Author Topic: Reusability effect on costs  (Read 184102 times)

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #500 on: 05/23/2017 07:35 PM »
Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

Yep.

... not yet.... maybe not ever. BUT... Get the cadence to once every week across two pads and you're definitely moving in that direction. It is a baby step but it's moving from custom to scheduled/assembly line... And then (as long as the payloads are there[1]) you can keep driving process improvements. SpaceX is all about those. Contrast the time for the first ASDS unload-trip to hangar to the time for the latest.

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)


1 - CommsX makes sure they will be. Talk about eating your own dogfood...
Yes at 50+ launches total per year multiple savings from multiple sources show up reducing cost per flight still more than those just directly related to reusability. Indirect cost savings because reusability has made it easier and cheaper for customers to "Fly SpaceX" may result in as much as another 10% or more cost reduction (up to another $5M in cost savings). This could eventually lead to in the early 2020's a price for a F9 flight of $30M. Reusibility savings: $20M for the booster + $5M for the faring+ $5M for increased economies of scale because of higher flight rate = $30M price reduction possibility.

Once refurbishment costs go below 10% that of a new booster additional savings on refurbishment do not make much of an impact (maximum of $3M if no refurbishment is done at all "gas and go"). But the biggest impact is time interval and inventory required on hand to service a specific launch rate. A gas and go scenario would need at most 2 vehicles only to do almost 6 months of launches. Less assets, less storage, and less work space means lower costs. Another of those indirect costs related to reusability.

Another indirect costs is commoditized payloads or common multiple payloads (large constellations). The elimination of payload analysis from launch costs represents $Ms in cost/flight. By eliminating this cost more cost savings occur.

The key here is that in the 50+ launches/yr scenario of large sat constellations SpaceX could get the cost of an F9 internal to SpaceX to under $20M. The cost of manufacture of the US, the launch processing flow and launch costs/fees. Recovery/Refurbishment/reuse costs of the booster and faring would be less than 10% of all costs.

Added:
The corollary here is that costs of an FH launch becomes little more than $5M more than an F9 launch. So if you could also reuse the US the cost of an FH with also reusing the US could be equal of less than the cost of a partial reusable F9 but also able to do more payload per flight. FH in this scenario would be able to do more for less cost than the F9. 25+mt to LEO for less than $30M /flight price.
« Last Edit: 05/23/2017 08:43 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Online AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #501 on: 05/24/2017 02:35 PM »
Airplanes are built and operated assuming they will spend more time flying and earning money than on the ground.

Rockets are (until now) built and operated assuming they will be used once and that's it. You can't use the same financial model for both and expect sensible results.

Yep.

... not yet.... maybe not ever. BUT... Get the cadence to once every week across two pads and you're definitely moving in that direction. It is a baby step but it's moving from custom to scheduled/assembly line... And then (as long as the payloads are there[1]) you can keep driving process improvements. SpaceX is all about those. Contrast the time for the first ASDS unload-trip to hangar to the time for the latest.

So they're getting a better bang for their buck by effectively increasing productivity. Would they move the work force responsible for manufacturing new first stages to other projects to keep costs low and productivity high? Like you said, it is in their best interests to keep the crew busy and not have them standing around and doing nothing.

Obviously they would. First thing they'll be doing? Making more second stages than 1:1 with first stages. They already have made at least one more, presumably, and are about to have made 2 more (discounting test articles)


1 - CommsX makes sure they will be. Talk about eating your own dogfood...

Hawthorne will be starting an assembly line for Raptors one of these days.  That plus extra second stages should keep all available personnel quite busy.  They may be refurbing Vandy stages there, too... and maybe making ConnX dispensers.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #502 on: 05/25/2017 06:30 PM »
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.

Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #503 on: 05/25/2017 06:53 PM »
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.

If it were to work just as intended, could it be scaled up so that it could deliver a similar payload to LEO compared to Falcon 9, at a similar price point? We could see some serious competition if that is the case.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #504 on: 05/25/2017 07:40 PM »
Boeing has just entered the reusability circle with its DARPA spaceplane that is to be a rapid "gas and go" 24 hr turnaround.

If they are successful it would push the envelope in the direction of aircraft like operations for space launch.

As well if SpaceX is successful then there would be two "gas and go" reusable LV systems in operation.

If it were to work just as intended, could it be scaled up so that it could deliver a similar payload to LEO compared to Falcon 9, at a similar price point? We could see some serious competition if that is the case.
That is the real speculative question.

The other is that Boeing would then be in competition with itself (50% ownership of ULA). What would Boeing need ULA for then?

In all this is again more push toward reusability and rapid reusability as an answer to many current constraints that include costs and launch availability. Launch on 24hr notice (if the weather cooperates).

Online Lar

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #505 on: 05/25/2017 07:45 PM »
General discussion of the Boeing announcement and other DARPA/XS-1 stuff belongs in this thread

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32829

Keep posts here focused on the cost aspects, please.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2017 07:49 PM by Lar »
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Online jpo234

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #506 on: 05/25/2017 10:56 PM »
With all the discussion about the Block 5 upgrades to the F9, aren't you looking at the wrong rocket? Tom Mueller was pretty clear in the interview: "But we want like a hundred or more reduction in costs; and thatís what the Mars rocketís gonna do. Thatís going to be the revolutionary rocket."
Looking at the Mars presentation we get less than 5 million dollars per launch for a payload of up to 380 metric tonnes. A BFR launch will be cheaper than an Electron launch and carry more than 1000x the mass.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2017 10:57 PM by jpo234 »
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline envy887

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #507 on: 05/26/2017 12:22 AM »
How much does Centaur cost? A single SSME booster is well sized to use Centaur to deliver 5 tonnes to SSO while riding the booster. But you have to expend a Centaur, which could preclude it from competing with F9 RTLS.

Lower cost options are an AJ-10 powered stage similar to Delta K. That would be cheaper than Centaur and competitive with F9R on cost but not performance. That might be able to hit $5m per launch.

Vector is supposedly building the upper stage propulsion. That could end up being cheap enough to expend and competitive with rocket lab...

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #508 on: 05/26/2017 01:42 AM »
My point was how rapid reusability (24hr turnaround) is no longer something extolled only by SpaceX, but by BO and now by Boeing. Institutionally DARPA is of the opinion that rapid reusability is one of those key items for LV systems in the future to meet the expanded needs of the DOD for launch on demand and significantly lower costs.

But these three are orbital launchers. There are suborbital LV systems designed around the same policy of using rapid reusability to greatly lower costs.

Rapid reusability for orbital launch has been one of those items that seemingly was always on the horizon. Now it has moved to the near future, by 2020 at the latest. With acceptance that rapid reusability can be accomplished, this then also influences all new design projects where costs of the new system is evaluated with respect to systems that it could be competing against that would use rapid reusability.

This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.

Online LouScheffer

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #509 on: 05/26/2017 01:55 AM »
This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.
This is tough-to-impossible to do reliably.  Boeing and Airbus, with all the incentive in the world, find it very hard to predict how a proposed product will fare in five years, in the market and competitive landscape that will exist at that time.  And that's with just one serious competitor, relatively stable technology, and a fairly well understood market.

So the teams will try for "an in-depth economic analysis", but I think the true strategy will be to pick a design that gets in the ballpark and plays to your strengths, then make it as cheap as possible. 

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #510 on: 05/26/2017 02:06 AM »
This has made the easy analysis of how your vehicle stacks up with others no longer usable. A greater in depth economic analysis now must be done by the teams during the preliminary design phase to determine if the end product when fielded will be able to compete.
This is tough-to-impossible to do reliably.  Boeing and Airbus, with all the incentive in the world, find it very hard to predict how a proposed product will fare in five years, in the market and competitive landscape that will exist at that time.  And that's with just one serious competitor, relatively stable technology, and a fairly well understood market.

So the teams will try for "an in-depth economic analysis", but I think the true strategy will be to pick a design that gets in the ballpark and plays to your strengths, then make it as cheap as possible.
You hit the main item on the head.

Cost is now the most important item because if you cannot control the costs, the same fate will happen as happens in other markets when management fails to control costs for a new product. THE PRODUCT FAILS.

Offline deruch

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #511 on: 05/26/2017 02:59 AM »
With all the discussion about the Block 5 upgrades to the F9, aren't you looking at the wrong rocket? Tom Mueller was pretty clear in the interview: "But we want like a hundred or more reduction in costs; and thatís what the Mars rocketís gonna do. Thatís going to be the revolutionary rocket."
Looking at the Mars presentation we get less than 5 million dollars per launch for a payload of up to 380 metric tonnes. A BFR launch will be cheaper than an Electron launch and carry more than 1000x the mass.
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle. 
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Online jpo234

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #512 on: 05/26/2017 10:21 AM »
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle.

That's true. I just found it remarkable that in just a few years (if all goes right) one could order a BFR launch for maybe 1% of the current launch cost per mass. Even if SpaceX misses the target by an oder of magnitude, the savings would be dramatic.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Online AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #513 on: 05/26/2017 12:23 PM »
All of this discussion has so far been mainly about a rocket that is already flying and being recovered/reused.  ITS/BFR is still so notional that we have no basis for solid discussion beyond just what Elon and Tom have talked about for their aspirations for that system/vehicle.  Until we start seeing how well they are meeting those goals, IMO it's too early to try for any analysis.  While a weaker form of the same argument might be made about Block 5, at least we have solid data about the relative costs of production/use/recovery/reuse for that vehicle.

That's true. I just found it remarkable that in just a few years (if all goes right) one could order a BFR launch for maybe 1% of the current launch cost per mass. Even if SpaceX misses the target by an oder of magnitude, the savings would be dramatic.

The remarkable thing is that five years ago, USAF was talking about prices rising and being 'unsustainable.'
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #514 on: 05/26/2017 03:48 PM »
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.

Online jpo234

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #515 on: 05/26/2017 06:48 PM »
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Online AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #516 on: 05/26/2017 08:23 PM »
The snowball of of rapid reusability has started to roll and it has even started to get bigger and roll faster.

Those (new medium/heavy LV designers) that don't plan for it will get crushed by it. At the moment small payloads LVs in the ~100kg size are excluded but as the medium prices drop they could be in competition on a per flight price with LVs that do 10X the payload size. So even that market is not isolated from the effect in the end. The end being somewhere around early 2020. So the smallsat launcher market has only a few more years (<6) before rapid reusibility could obliterate it.
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

It seems unwise to use those BFR cost estimates today.  Lots of work went into getting the F9 where it is, and the impact it is having on the market is profound even before reusability discounts take hold.  A couple years back, SpaceX advertised $5-7M flight costs for reusable Falcon 9 -- seems a long way off still.

Using the current advancements, I can see three potentially important impacts to market:
1. Current F9 prices ($62M-ish for 5-6t to GTO) are now a ceiling, so satellite operators can evaluate short term and mid term expansions with some certainty on costs;
2. Prices are potentially falling by several 10s of percent in next few years, so strategies that take advantage of this can be included in business strategy; and
3. Launch availability is soon to out-pace demand, so time from order to orbit can potentially drop drastically from industry norms which might also be of strategic advantage to some.
There are already several business models taking advantage of this new environment, and hopefully more on the drawing boards.

The multi-hundred tonne payload for whatever price (recall recently when head of ULA called a class of today's NSS payloads 'heavy') is far enough into the future that it is rally OT for this thread.
« Last Edit: 05/26/2017 08:25 PM by AncientU »
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Offline AC in NC

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #517 on: 05/26/2017 08:29 PM »
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

I am convinced your optimism is warranted for the following reason and it leads me to another conclusion about reusability costs:

With the performance SpaceX has demonstrated at this point as describedd by Ed Kyle after Inmarsat and with remaining performance improvements to come, I'm convinced of Musk's ability to deliver preformance beyond early projections while maintaining costs and meeting goals.  The response to and comeback from the RUDs has been very impressive.  I think enough has been proven that SpaceX is relatively insulated now from normal RUDs and only exposed to some Black Swan that takes them out.  While space is hard no doubt, I'm not sure what technical impediment might prevent them from reaching their goals including eventually continuous operations.

So not sure if $5M is exactly right but that's besides the point.  I think they'll achieve gas-n-go (or close enough to it) cost.

When that happens it opens up a vast spectrum of otherwise impossible business opportunity in the $T's of revenue.

 

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #518 on: 05/27/2017 08:53 PM »
I was gaming out an elastic price ($/kg) to tonnage model.

I set the values such that for a 25% price reduction a tonnage increase of 35% occurred. This tonnage increase can be accomplished by using bigger rockets or just more of the same size as previously used. The side effect to these values is that the model shows that outlays, spending by customers for all that additional launch tonnage, only increased by 7%. So though prices are going down rapidly and tonnage going up rapidly the revenue is only going up modestly.

For SpaceX this I think is what they would like to see happen. The actual rates of price decrease and tonnage increase are an unknown. But for this to expand the business the tonnage rate increase has to be larger than the price decrease. If that does not happen then the revenue will shrink for the company and there is little incentive to keep dropping prices.

Online AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #519 on: 05/27/2017 10:52 PM »
That's what I was getting at when I compared the (probably optimistic) cost estimates for BFR with a payload of up to 380 tonnes (5 million dollars per launch) with the launch price for Electron  (5 million dollars, too) for just 225 kilograms.

I am convinced your optimism is warranted for the following reason and it leads me to another conclusion about reusability costs:

With the performance SpaceX has demonstrated at this point as describedd by Ed Kyle after Inmarsat and with remaining performance improvements to come, I'm convinced of Musk's ability to deliver preformance beyond early projections while maintaining costs and meeting goals.  The response to and comeback from the RUDs has been very impressive.  I think enough has been proven that SpaceX is relatively insulated now from normal RUDs and only exposed to some Black Swan that takes them out.  While space is hard no doubt, I'm not sure what technical impediment might prevent them from reaching their goals including eventually continuous operations.

So not sure if $5M is exactly right but that's besides the point.  I think they'll achieve gas-n-go (or close enough to it) cost.

When that happens it opens up a vast spectrum of otherwise impossible business opportunity in the $T's of revenue.

Stop for a moment and consider what you are proposing...

Let's say price is $10M for that payload.  To get $T's of revenue (say $2T in a year?), it would take 200,000 launches -- one every other minute or so, 24-7, 365 days per year.

At 380t/launch, that's 76,000,000 tonnes of something into LEO.  Annually.  About 10x what FedX and UPS combined haul by ground and air in the US.  (Also about 380,000x what is currently launched annually in the World.)

You are proposing one big mess in LEO...

So, can we stick to something remotely plausible?
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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