Author Topic: Reusability effect on costs  (Read 183181 times)

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #520 on: 05/27/2017 11:01 PM »
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established. And this is why SpaceX is building a Megaconstellation rather than just focusing on launch.

There's one possible exception: high hypersonic (i.e. Near orbital) point to point travel. Likely to be held back by safety and other practical considerations, however it COULD have sufficient volume globally.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 11:20 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline macpacheco

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #521 on: 05/27/2017 11:20 PM »
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established.

There's one possible exception: high hypersonic (i.e. Near orbital) point to point travel. Likely to be held back by safety and other practical considerations, however it COULD have sufficient volume globally.
The rocket equation makes this uneconomical. Please do the actual math to understand.
But as a simplistic end conclusion:
An full A380 costs just US$ 30000 / hour (including pilots/flight attendants/maintenance, I think only the initial acquisition costs are out of this number).
So a 15 hour trip = US$ 450k
How much will a full sized ITS launch cost, just in fuel ? 10x as much.
And the A380 can fly for at least 2 decades.
Even if ITS refurb is affordable, the upper stage is gone in a year of daily flights. That's another few million USD per flight to replace the spaceship once its no longer air worthy.

The only planned solution that carries realistic hope of achieving viable $$$ hypersonic intra planetary is lapcat. And even that's just a hope. Please let's not start a skylon/lapcat discussion here. I'm just trying to pull your head that's stuck in the clouds and at least get one of your feet back on the ground. I'm sorry to burst your bubble.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 11:22 PM by macpacheco »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #522 on: 05/27/2017 11:27 PM »
A full ITS optimized for point to point transport could send thousands of people per flight. You'd want a smaller vehicle, like something the size of the spaceship, for just A380 sized. Then the costs are similar. Full ITS is $3 million per launch (tanker flights) including propellant and amortization and fees. So a BFS sized vehicle would be about half a million, similar to an A380. Musk sees it as possible, though not necessarily likely.

The rocket equation doesn't actually preclude it.
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Offline macpacheco

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #523 on: 05/28/2017 12:04 AM »
A full ITS optimized for point to point transport could send thousands of people per flight. You'd want a smaller vehicle, like something the size of the spaceship, for just A380 sized. Then the costs are similar. Full ITS is $3 million per launch (tanker flights) including propellant and amortization and fees. So a BFS sized vehicle would be about half a million, similar to an A380. Musk sees it as possible, though not necessarily likely.

The rocket equation doesn't actually preclude it.
I misspoke, I should have said the ISP of raptor isn't high enough. The ISP of rocket engines carrying their own LOX onboard that is the problem.
And like you said, revenue passenger flight will require FAA approval, which expectedly would be very resistant to certify rockets for Part 121 certification (same as airliners).
Here's perhaps the other reason an air breathing hypersonic rocket plane would make much more sense, since it avoids the thermal inferno of re-entry.

I'd love to be proven wrong though !
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 12:05 AM by macpacheco »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #524 on: 05/28/2017 12:47 AM »
Rocket engines carrying their own oxygen isn't really that much of a problem. Air breathers have to do the same thing essentially by accelerating oxygen AND nitrogen up to their flight speed before they can burn it for thrust. The total amount of mass accelerated to flight speed (including that nitrogen mass) is actually GREATER for an air breather for an around the world flight.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 08:20 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online rakaydos

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #525 on: 05/28/2017 05:49 AM »
How hard would it be to land an ITS upperstage on a barge in international waters, with speedboat service to, say, LA, New York, Tokyo, and so on?

Online docmordrid

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #526 on: 05/28/2017 06:10 AM »
Why use a barge? A refurbished oil platform would be better, especially for hosting a commuter ferry service back to dry land.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 06:11 AM by docmordrid »
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Online Lars-J

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #527 on: 05/28/2017 07:51 AM »
I've long thought that an off-shore launch and landing platform makes the most sense for ITS operations.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #528 on: 05/28/2017 10:11 AM »
The trillions of revenue won't be on the launch side but the telecomms side. That much is already well established. And this is why SpaceX is building a Megaconstellation rather than just focusing on launch.

...

Correct.  But gross tonnage (frequent 380t/launch*) is not needed to reap that revenue. 
Leveraging existing F9 Block 5 is sufficient as launch costs are a tiny fraction of revenue; improvements such as a reusable upper stage will improve margin, but not substantially.

* Approximately 1,000 ConnX sats by mass.  2,000 per year needed to sustain 12,000 sat LEO +VLEO constellation.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 10:25 AM by AncientU »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #529 on: 05/28/2017 01:32 PM »
Block 5 Falcon 9 would have an expendable upper stage, expendable payload deployer, and complicated recovery of fairings plus non-ideal sooty kerolox engines, helium, etc. on the order of 100-200 launches per year. At a cost of about $4-6 billion per year. That's a lot of cash spent on a suboptimal solution. A couple of years of launches is the same price as just developing even full ITS (let alone a more economically sized vehicle).

An ITS or an intermediate ITS could do it in like 10-40 launches, with easier and faster turnaround, no expendable stages, no complicated fairing recovery. The cost per year could actually be much less than Falcon 9, plus would allow much larger and more capable satellites. Plus SpaceX wants it for Mars. They could use the (possibly subscaled) ITS for constellation launches in between planetary windows, and so get the reusable Mars launch architecture bought and paid for by the Constellation business.

Expensive operations, limited lift mass, and only partially reusable, and no Mars. Or low cost operations, far greater lift capability, and fully reusable, and almost free Mars logistics capability. Pretty obvious which direction they'll go.

By the way, don't make the mistake of thinking SpaceX won't face competition, either. If SpaceX stood still with Block 5, New Glenn could end up eating their lunch by launching the other constellations for just as low of a price (or lower, as it will eventually be fully reusable).
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Online envy887

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #530 on: 05/28/2017 01:35 PM »
...
Here's perhaps the other reason an air breathing hypersonic rocket plane would make much more sense, since it avoids the thermal inferno of re-entry.

Suborbital reentry is much easier than orbital, and orbital reentry is much easier than interplanetary entry - which is what the ITS ship is designed for.

Hypersonic air breathing vehicles still operate in a very tough thermal environment, and do so continuously instead of merely at entry.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #531 on: 05/28/2017 03:33 PM »
Back to Reusability effect on costs.

There are two elements to reusability effect on costs.

1) This is the direct element of cost of manufacture of the stage vs the cost of recovery/refurbishment/inspections and additional hardware to make recovery/reuse possible.

2) This is the indirect element of cost which is launch availability. For customers with a ready payload, waiting is costing them money. Increasing cadence due to more LV launch capability above that of demand makes those wait times between the payload ready and the payload launch much less. This is where ULA has been lately extolling its on-time launch and its available launch slots over that of its competitors. Even though most do not equate a cost value to this, but there really is one.

SpaceX will need both effects to compete and continue to gain in number of payload contracts: Lower PRICE and better availability of launch.

Several notes is that SpaceX will not be in this reusability competitive position alone for very long. BO wants to make that period short. Not more than 3 years. So SpaceX only has that period "to milk the market for profit" to fund additional R&D prior to decreasing prices in a peer competitor environment. This also makes the expectation that Prices would show a steady yr-to-yr  decline over that period and then continue that decline afterward. The yr-to-yr decline rate would be such that it predicts the Prices that competitors would be offering at the 3 year point to be able to successfully compete against them. So the analysis of what the SpaceX Prices would be in 2020 depend on what the analysis says that the competitors Prices will be in 2020. The decline has started with a offering of what appears to be a 10% reduction for launches this year and next. A possible additional reduction would be made this time next year as reuse becomes more common and costs become more clear.

Hopefully their "CommX" constellation will return revenue and profit by then to provide the funds for the continuation of R&D. But "CommX" will face stiff competition before it is even deployed. So the profits may not be as grand as some would believe. Lowering launch costs as much as possible will increase those profits in that highly competitive market. The first generation constellation would be deployed using F9 or FH. It would be over a period of 5 to 7 years (2019 to 2026). A second generation would be much larger sats possible 4 times heavier with 16 times the throughput. If launch on F9 or FH this is an increase in launches by as much as a factor of 4. Most of the estimates on deployment of the constellation show that launch cost will be about 50% of the cost of deployment (sat manufacture and launch) even with reuse of the first stage to lower launch costs. Launch cost is a major component of the constellation's base cost. If the launch cost could dramatically drop through use of a fully reusable vehicle by a factor of 5 (ITS also has much larger volume and payload mass capability) the costs of deployment drop by 40%. That cost savings could be profit generated over the next period of 5 to 7 years on the order of an additional several $B  in profit or the price competitive position to maintain or grow market share of the world wide data communication market. Even against terrestrial fiber.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #532 on: 05/28/2017 05:31 PM »
I bet they plan on starting to launch the Constellation on ITS-based rockets well before 2027. Especially with notes about how to make ITS economic.

As soon as 2020 (or earlier for an intermediate ITS), actually, as part of ITS's orbital testing phase mentioned in the IAC speech.
http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/mars_presentation.pdf

This will have a much greater impact on costs than partial reuse on Falcon 9. Especially combined with an operational New Glenn.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 05:42 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #533 on: 05/28/2017 05:57 PM »
The relationship of reusability and cost goes both ways.

There is an incentive if you need lower cost's of launch to fund reusability (we have seen this first phase of reusable boosters) development. We are talking about really needing it for a business case to stay competitive with competitors. Not just having reusability which will then lower costs. The incentives for doing more  reusability R&D has increased.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #534 on: 05/29/2017 02:03 AM »
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.

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...

Your dismissal suffers two flaws:

1)  Nowhere did I say annually.
2)  Nowhere did I indicate leaving anything in LEO.

There are practical impediments but the back of the napkin numbers do work.  It's nice to have something to do with the hardware when it's not staging Mars transits.  Gas-n-Go launch costs enable opportunity on the order I stated.


Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #535 on: 05/29/2017 02:41 PM »
Yes,
I understand that SpaceX is planning a fully reusable "Interplanatary Class" LV.
{I categorize the term Interplanetary Class as being >=200mt to LEO} Examples ITS
{I categorize the term Exploration Class as being >=100mt to LEO} Examples SLS and New Armstrong (this one could end up being a ILV-no actual payload size has been stated yet)

But,
These fully reusable ELV and ILV class LVs are about 10 years away (although SLS is an ELV class it will never be even partially reusable without a great deal of redesign and spending) before they are in general operation. Any cost estimation, market sizes, launch rates, etc are pure speculation and can vary the revenue values by a factor of 100 to even 1000. We do not know what the Price/Cost/Profit of these launches will be, the number of pads, the number of launches per week per pad, the actual payload weight launched, etc. So any cost estimation, revenue estimation, etc is just pure speculation and is not founded on enough facts to be used in arguments. Our belief is that full reusability and larger payload size will greatly reduce the $/kg to LEO from that of even a fully reusable FH's possible $/kg value of <$1,000/kg. But we only hope that this will be the case at this point based on Elon Musk's whole drive to decrease the price $/kg to LEO by at least a factor 10 and up to a factor of 100 from the best that can be done with a fully reusable FH.

Reusable and fully reusable LVs have been the holy grail for fast pace growing (like the computer electronics industry) for decades. The current information has only validated that the economics for a partial reusable vehicle results in a reduction of the $/kg value. But this reduction is not the big factor of 10 or 100 as of yet. So far it may yield a factor of 2 for the same vehicle operated as a expendable vs operated as a "rapid reusable". For the rapid reusable F9 to drop the $/kg price by a factor of 2 it has to get to a price per flight of <$22.5M/launch. This is a long way from the current prices but is a possibility if launch rate significantly increases (by a factor of 10), multiple savings from economies of scale, and other cost savings are implemented during the recovery, refurbishment, launch processing and launch as well as it's manufacture and initial acceptance testing.

One of those indirect cost lowering items is the fact that recovered hardware is inspectable and can be upgraded to remove weaknesses and low reliability items, thereby lowering the operating costs because less items are replaced, less LOV events occur, and more flights can be accomplished by a hardware set (specific LV).


« Last Edit: 05/29/2017 02:45 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #536 on: 05/29/2017 02:48 PM »
Wait, who says ITS is ten years away? SpaceX's timeline shows orbital testing in 2020. This should be feasible if SpaceX descopes ITS slightly so it can actually launch from LC39a.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #537 on: 05/29/2017 04:54 PM »
Wait, who says ITS is ten years away? SpaceX's timeline shows orbital testing in 2020. This should be feasible if SpaceX descopes ITS slightly so it can actually launch from LC39a.
Their intention is to upgrade LC39A to be able to launch the full sized BFR/ITS.

But this thread is not the ITS discussion thread.

Also at this point without more information we only know the NET dates for the schedule for ITS. Not the most likely dates. The next update from SpaceX/Musk on the progress and new projected schedule (hopefully they give an update to the scheduled events) will give a good look at how well the projected dates match reality.
The other point was that we have insufficient substantiated information to do projections of any level of real meaning other than the belief in that Musk would not make the system unless it was capable of lowering the cost $/kg to LEO significantly for the amount of development funds he is putting forward on the project. He believes it and so must we because so far he has delivered. But the actual factor of lower $/kg to LEO is a wide level of speculation and is also tied as we have seen with F9 to be associated with design and operations maturity. This suggests that ITS will not reach it's target costs and significant operation tempos for as much as a decade after first flight. F9 may not reach its best per flight possible price until 2020, possibly as low as $25M, which is half it's current price. Alot has to happen to enable such low prices. Faring reuse, a gas and go booster, reduced timeline/processes for launch/recovery of used boosters, more pads, and stable configuration must be done successfully to reduce the Price this much.

As I mentioned before as reusability creates the promise of cheaper $/kg so will the demand for cheaper $/kg spur investments in reusability as the market expands slowly at first and accelerates the expansion as time proceeds with new business cases becomeing viable with the lower $/kg.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #538 on: 06/01/2017 01:40 AM »
With the upcoming reuse of a Dragon, what are the implications of this reuse for lowering costs of such services?

The SpaceX statements sound similar to those about the booster used on SES-10. This would indicate the used Dragon probably cost >=50% as much as a new one. That would put savings on this ~$50-60M cost for Dragon of up to $30M.

If that is the best possible for Dragon even D2 then a Dragon flight on a used booster could have a cost (not price) of just $60M. This could lead to a price for D2 flights using a used D2 and used booster at a price of almost half that of current.

But it also is a pathfinder and like SES-10 booster will be recovered and be able to be studied to see the difference between one use and two uses which will inform just haw much of a usable life these vehicles actually have.

The remaining item not covered is just how much of that $50-60M cost of a new Dragon does the trunk cost?
« Last Edit: 06/01/2017 01:42 AM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline deruch

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Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #539 on: 06/01/2017 02:46 AM »
With the upcoming reuse of a Dragon, what are the implications of this reuse for lowering costs of such services?

The SpaceX statements sound similar to those about the booster used on SES-10. This would indicate the used Dragon probably cost >=50% as much as a new one. That would put savings on this ~$50-60M cost for Dragon of up to $30M.

If that is the best possible for Dragon even D2 then a Dragon flight on a used booster could have a cost (not price) of just $60M. This could lead to a price for D2 flights using a used D2 and used booster at a price of almost half that of current.

But it also is a pathfinder and like SES-10 booster will be recovered and be able to be studied to see the difference between one use and two uses which will inform just haw much of a usable life these vehicles actually have.

The remaining item not covered is just how much of that $50-60M cost of a new Dragon does the trunk cost?
To my mind, Dragon 2 reuse isn't so much about direct cost savings but about new potential mission options.  Red Dragons, Lunar Flybys, etc. are all pretty much dependent on reused Dragon 2 capsules right now.  They could do those without reuse, but it would significantly stretch out their timeline or necessitate a higher production rate on D2 capsules.  So, in order to make such mission affordable either in terms of production costs or mission opportunity costs (i.e. lose out on using the capsule to fulfill a NASA mission, either CRS2 or Commercial Crew) it's going to require reuse and re-purposing of prior flown capsules.  Initially, most likely cargo D2s that are landed on dry land until NASA gets on board with land-landing crewed capsules.  Or, it will go the other way.  Reuse of CRS2 cargo D2 capsules will allow bespoke capsules to be built for other mission profiles. 
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

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