Author Topic: SpaceX's next big commercial customer  (Read 18005 times)

Offline rockets4life97

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 653
  • Liked: 354
  • Likes Given: 271
SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« on: 03/11/2018 11:47 am »
In the next several months SpaceX is poised to complete their manifest for their two largest commercial customers: Iridium (8 launches) and SES (6 launches).

Who will be SpaceX's next big commercial customer?

Offline Hauerg

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 780
  • Berndorf, Austria
  • Liked: 385
  • Likes Given: 1314
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2018 12:03 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1770
  • Likes Given: 2151
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2018 01:48 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

It would surprise me to see at least one full launch of satellites this year - perhaps even a whole plane, on falcon heavy.

At that point, you have a 'basic' starlink constellation that gives really good internet in most of the globe - but only twenty minutes a day.
Following this, and investment, a very, very rapid and aggressive rollout in 2019, with more launches than they have ever done, spread over a couple of years.
Perhaps BFS comes along in the middle and starts delivering some too.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2018 01:49 pm by speedevil »

Online Inoeth

Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #3 on: 03/11/2018 02:05 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills, pay for BFR R&D, etc...  Iridium and SES will indeed be done soon, so the question really is if there's any new satellite players in town (for medium to large sats) that are going to take advantage of SpaceX's price like Iridium did and create a solid new contract... To me it looks like SpaceX will finish out their entire manifest in a couple years, and while they're gonna need a lot to launch their own satellites, I think they may have more capacity to launch than there will be demand...

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6941
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1906
  • Likes Given: 1969
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #4 on: 03/11/2018 02:13 pm »
I think they may have more capacity to launch than there will be demand...

That was always the declared goal of SpaceX. Being able to fly any payload at any time.

Offline FireJack

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
  • Canada
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #5 on: 03/11/2018 02:17 pm »
I think space tourism will be a big thing once they get the Dragon V2 going. Even without space hotels etc people will likely pay just to orbit around earth for a few days.

Offline RDoc

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 456
  • Liked: 84
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #6 on: 03/11/2018 02:27 pm »
I wonder if other companies putting up constellations might work out ridesharing deals with Starlink launches to use some of the same orbital planes, but different altitudes. For example earth imaging satellites.

The significantly lower launch costs and higher frequency hopefully will spawn new business concepts.

Offline rockets4life97

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 653
  • Liked: 354
  • Likes Given: 271
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #7 on: 03/11/2018 02:38 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1770
  • Likes Given: 2151
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #8 on: 03/11/2018 03:07 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills,
No, they don't.
They need funding to launch satellites and to build them.
This can be from satellite revenue, but it can also be investment directly in the starlink constellation, to fund initial construction up to a full constellation..

Online Ronsmytheiii

  • Moderator
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22572
  • Liked: 924
  • Likes Given: 355
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #9 on: 03/11/2018 03:09 pm »
While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills, pay for BFR R&D, etc...  Iridium and SES will indeed be done soon, so the question really is if there's any new satellite players in town (for medium to large sats)

They still have their biggest/anchor tenant buying flights for the foreseeable future.... NASA. And they pay for bells and whistles like Dragon flights, and integration services.

Plus throw in new science missions, have a good baseline there.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2018 03:10 pm by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6252
  • Liked: 4123
  • Likes Given: 5668
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #10 on: 03/11/2018 03:51 pm »
Besides SpaceX/Starlink...

NSS launches will continue to climb (DoD as a customer) as will NASA science missions.  Neither will grow fast at absolute level, but could make up a half dozen launches per year a couple years out.

Biggest 'new' customer will be someone/anyone interested in 'exploration' or space adventure travel in general.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3149
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 780
  • Likes Given: 1289
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #11 on: 03/11/2018 04:05 pm »
This is the primary reason why, I think, there isnít much need for a launch rate above 24 a year.  At least until Starlink launches are real.

Having a slight surplus of upper stages is all that should be needed. 
Needing a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1770
  • Likes Given: 2151
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #12 on: 03/11/2018 04:08 pm »
Biggest 'new' customer will be someone/anyone interested in 'exploration' or space adventure travel in general.

Obvious question is when.
F9 orbital space tourism is of course doable in principle 'today'.
Recoverable suborbital F9 booster only could be quite cheap, and get Dragon to a ten minute ballistic trajectory to ISS altitude, especially with propulsive landing and no need for refurb.

But if that's saleable, BFS suborbital must also be very saleable in only a couple of years possibly.
(don't need heatshield to work well, or many other subsystems, just landing to be reliable)

And is any possible vendor for such launches likely to be put off and want to push their investment onto BFR+S orbital?


Offline Roy_H

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1026
  • Liked: 361
  • Likes Given: 2219
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #13 on: 03/11/2018 06:25 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.
"If we don't achieve re-usability, I will consider SpaceX to be a failure." - Elon Musk

Offline Roy_H

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1026
  • Liked: 361
  • Likes Given: 2219
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #14 on: 03/11/2018 06:28 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?
"If we don't achieve re-usability, I will consider SpaceX to be a failure." - Elon Musk

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6941
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1906
  • Likes Given: 1969
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #15 on: 03/11/2018 08:31 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

Online niwax

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 411
  • Germany
    • SpaceX Booster List
  • Liked: 281
  • Likes Given: 59
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #16 on: 03/11/2018 08:34 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

Even at current SpaceX rates, does it make sense to build a constellation using a launcher that can only carry ~200kg? At their planned size, that's 39 individual launches.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4039
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 13379
  • Likes Given: 437
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #17 on: 03/11/2018 09:11 pm »
 If Starlink works out, SpaceX will eliminate a whole lot of GSO business. It will be more than a lull.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1770
  • Likes Given: 2151
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #18 on: 03/11/2018 09:24 pm »
If Starlink works out, SpaceX will eliminate a whole lot of GSO business. It will be more than a lull.
Multicast beams of some sort of design are one thing that works very, very well for SpaceX, even if it can't cope with the density for normal customers in congested areas.

If one customer in a beam footprint is watching something, then if you setup the authorisation right, only permitted watchers can actually see it, but you're only sending once, not a thousand identical streams.

Offline groundbound

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 253
  • Liked: 223
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #19 on: 03/11/2018 10:11 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

Tags: