Author Topic: Reusability effect on costs  (Read 148158 times)

Online AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5251
  • Liked: 3156
  • Likes Given: 4477
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #760 on: 11/02/2017 03:27 PM »
Costs are much more fundamental than prices, so thread gets to the heart of reusability 'economics.'  What trickles down to the buyers of these launch services can only stem from positive cost impact of reuse within SpaceX.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Online deruch

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1732
  • California
  • Liked: 1296
  • Likes Given: 1928
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #761 on: 11/02/2017 09:16 PM »
One of the major challenges of staying on topic in this thread is that we have at least moderate insight to the prices offered to customers by SpaceX but almost zero insight to the actual costs borne by SpaceX.  So we are often arguing from deduction or somewhat obscure/ambiguous comments from those with a clear view.  That said, it was always intended that this thread focus on discussing the impact of reuse on SpaceX and not on the industry in general (via launch prices, except as a secondary effect because lower costs allow a provider to remain profitable at lower prices).
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #762 on: 11/02/2017 10:32 PM »
  That said, it was always intended that this thread focus on discussing the impact of reuse on SpaceX and not on the industry in general (via launch prices, except as a secondary effect because lower costs allow a provider to remain profitable at lower prices).
And the answer is "It depends."

On how much each refurb costs.
On how many refurbs you can get out of a booster stage (ans soon the payload fairing as well)
On how those costs compare against a new build stage.

Personally I just take any set of estimates and put them in my cost modelling game spreadsheet to see the results.

Reuse (at the right price) enables substantial increases in gross profits. If you don't have to hire new staff to do the refurb your staff costs have not risen so its down to the cost of specialist equipment needed and any new hardware that has to be fitted. IOW most of the increase of gross profit will transfer over to an increase in net (bottom line) profit as well.

With enough reuses the booster stage part of the price drops to a very small amount and the rest is the refurb cost and the US cost, leaving a very significant net profit for SX. 

BTW I found the reaction to my last post most interesting.

The fact remains there is a cost for reusability progress and its in the failure rate of the vehicle. As long as there are people who feel the risk is not worth the lower price, and when they can choose which LV they use they will go with something with a longer continuous list of successful launches.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27161
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7116
  • Likes Given: 4940
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #763 on: 11/02/2017 10:43 PM »
No. Reuse is likely to reduce failure rate.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3528
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2279
  • Likes Given: 2847
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #764 on: 11/02/2017 10:58 PM »
The fact remains there is a cost for reusability progress and its in the failure rate of the vehicle. As long as there are people who feel the risk is not worth the lower price, and when they can choose which LV they use they will go with something with a longer continuous list of successful launches.

I don't understand that reasoning.

If anything the first use of something has the potential for "infant mortality", whereas the longer something is used the more dependable it's use is. I found this chart on Wikipedia that addresses this:



No doubt SpaceX has to understand when things will wear out, both for moving machinery and for structures, but they have done a lot of that work already.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #765 on: 11/03/2017 06:28 AM »

I don't understand that reasoning.

If anything the first use of something has the potential for "infant mortality", whereas the longer something is used the more dependable it's use is. I found this chart on Wikipedia that addresses this:

No doubt SpaceX has to understand when things will wear out, both for moving machinery and for structures, but they have done a lot of that work already.
I'm quite aware of "bathtub" curves for infant mortality, along with the idea of "burn in" testing for electronics.

The fact remains you can have an F9 (15+ flights from RTF) or an Ariane 5 (78+ flights from RTF). All we can really say (statistically) is that one has a < 1 in 78 chance of going bang and one has a < 1 in 15 chance of going bang. 

I'd agree, re-flown boosters should be more reliable, but the simple statistics say that hasn't happened yet.
Yes I'm aware of every ELV is a first of its kind/last of its kind event for that particular vehicle. And yet at present it seems design stability is trumping ability to see actual flight damage, rather than suspect it from telemetry.

I await the first booster to fly for its 3rd time with great interest.   
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 06:29 AM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9141
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 5813
  • Likes Given: 3899
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #766 on: 11/03/2017 05:11 PM »

The fact remains you can have an F9 (15+ flights from RTF) or an Ariane 5 (78+ flights from RTF). All we can really say (statistically) is that one has a < 1 in 78 chance of going bang and one has a < 1 in 15 chance of going bang. 

Absent inclusion of confidence levels, I'm not sure that's a statistically valid statement.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online tdperk

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 247
  • Liked: 73
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #767 on: 11/03/2017 07:51 PM »

I don't understand that reasoning.

If anything the first use of something has the potential for "infant mortality", whereas the longer something is used the more dependable it's use is. I found this chart on Wikipedia that addresses this:

No doubt SpaceX has to understand when things will wear out, both for moving machinery and for structures, but they have done a lot of that work already.
All we can really say (statistically) is that one has a < 1 in 78 chance of going bang and one has a < 1 in 15 chance of going bang.

Seems fatuous to claim that.  We can say previous builds of it had a 1 in 8 (roughly) failure rate.  This says nothing at all about the most current, and still less the Block 5 build.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #768 on: 11/03/2017 10:12 PM »
Seems fatuous to claim that.  We can say previous builds of it had a 1 in 8 (roughly) failure rate.  This says nothing at all about the most current, and still less the Block 5 build.
I'm merely pointing out that empirically that is what has happened.

Yes being able to inspect and measure actual damage (and conversely what parts are over built for their task) should improve reliability. We will see in the long term if it does, as we all hope it will. 
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 10:13 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online tdperk

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 247
  • Liked: 73
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #769 on: 11/03/2017 11:04 PM »
Seems fatuous to claim that.  We can say previous builds of it had a 1 in 8 (roughly) failure rate.  This says nothing at all about the most current, and still less the Block 5 build.
I'm merely pointing out that empirically that is what has happened.

Yes being able to inspect and measure actual damage (and conversely what parts are over built for their task) should improve reliability. We will see in the long term if it does, as we all hope it will.

If they were the same rocket you would be pointing it out.  Yet, they are not.

Offline Radical_Ignorant

  • Member
  • Posts: 81
  • Liked: 18
  • Likes Given: 175
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #770 on: 11/10/2017 11:49 AM »

I think this thread was always mis-named as customers don't pay "costs" they pay "prices" and while they have cut the "floor price" for medium launch it doesn't look like they are going to go on cutting it.
That's their choice, but it's prices that matter to customers, not costs.

Yeah - those are two separate discussions. But there is no point in discussing price. This is not technical thing and depends on will of SpaceX, so it's pure guessing without any interesting insight. Just business model in quite slow moving market... Question then would be more about: how low launch prices will affect space industry. If it doesn't change, then price stays the same. We don't know that. Closest discussion to that is in thread about new big constellations of satellites.

General intention of this thread was to define what "cost" does mean for highly vertically integrated company. What reusability changes if there isn't much more customer payloads, if they can do more with the same. And I think we got answer in Elon presentation about BFR.

SpaceX costs are rather fixed: manufacturing space, tooling amortisation, and most important workforce. Reusability allows to move those "costs" to some different use. There were two options really:
1 - cut workforce down -> cut costs -> cut prices/increase profits
2 - keep prices -> have free workforce which can be assigned to something different.
3 - market expands greatly, but that requires 1(cutting price) or is done in house (Starlink)

So IMHO and how I understand Elon talk:
option 2: Reusability effect on costs = BFR is possible

Without reusable F9 way to BFR would be much harder. So IMHO discussion about BFR and amount and schedule of shifting resources from F9 to next big thing is what this thread is really about.

Offline Norm38

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1039
  • Liked: 419
  • Likes Given: 573
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #771 on: 11/10/2017 09:24 PM »
The fact remains you can have an F9 (15+ flights from RTF) or an Ariane 5 (78+ flights from RTF). All we can really say (statistically) is that one has a < 1 in 78 chance of going bang and one has a < 1 in 15 chance of going bang. 

The only F9 failure that occurred on the first stage is the loss of a Merlin 1C engine.  That flight made orbit and the 1C engine is now out of service.  From the point of view of the first stage, success rate for (primary) payloads is 100% and the first stage is 44/44. (I'm giving the first stage CRS-7).
So from the view of the booster, Ariane is 78+ from RTF, F9 S1 is 44+ from first flight.

And both second stages that failed were brand new, so I fail to see how their failures hurt the case for booster reuse.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2017 09:26 PM by Norm38 »

Online AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5251
  • Liked: 3156
  • Likes Given: 4477
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #772 on: 11/11/2017 08:12 PM »

The fact remains you can have an F9 (15+ flights from RTF) or an Ariane 5 (78+ flights from RTF). All we can really say (statistically) is that one has a < 1 in 78 chance of going bang and one has a < 1 in 15 chance of going bang. 

Absent inclusion of confidence levels, I'm not sure that's a statistically valid statement.

Ed's recent clarification is best statistical treatment.
(Sorry, cannot locate his treatment of risk intervals)
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #773 on: 11/11/2017 09:01 PM »
The only F9 failure that occurred on the first stage is the loss of a Merlin 1C engine.  That flight made orbit and the 1C engine is now out of service.  From the point of view of the first stage, success rate for (primary) payloads is 100% and the first stage is 44/44. (I'm giving the first stage CRS-7).
So from the view of the booster, Ariane is 78+ from RTF, F9 S1 is 44+ from first flight.
If they suspended launches pending the results of an investigation the next launch after that is a "return to flight." 15 is how far away the f9 is from the last time it failed badly enough to need an RTF.

Quote from: Norm38
And both second stages that failed were brand new, so I fail to see how their failures hurt the case for booster reuse.
It doesn't. If anything it's exactly the place you would expect a design to fail. In the expendable parts you can't study on return.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline Norm38

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1039
  • Liked: 419
  • Likes Given: 573
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #774 on: 11/12/2017 11:34 PM »
You said "reflown boosters should be more reliable but that hasn't happened yet".

Yet it is the reusable part that hasn't caused loss of mission, while the expendable part has, twice.  Whatever the true reliability of reuse is, it's performing better than expendable right now.

Online JamesH65

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 677
  • Liked: 408
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #775 on: 11/13/2017 10:32 AM »
You said "reflown boosters should be more reliable but that hasn't happened yet".

Yet it is the reusable part that hasn't caused loss of mission, while the expendable part has, twice.  Whatever the true reliability of reuse is, it's performing better than expendable right now.

Given the craven misuse of statistics above, I'm going to join in and go with reflown boosters being 100% reliable.

Which is absolutely and incontrovertible true. According to the latest data....

Online speedevil

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 625
  • Fife
  • Liked: 304
  • Likes Given: 280
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #776 on: 11/13/2017 11:45 AM »

Given the craven misuse of statistics above, I'm going to join in and go with reflown boosters being 100% reliable.

Which is absolutely and incontrovertible true. According to the latest data....

This seems conservative.
Surely they're 200% reliable.

Offline ZachF

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 381
  • NH, USA, Earth
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 66
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #777 on: 11/13/2017 03:16 PM »
No. Reuse is likely to reduce failure rate.


Being able to inspect your boosters after flight is a gigantic advantage to SpaceX that I do not think gets enough credit here. It allows your to retire low probability failure modes before they happen.

With an expendable booster, if you had a low probability (say 0.1%) failure mode that can't show up in tests, the only way to find it is to wait for it to happen. If you can inspect your boosters you are likely able to find the weak areas before they fail and fix the problem beforehand.

Re-usability will also increase cadence, which is a pathway to improved reliability itself. Part of the reason air travel is so safe is because we have thousands of flights a day, so even 1 in a million failure modes become visible in reasonable timeframes. That previously mentioned 0.1% failure mode on an expendable LV may never show up in a ~100 launch lifetime, but it's still there lurking under the surface... Nobody would fly an airplane with a 0.1% failure probability.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #778 on: 11/13/2017 07:14 PM »
Being able to inspect your boosters after flight is a gigantic advantage to SpaceX that I do not think gets enough credit here. It allows your to retire low probability failure modes before they happen.

With an expendable booster, if you had a low probability (say 0.1%) failure mode that can't show up in tests, the only way to find it is to wait for it to happen. If you can inspect your boosters you are likely able to find the weak areas before they fail and fix the problem beforehand.
True. Likewise you can assess actual damage versus expected damage and (over time) relax some of the margins you built into the design.
Quote from: ZachF
Re-usability will also increase cadence, which is a pathway to improved reliability itself. Part of the reason air travel is so safe is because we have thousands of flights a day, so even 1 in a million failure modes become visible in reasonable timeframes. That previously mentioned 0.1% failure mode on an expendable LV may never show up in a ~100 launch lifetime, but it's still there lurking under the surface... Nobody would fly an airplane with a 0.1% failure probability.
Quite correct. LV safety records are another area that, when compared to all other transport systems, is phenomenally bad.  :(

[EDIT. Once you realize how bad the flight record of any VTO LV is you realize a crew escape system is a necessity, and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.  :( ]
« Last Edit: 11/14/2017 07:45 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6443
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 879
  • Likes Given: 5578
Re: Reusability effect on costs
« Reply #779 on: 11/13/2017 07:20 PM »
You said "reflown boosters should be more reliable but that hasn't happened yet".

Yet it is the reusable part that hasn't caused loss of mission, while the expendable part has, twice.  Whatever the true reliability of reuse is, it's performing better than expendable right now.
Which should come as no surprise.

The Shuttle never failed in the orbiter. The failures in the mfg and/or design of the expendable parts destroyed them, the second failure being due to the "minor" redesign of the ET's spray on foam insulation being (in fact) not so minor.  :(

The question is at what point does a semi reusable design become stable enough that the benefits of reuse in terms of reliability start to show themselves? Empirically the answer is "not yet."
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Tags: