Author Topic: Will SpaceX Super Rocket Kill NASA's 'Rocket to Nowhere'? (op-ed at SDC)  (Read 49948 times)

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3266
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 931

The ATK thing was Hatch, (Orin Hatch, R-Utah) not Shelby.

It was both. ATk also has production facilities in Huntsville Alabama. Marshall space center is also there.
Anyway, I can bring plenty of articles regarding Shelby's anti commercial crew and pro SLS activities. Rohrabacher is indeed a mixed bag, but he was right on that issue. The fact that ULA and others were hesitant to be confrontational about SLS and their studies does not make their studies any less valuable for the discussion.

Offline newpylong

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1499
  • Liked: 199
  • Likes Given: 343
...
Unless SpaceX wants to go out of business as quick as they went into business, Falcon 9 flights alone will not support the expense of a BFR. To think otherwise is delusional.
...
Where did I say anything like that? All I said is that it's not a certainty that NASA funds would be necessary for SpaceX's BFR.

By the time any of this is relevant, SpaceX will have revenue from Falcon Heavy, as well. If there are a significant number of customers for 53t to LEO, then a single-core, fully reusable (two-stage) variant of the BFR should be able to service those needs for cheaper than the expendable, tri-core, effectively-three-stage Falcon Heavy.

I should have included FH along with F9. The revenue increase for FH vs 9 is marginal, as both are dirt cheap. Profit must be be even thinner. What 53 ton customers do you have in mind? I see 0. The only thing remotely would be Bigelow and his 330 will fit in on EELV and his 2100 needs SLS. Furthermore, it is a huge assumption that an unknown BFR will be cheaper for commercial customers than FH, especially the size that Musk has described.

Quote
Also, did Falcon 1 flights solely support the development of Falcon 9? Nope. The initial money was from private sources for Falcon 9's development, helped along by firm-fixed price contracts for delivering a service.

Private sources? Ever heard of COTS? No SpaceX COTS in 2006 = no Falcon 9.

Quote
Also, Falcon Heavy is being developed right now and already has customers signed up, with either money-down or contractual (and bankable) commitment which can be used for capital.

see section 1.

Quote

SpaceX doesn't need NASA's money. Certainly not to pay directly for development ala SLS. SpaceX's BFR's chances /would/ be improved if NASA agreed ahead of time to buy launches on the BFR for a competitive, fixed price. NASA (indirectly) bought a Delta IV Heavy to test Orion, and a single-core, reusable BFR launch may be offered for less than that. Remember, NASA is required /by law/ to use commercial launch services where they exist (yes, there are loop-holes... but remember Orion-on-Delta is flying within a year).


So far it's evident that they do, and will continue to need NASA's money, especially for ventures as big as joyrides to Mars.

SpaceX is no longer a small company. They have a big workforce, a lot of property, and need to pay for it somehow. There is simply not enough coin to go around making BFRs for the fun of it.

Offline Lurker Steve

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1420
  • Liked: 35
  • Likes Given: 9

The problem is that Elon's Super Rocket isn't going to get built without some sort of NASA funding.
...
You don't actually know that.

Name 1 rocket that SpaceX will fly without NASA funding some portion ?

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28757
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8865
  • Likes Given: 5742
Falcon Heavy (with cross-feed, etc) is a significant investment and is in a class more than commercial needs are right now, even more than national security needs. It is not being developed with NASA funds.
It's the only realistic way for SpaceX to use the current F9 platform in a way that makes it competitive in the GTO market, even if modified to be reusable (F9 would lose most payload when reusable). There's definitely a reason for the vehicle to be developed, and there's a reason for them to perform the upgrades to 53 metric tons.

It's not really a billion dollar development project either.
It would be much more than a billion dollar development project if LM or Boeing were doing it.
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 Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3266
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 931
What 53 ton customers do you have in mind? I see 0.
GEO sat customers. The 53 tonnes are to LEO. The payload to GTO is a lot smaller.

Offline M129K

Falcon Heavy (with cross-feed, etc) is a significant investment and is in a class more than commercial needs are right now, even more than national security needs. It is not being developed with NASA funds.
It's the only realistic way for SpaceX to use the current F9 platform in a way that makes it competitive in the GTO market, even if modified to be reusable (F9 would lose most payload when reusable). There's definitely a reason for the vehicle to be developed, and there's a reason for them to perform the upgrades to 53 metric tons.

It's not really a billion dollar development project either.
It would be much more than a billion dollar development project if LM or Boeing were doing it.
Irrelevant. When you talk about how much SpaceX puts into their projects, it's pointless to say "well x would require much more".

Offline Go4TLI

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 816
  • Liked: 95
  • Likes Given: 0
Falcon Heavy (with cross-feed, etc) is a significant investment and is in a class more than commercial needs are right now, even more than national security needs. It is not being developed with NASA funds.
It's the only realistic way for SpaceX to use the current F9 platform in a way that makes it competitive in the GTO market, even if modified to be reusable (F9 would lose most payload when reusable). There's definitely a reason for the vehicle to be developed, and there's a reason for them to perform the upgrades to 53 metric tons.

It's not really a billion dollar development project either.
It would be much more than a billion dollar development project if LM or Boeing were doing it.
Irrelevant. When you talk about how much SpaceX puts into their projects, it's pointless to say "well x would require much more".

It is a nonsensical argument.  There is no data from Boeing and LM to say that.  This is just another attempt to gush on SpaceX, at the expense of everyone else, in order to solidify the common belief on the internet that SpaceX is to deliver us all to the promise land.

The reality is SpaceX expects their people to work around 60 hour weeks while paying them a competitive 40 hour week salary.  This obviously has impact on competition.  It's great when one has a generally younger workforce than others.  But that workforce will get older, and will likely want more out of life than work if general human behavior is to be expected .  It could lead to burn-out and other issues as well.   

I'm not going to trash SpaceX for this because it is working for them now.  However, I think it is fair for everyone to know that is likely a future risk. 

Offline GalacticIntruder

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 457
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Liked: 176
  • Likes Given: 61
No one knows the finances of SpaceX, their balance sheet and cash flow, etc. We know what the government pays them, but we don't know what the commercial launches bring in, and we don't know what private capital they attract, and what is for ROI and what is basally billionaire play money. (IMO, Elon and friends routinely internally fund a lot)

MCT is not for profit or revenue generation, at least not the first several missions, that is clear by Elon and Gwynne. MCT will be much larger and way more ambitious than anything NASA is planning and a much more aggressive timeline as well. And it is not a flags and footprints mission for 4 Astronauts-Cosmonauts. It is also going to happen whether or not it is has any backing of NASA, other than technical help.

SLS block 1 will fly test missions in 2018-2020. That is all but set in stone. FH and MCT does not alter that.

What happens after that test run, and for Block 1A and BLock 2 for BLEO missions is the only question that should be debated. That is true regardless of what SpaceX physically creates. If MCT is actually built and is on schedule for the 2020's, then it does seem SLS Block upgrades, and all NASA hope missions are pointless.

5-10 billion dollar, 10 year, internally funded MCT is highly plausible. Once you start talking about the usual Mars missions that everyone has thought of, the numbers become too large for SpaceX or any private company. Also its the main reason Congress refuses to fund such large missions.

Elon may have a mantra of 'build it and they will come" and "here is an offer you cannot refuse" and "the train is leaving without you". I HOPE IT WORKS. That is my opinion on the matter.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2014 08:03 pm by GalacticIntruder »
Moon landings were fake and the SLS/Orion debacle is the proof.

Offline bob the martian

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 131
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 45
At the time SLS was announced, SpaceX were still getting the first F9 off the ground. Given their record to that point, it would have been ludicrous to seriously suggest giving them money to build a BFR of this scale.  As far as I'm concerned, SpaceX still haven't really proven themselves yet.  After another half-dozen more successful F9 launches and a few Heavy launches, then we'll talk. 

But what kills me about the article is that it seriously suggests we should again do to NASA what we've been doing since Apollo; tell NASA to do X, and when they start making progress in that direction ask them why the hell they're doing X and not Y instead.  NASA's finally, after 30+ years, committed to building a launcher that could send people back into deep space.  And from what I understand, the SLS program is reasonably well-managed despite the cost.  So now that they're getting ready to bend metal, scrap the whole thing and start over using nothing more than a notional drawing on an old PowerPoint slide. 

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7792
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1296
  • Likes Given: 8728
What 53 ton customers do you have in mind? I see 0.
GEO sat customers. The 53 tonnes are to LEO. The payload to GTO is a lot smaller.
True. I think the rule of thumb is to knock about 1/3 off the payload.

But that still leaves you with a commsat about 35 tonnes.

You might like to look at Arianespaces efforts to get a single large payload on Ariane 5.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Lurker Steve

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1420
  • Liked: 35
  • Likes Given: 9
MCT is not for profit or revenue generation, at least not the first several missions, that is clear by Elon and Gwynne. MCT will be much larger and way more ambitious than anything NASA is planning and a much more aggressive timeline as well. And it is not a flags and footprints mission for 4 Astronauts-Cosmonauts. It is also going to happen whether or not it is has any backing of NASA, other than technical help.

Error 1: Everything is profit driven. Also, why would NASA offer technical help again ???


What happens after that test run, and for Block 1A and BLock 2 for BLEO missions is the only question that should be debated. That is true regardless of what SpaceX physically creates. If MCT is actually built and is on schedule for the 2020's, then it does seem SLS Block upgrades, and all NASA hope missions are pointless.

5-10 billion dollar, 10 year, internally funded MCT is highly plausible. Once you start talking about the usual Mars missions that everyone has thought of, the numbers become too large for SpaceX or any private company. Also its the main reason Congress reuses to fund such large missions.

Well, you got the funding level right.

Where does that money come from ?

Remember, it needs to fly at least 3, if not more missions, to qualify for the absolute lowest risk NASA missions. I assume HSF missions would probably require more. Who is paying for these non-existent missions to even get this e-paper rocket even considered by a government agency ?


Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3266
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 931

True. I think the rule of thumb is to knock about 1/3 off the payload.

But that still leaves you with a commsat about 35 tonnes.

You might like to look at Arianespaces efforts to get a single large payload on Ariane 5.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy
FHs payload to GTO is 21 metric tons due to the low Isp upper stage.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2014 08:24 pm by Elmar Moelzer »

Offline M129K

What 53 ton customers do you have in mind? I see 0.
GEO sat customers. The 53 tonnes are to LEO. The payload to GTO is a lot smaller.
True. I think the rule of thumb is to knock about 1/3 off the payload.

But that still leaves you with a commsat about 35 tonnes.

You might like to look at Arianespaces efforts to get a single large payload on Ariane 5.

It's usually closer to 1/2. Ariane 5 is 10 tons GTO, 21 tons LEO, A5ME is 23 tons LEO and 12 tons GTO.

Offline mrryndrsn

  • Member
  • Posts: 32
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
What 53 ton customers do you have in mind? I see 0.
GEO sat customers. The 53 tonnes are to LEO. The payload to GTO is a lot smaller.
True. I think the rule of thumb is to knock about 1/3 off the payload.

But that still leaves you with a commsat about 35 tonnes.

You might like to look at Arianespaces efforts to get a single large payload on Ariane 5.

It's roughly 30-40% of the LEO payload, with the high end being for a hydrogen-burning upper stage. So maybe 15 tons for Falcon H.

Murray Anderson

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3266
  • Liked: 654
  • Likes Given: 931
Nope and nope, FHs GTO payload is 21 metric tons according to SpaceX:
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

Offline M129K

Nope and nope, FHs GTO payload is 21 metric tons according to SpaceX:
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

I know, I was merely correcting his rule of thumb.

Offline TrevorMonty

The block1 SLS needs to be completed to enable Orion and crew to do BLEO missions, what ever they maybe. Any missions that require larger payloads could be done with multiple launches of mixed LVs. Eg use D4H &FH to place HW in space and fuel it, then launch SLS with Orion.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28757
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8865
  • Likes Given: 5742
The block1 SLS needs to be completed to enable Orion and crew to do BLEO missions, what ever they maybe. Any missions that require larger payloads could be done with multiple launches of mixed LVs. Eg use D4H &FH to place HW in space and fuel it, then launch SLS with Orion.
Orion can be launched on either Delta IV Heavy or Falcon Heavy. Probably Atlas 552, if you had to.
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 Chris Bergin

I can't believe we got to eight pages (most of it being the same old, same old - as I expected) all as a result of a crap op-ed. Absolutely shocking.

Thread locked.

Tags: