Author Topic: Reusability effect on costs  (Read 179786 times)

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #420 on: 05/13/2017 11:31 AM »
This year if SpaceX actually does 25
SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why in every year SpaceX fanboys insist on ridiculous numbers that never happen?
Actually that's another 25 for the remainder of the year.

So far they've launched 5 so they can do a 1 a month cadence. In fact Echostar 23 and SES 10 were launched from SLC 39 on the 16th and 30th of March, so they can refurb a pad in 2 weeks. That is now a known fact.

8 of those launches are from VAFB, the rest from KSC. At a bit better than 1 launch a month VAFB can meet it's quota.

The remaining 17 are a bit more doubtful.
SLC 40 is not expected to be back on till November. Between now and then SLC39 has to do 11 launches. That is about a launch every 2 weeks from SLC39, which has been demonstrated to be possible.  The remaining 6 are possible assuming SLC 40 comes back on line in time and can match the 2 week cadence.

As usual with SX it is just about possible if everything runs like clockwork. The big issues are
1)There are no launch mishaps. FH is probably the highest risk item in this regard because of both the pad changes (before and after) and its newness. But AMOS 6 showed even apparently minor changes can have serious consequences.
2)All payloads are ready to launch when their LVs are. Not always the case.
3)SX maintains 2 week cadence on SLC39. They've done it once but keeping it up over the long haul?
4)SX manages 3 week or better cadence on VAFB. Seems feasible given KSC can do 2 week launches.
5)SLC 40 comes back into use by the start of November. Does anyone know how work is going?

IMHO 1 or 3 are the most serious because they have the greatest potential for knock on effects.  Stage reuse should reduce the risk of 1 but I don't know if anyone has worked a pad and its crew that hard before.

IIRC someone (Ed Kyle?) said NASA was able to keep up a high flight rate in the 60's because they had a huge number of pads (7? 14?) they could use more or less simultaneously.

In principle 2 can be coped with by re-scheduling till later but that implies either
a)One of the later payloads can step into the open slot or
b)SX operates some kind of "standby" arrangement that lets customers fly sooner if a gap opens up that aren't even formally listed yet (do LV companies even do this?)
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #421 on: 05/13/2017 02:33 PM »
This year if SpaceX actually does 25
SpaceX won't launch 25 times in 2017. Why in every year SpaceX fanboys insist on ridiculous numbers that never happen?

Care to specify your less ridiculous prediction? For academic purposes...

Offline Lar

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #422 on: 05/13/2017 03:09 PM »
This isn't a launch projection count thread. We have one of those elsewhere.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #423 on: 05/13/2017 03:50 PM »
.....
In principle 2 can be coped with by re-scheduling till later but that implies either
a)One of the later payloads can step into the open slot or
b)SX operates some kind of "standby" arrangement that lets customers fly sooner if a gap opens up that aren't even formally listed yet (do LV companies even do this?)

This brings up an interesting effect on costs(Prices) or the costs for a customer in that he has traditional had to pay up front from 18 months to 3 years in advance for the flight. This costs money in funds used not making revenue or haveing to pay interest on loans etc for the customer.

As far as has it happened that a new customer has contracted and stepped in the shoes for available booster the answer is yes. But interestingly it was ULA that did this. One of ULA's goals is a contract and go scenario for customers. Instead of 3 years the timeline would be 3 months. Boosters are manufactured without a contract and are sold like any other retail item taken off the shelf and transferred to the customer. The incidents that I am referring to is between ULA and Orbital ATK Cygnus flights which were contracted and flown in one year or less. This was only possible because boosters had been partially completed that payloads (Gov) that had slipped significantly out in schedule freeing up these boosters to be reassigned allowing a latter started booster to be assigned to these late payloads.

Now the effect that reusability could have in this. The major costs for a launch are the booster and those funds spent during the last few months for payload and LV processing at the site plus the payload analysis/flight profile. All SpaceX has to do is to self fund the manufacture of the Upper Stages which is less that $15M for the sell of reflights of boosters to customers such that 3 months occurs between contract and flight.

What is going on is a complete change in the way LV construction is funded and purchased. For customers they  wait until their sat is almost finished they select and purchase a ride and 3 months later fly. It could save them millions in the "cost of money". For those not familiar with what the term "cost of money" means it is associated with funds from loans or investment that sits idle without any revenue because of the long time between expenditure and revenue generating operation. The longer the period the higher the associated additional costs in interest or expectations of returns on investment (ROI) from the investor. The difference between even 18 months and 3 months is significant, as much as 10% of the cost of the purchased LV flight.


Online edkyle99

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #424 on: 05/13/2017 04:35 PM »
IIRC someone (Ed Kyle?) said NASA was able to keep up a high flight rate in the 60's because they had a huge number of pads (7? 14?) they could use more or less simultaneously.
Take Atlas for an example.  In 1966, the U.S. Air Force and NASA launched 47 Atlas missiles or space launch vehicles.  33 were orbital launches.  These were performed from 12 launch pads - 5 pads at the Cape and 7 at VAFB.  All of the Cape pads, and 2 of the West Coast pads, were dedicated to orbital launches.  VAFB SLC 4E (previously Pt. Arguello LC 2-4) was the busiest, handling nine launches, mostly Gambit film return missions (pads tended to be assigned to specific programs back then).

Although quick turnarounds are impressive, what really matters is sustainable launch pace over the long run.  A pad may be able to turn around quickly for one or two launches, but it will periodically have to be taken out of service for a few weeks for more substantial maintenance.  Payload issues and bad weather (hurricane season looms) can affect schedules.  Then there is the Falcon Heavy launch.  LC 39A will screech to a dead stop for weeks while that campaign runs its course.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 04:42 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #425 on: 05/13/2017 05:23 PM »
Please at least tie it into costs. Is it your premise that additional launch cadence requires more pads?

Well SpaceX believes so with a soon to exist 2 and then in a couple of years ~2018 probably late 2018 or even 2019 BC operations making it 3 East facing launch sites. Even at a sedate 1 a month which even the current history of 5 soon to be 6 launches in 5 months states that they can sustain at least 1 a month for a pad. Such that with 3 pads that equates to 36 a year to low <60 degree inclinations. With 1 pad to high inclinations >60 degrees for a value of 48 launch capability per year.

What my premise was about was the supply that this represents vs the demand. That a launch of 25 this year represents a 1/4 of all launches globally and that demand is likely to lag significantly behind SpaceX's capability. What this means is that reusability impact on supply and demand equation for the market will make the prices fall in the market because of an over abundance of supply. SpaceX will have much more supply capability than demand, increases the likelyhood of the ULA goal of launch on demand.  Where boosters are sitting in a warehouse waiting for use. The booster manufacturer manages the booster build rate based on his projection of the demand not the practically custom build on contract model that is currently in use. A shortened contract to fly periiod will also force more pressure on sat builders to follow suit. To having sat busses manufactured ahead of contracts existing where a contract adds the customer specific parts over a shorter period.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #426 on: 05/13/2017 05:31 PM »
So what you're argument seems to suggest is that the booster business (if separable) is "commoditizing" (to the degree anything in aerospace could become "off the shelf") as an economic trend.

And that the US/payload/"anything above booster separation" ... still retains its traditional nature, and that this "high ground" is where the competition moves to. Whoever moves fast in serving the need, controls where the market heads.

Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?

Online AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #427 on: 05/13/2017 06:00 PM »
So what you're argument seems to suggest is that the booster business (if separable) is "commoditizing" (to the degree anything in aerospace could become "off the shelf") as an economic trend.

And that the US/payload/"anything above booster separation" ... still retains its traditional nature, and that this "high ground" is where the competition moves to. Whoever moves fast in serving the need, controls where the market heads.

Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?

Two possible business offshoots:
1) upper stages go through a similar part-reusable cycle, so equivalent pressure is planed above the sep line, and
2) boosters become commoditized and payload integrators/second stage builders market payloads and build/buy second stages (plus boosters) to optimize launch for clients.  Centaur (or Centaur/ACES-like) uppers could fly on NG reusable boosters, for instance.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 06:02 PM by AncientU »
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Offline AC in NC

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #428 on: 05/13/2017 06:24 PM »
Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?

When thinking about reusability driving the cost (ie: expense) of launch lower and rapid reuse driving it down drastically, the question that arises in my mind is how creative SpaceX can get with the cost (ie: price) of launch to customers based on the nature of the payload rather than simply its mass.

Can you set a price for customers with revenue producing payloads differently from a price for payloads that would otherwise never be able to justify launch at the price that maximizes SpaceX benefit (encompassing all its goals) from the revenue-producing-payloads market?  I tend to think you can but I'm just a layman and not sure how the industry would react.

I guess what I'm driving at is this:

Were SpaceX to achieve the vision of reliable, rapid reuse as they have envisioned with the corresponding reduction in launch expense, it seems to me that it's (in theory) possible (from an economic perspective) to bring some payloads into the market that would drive an enormous number of launches such that SpaceX could launch as often as their facilities and turnaround cadence permits.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 06:24 PM by AC in NC »

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #429 on: 05/13/2017 06:41 PM »
Does this mean we can have new business models that can take advantage of this? Or is that a pipe dream?
>
Were SpaceX to achieve the vision of reliable, rapid reuse as they have envisioned with the corresponding reduction in launch expense, it seems to me that it's (in theory) possible (from an economic perspective) to bring some payloads into the market that would drive an enormous number of launches such that SpaceX could launch as often as their facilities and turnaround cadence permits.

That'll happen just launching their internet constellations, unless they go the route of tasking a mini-ITS variant to deploy them by the hundreds.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 06:42 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline AC in NC

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #430 on: 05/13/2017 07:01 PM »
That'll happen just launching their internet constellations, unless they go the route of tasking a mini-ITS variant to deploy them by the hundreds.

The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2017 07:06 PM by AC in NC »

Offline MP99

Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #431 on: 05/14/2017 07:33 AM »


What this means is that reusability impact on supply and demand equation for the market will make the prices fall in the market because of an over abundance of supply. SpaceX will have much more supply capability than demand, increases the likelyhood of the ULA goal of launch on demand.  Where boosters are sitting in a warehouse waiting for use. The booster manufacturer manages the booster build rate based on his projection of the demand not the practically custom build on contract model that is currently in use. A shortened contract to fly periiod will also force more pressure on sat builders to follow suit. To having sat busses manufactured ahead of contracts existing where a contract adds the customer specific parts over a shorter period.

If the launch provider is amortising the build cost of a booster across multiple launches, they then need that demand to show up, otherwise they are left shouldering the bill for it.

Basically, this moves the risk and cost of money onto the launch provider.

That may be OK for a provider with an up to date product in a mature expanded market with a lot of demand. May be tricky in the transition period. If this is happening, SpaceX are managing the transition by keeping prices high for now.

Cheers, Martin

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #432 on: 05/14/2017 08:35 PM »

Now the effect that reusability could have in this. The major costs for a launch are the booster and those funds spent during the last few months for payload and LV processing at the site plus the payload analysis/flight profile. All SpaceX has to do is to self fund the manufacture of the Upper Stages which is less that $15M for the sell of reflights of boosters to customers such that 3 months occurs between contract and flight.

What is going on is a complete change in the way LV construction is funded and purchased. For customers they  wait until their sat is almost finished they select and purchase a ride and 3 months later fly. It could save them millions in the "cost of money". For those not familiar with what the term "cost of money" means it is associated with funds from loans or investment that sits idle without any revenue because of the long time between expenditure and revenue generating operation. The longer the period the higher the associated additional costs in interest or expectations of returns on investment (ROI) from the investor. The difference between even 18 months and 3 months is significant, as much as 10% of the cost of the purchased LV flight.
I know it as the "time value of money" but yes the reduction in time scale from 1 1/2 years to maybe a 1/4 of a year, and the interest payments on that money should indeed be significant, even given the fairly low interest rate period we are in at present.
Take Atlas for an example.  In 1966, the U.S. Air Force and NASA launched 47 Atlas missiles or space launch vehicles.  33 were orbital launches.  These were performed from 12 launch pads - 5 pads at the Cape and 7 at VAFB.  All of the Cape pads, and 2 of the West Coast pads, were dedicated to orbital launches.  VAFB SLC 4E (previously Pt. Arguello LC 2-4) was the busiest, handling nine launches, mostly Gambit film return missions (pads tended to be assigned to specific programs back then).
Oh dear, my memory for details.  :(

But OMG 12 pads. 47 Atlas launches a year. The 1960's were just a different world. I think today 14 Atlas launches a year off 2 pads would be viewed as quite hectic.

Quote from: edkyle99
Although quick turnarounds are impressive, what really matters is sustainable launch pace over the long run.  A pad may be able to turn around quickly for one or two launches, but it will periodically have to be taken out of service for a few weeks for more substantial maintenance.  Payload issues and bad weather (hurricane season looms) can affect schedules.  Then there is the Falcon Heavy launch.  LC 39A will screech to a dead stop for weeks while that campaign runs its course.
That's the question. Can SX keep up the pace of 1 launch every 2 weeks off the same pad over a 7 month period? I've no feel for how exhausting the process is.

IDK. Maybe in 2018 we'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about and why no one thought to run with fewer pads decades ago.  :(
The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
There is nothing simple about the economics of space launch, let alone transitioning a business built on a fully expendable design to a semi reusable one.  :(
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 deruch

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #433 on: 05/14/2017 09:23 PM »
If this is happening, SpaceX are managing the transition by keeping prices high for now.
And working on creating their own internal demand that will take up any slack-- the satellite constellation.  I have from the beginning seen that project as a hedge against any shortfall in future launch demand by the rest of the market.  Of course, it has the added benefit of being possibly a larger revenue source than their primary business (assuming it all works out as they hope).
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Offline AC in NC

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #434 on: 05/14/2017 10:01 PM »
The thing I have in the back of my mind if the economics (easy part) and ancillary issues (big ask) could be reconciled would drive 300 Full-Size ITS Mars-class Payloads at minimum as well as additional ongoing demand.
There is nothing simple about the economics of space launch, let alone transitioning a business built on a fully expendable design to a semi reusable one.  :(
It's simple when the conjecture is premised on the ITS Architecture and Economics having been proved out.   :o ;D

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #435 on: 05/14/2017 10:24 PM »
The first generation "CommX" constellation sats will be deployed by the F9/FH. That is if it is ever deployed in the current scheduled timeframe of initial operation 2020/21 of 800 sats. ITS use for sat deployment would not be a factor till mid 2020's if its development is on track. In time for the deployment of the next generation design sats possibly as much as 10X larger and 20X more capably for 1/4th the cost/sat as the first gen sats. This enables a $/bit price decrease of factor of 40 while doubling the yearly profit from the constellation. Suddenly SpaceX could be the primary backbone of most of the global internet traffic.

Now all of this is conjecture on where reusability is sending the cost of access to space and what SpaceX is planning to use it for and to make "gobs" of money to fund other activities that may never see a profit: Mars colonization.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #436 on: 05/15/2017 02:53 AM »
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year. But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.

This would drive the use of reusable spacecraft to lower costs: Dragon2, DreamChaser, ...

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #437 on: 05/15/2017 07:31 AM »
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year.
Perhaps, but these are a dozen launches that would not take place otherwise. IOW New Business.

If we want to see $/lb to orbit go down this is the market that has to expand to a point where SX can see a revenue rise despite a price drop.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy

 But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.
Won't that all be on NASA contracts, which are well above basic prices to LEO?
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 oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #438 on: 05/15/2017 03:31 PM »
On a different tack about reusability effect on costs. In-space industrilization: made-In-Space believes it has come up with a significant money making in-space industrialization business case for the manufacture of ZBLAM in zero G. With low cost access to space making even the profitable business case with current space access costs the business could become even more significant. See this thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35889.40

But the amounts and number of flights could be only a dozen a year.
Perhaps, but these are a dozen launches that would not take place otherwise. IOW New Business.

If we want to see $/lb to orbit go down this is the market that has to expand to a point where SX can see a revenue rise despite a price drop.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy

 But its largest impact is not on launch but on space station utilization where cost of supply and personnel transport could be reduced due to the demand for more traffic.
Won't that all be on NASA contracts, which are well above basic prices to LEO?
Initially Yes.

Which says a lot about the the strength of the business case.

As their access to space costs drop so will their volume of manufacturing increase due to the lower cost of product having more terrestrial business case applications. This is not a linear expansion but a logarithmic one. such that costs drop in half volume increases by 4.
« Last Edit: 05/15/2017 03:31 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #439 on: 05/15/2017 11:36 PM »
Initially Yes.

Which says a lot about the the strength of the business case.
I think it says as much about the cost of putting a lb of mass in orbit.

If space access had freight costs anywhere like every other transport modes (even if it was the cost of basically sending a package 1/2 way round the world and back on a freighter) this would have been tried years ago, along with a slew of other potential applications that are unusual but still don't have the USP of a geosynchronous commsat.
Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
As their access to space costs drop so will their volume of manufacturing increase due to the lower cost of product having more terrestrial business case applications. This is not a linear expansion but a logarithmic one. such that costs drop in half volume increases by 4.
I don't know it will go that well but if it makes a profit and they stay in business I hope it will be enough to encourage other companies into the business, although the most likely ones would be to compete with them, on the old Hollywood adage that "Everyone wants to be the second person to have the brilliant idea."  :(
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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