Author Topic: When will F9/F9H be retired?  (Read 35019 times)

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #60 on: 04/09/2017 12:01 PM »
To me, it seems, the case for F9 exists in the long term only if Musk does not succeed in generating massive revenues from other sources. Sources which pretty much have to pay off if his Mars dream is to succeed in any case. And once that money becomes available, well, then F9 has little reason for continued existence, it would seem.

That's like saying, "I had $5 in my wallet, but I just got $100 more, so I'm going to throw away the original $5 I had."

No.  It doesn't matter how much more Musk personally or SpaceX makes from other sources, they won't just shut down Falcon 9 as long as it is generating profit unless it's to replace it with something else that serves the same market and makes more profit.

I agree. My point was that with sufficient funds available to invest in better (read Raptor based) rockets than F9, that replacement vehicle you refer to above will be available much sooner. Without such additional funds, SpaceX is forced to continue relying on F9's revenue generating capability until they have paid off existing development costs, and then to start building a pile of cash with which to fund the development of said replacement vehicle.

With alternative funds available, they can immediately start building that replacement vehicle, which they are ready to do, if they just had the money for it. Hence, F9 would then be retired sooner.

Offline macpacheco

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #61 on: 04/09/2017 01:49 PM »
F9 and FH will be retired, after the first 3 ITS stacks are built.
The reason is simple, ITS can launch at a cost lower than a FH 2nd stage + FH propellant.
The other caveat is ITS booster/spaceship/tanker must be able to fly at least 100x between refurbs.
If that's achievable, ITS becomes SpaceX cash cow.
There's ZERO reason to give customers anything over a 90% discount from current brand new F9/FH launch contract prices, unless there's competition that can beat that price.
Giving customers a 90% launch contract discount makes satellites/deep exploration missions 95% of the total mission cost (launch + payload). Making payload 99.9% will make ZERO different in economics.
ITS can deliver 100 tons to GEO-500m/s or better (using the tanker), aka about a dozen satellites to GEO on a single launch.
If ISS is still flying, a single ITS launch can deliver all the cargo and crew that ISS needs for a whole year, perhaps at the current cost of a SpaceX Cargo+Crew launch.
ITS can deliver an entire CommX orbit worth of satellites in a single launch with room to spare.
Even assuming an average 1/3 occupation, i estimate it will cost SX around US$ 10 million in costs to get US$ 100 million in revenues.
In 2 years, SpaceX has the cash to build at least a dozen of ITS space ships and enough boosters/tankers to keep those space ships busy.
The only alternative that might be better is a mini ITS or a Raptor F9 on steroids that is fully reusable with even better economics than ITS.

The key is to realize that ITS isn't just about Mars. ITS is first about making SpaceX very rich, so it can afford to make Mars a reality, perhaps paying for all the bootstrap cargo required to make the Mars industrial base a reality.
Looking for companies doing great things for much more than money

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #62 on: 04/09/2017 02:10 PM »
The key is to realize that ITS isn't just about Mars. ITS is first about making SpaceX very rich, so it can afford to make Mars a reality

That is not what SpaceX has ever said.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #63 on: 04/09/2017 02:13 PM »
My point was that with sufficient funds available to invest in better (read Raptor based) rockets than F9, that replacement vehicle you refer to above will be available much sooner. Without such additional funds, SpaceX is forced to continue relying on F9's revenue generating capability until they have paid off existing development costs, and then to start building a pile of cash with which to fund the development of said replacement vehicle.

I disagree.  SpaceX has enough cash, and enough interest from investors, that if a replacement for Falcon 9 would bring in more money than it would cost, they could fund that replacement.

Online AncientU

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #64 on: 04/09/2017 02:17 PM »
I assume SpaceX has a plan for when it'll retire F9.

Why?  Do you think Boeing had a retirement date picked out for the 737 when they first introduced it 49 years ago?

I'm no expert, but it seems like the 737 is an outlier. Most other airliners have a production run of ~20-25 years. If that's a useful metric, then I'd expect SpaceX to stop production around 2030.

The point isn't that the 737 is still in production 49 years later.  The point is that when Boeing introduced the 737, they didn't have a plan to shut down production some pre-set number of years later.  And those other airliners with production runs of ~20-25 years also did not have pre-set plans to shut down production.

With airliners, the manufacturers don't know when they start producing them how long they'll be in production.  The keep producing them until there's a reason not to produce them any more.

So, I agree with Coastal Ron that the assumption by the original poster that SpaceX currently has a plan for when it will retire Falcon 9 is not a good assumption.  Maybe SpaceX has secret plans to launch a replacement Raptor-driven satellite launcher at a particular date and retire Falcon 9, but there's also a good chance they don't.

Reusable Falcon 9 is being established as a marker (or forcing function in EM's words) for the rest of the world's launch providers, and as a reliable/predictable standard for future launch costs for space businesses.  As such, it will stand as the goal and standard for new ventures to plan around until the market expands, dictating a new standard.  The chatter seems to indicate it will be at least five years (maybe ten) before significant pressure is put on F9/FH, assuming that the in-the-pipeline efficiencies (like refurbishment in days, not weeks or months) are realized.

If the space launch market does not expand, Falcon 9(and FH) will be around a long time.
If expansion begins and accelerates, new vehicle(s) will be built to satisfy emergent demand; SpaceX may again lead this effort with something Raptor based.  Launching constellations could be the first major expansion -- it depends upon revenue growth from operating these constellations in the first few years.  What's next is anyone's guess.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 02:19 PM by AncientU »
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Online guckyfan

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #65 on: 04/09/2017 02:24 PM »

Reusable Falcon 9 is being established as a marker (or forcing function in EM's words) for the rest of the world's launch providers, and as a reliable/predictable standard for future launch costs for space businesses.  As such, it will stand as the goal and standard for new ventures to plan around until the market expands, dictating a new standard.  The chatter seems to indicate it will be at least five years (maybe ten) before significant pressure is put on F9/FH, assuming that the in-the-pipeline efficiencies (like refurbishment in days, not weeks or months) are realized.

Pressure will be internal. There is no reason to continue building and/or maintaining 2 completely different architectures. A number of years after the first ITS booster flight Falcon will be gone. How many, is everyones guess. Mine is 5 years max.

Offline macpacheco

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #66 on: 04/09/2017 02:48 PM »
The key is to realize that ITS isn't just about Mars. ITS is first about making SpaceX very rich, so it can afford to make Mars a reality
That is not what SpaceX has ever said.
Elon never talks about profit or cash flow unless he has to.
SpaceX is a private company, remember that...
ITS is intended to be more profitable than F9/FH, its a mere consequence of lowering costs of access to space ridiculously.
Its entirely possible that EM/GS haven't even thought about this yet.
Looking for companies doing great things for much more than money

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #67 on: 04/09/2017 02:56 PM »
My point was that with sufficient funds available to invest in better (read Raptor based) rockets than F9, that replacement vehicle you refer to above will be available much sooner. Without such additional funds, SpaceX is forced to continue relying on F9's revenue generating capability until they have paid off existing development costs, and then to start building a pile of cash with which to fund the development of said replacement vehicle.

I disagree.  SpaceX has enough cash, and enough interest from investors, that if a replacement for Falcon 9 would bring in more money than it would cost, they could fund that replacement.

I don't believe that is the case. ITS would make more money than it would cost. We don't see that being developed as fast as it could be. SpaceX has limited resources, else it would do what Bezos is doing, without the need to generate ongoing revenues at the same time.

If Musk could bring in large amounts of money from elsewhere, he could invest in the development of "New Glenn killing" rockets now, rather than delaying that until F9 has paid for itself.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 02:56 PM by M.E.T. »

Offline jcliving

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #68 on: 04/09/2017 04:23 PM »
I agree with @Steve G.  The F9 is transitioning to a pure operations focus.  Design work ends.  Milk the platform for 15-30 years of profits.

Design staff will be reassigned to other projects including F9H and ITS.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #69 on: 04/09/2017 09:51 PM »
The key is to realize that ITS isn't just about Mars. ITS is first about making SpaceX very rich, so it can afford to make Mars a reality

That is not what SpaceX has ever said.
The only way it'd be true is if the constellation is launched on ITS. Musk did say the constellation is a huge part of getting enough money to build a city on Mars.

It's possible that Musk's hints on Twitter recently about finding a more economic way to develop ITS may be a hint that it will be used for commercial space launch, including their constellation. But that doesn't seem to have been the original plan at the IAC.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 10:07 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #70 on: 04/09/2017 10:16 PM »
I can't see SpaceX still operating primarily a gas generator kerolox engine if they successfully develop and fly Raptor and ITS.

ITS may be a family of rockets just like Falcon. IF ITS IS SUCCESSFULLY DEVELOPED: My guess is Falcon heavy would be the first vehicle to be replaced by ITS, followed eventually by Falcon 9. Musk can't help himself to improve something if there's some significant advantage to doing so. Maybe 5-10 years for Falcon Heavy and 10-15 years for Falcon 9. Maybe less, we shall see. But I see no way Falcon 9 lasts another 20 years while Musk maintains control over a non-bankrupt SpaceX.

I bet Falcon 9 will do about 300 launches before being replaced.
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Online docmordrid

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #71 on: 04/09/2017 11:16 PM »
I can't see SpaceX still operating primarily a gas generator kerolox engine if they successfully develop and fly Raptor and ITS.

Ditto.

Quote
My guess is Falcon heavy would be the first vehicle to be replaced by ITS, followed eventually by Falcon 9.

I think a mini-ITS based on the ITS core cluster could cover  both bases by being adaptable; fly 3(?), 5 or 7 engines depending on the mission. I'd really like to see numbers on those.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 11:17 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #72 on: 04/10/2017 12:04 AM »
I bet the number of variants would be limited and on the larger side so there's plenty of margin for full reuse and RTLS for all missions, including RTLS of payload adapter and fairing. Maybe two booster variants, with the smallest being maybe ~9 Raptors. But too early to really speculate.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #73 on: 04/10/2017 12:50 AM »
I bet the number of variants would be limited and on the larger side so there's plenty of margin for full reuse and RTLS for all missions, including RTLS of payload adapter and fairing. Maybe two booster variants, with the smallest being maybe ~9 Raptors. But too early to really speculate.

A variant with 7 Raptors would look a lot like the New Glenn...
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 Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #74 on: 04/10/2017 02:46 AM »
I bet the number of variants would be limited and on the larger side so there's plenty of margin for full reuse and RTLS for all missions, including RTLS of payload adapter and fairing. Maybe two booster variants, with the smallest being maybe ~9 Raptors. But too early to really speculate.

A variant with 7 Raptors would look a lot like the New Glenn...
Well New Glenn looks a heck of a lot like a Falcon 9, landing on a barge and everything.
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #75 on: 04/10/2017 02:59 AM »
I think a mini-ITS based on the ITS core cluster could cover  both bases by being adaptable; fly 3(?), 5 or 7 engines depending on the mission. I'd really like to see numbers on those.

I bet the number of variants would be limited and on the larger side so there's plenty of margin for full reuse and RTLS for all missions, including RTLS of payload adapter and fairing. Maybe two booster variants, with the smallest being maybe ~9 Raptors. But too early to really speculate.

No, IMO they aren't going to make multiple launch vehicles (or configurations) to replace F9/FH. *IF* they make a Raptor-based followup vehicle to replace F9/FH, I'd expect it to be sized (as far as payload capacity) between the F9 and FH. ITS would be their "big" delivery truck. They would just need a "small" truck for the other work.

And no heavy variant. Just a single stick.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 03:03 AM by Lars-J »

Offline OneSpeed

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #76 on: 04/10/2017 03:52 AM »
I think a mini-ITS based on the ITS core cluster could cover  both bases by being adaptable; fly 3(?), 5 or 7 engines depending on the mission. I'd really like to see numbers on those.

I've simulated a 7 engine Mini ITS here: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36508.msg1633577#msg1633577

It gets 70-80mT of payload to LEO including RTLS of the booster and recovery of the second stage. i.e. about double the capability of Falcon Heavy.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #77 on: 04/10/2017 04:32 AM »
I think a mini-ITS based on the ITS core cluster could cover  both bases by being adaptable; fly 3(?), 5 or 7 engines depending on the mission. I'd really like to see numbers on those.

I bet the number of variants would be limited and on the larger side so there's plenty of margin for full reuse and RTLS for all missions, including RTLS of payload adapter and fairing. Maybe two booster variants, with the smallest being maybe ~9 Raptors. But too early to really speculate.

No, IMO they aren't going to make multiple launch vehicles (or configurations) to replace F9/FH. *IF* they make a Raptor-based followup vehicle to replace F9/FH, I'd expect it to be sized (as far as payload capacity) between the F9 and FH. ITS would be their "big" delivery truck. They would just need a "small" truck for the other work.

And no heavy variant. Just a single stick.
We're in violent agreement.
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Online docmordrid

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #78 on: 04/10/2017 05:42 AM »
I think a mini-ITS based on the ITS core cluster could cover  both bases by being adaptable; fly 3(?), 5 or 7 engines depending on the mission. I'd really like to see numbers on those.

I've simulated a 7 engine Mini ITS here: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36508.msg1633577#msg1633577

It gets 70-80mT of payload to LEO including RTLS of the booster and recovery of the second stage. i.e. about double the capability of Falcon Heavy.

Thank you!, and that sounds like a compelling replacement vehicle for FH at least given propellant is such a low cost factor.
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Online AncientU

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #79 on: 04/10/2017 10:26 AM »
The key is to realize that ITS isn't just about Mars. ITS is first about making SpaceX very rich, so it can afford to make Mars a reality
That is not what SpaceX has ever said.
Elon never talks about profit or cash flow unless he has to.
SpaceX is a private company, remember that...
ITS is intended to be more profitable than F9/FH, its a mere consequence of lowering costs of access to space ridiculously.
Its entirely possible that EM/GS haven't even thought about this yet.

If you've noticed, EM has been mentioning financial matters (like not going bankrupt or $1B for reusability development) quite a bit lately.  GS also mentioned 'hundreds of millions' in development costs.  What I think happened is that the AMOS failure and price tag for rebuild of LC-40 precipitated a 'chat' between GS and EM where a few lines were drawn (by GS).  EM is not chipping in a billion per year, so the business (it IS a business) needs to become viable. 

Lots of F9/FH launches, including getting the ConnX up and producing major revenue, is required for that business to pay for the next big thing which is ITS... there isn't money for ITS first.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 10:29 AM by AncientU »
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