Author Topic: Increasing the size of the launch market  (Read 44225 times)

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #40 on: 02/21/2012 02:44 AM »

I really wish a lot of the aerospace talent we have out there who got all the press about being laid off over the past year

most were operations types and not design and development.   Been hearing through the grapevine that they are having trouble getting jobs with the startups because projects are in development and the former workers don't have design experience.

Interestingly it is not 100% necessary to have in house design and development to bootstrap a company.  Sometimes all it takes is to have a very clear understanding of the market need & requirements such that you can provide clear guidance to that talent.  A service like this:

https://www.innocentive.com/

Is one route to getting a technical implementation approach that is at least good enough to start shopping around to prospective customers or investors.  I think some operations people could have a lot to offer in that their real world experience might give them insight into product needs somewhere in the aerospace ecosystem that others without that experience would not even realize existed.

Offline Jim

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #41 on: 02/21/2012 03:20 AM »
I think some operations people could have a lot to offer in that their real world experience might give them insight into product needs somewhere in the aerospace ecosystem that others without that experience would not even realize existed.

Not when you only attached tiles or assembled SRB's.  There is a vast difference in launch operations and space applications.

There is a big difference in the crews that deal with launch vehicles vs those that deal with spacecraft.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2012 03:22 AM by Jim »

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #42 on: 02/21/2012 03:43 AM »
.  More frequent tech refreshes of satellite constellations would mean more services that could be offered on the market to consumers.

What services?  Relaying data is the only service that is out there that is commercially viable. 
True for the purposes of our discussion (significantly increasing the size of the launch market), but not true in general (satellite imagery... GeoEye and DigitalGlobe and RapidEye each have a small fleet in LEO).
« Last Edit: 02/21/2012 03:47 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline sdsds

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #43 on: 02/21/2012 07:20 AM »
Building a business around a satellite constellation can be challenging <cough>Iridium<cough>, but I personally expect the telecom industry to make another attempt at it sometime in the next two decades, probably using hybrid networks that combine both satellite and terrestrial infrastructures.  Rather than only 66 (or 77 in the original Iridium design) satellites, if the constellation is placed in very low orbit it will need many more, and they will need to be replenished more frequently.  I think the service this would provide (seamless high speed data anywhere on the globe) is the only application where end-user demand could possibly lead to the high launch rates that would enable low launch prices.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #44 on: 02/21/2012 01:30 PM »
.  More frequent tech refreshes of satellite constellations would mean more services that could be offered on the market to consumers.

What services?  Relaying data is the only service that is out there that is commercially viable. 

That's true if you choose to broadly define 'data relay' and lump a lot of things that appear to end customers as very different services under it. 

I have to disagree with BlackJax here.  These "services".  They involve a "content" creator on the "ground", who beams up his content to the constellation of sats; which then beam down the content to the "consumer" who is also on the ground.

What it is, and only what it is, is data relay.  Marketing bling would suggest that you're learning about Pocahontas, or learning about how to enhance your ItOuch experience, or sharing inane photos with everyone on the blogoshpere, or any number of other things.

It is only data relay.  Data relayed from the ground to the sat and back to a different place on the ground.

Building a business around a satellite constellation can be challenging <cough>Iridium<cough>...

<cough>LiteSquared<cough.  Problems with interfering with other "services". <cough>RIMM<cough>  Problems with the "ground systems".

Not saying anything negative about crowd sourced funding tho.  Just pointing out some things about data relay.

Backing up to the OP.  Reducing launch costs seems to be the only thing that would help; this I'd say, would come from private enterprises.  But if there is no MISSION (<cough>lunar base<cough>) that the goveernment can fund thru incubation without interruption, it will prove to be harder for private enterprise to get launch costs down to where the tourist market could start opening up, for starters.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #45 on: 02/21/2012 02:11 PM »
That's true if you choose to broadly define 'data relay' and lump a lot of things that appear to end customers as very different services under it. 

I have to disagree with BlackJax here.  These "services".  They involve a "content" creator on the "ground", who beams up his content to the constellation of sats; which then beam down the content to the "consumer" who is also on the ground.

I think you need to take another look at the first link I posted, in that scenario the content is generated from space.


Backing up to the OP.  Reducing launch costs seems to be the only thing that would help; this I'd say, would come from private enterprises.  But if there is no MISSION (<cough>lunar base<cough>) that the goveernment can fund thru incubation without interruption, it will prove to be harder for private enterprise to get launch costs down to where the tourist market could start opening up, for starters.

It is certainly true that a brisk government demand for launch will contribute towards enabling at least the potential for a downward cost spiral.  That being said, the idea that this demand will come from a single major "MISSION" is off topic for this specific thread.  The thrust here is ways to generate demand specifically in the absence of such a single high profile source, whether that be a major NASA exploration initiative, some Zubrin scheme, space solar power, or some other low-probability-of-being-funded plan. 

The question is, where might be varied, smaller, much less flashy, sources of payloads that could be aggregated into a significant uptick in demand for launches?  Where are the nascent markets that are tiny now and are barely on the radar, but which offer at least the potential for growth?

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #46 on: 02/21/2012 02:18 PM »
I think you need to take another look at the first link I posted, in that scenario the content is generated from space.

That's fine as to the generation of content.  What part of that content, tho, is not data, and is not relayed to the ground?

Quote
The question is, where might be varied, smaller, much less flashy, sources of payloads that could be aggregated into a significant uptick in demand for launches?  Where are the nascent markets that are tiny now and are barely on the radar, but which offer at least the potential for growth?

Which is a good question indeed.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Jim

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #47 on: 02/21/2012 03:02 PM »

The question is, where might be varied, smaller, much less flashy, sources of payloads that could be aggregated into a significant uptick in demand for launches?  Where are the nascent markets that are tiny now and are barely on the radar, but which offer at least the potential for growth?

No, because there is no new content to be generated from space.  Space is a location and not a resource. 

Space tourism is the only nascent market.

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #48 on: 02/21/2012 03:03 PM »
Building a business around a satellite constellation can be challenging <cough>Iridium<cough>, but I personally expect the telecom industry to make another attempt at it sometime in the next two decades, probably using hybrid networks that combine both satellite and terrestrial infrastructures. 

To return to my theme of nontraditional efforts on the low end of the market, it seems like this group is trying for a new approach to telecom.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16367042
http://www.thepowerbase.com/2012/02/hackers-in-space-hackerspace-global-grid-interview/
http://shackspace.de/wiki/doku.php?id=project:hgg

They are targetting GEO rather than the low end of LEO and I don't know if the project will ever go anywhere, but if they do manage to fly they will be launch market consumers throwing business specifically to launchers which emphasize low cost as a primary feature.

Offline Jim

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #49 on: 02/21/2012 03:09 PM »
Building a business around a satellite constellation can be challenging <cough>Iridium<cough>, but I personally expect the telecom industry to make another attempt at it sometime in the next two decades, probably using hybrid networks that combine both satellite and terrestrial infrastructures. 

To return to my theme of nontraditional efforts on the low end of the market, it seems like this group is trying for a new approach to telecom.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16367042
http://www.thepowerbase.com/2012/02/hackers-in-space-hackerspace-global-grid-interview/
http://shackspace.de/wiki/doku.php?id=project:hgg

They are targetting GEO rather than the low end of LEO and I don't know if the project will ever go anywhere, but if they do manage to fly they will be launch market consumers throwing business specifically to launchers which emphasize low cost as a primary feature.


That isn't a new market, just a few more spacecraft to existing market.  The constraining factor will be comm licensing and orbital slots.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2012 03:10 PM by Jim »

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #50 on: 02/21/2012 03:28 PM »
Building a business around a satellite constellation can be challenging <cough>Iridium<cough>, but I personally expect the telecom industry to make another attempt at it sometime in the next two decades, probably using hybrid networks that combine both satellite and terrestrial infrastructures. 

To return to my theme of nontraditional efforts on the low end of the market, it seems like this group is trying for a new approach to telecom.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16367042
http://www.thepowerbase.com/2012/02/hackers-in-space-hackerspace-global-grid-interview/
http://shackspace.de/wiki/doku.php?id=project:hgg

They are targetting GEO rather than the low end of LEO and I don't know if the project will ever go anywhere, but if they do manage to fly they will be launch market consumers throwing business specifically to launchers which emphasize low cost as a primary feature.


That isn't a new market, just a few more spacecraft to existing market.  The constraining factor will be comm licensing and orbital slots.

I didn't claim it was a new market, my point was that it represented a nontraditional entrant into the market.  By a 'nontraditional entrant' what I am trying to highlight is potential consumers of launch services which may have either been completely invisible in surveys which have in the past concluded that the launch market is inelastic, or which were noted but were too unpredictable consider as a significant factor.

I was also trying to highlight that nontraditional entrants at the low end of the market might differ from past and current consumers in the market in that price may be their driving selection criteria with reliability as a secondary concern (a much higher risk tolerance) rather than the reverse (which has been a contributor to the inflexibility of launch prices).

Offline baldusi

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #51 on: 02/21/2012 08:02 PM »
Blackjack, do you know how to do constrained optimization? The main question is which are the binding constraints. That's the core to any business proposition or technical challenge. You're working under the assumption that the binding constraint is the cost of launch vehicle. And then that the cost of the satellite is the binding constraint.
First, you've got to understand that you have to separate satellite bus (GNC, power system, station keeping, etc) from payload (be a camera, a radio transponder or a retroreflector). Which will take you to the actual demand of services.
I'm pretty sure there's no supply limitation in general. In fact, we might be moving towards a satellite bandwidth over supply situation in a few years. Most of the growth in bandwidth has been payed by military needs. And two things are happening. First, the big operations are stopping (Irak, Afganistan, etc.) And second, the militaries are putting some serious GSO networks up there (look into MUOS, WGS, AEHF). What's more, the cost of the satellites themselves are nothing compared to the actual portable stations that the soldiers use.
So, deploying a new technology would mean developing, certifying and deploying a whole new infrastructure. The same happens for the consumer applications. And once you get into consumer applications you've got to get a license for each country you want to work in. Which most countries have given to the local monopoly (or the president's daughter's company).
Binding constraints. Try to think in those terms. It's the difference between having a description of a person you're looking for vs just "you'll know when you see him".

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #52 on: 02/21/2012 08:59 PM »
Blackjack, do you know how to do constrained optimization? The main question is which are the binding constraints.

I did a bunch back in college, operations research was one of my more favorite courses.  I haven't done any pure work on it lately but as a software developer and the finance guy for a couple of companies I partly own I have certainly skirted the edges of that kind of thing on numerous occasions. 

You're working under the assumption that the binding constraint is the cost of launch vehicle. And then that the cost of the satellite is the binding constraint.

Actually, I don't think it is the cost of the vehicle, I think it is the cost of the launch (which includes the vehicle but many other things as well).  Launch costs drive the trades made in payload design (including both the bus and what you call the payload below).  The combination of launch costs and payload costs (i.e. the replacement cost of the whole deal) then drives the costs of insurance.

First, you've got to understand that you have to separate satellite bus (GNC, power system, station keeping, etc) from payload (be a camera, a radio transponder or a retroreflector). Which will take you to the actual demand of services.  I'm pretty sure there's no supply limitation in general. In fact, we might be moving towards a satellite bandwidth over supply situation in a few years.

The overall supply is not really what drives the expansion of the sort of markets I am trying to get people to discuss on this thread, it is the supply at price points previously unavailable which matters.

What's more, the cost of the satellites themselves are nothing compared to the actual portable stations that the soldiers use.  So, deploying a new technology would mean developing, certifying and deploying a whole new infrastructure. The same happens for the consumer applications.

One of the reasons I dredged up and posted this earlier:
http://www.thepowerbase.com/2012/02/hackers-in-space-hackerspace-global-grid-interview/
Was in response to a similar comment from Jim.  I think you both have a very different picture in your heads from what I have been attempting so unsuccessfully to articulate.  I suspect you are still thinking in terms of major commercial projects and government initiatives involving tens/hundreds of millions of dollars, and a top down control.  What I am thinking of is a lot more like the Maker and Open Hardware movements you see these days.  I could see something akin to the Arduino approach working for low end satellite components and/or busses.  The guys on the powerbase interview I linked above seem to have a similar idea in mind for ground unit technology.  This open approach means that you don't 'upgrade' everyone, you add a new service to what is available and those who want to use it make whatever additions to their capabilities are necessary to access it.  Those who don't, just simply continue to do whatever it is they are doing.  There is no coordinated replacement initiative, it is an additive process.  Think of it like the internet, you don't need the latest browser or plugin, but if you don't have whatever it takes to access a site, you are limited in what you can do.  In the same fashion, the sites themselves can use newer technologies, older technologies, or whatever mix they want.  There is no central planning, just optional standards and a free distributed market.

And once you get into consumer applications you've got to get a license for each country you want to work in. Which most countries have given to the local monopoly (or the president's daughter's company).

The upside of having many many small efforts that are loosely coordinated (if any coordinate with each other at all), is that they can sort out (or fail to) issues like those you cite locally.  There is no large central effort which has to fund something global and lives or dies based on whether it can get it all unsnarled.  The places where things get sorted, an ecosystem will thrive, the places where it doesn't will remain barren.  So long as there are at least *some* places a market for launch services thrives, the goal is accomplished.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #53 on: 02/22/2012 01:12 AM »
The best thing we could do to increase flight rates on the US side is to outlaw CCDs, CMOSs, etc, and force the use of film return...

But seriously, Jim as usual is right. Space needs a new market, and we should all pray that space tourism is good enough to get us beyond the next bend. We should pray for a killer app for space.

Don't think day and night about new rocket designs, think about what can be done to make you really, really rich from space because that's really the only way to attract a lot of private capital.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #54 on: 02/22/2012 03:22 AM »
The best thing we could do to increase flight rates on the US side is to outlaw CCDs, CMOSs, etc, and force the use of film return...

But seriously, Jim as usual is right. Space needs a new market, and we should all pray that space tourism is good enough to get us beyond the next bend. We should pray for a killer app for space.

Don't think day and night about new rocket designs, think about what can be done to make you really, really rich from space because that's really the only way to attract a lot of private capital.

Jim is right?!? "[T]here is no new content to be generated from space.  Space is a location and not a resource. Space tourism is the only nascent market."

It's guys like you and Jim who lobby against and pooh-pooh any talk of a major push by NASA to develop space resources (and yeah that means the Moon--not Mars, not empty space) that reinforce the giggle factor among the ignorant and thus help to ensure that there never are any resources from space. A self-fulfilling prophecy that's self-defeating.

You don't even believe what you say about getting really, really rich. Watch this:

"Private industry could gross $100 billion USD per year mining Lunar gold."

See, you're scoffing at the very idea. And so the "space community" remains as splintered as NASA HQ; meanwhile, the space program becomes fodder for late night TV comedians. Keep up the good work buddy...
« Last Edit: 02/22/2012 03:28 AM by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #55 on: 02/22/2012 03:25 AM »
...
It's guys like you and Jim that lobby against and pooh pooh any talk of using government resources to research producing space resources that ensures that there never are any resources from space. A self-fulfilling prophecy that's self-defeating. ...
I can only speak for myself, but that's quite wrong. Unless you're trying to monopolize the conversation to talk about your Moon grand plan again.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #56 on: 02/22/2012 03:37 AM »
...
It's guys like you and Jim who lobby against and pooh-pooh any talk of a major push by NASA to develop space resources (and yeah that means the Moon--not Mars, not empty space) that reinforce the giggle factor among the ignorant and thus help to ensure that there never are any resources from space. A self-fulfilling prophecy that's self-defeating.  ...

I can only speak for myself, but that's quite wrong. Unless you're trying to monopolize the conversation to talk about your Moon grand plan again.

You just proved my point....
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #57 on: 02/22/2012 03:39 AM »
If private companies can make so much... Why don't you start a business, create a business plan, and get some investors behind you?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #58 on: 02/22/2012 03:42 AM »
Yeah maybe I will!
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Increasing the size of the launch market
« Reply #59 on: 02/22/2012 03:49 AM »
If private companies can make so much... Why don't you start a business, create a business plan, and get some investors behind you?

If that was directed to Warren Platts could I suggest that you guys take the argument over to private messages? 

If it was a more general statement to the thread, I'd chime in that I have actually started considering it as a result of the thread (and I'm hoping others might too).  I'm a software developer and I am thinking one of the ideas earlier in the thread might actually have some potential.  It would effectively be Craigslist for the DIY/Maker/Student/Professor end of the the industry to enable people to connect needs with resources.  It is a big step so I am not sure I'll go for it, but in the next few weeks I might mock something up to get a feel for the complexity of a small starter site.


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