Author Topic: When will F9/F9H be retired?  (Read 39145 times)

Offline Lar

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #80 on: 04/10/2017 10:43 AM »
A lot of merit in the idea that Gwynne helps keep Elon grounded from time to time...

My own guess is that F9/FH retire 5-10 years after ITS first flies. Will there be a mini ITS? I don't think so. I think we see a change to a more hub and spoke model. Lots of in-space tugs, but launches are done with heavy lift only.
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Online AncientU

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #81 on: 04/10/2017 11:22 AM »
A lot of merit in the idea that Gwynne helps keep Elon grounded from time to time...

My own guess is that F9/FH retire 5-10 years after ITS first flies. Will there be a mini ITS? I don't think so. I think we see a change to a more hub and spoke model. Lots of in-space tugs, but launches are done with heavy lift only.

Everyone knows that EM is easily distracted by shinny objects -- add to that the DNA of a Silicon Valley start-up...  and the tendency to get bought out and move on to the next thing.  This all has to give GS a headache, since she needs make payroll for 6,000.  Playing the adult in the room has to fall to someone if the start-up is to successfully transition to a going concern. 
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #82 on: 04/10/2017 12:15 PM »

Everyone knows that EM is easily distracted by shinny objects -- add to that the DNA of a Silicon Valley start-up...  and the tendency to get bought out and move on to the next thing.  This all has to give GS a headache, since she needs make payroll for 6,000.  Playing the adult in the room has to fall to someone if the start-up is to successfully transition to a going concern.

Ah, Gwynne Shotwell as the adult in the room. I like that. That's probably why she keeps mentioning that Mars is Elons hobby. She is more interested in interstellar travel.  :)

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #83 on: 04/10/2017 12:54 PM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.
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Offline gospacex

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #84 on: 04/10/2017 01:21 PM »
F9 replacement makes sense *after* Bezos spends all the time and effort building his rocket, factory, pad(s), etc.

It would be useful for SpaceX to know exact parameters of the competition... and to know competition can't easily change them now.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 01:21 PM by gospacex »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #85 on: 04/10/2017 01:22 PM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.
If ITS hits its cost performance goals (pretty big "if"), it'll be cheaper per cargo launch than even Falcon 9.

To keep the analogy alive: it's still MUCH cheaper to use the reusable Emma Maersk to send a single shipping container across the ocean than an expendable 737.

But if ITS /is/ used for satellite launches, the main thing it'll be launching is SpaceX's constellation, and at 3000 satellites PER YEAR, you would put like 300 in a single ITS launch. That's still a respectable 10 launches per year, plus you can recovery the payload deployer and fairing and everything intact at the launch site. Sure beats like 50 Falcon Heavy launches with the complicated recovery operations that requires. And gives SpaceX plenty of room to grow the mass of the satellites.

Also, "I'm sorry" as a rhetorical device? We're all adults, here. That's not necessary.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 01:29 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline JamesH65

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #86 on: 04/10/2017 02:18 PM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.

Inclined to agree. I think there is more mileage in a custom reusable 2nd stage dispenser specifically for CommX satellites, launched from a F9H, than using BFB.

But since BFB isn't flying in the next 5-10 years or so at least (from what I see, could be wrong), SpaceX are going to need F9 for their satellite constellation for quite some time.

Sorry.

Offline philw1776

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #87 on: 04/10/2017 03:10 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.
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.

It's been apparent for a while (see AMOS) to financially oriented R&D engineering development types that SpaceX with its 5,000 mostly skilled employees and relatively expensive materials couldn't generate enough cash to fund a rapid full scale ITS R&D program.  Launch hiatus (twice in 2 years) had to eat up designated for R&D cash.
Fortunately, Elon is innovative in these business situations and had already developed a nascent strategy to become a unique comsat launcher & service provider (or service partner with Google) for a non-NASA dependent and potentially very large cash stream. But since this comsat R&D eats up more short term funds, there's little left for technology adventures like pushing composite structure technology into unprecedented applications at rational manufacturing costs.
So, R&D sources & uses of income and cash reality forced a change in short term (next couple years) strategy.  Also, as the comsat opportunity becomes more real, re-assessment of F9/FH launchers and re-useability made a 2nd look at upper stage re-use possibilities more urgent. Eliminate your money falling from the sky.
I think that this results in a 2+ year right shift of ITS first flight times with an increase in the probability that SpaceX and its partners to be can actually fund it and make it happen.  It won't hurt that many Mars related technologies advance a couple years more before ITS Block One design gets frozen.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #88 on: 04/10/2017 03:27 PM »
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.

But what are those thousands of design engineers going to work on in the meantime?  Your team is assembled, so you use them.  It's the same dynamic as with Musk's rock star engine designers.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #89 on: 04/10/2017 03:43 PM »
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.

But what are those thousands of design engineers going to work on in the meantime?  Your team is assembled, so you use them.  It's the same dynamic as with Musk's rock star engine designers.

They sure can continue working on Raptor. They sure can continue working on tank design, including the hot oxygen coating. No need to do it full size for full efficiency. A year may get them to a better solution than they could find under more time pressure.

They can work on ISRU equipment. Solar panels, water mining and cleaning, tanks for Mars, habitats. There is plenty of work cut out to keep the workforce busy and motivated with not too much money needed beyond paying their salaries.

Offline macpacheco

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #90 on: 04/10/2017 08:07 PM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.

Inclined to agree. I think there is more mileage in a custom reusable 2nd stage dispenser specifically for CommX satellites, launched from a F9H, than using BFB.

But since BFB isn't flying in the next 5-10 years or so at least (from what I see, could be wrong), SpaceX are going to need F9 for their satellite constellation for quite some time.

Sorry.
CommX does NOT need 4096 satellites in orbit to begin operations.
Please stop with this fixation.
CommX likely will start with 5-10% as many satellites, which can be easily launched on Falcon Heavy with expendable 2nd stage if needed.
By the simple virtue that SX is its own launch supplier, by then with its own range in Boca Chica, makes them uniquely capable of increasing CommX on orbit population as needed.
The first generation of CommX businesses will be laser focused on mobile and middle of nowhere Gbps internet that are willing to pay premium to have landline like internet links.
Imagine every cruise ship in the world with ultra high speed broadband. Every cargo ship with a basic 100Mbps connectivity at the cost it currently pays for ultra slow connectivity with the ground. Oh and every large airliner in the world has low latency broadband too.
There are at LEAST tens of thousands of businesses in the middle of nowhere paying 200x the cost of a regular land line link for connectivity using GTO.
There are another tens of thousands of ISPs that are hundreds of miles from the nearest fiber optic backbone. With unreliable connectivity to the internet.
That's worth at least a billion/yr with very little constellation numbers 2x or 3x that of Iridium or Orbcomm.
All it takes is one satellite in view 24x7 between 60N and 60S latitude.
4096 satellites is like dozens of satellites in view, with CPEs dynamically switching towards the satellite with the lowest load/best signal.
Either CommX will be producing a boatload of cash or ITS will be flying by the time it needs thousands of satellites in orbit.
The other very significant reason for delaying full constellation density is the predictable CommX satellite design iterations every 18-24 months. Better to wait until Block III is ready for launch until rolling out the complete thing.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 09:27 PM by macpacheco »
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Online AncientU

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #91 on: 04/10/2017 11:51 PM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.

Inclined to agree. I think there is more mileage in a custom reusable 2nd stage dispenser specifically for CommX satellites, launched from a F9H, than using BFB.

But since BFB isn't flying in the next 5-10 years or so at least (from what I see, could be wrong), SpaceX are going to need F9 for their satellite constellation for quite some time.

Sorry.
CommX does NOT need 4096 satellites in orbit to begin operations.
Please stop with this fixation.
CommX likely will start with 5-10% as many satellites, which can be easily launched on Falcon Heavy with expendable 2nd stage if needed.
By the simple virtue that SX is its own launch supplier, by then with its own range in Boca Chica, makes them uniquely capable of increasing CommX on orbit population as needed.
...
The other very significant reason for delaying full constellation density is the predictable CommX satellite design iterations every 18-24 months. Better to wait until Block III is ready for launch until rolling out the complete thing.

The FCC filing outlines exactly what their LEO constellation (4425 sats) deployment plan will be.  First is to get 800 sats -- roughly 20% or 40 launches worth* -- to orbit and tested, then go 'live' or begin commercial service providing while deploying the second 800 with 40 more launches.  This is the 'initial deployment' as laid out in their application.  Coverage is short of global... it misses the high latitudes (above 60 degrees IIRC) and a band at the equator.  Full constellation deployment follows (probably after some design revision of initial deployment sats) and brings them to full global service with all orbital planes populated.

* Assuming F9 with 20 sats per trip.  YMMV
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 11:52 PM by AncientU »
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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #92 on: 04/11/2017 12:04 AM »
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.

But what are those thousands of design engineers going to work on in the meantime?  Your team is assembled, so you use them.  It's the same dynamic as with Musk's rock star engine designers.

I suspect SpaceX has well shy of a thousand total engineers(my guess would be 500), including those who are designing satellites and ConnX software (who will be very busy indeed).  Designing rockets is a very small piece of what the engineering team does.

The rest of the six thousand strong workforce is building hundreds of engines(Merlins, Dracos, SuperDracos, Raptors), tankage, avionics, landing legs, interstages, payload adaptors, fairings, Dragons, etc. and a major part of their workforce is testing and delivering vehicles via McGregor to the pads for launch -- or building/rebuilding those pads.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 12:06 AM by AncientU »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #93 on: 04/11/2017 01:04 AM »
I bet that way more than 500 or 1000 have "engineer" in their title.
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Offline JamesH65

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #94 on: 04/11/2017 11:09 AM »
I'm sorry, but ITS makes no sense as a satellite launcher.

It would be like using the Maersk Alabama to haul a single box across the Atlantic.  Large ships may be the single most efficient means for moving cargo, but that is predicated on that being LOTS of cargo per trip.

Sure, there could be sats as secondary cargo, but first and foremost, ITS is a People Hauler going to orbits that satellites would have to expend serious delta-v to acquire their intended inclinations.

Until gravity is no longer an issue or satellites are built on-orbit, there will always be a place for an F-9 class launcher.

Inclined to agree. I think there is more mileage in a custom reusable 2nd stage dispenser specifically for CommX satellites, launched from a F9H, than using BFB.

But since BFB isn't flying in the next 5-10 years or so at least (from what I see, could be wrong), SpaceX are going to need F9 for their satellite constellation for quite some time.

Sorry.
CommX does NOT need 4096 satellites in orbit to begin operations.
Please stop with this fixation.
CommX likely will start with 5-10% as many satellites, which can be easily launched on Falcon Heavy with expendable 2nd stage if needed.
By the simple virtue that SX is its own launch supplier, by then with its own range in Boca Chica, makes them uniquely capable of increasing CommX on orbit population as needed.
The first generation of CommX businesses will be laser focused on mobile and middle of nowhere Gbps internet that are willing to pay premium to have landline like internet links.
Imagine every cruise ship in the world with ultra high speed broadband. Every cargo ship with a basic 100Mbps connectivity at the cost it currently pays for ultra slow connectivity with the ground. Oh and every large airliner in the world has low latency broadband too.
There are at LEAST tens of thousands of businesses in the middle of nowhere paying 200x the cost of a regular land line link for connectivity using GTO.
There are another tens of thousands of ISPs that are hundreds of miles from the nearest fiber optic backbone. With unreliable connectivity to the internet.
That's worth at least a billion/yr with very little constellation numbers 2x or 3x that of Iridium or Orbcomm.
All it takes is one satellite in view 24x7 between 60N and 60S latitude.
4096 satellites is like dozens of satellites in view, with CPEs dynamically switching towards the satellite with the lowest load/best signal.
Either CommX will be producing a boatload of cash or ITS will be flying by the time it needs thousands of satellites in orbit.
The other very significant reason for delaying full constellation density is the predictable CommX satellite design iterations every 18-24 months. Better to wait until Block III is ready for launch until rolling out the complete thing.

Why are you referencing my post? I said nothing about the quantities need to start operating. I was writing about a dedicated reusable US specifically for launching CommX satellites.

Offline macpacheco

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #95 on: 04/11/2017 02:55 PM »
Why are you referencing my post? I said nothing about the quantities need to start operating. I was writing about a dedicated reusable US specifically for launching CommX satellites.
yep, if CommX can operate for 2-3 years with a much smaller number of satellites your point is mute, unless Raptor is a complete bust.
4400 satellites requirement is a product of requirements to operate with high masking angles (urban canyons), huge throughput with CPE equipment hopping to the least loaded satellite in view. Not the type of requirements for the first few years.
Masking angle is the key. If customers are required to install only with the tallest obstruction at 30 degrees from the horizon, a few hundred satellites is all that's required for worldwide coverage. The 4400 number means CommX ultimately wants seamless coverage something around 70 degrees masking angle.

Iridium operates with just 66 satellites active plus spares. Don't they have worldwide coverage ? Whats the logic in needing 4400 satellites instead.
Obviously the orbits are designed differently, a little lower. Different inclination too. But that doesn't justify a requirement for 70x as many satellites.
The fact is like I said you and many other fixate on that big great number and those understand what that means, and just repeat that blindly.
I once thought E=mc² was everything. I then found that was a simplification for a much more complex equation. Same thing here.

SpaceX isn't going to spoon feed you the nuances in their constellation design as its proprietary information but those that understand details know what that likely means. The true final details will be explained in small trickles of information once it starts early operations.

Like I said, by the time SpaceX needs to launch thousands of CommX birds, new boosters should be available.

F9/FH will be retired a few years after SpaceX has any fully raptor based full reuse rocket. Be it a massive ITS rocket, a mini ITS rocket or a Falcon 9 style rocket on steroids with Raptor first and second stage.

With a fully reusable rocket, once it makes the first flight, its a matter of a few months to accomplish perhaps 20 launches to show everybody the rocket is just about as safe as F9/FH. Avoiding the complexity of side boosters. 13 successful launches and you're automatically certified with USAF. The fact its a bigger rocket that consumes more fuel is offset by using methane as fuel (far cheaper than RP1), using engines that can refly at least 100x between refurbs, and the much higher ISP, the huge performance means re-entry burns can provide much better protection from heating to the first stage and the 2nd stage can have some limited aerodynamic lift capacity so it can stay as high as possible for as long as possible to limit peak heating.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #96 on: 04/11/2017 04:01 PM »
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.

But what are those thousands of design engineers going to work on in the meantime?  Your team is assembled, so you use them.  It's the same dynamic as with Musk's rock star engine designers.

I suspect SpaceX has well shy of a thousand total engineers(my guess would be 500), including those who are designing satellites and ConnX software (who will be very busy indeed).  Designing rockets is a very small piece of what the engineering team does.

Bad guess.  Of the 3,297 employees listed on LinkedIn, 1,709 have "engineer" in their titles.  Given that there are 6,000 employees at SpaceX, I stand by my "thousands of engineers" question.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 04:05 PM by RedLineTrain »

Online AncientU

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #97 on: 04/11/2017 05:48 PM »
EM stated that about 5% of the design team was working on Raptor/ITS, but that would rise to 95% (or the vast majority -- don't have the quote) once Falcon work is finished.  The numbers mentioned, I think, was $5M now, implying the design team costs about $100M/year... which is 400-500 engineers.

By your numbers, half of the 6.000 strong organization will be working on 'designing' Raptor/ITS next year.
I still don't think so.

Having engineer in your title doesn't mean you are idle if nothing new is being designed.  I didn't make the distinction clearly, that's certain.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 05:50 PM by AncientU »
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Offline JamesH65

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #98 on: 04/11/2017 06:51 PM »
Why are you referencing my post? I said nothing about the quantities need to start operating. I was writing about a dedicated reusable US specifically for launching CommX satellites.
yep, if CommX can operate for 2-3 years with a much smaller number of satellites your point is mute, unless Raptor is a complete bust.
4400 satellites requirement is a product of requirements to operate with high masking angles (urban canyons), huge throughput with CPE equipment hopping to the least loaded satellite in view. Not the type of requirements for the first few years.
Masking angle is the key. If customers are required to install only with the tallest obstruction at 30 degrees from the horizon, a few hundred satellites is all that's required for worldwide coverage. The 4400 number means CommX ultimately wants seamless coverage something around 70 degrees masking angle.

Iridium operates with just 66 satellites active plus spares. Don't they have worldwide coverage ? Whats the logic in needing 4400 satellites instead.
Obviously the orbits are designed differently, a little lower. Different inclination too. But that doesn't justify a requirement for 70x as many satellites.
The fact is like I said you and many other fixate on that big great number and those understand what that means, and just repeat that blindly.
I once thought E=mc² was everything. I then found that was a simplification for a much more complex equation. Same thing here.

SpaceX isn't going to spoon feed you the nuances in their constellation design as its proprietary information but those that understand details know what that likely means. The true final details will be explained in small trickles of information once it starts early operations.

Like I said, by the time SpaceX needs to launch thousands of CommX birds, new boosters should be available.

F9/FH will be retired a few years after SpaceX has any fully raptor based full reuse rocket. Be it a massive ITS rocket, a mini ITS rocket or a Falcon 9 style rocket on steroids with Raptor first and second stage.

With a fully reusable rocket, once it makes the first flight, its a matter of a few months to accomplish perhaps 20 launches to show everybody the rocket is just about as safe as F9/FH. Avoiding the complexity of side boosters. 13 successful launches and you're automatically certified with USAF. The fact its a bigger rocket that consumes more fuel is offset by using methane as fuel (far cheaper than RP1), using engines that can refly at least 100x between refurbs, and the much higher ISP, the huge performance means re-entry burns can provide much better protection from heating to the first stage and the 2nd stage can have some limited aerodynamic lift capacity so it can stay as high as possible for as long as possible to limit peak heating.

As someone posted above, it appears the FCC document says 800 to start with. 800. Over ten times as many as Iridium. This is a LEO constellation, very fast satellites, which means you need more of them.

So lets say 20 per launch, that's 40 launches to get up and running. Lets assume the 2nd stage is $10M. So $400M expendable. That would pay for development of a custom stage, ready for the rest of the constellation.

That's going to take a lot of launches.

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #99 on: 04/11/2017 06:52 PM »
Judging from the SpaceX jobs adverts about 40% of recruits are engineers, 10% manager/supervisor, 40% technician /specialist and 10% other.

Of the engineers about half are designing the rockets, engines, Dragons and satellites, with the other half doing production, test, GSE, etc. engineering.

I'm reasonably sure the proportions have not changed a lot in the last few years, so perhaps 1,200 design engineers at SpaceX, of which maybe 800 could be moved to work on ITS at some stage.

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