Author Topic: When will F9/F9H be retired?  (Read 39954 times)

Offline alang

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #120 on: 08/15/2017 11:14 PM »
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.

Thats a quite well observed point. Thank you for the perspective. SpaceX is not yet close to emergency mode but the AMOS failure shifted the short term priorities around a lot. Unless they get donated a ton of money, SpaceX will not be able to fast-roll ITS.

And so will the next one

Not being so great at parsing your cryptic observations it took me a while to realise that you meant the next failure.

It occurs to me that this is a real barrier to new entrants: you've started flying payloads after a an expensive start, you've now got a large payroll but you lose occasional payloads which cause a six month gap before the next launch. The trouble is you can't do more launches to get more data because you have to go through a fault analysis on the ground to satisfy the regulator during which time money is fleeing the company at a pace even faster than when you first started.
My question is:does it have to be six months for a vehicle that just carries cargo? Would it many any sense to launch a more instrumented vehicle earlier to gather more data? Would the FAA ever give a permit for such a purpose?
It occurs to me that it wouldn't take many failures to put SpaceX out of business and that's not just about insurance risks, it's also about what a regulator allows.
Would it be any different if they didn't plan to launch people on the falcon 9 ?

Offline Mader Levap

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #121 on: 08/15/2017 11:53 PM »
We don't know how much ITS is going to cost to operate. We don't even know how much most current rockets cost to operate. There's no way to say definitively if it will be competitive or not, at this point.

But... if SpaceX hits their cost goals for ITS (a big if), it will be cheaper per launch than ANY other currently operational orbital rocket. The point isn't that it could obsolete every rocket that could ever exist, only that it will obsolete every currently operational rocket (and all the ones that are likely to be operational in the next 5-10 years).

Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?
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Offline RotoSequence

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #122 on: 08/16/2017 12:26 AM »
We don't know how much ITS is going to cost to operate. We don't even know how much most current rockets cost to operate. There's no way to say definitively if it will be competitive or not, at this point.

But... if SpaceX hits their cost goals for ITS (a big if), it will be cheaper per launch than ANY other currently operational orbital rocket. The point isn't that it could obsolete every rocket that could ever exist, only that it will obsolete every currently operational rocket (and all the ones that are likely to be operational in the next 5-10 years).

Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?

It's not impossible. If a rocket is fully reusable for ten flights and costs 300 million dollars, it has an amortized cost of $30 million per launch. If it flies twenty times, the amortized cost is $15 million per launch. For sufficiently high flight numbers and sufficiently low refurbishment costs (a lofty and very difficult goal, to be sure), a big and expensive but fully reusable rocket could have a lower cost of operation than a small, inexpensive, and expendable or semi-expendable booster.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 12:30 AM by RotoSequence »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #123 on: 08/16/2017 12:31 AM »
We don't know how much ITS is going to cost to operate. We don't even know how much most current rockets cost to operate. There's no way to say definitively if it will be competitive or not, at this point.

But... if SpaceX hits their cost goals for ITS (a big if), it will be cheaper per launch than ANY other currently operational orbital rocket. The point isn't that it could obsolete every rocket that could ever exist, only that it will obsolete every currently operational rocket (and all the ones that are likely to be operational in the next 5-10 years).

Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?
sure, why not? Throwing away aerospace hardware is expensive. Fuel is cheap.
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Online envy887

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #124 on: 08/16/2017 01:17 AM »
We don't know how much ITS is going to cost to operate. We don't even know how much most current rockets cost to operate. There's no way to say definitively if it will be competitive or not, at this point.

But... if SpaceX hits their cost goals for ITS (a big if), it will be cheaper per launch than ANY other currently operational orbital rocket. The point isn't that it could obsolete every rocket that could ever exist, only that it will obsolete every currently operational rocket (and all the ones that are likely to be operational in the next 5-10 years).

Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?

The cheapest operational orbital commercial launch is the PSLV at about $20M a pop. None of the smallsat launchers are operational yet.

Online RoboGoofers

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #125 on: 08/16/2017 03:33 PM »
just some rough estimate on launch price:
the original ITS presentation listed 6700 t for propellant mass for the booster. assuming 1000 l per ton and combined O2/methane cost somewhere between $1-3/liter it'd be $~6.7-20 million to fuel the booster. 1950 t propellant for the ship, so another $~2-6 million for the ship.

so somewhere between $8-26 million for the original ITS. ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Original was 300 t to LEO, so $20k-66k/t. Using same simple scaling factor is $15-50k/t on ITSy

Of course that's not including manufacture, development, profit, overhead, etc. As a rough estimate equivalent for that, a Boeing 777 is approx. $320 million (what google told me). Boeing has a lot of potential customers though, so i'd double that number for SpaceX, at least (say, $700 million).

Now, they have no way of knowing how many launches ITSy will be able to make, but for accounting purposes maybe they'll want to pay off the rocket in 10 launches, so $70 million/launch

so ~$80-100 million per launch? maybe they'd charge 150% to customers, so $120-150 million? $530-666k/t LEO (~225 tonnes for ITSy)

So 4x the mass of FH at maybe double the price. I would think that's cheapest per mass price, but i don't know. definitely not cheapest per launch.

All of this was back of envelope so let me know if you get different results.

Offline hkultala

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #126 on: 08/16/2017 03:40 PM »
ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Where do you base this your "75% the size" number?

Online RoboGoofers

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #127 on: 08/16/2017 03:53 PM »
ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Where do you base this your "75% the size" number?

The only number we have is 9 meter diameter tank, so 75%.

also, i should have looked a couple slides further in the ITS presentation:
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 03:58 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline guckyfan

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #128 on: 08/16/2017 04:11 PM »
All of this was back of envelope so let me know if you get different results.

The numbers you used are for 5-6 orbital launches. I get cost ~$3,5 million/launch. That's for the full size ITS. The subscale may not be much lower.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #129 on: 08/16/2017 04:39 PM »
also, i should have looked a couple slides further in the ITS presentation:

To quote the figure of merit from the presentation:  propellant costs are assumed to be $168/mt, or almost an order of magnitude less than the lower bound of your assumption.

That said, The Space Review quotes methane costs of $1.35 per kg, or $1,350/mt.  Of course, would have to do the calculations for a blended LOX/methane price.  For the sake of argument, let's assume LOX is free, and with a 4:1 mixture ratio, we would divide the $1,350 by 5, for a blended rate of $270/mt.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2893/1

Long story short, with LOX/methane, your propellant costs per flight are minimal, even with big rockets.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 04:58 PM by RedLineTrain »

Online RoboGoofers

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #130 on: 08/16/2017 05:09 PM »
also, i should have looked a couple slides further in the ITS presentation:

To quote the figure of merit from the presentation:  propellant costs are assumed to be $168/mt, or almost an order of magnitude less than the lower bound of your assumption.

That said, The Space Review quotes methane costs of $1.35 per kg, or $1,350/mt.  Of course, would have to do the calculations for a blended LOX/methane price.  For the sake of argument, let's assume LOX is free, and with a 4:1 mixture ratio, we would divide the $1,350 by 5, for a blended rate of $270/mt.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2893/1

Long story short, with LOX/methane, your propellant costs per flight are minimal, even with big rockets.

yeah that's the conclusion i come to. Amortization and profit will be a much higher percentage of the launch cost. Amortization over 1000 launches is a great aspirational number but would have to be proven out by a lot of much more expensive launches amortized over fewer launches.
 
I didn't want to pull this thread off topic, but just wanted to have some estimates for ITS/ITSy launch prices to compare to.

Now i'm starting to think, in a future where everything goes the way spaceX hopes, that the launch cost savings to develop a F9 replacement may not be enough to justify the effort. That would push the F9 retirement date out a lot further.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 05:12 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline hkultala

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #131 on: 08/16/2017 05:45 PM »
ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Where do you base this your "75% the size" number?

The only number we have is 9 meter diameter tank, so 75%.


75% diameter does not mean 75% volume, or 75% mass. It means much less.



« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 05:46 PM by hkultala »

Online ZachF

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #132 on: 08/16/2017 05:56 PM »
also, i should have looked a couple slides further in the ITS presentation:

To quote the figure of merit from the presentation:  propellant costs are assumed to be $168/mt, or almost an order of magnitude less than the lower bound of your assumption.

That said, The Space Review quotes methane costs of $1.35 per kg, or $1,350/mt.  Of course, would have to do the calculations for a blended LOX/methane price.  For the sake of argument, let's assume LOX is free, and with a 4:1 mixture ratio, we would divide the $1,350 by 5, for a blended rate of $270/mt.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2893/1

Long story short, with LOX/methane, your propellant costs per flight are minimal, even with big rockets.

That Methane price is way high...

I remember researching prices and the findings were (roughly) this:

Spot Natural Gas prices are only $3 per million BTU, which works out to around $150/tonne. (50,000 BTU per KG for NG)
LNG spot price is around $4.50 per TCF, which works out to around $220/tonne
Natural gas is mostly methane, but methane costs a bit more.
LOX is only around $100/tonne
Kerosene is around $2/gallon, which works out to around $660/tonne, RP1 costs a bit more.
Most sources seemed to put Hydrogen at around $5-10 per Kg, or $5,000-$10,000 per tonne.

Ratios are 5-7:1 for Hydrolox, 3.2-3.8:1 for Methalox, and 2.2-2.8:1 for Kerolox.

>$1,000/tonne for Hydrolox
~$500/tonne for Kerolox
~$200/tonne for Methalox (similar to quoted $168/tonne SX price)

Methalox is dirt cheap, fueling an ITSy should be in the ~$700,000 dollar range if it is a ~4,000 tonne rocket.
Fueling a falcon 9 Is around $250,000 per Elon for 500 tonnes ($500 per ton)
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Online ZachF

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #133 on: 08/16/2017 05:58 PM »
ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Where do you base this your "75% the size" number?

The only number we have is 9 meter diameter tank, so 75%.


75% diameter does not mean 75% volume, or 75% mass. It means much less.

Yeah, If it's scaled down 75% in all dimensions, then 0.75 x 0.75 x 0.75 = 0.422

The final ITSy will probably be somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3rd the original size depending upon how long the decide to make it.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #134 on: 08/16/2017 06:56 PM »
ITSy is ~75% the size of ITS, so $6-20 million for one orbital launch.

Where do you base this your "75% the size" number?

The only number we have is 9 meter diameter tank, so 75%.


75% diameter does not mean 75% volume, or 75% mass. It means much less.

Yeah, If it's scaled down 75% in all dimensions, then 0.75 x 0.75 x 0.75 = 0.422

The final ITSy will probably be somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3rd the original size depending upon how long the decide to make it.
Yes 40% of capability but only 60% of price such that $/kg is higher on ITSy than ITS. In fact 50% greater than ITS.

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #135 on: 08/16/2017 07:10 PM »

Yes 40% of capability but only 60% of price such that $/kg is higher on ITSy than ITS. In fact 50% greater than ITS.

yeah i know, the 75% is a bad scaling factor. Might as well use the full ITS numbers since spaceX provided them. ITSy might only be a one-off testbed, after all.

« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 07:19 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #136 on: 08/16/2017 10:42 PM »

Yes 40% of capability but only 60% of price such that $/kg is higher on ITSy than ITS. In fact 50% greater than ITS.

yeah i know, the 75% is a bad scaling factor. Might as well use the full ITS numbers since spaceX provided them. ITSy might only be a one-off testbed, after all.
Nah. "One-off" fits too poorly with what Musk has said.
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Offline Mader Levap

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #137 on: 08/17/2017 05:40 PM »
Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?
It's not impossible. If a rocket is fully reusable for ten flights and costs 300 million dollars, it has an amortized cost of $30 million per launch.
You are ignoring other costs. Ground ops during launch, processing between launches, fuel and the like. If rockets became very cheap, those costs start to be significant.

If it flies twenty times, the amortized cost is $15 million per launch. For sufficiently high flight numbers and sufficiently low refurbishment costs (a lofty and very difficult goal, to be sure), a big and expensive but fully reusable rocket could have a lower cost of operation than a small, inexpensive, and expendable or semi-expendable booster.
But I DO agree expendables will be dead in water (actually, they already are).

What I contest is notion that ITS will make any and all other rockets obsolete. "Any and all" includes reusables, you know.

I don't have even to point in direction of Bezos' newest toy, just common sense that says there will be still many variants and types of rockets out there with or without ITS. I will repeat it ad nauseam: people do not use 18-wheelers for everything.

People wil not use ITS or ITS-like rockets for everything either.

sure, why not? Throwing away aerospace hardware is expensive. Fuel is cheap.
Do you seriously think cost of fuel is only cost here?  ::)

The cheapest operational orbital commercial launch is the PSLV at about $20M a pop. None of the smallsat launchers are operational yet.
AFAIK Dniepr and the like were for few mln $.
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Online envy887

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #138 on: 08/18/2017 11:46 PM »
Uh, you actually mean "cheapest per kg", not "per launch", right? Surely you do not seriously claim single launch of ITS will be cheaper than few milion $ (cheapest orbital rocket avaliable)?
It's not impossible. If a rocket is fully reusable for ten flights and costs 300 million dollars, it has an amortized cost of $30 million per launch.
You are ignoring other costs. Ground ops during launch, processing between launches, fuel and the like. If rockets became very cheap, those costs start to be significant.

If it flies twenty times, the amortized cost is $15 million per launch. For sufficiently high flight numbers and sufficiently low refurbishment costs (a lofty and very difficult goal, to be sure), a big and expensive but fully reusable rocket could have a lower cost of operation than a small, inexpensive, and expendable or semi-expendable booster.
But I DO agree expendables will be dead in water (actually, they already are).

What I contest is notion that ITS will make any and all other rockets obsolete. "Any and all" includes reusables, you know.

I don't have even to point in direction of Bezos' newest toy, just common sense that says there will be still many variants and types of rockets out there with or without ITS. I will repeat it ad nauseam: people do not use 18-wheelers for everything.

People wil not use ITS or ITS-like rockets for everything either.

sure, why not? Throwing away aerospace hardware is expensive. Fuel is cheap.
Do you seriously think cost of fuel is only cost here?  ::)

The cheapest operational orbital commercial launch is the PSLV at about $20M a pop. None of the smallsat launchers are operational yet.
AFAIK Dniepr and the like were for few mln $.

Taking a 18 wheeler around the block is a poor analogy. People don't use powerboats or Cessnas for intercontinental cargo or transport, they wait for a cargo ship or a wide-body jetliner.

And Dnepr is not operational. Rokot is barely operational and over $20M anyway.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: When will F9/F9H be retired?
« Reply #139 on: 08/19/2017 04:50 PM »
For your amusement. The GAO have an estimate of the launch cost of the current launch vehicles on page 35 of the linked report. The F9 launch cost per kilogram is impressive even before you add booster reuse to the mix. THe F9 will be in service far longer than anyone expected because it is so cheap IMO.

http://www.gao.gov/assets/690/686613.pdf
« Last Edit: 08/19/2017 08:41 PM by gongora »

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