Author Topic: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles  (Read 208380 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #140 on: 01/09/2016 07:44 AM »
Fascinating that we need an interpretation of whenever Elon says something, its as if he is speaking a different language. Perhaps it's some "Martian dialect".. Just sayin'... ;D
« Last Edit: 01/09/2016 07:47 AM by Rocket Science »
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Online guckyfan

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #141 on: 01/09/2016 07:55 AM »
Fascinating that we need an interpretation of whenever Elon says something, its as if he is speaking a different language. Perhaps it's some "Martian dialect".. Just sayin'... ;D

No, it's us. Everybody tries hard to interpret his words so they fit the own agenda.

Offline Mongo62

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #142 on: 01/09/2016 02:20 PM »
The SpaceX website advertises the cost of a F9 missions at $61.2 million. Presumably, that means that it costs far less to build the rocket. I thought Musk said that the construction cost was $16 million, but this could be mistaken.
I wonder if Elon did in fact say "sixteen million", not "sixty million" in that teleconference.  The recording I heard was rather noisy, and it could have been either. I understand that the cost of the engines is typically  90% of the total cost to build a rocket. $5.4 million per M1D engine seems high to me. Is $1.44 million per engine a reasonable amount?

edit -- Assuming that half of the SpaceX workforce works on engines (probably too high, but I'm being conservative), we have 2000 workers at total employment costs of $100,000 per year each (guessing), incurring an annual employment cost of $200 million to make 200-250 Merlin engines per year (Wikipedia states that SpeceX is making 4 Merlin engines per week, with plans to increase that to 5 per week). So the labor costs of making a Merlin engine are almost certainly less than $1 million each. Labor costs are likely to dominate total manufacturing costs of the engines, so I conclude that $1.44 million per engine is likely to be about right, so a total manufacturing cost of $16 million per rocket is also likely to be correct.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2016 03:34 PM by Mongo62 »

Online abaddon

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #143 on: 01/09/2016 02:35 PM »
We know that SpaceX has been charging 55-62 ish million per launch.  That's the price for everything.  Build cost of $60 million would leave negative margin for most flights so far.

Offline Arb

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #144 on: 01/09/2016 07:07 PM »
Is $1.44 million per engine a reasonable amount?

Your figure agrees with the $1-2 million calculated by oldAtlas_Eguy back in 2011.

See https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26388.msg793006#msg793006

Am almost certain someone from SpaceX has also stated $1 million but don't recollection where or when.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #145 on: 01/10/2016 03:22 AM »
He said $60M, just like the last time and the time before that and the time before that and the time before that. He probably says this $60M vs $200k thing three times before breakfast and four times before touching doorknobs.
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Offline su27k

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #146 on: 01/10/2016 07:23 AM »
I understand that the cost of the engines is typically  90% of the total cost to build a rocket.

I don't think that's true. ULA has a pie chart of cost breakdown of Atlas 401, it shows 1st stage engine is about 60% of the 1st stage cost, and 2nd stage engine is about 25% of the 2nd stage cost.

Offline Dante80

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #147 on: 01/10/2016 10:14 AM »
I don't think that's true. ULA has a pie chart of cost breakdown of Atlas 401, it shows 1st stage engine is about 60% of the 1st stage cost, and 2nd stage engine is about 25% of the 2nd stage cost.

Adding the chart from the ULA pdf.


We are getting a little off-topic here, but I just thought of this. Isn't the quote about the second stage engine cost a little severe? I mean, if this is based on reality (for example, the cost percentages hold for the current Centaur stages in Atlas V 401 as ULA depicts), then..how much does the second stage (which is a priori non re-usable) cost for ULA? Assuming an optimistic cost estimate of $10M to procure an RL-10, that would put the cost close to $40M. And it goes down the drink every time, irregardless of what happens to stage 1.

To compound on the percentages given, the first stage engine seems to contribute around 60% of the overall cost of the stage. An RD-180 is assumed to cost ULA around $23M, which means that the whole stage would go around $40M too, maybe a little less. But then, the cost percentage between the first and second stage (thought to be around 60/40) would not make sense.

So, either RL-10 is a lot less expensive, or RD-180 is a lot more expensive than the arbitrary figures I used above.

Sorry for rambling.
« Last Edit: 01/10/2016 10:23 AM by Dante80 »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #148 on: 01/11/2016 09:55 PM »
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #149 on: 01/12/2016 12:27 AM »
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas V pie chart. Why would you assume F9 has identical subsystem cost ratios? It's a completely different vehicle.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2016 12:34 AM by Kabloona »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #150 on: 01/12/2016 12:31 AM »
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas slide. Why would you assume F9 has identical cost breakdowns? It's a completely different vehicle.
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different.   If the Merlins are 1.5 Million, then the engine stack is 15M.  So the structures would have to be some 30M to get the entire rocket to 60M.   

That's very far from the Atlas breakdown...  2:1 instead of 1:2....
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #151 on: 01/12/2016 12:42 AM »
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2016 01:54 AM by Kabloona »

Offline intrepidpursuit

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #152 on: 01/12/2016 01:30 AM »
As I've said before, there is no way that a first stage or even a whole costs anywhere near $60 to "build". If they are not just hemorrhaging money then it has to cost them much less to "build" a stage than it does to launch. They have 3 active pads and 4 major facilities along with a ton of other overhead. Elon's talking point about the rocket costing $60 million and fuel costing $200k is just that, it is not an accounting summary. You can't keep a company in business by selling something for 2% of what it costs to "build", especially when you then have to "launch" it and you only sell 7 a year.

The long term reusability strategy that gets the F9 below $10 million has to include keeping the fixed costs low and upping the frequency of launches significantly. Reusing stages will help keep their fixed costs close to what they are now while upping their revenue and making better use of their facilities and capabilities.

Offline Zach Swena

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #153 on: 01/12/2016 02:59 AM »
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for. 

The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low. 

Also, on the engine cost, and other parts, don't forget the high material prices for stuff like Inconel and the high cost of machine time for manufacturing.  The cost of maintenance and depreciation on some of those machines used in engine production could easily compete with the salary for the workers that likely tend to several of them at once.

The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #154 on: 01/12/2016 05:59 AM »
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
Both are fruit...  Some things are similar.

If the engines are $15M, what costs $45M?

The tanks? The Atlas cost breakdown doesn't apply directly, but it gives you an idea...

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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #155 on: 01/12/2016 12:18 PM »
The long term reusability strategy that gets the F9 below $10 million has to include keeping the fixed costs low and upping the frequency of launches significantly. Reusing stages will help keep their fixed costs close to what they are now while upping their revenue and making better use of their facilities and capabilities.
There are a few problems with this line of thinking.

Running 2 launch pads on 2 sites with up to 3 landing zones and 2 recovery barges is never going to be the "low cost" option.

Throwing away the 2nd stage will never let you go below the cost of the 2nd stage + refurb costs + propellant. That's been obvious in my cost game since day one.

Musk has stated 2nd stage reuse of F9 or F9 derived hardware is not going to happen anyway.
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for. 
A nice pragmatic reading of his comments. But he said cost and that usually excludes gross profit margin, which makes it price to customer. OTOH 2% could be the net profit after all the indirect costs have been taken out of the gross profit. Keeping 3 000 staff fed, watered, air conditioned and with a reasonable place for hygiene breaks more or less 24/7/365 is a fairly substantial (and expensive) logistics task in its own right.
Quote
The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low. 
Neglecting the new build 2nd stage you're going to need to make the launch work of course.
Quote
Also, on the engine cost, and other parts, don't forget the high material prices for stuff like Inconel and the high cost of machine time for manufacturing.  The cost of maintenance and depreciation on some of those machines used in engine production could easily compete with the salary for the workers that likely tend to several of them at once.
Quite possibly.
Quote
The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.
Let's see. Rough numbers $61m vs $200k that's 305 to 1.
Running some numbers through my cost game gave a price of about $42m for 2 flights, 4 flights gave about 30m, 8 might get you to 25m, 16 to 22m

So with 16 reuses you've got the flight price down to about 193x the propellant cost.

Airlines run roughly at all costs being about 3x fuel, IE Fuel bill + 2x fuel bill for everything else.

Note it's not the improved number through reuse on F9SR that's the problem. It's the fact it's still got 2 naughts after it that's the problem.

Of course airlines are fully reusable transport systems.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2016 12:20 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline JamesH

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #156 on: 01/12/2016 03:04 PM »
I'm finding the reading of $60M as the cost to 'build' only rather odd. When you pay to have a house built that pays for the materials, the planning permission, the archeological survey, the builders salaries, (which would include the building companies premises and corporation costs)  as well as a multitude of other things.  Same applies to rockets.

That $60Ms going to include a lot of SpaceX running costs. Not just the materials costs, but labour, launch costs, design costs, factory running costs, EM's salary etc.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #157 on: 01/12/2016 08:04 PM »
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for.

The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low.

The fact is that Elon used the "60 million" as BOTH the supposed cost of building the F9 ("lowest cost rocket, 50 to 60 million to build") AND the mission cost, ("60 million for the mission, 200,000 for the propellants") supposedly BOTH in the context of gains from reusability which is why the number is so contentious :)

Quote
The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.

A point? "Gas-n-Go" is an ideal but it's not going to happen, ever. Strong statement I know but think about it for just a second. The F9 is a Two Stage to Orbit Launch Vehicle, not a 747 or any other very mature transportation system with fully mature and trivial maintenance subsystems.

"Gas-n-Go" is out the window the moment you have to stack an upper stage on the vehicle. Gas-n-Go is not going to happen when you have to "refurbish" a vehicle between flights. Gas-n-Go only occurs when the vehicle arrives at the fueling point already ready to continue on with NO significant maintenance or inspection. Gas-n-Go is an "ideal" not an operational or business plan for the Falcon launch vehicle. From all indications it's not going to happen with BFR or MCT either, but before everyone gets upset and cranky over this FACT, take a moment to realize that anything short of a two-week "turn-around" is going to be a major paradigm shift in the industry even IF you don't have "48-hour" or "Gas-n-Go" ability so how about we quite picking nits?

I'm finding the reading of $60M as the cost to 'build' only rather odd. When you pay to have a house built that pays for the materials, the planning permission, the archeological survey, the builders salaries, (which would include the building companies premises and corporation costs)  as well as a multitude of other things.  Same applies to rockets.

That $60Ms going to include a lot of SpaceX running costs. Not just the materials costs, but labour, launch costs, design costs, factory running costs, EM's salary etc.

As above, Elon has used the same figure for both reasons. Assume what you want but till someone (most probably Elon because a lot of people ONLY believe what he says :) ) gives exact figures for both and we can contrast them that's what we have to work with.

And no, in fact the "same" does NOT apply to rockets since you don't ever BUY a rocket, you buy a "launch" with all that entails and PART of that is the 'cost' of the rocket itself.

There is no other transportation system where that happens. Buy a car, buy a boat, buy a plane and you buy the vehicle and everything else is up to you. Ride on a train, a plane or a ship and you pay for transporting the "payload" (you) and fees for services during the trip. For a launch you buy the vehicle, the propellant, the services to set up, check out, and launch, you also pay partially for all the infrastructure that is used or supports and fees required for the launch. The LV may only be a small part of the total cost, BUT that actually works against reusability lowering costs because the LV IS only a small part of the overall costs and most of those support costs are not going to change. Some may be able to be "spread" further but some are actually going to go up slightly. It's posted in another thread that in theory it will take around 10 flights for a reused LV to "break-even," (assuming of course that anyone has the correct "numbers" to work with) which is down from a couple of years ago when the figure was around 50 :) But that in and of itself is telling because the earlier figure was based on a totally different set of assumptions in the first place as are most of the current ones.

Really Elon has it right when he said it really only takes one to return and be reused because that pretty much proves the principle. The economics are going to work themselves out one way or the other.

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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #158 on: 01/12/2016 10:14 PM »
The equation for reuse cost savings is

cost of manufacture of a non-reusable stage> (cost of manufacture of a reusable stage/number of uses) + ((number of uses-1)*Cost of refurbishment/number of uses)

Many of the assumptions is that refurbishment would cost around $10M. But what we are currently witnessing from the first datapoint is something a lot less than $10M probably a lot closer to $2M.

What that would mean is that even at only 2 flights it would be cheaper, almost 25% cheaper. At $10M refurbishment costs for a stage costing $20M for the reusable stage vs $16M for a non-reusable stage (note I don't think there is that much difference in the added systems and design to make the basic F9 into a reusable F9), use would need to be about 4. Its all a matter of assumptions of the % of manufacture costs that refurbishment costs would be and just how much more expensive it would be to build a reusable stage vs a non-reusable one.

In order for 10 uses to reach break even point assumes that a reusable stage costs significantly more than that of a non-reusable one to manufacture and the refurbishment costs are greater than 50% of the cost to manufacture a non-reusable stage. I don't think those assumptions are applicable to the F9.

The additional costs looks to be about 10% increase in manufacture costs and the refurbishment costs at no more than 20%. This means that no matter how many uses occur even if it is only 2, the result is a price reduction over that of a non-reusable version of an F9.

Offline nadreck

Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #159 on: 01/12/2016 10:22 PM »
The equation for reuse cost savings is

cost of manufacture of a non-reusable stage> (cost of manufacture of a reusable stage/number of uses) + ((number of uses-1)*Cost of refurbishment/number of uses)

Many of the assumptions is that refurbishment would cost around $10M. But what we are currently witnessing from the first datapoint is something a lot less than $10M probably a lot closer to $2M.

What that would mean is that even at only 2 flights it would be cheaper, almost 25% cheaper. At $10M refurbishment costs for a stage costing $20M for the reusable stage vs $16M for a non-reusable stage (note I don't think there is that much difference in the added systems and design to make the basic F9 into a reusable F9), use would need to be about 4. Its all a matter of assumptions of the % of manufacture costs that refurbishment costs would be and just how much more expensive it would be to build a reusable stage vs a non-reusable one.

In order for 10 uses to reach break even point assumes that a reusable stage costs significantly more than that of a non-reusable one to manufacture and the refurbishment costs are greater than 50% of the cost to manufacture a non-reusable stage. I don't think those assumptions are applicable to the F9.

The additional costs looks to be about 10% increase in manufacture costs and the refurbishment costs at no more than 20%. This means that no matter how many uses occur even if it is only 2, the result is a price reduction over that of a non-reusable version of an F9.

The problem with this model of thinking is that there is no "expendable" F9 first stage core. There are cores that don't have the recovery "kit" (mainly legs, but possibly a few other small items), however the whole first stage costs less to produce than an equivalent first stage that was not designed for re-use from any other company so from one perspective that means that SpaceX didn't pay extra for the reusable 1st stage over some non reusable one.  For a competitor to take an existing design and make it reusable, then they are adding cost. If instead they designed a new product from scratch to be reusable from the get go and to be cheaper than their previous expendable designs then they would have found the secret sauce. However the only way I see this happening is with other companies new to making rockets, I really can't see this behavior from the entrenched players. So Vulcan is really a new iteration of an old expendable design that will then be iterated into a more expensive version to allow partial recovery.
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