Author Topic: SpaceX vs BlueOrigin - Whose Approach / Business Strategy is Better?  (Read 287069 times)

Online spacenut

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2529
  • East Alabama
  • Liked: 457
  • Likes Given: 252
Once SpaceX gets everything finalized with Dragon II, they could launch paying passengers into orbit.  This for orbiting the earth vs 15 minutes in zero G.  Their capsule can hold 6 people, one pilot and 5 passengers.  The could charge enough for 5 passengers to turn a profit.  Say $20 million each for $100 million.  Launching in a used F9, what would the profit be, maybe $50 million.  They could do this for a couple of years until all the willing paying customers get a ride to earn some extra money until Starship becomes operational.  This might cut into Blue's New Sheppard rides, although at a much higher price. 

« Last Edit: 02/06/2019 05:58 pm by spacenut »

Offline ZachF

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • NH, USA, Earth
  • Liked: 769
  • Likes Given: 158
LH2 is so expensive that fueling the upper stage of New Glenn will cost about as much as fueling the entire Starship/Superheavy stack.

How do you figure? By my research, LH2 is about 6 times more expensive by mass, but about 6x less dense. The only way this is the case then is if the upper stage NG H2 tank is as big as the upper and lower stage SS/SH fuel tanks. Eyeballing the LH2 tank suggests about 20 meter high by 7 meter diameter or ~770 cubic meters. The 2017 BFS upper stage methane tank is 240,000 kg of methane or 570 cubic meters. His 2017 powerpoint didn't show the fuel load for the booster, but probably 800,000 kg+ all in or 1900 cubic meters+.

LH2 is ~30x more expensive, based on NASA paying $3.66/kg for LH2 in the early 2000s, while the current spot price for LNG in Texas is about $.13 per kg.

However, I applied that price to the entire 175 t wet mass of the NG upper stage when only ~33 t of that is actually LH2, and so overestimated the cost the upper stage fuel by a factor of 5.

The 2017 BFR had 4,000 tonnes of methalox at ~$150/tonne or $600,000 total.
NG will have ~1100 tonnes of methalox at ~$150/tonne, plus ~33 t of LH2 at $3660/tonne, totaling $286,000.

LH2 is closer to $6-7/kg nowadays when I looked last IIRC... Early 2000s was almost two decades ago now.

I remember figuring very rough fuel costs as such (both Ox and F)

>$1.00/kg Hydrolox
$0.35/kg Kerolox
$0.15/kg Methalox

Hypergolic fuels are tens to over a hundred dollars per kg.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2019 05:55 pm by ZachF »
artist, so take opinions expressed above with a well-rendered grain of salt...
https://www.instagram.com/artzf/

Offline RedLineTrain

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Liked: 531
  • Likes Given: 731
The 2017 BFR had 4,000 tonnes of methalox at ~$150/tonne or $600,000 total.
NG will have ~1100 tonnes of methalox at ~$150/tonne, plus ~33 t of LH2 at $3660/tonne, totaling $286,000.

Something doesn't seem right here.  Rather, didn't the 2017 BFR have probably roughly 800 metric tons of methane?  Your 4,000 metric tons appears to be propellant rather than fuel.  Isn't LOX basically free?
« Last Edit: 02/06/2019 06:17 pm by RedLineTrain »

Online ncb1397

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1299
  • Liked: 561
  • Likes Given: 6
LH2 is so expensive that fueling the upper stage of New Glenn will cost about as much as fueling the entire Starship/Superheavy stack.

How do you figure? By my research, LH2 is about 6 times more expensive by mass, but about 6x less dense. The only way this is the case then is if the upper stage NG H2 tank is as big as the upper and lower stage SS/SH fuel tanks. Eyeballing the LH2 tank suggests about 20 meter high by 7 meter diameter or ~770 cubic meters. The 2017 BFS upper stage methane tank is 240,000 kg of methane or 570 cubic meters. His 2017 powerpoint didn't show the fuel load for the booster, but probably 800,000 kg+ all in or 1900 cubic meters+.

LH2 is ~30x more expensive, based on NASA paying $3.66/kg for LH2 in the early 2000s, while the current spot price for LNG in Texas is about $.13 per kg.


You are comparing the spot price at a hub compared to a trucked in services contract. Its like comparing bottled water vs filtered tap water.

Anyways, hydrogen prices are highly dependant on volume. You buy 5,000,000 kg over a year, you get $3.66/ kg. You buy 5 kg at a hydrogen filling station, you get $10-$16/kg. The only point where the fuel cost is going to matter is super high volumes, like one launch per hour. At that point, you are buying a lot more than 14,000 kg per day.

The price I used was the industrial price for Florida here: http://www.ppinys.org/reports/jtf2004/naturalgas.htm
Quote
12 Florida   $8.46

...about $.42 / kg. Add in some processing like liquefaction and purification (they aren't using LNG are they?). This was compared to the NASA services contract (mostly Florida???).
« Last Edit: 02/06/2019 07:07 pm by ncb1397 »

Online ncb1397

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1299
  • Liked: 561
  • Likes Given: 6

LH2 is closer to $6-7/kg nowadays when I looked last IIRC... Early 2000s was almost two decades ago now.


There is more recent information than what he cites:

Quote
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Air Products and Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Pa., for the follow-on contract for the agencywide acquisition of liquid hydrogen.

The fixed price, requirements follow-on contract begins Dec. 1, 2010. It has a one-year base performance period with a one-year option period. The maximum potential value of the contract is approximately $18 million, which is comprised of a $7 million base value and $11 million for the one-year option.

Air Products and Chemicals will supply approximately 10,860,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; and Kennedy Space Center, Fla., in support of the agency's Space Operations Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Liquid hydrogen, when combined with liquid oxygen, acts as fuel in cryogenic rocket engines.
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/releases/2010/release-20101115.html

It is either ...
$7,000,000 / 4926013 kg =  $1.42 / kg
$18,000,000 / 4926013 kg =  $3.65 / kg

edit: Perhaps the most comparable situation to NASA's contract for trucked in hydrogen is LNG import (i.e. on a LNG tanker)

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9103us3m.htm
« Last Edit: 02/06/2019 08:19 pm by ncb1397 »

Online Semmel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1618
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1495
  • Likes Given: 3868
LH2 is so expensive that fueling the upper stage of New Glenn will cost about as much as fueling the entire Starship/Superheavy stack.
...
...
...

Fuel costs for rocket launches are completely irrelevant for the cost of launches, independently of rocket design, company and country of origin. Who ever brings that up is killing a straw man and arguing goes exactly no where. I am looking forwards for the time when that changes. But until then, can we please stop that nonsense?

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28757
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8861
  • Likes Given: 5742
LH2 is so expensive that fueling the upper stage of New Glenn will cost about as much as fueling the entire Starship/Superheavy stack.
...
...
...

Fuel costs for rocket launches are completely irrelevant for the cost of launches, independently of rocket design, company and country of origin. Who ever brings that up is killing a straw man and arguing goes exactly no where. I am looking forwards for the time when that changes. But until then, can we please stop that nonsense?
Honestly, it's just as relevant as whenever (which is often) anyone claims a reusable rocket is "too big" for some payload...
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

Online Semmel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1618
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1495
  • Likes Given: 3868
Fuel costs for rocket launches are completely irrelevant for the cost of launches, independently of rocket design, company and country of origin. Who ever brings that up is killing a straw man and arguing goes exactly no where. I am looking forwards for the time when that changes. But until then, can we please stop that nonsense?
Honestly, it's just as relevant as whenever (which is often) anyone claims a reusable rocket is "too big" for some payload...

I agree, thats an other one. One more and we have a collection!

Online Cheapchips

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 344
  • UK
  • Liked: 198
  • Likes Given: 356
I'll stick my neck out and disagree on fuel costs not mattering.  It matters a whole lot for mass transit. Orbit as a destination doesn't change that. 

It's a very long way from being a challenge for either company.  Will check back on my post later, assuming they have internet access in my eventual nursing home.  :)
« Last Edit: 02/08/2019 03:46 pm by Cheapchips »

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5180
  • Liked: 3073
  • Likes Given: 1547
LH2 is so expensive that fueling the upper stage of New Glenn will cost about as much as fueling the entire Starship/Superheavy stack.
...
...
...

Fuel costs for rocket launches are completely irrelevant for the cost of launches, independently of rocket design, company and country of origin. Who ever brings that up is killing a straw man and arguing goes exactly no where. I am looking forwards for the time when that changes. But until then, can we please stop that nonsense?

The hypothesis I was rebutting was that because NG is smaller a fully reusable version could undercut Starship on operating costs. That fuel costs are very small relative to other operational costs only furthers my point.

Offline Lemurion

My own expectation is that with Blue relying on a landing ship and targeting roughly a dozen flights per year it may well incur higher operating costs than SpaceX with a higher flight rate and RTLS.

Offline PM3

  • Member
  • Posts: 88
  • Germany
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 24
Someone asked for the fairing capacity / usable payload volume. It is:

* 150 m≥ for the Falcons
* 450 m≥ for the New Glenn (October 2018 payload user's guide)
* 1000+ m≥ for the Starship (https://www.spacex.com/mars)
* ?? for the New Armstrong  ::)

Fuel and sea transportation are cheap. Land transportation costs are more relevant. (The New Glenn may not need land transportation - produced and tested on the east cost, can be shipped to the west coast.)

But of course the biggest cost factor is reusability + launch frequency. If they really launch 12,000 Starlink sats and most of them by Starship / Super Heavy, how should Blue Origin ever reach the SpaceX cost efficiency?
« Last Edit: 02/09/2019 02:35 pm by PM3 »

Offline Tywin

Someone asked for the fairing capacity / usable payload volume. It is:

* 150 m≥ for the Falcons
* 450 m≥ for the New Glenn (October 2018 payload user's guide)
* ~ 1100 m≥ for the Starhip (September 2016 presentation)
* ?? for the New Armstrong  ::)

Fuel and sea transportation are cheap. Land transportation costs are more relevant. (The New Glenn may not need land transportation - produced and tested on the east cost, can be shipped to the west coast.)

But of course the biggest cost factor is reusability + launch frequency. If they really launch 12,000 Starlink sats and most of them by Starship / Super Heavy, how should Blue Origin ever reach the SpaceX cost efficiency?

The ITS-Starship presentation was a lot bigger capacity in LEO,  in 2016 presentation...I am not sure, if the fairing capacity is the same now...


https://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/making_life_multiplanetary_2016.pdf
The knowledge is power...
Everything is connected...

Offline Tywin


But of course the biggest cost factor is reusability + launch frequency. If they really launch 12,000 Starlink sats and most of them by Starship / Super Heavy, how should Blue Origin ever reach the SpaceX cost efficiency?

IF the first generation of Oneweb and Telesat,  they making a good revenue, I do not know why, they can not expand their constellation with her maximum number of satellite for both ...

And we need to see the response of the traditional satellite operators, if they expand their constellations with cheaper and bigger fleets ...and see what launcher provider they choose then...
The knowledge is power...
Everything is connected...

Offline PM3

  • Member
  • Posts: 88
  • Germany
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 24
* ~ 1100 m≥ for the Starhip (September 2016 presentation)

The ITS-Starship presentation was a lot bigger capacity in LEO,  in 2016 presentation...I am not sure, if the fairing capacity is the same now...

Sorry, I got fooled by some wrong date in Wikipedia. 1000+ m≥ pressurized Starship volume is the current design according to https://www.spacex.com/mars, and there is some additional unpressurized volume. In the 2017 BFR presentation it was 825 pressurized.

Offline M.E.T.

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 618
  • Liked: 300
  • Likes Given: 22
So the latest confirmation that NG is not pursuing upper stage reuse is very relevant to this thread. It comes back to the question of how expensive their much more powerful upper stage will be compared to the roughly $10-$12m cost of the smaller F9 upper stage. If fairings are expended too then we might well be looking at around $40m cost for just the expendable parts of the rocket, and exluding any other costs associated with the launch (amortization/depreciation of the reusable core stage, launch facility costs, recovery costs, fuel, etc). So without upper stage recovery NG launch costs might well approach $60m or more. For about 40 tons or so into LEO was it? So about $1500/kg to orbit.

Starship by contrast, even at $50m per launch (which is 5 or 6 times Elonís cost estimate, just to play it safe) comes in at about $500/kg.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11349
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 8396
  • Likes Given: 6725
Good analysis but I would expect Blue (let's call them Blue not NG, that's the launcher) to do fairing recovery, it's "relatively" easy. That changes the numbers a bit but not much.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4723
  • California
  • Liked: 4418
  • Likes Given: 2681
So the latest confirmation that NG is not pursuing upper stage reuse is very relevant to this thread. It comes back to the question of how expensive their much more powerful upper stage will be compared to the roughly $10-$12m cost of the smaller F9 upper stage.

Indeed! Many don’t grasp the sheer size of the NG upper stage - it is slightly larger than the S-IVB stage (See picture) - And they will be throwing one away every launch.

Could they make it affordable with modern manufacturing? Maybe. But it is a lot of hardware to chuck away every launch. Although if anyone can handle that, I suppose it is Bezos.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2019 07:58 am by Lars-J »

Offline PM3

  • Member
  • Posts: 88
  • Germany
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 24
So the latest confirmation that NG is not pursuing upper stage reuse is very relevant to this thread. It comes back to the question of how expensive their much more powerful upper stage will be compared to the roughly $10-$12m cost of the smaller F9 upper stage. If fairings are expended too then we might well be looking at around $40m cost for just the expendable parts of the rocket, and exluding any other costs associated with the launch (amortization/depreciation of the reusable core stage, launch facility costs, recovery costs, fuel, etc). So without upper stage recovery NG launch costs might well approach $60m or more. For about 40 tons or so into LEO was it? So about $1500/kg to orbit.

Starship by contrast, even at $50m per launch (which is 5 or 6 times Elonís cost estimate, just to play it safe) comes in at about $500/kg.

I think that the statement by Blue Origin's vice sales president ...

    "reusing the second stage of New Glenn is not on our roadmap right now"

is overrated here. BO is known to be rather secretive about their development efforts, communicating more conservative than SpaceX. E.g. BE-4 was announced when it already was 3-4 years into development. They may as well be some years into development of a fully reusable New Armstrong. And Starship/SH may as well follow the usual Musk time, with first operational launch not in 2021 but 2025+. Remember Falcon Heavy, which is six years behind original schedule.

Also, when comparing costs of New Glenn and the Falcons, there is the big unknown variable of first stage reusability. It may turn out that NG achieves twice the resuses per stage, or half - who knows? Methalox engines should have a reusability advantage over RP1-Lox. So far, the reuse record is held by New Shepard with 4 reuses, vs. Falcon 9 with 2. Of course, very different flight profiles, and anyone of them may have replaced engines between flights.

(Only trying to point out some missing arguments ... my bet is on SpaceX.)

Offline hkultala

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 902
  • Liked: 377
  • Likes Given: 363
So far, the reuse record is held by New Shepard with 4 reuses, vs. Falcon 9 with 2. Of course, very different flight profiles, and anyone of them may have replaced engines between flights.

New Shepard has no reuse records.

It has zero reuses on actual missions. All have been test flights.

And if we include test flights, then Grasshopper easily beats New Shepard with 8 total flights ( 7 reuses?)





« Last Edit: 02/13/2019 12:07 pm by hkultala »

Tags: