Poll

Which of the following will make more orbital launch (attempts) between 2016 and 2020?

SpaceX
44 (75.9%)
China
14 (24.1%)

Total Members Voted: 58

Voting closed: 09/10/2016 09:58 AM


Author Topic: Measuring SpaceX's launch cadence - can SpaceX beat the Chinese for 2016-20?  (Read 4069 times)

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

So.....the topic of how many launches do SpaceX make every year has been a hotly debated topic. Not only do their fans closely monitor any gaps in their launch schedule, other competitors do comment on "launch cadence" too. While it is not exactly a very good measurement of the market share, it does roughly measure the ability of that LSP to carry cargo to space and beyond.

I have been trying to think of a good "reference experiment" to measure SpaceX's ability growth to carry out launches. At first I think of using the good old R-7 - the world's most flew orbital carrier and still having a decent worldwide market share for its capability - but the limited payload capability of the Soyuz rocket (at best it could do EELV medium sized missions) and forecasts of stagnant growth in its usage (it holds on at around 15-20 launches per year right now, still in the top but not exactly pushing its limits) means that I have to find another rocket for comparing with the Millennium Falcon.

And then I realized that there could only be one. The Chinese.

Those that do count the launches would know that the Chinese have been pushing their orbit logistics infrastructure very far in the last few years, due to a very large demand surge in their spaceflight arena. New space station? Check. New lunar landers? Check. New Chinese GPS? Check. New spysat toys (that needs to be replaced once every few years)? Check. And so on. This means that their number of launches have multiplied - 48 between 2006-2010 and 86 between 2011-2015. Now they are targeting around 110 for 2016-2020 - an average of 22 per year(*)!

Their strange habit of (usually) making rockets in the first half of the year and launching them in a row in the second half also pushes the infrastructure usage quite a lot. While SpaceX fans tout around the 14 day pad turn-around in Sept. 2014, the Chinese now routinely do 18 day turn-arounds over the past few years, sometimes with different rocket variants.

What makes them a good comparison object to SpaceX is that:

1. Like SpaceX, they project a large growth in their rocket usage in the next few years
2. Most of their current rockets are quite similar due to all of them stemming from 1 ICBM design. Their next generation rockets are modular designed too.
3. They have multiple launch sites and pads, just like SpaceX
4. Their rockets have been the 1st or 2nd most used in the world for the past few years, something that Falcon fans are dreaming of.

So hereby I present a poll measuring NSF's confidence in whether SpaceX can beat the Chinese in the number of orbital launches between 2016 to 2020, failures included as long as they are targeted to reach orbit. As of March 11, 2016, the match is evenly tied at 2:2.  ;)

The vote will last for half a year. You are also encouraged to make your bet on how many launches will each of them make within these 5 years. I might decide to put out a gift for the closest guess made, although details will (understandably) only be announced in the 2nd half of 2020.  ;)

So.....cast your votes and guesses here!  8)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline PerW

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SpaceX
2016: 15
2017: 20
2018: 35
2019: 33
2020: 40
Tot: 143
 :-X

Offline guckyfan

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Good call, I like it.

It is hard to decide. If SpaceX deploy their satellite constellation I say it is an easy win for SpaceX. However if they don't, who knows?  Can't make up my mind yet.

Online Craftyatom

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I don't think China can speed up solid production to match SpaceX's rates.   Furthermore, I don't see why they'd want to.  Neither one of these entities cares which of them launches more, so I'm guessing China will maintain the rates they have while SpaceX works on launching more and more, as they have so often expressed a desire to.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline Jim

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where is ULA?

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

where is ULA?

I'll consider adding them (or Arianespace or any equivalent LSP) in a new poll if they can demonstrate more than 20 launches a year.  ;)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline dror

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You mean 'if they can demonstrate talking about more than 20 launchs a year', like Spx did.
Each of Arianspace, Soyuz, China and ULA have launched more than SpaceX in the last 4 years and may launch more than Spx in the next four.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2016 03:31 PM by dror »
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Offline Jim

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I'll consider adding them (or Arianespace or any equivalent LSP) in a new poll if they can demonstrate more than 20 launches a year.  ;)

Then you should take Spacex off the poll, until they demonstrate that they can launch 15 or even 10 in one year.

Offline rpapo

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Then you should take Spacex off the poll, until they demonstrate that they can launch 15 or even 10 in one year.
I was wondering how long it would take before the above statement got made.  While SX has been moving faster every year, they haven't progressed anywhere near as fast as they have wanted to.  But at the same time they have progressed faster than anybody but their fanboys would have guessed.

I am not against SpaceX.  I cheer them on.  But I take Elon's stated schedule with a very big grain of salt.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline Galactic Penguin SST


I'll consider adding them (or Arianespace or any equivalent LSP) in a new poll if they can demonstrate more than 20 launches a year.  ;)

Then you should take Spacex off the poll, until they demonstrate that they can launch 15 or even 10 in one year.

After thinking on this, I've make another poll for comparison.  ;)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

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