Author Topic: Business Case For New Glenn  (Read 24534 times)

Offline DnA915

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Business Case For New Glenn
« on: 02/10/2018 01:38 AM »
In light of the success of the Falcon Heavy and its soon commercial debut, what is the primary business case for the New Glenn rocket? I was trying to get a good grasp on the capability differences, but its a bit hard because the listings are not always up front about expendable vs. non expendable modes. From my reading, it seems like their payload capability is very close. With both being reusable, but  NewGlenn being much bigger, it seems like it would be easy for SpaceX, who is already far ahead on testing/manufacturing, to put significant price presser on Blue Origin. Is there any large benefit of the New Glenn with the exception of the larger payload faring?
« Last Edit: 02/10/2018 02:54 PM by DnA915 »

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #1 on: 02/10/2018 02:19 AM »
Yes, but will a single core really be cheaper from a launch (not development) standpoint? It seems like a significantly larger rocket and with a good deal of falcon heavy simply being reused Block 5 falcon 9's, it just seems like it would be very expensive to try and compete for the same market. Obviously, that is not a real worry if Bezos doesn't mind being in the red for a while.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #2 on: 02/10/2018 02:46 AM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #3 on: 02/10/2018 03:05 AM »
FH is able to basically play everywhere New Glenn plays until they add full reuse for the second stage and a third high energy stage.

New Glenn would potentially give SpaceX a run for the money, even if SpaceX made their kerolox stage reusable. That's why (in my opinion) the idea to slow down and not pursue BFR right away would be dumb. New Glenn could eat their lunch if they didn't develop BFR.
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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #4 on: 02/10/2018 03:06 AM »
If Blue can make a successful reusable second stage I think that will be much more competitive in the commercial marketplace. A fully reusable New Glenn should be cheaper than Falcon Heavy or BFR, giving Blue the chance to capture a significant share of the market.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #5 on: 02/10/2018 03:09 AM »
If Blue can make a successful reusable second stage I think that will be much more competitive in the commercial marketplace. A fully reusable New Glenn should be cheaper than Falcon Heavy or BFR, giving Blue the chance to capture a significant share of the market.
I doubt a fully reusable New Glenn would be cheaper than BFR. BFR is RTLS and can do large GTO payloads with full reuse. New Glenn doesn't have the performance for either of those. The launch cradle concept could help make BFR much cheaper than even a fully reusable New Glenn.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #6 on: 02/10/2018 03:27 AM »
In light of the success of the Falcon Heavy and it soon commercial debut, what is the primary business case for the New Glenn rocket?

If you are looking for a business case, don't. Blue Origin is 100% owned by Jeff Bezos, and he is willing to put $1B a year into Blue Origin if needed. As to the goal of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying:

Quote
Make access to space at much lower cost so that thousands of entrepreneurs can do amazing and interesting things, and take us into the next era.

So he is taking a very long-term view, like Elon Musk.

Quote
I was trying to get a good grasp on the capability differences, but its a bit hard because the listings are now always up front about expendable vs. non expendable modes. From my reading, it seems like their payload capability is very close. With both being reusable, but  NewGlenn being much bigger, it seems like it would be easy for SpaceX, who is already far ahead on testing/manufacturing, to put significant price presser on Blue Origin. Is there any large benefit of the New Glenn with the exception of the larger payload faring?

I would not compare New Glenn to Falcon Heavy. Blue Origin did not design New Glenn to compete with any particular launcher, it was designed to get them into the launch service market. Of course other launch providers already offer comparable services, and that's OK, because launch customers want to encourage competition. And we've seen that Blue Origin has already booked some launches, so customers are willing to help providers like Blue Origin and SpaceX who want to lower the cost to access space, since that help launch customers ultimately.
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 Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #7 on: 02/10/2018 04:46 AM »
I doubt a fully reusable New Glenn would be cheaper than BFR. BFR is RTLS and can do large GTO payloads with full reuse. New Glenn doesn't have the performance for either of those. The launch cradle concept could help make BFR much cheaper than even a fully reusable New Glenn.

BFR has 37 engines to look after and is much bigger, meaning its going to cost more. Current NG GTO is 13 t. That's way more than the market needs. How much does RTLS save compared to a ship landing? Perhaps only a few $100,000.

https://www.blueorigin.com/new-glenn

I estimate the expendable methalox stage has a dry mass of 6.4 t and a propellant mass of 147.5 t for a delta-V of 7867 m/s and exhaust speed of 3656 m/s. The initial mass is 13+6.4+147.5 = 166.9 t. For the same delta-v a hydrolox stage with an exhaust speed of 4444 m/s has a final mass of 28.4 t and propellant mass of 138.5 t. Assuming an expendable hydrolox stage and three BE-3 engines (two vacuum engines to get into orbit and one sea level engine for landing), that gives a dry mass of 10.9 t leaving a payload mass of 28.4-10.9 = 17.5 t (a 35% increase in payload mass). If the payload mass is reduced to 6 t, that leaves 11.5 t available to add a heat shield, legs and landing propellant. The reusable second stage mass at payload separation is 10.9+11.5 = 22.4 t. Might be possible! :-)
« Last Edit: 02/10/2018 04:48 AM by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #8 on: 02/10/2018 06:11 AM »
With full reuse, New Glenn would have a payload of about zero to GTO.
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Online WBY1984

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #9 on: 02/10/2018 06:12 AM »
There are no realistic, regular payloads that FH will fly that NG can't. NG is smaller and less complex. New Glenn will destroy FH once they get it working. We have no idea how long that will take because it rockets rarely, if ever, get developed on time. Nor does that development process stop with the first launch. For now, I won't consider reusable upper stages for the Falcon family and New Glenn: both companies have enough on their plate as it is.

The more interesting question is perhaps NG vs F9 Block 5, and NG vs BFR.

If the GEO satellites don't grow much bigger, the smaller, well proven, high flight rate F9 could concievably undercut NG. It certainly should for LEO flights. NG could counter with rideshares, but I'm not clear how this competition balances out.

I don't care what Musk said at IAC 2017, NG will undercut BFR in getting comm sats into orbit. I keep fearing that BFR is a space cadet fantasy. BFR is massive, complex, and oversized - no satellite company is thinking of building a spacecraft so big that it can only rely on one vehicle to launch. Large military satellites aren't common. Human spaceflight isn't common either. BFR will need to launch comm sats at a profit if Spacex is to have a future? The only way it beats NG is by multiple rideshares. Matching payloads to orbits isn't easy, but Ariane has managed. Putting more than two into BFR makes it even harder (could Spacex come up with a GTO stage for the BFR cargo bay?) More complexity, cost, points of failure etc...

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #10 on: 02/10/2018 06:17 AM »
RTLS saves a whole bunch of time and lack of a need for the existence of the big recovery ship to begin with. The launch cradle reduces integration time and allows extremely fast turnaround.

Being larger also means ability to add margin or reduce wear on the heatshield by braking propulsively. More and smaller engines means you get further down the learning curve and have more redundancy, both of which can reduce costs and allow greater time between inspections.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #11 on: 02/10/2018 06:29 AM »
Oh, and a big one: BFR will have integrated, recovered payload fairing. That in and of itself could cost Blue $5-10 million, more than the margin cost of launching BFR. The fairing is huge, so probably weighs about 8 tons. Recovering that has never been hinted at & likely wouldn't be practical. BFR's approach vastly simplifies recovery and integration of the fairing while also protecting the payload adapter during entry.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2018 06:34 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #12 on: 02/10/2018 03:02 PM »
I don't care what Musk said at IAC 2017, NG will undercut BFR in getting comm sats into orbit. I keep fearing that BFR is a space cadet fantasy. BFR is massive, complex, and oversized - no satellite company is thinking of building a spacecraft so big that it can only rely on one vehicle to launch. Large military satellites aren't common. Human spaceflight isn't common either. BFR will need to launch comm sats at a profit if Spacex is to have a future? The only way it beats NG is by multiple rideshares. Matching payloads to orbits isn't easy, but Ariane has managed. Putting more than two into BFR makes it even harder (could Spacex come up with a GTO stage for the BFR cargo bay?) More complexity, cost, points of failure etc...

I think the point of BFR is that its refuel-able in orbit and does what no other ship can do as far as travel within our solar system. NG will not even scratch BFR's capability if they pull it off. From a satellite point of view, the new strategy seems to concentrate resources and reduce how much hardware they are working on. If they really do hit full reusability, no other non reusable ships seem to make sense. Would be crazy to see BFR deploying it max payload of CubeSats!

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #13 on: 02/10/2018 03:56 PM »
When did Blue Origin ever say that their S2 would be reusable?

Stages mentioned as 'initially expendable' here, which implies that they will late be reused:

https://i.redd.it/htkas6gr60ny.jpg
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Offline Exastro

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #14 on: 02/10/2018 04:46 PM »
Quote
Stages mentioned as 'initially expendable' here, which implies that they will late be reused:

https://i.redd.it/htkas6gr60ny.jpg

'Initially expendable' only suggests they might become reusable eventually, I think.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #15 on: 02/10/2018 04:47 PM »
There are no realistic, regular payloads that FH will fly that NG can't. NG is smaller and less complex. New Glenn will destroy FH once they get it working. We have no idea how long that will take because it rockets rarely, if ever, get developed on time. Nor does that development process stop with the first launch. For now, I won't consider reusable upper stages for the Falcon family and New Glenn: both companies have enough on their plate as it is.

The more interesting question is perhaps NG vs F9 Block 5, and NG vs BFR.

If the GEO satellites don't grow much bigger, the smaller, well proven, high flight rate F9 could concievably undercut NG. It certainly should for LEO flights. NG could counter with rideshares, but I'm not clear how this competition balances out.

I don't care what Musk said at IAC 2017, NG will undercut BFR in getting comm sats into orbit. I keep fearing that BFR is a space cadet fantasy. BFR is massive, complex, and oversized - no satellite company is thinking of building a spacecraft so big that it can only rely on one vehicle to launch. Large military satellites aren't common. Human spaceflight isn't common either. BFR will need to launch comm sats at a profit if Spacex is to have a future? The only way it beats NG is by multiple rideshares. Matching payloads to orbits isn't easy, but Ariane has managed. Putting more than two into BFR makes it even harder (could Spacex come up with a GTO stage for the BFR cargo bay?) More complexity, cost, points of failure etc...

The basic difference it that NG is being built for the existing launch business, BFR isn't.  NG should do well against any existing or planned launcher if Blue can get the launch tempo and flow efficient -- they are not only competing against the hardware of others, they are competing with the overall launch/land/relaunch program and its cumulative cost.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #16 on: 02/10/2018 05:03 PM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
When did Blue Origin ever say that their S2 would be reusable?

If Blue can make a successful reusable second stage I think that will be much more competitive in the commercial marketplace. A fully reusable New Glenn should be cheaper than Falcon Heavy or BFR, giving Blue the chance to capture a significant share of the market.
I doubt a fully reusable New Glenn would be cheaper than BFR. BFR is RTLS and can do large GTO payloads with full reuse. New Glenn doesn't have the performance for either of those. The launch cradle concept could help make BFR much cheaper than even a fully reusable New Glenn.
The launch cradle could end up being a disadvantage. It could cause significant damage to the pad on every landing, and if even 1/100 landings fail, that's a huge additional cost of rebuilding the pad many times to consider. I don't see how New Glenn couldn't do large GTO payloads when its reusable capability is already significantly higher than FH.
BFR in general depends on high reliability all around. Launch cradle isn't without some costs, but the point is to get BFR reliability up to airline levels, which includes landing. So long term not necessarily a problem.

(I also think this makes much less of a difference than people think... I mean, a landing failure could take out New Glenn's landing ship, too, and the cost for that may be about the same.)
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Offline WindnWar

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #17 on: 02/10/2018 05:20 PM »
Until we actually see reusable specs for New Glenn's second stage I think the only rational thing to compare is expendable modes. Currently New Glenn will debut with an expendable, very large second stage and a very large fairing that is likely expended as well.

Falcon Heavy expends its second stage and for now it's fairing. I think the cost difference between Falcons stage 2 and fairing to Blue's stage 2 and fairing are the numbers to look at. It's highly unlikely that the Falcon second stage and fairing combined cost more than just NG's second stage. So long as reuse of both rockets first stages remains high that's where your price difference is going to be until there are payloads being lifted that begin to require more expendable flights from Falcon Heavy. Even there initially those flights could be done on boosters nearing end of service life or before they require a major refurb.

So until payloads exceed Falcon Heavy full first stage reuse, they have the cost advantage until Blue can pull off second stage reuse and we'd need to see what it's performance is after that. If in order to fully reuse the second stage you then need the third stage, you would then need to compare the cost of that third stage to Falcon Heavy's expended parts.

By the time that happens, I would think BFR should actually be flying, but that's all a guess. For now it's Falcon Heavy vs New Glenn with expended second stages for both and possibly expending fairings for one or both depending on how reuse pans out.

Online woods170

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #18 on: 02/10/2018 05:27 PM »
Quote
Stages mentioned as 'initially expendable' here, which implies that they will late be reused:

https://i.redd.it/htkas6gr60ny.jpg

'Initially expendable' only suggests they might become reusable eventually, I think.
Precisely. Remember, SpaceX initially proposed recovering and reusing the upper stage of Falcon 9. Now they have turned away from doing so. BO might just as easily change that word "initially" to "permanently" with regards to their upper stage.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #19 on: 02/10/2018 06:00 PM »
If it is FH v NG then we need to be comparing FH 45t to LEO or 13t to GTO configurations. In both cases I suspect centre core and 2nd stage are not recoverable.

SpaceX has to recover $500m of R&D cost some how. Blue don't need to recover a cent of R&D costs.

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #20 on: 02/10/2018 06:14 PM »
SpaceX has to recover $500m of R&D cost some how. Blue don't need to recover a cent of R&D costs.

I don't understand your logic here. Its not like SpaceX is operating in the red. They are making a profit on their current technology and using the profit to improve. BO is still needing huge cash injections to stay afloat and has never even had a paid or orbital flight. I am not sure what you mean that they don't need to make a cent unless you just mean that Bezos is willing to burn cash for a very long time.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #21 on: 02/10/2018 06:28 PM »
Elon has to account to its investors, they will want to see a return on the $500m.

 Jeff wants to reduce cost of space access and is willing to throw money at it. Blue vehicles still need to be profitable once flying but Jeff may not be looking at recovering his R&D investment.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #22 on: 02/10/2018 06:31 PM »
SpaceX has to recover $500m of R&D cost some how. Blue don't need to recover a cent of R&D costs.

I don't understand your logic here. Its not like SpaceX is operating in the red.

Actually, they had some language on their website about being cash flow positive or whatever that has since been removed. Makes you wonder. They likely made money in 2017, but they could have easily lost money in 2016.

Elon has to account to its investors, they will want to see a return on the $500m.

Elon has to account to the majority of shareholders, which is just himself. IIRC, he has ~55% of shares and ~75% of voting shares.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2018 06:34 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline Pipcard

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #23 on: 02/11/2018 04:59 AM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
How cheaper, exactly? This is something I've been wondering ever since NG was unveiled.

Online woods170

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #24 on: 02/11/2018 10:37 AM »
Elon has to account to its investors, they will want to see a return on the $500m.

 Jeff wants to reduce cost of space access and is willing to throw money at it. Blue vehicles still need to be profitable once flying but Jeff may not be looking at recovering his R&D investment.

That $500 million was coughed up, for the most part, by SpaceX itself. Courtesy of its business of flying payloads to orbit on Falcon 9. So, it is in fact SpaceX itself that will want to recover its own investment.

And no, Blue vehicles don't need to be profitable once flying. With the money available from Jeff's personal wealth New Glenn only needs to break-even at worst. At best Blue can sustain losses for a long period of time.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2018 10:38 AM by woods170 »

Offline alexterrell

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #25 on: 02/11/2018 11:04 AM »
One advantage New Glenn has is that it's being designed from scratch with first stage re-usability in mind. I don't think Musk planned that when he launched the first Falcon 9.

Likewise with hindsight SpaceX would have gone to methane and a larger diameter core. In effect, I think New Glenn is probably what Musk would build now if he wanted a 30-60 ton launcher.

For some customers a critical advantage of New Glenn is the larger payload fairing - 7m in diameter. I was thinking there could be a use for a 3MW solar tug. Packaging that into a Falcon Heavy might be a challenge - easier into a New Glenn. The only other package requiring diameter is a Mars heat shield.

So New Glenn is a new model and should have advantages. Against that, Falcon is an old model so is tried and tested, with amortised costs. SpaceX's strategy will be to milk Falcon 9 and H for profit, and not spend more money on development. That goes into BFR.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #26 on: 02/11/2018 03:36 PM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
When did Blue Origin ever say that their S2 would be reusable?

If Blue can make a successful reusable second stage I think that will be much more competitive in the commercial marketplace. A fully reusable New Glenn should be cheaper than Falcon Heavy or BFR, giving Blue the chance to capture a significant share of the market.
I doubt a fully reusable New Glenn would be cheaper than BFR. BFR is RTLS and can do large GTO payloads with full reuse. New Glenn doesn't have the performance for either of those. The launch cradle concept could help make BFR much cheaper than even a fully reusable New Glenn.
The launch cradle could end up being a disadvantage. It could cause significant damage to the pad on every landing, and if even 1/100 landings fail, that's a huge additional cost of rebuilding the pad many times to consider. I don't see how New Glenn couldn't do large GTO payloads when its reusable capability is already significantly higher than FH.
BFR in general depends on high reliability all around. Launch cradle isn't without some costs, but the point is to get BFR reliability up to airline levels, which includes landing. So long term not necessarily a problem.

(I also think this makes much less of a difference than people think... I mean, a landing failure could take out New Glenn's landing ship, too, and the cost for that may be about the same.)
BFR is much larger than New Glenn, and a landing ship is not the same as a launch pad, where an accident could halt operations for a year or more.

There is no way BFR will be up to "airline levels" of reliability, especially with the absence of a launch abort system. Airliners are more than three orders of magnitude more safe than even ULA rockets, let alone SpaceX ones. The people peddling this nonsense do not know what they are talking about.
Oh, it's an ambitious target, and will take literally decades to get there.

But the people "who know what they're talking about" said barge landing was impossible. Of course, SpaceX does that routinely and New Glenn baselines it.

As far as using ULA as the standard for maximum achievable reliability... I remember when folks scoffed at SpaceX achieving ULA's flight rate. Last year, SpaceX more than doubled it, and this was enabled in part by reuse. SpaceX and Blue Origin, by being able to fly much more often and by getting the vehicles back for inspection, will be able to crush ULA's reliability record.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2018 03:39 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #27 on: 02/11/2018 03:57 PM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
How cheaper, exactly? This is something I've been wondering ever since NG was unveiled.

The vehicle is baselined for 100 reuses. It has simpler recovery than Falcon Heavy, which requires landing three stages, with one on a barge. LNG is also a cheaper fuel that is easier for reuse and allows autogenous pressurization, which removes the need for helium bottles. There are fewer engines than Falcon Heavy which reduces complexity. The overall reduction of complexity will make it easier to implement operational reusability and a booster that is easier to inspect between uses.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #28 on: 02/11/2018 04:04 PM »
Elon has to account to the majority of shareholders, which is just himself. IIRC, he has ~55% of shares and ~75% of voting shares.
The minority shareholders MIGHT do some jawboning about no returns, and that MIGHT impact future investments. But
a) Steve Jurvetson gets it and he's been involved in securing financing for a while, so there might not be much jawboning
b) Future investments, if sheperded by the likes of Jurvetson, might not be impacted much
c) SpaceX might not need any future investments

So while SpaceX can't count on 1B a year from a sugar daddy, it may be in good shape. Which means Blue can't dawdle forever. The business case for NG will eventually evaporate

One advantage New Glenn has is that it's being designed from scratch with first stage re-usability in mind. I don't think Musk planned that when he launched the first Falcon 9. 

I disagree, the first F9s had provisions for parachutes. Granted, SpaceX pivoted, but it's not quite as cut and dry as not planned. SpaceX pivots a lot. They are not like incumbents in other markets that Amazon ousted because they were complacent. So the NG business case needs to take into account that SpaceX will nimbly react to whatever Blue does.
"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 woods170

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #29 on: 02/11/2018 05:24 PM »
Elon has to account to the majority of shareholders, which is just himself. IIRC, he has ~55% of shares and ~75% of voting shares.
The minority shareholders MIGHT do some jawboning about no returns, and that MIGHT impact future investments.
Most of the minority shareholders in SpaceX, other than Jurvetson and Google, are SpaceX employees. I don't think they would very upset about no returns, other than the awesome jobs they have.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #30 on: 02/11/2018 05:37 PM »
Atlas V has had near misses, it's not statistically valid to treat a rocket that has flown once (and successfully) as having an expected reliability of 100%. Falcon 9 just needs to exceed Atlas V's current success streak. But anyway, there will come a time when SpaceX and Blue Origin fly hundreds of times in a row without failure. So yeah, I think even by your standard, SpaceX and Blue Origin will crush ULA's reliability record. DOesnt have to be with Falcon 9, could very well be with BFR and New Glenn.
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Offline joek

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #31 on: 02/11/2018 05:37 PM »
SpaceX has to recover $500m of R&D cost some how. Blue don't need to recover a cent of R&D costs.
Jeff wants to reduce cost of space access and is willing to throw money at it. Blue vehicles still need to be profitable once flying but Jeff may not be looking at recovering his R&D investment.

Last I heard Bezos was not running a charity.  You could consider the equity provided by Bezos to Blue (or Musk to SpaceX) charity, but I suspect their balance sheets would show otherwise.

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #32 on: 02/11/2018 05:41 PM »
Most of the minority shareholders in SpaceX, other than Jurvetson and Google, are SpaceX employees. I don't think they would very upset about no returns, other than the awesome jobs they have.

One also remember that Elon stated his entire goal of gaining wealth was to get to mars. He just got a deal from Tesla that would make him the richest man alive if he meets some very steep growth goals. Tesla is basically his ability to finance beyond any SpaceX revenue and I think gives him a very good way to maintain control of SpaceX despite needs for cash.

Offline joek

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #33 on: 02/11/2018 05:46 PM »
Flight rate is not the same as reliability. Falcon 9 would need something like 250 more perfect launches in a row to match the reliability of Atlas V. And the only reason I bring up ULA is that they are currently the most reliable, and even then it's still far worse than airliners. Blue Origin hasn't flown their vehicle enough to know whether or not it will be reliable. Even rockets like Ariane V are slipping up big time lately.

Sorry, not getting that.  Please explain the basis for why "250 more perfect launches in a row" are required "to match the reliability of Atlas V".  That is more than Atlas V has ever launched (and will likely ever launch).

Offline joek

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #34 on: 02/11/2018 06:07 PM »
Falcon 9 has already failed several more times than Atlas V has.

Hmmm.... "several more times" seems to be a bit vague and a bit of a stretch.  At the risk of going down the debate "failure" vs. "partial failure" vs. "partial success" vs. whatever...

Seems we are into fractional definitions of "failure".  Again, where does the assertion-requirement that "250 more perfect launches in a row" come from?  On its face that is absurd given that there have been only ~75 Atlas V  launches.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2018 06:09 PM by joek »

Offline joek

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #35 on: 02/11/2018 06:31 PM »
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:
1 in 75 = 3 in 225
225 - 49 = 176
176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.

So now we're down to 176 F9 successes vs. 250?  What changed?

Also interesting that you appear to interpret success-fail of Atlas V optimistically and F9 pessimistically.

Not to mention the simplistic statistical interpretation.  Do you seriously believe that is a correct interpretation?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #36 on: 02/11/2018 07:19 PM »
What has Atlas V versus F9 launch success rate to do with thread title. NB there are other threads where this has and can be debated.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #37 on: 02/11/2018 08:16 PM »
NG will not be competing with BFR. NA will compete with BFR. However NG should wipe the floor with FH and F9 with large volume payloads that will fit inside NG's 7m dia. fairing which will not fit in FH's and F9's 5.2m dia. fairing. So the business case for NG is in launching large volume payloads which will not fit in any other launchers. However this will be a short window until BFR becomes available. NG's business case may well collapse when BFR enters service so BO will need to get NA dev. ASAP to stay competitive with SpaceX. Perhaps BO like SpaceX with their Falcon family will see NG merely as a stepping stone to NA and replace NG with NA after just a few years service.

Offline MaxTeranous

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #38 on: 02/11/2018 10:56 PM »
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:
1 in 75 = 3 in 225
225 - 49 = 176
176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.

So now we're down to 176 F9 successes vs. 250?  What changed?

Also interesting that you appear to interpret success-fail of Atlas V optimistically and F9 pessimistically.

Not to mention the simplistic statistical interpretation.  Do you seriously believe that is a correct interpretation?

Atlas V will not stop flying any time soon, and has at least 25 flights left before Vulcan takes over, so the 250 number makes perfect sense.

The most pessimistic interpretation of Atlas V yields 1 partial failure. I'm actually being generous to Falcon 9, as the first mission with its uncontrolled roll at the end of flight would have failed any non-boilerplate mission.

You’ve now just assumed that the next 25 Atlas flights go perfectly. ULA will be pleased to know that!

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #39 on: 02/11/2018 11:13 PM »
NG will not be competing with BFR. NA will compete with BFR. However NG should wipe the floor with FH and F9 with large volume payloads that will fit inside NG's 7m dia. fairing which will not fit in FH's and F9's 5.2m dia. fairing. So the business case for NG is in launching large volume payloads which will not fit in any other launchers. However this will be a short window until BFR becomes available. NG's business case may well collapse when BFR enters service so BO will need to get NA dev. ASAP to stay competitive with SpaceX. Perhaps BO like SpaceX with their Falcon family will see NG merely as a stepping stone to NA and replace NG with NA after just a few years service.
It well be brave customer that builds payload specifically for NG 7m fairing especially if there isn't alternative LV with 7m fairing.


Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #40 on: 02/11/2018 11:36 PM »
NG will not be competing with BFR. NA will compete with BFR. However NG should wipe the floor with FH and F9 with large volume payloads that will fit inside NG's 7m dia. fairing which will not fit in FH's and F9's 5.2m dia. fairing. So the business case for NG is in launching large volume payloads which will not fit in any other launchers.

Is there a large market for payloads that won't fit in a Falcon 9/H payload fairing? Certainly there are U.S. Government payloads, but that's ULA's market to lose, not SpaceX.

But Blue Origin is not going to get big and fat on USG business, so you must be assuming that there will be commercial customers that have payloads that big?

Who are you imagining?
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 Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #41 on: 02/11/2018 11:50 PM »
So far the case for the 7m fairing seems be more sats of the same constellation.
Can't stack them like cube sats yet.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #42 on: 02/12/2018 12:43 AM »
Falcon 9 has already failed several more times than Atlas V has.

Hmmm.... "several more times" seems to be a bit vague and a bit of a stretch.  At the risk of going down the debate "failure" vs. "partial failure" vs. "partial success" vs. whatever...

Seems we are into fractional definitions of "failure".  Again, where does the assertion-requirement that "250 more perfect launches in a row" come from?  On its face that is absurd given that there have been only ~75 Atlas V has launches.
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:

1 in 75 = 3 in 225

225 - 49 = 176

176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.
Only one in-flight Falcon 9 failure. If you're going to count an under-performance as a failure, then you need to count the first Atlas-Cygnus launch, too. That only worked because Cygnus was a particularly lightweight payload.

Additionally, Atlas as a launch family has a long tradition which includes plenty of failure. If you're going to say Atlas V has a perfect track record, then Falcon 9 should get to reset the clock with Block 5....


...IMHO, you should just could consecutive launches without failure.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 12:44 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #43 on: 02/12/2018 12:44 AM »
NG will not be competing with BFR. NA will compete with BFR. However NG should wipe the floor with FH and F9 with large volume payloads that will fit inside NG's 7m dia. fairing which will not fit in FH's and F9's 5.2m dia. fairing. So the business case for NG is in launching large volume payloads which will not fit in any other launchers. However this will be a short window until BFR becomes available. NG's business case may well collapse when BFR enters service so BO will need to get NA dev. ASAP to stay competitive with SpaceX. Perhaps BO like SpaceX with their Falcon family will see NG merely as a stepping stone to NA and replace NG with NA after just a few years service.
It well be brave customer that builds payload specifically for NG 7m fairing especially if there isn't alternative LV with 7m fairing.
Atlas V has the option of a 7m fairing. It's in the User's Guide. BFR will have about an 8m fairing.
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

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #44 on: 02/12/2018 12:45 AM »
So far the case for the 7m fairing seems be more sats of the same constellation.
Can't stack them like cube sats yet.

Isn't the Bigelow B330 supposed to be too big for the standard FH fairing size?

Offline Pipcard

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #45 on: 02/12/2018 03:25 AM »
The second stage is only initially expendable. Future versions will be reusable. The recovery method for New Glenn is less complex therefore probably cheaper. The business case for NG appears to be strong enough that they have already sold flights to multiple commercial customers, indicating that despite its large size it is competitive with existing or emerging launch vehicles.
How cheaper, exactly? This is something I've been wondering ever since NG was unveiled.

The vehicle is baselined for 100 reuses. It has simpler recovery than Falcon Heavy, which requires landing three stages, with one on a barge. LNG is also a cheaper fuel that is easier for reuse and allows autogenous pressurization, which removes the need for helium bottles. There are fewer engines than Falcon Heavy which reduces complexity. The overall reduction of complexity will make it easier to implement operational reusability and a booster that is easier to inspect between uses.
Yes, I know about how it's simpler, but how much cost does one core save over three for the same capacity?
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 03:29 AM by Pipcard »

Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #46 on: 02/12/2018 08:01 AM »
So far the case for the 7m fairing seems be more sats of the same constellation.
Can't stack them like cube sats yet.

Isn't the Bigelow B330 supposed to be too big for the standard FH fairing size?

Yes, the Falcon fairings are to short. Bigelow and Musk also seem to have more personal differences.
Chances are that B330 would fit into Ariane fairings as is. For launch on NG (other than as contingency) it would make sense to change B330. There is more room and payload, why not use it to launch more interior things? Perhaps something simple like packing the skin around a wider core.
OTOH a 7m fairing enables larger modules for space stations. Or launching modules with fiddly bits already attached to the exterior.

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #47 on: 02/12/2018 04:30 PM »
Yes, the Falcon fairings are to short. Bigelow and Musk also seem to have more personal differences.
Chances are that B330 would fit into Ariane fairings as is. For launch on NG (other than as contingency) it would make sense to change B330. There is more room and payload, why not use it to launch more interior things? Perhaps something simple like packing the skin around a wider core.
OTOH a 7m fairing enables larger modules for space stations. Or launching modules with fiddly bits already attached to the exterior.

Some ultra fresh data from Elon today on Twitter (literally 30 min or so ago):

Twitter User Asks:

For full recovery to make sense over single stick expendable needs each booster to be reused multiple times. I’m also curious as to whether SpaceX would consider stretching Stage 2 if there was a market that made sense.

Elon Musk Says:

Under consideration. We’ve already stretched the upper stage once. Easiest part of the rocket to change. Fairing 2, flying soon, also has a slightly larger diameter. Could make fairing much longer if need be & will if BFR takes longer than expected.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #48 on: 02/12/2018 05:09 PM »
Elon Musk Says:

Under consideration. We’ve already stretched the upper stage once. Easiest part of the rocket to change. Fairing 2, flying soon, also has a slightly larger diameter. Could make fairing much longer if need be & will if BFR takes longer than expected.
Looks like SpaceX are responding to the competitive threat from NG by dev. larger fairings for the Falcon family. So BO will have to look for another business case for NG than simply having a larger fairing volume than competing launchers. BO could undercut FH on price with NG with JB subsidizing it with his own money.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 05:09 PM by DJPledger »

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #49 on: 02/12/2018 05:26 PM »
Elon Musk Says:

Under consideration. We’ve already stretched the upper stage once. Easiest part of the rocket to change. Fairing 2, flying soon, also has a slightly larger diameter. Could make fairing much longer if need be & will if BFR takes longer than expected.
Looks like SpaceX are responding to the competitive threat from NG by dev. larger fairings for the Falcon family. So BO will have to look for another business case for NG than simply having a larger fairing volume than competing launchers. BO could undercut FH on price with NG with JB subsidizing it with his own money.

Increasing the diameter "slightly" means going from 5.2m to something like 5.5, definitely not 7!

Offline McDew

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #50 on: 02/12/2018 06:06 PM »
Elon Musk Says:

Under consideration. We’ve already stretched the upper stage once. Easiest part of the rocket to change. Fairing 2, flying soon, also has a slightly larger diameter. Could make fairing much longer if need be & will if BFR takes longer than expected.
Looks like SpaceX are responding to the competitive threat from NG by dev. larger fairings for the Falcon family. So BO will have to look for another business case for NG than simply having a larger fairing volume than competing launchers. BO could undercut FH on price with NG with JB subsidizing it with his own money.

Increasing the diameter "slightly" means going from 5.2m to something like 5.5, definitely not 7!
Agreed, FWIW my guess is that a slight diameter increase was needed to guarrantee the envelope diameter for the stretched PLF version needed to meet EELV requirments and they cut this diameter change into the Fairing 2 design.

Offline hektor

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #51 on: 02/12/2018 06:22 PM »
The launch of the LOP-G PPE will be an interesting competition to follow.

Offline RDMM2081

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #52 on: 02/12/2018 07:12 PM »
The first question that needs an answer before anything about a business case can be discussed is:

When will New Glenn first launch?

and then

When will New Glenn launch its first payload?

I don't know of anything that indicates it may be "soon" for any known values of "soon".

Is 2019 even an "aspirational" date at this point, or is it in the "maybe 2020" camp already?

I really don't know if there is more information about these dates I may have missed, but given how far into the future this LV seems to be from my point of view, it doesn't seem like there is any useful comparison to be made about "business cases" between NG and FH.

Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #53 on: 02/12/2018 07:29 PM »
That is the billion dollar question. ;D

Most obvious is the engine question. Can't do it without them.
There were some indications last year that Blue might be further ahead in some areas than it seems. In one of the talks (the one that gave a breakdown of current workforce and locations and how many they want to hire in additional locations) the presenter also said that they had the tank dome machinery already installed in the new Florida factory. Only the smaller side buildings were completed at that point.
We also don't know what is going on in other facilities. Tooling for NG is certainly on order / under construction, but are they also building first parts in Kent? There is a lot of testing before the first launch can happen.

Offline tdperk

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #54 on: 02/15/2018 03:44 PM »
How much does RTLS save compared to a ship landing? Perhaps only a few $100,000.

About 2% is what that would be, if the BFR launch cost is $15mn.  When you are driving launch cost down to a low integer multiple of the cost of the form of energy used to get to orbit, of such small margins is success produced.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2018 03:44 PM by tdperk »

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #55 on: 02/15/2018 04:31 PM »
How much does RTLS save compared to a ship landing? Perhaps only a few $100,000.

About 2% is what that would be, if the BFR launch cost is $15mn.  When you are driving launch cost down to a low integer multiple of the cost of the form of energy used to get to orbit, of such small margins is success produced.

Also, I think you would also need to consider how many craft you would need for a certain throughput. If you were launching at the fastest rate possible for the number of craft you created, landing on a ship would necessitate the creation of far more boosters.

Offline mme

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #56 on: 02/15/2018 04:48 PM »
SpaceX has to recover $500m of R&D cost some how. Blue don't need to recover a cent of R&D costs.
Jeff wants to reduce cost of space access and is willing to throw money at it. Blue vehicles still need to be profitable once flying but Jeff may not be looking at recovering his R&D investment.

Last I heard Bezos was not running a charity.  You could consider the equity provided by Bezos to Blue (or Musk to SpaceX) charity, but I suspect their balance sheets would show otherwise.
Neither Musk not Bezos are in the the rocket business to get rich, they both got rich to get into the rocket business.  SX needs to be a viable company and has to operate in a sustainable fashion because Musk is not richer than God and also because Musk is in a hurry. Rather than a charity, I think both are akin to the more ethical micro-lenders.  Businesses set up to provide a need in a self-sustainable way (rather than to maximize profits or enrich investors.)

Musk is the majority share holder in SX, it is not publicly traded and all evidence is that all investors in SX believe in it's long term goals (make humanity multi-planetary w/ Google and Fidelity being outliers presumably in it for the Satellite Constellation.) Employees get stock options but they also get the opportunity to cache some out every year which mitigates the pressure to take the company public. It helps that the employees tend to be young and believe in the vision. So Musk has a lot of flexibility in how money is shuffled around, they don't need to make tonnes of "profit" but they do need to make money to dump back into R&D.

Blue does not have to operate as a sustainable company for the foreseeable future because Bezos is richer than God and is not in a hurry. Blue Origin is completely private, it's an LLC. It is beholden to no one but Bezos and he can run it however he pleases. Bezos is a ruthless businessman who takes a very long view. I would not put it past him to run at a loss for the rest of his fortune's life.

This is why SpaceX got to orbit 6 years after being founded and Blue Origin can spend all their time perfecting each step along the way.

I think the business case for New Glenn is to prove they can operate a large partially reusable rocket to help create a market and lay the foundation for New Armstrong.  To do that they will price it at rock bottom prices.  Luckily for SX I don't think they will push their flight rate for a long time because I do think NG will "eat FH's lunch."

Hopefully BFR succeeds and New Armstrong is build as fully reusable from day one to compete with it.  Imagine a world with 2 fully reusable super-heavy launch vehicles.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #57 on: 02/15/2018 05:09 PM »
  Imagine a world with 2 fully reusable super-heavy launch vehicles.

In my imagination, I see two fully reusable super heavy lift vehicles and congress still shooting off a single 2 Billion dollar SLS launches once a year. #JourneyToMars

Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #58 on: 02/15/2018 05:30 PM »
One advantage New Glenn has is that it's being designed from scratch with first stage re-usability in mind. I don't think Musk planned that when he launched the first Falcon 9.

Well first off, as Lar mentioned earlier, Falcon 9 was originally designed with reuse in mind. And even then, as SpaceX tried new things they had to make tons of changes along the way, from adding then removing parachutes to stretching the rocket and redesigning the legs and heatshields.

All of which together makes me think that designing New Glenn for reuse from the beginning isn't as much of an advantage as some people are assuming (against SpaceX, anyways--it's hugely advantageous vs other launch providers). Blue Origin has very limited experience with reuse in the environment New Glenn will face. New Shepard has only flown six times (and only landed five). It doesn't enter hypersonic speeds on reentry, doesn't land on a moving target, and uses a completely different engine, fuel, and cycle. All that uncertainty means that there will be unexpected complications that Blue Origin will have to solve. They will lose at least a booster or two, and they will have to redesign parts of their rocket. I don't doubt that they can solve those problems, but I definitely don't think that they're going to stroll into the market with a fully mature design with no hiccups along the way.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2018 06:03 PM by Toast »

Offline DnA915

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #59 on: 02/15/2018 05:53 PM »

Well first off, as Lar mentioned earlier, Falcon 9 was originally designed with reuse in mind. And even then, as SpaceX tried new things they had to make tons of changes along the way, from adding parachutes to stretching the rocket and redesigning the legs and heatshields.

All of which together makes me think that designing New Glenn for reuse from the beginning isn't as much of an advantage as some people are assuming (against SpaceX, anyways--it's hugely advantageous vs other launch providers). Blue Origin has very limited experience with reuse in the environment New Glenn will face. New Shepard has only flown six times (and only landed five). It doesn't enter hypersonic speeds on reentry, doesn't land on a moving target, and uses a completely different engine, fuel, and cycle. All that uncertainty means that there will be unexpected complications that Blue Origin will have to solve. They will lose at least a booster or two, and they will have to redesign parts of their rocket. I don't doubt that they can solve those problems, but I definitely don't think that they're going to stroll into the market with a fully mature design with no hiccups along the way.

I agree. I always thought it was a bit presumptuous of people to think that BO would be able to pull off reuse right away. Just a few years ago you had most people in the industry saying it was impossible and now its just assumed the BO can do it and be competing with SpaceX with 0 chance of failure and only small road bumps along the way.  This isn't to say I don't think they will do it or eventually pose a competitive challenge to SX, I just don't think they quite deserve to be considered on the exact same level yet.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #60 on: 02/15/2018 06:48 PM »
Much of the software and other details for landing New Glenn have been worked out on Blue's earlier vehicles so I expect that part of it's development to go more smoothly than it did for Falcon 9.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2018 06:54 PM by Patchouli »

Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #61 on: 02/15/2018 07:02 PM »
Much of the software and other details for landing New Glenn have been worked out on Blue's earlier vehicles so I expect that part of it's development to go more smoothly than it did for Falcon 9.

I still don't buy it. There's not a lot of commonality between the landing scenarios--Shepard was on land, with negligible horizontal velocity, with a deep-throttling engine that could literally hover the rocket, at sub-hypersonic speeds, and on a stationary pad. Glenn will be at sea, on a moving ship, will have lots of horizontal velocity, entering at hypersonic speeds, and with a new engine that can't throttle as deeply.

Again, I think Blue Origin can and will solve these issues. But not going to walk in with a mature design and nail everything on their first go.

Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #62 on: 02/15/2018 07:39 PM »
Landing the first attempt? Maybe, maybe not. I definitely think that they'll try to.
At the end of the day it does not matter if they stick the landing. As long as Blue charges customers enough to set of a chunk of another stage they can afford to do so almost indefinitely.

Previously there were some opinions that NG would not be able to deliver a payload to orbit on the first attempt. Or the second. That seems to be a bit too pessimistic.

My guess is that they'll set out to build a small number of stages to the initial design and then start ground testing and launching as hardware becomes available. If they have to mod hardware after the first launch so be it. Learning how to produce stages effectively is valuable in itself. (Say 4. 2 not necessarily complete units for testing and 2 for launching.)

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #63 on: 02/15/2018 08:05 PM »
Falcon 9 has already failed several more times than Atlas V has.

Hmmm.... "several more times" seems to be a bit vague and a bit of a stretch.  At the risk of going down the debate "failure" vs. "partial failure" vs. "partial success" vs. whatever...

Seems we are into fractional definitions of "failure".  Again, where does the assertion-requirement that "250 more perfect launches in a row" come from?  On its face that is absurd given that there have been only ~75 Atlas V has launches.
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:

1 in 75 = 3 in 225

225 - 49 = 176

176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.
Only one in-flight Falcon 9 failure. If you're going to count an under-performance as a failure, then you need to count the first Atlas-Cygnus launch, too. That only worked because Cygnus was a particularly lightweight payload.

Additionally, Atlas as a launch family has a long tradition which includes plenty of failure. If you're going to say Atlas V has a perfect track record, then Falcon 9 should get to reset the clock with Block 5....


...IMHO, you should just could consecutive launches without failure.
The Cygnus mission was not a failure. No part of the mission was affected.

Why do you ignore Amos-6? That's just being dishonest.

If you need to be dishonest in order to be a fan of SpaceX, then maybe you need to reevaluate your morals.

I'd like to understand the justification for including Amos-6 as a flight failure.  Do static test fires that discover problems but don't lead to LOV count as partial flight failures too?  Is there a proper topic that discusses what counts as part of a launch and what is pre-launch preparation?

On topic:

I don't see the payloads to justify a business case for NG in 2018.  AFAIK Bezos hasn't set a price.  IF the availability of SHLVs leads payload makers to make payloads for SHLVs, and NG has a competitive price, there will be a business case.  The Magic 8-ball says ask again later.

Edits: Fixed quote.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2018 08:07 PM by Joseph Peterson »
If ZBLAN can't pay for commercial stations, we'll just have to keep looking until we find other products that can combine to support humans earning a living in space.

Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #64 on: 02/15/2018 11:04 PM »
Falcon 9 has already failed several more times than Atlas V has.

Hmmm.... "several more times" seems to be a bit vague and a bit of a stretch.  At the risk of going down the debate "failure" vs. "partial failure" vs. "partial success" vs. whatever...

Seems we are into fractional definitions of "failure".  Again, where does the assertion-requirement that "250 more perfect launches in a row" come from?  On its face that is absurd given that there have been only ~75 Atlas V has launches.
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:

1 in 75 = 3 in 225

225 - 49 = 176

176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.
Only one in-flight Falcon 9 failure. If you're going to count an under-performance as a failure, then you need to count the first Atlas-Cygnus launch, too. That only worked because Cygnus was a particularly lightweight payload.

Additionally, Atlas as a launch family has a long tradition which includes plenty of failure. If you're going to say Atlas V has a perfect track record, then Falcon 9 should get to reset the clock with Block 5....


...IMHO, you should just could consecutive launches without failure.
The Cygnus mission was not a failure. No part of the mission was affected.

Why do you ignore Amos-6? That's just being dishonest.

If you need to be dishonest in order to be a fan of SpaceX, then maybe you need to reevaluate your morals.

I'd like to understand the justification for including Amos-6 as a flight failure.  Do static test fires that discover problems but don't lead to LOV count as partial flight failures too?  Is there a proper topic that discusses what counts as part of a launch and what is pre-launch preparation?

On topic:

I don't see the payloads to justify a business case for NG in 2018.  AFAIK Bezos hasn't set a price.  IF the availability of SHLVs leads payload makers to make payloads for SHLVs, and NG has a competitive price, there will be a business case.  The Magic 8-ball says ask again later.

Edits: Fixed quote.

He's sold some launches, so obviously he's set a price and it's at least reasonably competitive.

New Glenn isn't a SHLV by any definition. It has about the same payload to GTO as Ariane 5. It will have to compete in that market at those prices.

Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #65 on: 02/15/2018 11:08 PM »
Much of the software and other details for landing New Glenn have been worked out on Blue's earlier vehicles so I expect that part of it's development to go more smoothly than it did for Falcon 9.

I still don't buy it. There's not a lot of commonality between the landing scenarios--Shepard was on land, with negligible horizontal velocity, with a deep-throttling engine that could literally hover the rocket, at sub-hypersonic speeds, and on a stationary pad. Glenn will be at sea, on a moving ship, will have lots of horizontal velocity, entering at hypersonic speeds, and with a new engine that can't throttle as deeply.

Again, I think Blue Origin can and will solve these issues. But not going to walk in with a mature design and nail everything on their first go.

What makes you think that New Glenn cannot hover?

I think Blue is building in lots of margin and isn't going to try to push the envelope nearly as fast SpaceX does. If the first NEw Glenn booster gets through reentry I think they have a 95% chance of landing it just fine. But getting to staging, getting the upper stage to orbit, and getting the booster back through entry are not going to be easy.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #66 on: 02/15/2018 11:27 PM »
Much of the software and other details for landing New Glenn have been worked out on Blue's earlier vehicles so I expect that part of it's development to go more smoothly than it did for Falcon 9.

I still don't buy it. There's not a lot of commonality between the landing scenarios--Shepard was on land, with negligible horizontal velocity, with a deep-throttling engine that could literally hover the rocket, at sub-hypersonic speeds, and on a stationary pad. Glenn will be at sea, on a moving ship, will have lots of horizontal velocity, entering at hypersonic speeds, and with a new engine that can't throttle as deeply.

Again, I think Blue Origin can and will solve these issues. But not going to walk in with a mature design and nail everything on their first go.

What makes you think that New Glenn cannot hover?

I think Blue is building in lots of margin and isn't going to try to push the envelope nearly as fast SpaceX does. If the first NEw Glenn booster gets through reentry I think they have a 95% chance of landing it just fine. But getting to staging, getting the upper stage to orbit, and getting the booster back through entry are not going to be easy.

I'd put that at much below 50/50 -- 95% is (kinda) absurd.  In fact, if they attempt an on board landing for first orbital launch I'd be amazed... unless they've done a handful of successful sub-orbital landing attempts first.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #67 on: 02/16/2018 01:42 AM »
Falcon 9 has already failed several more times than Atlas V has.

Hmmm.... "several more times" seems to be a bit vague and a bit of a stretch.  At the risk of going down the debate "failure" vs. "partial failure" vs. "partial success" vs. whatever...

Seems we are into fractional definitions of "failure".  Again, where does the assertion-requirement that "250 more perfect launches in a row" come from?  On its face that is absurd given that there have been only ~75 Atlas V has launches.
Atlas V had one failure in 75 flight attempts:
Falcon 9 had 3 failures in 49 flight attempts:

1 in 75 = 3 in 225

225 - 49 = 176

176 missions that falcon 9 needs to pull off in a row perfectly to match Atlas V's current record.
Only one in-flight Falcon 9 failure. If you're going to count an under-performance as a failure, then you need to count the first Atlas-Cygnus launch, too. That only worked because Cygnus was a particularly lightweight payload.

Additionally, Atlas as a launch family has a long tradition which includes plenty of failure. If you're going to say Atlas V has a perfect track record, then Falcon 9 should get to reset the clock with Block 5....


...IMHO, you should just could consecutive launches without failure.
The Cygnus mission was not a failure. No part of the mission was affected.

Why do you ignore Amos-6? That's just being dishonest.

If you need to be dishonest in order to be a fan of SpaceX, then maybe you need to reevaluate your morals.

I'd like to understand the justification for including Amos-6 as a flight failure.  Do static test fires that discover problems but don't lead to LOV count as partial flight failures too?  Is there a proper topic that discusses what counts as part of a launch and what is pre-launch preparation?

On topic:

I don't see the payloads to justify a business case for NG in 2018.  AFAIK Bezos hasn't set a price.  IF the availability of SHLVs leads payload makers to make payloads for SHLVs, and NG has a competitive price, there will be a business case.  The Magic 8-ball says ask again later.

Edits: Fixed quote.

He's sold some launches, so obviously he's set a price and it's at least reasonably competitive.

New Glenn isn't a SHLV by any definition. It has about the same payload to GTO as Ariane 5. It will have to compete in that market at those prices.
Landing the first attempt? Maybe, maybe not. I definitely think that they'll try to.
At the end of the day it does not matter if they stick the landing. As long as Blue charges customers enough to set of a chunk of another stage they can afford to do so almost indefinitely.

Previously there were some opinions that NG would not be able to deliver a payload to orbit on the first attempt. Or the second. That seems to be a bit too pessimistic.

My guess is that they'll set out to build a small number of stages to the initial design and then start ground testing and launching as hardware becomes available. If they have to mod hardware after the first launch so be it. Learning how to produce stages effectively is valuable in itself. (Say 4. 2 not necessarily complete units for testing and 2 for launching.)
A modified NS booster that can reproduce most flight profile, especially ship landing would be good place to start. NS is lot cheaper to crash and less likely to sink landing ship when landing goes wrong.

Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #68 on: 02/16/2018 01:45 AM »
What makes you think that New Glenn cannot hover?

It's just a guess, but a reasonable one. We know Blue Origin is focusing on deep throttle capability for BE-4, but getting thrust low enough to hover an almost empty rocket stage is pretty difficult. Look at Falcon 9: It can get down to ~11% thrust just by shutting down 8 of it's nine engines, then down to ~55% of that by throttling the engine itself, for a total of ~6% of peak thrust. And even that isn't enough to drop the TWR below 1. Now look at New Glenn: It only has 7 engines, so shutting off all but one only gets them down to 14%. We don't know a lot about New Glenn yet, but because it's larger than Falcon 9 it's reasonable to expect it's inert mass fraction will be equal to or lower than Falcon 9's, so it'll have to be able to throttle to something a ways below 40% to be able to hover. That's pretty dang difficult in an atmospheric engine on that scale. Maybe not impossible, but I'd bet Blue Origin isn't going to waste engineering time trying to get the throttle that low when burning the engines at a hover would be wastefully inefficient anyways. New Shepard got away with it because it had huge performance margins thanks to an undemanding flight trajectory and light payload. New Glenn won't have those luxuries.

I think Blue is building in lots of margin and isn't going to try to push the envelope nearly as fast SpaceX does. If the first NEw Glenn booster gets through reentry I think they have a 95% chance of landing it just fine. But getting to staging, getting the upper stage to orbit, and getting the booster back through entry are not going to be easy.

I'd say that's pretty heavily optimistic. AncientU's 50/50 seems a lot more reasonable.

I guess what really irks me is that people are acting like New Glenn will be a cakewalk because it was "designed to be reusable". But plenty of rockets were designed to be reusable. Virtually all of them failed anyways. What really set SpaceX apart wasn't the intent to reuse the rocket, it was their aggressive use of rapid iteration on design. No matter how slow Blue Origin takes things, no matter how much they plan in advance, New Glenn will still have unforeseen problems when it debuts. For them to catch up to SpaceX's reuse will require them to make rapid iteration a core competency as well.

Offline su27k

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #69 on: 02/16/2018 01:53 AM »
I guess what really irks me is that people are acting like New Glenn will be a cakewalk because it was "designed to be reusable". But plenty of rockets were designed to be reusable. Virtually all of them failed anyways. What really set SpaceX apart wasn't the intent to reuse the rocket, it was their aggressive use of rapid iteration on design. No matter how slow Blue Origin takes things, no matter how much they plan in advance, New Glenn will still have unforeseen problems when it debuts. For them to catch up to SpaceX's reuse will require them to make rapid iteration a core competency as well.

I believe Blue is using a different process, they're more traditional where they front load a lot of analysis and try to get it right the first time, "measure twice and cut once" as they say. How well this will work out for reusability remains to be seen, they did ok with New Shepard, but the year long delay between 2nd and 3rd vehicle seem to show they had to do some iteration on design at least.

Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #70 on: 02/16/2018 02:17 AM »
I agree that's their intention, but no amount of analysis is ever enough to catch every eventuality, especially when you're pushing to do things few people have done before. New Glenn will still run into unexpected issues. And I stand by what I said--Blue Origin will have to make rapid iteration a part of their business. Even if they run into relatively few hiccups with New Glenn, SpaceX isn't standing still. They're constantly finding newer, cheaper, and better ways to do things. If Blue Origin doesn't do the same, they'll never keep pace.

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #71 on: 02/16/2018 02:42 AM »
IMHO the large size for New Glenn will mean that it is ill suited for the common satellites of today - F9 really hits the sweetspot for those missions and I think the large size of NG will make it difficult for BO to cut the price down to levels below $70M.

I also sincerely doubt that BO can fly it as announced by 2020, as their operation experience is so far very sparse. IMHO first flight in 2023 +- 1 year is more realistic.

Given that however, I think there are 3 areas where NG will excel at:

1. Large scale deployment of LEO/MEO comsat constellations (see e.g. the OneWeb contract)
2. Carrying people around LEO with their own spacecraft (this assumes however that they have developed the spacecraft first)
3. Carrying cargo/fuel (and later people) to cis-lunar space (e.g. in the context of a COTS-like program for cargo delivery to an EM-L2 outpost as proposed by NASA).

These missions might not be present if they launch by 2020-21, but the few missions they have already signed might be enough to keep it running in the interim (and I sincerely doubt that they can hit that time mark anyway, given the pace they are handling New Shepard). By the mid-2020s the market might be more favorable for those missions I listed above.

Another interesting thing to speculate is how will the BO-ULA partnership turns out, especially given that NG is planned to be certified for NASA and US military payloads. My own speculation is that BO isn't usually interested in such missions that requires lots of reviews to the launcher and will nominally leave those to ULA/Vulcan, but the two will agree to use NG as a secondary launcher a la Delta IV today in case of a crowded manifest. ULA-BO will agree (at least initially) to minimize competition of launches contracts in each others' areas and co-operate in areas such as bread-and-butter US government missions (as mentioned here) and maybe even partner on lunar fuel depots, should the demand for it arises later on.

I may be completely wrong, but this is what I think the business case for New Glenn will turn out by 2030.
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #72 on: 02/16/2018 02:58 AM »
IMHO the large size for New Glenn will mean that it is ill suited for the common satellites of today - F9 really hits the sweetspot for those missions and I think the large size of NG will make it difficult for BO to cut the price down to levels below $70M.

I also sincerely doubt that BO can fly it as announced by 2020, as their operation experience is so far very sparse. IMHO first flight in 2023 +- 1 year is more realistic.

Given that however, I think there are 3 areas where NG will excel at:

1. Large scale deployment of LEO/MEO comsat constellations (see e.g. the OneWeb contract)
2. Carrying people around LEO with their own spacecraft (this assumes however that they have developed the spacecraft first)
3. Carrying cargo/fuel (and later people) to cis-lunar space (e.g. in the context of a COTS-like program for cargo delivery to an EM-L2 outpost as proposed by NASA).

These missions might not be present if they launch by 2020-21, but the few missions they have already signed might be enough to keep it running in the interim (and I sincerely doubt that they can hit that time mark anyway, given the pace they are handling New Shepard). By the mid-2020s the market might be more favorable for those missions I listed above.

Another interesting thing to speculate is how will the BO-ULA partnership turns out, especially given that NG is planned to be certified for NASA and US military payloads. My own speculation is that BO isn't usually interested in such missions that requires lots of reviews to the launcher and will nominally leave those to ULA/Vulcan, but the two will agree to use NG as a secondary launcher a la Delta IV today in case of a crowded manifest. ULA-BO will agree (at least initially) to minimize competition of launches contracts in each others' areas and co-operate in areas such as bread-and-butter US government missions (as mentioned here) and maybe even partner on lunar fuel depots, should the demand for it arises later on.

I may be completely wrong, but this is what I think the business case for New Glenn will turn out by 2030.
NG makes ideal fuel tanker for ULA distributed launch.

Offline MaxTeranous

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #73 on: 02/16/2018 08:23 AM »

I'd like to understand the justification for including Amos-6 as a flight failure.  Do static test fires that discover problems but don't lead to LOV count as partial flight failures too?  Is there a proper topic that discusses what counts as part of a launch and what is pre-launch preparation?

IMO, the loss of the payload means it counts as a failure. By the obvious metric that the payload is in lots of little pieces due to SpaceX's actions rather than orbiting the earth.

But using a simplistic measure of percentage of flights as reliability for a launcher is wrong anyways. You'd not consider a LV that's flown successfully once to be more reliable than one that's flown 1000 times, with 1 failure 950 flights ago.

Offline hkultala

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #74 on: 02/16/2018 08:29 AM »
NG versus FH, payload vs. reuse

So, they have about equal payload, and probably also mfg cost in expendable mode.

But, with partial reuse, the situation changed considerable due to the different stage sizes and reuse options:

1) FH reuse only boosters. Slight performance penalty, some >30% cost savings.
2) NG reuse 1st stage. Slightly higher performance penalty, more cost savings.
3) FH reuse all 1st stage cores. Highest performance penalty, most cost savings.

So it they payload is too big to be launched with FH center core recovery, but small enough to be launched with NG with 1st  stage reuse, NG should be cheaper to use than FH.





Offline DJPledger

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #75 on: 02/16/2018 09:24 AM »
By 2030 NG may be replaced by NA unless BO decides to keep NG and operate NG and NA concurrently. Any business case for NG may only last a few years until NA IOC if BO decides to ditch NG in favor of NA. BO can afford to dev. NA without even a single revenue paying launch of any of their vehicles so there may be no business case for NG at all and NG will merely be a stepping stone to NA which will realize BO's long term ambitions. NG becoming effectively a technology test bed for NA. Current launch manifest for NG is just a bonus for BO. NA will likely become BO's workhorse heavy lifter like SpaceX's BFR plans to be.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #76 on: 02/16/2018 10:38 AM »
I guess what really irks me is that people are acting like New Glenn will be a cakewalk because it was "designed to be reusable". But plenty of rockets were designed to be reusable. Virtually all of them failed anyways. What really set SpaceX apart wasn't the intent to reuse the rocket, it was their aggressive use of rapid iteration on design. No matter how slow Blue Origin takes things, no matter how much they plan in advance, New Glenn will still have unforeseen problems when it debuts. For them to catch up to SpaceX's reuse will require them to make rapid iteration a core competency as well.

I believe Blue is using a different process, they're more traditional where they front load a lot of analysis and try to get it right the first time, "measure twice and cut once" as they say. How well this will work out for reusability remains to be seen, they did ok with New Shepard, but the year long delay between 2nd and 3rd vehicle seem to show they had to do some iteration on design at least.

Bingo.  Maybe fewer iterations, but significant delays between them.  Fairly easy to run up years of iterations in this mode -- a decade even. They'll be over two decades between company start and first orbital launch -- factor of a few slower than the competition.  Does that put NA out beyond 2030?  Does Bezos have the staying power (not the cash) to weather several year-long iterations to get NG flying reliably?  Not at all crazy to think they'll need several attempts to perfect the entire flight cycle (launch, land, relaunch).  Several slow iterations would take Blue out to mid 2020s before going commercial...  OR, they might nail it first try.  (Sounds like poll material.)
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 10:39 AM by AncientU »
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Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #77 on: 02/16/2018 05:01 PM »
What is the internal business case for NG at Blue Origin? I suspect it is something like this:
Learning how to design, build and operate a (partially) reusable orbital launch vehicle. Deliver customer payloads as contracted.

It has been said before: Blue needs to evolve beyond suborbital launches. They were able to attract staff from ULA, SpaceX and other companies with orbital rockets. On the flip side it seems unlikely that all those experienced people signed up to do paper designs for another 10-20 years, they want to see progress.

Blue is not starting from zero, they should be able to make NG work from day one. Of course things will go wrong, but there is no requirement to blow up your first attempts.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #78 on: 02/16/2018 07:50 PM »
Speculating here, but it is possible Amazon/Blue Origin gets into the internet constellation business creating a rival to Starlink and OneWeb. Not only would it generate revenue, but it would lower the cost of launch for other usersby giving New Glenn a lot payloads to put into orbit and replenish.

This would sync well with Bezos other line of business, Amazon Web Services which provide a huge amount of infrastructure for the internet via Cloud Data Centers. AWS started out as a way to sell excess capacity Amazon had in creating an IT system for its primary business of online retail. Bezos and Amazon certainly have more free resources to do something like this than Musk. Competing with their own customers and quasi-monopolist practices is not beyond them.

Although so far there is zero indication that Blue or AWS are planning anything like this, I wouldn't be surprised.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 07:51 PM by Darkseraph »
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Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #79 on: 02/16/2018 08:22 PM »
Blue is not starting from zero, they should be able to make NG work from day one. Of course things will go wrong, but there is no requirement to blow up your first attempts.

Sure they're not starting from zero, but let's not overstate how far along they are either. They've done six suborbital launches. And even well-established and respected launch providers have failed their first attempts with new rockets.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #80 on: 02/16/2018 08:47 PM »
Blue is not starting from zero, they should be able to make NG work from day one. Of course things will go wrong, but there is no requirement to blow up your first attempts.

Sure they're not starting from zero, but let's not overstate how far along they are either. They've done six suborbital launches. And even well-established and respected launch providers have failed their first attempts with new rockets.

First launch could certainly fail but in all likelyhood Blue will have more than one vehicle in the pipeline for testing and will quickly recover from a failure. They had failures with the original New Sheppard and BE4 tests but rapidly recovered after because they operate "hardware rich". Because their vehicle is designed to be reusable from inception they can potentially put the first stage through many suborbital tests to practice launch and landing before commiting to a full orbital test with a second stage.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #81 on: 02/17/2018 12:12 AM »
Apropos actually launching. How is the new launch site coming along?

Hard to do much without it.

Offline Lar

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #82 on: 02/18/2018 05:28 AM »
I think debating whether NG can hover misses the point, they are likely not every going to want to hover, too wasteful of propellant. I expect them to land NG without evern coming close to hovering, just like SpaceX do.
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Online guckyfan

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #83 on: 02/18/2018 08:49 AM »
I think debating whether NG can hover misses the point, they are likely not every going to want to hover, too wasteful of propellant. I expect them to land NG without evern coming close to hovering, just like SpaceX do.

I guess they will use that capability to make early landings safer. But I fully agree they will need to move away from hovering when they want to be an efficient launch provider.

Offline rpapo

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #84 on: 02/18/2018 09:16 AM »
I think debating whether NG can hover misses the point, they are likely not every going to want to hover, too wasteful of propellant. I expect them to land NG without evern coming close to hovering, just like SpaceX do.

I guess they will use that capability to make early landings safer. But I fully agree they will need to move away from hovering when they want to be an efficient launch provider.
I think that "efficiency" has little to do with it.  When the customer asks them to push their limits (as routinely seems to happen with SpaceX), they will attempt to do so.  Part of that is minimizing the amount of fuel used for things other than imparting energy to the payload.  It isn't called "pay"-load for nothing.
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Online jebbo

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #85 on: 02/18/2018 09:30 AM »
Apropos actually launching. How is the new launch site coming along?

Latest Terra server image shows progress

Edit: the image goes down to 50cm resolution but I'm not a subscriber ... hopefully someone here is ;-)

--- Tony
« Last Edit: 02/18/2018 09:32 AM by jebbo »

Offline Lar

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #86 on: 02/18/2018 01:00 PM »
If you're a subscriber please don't violate your subscription agreement to share with us, we don't want you (or NSF) to get in trouble, thanks! But whatever you can share?? please!
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Online jebbo

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #87 on: 02/18/2018 01:27 PM »
If you're a subscriber please don't violate your subscription agreement to share with us, we don't want you (or NSF) to get in trouble, thanks! But whatever you can share?? please!

Agreed. I was a bit loose in my comment ... I was hoping perhaps for snippets / description

Offline Chasm

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #88 on: 02/18/2018 06:31 PM »
No worries, stitching the images together would be work. :)
Transplanting the the overlay from the environmental assessment is even more work.... :-\

There is not that much to see in December. The foundations for the fuel tanks have been completed. We saw videos of tank delivery. That made the news when the contractor started a fire cutting them loose from the barge. (Shifting cargo is deadly so big stuff like this often gets welded in place for shipping.)
On the image five are stored are stored at the far north western corner. One more next to the 7 tank LOX(?) farm.

Compared to the map in the environmental assessment some things are rearranged. The 5 tank LNG farm moved much closer to the street between launch pad and test stand. Tanks seem to be of different diameter.


There are a few big cranes and or drill rigs on the site.
Other than that? Lots of earth moving. The only old structures seem to be the ones to be retained, or concrete pads used for temp storage.

Offline Toast

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #89 on: 02/18/2018 11:44 PM »
I think debating whether NG can hover misses the point, they are likely not every going to want to hover, too wasteful of propellant. I expect them to land NG without evern coming close to hovering, just like SpaceX do.

I guess they will use that capability to make early landings safer. But I fully agree they will need to move away from hovering when they want to be an efficient launch provider.
I think that "efficiency" has little to do with it.  When the customer asks them to push their limits (as routinely seems to happen with SpaceX), they will attempt to do so.  Part of that is minimizing the amount of fuel used for things other than imparting energy to the payload.  It isn't called "pay"-load for nothing.
No customer has asked SpaceX to push the limits of FH yet, and New Glenn is in the FH class.
No customer has flown on the FH yet, so that sample size is a wee bit small.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #90 on: 02/19/2018 04:07 AM »
Nevertheless, there are already two FH passengers. And there were more, but they flew on expendable Falcon 9s.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #91 on: 02/19/2018 04:38 AM »
A few observations.

Suggest you don't assume New Glenn proceeds like F9/FH. At all.

SX and BO proceed very, very differently. I know that in the past, people have wanted to see two "Rock'em, Sock'em" SX equivalence class rivals that duke it out. They tried to make ULA into one. Didn't happen. And they missed the point of why ULA isn't SX. Please don't repeat this mistake.

In the past, none of ULA, SX, and BO have been anything but critical of each other, because the tendency for them to make another "look bad". Because each would infringe on the others "territory".

I've noticed that this characteristic changed as SX closed in on success with FH, and shifted its long term intentions to BFR/S.

Perhaps because all three have actually reinforced each other, peculiarly. FH appears to "sell" larger commercial payloads that only really could be done by Ariane 5, but now New Glenn and Vulcan could serve these as well (DIVH "special case" never counted for these). So Bezos must be happy for the presales it creates, as well as Vulcan qualifying engines.

New Glenn has no expendable role, just as Vulcan has no reusable booster either. Vulcan and Ariane 6 are "too alike"in many ways, and might share similar fates. FH/F9 are a compromise of the two.

By choice NG is heavier (drymass, mass fraction) booster with less efficient payload to orbit, as that is not its forte, instead, a high reuse rate is. It's meant to be more durable (Falcon is exploring the lighter end of this design choice). This "long haul" decision puts more at risk every time NG flies, as a failure would doom the remaining large number of uses.

Propulsion challenges also are extremely different - BE4 ORSC is hard enough to tame for expendable use, which only needs throttling to pass max Q - can you imagine the additional work to insure stable combustion/shutdown of a landing engine profile? Falcon uses an open cycle engine - which is indifferent to such. Taming BE4 has greatly delayed Vulcan, it is no easy feat.

Keep in mind that with F9 SX owns the most useful part of the launch provider market space already, and that their next act is supposed to be a  fully reusable vehicle exceeding NG/NA/Vulcan as currently envisioned. The boundary to where NG competes is with the recent FH, which will likely fly more than ten times before the first NG payload "gradatim" flies.

It's very likely that NG and BFS will slip together in time, as Vulcan is already slipping too. (NGL won't intrude on this as long as Vulcan progresses and Atlas V continues.) The heavy payloads that might appear will fall to FH and A5/A6 entirely, whole will build the market for any large commercial payloads.

Likely NG will absorb A6 payloads gradually, as A6 flies ... rarely. (Probably FH, Vulcan, and Vega more frequently.)

The business case for NG will likely be to gradually undercut all other launches that its launch frequency allows, likely determined by US build rate, downrange recovery rate, and booster reprocessing rate. The key word to remember about BO is the word "gradually", as it will dominate its business model. SX isn't, hasn't, and won't ever be like this.

What most got wrong about SX was the factor of launch frequency. That remains and will intensify as BO never waivers from its respective "gradual". SX launch economics will be driven by frequency/need on the "leading edge" of the market, setting a market value for its various capabilities. (ULA, assuming Vulcan (and more), will become a niche launch provider with very specific and lucrative capabilities extremely hard to obtain.)

NG/NA/next ... will again gradually absorb more capability of generic launch, possibly even greater volume even eventually as SX, but never greater capability ... because the approach to getting the most out of vehicles will be what they will become entrenched with. As Bezos other businesses do as well.

Musk has more of a "point focus" to Bezos "broad view". Allows for rapid redirection to traverse the topologic graph to the point, avoiding spurious "local maxima" along the way, outmaneuvering rather than going "head to head".

Which again is why no comparable "Rock-em, Sock-em Robot" rivals, duking it out as similar players ... will ever happen.

They aren't at all similar in any way.

Online woods170

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #92 on: 02/19/2018 06:45 AM »
It's very likely that NG and BFS will slip together in time
On what basis are you quantifying that assumption?

*edit*
Also, where are the "ten payloads" that will fly on Falcon Heavy before 2021?
In the SpaceX order book. Their backlog is substantially larger than what is shown at SpaceX.com, and it includes several more FH missions.
Now that FH is flying, more missions will follow in the years to come.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #93 on: 02/19/2018 11:56 AM »
It’s still funny to me that people think NewShep->NewGlenn is “gradatim.”
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Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #94 on: 02/19/2018 01:58 PM »
I think debating whether NG can hover misses the point, they are likely not every going to want to hover, too wasteful of propellant. I expect them to land NG without evern coming close to hovering, just like SpaceX do.

I guess they will use that capability to make early landings safer. But I fully agree they will need to move away from hovering when they want to be an efficient launch provider.
I think that "efficiency" has little to do with it.  When the customer asks them to push their limits (as routinely seems to happen with SpaceX), they will attempt to do so.  Part of that is minimizing the amount of fuel used for things other than imparting energy to the payload.  It isn't called "pay"-load for nothing.

NG can put 10-13 tonnes to GTO with booster landing. What customer is going to ask them to push that limit? Especially on the first launch. On the first launch they are going to take it easy and make sure it works. They might put a tiny payload to GTO, but probably not for a paying customer.

After that, they will explore the limits of the landing envelope. But I don't expect them to do so as aggressively as SpaceX, it's not Blue's style and their vehicle is large enough to have plenty of margin even with some hefty payloads.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #95 on: 02/19/2018 09:43 PM »
A few observations.

...

What most got wrong about SX was the factor of launch frequency. That remains and will intensify as BO never waivers from its respective "gradual". SX launch economics will be driven by frequency/need on the "leading edge" of the market, setting a market value for its various capabilities. (ULA, assuming Vulcan (and more), will become a niche launch provider with very specific and lucrative capabilities extremely hard to obtain.)
...

Interesting comments.
The comment singled out above is subject of a discussion among launch company executives this week. 
Quite germane -- can't wait to see if there is at least a bit of 'polite' duking it out.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43154.msg1790207#msg1790207
« Last Edit: 02/19/2018 09:45 PM by AncientU »
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Online woods170

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #96 on: 02/20/2018 06:35 AM »
It’s still funny to me that people think NewShep->NewGlenn is “gradatim.”

It is Ferociter done Gradatim.

Offline Lemurion

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #97 on: 03/31/2018 04:04 AM »
I think New Glenn is going to be able to take a lot of the same business as FH, but it won't destroy it.

The problem I see with that idea is that BO is only planning for 12 launches per year at least initially. There's also the retrieval issue to consider. BO is landing much farther down range than SX, and using a larger vessel to do it. That's both a higher capital cost and greater operating cost because they not only need to sortie the ship for longer periods they have to do it on every launch.

That's fine for one launch a month, but it does make increasing the launch rate more difficult.

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #98 on: 03/31/2018 05:25 AM »
New Glenn has the advantage of a bigger fairing. They can easily dual manifest to GTO and they can launch many sats for LEO constellations.

So they can take some business from FH but can in no way compete with cost of F9. Even if they sell with very little profit margin.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #99 on: 03/31/2018 09:27 AM »
I think New Glenn is going to be able to take a lot of the same business as FH, but it won't destroy it.

The problem I see with that idea is that BO is only planning for 12 launches per year at least initially. There's also the retrieval issue to consider. BO is landing much farther down range than SX, and using a larger vessel to do it. That's both a higher capital cost and greater operating cost because they not only need to sortie the ship for longer periods they have to do it on every launch.

That's fine for one launch a month, but it does make increasing the launch rate more difficult.
At 20t cruise speed for landing ship, the travel time to and from landing zone is only couple days. Should be able to support a launch every 2 weeks.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #100 on: 03/31/2018 02:52 PM »
New Glenn has the advantage of a bigger fairing. They can easily dual manifest to GTO and they can launch many sats for LEO constellations.

So they can take some business from FH but can in no way compete with cost of F9. Even if they sell with very little profit margin.
If a large fairing is important, then SpaceX can also develop one. Atlas V is similar in size to Falcon 9 and it has the option of a 7.1m fairing.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #101 on: 03/31/2018 08:07 PM »
New Glenn has the advantage of a bigger fairing. They can easily dual manifest to GTO and they can launch many sats for LEO constellations.

So they can take some business from FH but can in no way compete with cost of F9. Even if they sell with very little profit margin.
A lot F9 profit margin is needed to cover past and future R&D work. Blue has Bezos very deep pockets to fund NG R&D , so profit margin can be very low. I don't think there will be much difference in per launch cost of NG vs F9 over a booster's life. NG US will be dearer but lot more capable.

Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #102 on: 03/31/2018 08:49 PM »
New Glenn has the advantage of a bigger fairing. They can easily dual manifest to GTO and they can launch many sats for LEO constellations.

So they can take some business from FH but can in no way compete with cost of F9. Even if they sell with very little profit margin.
A lot F9 profit margin is needed to cover past and future R&D work. Blue has Bezos very deep pockets to fund NG R&D , so profit margin can be very low. I don't think there will be much difference in per launch cost of NG vs F9 over a booster's life. NG US will be dearer but lot more capable.

NG's new upper stage also has a much more straightforward path to full reuse, which could eventually offset its higher cost and reduce the total launch cost to well below Falcon.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #103 on: 04/01/2018 01:02 AM »
Yeah, NG can be fully reusable, which would allow it to easily compete (and undercut) Falcon 9. But that's why SpaceX is developing BFR. BFR should be able to outcompete even a fully reusable NG since it's return-to-launchsite (not a ship, which is more expensive operationally) and should be capable of faster turnaround due to landing on the launchmount. Also, the higher margin should enable a more robust heatshield and also has an integrated fairing (saves a lot), which a fully reusable NG couldn't afford for anything but LEO launches.

So yeah, per-launch:

Atlas V is more expensive than
expendable F9 which is more expensive than
partially reusable New Glenn which is more expensive than
partially reusable F9 which is more expensive than
fully reusable New Glenn which is more expensive than
fully reusable BFR.

After BFR, who knows. Blue Origin might borrow some of BFR's operational innovations for some other version of New Glenn or New Armstrong.
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Offline Lemurion

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #104 on: 04/01/2018 04:21 AM »
Yeah, NG can be fully reusable, which would allow it to easily compete (and undercut) Falcon 9. But that's why SpaceX is developing BFR. BFR should be able to outcompete even a fully reusable NG since it's return-to-launchsite (not a ship, which is more expensive operationally) and should be capable of faster turnaround due to landing on the launchmount. Also, the higher margin should enable a more robust heatshield and also has an integrated fairing (saves a lot), which a fully reusable NG couldn't afford for anything but LEO launches.

So yeah, per-launch:

Atlas V is more expensive than
expendable F9 which is more expensive than
partially reusable New Glenn which is more expensive than
partially reusable F9 which is more expensive than
fully reusable New Glenn which is more expensive than
fully reusable BFR.

After BFR, who knows. Blue Origin might borrow some of BFR's operational innovations for some other version of New Glenn or New Armstrong.

I have to admit that I'm still not sold on a fully reusable New Glenn. Part of it is that I'm not sure how practical second stage reuse is going to be for New Glenn in even the medium term; the other part is that I'm also not sure that really counts as full reusability.

Unless things go very wrong, SpaceX is going to manage fairing recovery and reuse before New Glenn flies, by which point SpaceX will be recovering two of three components of their rocket. That should at least partially close the cost gap as SpaceX has indicated its fairing is several million dollars and New Glenn's larger fairing is unlikely to be cheaper.

It also runs into the question of whether second stage recovery on New Glenn will force more 3-stage launches--as it's likely that NG's third stage plus fairing probably equals the cost of F9's second stage.

Then we also come back to the question of speed. At this point SpaceX is targeting 2019 for BFS tests and Blue is targeting end of 2020 for New Glenn launches. At this point we can't be sure that Blue will be reusing second stages before BFR flies. At that point, Blue may be better off focusing on New Armstrong rather than trying for full reusability on New Glenn.


Online Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #105 on: 04/01/2018 09:28 AM »
I would keep an eye out to see if Orion might end up on New Glenn, at least to "supplement" SLS flights. Lockheed, who makes Orion, has a big incentive to not depend on SLS exclusively (i.e. Threats of low launch numbers, or program cancellation like Ares I) New Glenn Might be capable of delivering Orion to the lunar platform with the three stage configuration, and would be a reliable source of launch slots for Blue Origin.
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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #106 on: 04/01/2018 09:49 AM »
At this point we can't be sure that Blue will be reusing second stages before BFR flies.

At this point we can be almost sure they won't. They haven't even announced a timeline for this reusable second stage, never mind a design, nor performance specs, while BFS has a clear design path and is much more advanced in its development. Not to mention that New Glenn with the expendable second stage is scheduled to fly to orbit the same year as BFR is, 2020.
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Offline Lemurion

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #107 on: 04/01/2018 10:14 PM »
At this point we can't be sure that Blue will be reusing second stages before BFR flies.

At this point we can be almost sure they won't. They haven't even announced a timeline for this reusable second stage, never mind a design, nor performance specs, while BFS has a clear design path and is much more advanced in its development. Not to mention that New Glenn with the expendable second stage is scheduled to fly to orbit the same year as BFR is, 2020.

That's one reason why I have issues with New Glenn; I really want to see what Blue can come up with but right now all I'm seeing is a bigger better version of Falcon 9. I actually think New Glenn is an example of Blue doing almost everything right except timing. Blue could eat Falcon 9's and possibly Falcon Heavy's lunch with New Glenn (especially if they do reuse the whole stack), but if it's coming on line alongside BFR it's not going to have the same chances it would have otherwise.

Amazon made its name on being a "Fast Follower," but right now Blue seems to be missing the "fast" part of things.

Offline Lar

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #108 on: 04/02/2018 12:18 AM »
Agreed. But I would think they'll be reusing fairings in short order.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #109 on: 04/02/2018 12:27 AM »
Agreed. But I would think they'll be reusing fairings in short order.
Alternatively develop 7m reuseable US with payload bay. A reuseable US will be on NG development path somewhere.

Online Bob Shaw

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #110 on: 04/02/2018 12:41 AM »
At some point, Bezos may simply buy Musk out, or at least engage in a friendly merger...

Online IanThePineapple

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #111 on: 04/02/2018 12:49 AM »
At some point, Bezos may simply buy Musk out, or at least engage in a friendly merger...

I really don't think Elon will want to give up SpaceX anytime soon, especially since they're doing so many huge and innovative things at the moment. Changing owners could cause some confusion and really mess up plans.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #112 on: 04/02/2018 02:10 AM »
Better to have two very strong competitors than one big monopoly! Two domestic providers with huge, fully reusable rockets is a very good thing for the industry. It means that any proposed medium/heavy expendable rocket is effectively a dead-end, as it can't even play second fiddle.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #113 on: 04/02/2018 02:33 AM »
At some point, Bezos may simply buy Musk out, or at least engage in a friendly merger...

That would, in my opinion, end the streak of innovation that SpaceX had been doing up to that point.

Blue Origin is doing good work, but they don't have a sense of urgency for what they are doing, and so far they have not shown the same willingness to take risks that a Musk-led SpaceX has. Plus they don't have a big, very specific, public goal that is guiding everything they are doing.

Launching rockets is hard, and Blue Origin should rightfully be congratulated for what they are doing and attempting to do, but SpaceX is just operating at a whole other level above them.
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 JH

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #114 on: 04/02/2018 04:33 AM »
At some point, Bezos may simply buy Musk out, or at least engage in a friendly merger...

What possible motivation could Musk have for accepting such an acquisition/merger? He has expressed skepticism of Blue's designs on multiple occasions and does not share Bezos's views on expansion into space. He is a majority owner of SpaceX, which is generally believed to be cash-flow positive. It isn't feasible.

Offline missinglink

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #115 on: 04/02/2018 11:19 AM »
What possible motivation could Musk have for accepting such an acquisition/merger?
Depends on what is dearer to Musk's heart, Tesla or SpaceX. Tesla is hemorrhaging money and headed for a cliff, a big infusion of cash from Bezos acquiring shares in SpaceX would keep Tesla going for a while longer. If Musk doesn't want to cede control over SpaceX, he can let Tesla go bankrupt, but his reputation will be in tatters.
« Last Edit: 04/02/2018 11:21 AM by missinglink »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #116 on: 04/02/2018 12:14 PM »
What possible motivation could Musk have for accepting such an acquisition/merger?
Depends on what is dearer to Musk's heart, Tesla or SpaceX. Tesla is hemorrhaging money and headed for a cliff, a big infusion of cash from Bezos acquiring shares in SpaceX would keep Tesla going for a while longer. If Musk doesn't want to cede control over SpaceX, he can let Tesla go bankrupt, but his reputation will be in tatters.
SpaceX is dearer to Musk, but the media greatly exaggerated Tesla’s problems. Tesla is still ahead of their very early plans for Model 3 production (which calls for 500,000 total Teslas per year by 2020), and if Musk had never pushed for greater production, they probably wouldn't be. Relax. Tesla's stock was probably overvalued before (or at least wasn't a bargain), but they'll be just fine.
« Last Edit: 04/02/2018 01:40 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline JH

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #117 on: 04/02/2018 06:24 PM »
It is true that predictions of Tesla's impending doom are eternal.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #118 on: 04/02/2018 07:22 PM »
What possible motivation could Musk have for accepting such an acquisition/merger?
Depends on what is dearer to Musk's heart, Tesla or SpaceX. Tesla is hemorrhaging money and headed for a cliff, a big infusion of cash from Bezos acquiring shares in SpaceX would keep Tesla going for a while longer. If Musk doesn't want to cede control over SpaceX, he can let Tesla go bankrupt, but his reputation will be in tatters.

Tesla is just a capital accumulation tool for Musk's true passion, which is SpaceX. Once Starlink comes online he doesn't need it anymore, as SpaceX can generate plenty cash of its own. Anyway, off topic for this thread.

Offline Slarty1080

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #119 on: 04/06/2018 12:30 PM »
At some point, Bezos may simply buy Musk out, or at least engage in a friendly merger...

That would, in my opinion, end the streak of innovation that SpaceX had been doing up to that point.

Blue Origin is doing good work, but they don't have a sense of urgency for what they are doing, and so far they have not shown the same willingness to take risks that a Musk-led SpaceX has. Plus they don't have a big, very specific, public goal that is guiding everything they are doing.

Launching rockets is hard, and Blue Origin should rightfully be congratulated for what they are doing and attempting to do, but SpaceX is just operating at a whole other level above them.

I do wonder if Elon and Jeff have met in private at any point. That would have been an interesting conversation for sure. But I agree it's better to have competition and SpaceX and Blue Origin are operating on different principles SpaceX is the Hare Blue Origin is the Tortoise (and NASA the wounded slug).
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Offline noogie

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #120 on: 04/06/2018 12:58 PM »

I do wonder if Elon and Jeff have met in private at any point. That would have been an interesting conversation for sure. But I agree it's better to have competition and SpaceX and Blue Origin are operating on different principles SpaceX is the Hare Blue Origin is the Tortoise (and NASA the wounded slug).

In Christian Davenport's new book The Space Barons, it does mention that they did have dinner in 2004, when Elon heard that Jeff had set up a rocket company on the quiet. They discussed space over that dinner. The book quotes Elon as having said that he tried to give Jeff good advice but that Jeff seemed to ignore any advice that was given.

It would be interesting if we ever get a full recounting of that dinner conversation from either of them and if and how it had any flow on effects to what has transpired since.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2018 01:03 PM by noogie »

Offline Slarty1080

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #121 on: 04/06/2018 01:23 PM »

I do wonder if Elon and Jeff have met in private at any point. That would have been an interesting conversation for sure. But I agree it's better to have competition and SpaceX and Blue Origin are operating on different principles SpaceX is the Hare Blue Origin is the Tortoise (and NASA the wounded slug).

In Christian Davenport's new book The Space Barons, it does mention that they did have dinner in 2004, when Elon heard that Jeff had set up a rocket company on the quiet. They discussed space over that dinner. The book quotes Elon as having said that he tried to give Jeff good advice but that Jeff seemed to ignore any advice that was given.

It would be interesting if we ever get a full recounting of that dinner conversation from either of them and if and how it had any flow on effects to what has transpired since.

Fascinating. I can imagine the same thing working in reverse if Jeff had been first to the table. They both have their own agendas and their own way of doing things. Which goes to show that here is unlikely to be any sort of take over unless it was a life or death option and that was the only way out.
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Online johnfwhitesell

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #122 on: 05/16/2018 04:35 PM »
I think the business case for New Glenn makes no sense.  However I think this is largely a matter of what you think the business case for new glenn IS and my opinion probably differs from other people here.

What I see New Glenn's business case as is the emerging industry business strategy transplanted into rocketry.  Suppose you are selling widgets and the demand for widgets is growing by 50% a year.  You could certainly make a very healthy profit margin if you keep your price high.  But in the long term the return is much better to try to grow your widget sales.  Instead of taking 10% profit now, you could spend 5 years growing to 7.5 times your current size and make way more selling at 5%.  This means the long term strategy is to sell as many units as you possibly can during an expanding market.  Market share is worth more then profits.  Even if you are selling at a loss you might want to sell at as large a loss as you can afford if the future market is large enough.  This is why so many tech startups can attract capital while burning through cash like there is no tomorrow.  And this applies to SpaceX as well.  They attracted billions of dollars of investment based on the future value of their technology even when they were still eating losses.  Bezos is very keenly aware of this strategy.  It made him rich at Amazon which was worth a quarter of a trillion dollars back in 2015 when it was operating at a loss.  What was the first thing he did when he bought whole foods?  Cut prices.

I think it's very, very likely that Blue is not just selling it's New Glenn launches at a loss but selling them at a massive loss.  I would be extremely surprised if they land a rocket first time ever out of the gate.  But how can they possibly be selling a New Glenn at a profit without reuse?  The engineS alone probably cost them 50 million dollars to make.  Or approach the problem from the other side and look at overhead.  They are going to be spending the ammoritization cost of their initial 2.5 billion (plus several years interest before ammoritization starts) plus a billion in yearly spending.  So that's about 1.35 billion or so.  Divide that 1.35 billion by the number of rockets they will be building a year.  Two?  Four?  Unless they find a customer willing to pay 300 million for a daul launch to LEO in 2022, there is simply no way in hell they aren't selling at a loss.  To get in the black they would need routine relaunches at a faster tempo then SpaceX has right now.  But they are still selling launches.  That to me reeks of the emerging industry mindset, undercut the competition now so you can capture market share for later.

Problem is the "undercut the competition to capture market share" strategy only works if you can actually flood the market.  They missed that chance.  By the time they launch there will be hundreds of launches a year and they will just be a small percentage of that.  They will shave down the profit margins for SpaceX and ULA but both companies are already outspending Blue and they will have another 3 years to grow because Blue even starts competing.  Everyone talks about Bezo's deep pockets but a billion dollars a year is just minimum table stakes at the game he is trying to buy into.  SpaceX almost certainly is spending more then that on R+D and SpaceX is cost effective with it's R+D.  ULA probably isn't spending more then that on R+D but ULA isn't vertically integrated, the development costs are being spread out among several companies (including Blue).  While vertical integration certainly has it's benefits but it still means you need to set your expectations for overhead higher.  Far from flooding the market, I have a hard time seeing them keep pace with the expansion.

So the business case for New Glenn seems to be trying to undercut competition that you can't undercut in order to capture market share that you can't supply.  All of this as a pivot to a long term strategy of future products where you are already behind and are being outspent on R+D by more talented teams.

This is supposed to be leading to the moon. Imagine how many Bigelow modules you could put on the moon for 2.5 billion dollars.  Imagine how much future construction you could fund for a billion dollars a year.

But hey, at least the BE-4 is a pretty nice engine.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2018 02:12 AM by johnfwhitesell »
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Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #123 on: 05/16/2018 07:17 PM »
There's no possible way BE-4 cost $50 million. The whole flight set of BE-4s on a New Glenn might cost about $40M, based on the reports that Blue is selling them to ULA for $8M each and probably tacking a 30% profit on that.

You are confusing operating at a profit with payback time. Blue doesn't ever have to payback the dev cost of New Glenn in order to operate at a profit. They just have to charge more than the marginal cost of a launch.

And Blue will nail reuse very quickly. They aren't developing New Shepard for fun, and New Glenn has lots of margins for reuse. Blue isn't SpaceX. They aren't going to crash lots of rockets before succeeding with landing New Glenn. They don't have to make money on every flight or iterate fast or run at very slim margins. If the first New Glenn survives reentry, I pretty sure it will stick the landing perfectly.

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #124 on: 05/16/2018 10:44 PM »
There's no possible way BE-4 cost $50 million. The whole flight set of BE-4s on a New Glenn might cost about $40M, based on the reports that Blue is selling them to ULA for $8M each and probably tacking a 30% profit on that.

You are confusing operating at a profit with payback time. Blue doesn't ever have to payback the dev cost of New Glenn in order to operate at a profit. They just have to charge more than the marginal cost of a launch.

And Blue will nail reuse very quickly. They aren't developing New Shepard for fun, and New Glenn has lots of margins for reuse. Blue isn't SpaceX. They aren't going to crash lots of rockets before succeeding with landing New Glenn. They don't have to make money on every flight or iterate fast or run at very slim margins. If the first New Glenn survives reentry, I pretty sure it will stick the landing perfectly.

They'll probably nail the landing very quickly, not reusability. Perfecting operational reuse requires several flights, a lot of data on how the vehicle reacts to flight stresses, and iterative design. No amount of money can buy the time (and number of flights) it takes to do this. And New Glenn reuse is a whole other beast than New Shepard.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2018 02:05 PM by AbuSimbel »
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Offline AncientU

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #125 on: 05/17/2018 12:21 AM »
As good as it would be if they progressed quickly down the reuse road, not sure why everyone is assuming it will be trivial to hit a moving (tiny -- it's a big ocean) ship a thousand kilometers down range with a returning seven meter diameter orbital rocket.  Just because someone makes it look easy, doesn't mean it is easy.  Blue also has the 'graditum' thing going on from one test sequence to the next... might mean there are long stretches between attempts.  I assume there will be many attempts before the full cycle is demonstrated solidly.  I also think there is as much a chance that Blue will give the entire thing up as there is nailing it on the first try.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2018 12:26 AM by AncientU »
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Offline deruch

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #126 on: 05/17/2018 01:57 AM »
And Blue will nail reuse very quickly. They aren't developing New Shepard for fun, and New Glenn has lots of margins for reuse. Blue isn't SpaceX. They aren't going to crash lots of rockets before succeeding with landing New Glenn. They don't have to make money on every flight or iterate fast or run at very slim margins. If the first New Glenn survives reentry, I pretty sure it will stick the landing perfectly.

Some things will only be learned by testing at the edges of the envelope.  Why do you think SpaceX is continuing to "crash" rockets even after succeeding with recovery/reuse?  I don't think Blue will be able to achieve the same level of rapid/cheap reuse that SpaceX seems on the verge of achieving without crashing a few rockets of their own.  Even if they are able to stick the landing from the beginning that may not be enough to get them where they want to go.
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Online johnfwhitesell

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #127 on: 05/17/2018 02:12 AM »
The engine alone probably cost them 50 million dollars to make.  Or approach the problem from the other side and look at overhead.  They are going to be spending the ammoritization cost of their initial 2.5 billion (plus several years interest before ammoritization starts) plus a billion in yearly spending.  So that's about 1.35 billion or so.  Divide that 1.35 billion by the number of rockets they will be building a year.  Two?  Four?
There's no possible way BE-4 cost $50 million. The whole flight set of BE-4s on a New Glenn might cost about $40M, based on the reports that Blue is selling them to ULA for $8M each and probably tacking a 30% profit on that.

So there were two possible ways for you to read my post:
A) I arrived at nearly the same figure as you but made a typo when typing "engines"
B) I am not only a grossly uninformed idiot but I am furthermore incapable of basic arithmatic

You really dont seem to like me.
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Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #128 on: 05/17/2018 03:55 AM »
And Blue will nail reuse very quickly. They aren't developing New Shepard for fun, and New Glenn has lots of margins for reuse. Blue isn't SpaceX. They aren't going to crash lots of rockets before succeeding with landing New Glenn. They don't have to make money on every flight or iterate fast or run at very slim margins. If the first New Glenn survives reentry, I pretty sure it will stick the landing perfectly.

Some things will only be learned by testing at the edges of the envelope.  Why do you think SpaceX is continuing to "crash" rockets even after succeeding with recovery/reuse?  I don't think Blue will be able to achieve the same level of rapid/cheap reuse that SpaceX seems on the verge of achieving without crashing a few rockets of their own.  Even if they are able to stick the landing from the beginning that may not be enough to get them where they want to go.

Maybe they will crash a few. But they are completely different approaches. SpaceX starts outside the envelope and fails until they find out what works. Blue plays it safe, and then pushes the envelope until they get where they need to go.

New Glenn is a giant, enormous, huge rocket. It's gigantic. Did I mention it was big?

It has considerably more payload capability than Falcon Heavy with full booster reuse, and I think Blue is even sandbagging those numbers considerably. It will have huge amounts of margin to stay within a very safe envelope on the first few flights. And that's where Blue is going to keep it.

Reuse isn't optional with New Glenn, and Blue will spent the development time and money and iterations to make reuse work early.

Offline envy887

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #129 on: 05/17/2018 04:03 AM »
The engine alone probably cost them 50 million dollars to make.  Or approach the problem from the other side and look at overhead.  They are going to be spending the ammoritization cost of their initial 2.5 billion (plus several years interest before ammoritization starts) plus a billion in yearly spending.  So that's about 1.35 billion or so.  Divide that 1.35 billion by the number of rockets they will be building a year.  Two?  Four?
There's no possible way BE-4 cost $50 million. The whole flight set of BE-4s on a New Glenn might cost about $40M, based on the reports that Blue is selling them to ULA for $8M each and probably tacking a 30% profit on that.

So there were two possible ways for you to read my post:
A) I arrived at nearly the same figure as you but made a typo when typing "engines"
B) I am not only a grossly uninformed idiot but I am furthermore incapable of basic arithmatic

You really dont seem to like me.
I'm sorry, I never considered that you meant to pluralize "engine". That makes way more sense.

Still, you are way off base conflating profit and payback. I don't think Bezos ever expects to see a payback on the money he's spending to develop New Glenn. But he probably does expect New Glenn to operate at a profit and compete with Falcon 9 and Heavy.

So ignore any amortization of development costs, including demo flights and a couple booster iterations to get to fast reuse. Just look at marginal costs, and assume the booster is reasonable reusable.

Offline ZachF

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #130 on: 05/17/2018 02:15 PM »
And Blue will nail reuse very quickly. They aren't developing New Shepard for fun, and New Glenn has lots of margins for reuse. Blue isn't SpaceX. They aren't going to crash lots of rockets before succeeding with landing New Glenn. They don't have to make money on every flight or iterate fast or run at very slim margins. If the first New Glenn survives reentry, I pretty sure it will stick the landing perfectly.

Some things will only be learned by testing at the edges of the envelope.  Why do you think SpaceX is continuing to "crash" rockets even after succeeding with recovery/reuse?  I don't think Blue will be able to achieve the same level of rapid/cheap reuse that SpaceX seems on the verge of achieving without crashing a few rockets of their own.  Even if they are able to stick the landing from the beginning that may not be enough to get them where they want to go.

Maybe they will crash a few. But they are completely different approaches. SpaceX starts outside the envelope and fails until they find out what works. Blue plays it safe, and then pushes the envelope until they get where they need to go.

New Glenn is a giant, enormous, huge rocket. It's gigantic. Did I mention it was big?

It has considerably more payload capability than Falcon Heavy with full booster reuse, and I think Blue is even sandbagging those numbers considerably. It will have huge amounts of margin to stay within a very safe envelope on the first few flights. And that's where Blue is going to keep it.

Reuse isn't optional with New Glenn, and Blue will spent the development time and money and iterations to make reuse work early.

Not only does New Glenn have a lot of margin, it has a lot of room for future growth.

A "New Glenn Full Thrust" with higher-pressure BE-4s (plenty room to increase pressure) and densified propellants would be a particularly monstrous rocket. Could put up strong numbers probably even with full re-use on the upper stage.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #131 on: 05/17/2018 07:33 PM »
I'm not sure we can have a discussion about the business case for New Glenn right now.  We don't know enough about the rocket. 

On the one hand, Blue Origin's web site shows a BE-4U powered second stage and lists payload performance numbers.  On the other hand, Space News reported some time ago that the second stage would be BE-3U powered, using LH2 rather than methane fuel.  This change seemed directed at the USAF "EELV-2" competition, so we can assume that this New Glenn version is being designed to meet those payload goals - which are mostly much less than the original claimed capabilities. 

New Glenn might not now be as capable as originally claimed (because it doesn't need to be to meet this customer's needs), or it might be more capable (for some other unknown goal).  And who knows what other, unannounced changes Blue Origin has made to the design?

 - Ed Kyle
NG may have no business case at all and is likely to be a technological test bed for technologies to be used in NA which will likely become BO's workhorse rocket like SpaceX's BFR plans to be. If NG wins a load of launch contracts then that will be a bonus on the road to NA. NG likely to be retired once NA is up and running.

Offline kraisee

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Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #132 on: 05/17/2018 09:30 PM »
I don't think anyone outside of the company has enough information to make a reasonable estimate about Blue's business case at this point. My guesses:

I personally expect Bezos will be quite happy to write-off the sunk development costs entirely, so I don't think that's a long-term factor.

After that most of it boils down to flight rate. I don't think there are sufficient existing satellite customers to allow Blue to get their prices below those of SpaceX's existing offerings (at least not profitably), so for them to be able to gain traction in the industry they're going to need to find, or create, a large amount of brand-new launch demand in order to enable the high fixed annual costs (and the $1.35bn figure mentioned above, if real, is not dramatically different to SpX's fixed annual costs BTW) to be amortised effectively.

SpaceX have chosen to drive a very high initial flight rate themselves, specifically through Starlink.

Bezos certainly has deep enough pockets to pay for an equivalent project to drive Blue's flight rate, if he can't find anyone else willing to do so. He might try a comms constellation of his own, a major human spaceflight/industrial/tourism system, an SBSP system, a large-scale asteroid mining architecture, or something else entirely - there are plenty of options and it depends on what business opportunity floats his personal risk/benefit boat.

Then it mostly comes down to the reflight costs. From what I can see, the Falcon family isn't intended to get down to a real "minimum costs" system for SpX and they are waiting for BFR to drive the reflight costs down as much as possible.   This does leave an opportunity for Blue to exploit.

Is New Glenn designed to minimise reflight costs from day 1?   I don't know.   Perhaps, though.   It better, or they've already lost this fight.   Assuming it is, it should follow that a genuine "minimum cost" 45 ton launcher could theoretically be close to 35-40% the reflight cost of SpX's "minimum cost" 150 ton launcher.   If the majority of customer payloads require less than 45 tons, why would customers pay for the bigger launcher at nearly triple the price?

That might be where Bezos is trying to position his wares.   There are just too many unknowns to be sure at this stage though.    Its all speculation until we actually start to see them compete head-to-head.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2018 09:42 PM by kraisee »
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Offline Lemurion

Re: Business Case For New Glenn
« Reply #133 on: 05/25/2018 12:59 AM »
I don't think anyone outside of the company has enough information to make a reasonable estimate about Blue's business case at this point. My guesses:

I personally expect Bezos will be quite happy to write-off the sunk development costs entirely, so I don't think that's a long-term factor.

After that most of it boils down to flight rate. I don't think there are sufficient existing satellite customers to allow Blue to get their prices below those of SpaceX's existing offerings (at least not profitably), so for them to be able to gain traction in the industry they're going to need to find, or create, a large amount of brand-new launch demand in order to enable the high fixed annual costs (and the $1.35bn figure mentioned above, if real, is not dramatically different to SpX's fixed annual costs BTW) to be amortised effectively.

SpaceX have chosen to drive a very high initial flight rate themselves, specifically through Starlink.

Bezos certainly has deep enough pockets to pay for an equivalent project to drive Blue's flight rate, if he can't find anyone else willing to do so. He might try a comms constellation of his own, a major human spaceflight/industrial/tourism system, an SBSP system, a large-scale asteroid mining architecture, or something else entirely - there are plenty of options and it depends on what business opportunity floats his personal risk/benefit boat.

Then it mostly comes down to the reflight costs. From what I can see, the Falcon family isn't intended to get down to a real "minimum costs" system for SpX and they are waiting for BFR to drive the reflight costs down as much as possible.   This does leave an opportunity for Blue to exploit.

Is New Glenn designed to minimise reflight costs from day 1?   I don't know.   Perhaps, though.   It better, or they've already lost this fight.   Assuming it is, it should follow that a genuine "minimum cost" 45 ton launcher could theoretically be close to 35-40% the reflight cost of SpX's "minimum cost" 150 ton launcher.   If the majority of customer payloads require less than 45 tons, why would customers pay for the bigger launcher at nearly triple the price?

That might be where Bezos is trying to position his wares.   There are just too many unknowns to be sure at this stage though.    Its all speculation until we actually start to see them compete head-to-head.

Ross.

The thing is that we already know New Glenn isn't designed to minimize reflight costs. According to what little information we've got Blue is looking at 12 flights per year, and landing several hundred kilometers downrange on a large vessel. Minimizing costs would likely require a higher cadence and RTLS recovery.




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