Author Topic: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles  (Read 211516 times)

Offline llanitedave

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #400 on: 06/08/2016 07:38 PM »
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.
False. If new companies enter the market and are able to reduce their costs, there is naturally more competition (because more players), and so prices come down.

This can happen even without costs coming down, but pretty soon you'll have companies going bankrupt and exiting. So in reality, yes, reducing costs will allow prices to be reduced in a competitive market.

In other words:

False.  But true.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #401 on: 06/08/2016 08:58 PM »
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.
False. If new companies enter the market and are able to reduce their costs, there is naturally more competition (because more players), and so prices come down.

This can happen even without costs coming down, but pretty soon you'll have companies going bankrupt and exiting. So in reality, yes, reducing costs will allow prices to be reduced in a competitive market.

In other words:

False.  But true.
No. "This will therefor (sic) make no change to the size of the existing market." is false. SpaceX lowering costs will allow them to compete much better (force others to respond in kind), thus lowering prices and increasing the size of the existing market (which is growing in any case).
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 08:58 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #402 on: 06/08/2016 09:12 PM »
Let's not lose sight of the original question, which was simply whether or not SpaceX will reduce prices for reflights of F9 stages.

Whether they do or don't seems to me to be driven more by Musk's philosophy than market forces. He wants to reduce the cost of space access, so I expect they'll pass the savings along to customers. Whatever they do, ULA, OrbATK, Blue, etc, will still be playing catch-up.

« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 09:23 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #403 on: 06/08/2016 10:26 PM »
Tried and gave up at educating about why insurance underwriting costs have dropped for F9, and will drop further. Just accept it. Cannot "understand it for you".

Likewise, basic launch service cost is gradually edging downward. This will continue. Won't attempt to educate this time, but its obvious as to why.

After a while, possibly quite awhile,  the whole reuse of a booster will become commonly accepted.

Those that don't ... will stand out. That is how this little reality show will end. By design.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #404 on: 06/08/2016 10:27 PM »

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.

Think of it like this.  SpaceX is selling an orbited payload.  The value of that from the paying customer's perspective doesn't change with the cost of the method.  SpaceX will price at the best price they can get from the market unless they are doing something for charitable reasons.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(  You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.  This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.

No.  I was brief but that's not what I'm saying.  And I added back the 2nd part of my post.

1)  I think SpaceX intends to sell launches.  When they are at full reliable reuse, they are still going to be sell launches for their retail price (whatever that is higher or lower).
2)  SpaceX will have the flexibility to price their launches to maximize their ultimate goals.
3)  SpaceX may be (as seen lately) raising prices while decreasing the cost of mass to orbit.
4)  Elon has talked about 100x decrease in costs.  If that comes about, he's going to price based on what he wants to get out of the market but at the same time has the luxury of donating a launch to some vendor working on ancillary projects he likes.  Other suppliers won't be in that position.


The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.  How they do it is their business.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 10:32 PM by AC in NC »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #405 on: 06/08/2016 11:25 PM »
Tried and gave up at educating about why insurance underwriting costs have dropped for F9, and will drop further. Just accept it. Cannot "understand it for you".

Not sure who was arguing the opposite. Not me. I readily accept that's the case for "new" F9's.

But the question of the moment re insurance is how the insurers will peg the probability of failure for "reflown" stages until a demonstrated flight history is built up. Will they accept SpaceX's assertion (I assume) that a used stage is as reliable or more reliable than a new stage? With the result that near-term insurance premiums for the first few reflights will be *less* than for "new" stages?

Maybe they will, but I hadn't heard that public announcement yet from the insurers. Maybe I missed it. I tend to believe they will charge slightly higher premiums until reflights have built up a record of success but will gladly admit to being wrong if that's the case when those rates are published. Meanwhile, it sounds like the insurers are making that judgment call now.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-insurers-20160603-snap-story.html

Quote
Because insurers are always a little skeptical when something new is introduced, the information from the upcoming meeting will enable them to assess the risks of flying with a reusable rocket, Poliseno said.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 12:07 AM by Kabloona »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #406 on: 06/08/2016 11:32 PM »
Quote
The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.

Reference, please? SpaceX (Elon, Gwynne) have been repeatedly quoted as saying reuse would allow them to cut F9 launch prices.

http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/

Quote
Shotwell said it was too early to set precise prices for a reused Falcon 9, but that if the fuel on the first stage costs $1 million or less, and a reused first stage could be prepared for reflight for $3 million or so, a price reduction of 30 percent to around $40 million should be possible.

I don't find it credible that Gwynne would be talking publicly about possible 30% price reductions for reused stages if SpaceX didn't actually plan to pass *any* cost savings on to their customers.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 11:50 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Mader Levap

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #407 on: 06/08/2016 11:39 PM »
I think flown stages will be seen as less reliable for a while, until they rack up history.

Bathtub curve applies only to mature reusable launch vehicle tech. Currently, while used stage certainly gets rid of most "infant mortality" issues, it still has largerly unknown "wear out" issues.

So for some time (few years?) used rockets will be cheaper. After maturation of reusable rocket tech, price will reflect failure risk - cheaper at beginning and close to end of life, normal in middle. Launches of same stage/rocket in middle of life won't have same price anyway, as every customer and every launch has ever so slightly different needs, but that's different story.
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #408 on: 06/08/2016 11:47 PM »
I think flown stages will be seen as less reliable for a while, until they rack up history.

Bathtub curve applies only to mature reusable launch vehicle tech. Currently, while used stage certainly gets rid of most "infant mortality" issues, it still has largerly unknown "wear out" issues.

So for some time (few years?) used rockets will be cheaper. After maturation of reusable rocket tech, price will reflect failure risk - cheaper at beginning and close to end of life, normal in middle. Launches of same stage/rocket in middle of life won't have same price anyway, as every customer and every launch has ever so slightly different needs, but that's different story.

Agreed, and all that matters in the near term is that the F9 price cut more than offsets any additional insurance premium, so the customer still saves on a reflight. That gives net positive financial incentive despite lack of flight history. SES seems ready to jump on the bandwagon, so they must be convinced the additional risk, if any, is negligible, for what looks like significant savings, depending on how their insurers adjust their premiums.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #409 on: 06/09/2016 12:12 AM »
Quote
The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.

Reference, please? SpaceX (Elon, Gwynne) have been repeatedly quoted as saying reuse would allow them to cut F9 launch prices.

Cutting F9 launch prices is not inconsistent with selling orbits for a flat price.  I'm just saying I thought I saw (or implied) that after initial discounts that they were intended to have 1 price not 2.  I will endeavor to find a reference.

Main point is (I think) they are selling a launch (with a free reflight on failure) for a fixed price (once reliability is assured).  That price may go up or down.  Recently it went up marginally for a significant increase in payload resulting in an overall reduced cost to orbit across all payload masses.  I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 12:24 AM by AC in NC »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #410 on: 06/09/2016 12:46 AM »
Quote
I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".

Except that's pretty much exactly what Gwynne said may happen in the quote I posted above. And telling customers they may get a 30% (or thereabouts) price cut for a reflight fits my loose definition of "marketing." If you're not planning to sell something, you don't tell your customers in public how much they may save by buying it.

Not sure how you square that with a "fixed price per orbit" concept, but I will read any such quotes from Elon or Gwynne with interest if you can find them. Maybe that's a baseline price structure for launches of "new" F9's, before the discount for reflown stages.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 01:01 AM by Kabloona »

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #411 on: 06/09/2016 01:55 AM »
Nothing in that quote states or even implies that the price of new stages will remain the same. It can and has been understood by some to mean that regular reflight of stages will permit an across the board price reduction of 30%. Reflight will permit price reductions compared to current prices, not necessarily compared to new booster prices at that time.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #412 on: 06/09/2016 02:16 AM »
SpaceX may not have much reason to lower prices right now. They already have incredibly low prices and a long manifest that they're trying as hard as they can to fulfill.

Reuse will make it easier for them to fly out their current manifest, clear the schedule a bit, and give SpaceX incentive to lower cost even further to fill the manifest back up,

As long as there's available market share that SpaceX hasn't gained and as long as SpaceX can keep up with their manifest (which they can't quite do, yet), there will be incentive to reduce prices a bit. But SpaceX will also be filling their manifest with their own launches.
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #413 on: 06/09/2016 03:58 AM »
Nothing in that quote states or even implies that the price of new stages will remain the same. It can and has been understood by some to mean that regular reflight of stages will permit an across the board price reduction of 30%. Reflight will permit price reductions compared to current prices, not necessarily compared to new booster prices at that time.

I guess people can "understand" whatever they wish, but Gwynne specifically said "a reflight of a reused stage," not an across the board price cut including new stages.

In any case, a discussion of future launch price structures probably belongs elsewhere. This thread is about refurbishing the stages and it seems we've gone off topic.

Suggested threads for price discussions:

Economics of Reusability:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35829.0
Business Effects of Reusability:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39106.140
Reusability Effect of Cost:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40377.msg1539260#msg1539260
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 12:37 PM by Kabloona »

Offline JamesH65

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #414 on: 06/09/2016 09:31 AM »
Quote
I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".

Except that's pretty much exactly what Gwynne said may happen in the quote I posted above. And telling customers they may get a 30% (or thereabouts) price cut for a reflight fits my loose definition of "marketing." If you're not planning to sell something, you don't tell your customers in public how much they may save by buying it.

Not sure how you square that with a "fixed price per orbit" concept, but I will read any such quotes from Elon or Gwynne with interest if you can find them. Maybe that's a baseline price structure for launches of "new" F9's, before the discount for reflown stages.

Whilst 30% off might be good for kick starting the reusable market, once they prove reliable, prices for new and used will have to converge, otherwise no-one will buy new flights, and they will then run out of flown cores!
 
Might even go the other way, new cores costing less to launch than used. But again, the prices will need to converge, once reliability of the two types is the same.


Offline macpacheco

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #415 on: 06/09/2016 10:09 AM »
SpaceX may not have much reason to lower prices right now. They already have incredibly low prices and a long manifest that they're trying as hard as they can to fulfill.

Reuse will make it easier for them to fly out their current manifest, clear the schedule a bit, and give SpaceX incentive to lower cost even further to fill the manifest back up,

As long as there's available market share that SpaceX hasn't gained and as long as SpaceX can keep up with their manifest (which they can't quite do, yet), there will be incentive to reduce prices a bit. But SpaceX will also be filling their manifest with their own launches.
A one off launch reusing a booster you're probably right.

But if SpaceX gives their largest customers a 20 or 30% discount on reused boosters in exchange for a 20 launch contract, that increases SpaceX valuation for any future exchanges in SpaceX shares. Just because SpaceX isn't a public company and its share negotiations are private doesn't mean SpaceX shares never changes hands.

If SpaceX could sign US$ 10 billion worth of future launch contracts, locking in first dibs on every launch for most of its GTO customers, that has a lot of positive ramifications for SpaceX. It pleases all of SpaceX existing investors.

This would also help fulfil some of those contracts in the future with 100% big raptor rockets which might be able to deliver 50+ tons to GEO-800m/s in a single swoop. Say a zero inclination, 20000x38000Km orbit that even an all electric bird can raise itself in less than a month. This is all speculation, and I'm not trying to start a raptor discussion here, just trying to frame what might be in Musk/Shotwell's mind at this point.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 10:10 AM by macpacheco »
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #416 on: 06/09/2016 12:27 PM »
I know things are slow on the "refurbishment" front, but this is really not the thread to be discussing reuse pricing, economics, company valuations, Raptor, etc. It's for the mechanics of refurbishment. There are at least three other threads for those other topics.

So I plead anew to get back on topic and take the pricing discussions to one of the threads I just posted above.

To get back on track, it seems pretty clear from other discussions that the entire interstage is covered in (painted) cork, while the upper part of the first stage is not. (I agree with Herb's speculation that the lower third of the stage has some sort of special paint that turns dark from the heat, and it's pretty clear that the base of the stage below the legs has cork too.)

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1546764#msg1546764

This might explain why the interstage of OG-2 still looks rather grungy after cleaning, in comparison to the rest of the stage, ie the painted cork doesn't clean up as well as the painted aluminum because of the roughness of the cork substrate.

Photo credit: jardeon.  https://m.imgur.com/gallery/2BWF8#
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 01:00 PM by Kabloona »

Offline rsdavis9

Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #417 on: 06/09/2016 12:33 PM »
I know this is off topic...
Is there anyway that thread links posted could automatically show the name of the thread?
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #418 on: 06/09/2016 12:39 PM »
I know this is off topic...
Is there anyway that thread links posted could automatically show the name of the thread?

Don't know, but I added thread names to the links I posted above in case that helps move the off-topic pricing discussions where they belong.

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #419 on: 06/09/2016 01:01 PM »
This talk of 'new' and 'reused' boosters may be a bit too black and white.
SpaceX themselves have indicated that different components of the vehicle are expected to have different life cycles.
Who's to say that an otherwise brand new stage might not be fitted with refurbished engines, legs, etc?
Stages might become essentially a high-tech version of Trigger's Broom.
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