5 tonnes to GTO-1800. If you can live with a used booster you can get the same service for at least 10% less than $62.2M, which is $56M or about half the cost of an Ariane launch.

Most commercial customers don't assume a lot of risk for launch failures. The payload and its first year revenue are typically insured, so as long as insurance is comparable then schedule reliability is the biggest factor. With reuse and more pads this could quickly become a factor strongly in SpaceX's favor, especially since they don't have to line up two payloads for a launch like Ariane.
NASA pays more for a Commercial Cargo launch from SpaceX than your quoted figures.  Original contract was about $133M per launch; most recent contract is about the same by some estimates.

The payment structure and service rendered for CRS is a lot different than commercial commsats.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/08/2017 05:54 PM
The real item for this thread is that:

The reusability effect on costs is here!

It is no longer a theoretical discussion it is now a discussion on how large and fast will this effect be on the launch/space industry.

Side discussions on current pricing of more expensive providers only shows how much potential this effect has on the industry. SpaceX has announced that initially the discount for reusability (used boosters) will start out being a modest value with in about 3 years going to significant value. I see this as initial "discount" being $10M and then in 3 years the "discount" being $20M. So Prices now of $50-55M and later prices of $40-45M for same size payloads.

But what if for FH SpaceX can reuse the US including for GTO missions. A fully reusable FH could price out to the same as a partial reusable F9 but have a larger payload capability. LEO FH 20mt to F9 16mt. GTO FH 8mt vs F9 5.5mt.

This basically shows that reusability costs trumps performance. A much larger rocket with only slightly more payload that is fully reusable costs the same or even possibly less than a partial reusable smaller rocket.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: BobHk on 05/09/2017 12:02 AM
Elon and Shotwell made it clear they were intent on making back the investment in the rockets.  I'm sure it'll be a few years before the prices drop a 'lot', need to make the money back, at least that is what they emphasized.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/09/2017 12:07 AM
Several interesting effects on costs:
1) customers with existing commercial contracts are switching over to a less-proven (even acknowledging the flight-proven sales line) vehicle for a sum of a couple tens of $Millions, so market is price-sensitive at that level,
2) real savings below the price of the market leading (existing F9) price has made both the NASA and USAF take notice and begin to scramble to find a way to qualify themselves for the discount,
3) strategic realignments are up-welling in the NSS payload planning arena which may move the procurements away from hugely expensive (and highly vulnerable) 'Big Boy' payloads, and
4) the advent of reusability reductions on top of the market leading low F9 price has improved the quality of discounts customers are getting even if they choose the statistically more reliable established launchers.
 
These movements are a nice windfall for customers, both public sector and private, but something of a cost challenge for launch providers.  If movement to take advantage of these discounts gains momentum, we'll see tightening bottom lines for launch vendors due to deep price cuts and lost launch opportunities and the continued retirement of launch vehicles with incredibly long strings of successful launches.  Delta IV-M is first, Ariane 5 or Delta Heavy will follow... other established launchers such as Proton and Atlas V will be discarded or 'evolved'.  The entire composition of the launch world could be rearranged over the next decade, despite the howls of protest* from those rooted in the status quo.

* Past, present, and future. Guaranteed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 10:00 AM
These movements are a nice windfall for customers, both public sector and private, but something of a cost challenge for launch providers.  If movement to take advantage of these discounts gains momentum, we'll see tightening bottom lines for launch vendors due to deep price cuts and lost launch opportunities and the continued retirement of launch vehicles with incredibly long strings of successful launches.  Delta IV-M is first, Ariane 5 or Delta Heavy will follow... other established launchers such as Proton and Atlas V will be discarded or 'evolved'.  The entire composition of the launch world could be rearranged over the next decade, despite the howls of protest* from those rooted in the status quo.

* Past, present, and future. Guaranteed.
But SpaceX needs an explosion in launch volume to truly justify eventually reducing launch contracts by over 60 or 70% (perhaps even more). Its not enough to save a bundle on boosters and upper stages being reused. 6000 employees (and rising) require a lot of revenue just to make payroll and other bills.
Furthermore, I believe the real massive reduction in access to Space costs will come when SpaceX has a rocket that can to for GEO what it can already to for LEO constellations (like Orbcomm and Iridium) deliver payloads by the half dozen to a dozen per launch.
Unlike LEO where launches are pretty much all to different inclinations, orbit altitudes, ... GEO is all target inclination zero, same altitude, only differs by longitude of the slot.
This upper stage must have the ability to operate for several days while keeping their payload batteries trickle charged.
This makes either brute force reduction of inclination or dropping payloads on super sync trajectories a thing of the past.
The upper stage itself would enter a slightly super sync orbit, and perform several inclination reduction and perigee rising burns, dropping their payloads perhaps on GEO-500 m/s or even better, then RTLS. Taking several orbits to accomplish that.
The sole reason I'm not mentioning GSO injection is that requires targeting one specific orbital slot, but mass delivery needs to target an orbit far enough from GEO to allow payloads to still play the timing game to get to their specific slots directly.
At the same time, payloads would be delivered to orbits close enough to GEO that chemical propulsion could be abandoned altogether, reducing average payload mass.
This produces a win-win-win scenario:
- The delivery point is far more valuable to customers on a per ton basis, customers can either give their satellites more transponders/solar panels or opt for a lighter launch mass
- SpaceX can justify much higher margins as a % of costs vs today. Hypothetically, they could deliver to GEO-500 the same per ton prices SpaceX is offering today for reuse flights to GEO-1800, just the longer station keeping fuel alone makes all the different for customers, with the much shorter transit time (vs an all electric transit time from GEO-1500 to GSO) an added bonus
- Total revenue per flight would be massive, quad manifest launches even at half the current prices could bring in US$ 150-200 million per launch total !

This brings in an interesting opportunity for NRO too. How about they invest on a cheaper, mass ish produced line of combined optics/radar/sigint birds and launch them in much denser coverage than today ?
USAF could move from a few huge GEO comm birds to a MEO combined comm/GPS mission, providing much higher global bandwidth. As long as they can drift within an orbital plane by themselves, SpaceX could deliver a whole orbits worth on a single launch. Increase the number of satellites to provide twice the number of satellites vs required, making it much harder for Russia/China to destroy their constellation with ASAT weapons

The main issue against adoption is quite simple, customers would be marrying themselves to SpaceX as their launch provider, if they design payloads optimized to SpaceX bulk delivery, using other providers might create huge disadvantages if SpaceX doesn't deliver, but the much lower costs could justify the risk.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/09/2017 11:10 AM
An actual customer recently said:
Quote
Maxim Zayakov, chief executive of BulgariaSat, said the use of a reused first stage lowers the launch price and “makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites.” [...]The satellite is a major undertaking for BulgariaSat, which has been working on the project for nearly 12 years. “Elon Musk and his SpaceX team have convinced me that people like them bring us closer to a new quality of life through providing access to cutting-edge technology,” Zayakov said in a statement. “This is a chance for Bulgaria to join the efforts to develop these new aspects of [the] space industry.”

Link: http://spacenews.com/bulgarian-satellite-to-launch-on-reused-falcon-9-in-june
Surrey Satellite Technology have been helping "small countries" put significant missions together and fly them as secondaries for decades. this sounds like a payload that's been a long time in building and had borderline funding to begin with.

I don't see one flight, that would have flown on the lowest cost launch opportunity they could get (probably F9 anyway) being statistically significant.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/09/2017 11:15 AM
But SpaceX needs an explosion in launch volume to truly justify eventually reducing launch contracts by over 60 or 70% (perhaps even more). Its not enough to save a bundle on boosters and upper stages being reused. 6000 employees (and rising) require a lot of revenue just to make payroll and other bills.
True. In fact for that kind of price reduction you need full reusability. But with massive price reduction you have a massive fall in per launch revenue, unless you have an (equally) massive rise in launch numbers. [EDIT but the conventional ELV launch model ("here's your ticket. Have your payload ready in 2 years") may not be enough for this to happen. The ability to recover payloads (so designs can be corrected and iterated) seems equally important, on a cycle of months, not years. Like booking flights for sounding rockets, or zero g simulator aircraft ]

These facts have been known for decades by LV mfgs and are a key brake on changes to the one mfg/one operator business model.  :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 11:41 AM
But SpaceX needs an explosion in launch volume to truly justify eventually reducing launch contracts by over 60 or 70% (perhaps even more). Its not enough to save a bundle on boosters and upper stages being reused. 6000 employees (and rising) require a lot of revenue just to make payroll and other bills.
True. In fact for that kind of price reduction you need full reusability. But with massive price reduction you have a massive fall in per launch revenue, unless you have an (equally) massive rise in launch numbers.

These facts have been known for decades by LV mfgs and are a key brake on changes to the one mfg/one operator business model.  :(
Actually... A properly sized 9 raptor first stage with a single raptor upper stage can also deliver hugely even if the upper stage is expendable, if each launch could be worth US$ 150-200 million like I suggested. In such a scenario, as long as the upper stage costs up to US$ 30 million, and can be mass produced efficiently, such a scenario could be far more economical than using FH to launch modest mass payloads in order to get the upper stage back. It really depends on how much performance reusing the F9/FH upper stage would take.
You need to keep in mind that if each Raptor 9 launch delivers up to a half a dozen 4-7 ton class satellites to GEO-500 m/s, each expended upper stage and reused booster is doing the job of a bunch of F9 boosters and upper stages. Booster low refurb is perhaps already within reach, but upper stage low refurb cost is still a big if. It might be cheaper to expend one Raptor 9 upper stage than refurb a FH upper stage 6x plus lets assume upper stages can only fly for a dozen times. The fully reusable F9/FH solution might not be better.
The main cost item that goes against my idea is the R&D and tooling cost to design a brand new rocket.

But if it could have a 100% common booster with mini ITS, that would change everything.

Of course, in the long run, we all want fully reusable rockets, but a full raptor rocket with double FH payload but F9 economics could be the more logical next step.
It would replace 100% of FH needs and move F9 launches that can be converted to triple or more manifest missions.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/09/2017 11:46 AM
Well, again, you can reduce prices significantly without reducing profit significantly, as long as you have a monopoly on reusability. Spacex can simply stick to charging say $45m per launch, even if it costs them just $20m. Until someone else also masters reusability. Then they just start undercutting the newcomer as required.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 11:55 AM
Well, again, you can reduce prices significantly without reducing profit significantly, as long as you have a monopoly on reusability. Spacex can simply stick to charging say $45m per launch, even if it costs them just $20m. Until someone else also masters reusability. Then they just start undercutting the newcomer as required.
Except in my idea GEO customers are getting a much, much, much better bang for their buck, and SpaceX is getting better return per payload delivered to orbit.
And the national security side would absolutely love this. GSO delivery of up to 20 ton satellites becomes... STANDARD !
And such a rocket could throw a super sized Dragon to Mars loaded the extreme...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: John Alan on 05/09/2017 02:52 PM
SpaceX has absolutely no reason to charge much less then the market will bear... from a business standpoint.

As long as the COST (all in) of a launch is less then the PRICE agreed to in the contract = PROFIT

My opinion... the "market" thinks about $10 million profit is about right per launch...

And SpaceX (rightly so) has clearly put out there...
"Hey, we spent $1 billion R&D on this and we want to recoup that over the next few years"

That statement justifies them charging well above market perceived cost for the next few years...  ;)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 03:09 PM
SpaceX has absolutely no reason to charge much less then the market will bear... from a business standpoint.

As long as the COST (all in) of a launch is less then the PRICE agreed to in the contract = PROFIT

My opinion... the "market" thinks about $10 million profit is about right per launch...

And SpaceX (rightly so) has clearly put out there...
"Hey, we spent $1 billion R&D on this and we want to recoup that over the next few years"

That statement justifies them charging well above market perceived cost for the next few years...  ;)
Except Elon Musk has a solid track record of caring more about growth than profit.
The valuations SpaceX has already achieved in successive investments (Google, Fidelity, ...) is huge.
Investors care far, far, far more about 20+% yearly sales growth than profits. Specially if growth is accompanied by cost reductions.
In essence you're thinking like ULA/Ariane, not like Elon Musk.
SpaceX certainly will seek profitability, but absolutely not "sell at the highest prices the market will bear" profitability.
Perhaps you haven't heard about the US$ 1 billion/yr losses Tesla is incurring. At the same time they're growing at over 50% per year. An excellent investment of those US$ 1 billion/yr if you ask me. This year they might have a US$ 2+billion loss, as they spend a lot of money to tool for half a million cars/yr production.
Please, lets not start a Tesla discussion here.
Like I said before, if you don't understand how EM thinks, your predictions will be wrong. Mine could be wrong too, but I'm trying hard to think like he does. In fact I think my predictions will be wrong, because I'm thinking too small, rather than too big.

Your focus on short term profits is even smaller thinking !
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: VIY on 05/09/2017 03:13 PM
An actual customer recently said:
Quote
Maxim Zayakov, chief executive of BulgariaSat, said the use of a reused first stage lowers the launch price and “makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites.” [...]The satellite is a major undertaking for BulgariaSat, which has been working on the project for nearly 12 years. “Elon Musk and his SpaceX team have convinced me that people like them bring us closer to a new quality of life through providing access to cutting-edge technology,” Zayakov said in a statement. “This is a chance for Bulgaria to join the efforts to develop these new aspects of [the] space industry.”

Link: http://spacenews.com/bulgarian-satellite-to-launch-on-reused-falcon-9-in-june
Surrey Satellite Technology have been helping "small countries" put significant missions together and fly them as secondaries for decades. this sounds like a payload that's been a long time in building and had borderline funding to begin with.

I don't see one flight, that would have flown on the lowest cost launch opportunity they could get (probably F9 anyway) being statistically significant.

True, but the expected market elasticity will be to a large extend due to those kind of "borderline funded" customers. So they will not be statistically insignificant.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/09/2017 03:14 PM
SpaceX has absolutely no reason to charge much less then the market will bear... from a business standpoint....

Except Elon Musk has a solid track record of caring more about growth than profit.

Right now, Elon can't get more market share by lowering prices - his manifest is already full for the next few years. In this situation, lowering costs even more would be ridiculous.
Elon needs to launch faster (of course, he knows that), and _then_, when he has free slots in the manifest, he can lower prices to attract more customers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 03:23 PM
Right now, Elon can't get more market share by lowering prices - his manifest is already full for the next few years. In this situation, lowering costs even more would be ridiculous.
Elon needs to launch faster (of course, he knows that), and _then_, when he has free slots in the manifest, he can lower prices to attract more customers.
Full manifest vs what launch capacity ?
Are you saying LC40 isn't coming up this year ?
Are you saying more customers aren't going to sign up for re used boosters (dramatically reducing Hawthorne and McGregor bottlenecks) ?
Or are you pretending orders are signed for launch next month ?
SpaceX is aiming for a launch per week perhaps still this year once LC40 is up.
And don't forget Boca Chica.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/09/2017 03:39 PM
Right now, Elon can't get more market share by lowering prices - his manifest is already full for the next few years. In this situation, lowering costs even more would be ridiculous.
Elon needs to launch faster (of course, he knows that), and _then_, when he has free slots in the manifest, he can lower prices to attract more customers.
Full manifest vs what launch capacity ?
Are you saying LC40 isn't coming up this year ?
Are you saying more customers aren't going to sign up for re used boosters (dramatically reducing Hawthorne and McGregor bottlenecks)?

More customers can't sign up for a launch in 2017 or 2018 - SpaceX is fully booked. The best you can get is a launch somewhere in 2019. It's as simple as that.

Quote
SpaceX is aiming for a launch per week perhaps still this year once LC40 is up.
And don't forget Boca Chica.

"Aiming", yes. That's the word. It's quite different from actually managing to do it.
I very much want SpaceX to launch once a week, or even more often.
But it will take time to be a reality. I estimate no less than one year. So far they are launching four times slower, about once per month.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/09/2017 03:42 PM
The constraint to the development of Spacex's next generation of vehicles is not volume related. It is cash related. If Musk had Bezos's financial resources he would have a full team working on ITS already. Instead he has to pace his progress against the need to have the company not go bankrupt.

SpaceX needs quick cash more than it needs to grow its manifest right now. Extra billions earned in the short term will speed up a lot of development.

Musk is not following the loss making Tesla route with SpaceX, because too much is at stake.  The Tesla approach is a gamble that may well implode. The SpaceX approach is a far more incremental one, based on step by step progress while maintaining healthy cash reserves.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/09/2017 04:20 PM
An actual customer recently said:
Quote
Maxim Zayakov, chief executive of BulgariaSat, said the use of a reused first stage lowers the launch price and “makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites.” [...]The satellite is a major undertaking for BulgariaSat, which has been working on the project for nearly 12 years. “Elon Musk and his SpaceX team have convinced me that people like them bring us closer to a new quality of life through providing access to cutting-edge technology,” Zayakov said in a statement. “This is a chance for Bulgaria to join the efforts to develop these new aspects of [the] space industry.”

Link: http://spacenews.com/bulgarian-satellite-to-launch-on-reused-falcon-9-in-june
Surrey Satellite Technology have been helping "small countries" put significant missions together and fly them as secondaries for decades. this sounds like a payload that's been a long time in building and had borderline funding to begin with.

I don't see one flight, that would have flown on the lowest cost launch opportunity they could get (probably F9 anyway) being statistically significant.

It may not be statistically significant in many ways, but one way it is significant is in that it shows there are customers out there who are waiting for cheap launch, because current prices are too high for them. That is a relatively untapped/unserviced market. How many? Who knows, but I expect you could find a lot of scientists out there with ideas for craft that are desparately waiting for prices to drop to they can build and launch.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/09/2017 04:22 PM
Except Elon Musk has a solid track record of caring more about growth than profit.

If he had unlimited funds he could do this, but he doesn't. he needs to strike a happy balance between growth and profit to ensure the companies survival, but also to ensure he stays in charge (i.e. he cannot risk a float to gain funding)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/09/2017 05:36 PM
Right now, Elon can't get more market share by lowering prices - his manifest is already full for the next few years. In this situation, lowering costs even more would be ridiculous.
Elon needs to launch faster (of course, he knows that), and _then_, when he has free slots in the manifest, he can lower prices to attract more customers.
Full manifest vs what launch capacity ?
Are you saying LC40 isn't coming up this year ?
Are you saying more customers aren't going to sign up for re used boosters (dramatically reducing Hawthorne and McGregor bottlenecks)?

More customers can't sign up for a launch in 2017 or 2018 - SpaceX is fully booked. The best you can get is a launch somewhere in 2019. It's as simple as that.

...

If you are buying a comm sat today, is there a vendor on the planet that can deliver it before 2019 (19 months)?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/09/2017 09:03 PM
True, but the expected market elasticity will be to a large extend due to those kind of "borderline funded" customers. So they will not be statistically insignificant.
The difference between $55m and $62m is simply not big enough to get a lot of new developers thinking "Yes now I can close a business case for this."

AFAIK this project would have happened anyway, it's brought their timetable forward a bit.

For serious market growth you have to get to a price point where people who've had ideas sitting in the bottom of desk drawers for decades (because you can't sell the product they make no matter how good it it at a price that can make a profit and cover all the launch, and re-launch costs) start pulling them out and talking to VC's.

I'm sure SX can recover their development budget. The question becomes what happens to their prices then?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/09/2017 09:19 PM
It may not be statistically significant in many ways, but one way it is significant is in that it shows there are customers out there who are waiting for cheap launch, because current prices are too high for them.
Current prices are probably too high for 90% of the people who would like to launch a payload into space (including humans).
Quote from: JamesH65
That is a relatively untapped/unserviced market. How many? Who knows, but I expect you could find a lot of scientists out there with ideas for craft that are desparately waiting for prices to drop to they can build and launch.
Historically the funding for the satellite or probe is separate from the that of the LV. The theory behind large probes is economies of scale but personally I think there's a lot to be said for building probes around secondary payload adaptors, with one or two instruments going than a dozen that have taken a decade to get ready.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/09/2017 09:56 PM
If you are buying a comm sat today, is there a vendor on the planet that can deliver it before 2019 (19 months)?
True in general, but a customer might have a satellite that was ordered already and finds out they can save money and launch sooner if they switch to SpaceX.
Perhaps the satellite production schedule didn't match the other launch provider schedule.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/10/2017 12:18 AM
True, but the expected market elasticity will be to a large extend due to those kind of "borderline funded" customers. So they will not be statistically insignificant.
The difference between $55m and $62m is simply not big enough to get a lot of new developers thinking "Yes now I can close a business case for this."

AFAIK this project would have happened anyway, it's brought their timetable forward a bit.

For serious market growth you have to get to a price point where people who've had ideas sitting in the bottom of desk drawers for decades (because you can't sell the product they make no matter how good it it at a price that can make a profit and cover all the launch, and re-launch costs) start pulling them out and talking to VC's.

I'm sure SX can recover their development budget. The question becomes what happens to their prices then?

This project certainly did happen without reuse being a factor... it started 11 years ago.  But it does sound like the SpaceX pricing was a factor in the decision to do this first comm sat. 

$55M vs $62M isn't the issue -- it is $62M (instead of $100-150M) is here to stay and maybe get much better.  Planning for edge-case customers involves how far can one stretch, and the worst that can happen is cost escalation after decisions start to be made.  If the long term price ceiling is now $60M, then many more edge-case customers can afford to investigate and eventually buy their first (or second, third, ...) launch.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/10/2017 05:34 AM
There is also Ariane 6, Vulcan and the yet unknown New Glenn pricing. Highly likely at least one of those will succeed (hopefully all three) so that means launch pricing more generally is decreasing. Should again increase confidence for planning future missions/assessing business cases.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/10/2017 07:31 AM
This project certainly did happen without reuse being a factor... it started 11 years ago.  But it does sound like the SpaceX pricing was a factor in the decision to do this first comm sat. 
IOW it's a slight move of the launch timetable to the right, not something that would have never happened if SX was not flying. So not an addition to the launch market.
Quote from: AncientU
$55M vs $62M isn't the issue -- it is $62M (instead of $100-150M) is here to stay and maybe get much better.  Planning for edge-case customers involves how far can one stretch, and the worst that can happen is cost escalation after decisions start to be made. 
Given the large proportion of government payloads (any government) launch price inflation has not historically been that big a concern for a substantial portion of the market in any significant practical way.  :(
Quote from: AncientU
If the long term price ceiling is now $60M, then many more edge-case customers can afford to investigate and eventually buy their first (or second, third, ...) launch.
I'd like to hear from people who've actually had to do it how much easier raising $60m+ is than raising $100m+. I note that is for payloads below 5.5mT to GTO.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/10/2017 08:08 AM
Given the large proportion of government payloads (any government) launch price inflation has not historically been that big a concern for a substantial portion of the market in any significant practical way.  :(

But isn't that just a consequence that launch prices meant that few business cases, beyond comms sats, national security and govt funded research, could close?

Of course we don't yet know if ~$60M per launch will make much difference to market size, but at least it looks like there's likely to be a sustained trend of reduced pricing.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: corneliussulla on 05/10/2017 08:32 AM
Except Elon Musk has a solid track record of caring more about growth than profit.

If he had unlimited funds he could do this, but he doesn't. he needs to strike a happy balance between growth and profit to ensure the companies survival, but also to ensure he stays in charge (i.e. he cannot risk a float to gain funding)

All he needs is free cashflow. Profit is accounting event which can be adjusted by assumptions around all sorts of things. If the company was quoted on the stock market it would be more important from an investor point of view as it helps define the value of the stock. But any company can survive if it produces free cash each year, profitably or unprofitably
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: mme on 05/10/2017 01:49 PM
Except Elon Musk has a solid track record of caring more about growth than profit.

If he had unlimited funds he could do this, but he doesn't. he needs to strike a happy balance between growth and profit to ensure the companies survival, but also to ensure he stays in charge (i.e. he cannot risk a float to gain funding)

All he needs is free cashflow. Profit is accounting event which can be adjusted by assumptions around all sorts of things. If the company was quoted on the stock market it would be more important from an investor point of view as it helps define the value of the stock. But any company can survive if it produces free cash each year, profitably or unprofitably
They need positive (or at least neutral) cashflow.  They have a large engineering team and ambitions far beyond survival.  I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/10/2017 03:53 PM
  I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
Historically LV suppliers have basically said "this is what it costs, pay us."

Musk has pushed prices lower. The question is will he continue to do so once the development costs of partial reuse are recovered?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: speedevil on 05/10/2017 06:46 PM
Musk has pushed prices lower. The question is will he continue to do so once the development costs of partial reuse are recovered?

I don't think this has a meaning.
Development costs were somewhat higher due to reuse. There is no notional lender who lent them this money.
They are not going to transfer into a 'normal' space company.

There will always be a new project to take the money, that you might consider as now going into 'paying back the development cost', whether it's Red Dragon, FH, Dragon 2-moon, Raptor, bbootstrapping CommX, ITS, mars-ISRU, mars-boring, ...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/11/2017 03:49 PM
Musk has pushed prices lower. The question is will he continue to do so once the development costs of partial reuse are recovered?

I don't think this has a meaning.
Development costs were somewhat higher due to reuse. There is no notional lender who lent them this money.
They are not going to transfer into a 'normal' space company.

There will always be a new project to take the money, that you might consider as now going into 'paying back the development cost', whether it's Red Dragon, FH, Dragon 2-moon, Raptor, bbootstrapping CommX, ITS, mars-ISRU, mars-boring, ...
Yes there are a lot of projects all needing cash.

The estimate of the cash produced through reuse of at 70% reuse flight rate and a 25 flights per year is $.5B cash above costs. For just the years of 2018 through 2020 this will produce $1.5B in funds for these projects. At SpaceX usual more development for less money that kind of funds without any government looking over your shoulder on these projects results in a lot of work completed. If SpaceX had to coordinate all of these projects with the government that adds a 25% overhead due to the time it takes writing reports, going to meetings, presentations, briefing government technical evaluation staff, etc.

I think they still may have almost $.5B saved from that $1B investment still. So for this year there is up to $.5B available making the total of funds through EOY 2020 at $2B.  If they spend the $.5B in manufacturing sats an launchof  7 FH with 50 CommX sats per launch each year starting in 2019 then by sometime 2021 there will be an initially operating constellation. At that point the constellation revenues pay for additional sats deployment and no longer would be using the R&D pool.

But SpaceX's own goals for it's constellation is a driving force for reducing cost of launch, higher flight rate, faster turn around of assets (pads, boosters, and farings), and higher reuse numbers (increasing the reuse of the flight assets reuse beyond 10).

Reuse is an enabler for SpaceX itself to achieve its own goals. It needs the above reduced cost, high flight rate, quick turn around, and high reuse all of which is achieved through reuse such that a possible slow but steady new cost model that reduces flight costs as flight rates increase and systems mature even more.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/11/2017 05:26 PM
  I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
Historically LV suppliers have basically said "this is what it costs, pay us."

Musk has pushed prices lower. The question is will he continue to do so once the development costs of partial reuse are recovered?
They haven't borrowed money to do reuse.
They don't have a running account that they need to put back on.
Their concern is far more in the lines of replenishing every cent of cash they burned after AMOS-6 until they returned to flight. And put aside the mountain of cash they'll need to manufacture the first batch of CommX satellites, the first large Raptor rockets and the large list of upcoming plans SpaceX has.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/11/2017 07:45 PM
  I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
Historically LV suppliers have basically said "this is what it costs, pay us."

Musk has pushed prices lower. The question is will he continue to do so once the development costs of partial reuse are recovered?
They haven't borrowed money to do reuse.
They don't have a running account that they need to put back on.
Their concern is far more in the lines of replenishing every cent of cash they burned after AMOS-6 until they returned to flight. And put aside the mountain of cash they'll need to manufacture the first batch of CommX satellites, the first large Raptor rockets and the large list of upcoming plans SpaceX has.

I agree that the latter two items (CommX and 'Raptor rockets') being developed simultaneously are the financial challenge, not paying back the $1B invested in reuse.  Once CommX starts returning revenue -- maybe 2021-2022 -- they should get financially healthy quickly... then on to Mars.  Someone dropping another $Billion investment in their laps in the next year or two should help improve cash flow.  I think GS doesn't want to be dependent* on outside investment or loans.  Smart Lady!

* That said, there will probably be investors camped on their doorstep when the constellation deployment becomes imminent.

Also, pushing prices lower should be a piece of cake when they have an internal 'block buy' of hundreds of launches, and customers' marginal cost becomes insignificant.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/11/2017 09:19 PM
They haven't borrowed money to do reuse.
They don't have a running account that they need to put back on.
Their concern is far more in the lines of replenishing every cent of cash they burned after AMOS-6 until they returned to flight. And put aside the mountain of cash they'll need to manufacture the first batch of CommX satellites, the first large Raptor rockets and the large list of upcoming plans SpaceX has.
That's not really an argument for SX to continue to lower their prices (prices to customers, not costs to themselves) though, is it? :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Joffan on 05/12/2017 09:12 PM
I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
I was thinking about this; if Musk pushes prices too low (too quickly), could it actually deter others from entering the market?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/12/2017 09:22 PM
I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
I was thinking about this; if Musk pushes prices too low (too quickly), could it actually deter others from entering the market?
Markets are interesting creatures. If someone can do it cheaper then others will push to undercut fighting for market share.

So going cheaper is actually good for the market.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/12/2017 09:25 PM
I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
I was thinking about this; if Musk pushes prices too low (too quickly), could it actually deter others from entering the market?
I am neither arguing for just a 5/10% discount neither passing through their entire savings. Probably 1/3 of the savings at first, eventually half.
When second stage reuse is working, assuming SpaceX full costs drop by 80%, give customers up to a 50% discount.
Larger discounts depend on either moving to multi manifest on larger vehicles or large launch contracts.

There's a flaw in those that think that SpaceX must first give customer huge discounts, hoping volumes will go up. NO. Give customers enough discount to prove SpaceX has lower costs, and set a progression of discounts based on volume, with the really juicy discounts only available at something like several times the size of the Orbcomm or Iridium contract.
Then wait for customers to bite the bullet.
The whole launch volume up mostly depends on the known bottleneck of the satellite production industry. If they can't increase their volume at least 5x by streamlining their production lines and reducing costs substantially, then SpaceX might find itself with only CommX and perhaps space tourism as high volume customers.

SpaceX lower prices are likely already in the Blue Origin business plan. SpaceX will never be the sole provider. There are national interests.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: wannamoonbase on 05/12/2017 09:51 PM
I hope once CommX comes on line they will reduce prices more as a continued forcing functioning for the rest of the industry.
I was thinking about this; if Musk pushes prices too low (too quickly), could it actually deter others from entering the market?
Markets are interesting creatures. If someone can do it cheaper then others will push to undercut fighting for market share.

So going cheaper is actually good for the market.

As long as they aren't leaving money on the table.  Even if they can be very cheap, it'd be a shame to go any lower than needed to sweep the market place.

In order to dominate the commercial market, flight rate, allowing customers to get into the queue when desired, maybe equally important as cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Dao Angkan on 05/12/2017 10:20 PM
Operators are already putting pressure on satellite manufacturers and launch operators to reduce costs so that they can make the same % from lower priced emerging market transponders. SES said in their earnings call that whilst overall income from emerging markets might be less, they expect the percentage to be the same as they are pressuring launch providers and satellite providers to cut costs .... which leads to why SES was the first to try out a reusable launcher .... they need cheap as possible launches for emerging markets.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/12/2017 10:23 PM
With reusability SpaceX could create a supply of up to 60 East launches (48 from LC-40/LC-39A and 12 more from BC). Price is a compromise between actual costs/supply and demand in a free market. Unfortunately the market is far from being a free market.

Currently globally there is a total of 80 to 100 launches to orbit of everything per year. SpaceX providing such a supply would make it such that schedule would no longer be a concern since demand would be a long way behind the supply. Making the Prices for the launch the deciding factor for just about any customer commercial  or government, even foreign governments. The following could be a consideration for foreign governments: If the "In-House" provider can't launch when desired they will  contract out to SpaceX.

SpaceX launch rate of 25 possible just this year represents 25% of the global launches. SpaceX's market share of the global launch could reach 50% by 2020 with even the total global launches increasing to 150/yr.

Prices are going down and will likely continue to decrease year over year. As SpaceX develops additional tech increaseing performance/decreasing costs this yearly decrease is not likely to halt. If each year has a 10% reduction then if there is no big step function this model would have a 20mt payload to orbit price of $15M by 2030. But SpaceX is planning a big step function in the mid 2020s. So in mid 2020s the Price for 20mt would be with this 10% yearly reduction model of $27M.

If something similar happens to CC then by 2025 the price could be $60M for 6 passengers.

Reusability is in the drivers seat. It is now a question of how heavy of a foot SpaceX will have on Pricing.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Dao Angkan on 05/12/2017 10:30 PM
Arianespace had the whole market .... instead of innovating for cheaper prices for their customers, they relied on government subsidies in order to push out competitors .... will anyone apart from the French really miss Arianespace?

And as an ESA taxpayer, why should we pay ludicrous prices for Arianespace launches just because they're in France?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/12/2017 10:36 PM
A BTW looking at 2016 launch statistics by country if SpaceX for 2017 is considered it's own country it would be the #1 launcher compared to any country.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/12/2017 11:34 PM
A BTW looking at 2016 launch statistics by country if SpaceX for 2017 is considered it's own country it would be the #1 launcher compared to any country.

For all intents and purposes of the market - it is its own country. Any surprise it wants ... its own dedicated launch facility?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/13/2017 12:41 AM
This year if SpaceX actually does 25 could be the highest number of launches in 1 year for quite some time. Since 2000 the highest has been 92. This year the number could be as high as 100 with the US double what it did last year with ~40 vs it's 22 for 2016. 22 tied US with China last year with 22 each for first place.

In 1990 there was 114 launches but the rate was on a steady decline after that until 2004 at only 50 launches before starting to increase again in rate. The highest amount ever was was in 1968 of 120 successes out of 135 attempts.

Although I don't like wiki this graph is instructional. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_spaceflight (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_spaceflight)

Using data and doing some curve fitting to an exponential model by 2025 the launches could be 150. But the real instructional item is that launch rate is going up significantly and has been for the last 13 years. All the industry information says it is about to explode. So an estimate of 150 in 8 years is actual conservative if the proposed constellations get deployed.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Mader Levap on 05/13/2017 10:04 AM
This year if SpaceX actually does 25
SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why in every year SpaceX fanboys insist on ridiculous numbers that never happen?

in my opinion, SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why do some people continue making projections that I feel are difficult or impossible to achieve even after previous year projections don't come to pass?

Edit/Lar: Soften. Try it yourself.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/13/2017 10:41 AM
Currently globally there is a total of 80 to 100 launches to orbit of everything per year. SpaceX providing such a supply would make it such that schedule would no longer be a concern since demand would be a long way behind the supply.
But the odds of that actually happening are pretty long.  :(
Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
Making the Prices for the launch the deciding factor for just about any customer commercial  or government, even foreign governments. The following could be a consideration for foreign governments: If the "In-House" provider can't launch when desired they will  contract out to SpaceX.
There is also the issue that some payloads remain too big to launch on F9 and FH is a long way from first launch.
Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
SpaceX launch rate of 25 possible just this year represents 25% of the global launches. SpaceX's market share of the global launch could reach 50% by 2020 with even the total global launches increasing to 150/yr.
It's mid May already and SX have done 5 launches. SX may have a manifest of 25 but I wonder how often they've launched as many as they have manifested?
Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
Prices are going down and will likely continue to decrease year over year. As SpaceX develops additional tech increaseing performance/decreasing costs this yearly decrease is not likely to halt. If each year has a 10% reduction then if there is no big step function this model would have a 20mt payload to orbit price of $15M by 2030. But SpaceX is planning a big step function in the mid 2020s. So in mid 2020s the Price for 20mt would be with this 10% yearly reduction model of $27M.
I think we all hope so but while SX has a monopoly on even partial reusability those prices will only fall as far as they want them to.

In the long run monopoly in any market is only really good for the monopolist.  :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/13/2017 11:31 AM
This year if SpaceX actually does 25
SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why in every year SpaceX fanboys insist on ridiculous numbers that never happen?
Actually that's another 25 for the remainder of the year.

So far they've launched 5 so they can do a 1 a month cadence. In fact Echostar 23 and SES 10 were launched from SLC 39 on the 16th and 30th of March, so they can refurb a pad in 2 weeks. That is now a known fact.

8 of those launches are from VAFB, the rest from KSC. At a bit better than 1 launch a month VAFB can meet it's quota.

The remaining 17 are a bit more doubtful.
SLC 40 is not expected to be back on till November. Between now and then SLC39 has to do 11 launches. That is about a launch every 2 weeks from SLC39, which has been demonstrated to be possible.  The remaining 6 are possible assuming SLC 40 comes back on line in time and can match the 2 week cadence.

As usual with SX it is just about possible if everything runs like clockwork. The big issues are
1)There are no launch mishaps. FH is probably the highest risk item in this regard because of both the pad changes (before and after) and its newness. But AMOS 6 showed even apparently minor changes can have serious consequences.
2)All payloads are ready to launch when their LVs are. Not always the case.
3)SX maintains 2 week cadence on SLC39. They've done it once but keeping it up over the long haul?
4)SX manages 3 week or better cadence on VAFB. Seems feasible given KSC can do 2 week launches.
5)SLC 40 comes back into use by the start of November. Does anyone know how work is going?

IMHO 1 or 3 are the most serious because they have the greatest potential for knock on effects.  Stage reuse should reduce the risk of 1 but I don't know if anyone has worked a pad and its crew that hard before.

IIRC someone (Ed Kyle?) said NASA was able to keep up a high flight rate in the 60's because they had a huge number of pads (7? 14?) they could use more or less simultaneously.

In principle 2 can be coped with by re-scheduling till later but that implies either
a)One of the later payloads can step into the open slot or
b)SX operates some kind of "standby" arrangement that lets customers fly sooner if a gap opens up that aren't even formally listed yet (do LV companies even do this?)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lars-J on 05/13/2017 02:33 PM
This year if SpaceX actually does 25
SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why in every year SpaceX fanboys insist on ridiculous numbers that never happen?

Care to specify your less ridiculous prediction? For academic purposes...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/13/2017 03:09 PM
This isn't a launch projection count thread. We have one of those elsewhere.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/13/2017 03:50 PM
.....
In principle 2 can be coped with by re-scheduling till later but that implies either
a)One of the later payloads can step into the open slot or
b)SX operates some kind of "standby" arrangement that lets customers fly sooner if a gap opens up that aren't even formally listed yet (do LV companies even do this?)

This brings up an interesting effect on costs(Prices) or the costs for a customer in that he has traditional had to pay up front from 18 months to 3 years in advance for the flight. This costs money in funds used not making revenue or haveing to pay interest on loans etc for the customer.

As far as has it happened that a new customer has contracted and stepped in the shoes for available booster the answer is yes. But interestingly it was ULA that did this. One of ULA's goals is a contract and go scenario for customers. Instead of 3 years the timeline would be 3 months. Boosters are manufactured without a contract and are sold like any other retail item taken off the shelf and transferred to the customer. The incidents that I am referring to is between ULA and Orbital ATK Cygnus flights which were contracted and flown in one year or less. This was only possible because boosters had been partially completed that payloads (Gov) that had slipped significantly out in schedule freeing up these boosters to be reassigned allowing a latter started booster to be assigned to these late payloads.

Now the effect that reusability could have in this. The major costs for a launch are the booster and those funds spent during the last few months for payload and LV processing at the site plus the payload analysis/flight profile. All SpaceX has to do is to self fund the manufacture of the Upper Stages which is less that $15M for the sell of reflights of boosters to customers such that 3 months occurs between contract and flight.

What is going on is a complete change in the way LV construction is funded and purchased. For customers they  wait until their sat is almost finished they select and purchase a ride and 3 months later fly. It could save them millions in the "cost of money". For those not familiar with what the term "cost of money" means it is associated with funds from loans or investment that sits idle without any revenue because of the long time between expenditure and revenue generating operation. The longer the period the higher the associated additional costs in interest or expectations of returns on investment (ROI) from the investor. The difference between even 18 months and 3 months is significant, as much as 10% of the cost of the purchased LV flight.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/13/2017 04:35 PM
IIRC someone (Ed Kyle?) said NASA was able to keep up a high flight rate in the 60's because they had a huge number of pads (7? 14?) they could use more or less simultaneously.
Take Atlas for an example.  In 1966, the U.S. Air Force and NASA launched 47 Atlas missiles or space launch vehicles.  33 were orbital launches.  These were performed from 12 launch pads - 5 pads at the Cape and 7 at VAFB.  All of the Cape pads, and 2 of the West Coast pads, were dedicated to orbital launches.  VAFB SLC 4E (previously Pt. Arguello LC 2-4) was the busiest, handling nine launches, mostly Gambit film return missions (pads tended to be assigned to specific programs back then).

Although quick turnarounds are impressive, what really matters is sustainable launch pace over the long run.  A pad may be able to turn around quickly for one or two launches, but it will periodically have to be taken out of service for a few weeks for more substantial maintenance.  Payload issues and bad weather (hurricane season looms) can affect schedules.  Then there is the Falcon Heavy launch.  LC 39A will screech to a dead stop for weeks while that campaign runs its course.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/13/2017 05:23 PM
Please at least tie it into costs. Is it your premise that additional launch cadence requires more pads?

Well SpaceX believes so with a soon to exist 2 and then in a couple of years ~2018 probably late 2018 or even 2019 BC operations making it 3 East facing launch sites. Even at a sedate 1 a month which even the current history of 5 soon to be 6 launches in 5 months states that they can sustain at least 1 a month for a pad. Such that with 3 pads that equates to 36 a year to low <60 degree inclinations. With 1 pad to high inclinations >60 degrees for a value of 48 launch capability per year.

What my premise was about was the supply that this represents vs the demand. That a launch of 25 this year represents a 1/4 of all launches globally and that demand is likely to lag significantly behind SpaceX's capability. What this means is that reusability impact on supply and demand equation for the market will make the prices fall in the market because of an over abundance of supply. SpaceX will have much more supply capability than demand, increases the likelyhood of the ULA goal of launch on demand.  Where boosters are sitting in a warehouse waiting for use. The booster manufacturer manages the booster build rate based on his projection of the demand not the practically custom build on contract model that is currently in use. A shortened contract to fly periiod will also force more pressure on sat builders to follow suit. To having sat busses manufactured ahead of contracts existing where a contract adds the customer specific parts over a shorter period.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 05/13/2017 05:31 PM
So what you're argument seems to suggest is that the booster business (if separable) is "commoditizing" (to the degree anything in aerospace could become "off the shelf") as an economic trend.

And that the US/payload/"anything above booster separation" ... still retains its traditional nature, and that this "high ground" is where the competition moves to. Whoever moves fast in serving the need, controls where the market heads.

Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/13/2017 06:00 PM
So what you're argument seems to suggest is that the booster business (if separable) is "commoditizing" (to the degree anything in aerospace could become "off the shelf") as an economic trend.

And that the US/payload/"anything above booster separation" ... still retains its traditional nature, and that this "high ground" is where the competition moves to. Whoever moves fast in serving the need, controls where the market heads.

Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?

Two possible business offshoots:
1) upper stages go through a similar part-reusable cycle, so equivalent pressure is planed above the sep line, and
2) boosters become commoditized and payload integrators/second stage builders market payloads and build/buy second stages (plus boosters) to optimize launch for clients.  Centaur (or Centaur/ACES-like) uppers could fly on NG reusable boosters, for instance.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/13/2017 06:24 PM
Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?

When thinking about reusability driving the cost (ie: expense) of launch lower and rapid reuse driving it down drastically, the question that arises in my mind is how creative SpaceX can get with the cost (ie: price) of launch to customers based on the nature of the payload rather than simply its mass.

Can you set a price for customers with revenue producing payloads differently from a price for payloads that would otherwise never be able to justify launch at the price that maximizes SpaceX benefit (encompassing all its goals) from the revenue-producing-payloads market?  I tend to think you can but I'm just a layman and not sure how the industry would react.

I guess what I'm driving at is this:

Were SpaceX to achieve the vision of reliable, rapid reuse as they have envisioned with the corresponding reduction in launch expense, it seems to me that it's (in theory) possible (from an economic perspective) to bring some payloads into the market that would drive an enormous number of launches such that SpaceX could launch as often as their facilities and turnaround cadence permits.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/13/2017 06:41 PM
Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?
>
Were SpaceX to achieve the vision of reliable, rapid reuse as they have envisioned with the corresponding reduction in launch expense, it seems to me that it's (in theory) possible (from an economic perspective) to bring some payloads into the market that would drive an enormous number of launches such that SpaceX could launch as often as their facilities and turnaround cadence permits.

That'll happen just launching their internet constellations, unless they go the route of tasking a mini-ITS variant to deploy them by the hundreds.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/13/2017 07:01 PM
That'll happen just launching their internet constellations, unless they go the route of tasking a mini-ITS variant to deploy them by the hundreds.

The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MP99 on 05/14/2017 07:33 AM


What this means is that reusability impact on supply and demand equation for the market will make the prices fall in the market because of an over abundance of supply. SpaceX will have much more supply capability than demand, increases the likelyhood of the ULA goal of launch on demand.  Where boosters are sitting in a warehouse waiting for use. The booster manufacturer manages the booster build rate based on his projection of the demand not the practically custom build on contract model that is currently in use. A shortened contract to fly periiod will also force more pressure on sat builders to follow suit. To having sat busses manufactured ahead of contracts existing where a contract adds the customer specific parts over a shorter period.

If the launch provider is amortising the build cost of a booster across multiple launches, they then need that demand to show up, otherwise they are left shouldering the bill for it.

Basically, this moves the risk and cost of money onto the launch provider.

That may be OK for a provider with an up to date product in a mature expanded market with a lot of demand. May be tricky in the transition period. If this is happening, SpaceX are managing the transition by keeping prices high for now.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/14/2017 08:35 PM

Now the effect that reusability could have in this. The major costs for a launch are the booster and those funds spent during the last few months for payload and LV processing at the site plus the payload analysis/flight profile. All SpaceX has to do is to self fund the manufacture of the Upper Stages which is less that $15M for the sell of reflights of boosters to customers such that 3 months occurs between contract and flight.

What is going on is a complete change in the way LV construction is funded and purchased. For customers they  wait until their sat is almost finished they select and purchase a ride and 3 months later fly. It could save them millions in the "cost of money". For those not familiar with what the term "cost of money" means it is associated with funds from loans or investment that sits idle without any revenue because of the long time between expenditure and revenue generating operation. The longer the period the higher the associated additional costs in interest or expectations of returns on investment (ROI) from the investor. The difference between even 18 months and 3 months is significant, as much as 10% of the cost of the purchased LV flight.
I know it as the "time value of money" but yes the reduction in time scale from 1 1/2 years to maybe a 1/4 of a year, and the interest payments on that money should indeed be significant, even given the fairly low interest rate period we are in at present.
Take Atlas for an example.  In 1966, the U.S. Air Force and NASA launched 47 Atlas missiles or space launch vehicles.  33 were orbital launches.  These were performed from 12 launch pads - 5 pads at the Cape and 7 at VAFB.  All of the Cape pads, and 2 of the West Coast pads, were dedicated to orbital launches.  VAFB SLC 4E (previously Pt. Arguello LC 2-4) was the busiest, handling nine launches, mostly Gambit film return missions (pads tended to be assigned to specific programs back then).
Oh dear, my memory for details.  :(

But OMG 12 pads. 47 Atlas launches a year. The 1960's were just a different world. I think today 14 Atlas launches a year off 2 pads would be viewed as quite hectic.

Quote from: edkyle99
Although quick turnarounds are impressive, what really matters is sustainable launch pace over the long run.  A pad may be able to turn around quickly for one or two launches, but it will periodically have to be taken out of service for a few weeks for more substantial maintenance.  Payload issues and bad weather (hurricane season looms) can affect schedules.  Then there is the Falcon Heavy launch.  LC 39A will screech to a dead stop for weeks while that campaign runs its course.
That's the question. Can SX keep up the pace of 1 launch every 2 weeks off the same pad over a 7 month period? I've no feel for how exhausting the process is.

IDK. Maybe in 2018 we'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about and why no one thought to run with fewer pads decades ago.  :(
The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
There is nothing simple about the economics of space launch, let alone transitioning a business built on a fully expendable design to a semi reusable one.  :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: deruch on 05/14/2017 09:23 PM
If this is happening, SpaceX are managing the transition by keeping prices high for now.
And working on creating their own internal demand that will take up any slack-- the satellite constellation.  I have from the beginning seen that project as a hedge against any shortfall in future launch demand by the rest of the market.  Of course, it has the added benefit of being possibly a larger revenue source than their primary business (assuming it all works out as they hope).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/14/2017 10:01 PM
The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
There is nothing simple about the economics of space launch, let alone transitioning a business built on a fully expendable design to a semi reusable one.  :(
It's simple when the conjecture is premised on the ITS Architecture and Economics having been proved out.   :o ;D
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/14/2017 10:24 PM
The first generation "CommX" constellation sats will be deployed by the F9/FH. That is if it is ever deployed in the current scheduled timeframe of initial operation 2020/21 of 800 sats. ITS use for sat deployment would not be a factor till mid 2020's if its development is on track. In time for the deployment of the next generation design sats possibly as much as 10X larger and 20X more capably for 1/4th the cost/sat as the first gen sats. This enables a $/bit price decrease of factor of 40 while doubling the yearly profit from the constellation. Suddenly SpaceX could be the primary backbone of most of the global internet traffic.

Now all of this is conjecture on where reusability is sending the cost of access to space and what SpaceX is planning to use it for and to make "gobs" of money to fund other activities that may never see a profit: Mars colonization.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/15/2017 02:53 AM
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40)

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year. But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.

This would drive the use of reusable spacecraft to lower costs: Dragon2, DreamChaser, ...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/15/2017 07:31 AM
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40)

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year.
Perhaps, but these are a dozen launches that would not take place otherwise. IOW New Business.

If we want to see $/lb to orbit go down this is the market that has to expand to a point where SX can see a revenue rise despite a price drop.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy

 But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.
Won't that all be on NASA contracts, which are well above basic prices to LEO?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/15/2017 03:31 PM
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40)

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year.
Perhaps, but these are a dozen launches that would not take place otherwise. IOW New Business.

If we want to see $/lb to orbit go down this is the market that has to expand to a point where SX can see a revenue rise despite a price drop.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy

 But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.
Won't that all be on NASA contracts, which are well above basic prices to LEO?
Initially Yes.

Which says a lot about the the strength of the business case.

As their access to space costs drop so will their volume of manufacturing increase due to the lower cost of product having more terrestrial business case applications. This is not a linear expansion but a logarithmic one. such that costs drop in half volume increases by 4.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/15/2017 11:36 PM
Initially Yes.

Which says a lot about the the strength of the business case.
I think it says as much about the cost of putting a lb of mass in orbit.

If space access had freight costs anywhere like every other transport modes (even if it was the cost of basically sending a package 1/2 way round the world and back on a freighter) this would have been tried years ago, along with a slew of other potential applications that are unusual but still don't have the USP of a geosynchronous commsat.
Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
As their access to space costs drop so will their volume of manufacturing increase due to the lower cost of product having more terrestrial business case applications. This is not a linear expansion but a logarithmic one. such that costs drop in half volume increases by 4.
I don't know it will go that well but if it makes a profit and they stay in business I hope it will be enough to encourage other companies into the business, although the most likely ones would be to compete with them, on the old Hollywood adage that "Everyone wants to be the second person to have the brilliant idea."  :(
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/17/2017 04:15 PM
Ok.

Lets say you have a fully reusable ITS that can get to LEO for $60M.

It can bring up 50mt of rods and take back to Earth 50mt of fiber rolls. The 50mt value is 1/4 the max of the ITS 200mt. The assumption is that landing weight on Earth is 1/4 the max payload. See the ITS thread if you want more discussion and info about possible payloads up and down. On the way up it could also transport expendable supplies and other items that stay in orbit reducing the cost of fiber material transport. For each kg 3km of fiber is created. The current price of silicon based optical fiber with casing (10Gbit multimode) is $1.64/m. If ZBLAM fiber finished into a cased ready to bury form for $5.00/m (100Gbit multimode) which is actually worth and can replace existing bundle of 10 fibers valued at $16/m. Now that $5/m ZBLAM *3000m/kg *50,000kg = $750M.

How much fiber do you think the world would want at that price. BTW a single load of 50mt is only 150,000km of fiber. The ZBLAM in $/bit costs would be 1/3 that of silicon fiber. Which one would new or replacement cables emplacement use?

The current fiber market is growing at a rate of 10+% per year. In 2016 the market size was $2B in cable sales. At 10% anual growth the Market in 2025 would be ~$5B. If ZBLAM captures 50% of the market by 2025 then they would need 2 to 4 ITS flights per year to LEO for the transport of 50mt each time of blanks up and 50mt of fiber down. The number of ITS flights is dependent on the pricing per m of the fiber. Prices could be as high as $15/m as still be cheaper than the bundle of 10 silicon fibers. At $15/m the value of the 50mt of fiber is $2.25B. That is still enough revenue to pay for a very expensive ITS flight at almost $1B per flight.

This is to show just how strong of a business case this is and what the potential size of this market is.

Now reusability is key in making additional business cases close but there may be others that simply waiting on capability since the current world down mass capability is only ~$12mt/yr. (4 Dragon flights) With 4 ITS flights/yr that down mass would increase to ~200mt/yr.
 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/17/2017 09:42 PM
Ok.

Lets say you have a fully reusable ITS that can get to LEO for $60M.

If ZBLAM fiber finished into a cased ready to bury form for $5.00/m (100Gbit multimode) which is actually worth and can replace existing bundle of 10 fibers valued at $16/m. Now that $5/m ZBLAM *3000m/kg *50,000kg = $750M.

I've long thought that "cheap launch" is not going to be enough to bring about the revolution in the use of space. At a minimum you need down mass, ideally on a regular schedule.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/17/2017 10:20 PM
It can bring up 50mt of rods and take back to Earth 50mt of fiber rolls. The 50mt value is 1/4 the max of the ITS 200mt. The assumption is that landing weight on Earth is 1/4 the max payload.

Absolutely fascinating idea, however I think you'll need to subtract some amount from the landed payload mass for the factory/equipment to process the material, or would the ITS capsule dock to another orbited "factory module" of some type?  Ideally the "factory" bit could launch once and stay in orbit indefinitely (needs some pretty honkin huge solar arrays too I'd assume?) to be used multiple times.  A wonderful investment opportunity! :)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/17/2017 11:02 PM
It can bring up 50mt of rods and take back to Earth 50mt of fiber rolls. The 50mt value is 1/4 the max of the ITS 200mt. The assumption is that landing weight on Earth is 1/4 the max payload.

Absolutely fascinating idea, however I think you'll need to subtract some amount from the landed payload mass for the factory/equipment to process the material, or would the ITS capsule dock to another orbited "factory module" of some type?  Ideally the "factory" bit could launch once and stay in orbit indefinitely (needs some pretty honkin huge solar arrays too I'd assume?) to be used multiple times.  A wonderful investment opportunity! :)
I was thinking to doc it to a factory that had 100-200mt of factory equipment. Say several BA2100s. Each ITS could take up 200mt but only bring back 50mt. At least in all the information that I have seen on the system capability design. If it was upgraded to be able to land/deorbit and reenter with full 200mt then the costs decrease by a factor 4. Makeing ZBLAM finished cables about the same price as that of regular silicon cable.

But the other item that reusability will probably make a big splash is in downmass. Currently it stands at just 12mt/yr. For a space based industry selling products to Earth it needs at the start it needs 10X times the current. There is not much expansion planned for downmass until ITS. Until then it could be doubled but probably not much more than 3X.  3X represents 12 current sized cargo flights that can return downmass ~ total 36mt/yr. 12 cargo flights and 6 CC flights /yr is a significant flight rate increase over the 4 and 2.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/17/2017 11:30 PM
I've long thought that "cheap launch" is not going to be enough to bring about the revolution in the use of space. At a minimum you need down mass, ideally on a regular schedule.

I definitely see why you think that and there is some picking of nits to debate where the line is drawn.  However, I've been noodling some ideas that I think fit existing Musk-related paradigms that I could flesh-out to get your revolution solely from up-mass.  It feels a little on the crazy-end of the speculation spectrum but I occasionally run some back-of-the-napkin calculations as a sanity check.  The search feature isn't easy to confirm whether everyone has already hashed all this out before.  But if anyone is interested, I could sketch out an up-mass approach to the "revolution".  Sorry for playing coy.  I'm an enthusiastic layman and think it makes sense but don't want to embarrass myself.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/18/2017 12:06 AM
Interesting discussion. 
Someone should start a thread on the downmass challenge.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/18/2017 01:01 AM
Interesting discussion. 
Someone should start a thread on the downmass challenge.
Started.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42960.new#new (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42960.new#new)

So please take the downmass and its effects on in-space business and other in-space activities like scientific research that produces specimens that require Earth lab work to this new thread.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 05/18/2017 10:29 AM
I was thinking to doc it to a factory that had 100-200mt of factory equipment. Say several BA2100s. Each ITS could take up 200mt but only bring back 50mt. At least in all the information that I have seen on the system capability design. If it was upgraded to be able to land/deorbit and reenter with full 200mt then the costs decrease by a factor 4. Makeing ZBLAM finished cables about the same price as that of regular silicon cable.



I did a google search and I can't find any info on zblam. What does it stand for? Any links? I am sure someplace upthread the answer lies...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/18/2017 11:29 AM
I was thinking to doc it to a factory that had 100-200mt of factory equipment. Say several BA2100s. Each ITS could take up 200mt but only bring back 50mt. At least in all the information that I have seen on the system capability design. If it was upgraded to be able to land/deorbit and reenter with full 200mt then the costs decrease by a factor 4. Makeing ZBLAM finished cables about the same price as that of regular silicon cable.



I did a google search and I can't find any info on zblam. What does it stand for? Any links? I am sure someplace upthread the answer lies...

Search for `zblam fibre`...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rsdavis9 on 05/18/2017 12:03 PM
I was thinking to doc it to a factory that had 100-200mt of factory equipment. Say several BA2100s. Each ITS could take up 200mt but only bring back 50mt. At least in all the information that I have seen on the system capability design. If it was upgraded to be able to land/deorbit and reenter with full 200mt then the costs decrease by a factor 4. Makeing ZBLAM finished cables about the same price as that of regular silicon cable.



I did a google search and I can't find any info on zblam. What does it stand for? Any links? I am sure someplace upthread the answer lies...

Search for `zblam fibre`...

it looks like it is zblan...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZBLAN

Zr Ba La Al Na Floride

The one line says that air convection is the confounding problem.
How about vacuum on earth to reduce the problem.

I think most "discoveries" of zero g benefits are once it has been researched and engineered(possibly in orbit) it is easier to manufacture  on earth.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/18/2017 02:04 PM
Here's an official Russian view of reusability's effect on costs...

Quote
Will the medium launch vehicle proposed by RSC Energia within the framework of the R&D project Phoenix be expendable or have some reusable elements (what exactly will be reusable)? Is it going to have, like the Zenit launch vehicle, an automatic prelaunch processing system unique to Soviet/Russian launch vehicles? What are the facilities where this rocket is going to be assembled? What will be the differences between the versions of this rocket for different launch sites - Vostochny, Baiterek and Sea Launch?

The launch vehicle will be expendable, at least in the initial phase. The architecture of the suite of automated systems for controlling the prelaunch processing and launch will be similar to what was used for Zenit. The launch vehicle is going to be assembled at Progress plant in Samara. The launch vehicles are to be the same for all launch sites.

The reusability of rocket stages needs to be additionally justified. To assure precise landing and subsequent re-use of the first stage, you need to install special controls, including rocket thrusters, onboard computers, a navigation system, and expend additional propellant. As a result, the savings here are minimal, or none at all. We believe that what we need to strive for is reducing impact areas for jettisonable elements by converging them towards a single point. The expenditures here are low, and the gain is obvious. It’s unrealistic to think of re-using the second stage, which returns to Earth with a velocity that is close to the orbital velocity. Without a proper thermal shield capable of withstanding the heat of up to 3000 degrees Centigrade, the only pieces that will reach the ground will be thick metal frames.

http://www.energia.ru/en/news/news-2017/news_05-02_1.html
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/18/2017 02:17 PM
Here's an official Russian view of reusability's effect on costs...

Quote
Will the medium launch vehicle proposed by RSC Energia within the framework of the R&D project Phoenix be expendable or have some reusable elements (what exactly will be reusable)? Is it going to have, like the Zenit launch vehicle, an automatic prelaunch processing system unique to Soviet/Russian launch vehicles? What are the facilities where this rocket is going to be assembled? What will be the differences between the versions of this rocket for different launch sites - Vostochny, Baiterek and Sea Launch?

The launch vehicle will be expendable, at least in the initial phase. The architecture of the suite of automated systems for controlling the prelaunch processing and launch will be similar to what was used for Zenit. The launch vehicle is going to be assembled at Progress plant in Samara. The launch vehicles are to be the same for all launch sites.

The reusability of rocket stages needs to be additionally justified. To assure precise landing and subsequent re-use of the first stage, you need to install special controls, including rocket thrusters, onboard computers, a navigation system, and expend additional propellant. As a result, the savings here are minimal, or none at all. We believe that what we need to strive for is reducing impact areas for jettisonable elements by converging them towards a single point. The expenditures here are low, and the gain is obvious. It’s unrealistic to think of re-using the second stage, which returns to Earth with a velocity that is close to the orbital velocity. Without a proper thermal shield capable of withstanding the heat of up to 3000 degrees Centigrade, the only pieces that will reach the ground will be thick metal frames.

http://www.energia.ru/en/news/news-2017/news_05-02_1.html

Heads still firmly planted in the sand.

And they already have reuseable high performance kerolox engines and can do downrange landings on solid ground.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/18/2017 02:29 PM
They also have kleptocratic political system, where money directed to state projects tend to "evaporate" with no trace. And Putin knows it - for one, he is one of the people who built it that way.
He knows that directing Roscosmos to make a reusable system will result in a long program fraught with cost overruns, underperformance, very likely a number of embarrassing failures, and possibly in final system which will still be not competitive.
In these conditions, "ignoring the problem" might be in fact an optimal course (least bad).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/18/2017 09:42 PM
The difference in a reusability solution/program lowering cost is the efficient and qualified managers managing the program. SpaceX had/has Musk as the technical driver for the decisions to the goal post of lower operational costs with a reusable system. It has some additional development costs but in the end much more in savings both in costs but also in turnaround time between launches, the true measure of the forcefulness of a reusability design.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: WmThomas on 05/18/2017 10:50 PM
We need to recognize that SpaceX stumbled on to its current re-usability system. That system is possible because Merlin-1 is a small engine by EELV-class rocket standards. So SpaceX had to use nine of them on the Falcon-9 first stage.  After planning to recover the first stage with parachutes, and failing, SpaceX shifted plans and adapted Falcon-9's engine layout (and much else) to allow retro-rocket landings using a central M1D. Mind you, even those landings are hover-slams.

Is there any other EELV-class rocket in the world that can be adapted this way? Atlas V can't. Arianne-5 can't. Delta-IV can't. None of the Russian rockets can. None of the Chinese can. No one else was so "idiotic" to build a big launcher with lots of weak engines.

So we can't assume it is easy to catch up with SpaceX. Or that ULA is dumb for pursuing a different re-use strategy. They don't have any easy path to reuse. 

For any other company, reuse requires a clean-sheet rocket and probably a new engine. Blue Origin will get reuse by making their New Glenn super-huge, while using the big BE-4. Other companies would need a complete re-work, too.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/19/2017 12:30 AM
BO engineers are no fool. They saw that the SpaceX many engines paradigm worked using center to hover slam and came up with their own version of 7 BE-4's which should be able to deep throttle making it possible to do a similar landing profile with 7 large engines vs 9 on an even larger tank/rocket. Someone else may come up with something else but the die may be cast for some time in the 1st stage reusability designs for the next few decades.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/19/2017 01:43 AM
BO engineers are no fool. They saw that the SpaceX many engines paradigm worked using center to hover slam and came up with their own version of 7 BE-4's which should be able to deep throttle making it possible to do a similar landing profile with 7 large engines vs 9 on an even larger tank/rocket. Someone else may come up with something else but the die may be cast for some time in the 1st stage reusability designs for the next few decades.
They had already been doing clustered engine VTVL tests by the time Grasshopper was announced. Blue Origin had basically the right idea about VTVL /before/ SpaceX did, it's just that Blue Origin messed around for a long time while SpaceX was actually building a business and doing useful stuff.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: WmThomas on 05/19/2017 02:23 AM
They had already been doing clustered engine VTVL tests by the time Grasshopper was announced. Blue Origin had basically the right idea about VTVL /before/ SpaceX did, it's just that Blue Origin messed around for a long time while SpaceX was actually building a business and doing useful stuff.

Correct on all points.

Does anyone know if Blue's success with VTVL was one reason SpaceX decided to pursue it?

Edit/Lar: fix quotes. Please use the reply function, don't try to make quotes by hand...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/19/2017 02:36 AM
Quote from: robotbeat
They had already been doing clustered engine VTVL tests by the time Grasshopper was announced. Blue Origin had basically the right idea about VTVL /before/ SpaceX did, it's just that Blue Origin messed around for a long time while SpaceX was actually building a business and doing useful stuff.

Correct on all points.

Does anyone know if Blue's success with VTVL was one reason SpaceX decided to pursue it?
Not really. It was Masten's success that did it. Guys "in a garage" doing it convinced Elon that SpaceX could do it.

But it could've contributed, I suppose.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 05/19/2017 10:16 AM
Quote from: robotbeat
They had already been doing clustered engine VTVL tests by the time Grasshopper was announced. Blue Origin had basically the right idea about VTVL /before/ SpaceX did, it's just that Blue Origin messed around for a long time while SpaceX was actually building a business and doing useful stuff.

Correct on all points.

Does anyone know if Blue's success with VTVL was one reason SpaceX decided to pursue it?
Not really. It was Masten's success that did it. Guys "in a garage" doing it convinced Elon that SpaceX could do it.

But it could've contributed, I suppose.

Don't forget Armadillo Areospace, didn't their first flight predate Mastens?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/19/2017 01:45 PM
We need to recognize that SpaceX stumbled on to its current re-usability system. That system is possible because Merlin-1 is a small engine by EELV-class rocket standards. So SpaceX had to use nine of them on the Falcon-9 first stage.  After planning to recover the first stage with parachutes, and failing, SpaceX shifted plans and adapted Falcon-9's engine layout (and much else) to allow retro-rocket landings using a central M1D. Mind you, even those landings are hover-slams.

Is there any other EELV-class rocket in the world that can be adapted this way? Atlas V can't. Arianne-5 can't. Delta-IV can't. None of the Russian rockets can. None of the Chinese can. No one else was so "idiotic" to build a big launcher with lots of weak engines.

So we can't assume it is easy to catch up with SpaceX. Or that ULA is dumb for pursuing a different re-use strategy. They don't have any easy path to reuse. 

For any other company, reuse requires a clean-sheet rocket and probably a new engine. Blue Origin will get reuse by making their New Glenn super-huge, while using the big BE-4. Other companies would need a complete re-work, too.

No need for many engines or new main engines if using dedicated landing engines, similar to Soyuz vernier engines for thrust vectoring.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/19/2017 03:36 PM
The Atlas D,E,F,G, and H all used pressure fed vernier engines for steering. They put out a few thousand pounds total per rocket. The Atlas stage without booster engines and only sustainer engine weighed just  5,174 lb (2,347 kg) dry. Use of vernier engines was the engineering method for controlling the rocket in the late 1950's early 1960's. Later in early 1960's stronger and faster systems for steering a main engine was developed and became the standard engineering method. These old designs though continued to fly into the 1990's for the US and are still flying for Russia.

The Atlas vernier engines produced 2,000lbs thrust each. And had the option for its own small shared turbo pump for independent operation after SECO (sustainer engine shutdown).

A modified Atlas design with 4 verniers landing legs and some areosurface controls could have in the 1960's done a VTVL. BTW it was radio controlled steering and used an onboard analog computer for rate stabilization. So it could have been done then. But the engines would not have been reusable only the tank. The tank was the cheapest part of the vehicle.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/19/2017 08:33 PM
Some RD-170 derivatives are designed to be reusable. The landing engines could be in strap-on booster pods with their own fuel and LOX that "pull their own weight", so to speak, by lighting at liftoff and helping boost downrange. That way there is no performance reduction for reuse, just the added cost of the boosters. The landing legs could also be integrated to the strap-on boosters.

Angara A3 would need 6 landing boosters to recover the 3 cores. Angara A5 would need 8 to recover the 4 main boosters, and could expend the central core for better performance.

Angara is a bit undersized for recovery this way, but a Zenit-like booster with a RD-171 could function in the same fashion.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: cppetrie on 05/20/2017 11:46 PM
Cross-posting:

These seem to say there is a contract for SpaceX to launch Telkom 4 around June 2018 (although I can never be completely sure with Google Translate).

https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4 (https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/)
https://seasia.co/2017/05/01/indonesia-to-use-spacex-to-launch-next-satellite
http://www.satellitetoday.com/telecom/2015/12/30/ssl-to-provide-next-satellite-for-telkom-indonesia/
Nice find! So not only is this a new launch contract, but it will also be on a flight-proven booster.
Quote
President Director of Telkom, Alex J. Sinaga mentioned to CNN, “Investment in Telkom-4 [satellite] will be cheaper as we use a reusable orbital rocket from SpaceX, so it will be cheaper as much as 40 percent.”
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/21/2017 12:02 AM
Cross-posting:

These seem to say there is a contract for SpaceX to launch Telkom 4 around June 2018 (although I can never be completely sure with Google Translate).

https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4 (https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/)
https://seasia.co/2017/05/01/indonesia-to-use-spacex-to-launch-next-satellite
http://www.satellitetoday.com/telecom/2015/12/30/ssl-to-provide-next-satellite-for-telkom-indonesia/
Nice find! So not only is this a new launch contract, but it will also be on a flight-proven booster.
Quote
President Director of Telkom, Alex J. Sinaga mentioned to CNN, “Investment in Telkom-4 [satellite] will be cheaper as we use a reusable orbital rocket from SpaceX, so it will be cheaper as much as 40 percent.”

So, when they say "total investment", does that include the cost of launching the satellite as well? Assuming that it does , and that they pay around $40M for the flight, that would mean that the cost of insurance would be around 9% of the cost of the payload, assuming that the ~116M left (126-10) is the cost of the satellite. Does that not seem a bit high?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/21/2017 01:09 AM
Any word on which will be the 3rd reuse flight ?
Title: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: cppetrie on 05/21/2017 01:16 AM
2nd (next) is known to be BulgariaSat. For the third, whichever comes first of either FH demo or the SES launch after the next one would be my guess. The combo SES/Echostar bird is said to be confirmed as flying on a new bird since it isn't a solo SES launch.

Edit: revised wording for clarity
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Rebel44 on 05/21/2017 12:09 PM
Cross-posting:

These seem to say there is a contract for SpaceX to launch Telkom 4 around June 2018 (although I can never be completely sure with Google Translate).

https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4 (https://inet.detik.com/telecommunication/d-3424084/spacex-masih-dipercaya-luncurkan-satelit-telkom-4)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170417152745-213-208098/telkom-bakal-lebih-hemat-berkat-roket-spacex/)
http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/ (http://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20170130174006-213-190081/satelit-telkom-berikutnya-bakal-gandeng-spacex/)
https://seasia.co/2017/05/01/indonesia-to-use-spacex-to-launch-next-satellite
http://www.satellitetoday.com/telecom/2015/12/30/ssl-to-provide-next-satellite-for-telkom-indonesia/
Nice find! So not only is this a new launch contract, but it will also be on a flight-proven booster.
Quote
President Director of Telkom, Alex J. Sinaga mentioned to CNN, “Investment in Telkom-4 [satellite] will be cheaper as we use a reusable orbital rocket from SpaceX, so it will be cheaper as much as 40 percent.”

So, when they say "total investment", does that include the cost of launching the satellite as well? Assuming that it does , and that they pay around $40M for the flight, that would mean that the cost of insurance would be around 9% of the cost of the payload, assuming that the ~116M left (126-10) is the cost of the satellite. Does that not seem a bit high?

Cost of insurance has quite a few variables - like if you want to include expected revenue to be covered in case of failure and if so for how long.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/21/2017 01:41 PM
The Atlas D,E,F,G, and H all used pressure fed vernier engines for steering. They put out a few thousand pounds total per rocket. The Atlas stage without booster engines and only sustainer engine weighed just  5,174 lb (2,347 kg) dry. Use of vernier engines was the engineering method for controlling the rocket in the late 1950's early 1960's. Later in early 1960's stronger and faster systems for steering a main engine was developed and became the standard engineering method. These old designs though continued to fly into the 1990's for the US and are still flying for Russia.

The Atlas vernier engines produced 2,000lbs thrust each. And had the option for its own small shared turbo pump for independent operation after SECO (sustainer engine shutdown).

A modified Atlas design with 4 verniers landing legs and some areosurface controls could have in the 1960's done a VTVL. BTW it was radio controlled steering and used an onboard analog computer for rate stabilization. So it could have been done then. But the engines would not have been reusable only the tank. The tank was the cheapest part of the vehicle.
That's an interesting piece of rocket history. I think the joker in the pack though would have been that AFAIK until SX no one seemed to realize you needed aerosurfaces on the top end to give adequate control. I'm not sure a human operator would have had good enough reaction times to handle the task. OTOH I suspect had it been attempted the engineers of the time would have gone with a hybrid solution of on board analog control loops for the fast response phenomena and left the operator (pilot?) for the gross guidance changes.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: watermod on 05/21/2017 04:02 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ictogan on 05/21/2017 04:45 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)

Not as far as I've seen. Currently they would likely still need several months for refurbishing and checking a core, so the earliest we could see a third flight would probably be Q4 2017 if SpaceX decide to fly the Iridium-1/BulgariaSat-1 booster for a third time.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/21/2017 05:14 PM
The Atlas D,E,F,G, and H all used pressure fed vernier engines for steering. They put out a few thousand pounds total per rocket. The Atlas stage without booster engines and only sustainer engine weighed just  5,174 lb (2,347 kg) dry. Use of vernier engines was the engineering method for controlling the rocket in the late 1950's early 1960's. Later in early 1960's stronger and faster systems for steering a main engine was developed and became the standard engineering method. These old designs though continued to fly into the 1990's for the US and are still flying for Russia.

The Atlas vernier engines produced 2,000lbs thrust each. And had the option for its own small shared turbo pump for independent operation after SECO (sustainer engine shutdown).

A modified Atlas design with 4 verniers landing legs and some areosurface controls could have in the 1960's done a VTVL. BTW it was radio controlled steering and used an onboard analog computer for rate stabilization. So it could have been done then. But the engines would not have been reusable only the tank. The tank was the cheapest part of the vehicle.
That's an interesting piece of rocket history. I think the joker in the pack though would have been that AFAIK until SX no one seemed to realize you needed aerosurfaces on the top end to give adequate control. I'm not sure a human operator would have had good enough reaction times to handle the task. OTOH I suspect had it been attempted the engineers of the time would have gone with a hybrid solution of on board analog control loops for the fast response phenomena and left the operator (pilot?) for the gross guidance changes.
No Human operator. It was a big computer sitting on the ground. Something that was way to heavy for a rocket to lift but was fast enough to do high accuracy navigation steering and engine cutoff timing. It could have been sufficient for a computer controlled landing on a landing pad. This accuracy was why it was still in use up to the 1990's.

The ICBM version was designed such that the X band tracker up-link would capture the Atlas in-flight during the sustainer phase and issue SECO that would then result in the warhead hitting the specified target. The Atlas's were launched at ~1min intervals to be able to give the shared guidance station the ability to acquire and guide each of several missiles.

The main reason that Atlas was not made into a reusable LV was that it was a throw away weapon system. That after they were launch there was no reason to recover and use then again. Possibly even the probable no facilities left standing either.

One of the first engines the F-1 was so good that it could have been reused. Also the RL-10 was so good as well that it could have done a dozen restarts in-space if they could figure out how to get a dozen restart cartridges on the engine. The RL-10 actually has 4 cartridge start ports for use and has been used for 4 in-space starts. So there were engines in the mid to late 1960's that could have been used to create fully reusable LV's. In fact they were almost used on shuttle. But because development funding was limited the cost of operations was sacrificed for lower development costs.

Added:
Now back from history to the effect of reusability on costs. Reusability has been the goal since the 1960's but has been only partially successful if even that until now. SpaceX tells us that their solution will lower their costs and has offered customers a lower price for use of used boosters. But only once their use of used booster exceeds that of new ones can it be said that their reusability solution has become successful.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/21/2017 06:15 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)

Not as far as I've seen. Currently they would likely still need several months for refurbishing and checking a core, so the earliest we could see a third flight would probably be Q4 2017 if SpaceX decide to fly the Iridium-1/BulgariaSat-1 booster for a third time.
I expect the first half a dozen reflights will be boosters flown once on a LEO mission. No third flights. Perhaps one reflight of a GTO launch that had the most margins and could do a little longer re-entry burn.
By the time SpaceX comes around to maybe start doing third and fourth flights, Block V is already available.
Lots of landed boosters will be remanufactured into FH side boosters, which is akin to an super duper careful refurb.
The current stage is getting customer's confidence on reflight. Those signing up will be picky of what they'll be riding on.

Think about this for a second... CRS-11/Iridium-2 booster. That's what customers will ask for.
As long as 75+% of launches are new boosters there's a massive surplus of first flow boosters. Customers get their pick. Even with 50/50%, doesn't change much.

Eventually with most customers accepting reflights, then boosters from first GTO flights will launch again.

Just saying... I'd rather let time go by and prove/disprove me.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/21/2017 06:34 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)

Not as far as I've seen. Currently they would likely still need several months for refurbishing and checking a core, so the earliest we could see a third flight would probably be Q4 2017 if SpaceX decide to fly the Iridium-1/BulgariaSat-1 booster for a third time.

Dubious that they will " likely still need several months" as they have said they are already reducing cycle times.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ictogan on 05/21/2017 06:39 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)

Not as far as I've seen. Currently they would likely still need several months for refurbishing and checking a core, so the earliest we could see a third flight would probably be Q4 2017 if SpaceX decide to fly the Iridium-1/BulgariaSat-1 booster for a third time.

Dubious that they will " likely still need several months" as they have said they are already reducing cycle times.
Well, two out of two reused boosters have taken several months to refurbish so far. And I'd imagine that SpaceX is going to reduce those times gradually, not suddenly.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/21/2017 07:06 PM
Any whispering about when SpaceX will be flying a booster for the 3rd or more time?
(I know they have a few waiting for 2nd flight but I got to wondering about multiple reuse time frame.)

Not as far as I've seen. Currently they would likely still need several months for refurbishing and checking a core, so the earliest we could see a third flight would probably be Q4 2017 if SpaceX decide to fly the Iridium-1/BulgariaSat-1 booster for a third time.

Dubious that they will " likely still need several months" as they have said they are already reducing cycle times.

This is someting I've been pondering on. Specifically, the difficult decision of when to stop reusing Block 3 and 4 boosters because Block 5 is available. On the one hand, just throwing away a perfectly reusable booster seems a waste of tens of millions of dollars. On the other hand, they cost more and take longer to refurbish than the Block 5 with its optimized reusability features.

So come next year, they will have a dozen or so Block 5's in operation, but also have maybe a dozen or more Block 3 and 4 landed cores still sitting in storage, some of which have been reflown once, and some which haven't been reflown at all.

So how to decide when to stop using pre-Block 5 cores that are still available?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/21/2017 07:27 PM
So how to decide when to stop using pre-Block 5 cores that are still available?

Block 5 is one day refurbishment, at least once they get into the rythm. Pre-block 5 maybe 2 weeks. I think they will stop using them immediately.

If there are major components unchanged, like the tanks and thrust structure they still can strip them down and make them new block 5. It seems the COPV are new already so they can reuse those, too.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/21/2017 07:31 PM
So how to decide when to stop using pre-Block 5 cores that are still available?

Block 5 is one day refurbishment, at least once they get into the rythm. Pre-block 5 maybe 2 weeks. I think they will stop using them immediately.

If there are major components unchanged, like the tanks and thrust structure they still can strip them down and make them new block 5. It seems the COPV are new already so they can reuse those, too.

OK. So basically, most of the current cores won't be reflown. Because if they don't refly before the end of this year, they will be replaced by Block 5's. So they become spare parts after December?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/21/2017 07:47 PM
Well, two out of two reused boosters have taken several months to refurbish so far. And I'd imagine that SpaceX is going to reduce those times gradually, not suddenly.

Don't confuse time to re-fly with time to refurbish. The booster can't re-fly until there's a customer willing to re-use. It doesn't mean it's spent all the waiting time bring refurbished. Gwynne Shotwell was pretty clear that SpaceX had already significantly reduced refurbishment time from first re-used booster.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Mongo62 on 05/21/2017 07:53 PM
So how to decide when to stop using pre-Block 5 cores that are still available?

Block 5 is one day refurbishment, at least once they get into the rythm. Pre-block 5 maybe 2 weeks. I think they will stop using them immediately.

If there are major components unchanged, like the tanks and thrust structure they still can strip them down and make them new block 5. It seems the COPV are new already so they can reuse those, too.

Block 3/4 boosters sound like candidates for expendable launches. The marginal cost of a couple of weeks refurbishment of a single core would very low, even if they have been written off for regular relaunches. Of course block 5 FH refurbishment costs would presumably be even lower, but using an expendable block 3/4 core would save one flight's portion of lifetime on three FH cores.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/21/2017 08:13 PM
Well, two out of two reused boosters have taken several months to refurbish so far. And I'd imagine that SpaceX is going to reduce those times gradually, not suddenly.

Don't confuse time to re-fly with time to refurbish. The booster can't re-fly until there's a customer willing to re-use.

At some point, SpaceX might simply stop giving customers a choice.

The contract is to deliver payload to a specified orbit. Such factors as paint color on the rocket, composition of the tank wall alloy, prop load mass, etc, is up to SpaceX and not something customer particularly cares about. Whether this booster is new or reused (and how many times reused) may become similar.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/21/2017 08:17 PM
Block 3/4 boosters sound like candidates for expendable launches. The marginal cost of a couple of weeks refurbishment of a single core would very low, even if they have been written off for regular relaunches. Of course block 5 FH refurbishment costs would presumably be even lower, but using an expendable block 3/4 core would save one flight's portion of lifetime on three FH cores.

I see your argument about expendable flights. But those will not be many.

Assume only 10 block 5 cores built before reuse becomes standard. Assume only 10 reflights per core. Assume there will still be a few customers like NASA and DoD who want new cores for a while. They will soon have 20 cores worth 200 flights. That is enough to last them well into beginning to launch the constellation in 2019.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 05/21/2017 08:26 PM
Block 3/4 boosters sound like candidates for expendable launches. The marginal cost of a couple of weeks refurbishment of a single core would very low, even if they have been written off for regular relaunches. Of course block 5 FH refurbishment costs would presumably be even lower, but using an expendable block 3/4 core would save one flight's portion of lifetime on three FH cores.

I see your argument about expendable flights. But those will not be many.

Assume only 10 block 5 cores built before reuse becomes standard. Assume only 10 reflights per core. Assume there will still be a few customers like NASA and DoD who want new cores for a while. They will soon have 20 cores worth 200 flights. That is enough to last them well into beginning to launch the constellation in 2019.

There is always the possibility that the 100 flight target proves optimistic. Look, even 10 reflights mean a revolution in the cost of access to space, so that would not be a disaster. But I can see a scenario where cores get reflown 10 times, or maybe 20 o 30 times, rather than 100 times.

That still is a huge achievement. But would require the manufacture of more cores than just 10.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 05/21/2017 08:49 PM
I was talking about 10 reflights only per core. The most conservative of all guesses. Very soon 10 cores with 10 flights each makes 100 available flights.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 05/21/2017 09:25 PM
There is always the possibility that the 100 flight target proves optimistic. Look, even 10 reflights mean a revolution in the cost of access to space, so that would not be a disaster. But I can see a scenario where cores get reflown 10 times, or maybe 20 o 30 times, rather than 100 times.

After you learn which part of the booster wears off faster than others after 10 flights, you redesign and strengthen it (or have a planned R&R for it). Thus, you gradually make boosters have more reuses.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/21/2017 10:09 PM
This is someting I've been pondering on. Specifically, the difficult decision of when to stop reusing Block 3 and 4 boosters because Block 5 is available. On the one hand, just throwing away a perfectly reusable booster seems a waste of tens of millions of dollars. On the other hand, they cost more and take longer to refurbish than the Block 5 with its optimized reusability features.

So come next year, they will have a dozen or so Block 5's in operation, but also have maybe a dozen or more Block 3 and 4 landed cores still sitting in storage, some of which have been reflown once, and some which haven't been reflown at all.

So how to decide when to stop using pre-Block 5 cores that are still available?
Remanufacture those into FH side boosters. Its been done already. At the factory they should be able to fully upgrade to the latest specs being produced.
But several of those will instead be used for max performance Inmarsat like expendable launches.
Want a new booster, unless you pay a lot more, its limited to ASDS recovery performance.
A used booster is ok, you can give up your reused discount for an expendable ride with max performance.
Several dozen new F9 boosters will still be made. The ones in the barn right now are just for immediate needs.
In the short term, SpaceX priority is to sign as many reuse customers as possible, even if the reflight is in itself expendable.

The move from M1C to M1D wasn't just about performance. SpaceX managed to get more performance out of that upgrade, while making the engine less expensive.
SpaceX ended up with a beast of a rocket with quite low cost.
Reuse just once or twice is already a economic great deal for a F9 Block II/III/IV. Because they are so cheap to make to begin with.
The big deal about reuse is to free up limited Hawthorne production capability and the ability of McGregor to test new stages. Refurb booster stages apparently are only going to be static fired. That is already expected to take place with the upcoming BulgariaSat launch.
Before a new F9 booster is test fired as a complete unit, each engine must be tested individually. A F9/FH US only needs a single M1Dvac to be tested. Are M1Dvac tested outside their stages ?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/21/2017 10:27 PM
No Human operator. It was a big computer sitting on the ground. Something that was way to heavy for a rocket to lift but was fast enough to do high accuracy navigation steering and engine cutoff timing. It could have been sufficient for a computer controlled landing on a landing pad. This accuracy was why it was still in use up to the 1990's.
That's odd. I thought the only ICBM system that used a guidance computer based on the ground was the Titan 1,after which digital IC's meant you could build them small enough to put on board.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
The ICBM version was designed such that the X band tracker up-link would capture the Atlas in-flight during the sustainer phase and issue SECO that would then result in the warhead hitting the specified target. The Atlas's were launched at ~1min intervals to be able to give the shared guidance station the ability to acquire and guide each of several missiles.

The main reason that Atlas was not made into a reusable LV was that it was a throw away weapon system. That after they were launch there was no reason to recover and use then again. Possibly even the probable no facilities left standing either.

One of the first engines the F-1 was so good that it could have been reused. Also the RL-10 was so good as well that it could have done a dozen restarts in-space if they could figure out how to get a dozen restart cartridges on the engine. The RL-10 actually has 4 cartridge start ports for use and has been used for 4 in-space starts. So there were engines in the mid to late 1960's that could have been used to create fully reusable LV's. In fact they were almost used on shuttle. But because development funding was limited the cost of operations was sacrificed for lower development costs.

Added:
Now back from history to the effect of reusability on costs. Reusability has been the goal since the 1960's but has been only partially successful if even that until now. SpaceX tells us that their solution will lower their costs and has offered customers a lower price for use of used boosters. But only once their use of used booster exceeds that of new ones can it be said that their reusability solution has become successful.
Odd I though the RL10 had gone to some kind of augmented spark ignitor, but that's more recently.  IIRC the J2-S went to a cartridge start system from the (complex) tank head start tanks. I didn't think it was ever deployed. IIRC they had gone further and worked out how to spin up the turbines without starter cartridges, leading to unlimited starts.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: WmThomas on 05/21/2017 11:43 PM
The Atlas D,E,F,G, and H all used pressure fed vernier engines for steering. ,,,

The Atlas vernier engines produced 2,000lbs thrust each. And had the option for its own small shared turbo pump for independent operation after SECO (sustainer engine shutdown).

A modified Atlas design with 4 verniers landing legs and some areosurface controls could have in the 1960's done a VTVL. ...

Thanks for the information. I suppose the other companies could develop some kind of strap-on landing rockets. That's a good idea.

But would the mass penalty be too great? The strap-ons could have worse ISP than Merlin1-D and they would add weight all on their own, meaning their mass penalty would be greater than  SpaceX's for the same recovery profile.

Also, using weak engines could allow hover, but wouldn't they waste more fuel on descent than the powerful Merlin1-D hoverslam?

I'm just wondering why we haven't seen any proposals of this sort from the rocket companies.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/22/2017 02:28 AM
There seems to be a certain amount of "reusability hasn't been proven to work until Thing X happens" with a shift over time of what X is. While that's perhaps interesting to some folks, I'm not sure it's on topic here... not completely. If you can't tie back to costs, it's not.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/23/2017 03:14 PM
The following post on the Bulgariasat Update thread implies great reduction in cost of refurbishment.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42913.msg1681755#msg1681755 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42913.msg1681755#msg1681755)

This is that between these two that the refurbishment costs reduced by ~factor of 4. If the SES-10 refurbishment cost 50% that of a new booster, the Bulgariasat-1 cost ~12% that of a new booster. Even if a new booster cost $30M (this is actually the highest estimate for what a new booster cost to manufacture) then the refurbishment cost is <$4M. If the cost of a new booster is $20M (this is the low end for the estimated cost to manufacture) then the refurbishment cost would be <$3M. This puts the savings of at least $17M up to as much as $26M for this launch.

Even if the reduction factor is only ~3 then the savings become from $16M to $25M. Only a variation of $1M from the higher reduction factor.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/23/2017 03:40 PM
The following post on the Bulgariasat Update thread implies great reduction in cost of refurbishment.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42913.msg1681755#msg1681755 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42913.msg1681755#msg1681755)

This is that between these two that the refurbishment costs reduced by ~factor of 4. If the SES-10 refurbishment cost 50% that of a new booster, the Bulgariasat-1 cost ~12% that of a new booster. Even if a new booster cost $30M (this is actually the highest estimate for what a new booster cost to manufacture) then the refurbishment cost is <$4M. If the cost of a new booster is $20M (this is the low end for the estimated cost to manufacture) then the refurbishment cost would be <$3M. This puts the savings of at least $17M up to as much as $26M for this launch.

Even if the reduction factor is only ~3 then the savings become from $16M to $25M. Only a variation of $1M from the higher reduction factor.

I thought that SES-10 was supposed to fly in October before the Amos mishap? That would make it around five months from landing and relaunch, or 4 months to refurbish the core (according to Gwynne Shotwel). Since this launch would be roughly five months from first flight, would it be reasonable to assume that they're not yet at the point of rapid reusability, and that there hasn't been such a change in cost savings compared to the last reused core? Don't get me wrong, they've saved a lot of money already, but I don't think they're quite there yet.   
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/23/2017 03:48 PM
Don't confuse elapsed time with effort required.... that 4 months go by between flight and reflight doesn't imply that there was 4 months of continuous effort. (much less if it was one person or a standing army of 1000... )

When we see SpaceX say "we can't reuse on this flight, we don't have a booster ready" then we'd know that they don't have effort down low yet....
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/23/2017 04:02 PM
Don't confuse elapsed time with effort required.... that 4 months go by between flight and reflight doesn't imply that there was 4 months of continuous effort. (much less if it was one person or a standing army of 1000... )

When we see SpaceX say "we can't reuse on this flight, we don't have a booster ready" then we'd know that they don't have effort down low yet....

I guess I didn't think of it that way. Although, I'm assuming that similarly with airplanes, they technically "lose" (not really) money by having the core on a hangar and not helping to deliver a payload into orbit, which is what I was thinking about. So at this point, they could have greatly reduced how much it costs to refurbish a core because it takes less effort do so presumably, and now they're going to aim to maximise the revenue that they get from each core. This will done by reducing the turn around time by making refurbishment quick and cheap (or eliminating it altogether), and by ensuring the core has high durability.

Cue in block V...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/23/2017 04:11 PM
Don't confuse elapsed time with effort required.... that 4 months go by between flight and reflight doesn't imply that there was 4 months of continuous effort. (much less if it was one person or a standing army of 1000... )

When we see SpaceX say "we can't reuse on this flight, we don't have a booster ready" then we'd know that they don't have effort down low yet....

I guess I didn't think of it that way. Although, I'm assuming that similarly with airplanes, they technically "lose" (not really) money by having the core on a hangar and not helping to deliver a payload into orbit, which is what I was thinking about. So at this point, they could have greatly reduced how much it costs to refurbish a core because it takes less effort do so presumably, and now they're going to aim to maximise the revenue that they get from each core. This will done by reducing the turn around time by making refurbishment quick and cheap (or eliminating it altogether), and by ensuring the core has high durability.

Cue in block V...

Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/23/2017 04:20 PM
Don't confuse elapsed time with effort required.... that 4 months go by between flight and reflight doesn't imply that there was 4 months of continuous effort. (much less if it was one person or a standing army of 1000... )

When we see SpaceX say "we can't reuse on this flight, we don't have a booster ready" then we'd know that they don't have effort down low yet....

I guess I didn't think of it that way. Although, I'm assuming that similarly with airplanes, they technically "lose" (not really) money by having the core on a hangar and not helping to deliver a payload into orbit, which is what I was thinking about. So at this point, they could have greatly reduced how much it costs to refurbish a core because it takes less effort do so presumably, and now they're going to aim to maximise the revenue that they get from each core. This will done by reducing the turn around time by making refurbishment quick and cheap (or eliminating it altogether), and by ensuring the core has high durability.

Cue in block V...

Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

I agree, there is much change needed before this model even comes close to being realistic for this market. Would one of the main drivers of rapid reusability then simply be that (assuming that labour costs are the main costs for SpaceX) you are spreading those costs over dozens flights instead of just a couple? You'll still be paying roughly the same (as in wages don't decrease), but since you're getting more revenue for the same costs, you're better off right?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/23/2017 05:55 PM
Launch cadence.

One of the biggest impacts to per launch costs is the crew at the launch site. If there is not a launch they do not have much work to do. Their time (from the standpoint of the company) is being wasted. Also for a flow not everyone is involved with every step of the process. So unless there is an assembly line setup to LV processing at the launch site, again wasted manpower. If SpaceX with 2 pads can launch a little less than every 2 weeks, they can share personnel between pads too as long as the launches are staggered (about one a week) between the two pads. So at a rate of 1 a week (once every 2 weeks per pad) SpaceX would be spending almost the same in labor as they would be to launch off of 1 pad every 2 weeks.

But this higher cadence and assembly line like launch processing is a result of rapid reusability. If spaceX can get there. There will be several costs savings in various other places than just in refurbishment costs. Generally the cost of launch (even for a new booster) will decrease because of higher cadence.

Now as far as my estimates on the relative costs of refurbish ment between SES-10 and Bugariasat-1 is that SpaceX stated the cost of refurbishment for the SES-10 booster was 50% that of a new booster. The next item is statements that refurbishment on later vehicles would be 1/8 the the cost of the SES-10. What I was showing is that it seems that Bulgarisat-1 shows that SpaceX has yet to reach that 1/8 the cost of SES-10. But as Lar states we do not know if they are simply counting time (a mixture of storage and active work) or the work of a certain size crew or crews for a period.

But the costs have gone down. The exact amount is not known but even just cutting the costs in half from that of SES-10 is significant ($5M or more in additional savings).

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/23/2017 06:10 PM
Launch cadence.

One of the biggest impacts to per launch costs is the crew at the launch site. If there is not a launch they do not have much work to do. Their time (from the standpoint of the company) is being wasted. Also for a flow not everyone is involved with every step of the process. So unless there is an assembly line setup to LV processing at the launch site, again wasted manpower. If SpaceX with 2 pads can launch a little less than every 2 weeks, they can share personnel between pads too as long as the launches are staggered (about one a week) between the two pads. So at a rate of 1 a week (once every 2 weeks per pad) SpaceX would be spending almost the same in labor as they would be to launch off of 1 pad every 2 weeks.

But this higher cadence and assembly line like launch processing is a result of rapid reusability. If spaceX can get there. There will be several costs savings in various other places than just in refurbishment costs. Generally the cost of launch (even for a new booster) will decrease because of higher cadence.

Now as far as my estimates on the relative costs of refurbish ment between SES-10 and Bugariasat-1 is that SpaceX stated the cost of refurbishment for the SES-10 booster was 50% that of a new booster. The next item is statements that refurbishment on later vehicles would be 1/8 the the cost of the SES-10. What I was showing is that it seems that Bulgarisat-1 shows that SpaceX has yet to reach that 1/8 the cost of SES-10. But as Lar states we do not know if they are simply counting time (a mixture of storage and active work) or the work of a certain size crew or crews for a period.

But the costs have gone down. The exact amount is not known but even just cutting the costs in half from that of SES-10 is significant ($5M or more in additional savings).

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

(Slightly OT) 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/23/2017 06:17 PM
Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

Yep.

... not yet.... maybe not ever. BUT... Get the cadence to once every week across two pads and you're definitely moving in that direction. It is a baby step but it's moving from custom to scheduled/assembly line... And then (as long as the payloads are there[1]) you can keep driving process improvements. SpaceX is all about those. Contrast the time for the first ASDS unload-trip to hangar to the time for the latest.

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)


1 - CommsX makes sure they will be. Talk about eating your own dogfood...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/23/2017 06:26 PM
Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)

Is it true that the Mvac is significantly more complex than its sea level counterpart? There's going to be people who are probably going to know how to manufacture and assemble most version, but do we have any idea on how easy or hard it is to train those people to build second stages? I know that they've made a couple of design choices specifically to make both as cheap as possible by using similar engines, same diameter, etc.

(Lar, I realise I'm getting slightly off topic, so move this comment to an appropriate thread if I'm too far off.)   

Edit/Lar: fix quotes. And fine so far I think...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/23/2017 06:39 PM
From now to the 3rd Block IV refurb it should drop to about 2 weeks refurb. This is likely to happen still in 2017.
Not trying to start a discussion about this opinion. Just staking my claim and we'll see in Dec/17 or Jan/18 what happens, when I think at least the 6th total refurb and 3rd Block IV refurb will take place.
Reuse is already economical for SpaceX, even with 2 months refurb.
Bringing it down to 2 weeks will make it very economical.

With 3 refurbs, the workers taking care of it will likely have a lot of practice. From then on its eliminating replacement of parts that were being replaced just in case and that with more data can be ruled out as safe to reuse. Plus Block IV will make more parts robust enough to aim for at least a few reflights without replacement. Block IV might still not be ready for 10 reflights with modest refurb. Even if it can only do 3 or 4 with a 1-2 week refurb will be already ultra economical even compared with a 2 month refurb.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/23/2017 07:35 PM
Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

Yep.

... not yet.... maybe not ever. BUT... Get the cadence to once every week across two pads and you're definitely moving in that direction. It is a baby step but it's moving from custom to scheduled/assembly line... And then (as long as the payloads are there[1]) you can keep driving process improvements. SpaceX is all about those. Contrast the time for the first ASDS unload-trip to hangar to the time for the latest.

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)


1 - CommsX makes sure they will be. Talk about eating your own dogfood...
Yes at 50+ launches total per year multiple savings from multiple sources show up reducing cost per flight still more than those just directly related to reusability. Indirect cost savings because reusability has made it easier and cheaper for customers to "Fly SpaceX" may result in as much as another 10% or more cost reduction (up to another $5M in cost savings). This could eventually lead to in the early 2020's a price for a F9 flight of $30M. Reusibility savings: $20M for the booster + $5M for the faring+ $5M for increased economies of scale because of higher flight rate = $30M price reduction possibility.

Once refurbishment costs go below 10% that of a new booster additional savings on refurbishment do not make much of an impact (maximum of $3M if no refurbishment is done at all "gas and go"). But the biggest impact is time interval and inventory required on hand to service a specific launch rate. A gas and go scenario would need at most 2 vehicles only to do almost 6 months of launches. Less assets, less storage, and less work space means lower costs. Another of those indirect costs related to reusability.

Another indirect costs is commoditized payloads or common multiple payloads (large constellations). The elimination of payload analysis from launch costs represents $Ms in cost/flight. By eliminating this cost more cost savings occur.

The key here is that in the 50+ launches/yr scenario of large sat constellations SpaceX could get the cost of an F9 internal to SpaceX to under $20M. The cost of manufacture of the US, the launch processing flow and launch costs/fees. Recovery/Refurbishment/reuse costs of the booster and faring would be less than 10% of all costs.

Added:
The corollary here is that costs of an FH launch becomes little more than $5M more than an F9 launch. So if you could also reuse the US the cost of an FH with also reusing the US could be equal of less than the cost of a partial reusable F9 but also able to do more payload per flight. FH in this scenario would be able to do more for less cost than the F9. 25+mt to LEO for less than $30M /flight price.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/24/2017 02:35 PM
Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

Yep.

... not yet.... maybe not ever. BUT... Get the cadence to once every week across two pads and you're definitely moving in that direction. It is a baby step but it's moving from custom to scheduled/assembly line... And then (as long as the payloads are there[1]) you can keep driving process improvements. SpaceX is all about those. Contrast the time for the first ASDS unload-trip to hangar to the time for the latest.

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)


1 - CommsX makes sure they will be. Talk about eating your own dogfood...

Hawthorne will be starting an assembly line for Raptors one of these days.  That plus extra second stages should keep all available personnel quite busy.  They may be refurbing Vandy stages there, too... and maybe making ConnX dispensers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/25/2017 06:30 PM
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: tvg98 on 05/25/2017 06:53 PM
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.

If it were to work just as intended, could it be scaled up so that it could deliver a similar payload to LEO compared to Falcon 9, at a similar price point? We could see some serious competition if that is the case.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/25/2017 07:40 PM
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.

If it were to work just as intended, could it be scaled up so that it could deliver a similar payload to LEO compared to Falcon 9, at a similar price point? We could see some serious competition if that is the case.
That is the real speculative question.

The other is that Boeing would then be in competition with itself (50% ownership of ULA). What would Boeing need ULA for then?

In all this is again more push toward reusability and rapid reusability as an answer to many current constraints that include costs and launch availability. Launch on 24hr notice (if the weather cooperates).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 05/25/2017 07:45 PM
General discussion of the Boeing announcement and other DARPA/XS-1 stuff belongs in this thread

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32829

Keep posts here focused on the cost aspects, please.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: jpo234 on 05/25/2017 10:56 PM
With all the discussion about the Block 5 upgrades to the F9, aren't you looking at the wrong rocket? Tom Mueller was pretty clear in the interview: "But we want like a hundred or more reduction in costs; and that’s what the Mars rocket’s gonna do. That’s going to be the revolutionary rocket."
Looking at the Mars presentation we get less than 5 million dollars per launch for a payload of up to 380 metric tonnes. A BFR launch will be cheaper than an Electron launch and carry more than 1000x the mass.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/26/2017 12:22 AM
How much does Centaur cost? A single SSME booster is well sized to use Centaur to deliver 5 tonnes to SSO while riding the booster. But you have to expend a Centaur, which could preclude it from competing with F9 RTLS.

Lower cost options are an AJ-10 powered stage similar to Delta K. That would be cheaper than Centaur and competitive with F9R on cost but not performance. That might be able to hit $5m per launch.

Vector is supposedly building the upper stage propulsion. That could end up being cheap enough to expend and competitive with rocket lab...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/26/2017 01:42 AM
My point was how rapid reusability (24hr turnaround) is no longer something extolled only by SpaceX, but by BO and now by Boeing. Institutionally DARPA is of the opinion that rapid reusability is one of those key items for LV systems in the future to meet the expanded needs of the DOD for launch on demand and significantly lower costs.

But these three are orbital launchers. There are suborbital LV systems designed around the same policy of using rapid reusability to greatly lower costs.

Rapid reusability for orbital launch has been one of those items that seemingly was always on the horizon. Now it has moved to the near future, by 2020 at the latest. With acceptance that rapid reusability can be accomplished, this then also influences all new design projects where costs of the new system is evaluated with respect to systems that it could be competing against that would use rapid reusability.

This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: LouScheffer on 05/26/2017 01:55 AM
This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.
This is tough-to-impossible to do reliably.  Boeing and Airbus, with all the incentive in the world, find it very hard to predict how a proposed product will fare in five years, in the market and competitive landscape that will exist at that time.  And that's with just one serious competitor, relatively stable technology, and a fairly well understood market.

So the teams will try for "an in-depth economic analysis", but I think the true strategy will be to pick a design that gets in the ballpark and plays to your strengths, then make it as cheap as possible. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/26/2017 02:06 AM
This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.
This is tough-to-impossible to do reliably.  Boeing and Airbus, with all the incentive in the world, find it very hard to predict how a proposed product will fare in five years, in the market and competitive landscape that will exist at that time.  And that's with just one serious competitor, relatively stable technology, and a fairly well understood market.

So the teams will try for "an in-depth economic analysis", but I think the true strategy will be to pick a design that gets in the ballpark and plays to your strengths, then make it as cheap as possible.
You hit the main item on the head.

Cost is now the most important item because if you cannot control the costs, the same fate will happen as happens in other markets when management fails to control costs for a new product. THE PRODUCT FAILS.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: deruch on 05/26/2017 02:59 AM
With all the discussion about the Block 5 upgrades to the F9, aren't you looking at the wrong rocket? Tom Mueller was pretty clear in the interview: "But we want like a hundred or more reduction in costs; and that’s what the Mars rocket’s gonna do. That’s going to be the revolutionary rocket."
Looking at the Mars presentation we get less than 5 million dollars per launch for a payload of up to 380 metric tonnes. A BFR launch will be cheaper than an Electron launch and carry more than 1000x the mass.
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: jpo234 on 05/26/2017 10:21 AM
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle.

That's true. I just found it remarkable that in just a few years (if all goes right) one could order a BFR launch for maybe 1% of the current launch cost per mass. Even if SpaceX misses the target by an oder of magnitude, the savings would be dramatic.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/26/2017 12:23 PM
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle.

That's true. I just found it remarkable that in just a few years (if all goes right) one could order a BFR launch for maybe 1% of the current launch cost per mass. Even if SpaceX misses the target by an oder of magnitude, the savings would be dramatic.

The remarkable thing is that five years ago, USAF was talking about prices rising and being 'unsustainable.'
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/26/2017 03:48 PM
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: jpo234 on 05/26/2017 06:48 PM
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/26/2017 08:23 PM
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

It seems unwise to use those BFR cost estimates today.  Lots of work went into getting the F9 where it is, and the impact it is having on the market is profound even before reusability discounts take hold.  A couple years back, SpaceX advertised $5-7M flight costs for reusable Falcon 9 -- seems a long way off still.

Using the current advancements, I can see three potentially important impacts to market:
1. Current F9 prices ($62M-ish for 5-6t to GTO) are now a ceiling, so satellite operators can evaluate short term and mid term expansions with some certainty on costs;
2. Prices are potentially falling by several 10s of percent in next few years, so strategies that take advantage of this can be included in business strategy; and
3. Launch availability is soon to out-pace demand, so time from order to orbit can potentially drop drastically from industry norms which might also be of strategic advantage to some.
There are already several business models taking advantage of this new environment, and hopefully more on the drawing boards.

The multi-hundred tonne payload for whatever price (recall recently when head of ULA called a class of today's NSS payloads 'heavy') is far enough into the future that it is rally OT for this thread.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/26/2017 08:29 PM
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

I am convinced your optimism is warranted for the following reason and it leads me to another conclusion about reusability costs:

With the performance SpaceX has demonstrated at this point as described (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41560.msg1679711#msg1679711)d by Ed Kyle after Inmarsat and with remaining performance improvements to come, I'm convinced of Musk's ability to deliver preformance beyond early projections while maintaining costs and meeting goals.  The response to and comeback from the RUDs has been very impressive.  I think enough has been proven that SpaceX is relatively insulated now from normal RUDs and only exposed to some Black Swan that takes them out.  While space is hard no doubt, I'm not sure what technical impediment might prevent them from reaching their goals including eventually continuous operations.

So not sure if $5M is exactly right but that's besides the point.  I think they'll achieve gas-n-go (or close enough to it) cost.

When that happens it opens up a vast spectrum of otherwise impossible business opportunity in the $T's of revenue.

 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/27/2017 08:53 PM
I was gaming out an elastic price ($/kg) to tonnage model.

I set the values such that for a 25% price reduction a tonnage increase of 35% occurred. This tonnage increase can be accomplished by using bigger rockets or just more of the same size as previously used. The side effect to these values is that the model shows that outlays, spending by customers for all that additional launch tonnage, only increased by 7%. So though prices are going down rapidly and tonnage going up rapidly the revenue is only going up modestly.

For SpaceX this I think is what they would like to see happen. The actual rates of price decrease and tonnage increase are an unknown. But for this to expand the business the tonnage rate increase has to be larger than the price decrease. If that does not happen then the revenue will shrink for the company and there is little incentive to keep dropping prices.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/27/2017 10:52 PM
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

I am convinced your optimism is warranted for the following reason and it leads me to another conclusion about reusability costs:

With the performance SpaceX has demonstrated at this point as described (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41560.msg1679711#msg1679711)d by Ed Kyle after Inmarsat and with remaining performance improvements to come, I'm convinced of Musk's ability to deliver preformance beyond early projections while maintaining costs and meeting goals.  The response to and comeback from the RUDs has been very impressive.  I think enough has been proven that SpaceX is relatively insulated now from normal RUDs and only exposed to some Black Swan that takes them out.  While space is hard no doubt, I'm not sure what technical impediment might prevent them from reaching their goals including eventually continuous operations.

So not sure if $5M is exactly right but that's besides the point.  I think they'll achieve gas-n-go (or close enough to it) cost.

When that happens it opens up a vast spectrum of otherwise impossible business opportunity in the $T's of revenue.

Stop for a moment and consider what you are proposing...

Let's say price is $10M for that payload.  To get $T's of revenue (say $2T in a year?), it would take 200,000 launches -- one every other minute or so, 24-7, 365 days per year.

At 380t/launch, that's 76,000,000 tonnes of something into LEO.  Annually.  About 10x what FedX and UPS combined haul by ground and air in the US.  (Also about 380,000x what is currently launched annually in the World.)

You are proposing one big mess in LEO...

So, can we stick to something remotely plausible?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/27/2017 11:01 PM
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established. And this is why SpaceX is building a Megaconstellation rather than just focusing on launch.

There's one possible exception: high hypersonic (i.e. Near orbital) point to point travel. Likely to be held back by safety and other practical considerations, however it COULD have sufficient volume globally.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/27/2017 11:20 PM
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established.

There's one possible exception: high hypersonic (i.e. Near orbital) point to point travel. Likely to be held back by safety and other practical considerations, however it COULD have sufficient volume globally.
The rocket equation makes this uneconomical. Please do the actual math to understand.
But as a simplistic end conclusion:
An full A380 costs just US$ 30000 / hour (including pilots/flight attendants/maintenance, I think only the initial acquisition costs are out of this number).
So a 15 hour trip = US$ 450k
How much will a full sized ITS launch cost, just in fuel ? 10x as much.
And the A380 can fly for at least 2 decades.
Even if ITS refurb is affordable, the upper stage is gone in a year of daily flights. That's another few million USD per flight to replace the spaceship once its no longer air worthy.

The only planned solution that carries realistic hope of achieving viable $$$ hypersonic intra planetary is lapcat. And even that's just a hope. Please let's not start a skylon/lapcat discussion here. I'm just trying to pull your head that's stuck in the clouds and at least get one of your feet back on the ground. I'm sorry to burst your bubble.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/27/2017 11:27 PM
A full ITS optimized for point to point transport could send thousands of people per flight. You'd want a smaller vehicle, like something the size of the spaceship, for just A380 sized. Then the costs are similar. Full ITS is $3 million per launch (tanker flights) including propellant and amortization and fees. So a BFS sized vehicle would be about half a million, similar to an A380. Musk sees it as possible, though not necessarily likely.

The rocket equation doesn't actually preclude it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: macpacheco on 05/28/2017 12:04 AM
A full ITS optimized for point to point transport could send thousands of people per flight. You'd want a smaller vehicle, like something the size of the spaceship, for just A380 sized. Then the costs are similar. Full ITS is $3 million per launch (tanker flights) including propellant and amortization and fees. So a BFS sized vehicle would be about half a million, similar to an A380. Musk sees it as possible, though not necessarily likely.

The rocket equation doesn't actually preclude it.
I misspoke, I should have said the ISP of raptor isn't high enough. The ISP of rocket engines carrying their own LOX onboard that is the problem.
And like you said, revenue passenger flight will require FAA approval, which expectedly would be very resistant to certify rockets for Part 121 certification (same as airliners).
Here's perhaps the other reason an air breathing hypersonic rocket plane would make much more sense, since it avoids the thermal inferno of re-entry.

I'd love to be proven wrong though !
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/28/2017 12:47 AM
Rocket engines carrying their own oxygen isn't really that much of a problem. Air breathers have to do the same thing essentially by accelerating oxygen AND nitrogen up to their flight speed before they can burn it for thrust. The total amount of mass accelerated to flight speed (including that nitrogen mass) is actually GREATER for an air breather for an around the world flight.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rakaydos on 05/28/2017 05:49 AM
How hard would it be to land an ITS upperstage on a barge in international waters, with speedboat service to, say, LA, New York, Tokyo, and so on?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: docmordrid on 05/28/2017 06:10 AM
Why use a barge? A refurbished oil platform would be better, especially for hosting a commuter ferry service back to dry land.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lars-J on 05/28/2017 07:51 AM
I've long thought that an off-shore launch and landing platform makes the most sense for ITS operations.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 05/28/2017 10:11 AM
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established. And this is why SpaceX is building a Megaconstellation rather than just focusing on launch.

...

Correct.  But gross tonnage (frequent 380t/launch*) is not needed to reap that revenue. 
Leveraging existing F9 Block 5 is sufficient as launch costs are a tiny fraction of revenue; improvements such as a reusable upper stage will improve margin, but not substantially.

* Approximately 1,000 ConnX sats by mass.  2,000 per year needed to sustain 12,000 sat LEO +VLEO constellation.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/28/2017 01:32 PM
Block 5 Falcon 9 would have an expendable upper stage, expendable payload deployer, and complicated recovery of fairings plus non-ideal sooty kerolox engines, helium, etc. on the order of 100-200 launches per year. At a cost of about $4-6 billion per year. That's a lot of cash spent on a suboptimal solution. A couple of years of launches is the same price as just developing even full ITS (let alone a more economically sized vehicle).

An ITS or an intermediate ITS could do it in like 10-40 launches, with easier and faster turnaround, no expendable stages, no complicated fairing recovery. The cost per year could actually be much less than Falcon 9, plus would allow much larger and more capable satellites. Plus SpaceX wants it for Mars. They could use the (possibly subscaled) ITS for constellation launches in between planetary windows, and so get the reusable Mars launch architecture bought and paid for by the Constellation business.

Expensive operations, limited lift mass, and only partially reusable, and no Mars. Or low cost operations, far greater lift capability, and fully reusable, and almost free Mars logistics capability. Pretty obvious which direction they'll go.

By the way, don't make the mistake of thinking SpaceX won't face competition, either. If SpaceX stood still with Block 5, New Glenn could end up eating their lunch by launching the other constellations for just as low of a price (or lower, as it will eventually be fully reusable).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 05/28/2017 01:35 PM
...
Here's perhaps the other reason an air breathing hypersonic rocket plane would make much more sense, since it avoids the thermal inferno of re-entry.

Suborbital reentry is much easier than orbital, and orbital reentry is much easier than interplanetary entry - which is what the ITS ship is designed for.

Hypersonic air breathing vehicles still operate in a very tough thermal environment, and do so continuously instead of merely at entry.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/28/2017 03:33 PM
Back to Reusability effect on costs.

There are two elements to reusability effect on costs.

1) This is the direct element of cost of manufacture of the stage vs the cost of recovery/refurbishment/inspections and additional hardware to make recovery/reuse possible.

2) This is the indirect element of cost which is launch availability. For customers with a ready payload, waiting is costing them money. Increasing cadence due to more LV launch capability above that of demand makes those wait times between the payload ready and the payload launch much less. This is where ULA has been lately extolling its on-time launch and its available launch slots over that of its competitors. Even though most do not equate a cost value to this, but there really is one.

SpaceX will need both effects to compete and continue to gain in number of payload contracts: Lower PRICE and better availability of launch.

Several notes is that SpaceX will not be in this reusability competitive position alone for very long. BO wants to make that period short. Not more than 3 years. So SpaceX only has that period "to milk the market for profit" to fund additional R&D prior to decreasing prices in a peer competitor environment. This also makes the expectation that Prices would show a steady yr-to-yr  decline over that period and then continue that decline afterward. The yr-to-yr decline rate would be such that it predicts the Prices that competitors would be offering at the 3 year point to be able to successfully compete against them. So the analysis of what the SpaceX Prices would be in 2020 depend on what the analysis says that the competitors Prices will be in 2020. The decline has started with a offering of what appears to be a 10% reduction for launches this year and next. A possible additional reduction would be made this time next year as reuse becomes more common and costs become more clear.

Hopefully their "CommX" constellation will return revenue and profit by then to provide the funds for the continuation of R&D. But "CommX" will face stiff competition before it is even deployed. So the profits may not be as grand as some would believe. Lowering launch costs as much as possible will increase those profits in that highly competitive market. The first generation constellation would be deployed using F9 or FH. It would be over a period of 5 to 7 years (2019 to 2026). A second generation would be much larger sats possible 4 times heavier with 16 times the throughput. If launch on F9 or FH this is an increase in launches by as much as a factor of 4. Most of the estimates on deployment of the constellation show that launch cost will be about 50% of the cost of deployment (sat manufacture and launch) even with reuse of the first stage to lower launch costs. Launch cost is a major component of the constellation's base cost. If the launch cost could dramatically drop through use of a fully reusable vehicle by a factor of 5 (ITS also has much larger volume and payload mass capability) the costs of deployment drop by 40%. That cost savings could be profit generated over the next period of 5 to 7 years on the order of an additional several $B  in profit or the price competitive position to maintain or grow market share of the world wide data communication market. Even against terrestrial fiber.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/28/2017 05:31 PM
I bet they plan on starting to launch the Constellation on ITS-based rockets well before 2027. Especially with notes about how to make ITS economic.

As soon as 2020 (or earlier for an intermediate ITS), actually, as part of ITS's orbital testing phase mentioned in the IAC speech.
http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/mars_presentation.pdf

This will have a much greater impact on costs than partial reuse on Falcon 9. Especially combined with an operational New Glenn.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/28/2017 05:57 PM
The relationship of reusability and cost goes both ways.

There is an incentive if you need lower cost's of launch to fund reusability (we have seen this first phase of reusable boosters) development. We are talking about really needing it for a business case to stay competitive with competitors. Not just having reusability which will then lower costs. The incentives for doing more  reusability R&D has increased.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AC in NC on 05/29/2017 02:03 AM
So not sure if $5M is exactly right but that's besides the point.  I think they'll achieve gas-n-go (or close enough to it) cost.  When that happens it opens up a vast spectrum of otherwise impossible business opportunity in the $T's of revenue.

Let's say price is $10M for that payload.  To get $T's of revenue (say $2T in a year?), it would take 200,000 launches -- one every other minute or so, 24-7, 365 days per year.  At 380t/launch, that's 76,000,000 tonnes of something into LEO.  Annually.  About 10x what FedX and UPS combined haul by ground and air in the US.  (Also about 380,000x what is currently launched annually in the World.)

You are proposing one big mess in LEO...

Your dismissal suffers two flaws:

1)  Nowhere did I say annually.
2)  Nowhere did I indicate leaving anything in LEO.

There are practical impediments but the back of the napkin numbers do work.  It's nice to have something to do with the hardware when it's not staging Mars transits.  Gas-n-Go launch costs enable opportunity on the order I stated.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/29/2017 02:41 PM
Yes,
I understand that SpaceX is planning a fully reusable "Interplanatary Class" LV.
{I categorize the term Interplanetary Class as being >=200mt to LEO} Examples ITS
{I categorize the term Exploration Class as being >=100mt to LEO} Examples SLS and New Armstrong (this one could end up being a ILV-no actual payload size has been stated yet)

But,
These fully reusable ELV and ILV class LVs are about 10 years away (although SLS is an ELV class it will never be even partially reusable without a great deal of redesign and spending) before they are in general operation. Any cost estimation, market sizes, launch rates, etc are pure speculation and can vary the revenue values by a factor of 100 to even 1000. We do not know what the Price/Cost/Profit of these launches will be, the number of pads, the number of launches per week per pad, the actual payload weight launched, etc. So any cost estimation, revenue estimation, etc is just pure speculation and is not founded on enough facts to be used in arguments. Our belief is that full reusability and larger payload size will greatly reduce the $/kg to LEO from that of even a fully reusable FH's possible $/kg value of <$1,000/kg. But we only hope that this will be the case at this point based on Elon Musk's whole drive to decrease the price $/kg to LEO by at least a factor 10 and up to a factor of 100 from the best that can be done with a fully reusable FH.

Reusable and fully reusable LVs have been the holy grail for fast pace growing (like the computer electronics industry) for decades. The current information has only validated that the economics for a partial reusable vehicle results in a reduction of the $/kg value. But this reduction is not the big factor of 10 or 100 as of yet. So far it may yield a factor of 2 for the same vehicle operated as a expendable vs operated as a "rapid reusable". For the rapid reusable F9 to drop the $/kg price by a factor of 2 it has to get to a price per flight of <$22.5M/launch. This is a long way from the current prices but is a possibility if launch rate significantly increases (by a factor of 10), multiple savings from economies of scale, and other cost savings are implemented during the recovery, refurbishment, launch processing and launch as well as it's manufacture and initial acceptance testing.

One of those indirect cost lowering items is the fact that recovered hardware is inspectable and can be upgraded to remove weaknesses and low reliability items, thereby lowering the operating costs because less items are replaced, less LOV events occur, and more flights can be accomplished by a hardware set (specific LV).


Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/29/2017 02:48 PM
Wait, who says ITS is ten years away? SpaceX's timeline shows orbital testing in 2020. This should be feasible if SpaceX descopes ITS slightly so it can actually launch from LC39a.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 05/29/2017 04:54 PM
Wait, who says ITS is ten years away? SpaceX's timeline shows orbital testing in 2020. This should be feasible if SpaceX descopes ITS slightly so it can actually launch from LC39a.
Their intention is to upgrade LC39A to be able to launch the full sized BFR/ITS.

But this thread is not the ITS discussion thread.

Also at this point without more information we only know the NET dates for the schedule for ITS. Not the most likely dates. The next update from SpaceX/Musk on the progress and new projected schedule (hopefully they give an update to the scheduled events) will give a good look at how well the projected dates match reality.
The other point was that we have insufficient substantiated information to do projections of any level of real meaning other than the belief in that Musk would not make the system unless it was capable of lowering the cost $/kg to LEO significantly for the amount of development funds he is putting forward on the project. He believes it and so must we because so far he has delivered. But the actual factor of lower $/kg to LEO is a wide level of speculation and is also tied as we have seen with F9 to be associated with design and operations maturity. This suggests that ITS will not reach it's target costs and significant operation tempos for as much as a decade after first flight. F9 may not reach its best per flight possible price until 2020, possibly as low as $25M, which is half it's current price. Alot has to happen to enable such low prices. Faring reuse, a gas and go booster, reduced timeline/processes for launch/recovery of used boosters, more pads, and stable configuration must be done successfully to reduce the Price this much.

As I mentioned before as reusability creates the promise of cheaper $/kg so will the demand for cheaper $/kg spur investments in reusability as the market expands slowly at first and accelerates the expansion as time proceeds with new business cases becomeing viable with the lower $/kg.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 06/01/2017 01:40 AM
With the upcoming reuse of a Dragon, what are the implications of this reuse for lowering costs of such services?

The SpaceX statements sound similar to those about the booster used on SES-10. This would indicate the used Dragon probably cost >=50% as much as a new one. That would put savings on this ~$50-60M cost for Dragon of up to $30M.

If that is the best possible for Dragon even D2 then a Dragon flight on a used booster could have a cost (not price) of just $60M. This could lead to a price for D2 flights using a used D2 and used booster at a price of almost half that of current.

But it also is a pathfinder and like SES-10 booster will be recovered and be able to be studied to see the difference between one use and two uses which will inform just haw much of a usable life these vehicles actually have.

The remaining item not covered is just how much of that $50-60M cost of a new Dragon does the trunk cost?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: deruch on 06/01/2017 02:46 AM
With the upcoming reuse of a Dragon, what are the implications of this reuse for lowering costs of such services?

The SpaceX statements sound similar to those about the booster used on SES-10. This would indicate the used Dragon probably cost >=50% as much as a new one. That would put savings on this ~$50-60M cost for Dragon of up to $30M.

If that is the best possible for Dragon even D2 then a Dragon flight on a used booster could have a cost (not price) of just $60M. This could lead to a price for D2 flights using a used D2 and used booster at a price of almost half that of current.

But it also is a pathfinder and like SES-10 booster will be recovered and be able to be studied to see the difference between one use and two uses which will inform just haw much of a usable life these vehicles actually have.

The remaining item not covered is just how much of that $50-60M cost of a new Dragon does the trunk cost?
To my mind, Dragon 2 reuse isn't so much about direct cost savings but about new potential mission options.  Red Dragons, Lunar Flybys, etc. are all pretty much dependent on reused Dragon 2 capsules right now.  They could do those without reuse, but it would significantly stretch out their timeline or necessitate a higher production rate on D2 capsules.  So, in order to make such mission affordable either in terms of production costs or mission opportunity costs (i.e. lose out on using the capsule to fulfill a NASA mission, either CRS2 or Commercial Crew) it's going to require reuse and re-purposing of prior flown capsules.  Initially, most likely cargo D2s that are landed on dry land until NASA gets on board with land-landing crewed capsules.  Or, it will go the other way.  Reuse of CRS2 cargo D2 capsules will allow bespoke capsules to be built for other mission profiles. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Jcc on 06/02/2017 11:34 PM
Rocket engines carrying their own oxygen isn't really that much of a problem. Air breathers have to do the same thing essentially by accelerating oxygen AND nitrogen up to their flight speed before they can burn it for thrust. The total amount of mass accelerated to flight speed (including that nitrogen mass) is actually GREATER for an air breather for an around the world flight.

The advantage of an air breather is not so much the velocity but work done against gravity to reach altitude, and they do not need to lift the mass of O2 and N2 to altitude, it is already there. I'd does need to do work to compress the gasses, and reject heat, plus more work against friction with the wing surface to achieve high velocity. That's why air launch rockets like Pegasus don't launch at supersonic speeds, but I should think there are net fuel savings during air breathing phase.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/03/2017 12:29 AM
It's true you get some benefit from the gravitational potential energy of the oxygen being higher for an air breather, but consider that is a very small proportion of the energy of orbit or for hypersonic point to point transport.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/22/2017 05:45 AM
New article attempting to analyse reusability savings, with a particular focus on how long it might take SpaceX to recoup their investment so far in re-use:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/spacex-reusable-rocket-launch-costs-profits-2017-6 (http://uk.businessinsider.com/spacex-reusable-rocket-launch-costs-profits-2017-6)

Their model is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TgkiKHRNll3XhhYCZnmbJpL941cxGd5isMHIFFIpaG0/edit?usp=sharing (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TgkiKHRNll3XhhYCZnmbJpL941cxGd5isMHIFFIpaG0/edit?usp=sharing)
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 06/22/2017 07:10 AM
New article attempting to analyse reusability savings, with a particular focus on how long it might take SpaceX to recoup their investment so far in re-use:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/spacex-reusable-rocket-launch-costs-profits-2017-6 (http://uk.businessinsider.com/spacex-reusable-rocket-launch-costs-profits-2017-6)

Their model is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TgkiKHRNll3XhhYCZnmbJpL941cxGd5isMHIFFIpaG0/edit?usp=sharing (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TgkiKHRNll3XhhYCZnmbJpL941cxGd5isMHIFFIpaG0/edit?usp=sharing)

Where I think a lot of these estimates may miss the boat is in the high gross profit margin they assume SpaceX is currently achieving - prior to reuse. Generally, in the articles I have read on this topic, the 40% gross margin is traced back to a single source estimate, done some time ago to estimate SpaceX's value should they announce an IPO.

To me this is however applying traditional thinking to this problem. There have been a number of alternative suggestions that SpaceX is in fact operating very close to breakeven on their launches, in order to gain market share. And this distinction is important for purposes of calculating reuse investment recovery, for the simple reason that if the booster costs you 70% of your total launch costs, then saving 70% of $62m means you will profit a lot more from reuse than if you are saving 70% of 60% of $62m.

Basically, if you push SpaceX's launch costs closer to $62m, rather than assuming a 40% gross profit margin built into the $62m, then you increase your reuse savings, and reduce the payback period of the R&D.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 06/22/2017 03:10 PM
Looks like the Europeans are getting more serious about reusable rocketry (and costs):
Quote
Europe Sets Sights on Cheap Rocket Engine by 2030s
Quote

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe aims to develop a low-cost, reusable rocket engine for use after 2030 under a deal between Airbus Safran Launchers and the European Space Agency (ESA).

They signed a development contract at the Paris Airshow on Thursday to develop a demonstrator engine, powered by liquid oxygen and methane.

Airbus Safran said it would use new manufacturing techniques, including the use of 3D printers, to keep the engine's cost down to around 1 million euros ($1.1 million).

"The commercial market - at least the European one - is asking for reliability, on-time delivery and cost, and we have to find the best way to answer these market expectations," its CEO, Alain Charmeau, told Reuters.

The firm, a joint venture between Airbus and Safran that will become ArianeGroup on July 1, currently powers the rockets it uses to launch satellites for commercial clients with Vulcain 2 engines costing around 10 million euros each.

But not all in on reusable rockets yet...

Quote

"We need, and will have Ariane 6 in 2020, but we also have to prepare for the future ...and that is why this (Prometheus) program is important," he said.

The jury was still out on the issue of reusability, however.

California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) earlier this year achieved what it called "a huge revolution in spaceflight" by reusing part of one of its Falcon 9 rocket on a subsequent launch.

Charmeau said Prometheus would include work on reusability. "(But) the market is not asking for reusability... As long as we have a limited number of institutional launches it's difficult to bet on reusability."

https://www.usnews.com/news/technology/articles/2017-06-22/europe-sets-sights-on-cheap-rocket-engine-by-2030s
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 06/22/2017 04:05 PM
Sounds like Ariane is more or less ceding the field to SpaceX and perhaps Blue Origin for a decade or more.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 06/22/2017 04:41 PM
Everyone goes for methane these days... Very happy to see that! Never understood why this wasn't done decades ago.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 06/22/2017 10:30 PM
Sounds like Ariane is more or less ceding the field to SpaceX and perhaps Blue Origin for a decade or more.

Two years ago, they were referring to reusable rockets as fantasy, and four years ago, they were planning on expensive upgrades of Ariane 5.  Now it's Ariane 6 and low cost methlox engines, with reuse on the horizon.   They've come long, long way.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lars-J on 06/22/2017 11:31 PM
Sounds like Ariane is more or less ceding the field to SpaceX and perhaps Blue Origin for a decade or more.

Two years ago, they were referring to reusable rockets as fantasy, and four years ago, they were planning on expensive upgrades of Ariane 5.  Now it's Ariane 6 and low cost methlox engines, with reuse on the horizon.   They've come long, long way.

But they have a very long way to go still... Ariane 6 could be already be outdated by its first flight.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ulm_atms on 06/22/2017 11:53 PM
Quote
Charmeau said Prometheus would include work on reusability. "(But) the market is not asking for reusability... As long as we have a limited number of institutional launches it's difficult to bet on reusability."

Does this basically say "We don't fly often enough so that the ROI of reusability R&D isn't worth it at the moment?"

Also, they are correct that the market is not asking for reusability...the market is however asking for a cheaper price per launch as that makes them more money.  The only thing, barring a major discovery in physics that would allow Star Trek like changes to mass/gravity equations(subspace fields to lower mass of object and all that) is to not throw away the rocket after each use.  You can do things like find ways to build a part cheaper to a degree...but rockets already push material science to it's limit as it is so you can only cut costs to a point before it just won't work reliably anymore.  I would be surprised if you could build a rocket like the F9 much cheaper without sacrificing something.  There is a performance to cost floor.  That's true on everything made everywhere.

So yea...I don't buy the "market is not asking for it" comment.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/23/2017 12:00 AM
The market is asking for schedule, reliability, and cost. All things that rapid reuse, if you could perfect it, would give you in spades. So it's BS to say the market isn't "asking for reusability."
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 06/23/2017 06:05 AM
The market is asking for schedule, reliability, and cost. All things that rapid reuse, if you could perfect it, would give you in spades. So it's BS to say the market isn't "asking for reusability."

Reusability is the solution to the demand, one of potentially many solutions. So the statement is quite correct.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/23/2017 06:08 AM
The market is asking for schedule, reliability, and cost. All things that rapid reuse, if you could perfect it, would give you in spades. So it's BS to say the market isn't "asking for reusability."

Reusability is the solution to the demand, one of potentially many solutions. So the statement is quite correct.
Okay, then the statement is disingenuous. Might as well say that the market isn't asking for any kind of rocket, as the customer just wants their payload in orbit.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 06/23/2017 06:10 AM
The market is asking for schedule, reliability, and cost. All things that rapid reuse, if you could perfect it, would give you in spades. So it's BS to say the market isn't "asking for reusability."

Reusability is the solution to the demand, one of potentially many solutions. So the statement is quite correct.
Okay, then the statement is disingenuous. Might as well say that the market isn't asking for any kind of rocket, as the customer just wants their payload in orbit.

I would say that's a very accurate statement.  Like a good mathematician would do it. Absolutely correct and equally useless ;-) what was the topic again? Let's get back to it.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 06/23/2017 09:43 AM
Part of what may be holding the Europeans back is the jobs issue.  Low cost, reusable rockets remove the revenue stream that is produced by relatively expensive, expendable Ariane.  Same resistance is seen on multiple fronts in USA...  low cost is not the friend of launch service providers.

The question is whether they can survive on in-house government payloads only, or agree to 'force' -- as much as is practical -- domestic satellite fabricators and operators to use the local launch systems.

Edit: Added this cross-reference as example.  Haven't had time to watch...

As written crosspost from the discussion topic.
Today at the ESA pavilion at the Paris Airshow, there was a live roundtable discussion about the fixed institutional procurement of launches from Arianespace. Link to video (http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2017/06/Round_table_on_the_role_of_European_institutions_in_the_exploitation_of_Ariane_6_and_Vega-C)
The participents were representatives of: the EU, ESA, France, Germany & Italy, EUMETSAT and Arianespace.

Discussions belong in the discussion threat.
bold mine
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: ZachF on 06/26/2017 03:27 PM
Sounds like Ariane is more or less ceding the field to SpaceX and perhaps Blue Origin for a decade or more.

Two years ago, they were referring to reusable rockets as fantasy, and four years ago, they were planning on expensive upgrades of Ariane 5.  Now it's Ariane 6 and low cost methlox engines, with reuse on the horizon.   They've come long, long way.

But they have a very long way to go still... Ariane 6 could be already be outdated by its first flight.

It probably arguable that Ariane 6 would be obsolete now nevermind in 2020 when it does fly. In 2020 SpaceX's internal costs to launch Falcon 9 will probably be lower than the cost of Ariane 6's SRBs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 06/26/2017 04:04 PM
Where I think a lot of these estimates may miss the boat is in the high gross profit margin they assume SpaceX is currently achieving - prior to reuse. Generally, in the articles I have read on this topic, the 40% gross margin is traced back to a single source estimate, done some time ago to estimate SpaceX's value should they announce an IPO.

To be clear for everyone in case it is not generally known, gross margins are before R&D costs (and sales/general/admin costs) are accounted.  It's probably a good bet that SpaceX breaks even after those costs are accounted.  SpaceX has a lot of development engineers.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: toren on 06/26/2017 04:33 PM
Where I think a lot of these estimates may miss the boat is in the high gross profit margin they assume SpaceX is currently achieving - prior to reuse. Generally, in the articles I have read on this topic, the 40% gross margin is traced back to a single source estimate, done some time ago to estimate SpaceX's value should they announce an IPO.

To be clear for everyone in case it is not generally known, gross margins are before R&D costs (and sales/general/admin costs) are accounted.  It's probably a good bet that SpaceX breaks even after those costs are accounted.  SpaceX has a lot of development engineers.

That's a good bet.  Elon's and SpaceX' MO is to convert internal cash flow into assets, and he has a commendable discipline re building and sticking to general platforms versus one-off, opportunistic projects.  This whole thread is about whether those notional assets actually amount to something.  The pain from ULA and Arianespace suggests that they do. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 07/03/2017 08:01 AM
Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

Basically, if you take it to its logical conclusion where launch costs indeed drop to say 1% of their current level as per Elon's dream, you will end up with a tremendously high ratio between the initial cost of the asset (the reusable rocket) and the revenue earned per each individual launch.

So any payback calculation from a launch provider's point of view, for building or buying a single launch vehicle, will run into the hundreds of launches just to break even.

And that's before you even buy/construct a second or third vehicle to serve as backup in case of inevitable failure or repair requirements. Then you may be talking about a thousand launches just to earn back the initial cost of the asset.

And if you then factor in the inevitable loss of a launch vehicle at some point, this high asset cost/revenue ratio means the loss hits you much harder than a loss in the current launch environment would, from a financial point of view.

Anyway, it is exciting times for space enthusiasts like us, but it seems almost like Elon's greater goal of lowering the cost of access to space is killing the very golden goose that his company is earning its revenue from. Now, he can do that because he is the first in this space, but as I said before, unless you suddenly have tens of thousands of launches  per year - which seems a century away at least - the low margin high volume nature of the business model seems to discourage more entrants into this market. And seems to make profit prospects based on being purely a launch provider rather gloomy, in my view.

No doubt a lot of unexpected and exciting stuff will happen, but as it stands I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/03/2017 10:28 AM
Launch has always been a terrible way to make money. Reuse doesn't change that equation.

But there's lots of other ways to make money. Commsats are much more effective.

...which is why SpaceX is entering the commsat market.

...and SpaceX does envision increased launch.

And I think you left out one part of your calculation: more total payload per launch. That's part of how SpaceX intends to lower the cost by a factor of >100x.

SpaceX's constellation would require thousands of satellites to be launched per year. And Mueller envisions them eventually growing very large (meaning you're not going to be cluster launching them much). So SpaceX most certainly envisions thousands of launches in far less than a century.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 07/03/2017 11:15 AM
Launch has always been a terrible way to make money. Reuse doesn't change that equation.

But there's lots of other ways to make money. Commsats are much more effective.

...which is why SpaceX is entering the commsat market.

...and SpaceX does envision increased launch.

And I think you left out one part of your calculation: more total payload per launch. That's part of how SpaceX intends to lower the cost by a factor of >100x.

SpaceX's constellation would require thousands of satellites to be launched per year. And Mueller envisions them eventually growing very large (meaning you're not going to be cluster launching them much). So SpaceX most certainly envisions thousands of launches in far less than a century.

Yes. I guess it's the sheer scope of the vision that makes it challenging to conceptualize at times. One can assess the impact of reducing launch revenue to $30m or $10m per launch fairly easily, but it is more difficult to envisage how the myriad of other changes to the industry will impact the overall model.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 07/03/2017 12:47 PM
Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

Basically, if you take it to its logical conclusion where launch costs indeed drop to say 1% of their current level as per Elon's dream, you will end up with a tremendously high ratio between the initial cost of the asset (the reusable rocket) and the revenue earned per each individual launch.

So any payback calculation from a launch provider's point of view, for building or buying a single launch vehicle, will run into the hundreds of launches just to break even.

And that's before you even buy/construct a second or third vehicle to serve as backup in case of inevitable failure or repair requirements. Then you may be talking about a thousand launches just to earn back the initial cost of the asset.

And if you then factor in the inevitable loss of a launch vehicle at some point, this high asset cost/revenue ratio means the loss hits you much harder than a loss in the current launch environment would, from a financial point of view.

Anyway, it is exciting times for space enthusiasts like us, but it seems almost like Elon's greater goal of lowering the cost of access to space is killing the very golden goose that his company is earning its revenue from. Now, he can do that because he is the first in this space, but as I said before, unless you suddenly have tens of thousands of launches  per year - which seems a century away at least - the low margin high volume nature of the business model seems to discourage more entrants into this market. And seems to make profit prospects based on being purely a launch provider rather gloomy, in my view.

No doubt a lot of unexpected and exciting stuff will happen, but as it stands I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

No different than any other form of transportation. Trucks, ships, trains, and planes are very expensive relative the cost of a single trip on them. They simple are used very often for a long time and fail very rarely.

So for a 100x reduction in launch cost, there needs to be a 100x increase in launch rate assuming the same profit margin. Also a 100x improvement in reliability, so the cost of failure does not change relative to the amount of revenue.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 07/03/2017 01:13 PM
I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

I am at a loss trying to imagine the failure mode you are afraid of. The starting part is clear:

(1) Launch becomes cheaper
(2) Now every launch brings in much less revenue, and every launch failure is more painful than before

but then what? "Therefore launch providers operate at a loss and go bankrupt?" Why would that happen?

Are all low-cost airlines bankrupt now, and we are back to the days where taking a flight was a bit of a luxury? No, of course. _Some_ do go bankrupt, but those who find the right balance between "minimize prices" and "be profitable" survive. Overall, it results in more efficient passenger air transport. Yes, this means that being an airline is not easy, but the goal of economy is not to make airlines lives easy - its goal is to optimize all kinds of economic activity.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 07/03/2017 01:42 PM
I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

I am at a loss trying to imagine the failure mode you are afraid of. The starting part is clear:

(1) Launch becomes cheaper
(2) Now every launch brings in much less revenue, and every launch failure is more painful than before

but then what? "Therefore launch providers operate at a loss and go bankrupt?" Why would that happen?

Are all low-cost airlines bankrupt now, and we are back to the days where taking a flight was a bit of a luxury? No, of course. _Some_ do go bankrupt, but those who find the right balance between "minimize prices" and "be profitable" survive. Overall, it results in more efficient passenger air transport. Yes, this means that being an airline is not easy, but the goal of economy is not to make airlines lives easy - its goal is to optimize all kinds of economic activity.

Good question. I guess it's the difficulty in seeing the type of volumes in orbital launches that we see in air travel. It is easy to talk about 10,000 orbital launches a year, but it just seems to boggle the mind thinking about all the technological and regulatory hurdles that will have to be cleared to get there.

I'm sure it will happen. I'm just pointing out that I find it difficult to connect all the dots yet.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/03/2017 01:53 PM
Lower launch cost also means you can drive the reliability up much higher by exercising your capability a lot.

There's no law of physics that says launch can't get to 99.999% reliability or higher.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 07/03/2017 01:56 PM
I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

I am at a loss trying to imagine the failure mode you are afraid of. The starting part is clear:

(1) Launch becomes cheaper
(2) Now every launch brings in much less revenue, and every launch failure is more painful than before

but then what? "Therefore launch providers operate at a loss and go bankrupt?" Why would that happen?

Are all low-cost airlines bankrupt now, and we are back to the days where taking a flight was a bit of a luxury? No, of course. _Some_ do go bankrupt, but those who find the right balance between "minimize prices" and "be profitable" survive. Overall, it results in more efficient passenger air transport. Yes, this means that being an airline is not easy, but the goal of economy is not to make airlines lives easy - its goal is to optimize all kinds of economic activity.

Good question. I guess it's the difficulty in seeing the type of volumes in orbital launches that we see in air travel. It is easy to talk about 10,000 orbital launches a year, but it just seems to boggle the mind thinking about all the technological and regulatory hurdles that will have to be cleared to get there.

I'm sure it will happen. I'm just pointing out that I find it difficult to connect all the dots yet.

Just go back to 1940 and think of the number of airline flights.  Then move 30 years to 1970 and tell me about the number of commercial flights.  Now if we would have told someone in 1930 on the number of flights in today they would have said impossible.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/03/2017 01:57 PM
Tell someone in 1910 or 1890. Or 1917.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 07/03/2017 02:00 PM
I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

I am at a loss trying to imagine the failure mode you are afraid of. The starting part is clear:

(1) Launch becomes cheaper
(2) Now every launch brings in much less revenue, and every launch failure is more painful than before

but then what? "Therefore launch providers operate at a loss and go bankrupt?" Why would that happen?

Are all low-cost airlines bankrupt now, and we are back to the days where taking a flight was a bit of a luxury? No, of course. _Some_ do go bankrupt, but those who find the right balance between "minimize prices" and "be profitable" survive. Overall, it results in more efficient passenger air transport. Yes, this means that being an airline is not easy, but the goal of economy is not to make airlines lives easy - its goal is to optimize all kinds of economic activity.

Good question. I guess it's the difficulty in seeing the type of volumes in orbital launches that we see in air travel. It is easy to talk about 10,000 orbital launches a year, but it just seems to boggle the mind thinking about all the technological and regulatory hurdles that will have to be cleared to get there.

Lower launch costs don't need dramatic increases in launch volume (although it should lead to an  increase, economics 101). Elon demonstrates this experimentally right now: "merely" by making the rocket "the right way" and optimizing his operations for cost, he steals market from existing players. It works even with current volume, because all pre-existing players were inefficient (they were either government programs or monopolies).
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: M.E.T. on 07/03/2017 02:35 PM
I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

I am at a loss trying to imagine the failure mode you are afraid of. The starting part is clear:

(1) Launch becomes cheaper
(2) Now every launch brings in much less revenue, and every launch failure is more painful than before

but then what? "Therefore launch providers operate at a loss and go bankrupt?" Why would that happen?

Are all low-cost airlines bankrupt now, and we are back to the days where taking a flight was a bit of a luxury? No, of course. _Some_ do go bankrupt, but those who find the right balance between "minimize prices" and "be profitable" survive. Overall, it results in more efficient passenger air transport. Yes, this means that being an airline is not easy, but the goal of economy is not to make airlines lives easy - its goal is to optimize all kinds of economic activity.

Good question. I guess it's the difficulty in seeing the type of volumes in orbital launches that we see in air travel. It is easy to talk about 10,000 orbital launches a year, but it just seems to boggle the mind thinking about all the technological and regulatory hurdles that will have to be cleared to get there.

Lower launch costs don't need dramatic increases in launch volume (although it should lead to an  increase, economics 101). Elon demonstrates this experimentally right now: "merely" by making the rocket "the right way" and optimizing his operations for cost, he steals market from existing players. It works even with current volume, because all pre-existing players were inefficient (they were either government programs or monopolies).

Sure. I agree. I fully understand why being able to launch for $50m, while having a partially reusable F9 that costs you only $25m, makes for a fantastic business model. It's when those revenues drop to only $1m per launch on a BFR costing $500m to construct, that the required volumes start bothering me a bit.

But it is exciting stuff. I'm just trying to understand it properly.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/03/2017 02:48 PM
The one item that reusability has an effect on that is often overlooked is vehicle availability to be able to do a higher launch rate without a much higher manufacturing infrastructure. A very high (100+ vehicles a year) would require a very large amount of capital equipment, buildings, and other suppliers certification of parts to be done all requiring a large capital investment expenditure. Reuse allows the capability to greatly expand the launch rate without the large capital expenditure on the supply chain. This in itself is a very large savings of capital for the reusable rocket manufacturer.

Then there is this item that SpaceX just demonstrated as a possibility. They showed that if the 35e launch could be done without a hotfire then the interval would have been 6 days on the LC-39A pad. That is a demonstrated minimum interval between been full engine pad ignitions and pad refurbishment of 6 days. At that interval the launch rate just from 39A could be as high as 60 launches per year. Now add LC-40, Boca Chica and SLC-4E and the max launch rate could be easily above 200.

In order to reach such high launch rates without a very large expansion of manufacturing infrastructure and supply chain requires reusability to be economically successful.

This financial direction frees up capital for R&D to make the vehicle or new vehicle design even more efficient and reliable in the reusable domain. This is what is currently happening at SpaceX. This bootstrapping method is very traditional in commercial businesses. Get a first product out that sells then expand its availability (Supply) while using profits to develop its replacement or making significant improvements to the product at a much higher level of supply at a much lower unit cost to maintain the position in the competitive market.

The current orbital launch rate for the world id 80-100 launches. This is with SpaceX doing about 18-22 launches in one year. An increase in launches by SpaceX to 50 to launch LEO constellations (a new payload customer not a stealing of the existing market) brings the world total to 110 to 130. But this also changes SpaceX % of the world launch market from the current 22% of to 38% up to 45%. Now if the world launch rate because of the great expansion of LEO constellations deployments increases the world launch rate to 200 and SpceX is doing 100 of that total with a new provider (BO) doing the other 30 to 50 additional launches to get the totals up that high then SpaceX would be 50% of all the world launches with the second reusable launch provider at as high as 25% of the world launches. bringing the total of reusable launches to 75% of all the world orbital launches. This scenario is not that far away. It could happen by the early 2020's.

Added: A BTW Robotbeat talks of the threshold of used boosters to total boosters launched 25% of creating a significant turnover point for booster developers to only develop reusable boosters because anything else just will not compete in the world market. If SpaceX expands its launch rate to just 50 and only 70% (35 launches) of those are used boosters then the used boosters to total launches world wide (130 launches) is 27%. This condition could exist as early as 2020.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: spacenut on 07/03/2017 03:11 PM
I read somewhere that it is cheaper per passenger/mile to fly a 747 than an old 1920's-1930's Ford tri-motor.  If launch rates increase to a certain point, larger rockets will be cheaper to operate than smaller rockets. 

Say the Irridium satellites.  F9 can do 10 per launch.  An ITS could do say 100.  If F9 costs $30 million per launch and there is $30 million in profit, ITS could cost  say $200 million per launch and $400 in profits.  That would be a higher profit margin, but only one launch.  SpaceX could lower launch costs $100 million and still get the same profits.  ITS would have an even greater effect on launch costs. 

Seems like the more you reuse a F9 the more profits SpaceX makes.  Then if ITS is cheaper per/lb or kg, then reuse of ITS becomes even more cheaper. 

Like you say, with New Glenn coming on line, and even Vulcan, launch costs should begin to come down when reusability and more competitors get in the game. 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: BrightLight on 07/03/2017 03:31 PM
Between 1950 and 2017 the cost of an airline ticket has dropped by a factor of 10, the aircraft technology has gone through 3 or 4 generations of improved reliability. SpaceX (and I suspect Blue Origin) are second generation reusable launch vehicles. A cost of 30 million per flight - or less - with very high reliability should be within reach within the next decade if not now.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/03/2017 04:25 PM
STS at $500M per launch with a LEO payload capability of 25mt max is $20,000/kg.

SpaceX's F9 at $50M per launch of a used booster and recovery ASDS with a LEO payload capability of 15mt max is $3,333/kg.

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.

If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.

Also that in ticket price for passengers goes from the F9/D2 of $20M/passenger to $3.4M/passenger.

A forth generation reusable LV would then drop the passenger ticket price to orbit to just $500K.

The fifth generation would then get down to $80K per passenger.

The timeline is that in 5 years the 3rd generation reusable vehicles would start flying. 2022
4th - 2027
5th - 2032

At the 5th generation prices the tourist alone would be in the high hundreds to a few thousand. Now add the capability to visit the Lunar surface at $400K or go to Mars at $500 to $1M. And the volume of persons going into orbit will be very large >100X compared to our current 12/year rate (which just dropped to 10 because of high costs).

An FH with reusing the US and faring and able to recover the boosters too could come down to a Price of $30M and deliver to LEO 20mt  is $1,500/kg a factor of 2 reduction which could happen in 3 years or less. In actauality that reduction could be here almost immediately with FH without reusing the US because a all used booster FH at a price <$80M (possibly as low as $60M) could deliver that $2,000 to $1,500/kg as still part of the 2nd gen vehicle. This would be a reduction of a factor of 10 between it and STS.

If this is achieved then the 4th generation reusable LV would achieve the very large passenger counts and bulk to orbit payload tonnage for $20K to orbit for passengers and $20/kg for cargo.

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: BrightLight on 07/03/2017 04:51 PM

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.
If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.
The difference between the DC-3 and the Constellation was reliability and improved payload.  The 707 brought a step change in lower maintenance costs and fast turnaround times. It appears to me that SpaceX Falcon is in that region where reliability is being evaluated - and if proven cost-effective, the next iteration of Falcon - supposedly the last - will see lower launch costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/03/2017 05:00 PM

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.
If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.
The difference between the DC-3 and the Constellation was reliability and improved payload.  The 707 brought a step change in lower maintenance costs and fast turnaround times. It appears to me that SpaceX Falcon is in that region where reliability is being evaluated - and if proven cost-effective, the next iteration of Falcon - supposedly the last - will see lower launch costs.
The F9 is going through improvements but at the same level of generation which is about basic design and that design's basic limitations. The limitations can be stretched just like there were improvements over the operational life's of the DC-3 Constellation and 707 but still within each's generation.

Generations represent a new design like full resuability vs the F9's partial. A much larger full reusable LV than the FH that is just a 2 stage vehicle having a lot less complexity and also a lot less costs in handling would represent a new generation.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Eerie on 07/03/2017 06:49 PM
Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

[rest of the post omitted]

Your mistake is not taking the reliability of the launch vehicle into account.

If you have a 500M$ reusable BFR rocket, you are not going to sell a launch for a 1M$, unless you know that the rocket has less than 1/500 chance of failure. Preferably much less. Otherwise you will lose money. It's just plain statistics.

What you are going to do instead is start with a price slightly lower than an expendable launch, and slowly push it down as you go, while you figure out the reliability of your launch vehicle.

Which is exactly what SpaceX are doing.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/03/2017 07:32 PM
STS at $500M per launch with a LEO payload capability of 25mt max is $20,000/kg.

SpaceX's F9 at $50M per launch of a used booster and recovery ASDS with a LEO payload capability of 15mt max is $3,333/kg.

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.

If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.

Also that in ticket price for passengers goes from the F9/D2 of $20M/passenger to $3.4M/passenger.

A forth generation reusable LV would then drop the passenger ticket price to orbit to just $500K.

The fifth generation would then get down to $80K per passenger.

The timeline is that in 5 years the 3rd generation reusable vehicles would start flying. 2022
4th - 2027
5th - 2032

At the 5th generation prices the tourist alone would be in the high hundreds to a few thousand. Now add the capability to visit the Lunar surface at $400K or go to Mars at $500 to $1M. And the volume of persons going into orbit will be very large >100X compared to our current 12/year rate (which just dropped to 10 because of high costs).

An FH with reusing the US and faring and able to recover the boosters too could come down to a Price of $30M and deliver to LEO 20mt  is $1,500/kg a factor of 2 reduction which could happen in 3 years or less. In actauality that reduction could be here almost immediately with FH without reusing the US because a all used booster FH at a price <$80M (possibly as low as $60M) could deliver that $2,000 to $1,500/kg as still part of the 2nd gen vehicle. This would be a reduction of a factor of 10 between it and STS.

If this is achieved then the 4th generation reusable LV would achieve the very large passenger counts and bulk to orbit payload tonnage for $20K to orbit for passengers and $20/kg for cargo.

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.
BLEO seat prices may not much more than 2-3 times LEO if low cost lunar and asteriod fuel becomes available. Cheaper it is access space, cheaper it is to build and maintain ISRU making BLEO space even cheaper.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rakaydos on 07/03/2017 11:26 PM
STS at $500M per launch with a LEO payload capability of 25mt max is $20,000/kg.

SpaceX's F9 at $50M per launch of a used booster and recovery ASDS with a LEO payload capability of 15mt max is $3,333/kg.

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.

If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.

Also that in ticket price for passengers goes from the F9/D2 of $20M/passenger to $3.4M/passenger.

A forth generation reusable LV would then drop the passenger ticket price to orbit to just $500K.

The fifth generation would then get down to $80K per passenger.

The timeline is that in 5 years the 3rd generation reusable vehicles would start flying. 2022
4th - 2027
5th - 2032

At the 5th generation prices the tourist alone would be in the high hundreds to a few thousand. Now add the capability to visit the Lunar surface at $400K or go to Mars at $500 to $1M. And the volume of persons going into orbit will be very large >100X compared to our current 12/year rate (which just dropped to 10 because of high costs).

An FH with reusing the US and faring and able to recover the boosters too could come down to a Price of $30M and deliver to LEO 20mt  is $1,500/kg a factor of 2 reduction which could happen in 3 years or less. In actauality that reduction could be here almost immediately with FH without reusing the US because a all used booster FH at a price <$80M (possibly as low as $60M) could deliver that $2,000 to $1,500/kg as still part of the 2nd gen vehicle. This would be a reduction of a factor of 10 between it and STS.

If this is achieved then the 4th generation reusable LV would achieve the very large passenger counts and bulk to orbit payload tonnage for $20K to orbit for passengers and $20/kg for cargo.

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.
If the shuttle for 1st generation reusable and Falcon 9 2nd gen, introducing cost effective rapid reuse, I assume BFR would be 3rd gen, introducing bulk transport efficencies to spaceflight. What would 4th gen be, to get a 6-fold reduction in cost over BFR?

There would have to be some new technoligy to pull off gen 4. Perhaps some kind of practical fusion pulse drive, taking the Orion NPP concept for superheavy lift in a more enviromentally friendly direction?

In any case, I dont see gen 4 happening anywhere near as fast as gen 2 and gen 3, since gen 2 could have happened as early as the Delta Clipper days and gan 3 just relies on launch market expansion from gen 2.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: meekGee on 07/04/2017 05:51 PM
Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

Basically, if you take it to its logical conclusion where launch costs indeed drop to say 1% of their current level as per Elon's dream, you will end up with a tremendously high ratio between the initial cost of the asset (the reusable rocket) and the revenue earned per each individual launch.

So any payback calculation from a launch provider's point of view, for building or buying a single launch vehicle, will run into the hundreds of launches just to break even.

And that's before you even buy/construct a second or third vehicle to serve as backup in case of inevitable failure or repair requirements. Then you may be talking about a thousand launches just to earn back the initial cost of the asset.

And if you then factor in the inevitable loss of a launch vehicle at some point, this high asset cost/revenue ratio means the loss hits you much harder than a loss in the current launch environment would, from a financial point of view.

Anyway, it is exciting times for space enthusiasts like us, but it seems almost like Elon's greater goal of lowering the cost of access to space is killing the very golden goose that his company is earning its revenue from. Now, he can do that because he is the first in this space, but as I said before, unless you suddenly have tens of thousands of launches  per year - which seems a century away at least - the low margin high volume nature of the business model seems to discourage more entrants into this market. And seems to make profit prospects based on being purely a launch provider rather gloomy, in my view.

No doubt a lot of unexpected and exciting stuff will happen, but as it stands I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

Inadvertently, you're treading awfully close to an airplane analogy...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/04/2017 07:44 PM
STS at $500M per launch with a LEO payload capability of 25mt max is $20,000/kg.

SpaceX's F9 at $50M per launch of a used booster and recovery ASDS with a LEO payload capability of 15mt max is $3,333/kg.

That is a reduction between first and second generation reusable vehicles of a factor of 6.

If the next generation reusable LV can match the reduction factor then the price per kg drops to about $500/kg.

Also that in ticket price for passengers goes from the F9/D2 of $20M/passenger to $3.4M/passenger.

A forth generation reusable LV would then drop the passenger ticket price to orbit to just $500K.

The fifth generation would then get down to $80K per passenger.

The timeline is that in 5 years the 3rd generation reusable vehicles would start flying. 2022
4th - 2027
5th - 2032

At the 5th generation prices the tourist alone would be in the high hundreds to a few thousand. Now add the capability to visit the Lunar surface at $400K or go to Mars at $500 to $1M. And the volume of persons going into orbit will be very large >100X compared to our current 12/year rate (which just dropped to 10 because of high costs).

An FH with reusing the US and faring and able to recover the boosters too could come down to a Price of $30M and deliver to LEO 20mt  is $1,500/kg a factor of 2 reduction which could happen in 3 years or less. In actauality that reduction could be here almost immediately with FH without reusing the US because a all used booster FH at a price <$80M (possibly as low as $60M) could deliver that $2,000 to $1,500/kg as still part of the 2nd gen vehicle. This would be a reduction of a factor of 10 between it and STS.

If this is achieved then the 4th generation reusable LV would achieve the very large passenger counts and bulk to orbit payload tonnage for $20K to orbit for passengers and $20/kg for cargo.

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.
If the shuttle for 1st generation reusable and Falcon 9 2nd gen, introducing cost effective rapid reuse, I assume BFR would be 3rd gen, introducing bulk transport efficencies to spaceflight. What would 4th gen be, to get a 6-fold reduction in cost over BFR?

There would have to be some new technoligy to pull off gen 4. Perhaps some kind of practical fusion pulse drive, taking the Orion NPP concept for superheavy lift in a more enviromentally friendly direction?

In any case, I dont see gen 4 happening anywhere near as fast as gen 2 and gen 3, since gen 2 could have happened as early as the Delta Clipper days and gan 3 just relies on launch market expansion from gen 2.
Currently it looks to be an intermediary design between the F9/FH and BFR/BFS that will be the 3rd generation. It would be a full reusable SHLV (50+mt to LEO as a full reusable payload [12-25 persons crew capability to LEO]). This vehicle would also because of its smaller size would have about the same costs to operate as a vehicle BFR/BFS of 6 times larger. But it would also because of rapid resuablility higher reliability and other advances would reduce the $/kg etc from F9/FH by factor of 6 or more. BFR/BFS would then be the 4th generation just due to its size and further technological improvements over that of the intermediate.

Each generation the intermediate occurring in ~5 years and then the BFR/BFS being about 10 years out. The intermediate may be able the perform a scaled back Mars mission in the mid 2020s.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 07/05/2017 06:32 PM
Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

Basically, if you take it to its logical conclusion where launch costs indeed drop to say 1% of their current level as per Elon's dream, you will end up with a tremendously high ratio between the initial cost of the asset (the reusable rocket) and the revenue earned per each individual launch.

So any payback calculation from a launch provider's point of view, for building or buying a single launch vehicle, will run into the hundreds of launches just to break even.

And that's before you even buy/construct a second or third vehicle to serve as backup in case of inevitable failure or repair requirements. Then you may be talking about a thousand launches just to earn back the initial cost of the asset.

And if you then factor in the inevitable loss of a launch vehicle at some point, this high asset cost/revenue ratio means the loss hits you much harder than a loss in the current launch environment would, from a financial point of view.

Anyway, it is exciting times for space enthusiasts like us, but it seems almost like Elon's greater goal of lowering the cost of access to space is killing the very golden goose that his company is earning its revenue from. Now, he can do that because he is the first in this space, but as I said before, unless you suddenly have tens of thousands of launches  per year - which seems a century away at least - the low margin high volume nature of the business model seems to discourage more entrants into this market. And seems to make profit prospects based on being purely a launch provider rather gloomy, in my view.

No doubt a lot of unexpected and exciting stuff will happen, but as it stands I am struggling to figure out the working business model for the end state that Elon has in mind.

If launch costs drop to zero, launch prices don't need to follow. 

Launch vendor has the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear... in SpaceX's case, whatever an expanding market will bear.  Pragmatic pricing to achieve long term goals --> exactly what they are practicing today with a 10% discount while costs are dropping up to 90% for the booster (at 70% of the vehicle cost, this allows a 63% reduction in price if just breaking even at $62M-ish per launch).

...at the same time, launching ConnX at cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: AncientU on 07/05/2017 06:50 PM
...

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.

If the shuttle for 1st generation reusable and Falcon 9 2nd gen, introducing cost effective rapid reuse, I assume BFR would be 3rd gen, introducing bulk transport efficencies to spaceflight. What would 4th gen be, to get a 6-fold reduction in cost over BFR?

There would have to be some new technoligy to pull off gen 4. Perhaps some kind of practical fusion pulse drive, taking the Orion NPP concept for superheavy lift in a more enviromentally friendly direction?

In any case, I dont see gen 4 happening anywhere near as fast as gen 2 and gen 3, since gen 2 could have happened as early as the Delta Clipper days and gan 3 just relies on launch market expansion from gen 2.

4th generation could be where many launch service suppliers across the globe adopt BFR-like technology, and market expansion makes room for all of them.  Competition among the suppliers would keep prices falling and convenience/opportunity expanding.

Currently, SpaceX is the sole vendor for Gen 2 and will also start out that way for Gen 3 -- until Blue and others join the party.  If this doesn't light a fire under the demand side, then Gen 4 and subsequent become unlikely. 

New technology beyond chemical rocketry may follow exponential growth on demand side... no one will invest in it until then.  Physics will likely play a deciding role on getting out of the gravity well, though in-space options are much more viable.

Edit: Fixed quotes
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: rakaydos on 07/07/2017 10:33 AM
...

4th generation reusable vehicles could be as little as 10 years into the future.

If the shuttle for 1st generation reusable and Falcon 9 2nd gen, introducing cost effective rapid reuse, I assume BFR would be 3rd gen, introducing bulk transport efficencies to spaceflight. What would 4th gen be, to get a 6-fold reduction in cost over BFR?

There would have to be some new technoligy to pull off gen 4. Perhaps some kind of practical fusion pulse drive, taking the Orion NPP concept for superheavy lift in a more enviromentally friendly direction?

In any case, I dont see gen 4 happening anywhere near as fast as gen 2 and gen 3, since gen 2 could have happened as early as the Delta Clipper days and gan 3 just relies on launch market expansion from gen 2.

4th generation could be where many launch service suppliers across the globe adopt BFR-like technology, and market expansion makes room for all of them.  Competition among the suppliers would keep prices falling and convenience/opportunity expanding.

Currently, SpaceX is the sole vendor for Gen 2 and will also start out that way for Gen 3 -- until Blue and others join the party.  If this doesn't light a fire under the demand side, then Gen 4 and subsequent become unlikely. 

New technology beyond chemical rocketry may follow exponential growth on demand side... no one will invest in it until then.  Physics will likely play a deciding role on getting out of the gravity well, though in-space options are much more viable.

Edit: Fixed quotes
While we dont know what or when gen 4 is, though, we know what gen 5 or 6 will be- Space Elevators and other launch megastructures.

Because that's what expansion of the launch market and development of better launch systems is leading toward- creating a market for and investment opportunity in bulk, low cost access to space. We all know the problems with building a space elevator now, but in 50 years or so, we may be building a Launch loop to service a growing lunar and martian service industry.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: QuantumG on 07/08/2017 01:04 AM
Launch vendor has the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear... in SpaceX's case, whatever an expanding market will bear.

For a while, sure. There's a limited window though. Eventually your market will just look at how you're doing it and do it themselves. If not them, won't your competitors?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 07/08/2017 02:46 AM
Launch vendor has the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear... in SpaceX's case, whatever an expanding market will bear.

For a while, sure. There's a limited window though. Eventually your market will just look at how you're doing it and do it themselves. If not them, won't your competitors?


Buffett talks about a moat. Others talk about "secret sauce"... different buzzwords, same or similar concepts. Doing something that can't be easily exactly replicated. If reuse were easy, everyone would already be doing it. The SpaceX secret sauce may in fact be that they don't have to answer to investors, and the SpaceX moat may be how far ahead they are, as AncientU related in the "who wil compete" thread, they have a triple squeeze going.

Will it last forever? Of course not. And Bezos, in particular, excels at "fast follower" so SpaceX had better not rest on their laurels. But their reach always exceeds their grasp, so no danger of that any time soon. As long as Elon isn't hit by a bus.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MP99 on 07/08/2017 11:56 AM


Despite my excitement about the increased access to space thanks to reusability, I am still struggling to fully reconcile myself with the Business Case for full reusability, from a launch provider point of view.

[rest of the post omitted]

Your mistake is not taking the reliability of the launch vehicle into account.

If you have a 500M$ reusable BFR rocket, you are not going to sell a launch for a 1M$, unless you know that the rocket has less than 1/500 chance of failure. Preferably much less. Otherwise you will lose money. It's just plain statistics.

What you are going to do instead is start with a price slightly lower than an expendable launch, and slowly push it down as you go, while you figure out the reliability of your launch vehicle.

Which is exactly what SpaceX are doing.

This is a passive strategy. "I'll reduce my prices a bit, assuming the market continues much as today."

A more active strategy would be do as you suggest for the existing market, whilst trying to drive changes to the market. Once (assuming) block 5 is hitting 10+ flights per core without much maintenance, and fairings are being reused OK. Then perhaps offer 50-75% discounts for a minimum of 100 flights over five years if it offers the chance for them to get upper-stage reuse working.

Cheers, Martin

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MP99 on 07/08/2017 12:10 PM


While we dont know what or when gen 4 is, though, we know what gen 5 or 6 will be- Space Elevators and other launch megastructures.

Because that's what expansion of the launch market and development of better launch systems is leading toward- creating a market for and investment opportunity in bulk, low cost access to space. We all know the problems with building a space elevator now, but in 50 years or so, we may be building a Launch loop to service a growing lunar and martian service industry.

50 years out is very tricky to predict.

It's conceivable that by that time you'll just electronically upload your personality into a 3D printed android body (from local resources) on the planetary surface of your choice. Just need to get a small amount of hardware onto the surface to bootstrap the process.

Heinlein liked to use the analogy of buggy whip manufacturers. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/10digi.html IE, planning to solve a problem that might not exist. These would also be the sorts of technologies that would have spacecraft assembled in orbit from EG asteroid resources.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 07/08/2017 01:16 PM
Launch vendor has the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear... in SpaceX's case, whatever an expanding market will bear.

For a while, sure. There's a limited window though. Eventually your market will just look at how you're doing it and do it themselves. If not them, won't your competitors?

How to combat this: two months before the first competitor's first flight, you drop your prices 40% below theirs.
There is no need to dramatically lower prices *today* when your nearest realistic competitor on your current price is at least 2 years away from flying.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Mader Levap on 07/08/2017 01:58 PM
It's conceivable that by that time you'll just electronically upload your personality into a 3D printed android body (from local resources) on the planetary surface of your choice. Just need to get a small amount of hardware onto the surface to bootstrap the process.

First, "3D printed android body (from local resources) on the planetary surface of your choice" most probably won't be possible in 50 years. I guess last few centuries of failed predictions from futurologists and futurists will not teach anything for certain people. Technological progress is unpredictable in long term.

Take computers. No one at beginning predicted advent and permeating presence of small personal computers, including one in your pocket. There were visions of planet-sized (or at least city-sized) supercomputers. Always bigger, not smaller.

Predicting something more than few decades in future is always crapshoot, fuelled by dreams and wishful thinking. It is indeed very tricky, but there is difference between "conceivable" and something that may actually happen.

Second, there is no "upload". You can, at most, create copy of you. You yourself will be still here in meatspace.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/08/2017 02:08 PM
Launch vendor has the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear... in SpaceX's case, whatever an expanding market will bear.

For a while, sure. There's a limited window though. Eventually your market will just look at how you're doing it and do it themselves. If not them, won't your competitors?


Buffett talks about a moat. Others talk about "secret sauce"... different buzzwords, same or similar concepts. Doing something that can't be easily exactly replicated. If reuse were easy, everyone would already be doing it. The SpaceX secret sauce may in fact be that they don't have to answer to investors, and the SpaceX moat may be how far ahead they are, as AncientU related in the "who wil compete" thread, they have a triple squeeze going.

Will it last forever? Of course not. And Bezos, in particular, excels at "fast follower" so SpaceX had better not rest on their laurels. But their reach always exceeds their grasp, so no danger of that any time soon. As long as Elon isn't hit by a bus.
I object to Blue Origin being a "fast follower." They started earlier and were working on VTVL back when SpaceX still thought parachutes were the answer.

Blue Origin is a "slow starter" not a "fast follower."

Of course, they also have a billion or so of free investment money every year, so they're not going anywhere and will almost certainly succeed. Eventually.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/08/2017 04:36 PM
Reusability is the pushing of costs all to the front of the line into development and manufacture of hardware and reduction of costs of operation. This requires a lot of early funding to accomplish. Which SpaceX has managed to do and BO certainly will be able to do. But others are limiting their funds during these phases, both commercial and government LV projects funding. Which will limit the effectiveness of the LV's to compete in a free market against SpaceX's and BO's developed LV's.

This is another element of reusability effect on costs is where and when the costs for an reusable LV system is spent vs an expendable system.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/08/2017 09:17 PM
Reusability is the pushing of costs all to the front of the line into development and manufacture of hardware and reduction of costs of operation. This requires a lot of early funding to accomplish. Which SpaceX has managed to do and BO certainly will be able to do. But others are limiting their funds during these phases, both commercial and government LV projects funding. Which will limit the effectiveness of the LV's to compete in a free market against SpaceX's and BO's developed LV's.

This is another element of reusability effect on costs is where and when the costs for an reusable LV system is spent vs an expendable system.
The large development costs upfront for RLV are why ULA are going for SMART partial reuse. Lower development costs, good chance of it working first time. While it may not be able to match F9R for price it should be competitive against Ariane 6, Proton and OA NGLV.





Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: butters on 07/08/2017 10:21 PM
Reusability is the pushing of costs all to the front of the line into development and manufacture of hardware and reduction of costs of operation. This requires a lot of early funding to accomplish. Which SpaceX has managed to do and BO certainly will be able to do. But others are limiting their funds during these phases, both commercial and government LV projects funding. Which will limit the effectiveness of the LV's to compete in a free market against SpaceX's and BO's developed LV's.

This is another element of reusability effect on costs is where and when the costs for an reusable LV system is spent vs an expendable system.
The large development costs upfront for RLV are why ULA are going for SMART partial reuse. Lower development costs, good chance of it working first time. While it may not be able to match F9R for price it should be competitive against Ariane 6, Proton and OA NGLV.

The problem is, SpaceX and Blue Origin could easily become like Boeing and Airbus in the airline industry. In an industry where flight rate amortization dominates unit cost calculations, how many RLV competitors are economically sustainable? SpaceX and Blue will exploit their first-mover advantage to aggressively gobble up market share because they know that flight rate will drive down their unit costs while starving out their legacy rivals.

SpaceX enjoyed the luxury of iterating toward reusability while still undercutting their competition. Others will not be so fortunate. ULA plans (hopes?) to develop a rocket with substantially less performance than New Glenn, based on the same booster engine, and they only aspire to recover the engines, whereas Blue will recover the whole booster stage. Smart? More like the art of the possible, where the possible is clearly not sufficient.

Enter this industry with a willingness to burn billions of dollars or don't even bother. The short history of spaceflight is littered with projects which tried and failed to do reusable spaceflight on a modest development budget. Musk was willing to bankrupt himself and nearly did. Bezos is comfortable spending a billion dollars, year after year. They're the ones who are succeeding.

As long as there was nobody willing to make this kind of massive upfront investment, others were free to dip their toes in the water and "invest responsibly." But now there are two entrepreneurs who have anted up in a big way. Two strong rivals can be enough remake an entire industry.  Does anybody else have the money and ambition to buy in?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: gospacex on 07/08/2017 11:18 PM
ULA plans (hopes?) to develop a rocket with substantially less performance than New Glenn, based on the same booster engine, and they only aspire to recover the engines, whereas Blue will recover the whole booster stage. Smart? More like the art of the possible, where the possible is clearly not sufficient.

I actually don't understand what ULA is doing. Using an engine from BO plain does not make sense.

When BO starts reliably launching their own LV, why on Earth would they continue to sell their engine to a competitor? Out of their heart goodness? Surely not. At best (for ULA), they would continue to sell it at a premium, much above their internal cost. At "not best", they just sink ULA whenever they want by simply refusing to prolong the contract.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 07/09/2017 07:28 PM
ULA plans (hopes?) to develop a rocket with substantially less performance than New Glenn, based on the same booster engine, and they only aspire to recover the engines, whereas Blue will recover the whole booster stage. Smart? More like the art of the possible, where the possible is clearly not sufficient.

I actually don't understand what ULA is doing. Using an engine from BO plain does not make sense.

When BO starts reliably launching their own LV, why on Earth would they continue to sell their engine to a competitor? Out of their heart goodness? Surely not. At best (for ULA), they would continue to sell it at a premium, much above their internal cost. At "not best", they just sink ULA whenever they want by simply refusing to prolong the contract.
This engine contract from BO to ULA is beginning to be OT for this thread. The general point is that BO's sell of BE-4's to ULA gives them economic and political advantages. Engines revenue predates launches by easily 2 years. So as soon as the BE-4 goes into production BO will start receiving revenue for then 2 years prior to Vulcan or NG ever doing a first flight.

As far as NG vs Vulcan. Vulcan will be certified nearly right out of the blocks for DOD contract awards. Would just need to show the vehicle works as advertised. NG would have to take the longer road up to as much as 4 years after its first flight to be able to be awarded DOD contracts. So NG would not be in direct competition to Vulcan for up to 4 years. At that time BO would have sold to ULA >$200M in engines. If once NG is certified to fly DOD missions ULA goes Chapter 7 then BO could then purchases ULA assets on pennies on the dollar (no one else would probably even be interested in the assets). These assets would be as many as 32 BE-4 engines and possibly 10-16 ACES US that could be flown on top of NG. These ACES stages could even be using the BE3U. If not then BO conversion of the ACES to use the BE3U would give BO a high performance US at reasonable possibly even eventually at low manufacture cost. Because the makeup of ACES lends itself to mass production economies of scale.manufacture costs.

So the cases that have been discussed are not likely to take place for up to 6-8 years from now. But the general item is that without putting the money now into the development of systems that can compete in the LV price market 6-8 years from now the entity will go bankrupt from lack of sales.

Ultimately the Market even as dysfunctional as it is for the LV industry will determine the successful LV designs not the current self serving political goals pushing certain designs. Currently that market looks to be turning toward the complete reuse of boosters, not some part of the booster, and a a gas and go scenario for booster use.

In the world where boosters are rapid reusable but US are mostly expended, ULA could then become a supplier of ACES stages to BO for use on NG and NA.  They would no longer be a competitor LV but simply a "parts" supplier.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Semmel on 07/10/2017 07:32 AM
I am quite interested in the threads topic but it seems to find little to no bases for discussion. Can we have some hard numbers please?

I would like to know what a flight of the F9 costs, including all launch fees and payments by the customer. I think I have seen something similar in the past, but can't remember where or the details. We know:

Cost of F9 S1 is 70% of the hardware
Cost of F9 Fairing is 10% of the hardware
Cost of F9 S2 is 20% of the hardware (by deduction)

But thats just the hardware and not the entire cost of a flight to the customer. There are lots of fees and processes involved that are not the booster hardware and I dont know them all. Once we have settled down these numbers and maybe can predict the true cost to a customer of an F9 Bock 5 with 10 reuses each booster (lets be conservative), we can deduce what reduction in price is possible. Once we have that we can answer the threads question what the effect truely is. And also we can predict what a fully reusable system will be able to do.

For each reusable launch we have (please complete the list!):
* F9 throwaway hardware cost
* F9 reusable hardware amortization cost
* F9 refurbishment cost
* Launch fees (Range, FAA, Launch site services, etc.)
* Insurance fees
* Payload processing
* SpaceX Profit

Once this all is settled and numbered, we can see how low a price SpaceX can push the F9 / FH architecture.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 07/10/2017 02:32 PM
I am quite interested in the threads topic but it seems to find little to no bases for discussion. Can we have some hard numbers please?

I would like to know what a flight of the F9 costs, including all launch fees and payments by the customer. I think I have seen something similar in the past, but can't remember where or the details. We know:

Cost of F9 S1 is 70% of the hardware
Cost of F9 Fairing is 10% of the hardware
Cost of F9 S2 is 20% of the hardware (by deduction)

But thats just the hardware and not the entire cost of a flight to the customer. There are lots of fees and processes involved that are not the booster hardware and I dont know them all. Once we have settled down these numbers and maybe can predict the true cost to a customer of an F9 Bock 5 with 10 reuses each booster (lets be conservative), we can deduce what reduction in price is possible. Once we have that we can answer the threads question what the effect truely is. And also we can predict what a fully reusable system will be able to do.

For each reusable launch we have (please complete the list!):
* F9 throwaway hardware cost
* F9 reusable hardware amortization cost
* F9 refurbishment cost
* Launch fees (Range, FAA, Launch site services, etc.)
* Insurance fees
* Payload processing
* SpaceX Profit

Once this all is settled and numbered, we can see how low a price SpaceX can push the F9 / FH architecture.

Musk did say the booster was up to 70% of the cost (not price) of a "flight", not the "rocket" or the "hardware":

Quote
The most expensive part of a whole mission from a launch standpoint is the boost stage. It represents, depending on how you count it, up to 70% of the cost of the flight.

https://github.com/robbak/SES10-post-launch-conference/blob/master/SES10-press-transcript.txt

From the same source, the fairing (internal cost?) is about $6m:
Quote
I was like, "Guys, imagine you had 6 million dollars in cash in a pallet flying through the air

And he threw out some round numbers in the same conference:
Quote
So you can imagine that if the cost of the rocket is say 60 million dollars - really we're not re-using the whole thing, but - with the fairing, assuming fairing reuse works out, and as we optimise the cost of the reuse of the booster, really looking at maybe 3/4 of the rocket cost dropping by an order of magnitude, maybe more.

Now I don't think the F9 internal marginal cost to SpaceX is $60M, that has to include overhead for all their operating costs and profits for a no-frills launch for the list price of $62M to be realistic. But his does suggest that the fairing+booster is in the neighborhood of $46M. So if fairing cost is $6M, that puts the booster cost at $40M, which correlates with "up to" 70% of a ~$60M flight cost.

Edit: My take on each of these numbers:
These only apply to reused flights with a discount, not recovered flights at full price:
* F9 throwaway hardware cost - $10m/flight, fixed cost of upper stage only
* F9 reusable hardware amortization cost - $20M, goes away in 2 years
* F9 refurbishment cost - $2M/flight, will drop to $50k/flight

These are current costs which we know add up to about $7M for a basic launch:
* Launch fees (Range, FAA, Launch site services, etc.) -
* Insurance fees -
* Payload processing -
* SpaceX Profit -

And don't forget fuel, which is $200k per launch.

They will all drop per launch as reliability and volume improve, but for now let's assume they are constant. This gives a hardware cost of $16.6M/flight including refurb and a new upper stage every time: [(40+6)/10+10+2]. Add in the $20M profit SpaceX needs to recoup development of reuse, and the fixed $7M in fees and processing, and fuel and you get a total of $43.8M/flight over the next 2 years.

Over the next couple years, the cost of development will be paid off (it might be already, depending how they accounted for it). The cost of refurbishment will drop dramatically, so hardware costs would be $14.7M [(40+6)/10+10+0.05]. The fees, processing, and profit will probably decline, but that might take more than 2 years Let's figure that's still $7M, and fuel is $200k. So by mid-2019, the price of a launch could be as low as $21.9M.

But the eventual goal for F9 is hundreds of launches per booster, and hundreds of launches per year. Fees and processing will be streamlined and cost-reduced though volume, I'd estimate by half to $3.5M. Profits per launch will be much lower, though total revenues will be much higher due to higher flight rates. So we're looking at hardware costs of $10.5M/flight [(40+6)/100+10+0.05], and total per flight costs of $14.2M. I think that's the ultimate limit of F9 without upper stage reuse.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 07/11/2017 01:59 PM
On Quora Jim Cantrell claims F9 booster re-use is primarily about increasing launch frequency to improve cash flow, as well as perfecting re-use technology for Mars:

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket# (https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket#)

Claims very few boosters will re-used more than '3 or so' times, so seems to be ignoring (or doesn't believe?) SpaceX's claims about block 5 aim of 10 uses without refurbishment.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RotoSequence on 07/11/2017 02:10 PM
On Quora Jim Cantrell claims F9 booster re-use is primarily about increasing launch frequency to improve cash flow, as well as perfecting re-use technology for Mars:

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket# (https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket#)

Claims very few boosters will re-used more than '3 or so' times, so seems to be ignoring (or doesn't believe?) SpaceX's claims about block 5 aim of 10 uses without refurbishment.

As a SpaceX fan, I don't know if I believe them either. Those landing legs have to deal with severely off nominal landing conditions and they're only afforded one consumable component.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Coastal Ron on 07/11/2017 02:20 PM
On Quora Jim Cantrell claims F9 booster re-use is primarily about increasing launch frequency to improve cash flow, as well as perfecting re-use technology for Mars:

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket# (https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket#)

Claims very few boosters will re-used more than '3 or so' times, so seems to be ignoring (or doesn't believe?) SpaceX's claims about block 5 aim of 10 uses without refurbishment.

As a reference, Jim Cantrell was one of the original SpaceX employees, but left in September of 2002 - so well before even the Falcon 1 was finished. So he would not have any inside, first-hand knowledge about what SpaceX is doing wrt reusability.

What we have been hearing is that the current Block 3/4 would only be capable of '3 or so' reuses, but that Block 5 of the Falcon 9 should be capable of more than 10 reuses without refurbishment.

So I'm not sure what to make of his viewpoints...
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: RedLineTrain on 07/11/2017 02:39 PM
Those views don't seem to match up with SpaceX's stated annual manufacturing rate -- Cantrell suggests 10-12 while Shotwell states 20+.  Reusability with Blocks 3 and 4 would seem to allow a launch rate that is 2x or 3x 20+.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 07/11/2017 02:44 PM
On Quora Jim Cantrell claims F9 booster re-use is primarily about increasing launch frequency to improve cash flow, as well as perfecting re-use technology for Mars:

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket# (https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-SpaceX-save-by-reusing-a-Falcon-rocket#)

Claims very few boosters will re-used more than '3 or so' times, so seems to be ignoring (or doesn't believe?) SpaceX's claims about block 5 aim of 10 uses without refurbishment.

Here's the crux of his argument:

Quote from: Jim Cantrell
If you go through the R&D costs of developing a reusable launch vehicle, the opportunity costs (in terms of fuel used for return and the lost revenue opportunity for more payload to orbit) of returning the launcher first stage, and the costs of refurbishment between flights, generally accepted practice shows that you have to re-use the booster or launch vehicle 5–10 times before you make your money back if you account for all the costs.

So he's citing three reasons why they have to fly 5-10 times before saving any money:

1) R&D cost of developing reuse
2) Opportunity cost of the extra fuel and lower payload to orbit
3) Refurbishment cost between flights.

In the particular case of SpaceX, these arguments have been rebutted many times.

1) The R&D cost is a) already paid and b) can be recovered over the entire operational life of the rocket family. For a company that has already developed reusability, that's not an ongoing cost and doesn't factor into the cost differential between reusing and expending a rocket. The actual recovery of the cost depends on many future launches, so it's impossible to strictly ascribe a segment of the cost to a particular launch - it depends on the financial model used.

2) Pure $/kg to orbit comparisons are fundamentally flawed because payloads aren't fungible. The majority of payloads are sized so that SpaceX can launch them and recover the rocket, and so the payload reduction is completely irrelevant. The cost of fuel is negligible, and SpaceX can still launch large payloads expendable. (There is a similar argument that a smaller cheaper expendable rocket could launch the same payload to the same orbit, but this ignores the fact that such a rocket doesn't exist and actually does have a real payload reduction - it can't use recovery margins in an off-nominal mission or to lift a bigger payload).

3) Refurbishment is a real problem for many reusable systems, both real and proposed. It was the single biggest issue keeping the Shuttle from reaching it's initial goals. But SpaceX is working towards reducing refurbishment to being less than fuel costs, and even if they only get within 10x fuel costs there is potential for very significant savings, 50 to 70% of per-flight costs.

His arguments are somewhat applicable to investment-limited companies that have to show a profit in the near term while attempting to develop reuse. They are much less applicable to a privately company that has a solid financial standing and is willing to put both all its profits and some investment money into developing something with a long-term payoff.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ludus on 07/14/2017 03:25 AM
ULA plans (hopes?) to develop a rocket with substantially less performance than New Glenn, based on the same booster engine, and they only aspire to recover the engines, whereas Blue will recover the whole booster stage. Smart? More like the art of the possible, where the possible is clearly not sufficient.

I actually don't understand what ULA is doing. Using an engine from BO plain does not make sense.

When BO starts reliably launching their own LV, why on Earth would they continue to sell their engine to a competitor? Out of their heart goodness? Surely not. At best (for ULA), they would continue to sell it at a premium, much above their internal cost. At "not best", they just sink ULA whenever they want by simply refusing to prolong the contract.

ULA needs the engine as a replacement for the RD-180 on Vulcan and in that role it can't be part of a fully reusable Booster. ULA doesn't even plan to try their "smart" reuse of just the engines until years after they start flying them expendable. So Blue Origin gets to make money much sooner than flying New Glenn, scale their engine production up more, and embed themselves in the conventional Space Industry with an Alabama factory and consequent political support. ULA will just throw away the engines with each use for years. When it does eventually attempt reuse it will be a partial and unproven method. Meanwhile Blue Origin will apply the same engines that are partially subsidized by ULA to its own fully reusable New Glenn, years before, while ULA is still throwing them away with no prospect of really competing on cost.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 07/14/2017 05:06 AM
(There is a similar argument that a smaller cheaper expendable rocket could launch the same payload to the same orbit, but this ignores the fact that such a rocket doesn't exist and actually does have a real payload reduction - it can't use recovery margins in an off-nominal mission or to lift a bigger payload).

A smaller cheap launcher does/did exist. F9 v1.1, in a apples to apples comparison SpaceX determined that going reusable reduced costs.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: guckyfan on 07/14/2017 05:19 AM
A smaller cheap launcher does/did exist. F9 v1.1, in a apples to apples comparison SpaceX determined that going reusable reduced costs.

How do you know the 1.1 was cheaper? I think it was said that production became more efficient with design changes.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 07/14/2017 01:00 PM
(There is a similar argument that a smaller cheaper expendable rocket could launch the same payload to the same orbit, but this ignores the fact that such a rocket doesn't exist and actually does have a real payload reduction - it can't use recovery margins in an off-nominal mission or to lift a bigger payload).

A smaller cheap launcher does/did exist. F9 v1.1, in a apples to apples comparison SpaceX determined that going reusable reduced costs.

I doubt that v1.1 was cheaper per launch to build or operate. The booster is almost identically sized, and the rocket uses the same engines throughout. The second stage was slightly smaller, but I doubt that the tank stretch added a significant cost to v1.2. And subcooling probably didn't add much in terms of marginal hardware cost (it mostly added development cost).

v1.0 might have been lower marginal cost, as it was about half the size and was initially priced cheaper. But v1.0 payload to GTO was about 30% less the v1.2 with ASDS recovery and less than half of v1.2 Block 5 fully expendable. v1.0 fully expended was sub 4 tonnes and not in a sweet spot for GTO launches, while v1.2 with recovery is in at good performance level of 5.0 to 5.5 tonnes.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 07/14/2017 01:34 PM
A smaller cheap launcher does/did exist. F9 v1.1, in a apples to apples comparison SpaceX determined that going reusable reduced costs.

How do you know the 1.1 was cheaper? I think it was said that production became more efficient with design changes.

I never said it was cheaper, just cheap.

The point I was making is that the argument, that you could produce a smaller, cheaper non-reusable launcher, is directly contradicted by SpaceX. When they wanted to enhance F9 v1.1 they had three options,
1. basically leave it as is, just try and make it cheaper.
2. improve performance, but  leave as a non-reusable (thus saving a lot of money getting reusability working).
3. the path they have taken.

SpaceX with full access to cost, performance and reliability data decided that reusability was the lowest cost solution. So a direct apples to apples comparison shows that it is not possible to have a cheaper expendable rocket that can launch equivalent payloads, at least not in a design similar to F9.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: envy887 on 07/14/2017 02:21 PM
A smaller cheap launcher does/did exist. F9 v1.1, in a apples to apples comparison SpaceX determined that going reusable reduced costs.

How do you know the 1.1 was cheaper? I think it was said that production became more efficient with design changes.

I never said it was cheaper, just cheap.

The point I was making is that the argument, that you could produce a smaller, cheaper non-reusable launcher, is directly contradicted by SpaceX. When they wanted to enhance F9 v1.1 they had three options,
1. basically leave it as is, just try and make it cheaper.
2. improve performance, but  leave as a non-reusable (thus saving a lot of money getting reusability working).
3. the path they have taken.

SpaceX with full access to cost, performance and reliability data decided that reusability was the lowest cost solution. So a direct apples to apples comparison shows that it is not possible to have a cheaper expendable rocket that can launch equivalent payloads, at least not in a design similar to F9.

v1.1 was already reusable, but I think your point applies just as well to v1.0 vs v1.1.

 The v1.0 was already small, and cheap enough as an expendable. SpaceX decided it would be cheaper per flight to make it bigger and reusable in v1.1, and they doubled down on that move with v1.2.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lar on 07/14/2017 03:17 PM
1.0 Didn't serve the market though. Not enough payload to GTO.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Lars-J on 07/14/2017 04:11 PM
The v1.0 was already small, and cheap enough as an expendable. SpaceX decided it would be cheaper per flight to make it bigger and reusable in v1.1, and they doubled down on that move with v1.2.

The v1.0 was very complex to build (they only ever built and launched two in a year - a total of 5 over three years), and had not so great performance. With the experience they now had, they went back to the drawing board and redesigned it from the ground up - v1.1.

This is one of the bravest and best decisions SpaceX ever did. The v1.1 was simpler and more reliable, easier to build, and had double the performance of the v1.0. (and even more now with v1.2/FT) Their launch cadence immediately jumped much higher. AND as a bonus... It also added re-usability features. (although not realized until v1.2)

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: sanman on 08/23/2017 09:46 PM
So I'd like to know how many times will the typical Falcon booster stage get re-used? How many flights in total can we expect from a typical Falcon booster? That's obviously going to be the biggest determinant on cost.


So far I've heard people here say that a booster would likely only be re-flown a couple of times max - so basically 3 flights total for a booster.
Musk and Bezos have thrown around the 747 analogy, saying that plane tickets would be a lot more expensive if you had to throw away the plane after each flight. Well, they'd still be pretty darn expensive if you have to throw away the plane after just 3 flights.

Are there any plans to go beyond just a couple of re-flights, and have something that can fly, say 10 times?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: Ictogan on 08/23/2017 09:55 PM
So I'd like to know how many times will the typical Falcon booster stage get re-used? How many flights in total can we expect from a typical Falcon booster? That's obviously going to be the biggest determinant on cost.


So far I've heard people here say that a booster would likely only be re-flown a couple of times max - so basically 3 flights total for a booster.
Musk and Bezos have thrown around the 747 analogy, saying that plane tickets would be a lot more expensive if you had to throw away the plane after each flight. Well, they'd still be pretty darn expensive if you have to throw away the plane after just 3 flights.

Are there any plans to go beyond just a couple of re-flights, and have something that can fly, say 10 times?
I think someone from SX said that it would be max 3 flights for block 3 cores and about 10 flights(without major refurbishment) for block 5 cores.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oiorionsbelt on 08/23/2017 11:05 PM

I think someone from SX said that it would be max 3 flights for block 3 cores and about 10 flights(without major refurbishment) for block 5 cores.
It was Gwynne Shotwell on the Space Show and she said, it was more like inspection than refurbishment and then go fly and they hope to re fly the block 5's a dozen or so times.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 08/24/2017 04:27 PM
After a while the biggest costs in refurbishment will not be labor but the building to store the boosters awaiting launch. 1 day of one person is ~$500 including overhead costs (management, support, benefits, etc.). Even at a crew of 10 for 1 week the total labor costs would be only $25,000. A crew of 20 for 2 weeks is just $100,000.

Added:
The estimate for floor-space costs is ~$5,000/month per booster for storage or work-space. A 6 months of storage could end being more than all total labor in "refurbishment".
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: sanman on 08/26/2017 10:30 PM
How do the costs go up when making the vehicle more and more reusable (ie. increasing the re-flight capability)?

Is there some magic number with an asymptote line, so that the costs skyrocket dramatically as you try to push the reusability (number of re-flights) beyond a certain point?
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/26/2017 11:00 PM
How do the costs go up when making the vehicle more and more reusable (ie. increasing the re-flight capability)?

Is there some magic number with an asymptote line, so that the costs skyrocket dramatically as you try to push the reusability (number of re-flights) beyond a certain point?

I imagine that would be very dependant on the rocket design. We know that Elon's original target for a 12 hour turnaround time between launches of the same booster would have required a fundamental redesign, whereas 24 hours didn't. I would expect a correlation between turnaround time and number of reflights.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 08/28/2017 06:46 AM
SpaceX with full access to cost, performance and reliability data decided that reusability was the lowest cost solution. So a direct apples to apples comparison shows that it is not possible to have a cheaper expendable rocket that can launch equivalent payloads, at least not in a design similar to F9.
That's one explanation of their behavior.

Another is that the market for that size of LV and the rate at which launches in that market were sold is too small for them to carry the expense of a 2nd production line (even a partial one, sharing as many parts as possible with F9).

Had someone come along and said "We'll buy your whole F1 mfg line, and all the R&D data" that would have put someone into the launch services business without the R&D costs and at a point in the market SX were no longer planning to compete in.  :(

IRL that didn't happen because AFAIK a)No such company contacted them and b) Even if they had so much of the F1 mfg hardware was re-assigned to F9 they would have stripped a fair bit of the factory. Nothing they couldn't have replaced, but at considerable cost and time.  :( 
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: mvpel on 08/31/2017 06:56 PM
Their long-term aim is at least 100 reflights of each booster core, and I heard this directly from the SpaceX VP of business development at the CRS-8 launch viewing on the OMB-II verandah.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 08/31/2017 10:24 PM
Their long-term aim is at least 100 reflights of each booster core, and I heard this directly from the SpaceX VP of business development at the CRS-8 launch viewing on the OMB-II verandah.
Well so far they Shotwell on the Space Show said they are looking to do 3 launches off a booster and V5 will be good for 10 without major work.

So either V5 will do that with a lot of refurb work above "inspection" or they are at least another generation to go from 10 to 100.  :(

TBH I think there will be at least 1, and possible 2 generations of F9 before they achieve that, possibly including another upgrade of the PICAX ablative, although apparently previous upgrades have focused on lowering the unit cost of the material. [EDIT rather than lowering erosion rates or density. The former is always good, the latter normally lowers heat conduction into the structure you're trying to protect. Unfortunately they tend to conflict, making ablative development tricky ]

Frankly I don't care what the reusability effects on costs are for SX. :(

I care on what the reusability effects on customers prices will be instead.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: JamesH65 on 09/01/2017 02:30 PM
Their long-term aim is at least 100 reflights of each booster core, and I heard this directly from the SpaceX VP of business development at the CRS-8 launch viewing on the OMB-II verandah.
Well so far they Shotwell on the Space Show said they are looking to do 3 launches off a booster and V5 will be good for 10 without major

So either V5 will do that with a lot of refurb work above "inspection" or they are at least another generation to go from 10 to 100.  :(

I expect refurb after each ten, retirement after 100. No-one (except SpaceX) has ANY idea of the refurb costs after each ten flights. Forgive another car analogy, but I'd expect the refurb to be on the order of a new set of brake pads. Not an every day occurrence, but certainly not a transmission rebuild which is often not cost effective.
Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/01/2017 02:54 PM
I expect refurb after each ten, retirement after 100.
Both Shotwell and Musk have been very quiet on refurb procedures. SX spent a very long time getting the first couple of boosters ready for re-flight. I'm not sure they actually have any refurb procedures worked out for this generation, although I'm sure they learned all (nearly all?) they need to ensure the next generation can be done fairly straightforwardly.

Quote from: JamesH65
No-one (except SpaceX) has ANY idea of the refurb costs after each ten flights.
True, and that represents a significant (but difficult to value) piece of IP for SX. Although I suspect the technicians involved could give a fair guestimate.

Quote from: JamesH65
Forgive another car analogy, but I'd expect the refurb to be on the order of a new set of brake pads. Not an every day occurrence, but certainly not a transmission rebuild which is often not cost effective.
I suspect more like what happens if there are a dozen brake pads and they are all glued in and you have to scrape them off before re-gluing the new set.  :(

Time will tell if the current, or the next, or the next, or the next generation of F9 will deliver that 100 reuse target. If the current hardware can already deliver it I'd expected a much more positive presentation by now.

Title: Re: Reusability effect on costs
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 09/01/2017 08:12 PM
Their long-term aim is at least 100 reflights of each booster core, and I heard this directly from the SpaceX VP of business development at the CRS-8 launch viewing on the OMB-II verandah.