Author Topic: Reusability effect on costs  (Read 187342 times)

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #340 on: 05/07/2017 10:00 AM »
>
I want to understand the $30m price tag you estimated for a fully reusable FH. How is that calculated? It seems somewhat high to me, considering that Elon's goal is a price reduction of an order of magnitude or maybe even two orders of magnitude with full reusability.

By my count, to construct a FH rocket costs say $60m for the centre core, upper stage and fairing, and say another $80m for the two side boosters. So let's call that $140m.
>

Except that they'll be making extensive use of flight proven  stages for the FH side boosters, throwing your numbers way off.  The FH maiden flight will use them.

OK. But those boosters had to be manufactured at some point, and thus would have incurred the $40m construction cost per booster originally. That cost has to be spread over the 100 launches, right?

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #341 on: 05/07/2017 10:08 AM »
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.
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Online guckyfan

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #342 on: 05/07/2017 10:13 AM »
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.

Taking first flight out of the equation because we don't know yet how it will be valued. But after that we must assume that the stage will not fly if it does not have 100% confidence. So flight 99 should have the same value as flight 2.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #343 on: 05/07/2017 10:14 AM »
True, but ISTM their amortized value for any given re-launch depends on how many times they've already flown. Flight #2 being a more valuable stage than flight #8.

Ok, but to simplify matters, if each booster can fly 100 times, then from SpaceX's overall point of view it makes no difference whether it flies 8 times as a F9 and then 92 times as a FH side booster, or 100 times as an FH side booster only. So we might as well do the calculation as if the FH starts out with three new cores.

The cost of the new booster has to be carried by SpaceX at some point.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #344 on: 05/07/2017 01:10 PM »
Hat tip to gongora for bringing this to our attention in another thread. Interview with Gwynne Shotwell:

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/

Quote
In terms of when we might see significant price declines, Shotwell admits “it will take a few years” for the contracts to come in. However, SpaceX has invested a lot of money in this particular area. “We want to make sure we are fair about that cost. Frankly, the final spin on Falcon 9 will be rolling out a little bit later than mid-year, and that is really the stage that rolls in all the lessons learned on reusability that we have learnt to date. Those vehicles will be highly reusable — 10 times at least. When those vehicles are flying regularly, we will start seeing more pressure around the launch price side,” she adds.

So, final version of F9 rolling out this summer, will be reusable at least 10x. But it will be a few years before SpaceX recoups their investment and can pass significant cost savings on to customers.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 01:18 PM by Kabloona »

Offline AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #345 on: 05/07/2017 01:42 PM »
Hat tip to gongora for bringing this to our attention in another thread. Interview with Gwynne Shotwell:

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/

Quote
In terms of when we might see significant price declines, Shotwell admits “it will take a few years” for the contracts to come in. However, SpaceX has invested a lot of money in this particular area. “We want to make sure we are fair about that cost. Frankly, the final spin on Falcon 9 will be rolling out a little bit later than mid-year, and that is really the stage that rolls in all the lessons learned on reusability that we have learnt to date. Those vehicles https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/Themes/nsf2/images/bbc/underline.gifwill be highly reusable — 10 times at least. When those vehicles are flying regularly, we will start seeing more pressure around the launch price side,” she adds.

So, final version of F9 rolling out this summer, will be reusable at least 10x. But it will be a few years before SpaceX recoups their investment and can pass significant cost savings on to customers.

This (bolded) is the best part.  Doesn't seem to have affected the bottom line cost in a negative way.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 01:44 PM by AncientU »
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Offline DOCinCT

Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #346 on: 05/07/2017 04:10 PM »
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

Offline RotoSequence

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #347 on: 05/07/2017 04:41 PM »
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 04:47 PM by RotoSequence »

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #348 on: 05/07/2017 04:59 PM »
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.

I was about to respond to your original post. I see you've since clarified it to cast at least a little bit of doubt over the $30m estimate, but it is still held up as a target.

And that's what I don't understand. Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 05:02 PM by M.E.T. »

Offline RotoSequence

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #349 on: 05/07/2017 05:06 PM »
...Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

I agree with you. The $30 million figure is useful as a pragmatic (but unlikely to be realized) lower bound on Falcon 9 launch costs with first-stage reuse alone. It does not make sense for SpaceX to lower their prices without competitive price pressure.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 05:08 PM by RotoSequence »

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #350 on: 05/07/2017 05:12 PM »
From the same VIA interview:
"It [reusable technology] will drive down prices but that part is not going to be that significant, I don’t think, at least not early on. We have invested heavily in this technology. It will certainly pay off in the long-term in terms of pushing prices low, but obviously we have to gain back our investment before launch prices drop crazy low."
Isn't the general consensus we are talking about 3 years (maybe less) for recouping the investment?
Will be interesting then to see what "crazy low" is.

If a Falcon 9 first stage costs $40 million to build, $5 million to refurbish between flights, but launches ten times, the aggregate cost to SpaceX per Falcon 9 becomes $85 million for ten first stage launches, plus second stage. SpaceX could keep a guestimated margin of $10 million per launch by charging $30 million. Barring an explosion in launch customers, I don't imagine they'll necessarily get that low, let alone try to go lower, lest they leave money on the table that they need for ITS.

I was about to respond to your original post. I see you've since clarified it to cast at least a little bit of doubt over the $30m estimate, but it is still held up as a target.

And that's what I don't understand. Everyone keeps going on about how SpaceX can drop the price dramatically and still make $10m profit per launch. But that's clearly not what they're saying. Both Musk and Shotwell have now repeatedly said that the effect on launch prices will not be significant until they have recovered their investment costs.

Shotwell's latest interview above makes that even clearer.  They are not going to drop the launch price to $30m to make a $10m profit. Instead, they are clearly indicating that at least for the forseeable future they are going to do something along the lines of dropping it to $55m or maybe at best $50m, and by implication try to make $30m profit per launch, or maybe even more.

Which I think is exactly the right approach.

The $30 million figure is useful as a pragmatic (but unlikely to be realized) lower bound on Falcon 9 launch costs with first-stage reuse alone.

Ah. Ok. It's basically the cost of the $5m fairing, the estimated $10m cost of the upper stage, plus some refurbishment and peripheral launch related costs which brings internal cost to SpaceX to around $20m per launch.

With fairing recovery - which now seems possible, they could drop that by maybe another $4m to the region of maybe $16m, without upper stage recovery. So yes, that would seem the lower cost bound without upper stage recovery.

But in terms of what SpaceX will charge, I don't see them cutting their profits to as low as $10m per launch for quite some time.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #351 on: 05/07/2017 07:39 PM »
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

It's really good to be under the cost curve and building launch frequency gradually.

The key win here is to move the market into your direction. As has been done.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #352 on: 05/07/2017 09:09 PM »
$30M in costs for a fully reusable FH or a partial reusable F9 (that is costs internal to SpaceX no profit added).
NOTE the cost of the 1st stage manufacture is estimated at $25M.
Also the all up costs (no profit) no reuse for an F9 is $53M add $9M for profit resulting in a price of $62M.

F9 Partial reusable

$15M for new US
$4M for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$7M for the launch processing and launch. This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M


FH Fully Reusable
$5M for US refurbishment($3M), recovery ($.5M) and amoritization over 10 flights ($1.5M)
$12M 3X for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$9M for the launch processing and launch. ($1M each extra for the two additioanal boosters). This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M

Over time and at higher flight rates the Launch processing, refurbishment costs, and slush margin may be reduced for a reduction of almost up to $10M for fully reusable FH but only $5M for a partial reusable F9. Possibly getting the costs per flight to as low as $20M in 7 years from now 2024/25. This then would also make the use of the fully reusable FH cheaper per flight than the partial reusable F9: FH $20M vs F9 $25M.

If you then add profit margin of only $5M to these high volume launches of the fully reusable FH, then the price per flight of up to 20mt to LEO becomes $25M or just $1,250/kg->$568/lb.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #353 on: 05/07/2017 09:26 PM »
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

Do they?  According to Salo's launch schedule, Falcon 9 has 42 flights left for 2017 and 2018.  That's quite a lot for any expendable launcher, but if SpaceX hits its reusable stride, it would seem that 2018 might still have some manifest availability.

Maybe the price drop to $55 million or whatever it is will fill their manifest.

2019 looks pretty crazy, what with the LEO constellation starting to go up.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 09:27 PM by RedLineTrain »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #354 on: 05/07/2017 10:13 PM »
So WRT to the thread title reusability will probably increase SX profits by lowering their costs.

Reusability should improve reliability as SX now know how close to their designed operating limits various components have been.

If they deliver full reusability including the US then they will be in a position to save a lot of money.

But as a customer I find myself saying "so what?"

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

My main interest is in lowering the mission price to the end user both on a $/lb and an overall mission price basis (Pegasus is cheaper than an F9 flight, but it's also less than 1/20 the payload).

This does not sound like it's going to move the market forward very much. The market is what it is because of the price of launch for the size of payload. If that does not change radically there is absolutely no reason why any new customers will enter the market who wouldn't have done so anyway. 
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 07:14 AM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #355 on: 05/07/2017 10:18 PM »
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #356 on: 05/07/2017 10:28 PM »
$30M in costs for a fully reusable FH or a partial reusable F9 (that is costs internal to SpaceX no profit added).
NOTE the cost of the 1st stage manufacture is estimated at $25M.
Also the all up costs (no profit) no reuse for an F9 is $53M add $9M for profit resulting in a price of $62M.

F9 Partial reusable

$15M for new US
$4M for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$7M for the launch processing and launch. This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M


FH Fully Reusable
$5M for US refurbishment($3M), recovery ($.5M) and amoritization over 10 flights ($1.5M)
$12M 3X for the refurbishment ($2M), recovery costs ($.5M), and amortization costs ($1.5M) over average of 20 flights for the stage's manufacture.
$9M for the launch processing and launch. ($1M each extra for the two additioanal boosters). This includes mate and checkout, payload handling, operations, range fees, and prop. (NOTE this value comes from Ms Shotwell herself in a statement made a few years ago)
$2M for the recovery and refurbishment of faring which includes the amortization of the faring cost manufacture.
$2M slush margin for unexpected costs such as weather delays or other scrubs.
Total Costs $30M

Over time and at higher flight rates the Launch processing, refurbishment costs, and slush margin may be reduced for a reduction of almost up to $10M for fully reusable FH but only $5M for a partial reusable F9. Possibly getting the costs per flight to as low as $20M in 7 years from now 2024/25. This then would also make the use of the fully reusable FH cheaper per flight than the partial reusable F9: FH $20M vs F9 $25M.

If you then add profit margin of only $5M to these high volume launches of the fully reusable FH, then the price per flight of up to 20mt to LEO becomes $25M or just $1,250/kg->$568/lb.

Is that really the case?

We don't actually need a complicated calculation to estimate the savings associated with booster reusability. We simply need to know what an F9 launch actually costs SpaceX currently. I see you estimated $53m, with $9m profit added to that. I'm not sure what you base that on. Elon seemed to refer to the $60m figure as the cost of a rocket. I question whether they are even making a significant profit on their launches currently, as they have been in a market capture phase until now, trying to undercut their rivals to entice customers to take a risk with the newcomer instead.

So, if $60m is the cost of a launch, and Elon stated that 70% of that is the cost of the booster, then the booster costs around $42m. Even if a launch only costs SpaceX $53m as you suggest, then 70% of that still comes to $37m, not $25m as in your formula.

So, that means the savings from reusing a booster are actually much bigger the more a booster costs to construct. 

If we go with your $53m total cost estimate, then 30% of that (the non-booster cost) is $15.9m. If we assume 10 launches per booster only, then the $37m booster cost can be divided by 10 for each launch, so that's $3.7m. Add $1m refurbishment cost per launch, and you get to a total of $15.9m + $3.7m + $1m = $20.6m.

If, however, we go with a current launch cost of $60m, then the 30% non-booster related costs equal $18m. Over 10 launches, the $42m booster cost can be divided by 10, giving us $4.2m per launch. Add the $1m refurbishment cost and that gives you $18m + $4.2m + $1m = $23.2m

In both cases, we get to the low twenties, and that is assuming only 10 launches per booster. If we get to much higher reuse numbers, the cost will drop below $20m. And note that in both cases I built no fairing reuse in yet. That will drop it even further.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 10:32 PM by M.E.T. »

Offline John Alan

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #357 on: 05/07/2017 11:25 PM »
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.

Put another way (my take on that quote)...  ;)
Sat designers ran the numbers... and decided a 3rd stage of sorts built into their bird (dual usage) lets them go to SpaceX asking for say 7500kg to GTO-3000 m/s (WAG #'s) and SpaceX says they can do that with a ASDS landing and decent fuel margins... for a lower cost then any other provider...

S2 drag re-enters within days (cleanup of space mess made) or maybe can be refired to deorbit post sep (if fuel allows)
Only thing is.. Sat Bird has to fire it's booster sooner then later to avoid the same fate...

End result is... the Sat Bird designers are maximizing actual working mass to orbit to fit what F9 can do with available  proven recovery throw weight of available block version of S1...
They may even be over sizing the Sat fuel tanks as designed to allow loading max prop for whatever rocket it does end up on (partial loading)...

That's an interesting turn of events in "how they do this business"...  ???

On edit...
Point being made is... the GTO-1800 m/s "standard" may be headed for the trash bin...
The Sat Bird designers may be thinking... "we can get our birds to automatically fly after separation (with no ground support/uplink) and boost themselves at least enough on their own to enter a stable orbit and then contact ground stations for further instructions"...
This ability lets them put heavier working payloads in orbit... 
 
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 12:23 AM by John Alan »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #358 on: 05/08/2017 12:19 AM »
They don't have to. They have enough of a manifest to satisfy.

Do they?  According to Salo's launch schedule, Falcon 9 has 42 flights left for 2017 and 2018.  That's quite a lot for any expendable launcher, but if SpaceX hits its reusable stride, it would seem that 2018 might still have some manifest availability.

As a business, they already have addressed customer need to the extent that they can ramp to a major fraction of global launch demand in their payload/services category.

The second priority is not growth but to manage customer expectations, i.e. reliable outcomes.

The third would be to manage production lines and stage qualification to meet launch service rate.

These sit in front of manifest/demand.

So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.

What that suggests is that sat vendors want to maximize what they can get out of a F9 launch, that they can use over the on orbit lifetime. That cost and time to launch matters most.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #359 on: 05/08/2017 07:06 AM »
So far I'd be booking on an LV with a 93% success rate that's has 33 launch attempts and 2 explosions.
I also know that if my comm sat goes above about 5.6 tonnes I won't get the sticker price of $62m but more like the regular Ariane price of $100m with a 100% success rate over the last 70+ launches or an Atlas V if I have to use a US launcher with a 100% success rate over 50+ launches.

According to Shotwell, they are selling 7+ tons to subsync GTO on the Falcon 9.
http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

Shows 5.5mT to GTO for $62m. I'm sure they will sell higher but I doubt they will sell at that price and I would be interested in finding out what that price is.

[EDIT. I note from Shotwell interviews their near term goal is a 2 week launch cadence ]
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 07:23 AM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

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