Author Topic: SpaceX vs BlueOrigin - Whose Approach / Business Strategy is Better?  (Read 315384 times)

Online meekGee

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So BO should start serious NA dev. now and retire NG as soon as it has completed it's launch manifest in order for them to have a chance of catching up with SpaceX. BO have the funding and likely a no. of ex SpaceXers from SpaceX's recent layoffs to get cracking on with NA dev. now. NA will make the future of BO not NG which is just a stopgap until NA. Ditching NG US reuse could be an indicator that BO are about to get serious with NA dev. like with SpaceX ditching F9 and FH US reuse in favour of SH/SS.
Yup, that was my point.

That whole "NG is just the right size" line of argument is bunk.  NG is BO's chance to show they can built an orbital rocket, but it is no longer a player itself, not anymore.

Now that is just amusing... You are starting to sound like one of those Skylon fanboys. I'm a SpaceX fan, but this kind of blind faith should be embarrassing. NG is going to be far more of a player than any other rocket out there (ignoring SpaceX), and more reusable to boot. Yet it is "no longer a player".  ::)
NG was a player until the schedule of SS became apparent.

In a world of SS and NG, sorry, it will do very poorly - you just can't compete with a fully reusable system.

It's going to be in better shape than Vulcan and A6, but not for long.

Sure customers have signed up..  it means very little, since there's still uncertainty about SS...

But in a world where both rockets hit their schedules, I just don't see it looking good for NG.

Again, the only thing BO should do right now os get NG flying and immediately turn full attention to NA.  And this time, aim ahead of where SpaceX is.

EDIT:
Curiously, this is almost an echo of conversations held here 5 years ago, comparing the futures of SpaceX to those of Arianne, ULA, and the Russian rockets.

Except, the leap in performance in this case is even more extreme, and NG doesn't have the kind of inertia those other systems already had.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2019 07:30 am by meekGee »
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Online Bananas_on_Mars

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Someone from Blue Origin said that he expects their BE-3U engine to live through several decades. Their stated plans revolve around earth-to-orbit and cislunar space, while SpaceX is aiming for planetary surfaces. I expect an architecture from Blue Origin that is a lot more diverse than what SpaceX is planning. Propellant depots in Space and "small" spacetugs. A reuse architecture where return into the athmosphere is only needed for small ferry ships.

Offline Oli

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.  In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

 - Ed Kyle
...which doesn't mean it'd be more expensive. SpaceX has a huge advantage in scale of manufacture compared to Blue, and most Falcon Heavy missions won't need to expend the core.

Funny. When people argue with manufacturing/launch rate, SpaceX fans always go "but it's not reusable and thus more expensive by default" yadda yadda yadda.


Online Robotbeat

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And yet SpaceX DOES have really low manufacturing costs.
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 rockets4life97

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I think that Bezos and Musk will go into some form of partnership in due course, and cease competing.

I couldn't disagree more. Bezos might be interested, but this is completely against Musk's DNA. He is interested in pushing the technological edge, not the profit and stasis that tends to occur in large companies with little competitive pressure.

Offline matthewkantar

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Merging BO and SpaceX does not make sense to me. The assets of the two companies are redundant, not complimentary.

Offline Star One

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Track record seems to be ignored by many BO supporters. 15 years in they don’t have an orbital rocket of any size yet. SpaceX has built 3.

If BO starts NA development today their track record suggests 2030-2035 as the earliest date for its arrival. At which point SpaceX may be flying something equivalent to the original 12m diameter ITS system already. Or perhaps something toyally different, based on lessons learnt from the SS generation 1.

Gradatim seems to receive far more emphasis than ferociter, in the BO philosophy.

I imagine NA development has been underway for sometime. Just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Plenty of classified projects tell us this.

Offline matthewkantar

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I think that Bezos and Musk will go into some form of partnership in due course, and cease competing. It may be via a new 'USA' conglomerate, or via a front such as ULA but they have more interests in common than anything else - and Bezos can print money ad infinitum, while Musk is always vulnerable financially - he's a visionary, not a businessman.

This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2019 04:36 pm by matthewkantar »

Online TrevorMonty

I think that Bezos and Musk will go into some form of partnership in due course, and cease competing. It may be via a new 'USA' conglomerate, or via a front such as ULA but they have more interests in common than anything else - and Bezos can print money ad infinitum, while Musk is always vulnerable financially - he's a visionary, not a businessman.

This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
Very rich middleman.

Offline PM3

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This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
Very rich middleman.

Middleman who is not bankrupt yet.  ::)

“Amazon will go bankrupt. ... We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible.” -- Jeff Bezos, November 2018

But at least 5 years left ... he predicted that it will happen NET 2024 (“lifespans tend to be 30-plus years” - Amazon founded in 1994).

Online TrevorMonty

This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
Very rich middleman.

Middleman who is not bankrupt yet.  ::)

“Amazon will go bankrupt. ... We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible.” -- Jeff Bezos, November 2018

But at least 5 years left ... he predicted that it will happen NET 2024 (“lifespans tend to be 30-plus years” - Amazon founded in 1994).
Comments like that won't help Amazon share price.

Given Amazon limited life, its good thing Bezos is setting up Blue to diversive his wealth.

Online meekGee

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.  In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

 - Ed Kyle
...which doesn't mean it'd be more expensive. SpaceX has a huge advantage in scale of manufacture compared to Blue, and most Falcon Heavy missions won't need to expend the core.

Funny. When people argue with manufacturing/launch rate, SpaceX fans always go "but it's not reusable and thus more expensive by default" yadda yadda yadda.

I know, right?

In fact there's an entire thread (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37390.0) dedicated to a discussion of a spreadsheet that makes the exact same point you're making.

I'm coming to the realization that the "optimally-sized mass-produced expendable" rocket paradigm will only die after SS is flying.  Those who don't see it will just ride their companies to the ground, and that's how history goes.

FWIW I think BO sees it very clearly. IMO they'll indeed treat NG as an extremely transient step. The test is how fast they'll pivot to NA.
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Online Robotbeat

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.  In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

 - Ed Kyle
...which doesn't mean it'd be more expensive. SpaceX has a huge advantage in scale of manufacture compared to Blue, and most Falcon Heavy missions won't need to expend the core.

Funny. When people argue with manufacturing/launch rate, SpaceX fans always go "but it's not reusable and thus more expensive by default" yadda yadda yadda.

I know, right?

In fact there's an entire thread (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37390.0) dedicated to a discussion of a spreadsheet that makes the exact same point you're making.

I'm coming to the realization that the "optimally-sized mass-produced expendable" rocket paradigm will only die after SS is flying.  Those who don't see it will just ride their companies to the ground, and that's how history goes.

FWIW I think BO sees it very clearly. IMO they'll indeed treat NG as an extremely transient step. The test is how fast they'll pivot to NA.
Blue and fast in the same paragraph?
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 mme

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I think that Bezos and Musk will go into some form of partnership in due course, and cease competing. It may be via a new 'USA' conglomerate, or via a front such as ULA but they have more interests in common than anything else - and Bezos can print money ad infinitum, while Musk is always vulnerable financially - he's a visionary, not a businessman.

This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
I am an admitted fan of Musk's vision and ventures and Bezos gives me the heebie-jeebies but let's give the man his due. He had a vision and he's been ruthless in making Amazon what it is. He also recognized the value of IaaS (being a cloud computing provider) when that was completely unrelated to their core business. Google didn't enter the market for 6 additional years.

They're both "real" businessmen. Amazon changed how the world shopped. They weren't the first, they did it the best and dominated.  He has a vision for Blue, I don't see him giving up though I have never understood their lack of ferociter.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Online meekGee

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.  In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

 - Ed Kyle
...which doesn't mean it'd be more expensive. SpaceX has a huge advantage in scale of manufacture compared to Blue, and most Falcon Heavy missions won't need to expend the core.

Funny. When people argue with manufacturing/launch rate, SpaceX fans always go "but it's not reusable and thus more expensive by default" yadda yadda yadda.

I know, right?

In fact there's an entire thread (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37390.0) dedicated to a discussion of a spreadsheet that makes the exact same point you're making.

I'm coming to the realization that the "optimally-sized mass-produced expendable" rocket paradigm will only die after SS is flying.  Those who don't see it will just ride their companies to the ground, and that's how history goes.

FWIW I think BO sees it very clearly. IMO they'll indeed treat NG as an extremely transient step. The test is how fast they'll pivot to NA.
Blue and fast in the same paragraph?
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Online Coastal Ron

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.

We can't make that decision, only customers can. And since there are few customers that require an expendable Falcon Heavy I don't think that will be the typical competition between Falcon Heavy and New Glenn.

For instance, SpaceX has Falcon 9 for the light to medium heavy payloads, and Falcon Heavy for the heavier and heaviest payloads, of which only the heaviest would require an expendable mode.

Blue Origin only has one version of their launcher, so they are unlikely to get orders for light payloads without some sort of discount, or unless they are able to bundle a number of light payloads into one launch. And so it goes for medium, heavy, and the heaviest payloads, where there is a range where Blue Origin is competitive, but outside of that band they will have to resort to discounts to get orders - and discounts once a system is operational is an acknowledgement of being an uncompetitive system (and there are a number of those around today).

Quote
In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

So far I haven't heard of any commercial payloads that would require an expendable Falcon Heavy, so let's make sure we don't assume that New Glenn will ONLY be competing with disposable Falcon Heavy missions. New Glenn will get commercial launch customers mainly at the expense of launch providers that only offer expendable launchers - which is everyone EXCEPT for SpaceX. And I think Blue Origin will do very well, so we don't need to make this a X vs Y competition, when it's really X & Y against everyone else.

Let's remember that the current commercial customers WANT redundancy and competition, so Starship won't eliminate competition, it will just drive down the average cost of launches. It will be new business models that will come to rely on fully reusable launch systems, and once those start to appear I think that is when Blue Origin will understand what should come AFTER New Glenn - regardless if it's called New Armstrong or whatever.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online meekGee

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I think that Bezos and Musk will go into some form of partnership in due course, and cease competing. It may be via a new 'USA' conglomerate, or via a front such as ULA but they have more interests in common than anything else - and Bezos can print money ad infinitum, while Musk is always vulnerable financially - he's a visionary, not a businessman.

This sort of stuff always cracks me up. Musk has created two companies worth tens of billions of dollars. If he is not a businessman who is? Bezos is middleman.
I am an admitted fan of Musk's vision and ventures and Bezos gives me the heebie-jeebies but let's give the man his due. He had a vision and he's been ruthless in making Amazon what it is. He also recognized the value of IaaS (being a cloud computing provider) when that was completely unrelated to their core business. Google didn't enter the market for 6 additional years.

They're both "real" businessmen. Amazon changed how the world shopped. They weren't the first, they did it the best and dominated.  He has a vision for Blue, I don't see him giving up though I have never understood their lack of ferociter.
Very well put.
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Offline high road

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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.
To compare based on equivalent payload capability, I think we need to compare two-stage New Glenn with a Falcon Heavy that expends both its core stage and its second stage.  In that case, Falcon Heavy would expend nearly twice as much dry mass and five times the number of engines as New Glenn.

 - Ed Kyle
...which doesn't mean it'd be more expensive. SpaceX has a huge advantage in scale of manufacture compared to Blue, and most Falcon Heavy missions won't need to expend the core.

Funny. When people argue with manufacturing/launch rate, SpaceX fans always go "but it's not reusable and thus more expensive by default" yadda yadda yadda.

I know, right?

In fact there's an entire thread (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37390.0) dedicated to a discussion of a spreadsheet that makes the exact same point you're making.

I'm coming to the realization that the "optimally-sized mass-produced expendable" rocket paradigm will only die after SS is flying.  Those who don't see it will just ride their companies to the ground, and that's how history goes.

FWIW I think BO sees it very clearly. IMO they'll indeed treat NG as an extremely transient step. The test is how fast they'll pivot to NA.

If the speed at which they're pivoting away from their current transient step is any indication, that's going to take quite some time.

Offline Semmel

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In a world of SS and NG, sorry, it will do very poorly - you just can't compete with a fully reusable system.

It's going to be in better shape than Vulcan and A6, but not for long.

Sure customers have signed up..  it means very little, since there's still uncertainty about SS...

But in a world where both rockets hit their schedules, I just don't see it looking good for NG.

Again, the only thing BO should do right now os get NG flying and immediately turn full attention to NA.  And this time, aim ahead of where SpaceX is.

EDIT:
Curiously, this is almost an echo of conversations held here 5 years ago, comparing the futures of SpaceX to those of Arianne, ULA, and the Russian rockets.

Except, the leap in performance in this case is even more extreme, and NG doesn't have the kind of inertia those other systems already had.

I'm a big proponent of Starship and SuperHeavy, but I dont take the heatshield of SS as a given. If it doesnt work, SpaceX is back to square 1 with their design. If it does work, it leaves everybody else in the dust. Until the design is copied. SpaceX is betting on a high risk, high reward design. Calling NG out because that design might work out good is premature. And if it DOES work, BO can still redesign the second stage of NG to copy the heatshield and be fine. It requires some walking on glass for some period but NG is still well sized for such a second stage.

Online M.E.T.

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Must admit, at a gut feel level the fast follower approach feels fundamentally unjust. But then, fairness isn’t part of the equation, I guess.

EDIT

And by this I mean in general, not just in rocketry, in that it lessens the reward and incentive to be the risk taker and innovator.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2019 02:43 pm by M.E.T. »

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