Author Topic: SpaceX's next big commercial customer  (Read 17848 times)

Online rockets4life97

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SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« on: 03/11/2018 11:47 am »
In the next several months SpaceX is poised to complete their manifest for their two largest commercial customers: Iridium (8 launches) and SES (6 launches).

Who will be SpaceX's next big commercial customer?

Offline Hauerg

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2018 12:03 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2018 01:48 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

It would surprise me to see at least one full launch of satellites this year - perhaps even a whole plane, on falcon heavy.

At that point, you have a 'basic' starlink constellation that gives really good internet in most of the globe - but only twenty minutes a day.
Following this, and investment, a very, very rapid and aggressive rollout in 2019, with more launches than they have ever done, spread over a couple of years.
Perhaps BFS comes along in the middle and starts delivering some too.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2018 01:49 pm by speedevil »

Offline Inoeth

Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #3 on: 03/11/2018 02:05 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills, pay for BFR R&D, etc...  Iridium and SES will indeed be done soon, so the question really is if there's any new satellite players in town (for medium to large sats) that are going to take advantage of SpaceX's price like Iridium did and create a solid new contract... To me it looks like SpaceX will finish out their entire manifest in a couple years, and while they're gonna need a lot to launch their own satellites, I think they may have more capacity to launch than there will be demand...

Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #4 on: 03/11/2018 02:13 pm »
I think they may have more capacity to launch than there will be demand...

That was always the declared goal of SpaceX. Being able to fly any payload at any time.

Offline FireJack

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #5 on: 03/11/2018 02:17 pm »
I think space tourism will be a big thing once they get the Dragon V2 going. Even without space hotels etc people will likely pay just to orbit around earth for a few days.

Offline RDoc

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #6 on: 03/11/2018 02:27 pm »
I wonder if other companies putting up constellations might work out ridesharing deals with Starlink launches to use some of the same orbital planes, but different altitudes. For example earth imaging satellites.

The significantly lower launch costs and higher frequency hopefully will spawn new business concepts.

Online rockets4life97

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #7 on: 03/11/2018 02:38 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #8 on: 03/11/2018 03:07 pm »
SpaceX/Starlink.

While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills,
No, they don't.
They need funding to launch satellites and to build them.
This can be from satellite revenue, but it can also be investment directly in the starlink constellation, to fund initial construction up to a full constellation..

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #9 on: 03/11/2018 03:09 pm »
While SpaceX is clearly going to be launching a lot of their own satellites and that should eventually make them money, they need paying customers to actually pay the bills, pay for BFR R&D, etc...  Iridium and SES will indeed be done soon, so the question really is if there's any new satellite players in town (for medium to large sats)

They still have their biggest/anchor tenant buying flights for the foreseeable future.... NASA. And they pay for bells and whistles like Dragon flights, and integration services.

Plus throw in new science missions, have a good baseline there.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2018 03:10 pm by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #10 on: 03/11/2018 03:51 pm »
Besides SpaceX/Starlink...

NSS launches will continue to climb (DoD as a customer) as will NASA science missions.  Neither will grow fast at absolute level, but could make up a half dozen launches per year a couple years out.

Biggest 'new' customer will be someone/anyone interested in 'exploration' or space adventure travel in general.
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #11 on: 03/11/2018 04:05 pm »
This is the primary reason why, I think, there isn’t much need for a launch rate above 24 a year.  At least until Starlink launches are real.

Having a slight surplus of upper stages is all that should be needed. 
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Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #12 on: 03/11/2018 04:08 pm »
Biggest 'new' customer will be someone/anyone interested in 'exploration' or space adventure travel in general.

Obvious question is when.
F9 orbital space tourism is of course doable in principle 'today'.
Recoverable suborbital F9 booster only could be quite cheap, and get Dragon to a ten minute ballistic trajectory to ISS altitude, especially with propulsive landing and no need for refurb.

But if that's saleable, BFS suborbital must also be very saleable in only a couple of years possibly.
(don't need heatshield to work well, or many other subsystems, just landing to be reliable)

And is any possible vendor for such launches likely to be put off and want to push their investment onto BFR+S orbital?


Online Roy_H

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #13 on: 03/11/2018 06:25 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.
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Online Roy_H

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #14 on: 03/11/2018 06:28 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #15 on: 03/11/2018 08:31 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

Offline niwax

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #16 on: 03/11/2018 08:34 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

Even at current SpaceX rates, does it make sense to build a constellation using a launcher that can only carry ~200kg? At their planned size, that's 39 individual launches.
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #17 on: 03/11/2018 09:11 pm »
 If Starlink works out, SpaceX will eliminate a whole lot of GSO business. It will be more than a lull.
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Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #18 on: 03/11/2018 09:24 pm »
If Starlink works out, SpaceX will eliminate a whole lot of GSO business. It will be more than a lull.
Multicast beams of some sort of design are one thing that works very, very well for SpaceX, even if it can't cope with the density for normal customers in congested areas.

If one customer in a beam footprint is watching something, then if you setup the authorisation right, only permitted watchers can actually see it, but you're only sending once, not a thousand identical streams.

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #19 on: 03/11/2018 10:11 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #20 on: 03/11/2018 11:50 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

We should start seeing these things now or very soon. Missions and payloads are years in the making and SpaceX’s manifest doesn’t show much past 2019. 
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Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #21 on: 03/12/2018 12:10 am »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

Even selling them at cost with reused boosters and reused Dragons they'd probably still be too expensive for most non-governmental users.

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #22 on: 03/12/2018 12:11 am »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #23 on: 03/12/2018 12:15 am »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/
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Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #24 on: 03/12/2018 12:50 am »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #25 on: 03/12/2018 01:40 am »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

Even selling them at cost with reused boosters and reused Dragons they'd probably still be too expensive for most non-governmental users.
They were talking $80m before reuse. Could probably go as low as $20m with reuse.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #26 on: 03/12/2018 10:15 am »
Here's one:

Quote
Gregg Burgess, Sierra Nevada Corp.: 85–95% of Dream Chaser mission costs is the launch. Various companies, including ULA, working to reduce launch costs. “Multiple companies” around the world proposing to do future Dream Chaser launches after the first two on Atlas 5.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/972938342760361984

So, why use the world's most expensive launcher?  Try the least expensive...

Flying the hell out of Dream Chaser for NASA and 'tourists' could keep a fleet of F9s busy.  The capsule experience, for those wanting to go 'retro' could be done with Dragon 2 -- the leggy version.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2018 10:50 am by AncientU »
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #27 on: 03/12/2018 12:32 pm »
Here's one:

Quote
Gregg Burgess, Sierra Nevada Corp.: 85–95% of Dream Chaser mission costs is the launch. Various companies, including ULA, working to reduce launch costs. “Multiple companies” around the world proposing to do future Dream Chaser launches after the first two on Atlas 5.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/972938342760361984

So, why use the world's most expensive launcher?  Try the least expensive...

Flying the hell out of Dream Chaser for NASA and 'tourists' could keep a fleet of F9s busy.  The capsule experience, for those wanting to go 'retro' could be done with Dragon 2 -- the leggy version.

Dreamchaser launches on the F9 would be cool.  But they are currently planning to launch inside the fairing.  So not exactly passenger friendly.

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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #28 on: 03/12/2018 12:49 pm »
Here's one:

Quote
Gregg Burgess, Sierra Nevada Corp.: 85–95% of Dream Chaser mission costs is the launch. Various companies, including ULA, working to reduce launch costs. “Multiple companies” around the world proposing to do future Dream Chaser launches after the first two on Atlas 5.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/972938342760361984

So, why use the world's most expensive launcher?  Try the least expensive...

Flying the hell out of Dream Chaser for NASA and 'tourists' could keep a fleet of F9s busy.  The capsule experience, for those wanting to go 'retro' could be done with Dragon 2 -- the leggy version.

Dreamchaser launches on the F9 would be cool.  But they are currently planning to launch inside the fairing.  So not exactly passenger friendly.

That's the cargo version. 
The passenger version was outside, right?
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Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #29 on: 03/12/2018 12:57 pm »
Here's one:

Quote
Gregg Burgess, Sierra Nevada Corp.: 85–95% of Dream Chaser mission costs is the launch. Various companies, including ULA, working to reduce launch costs. “Multiple companies” around the world proposing to do future Dream Chaser launches after the first two on Atlas 5.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/972938342760361984

So, why use the world's most expensive launcher?  Try the least expensive...

Flying the hell out of Dream Chaser for NASA and 'tourists' could keep a fleet of F9s busy.  The capsule experience, for those wanting to go 'retro' could be done with Dragon 2 -- the leggy version.

Dreamchaser launches on the F9 would be cool.  But they are currently planning to launch inside the fairing.  So not exactly passenger friendly.

That's the cargo version. 
The passenger version was outside, right?

Were the coupled vehicle loads ever confirmed to be ok for the unfaired version? Putting a big aerosurface atop a long skinny stick like F9 does not seem like a great idea...

Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #30 on: 03/12/2018 10:20 pm »
I know it's not happening, but I really thought that there would be many companies eager to run automated experiments on DragonLab flights and so far there has been none. Why is there no interest?

There is a lot of interest for doing experiments on the ISS, when NASA covers 90+% of the cost. That interest seems to evaporate once the whole price needs to be shouldered, even if relatively low with DragonLab.

If/when Falcon's manifest well and truly comes out of backlog I wonder if SpaceX may offer a few missions like DragonLab that are priced at marginal cost in hopes of generating future demand.

I suspect lots of things may happen when the manifest exits backlog.

Even selling them at cost with reused boosters and reused Dragons they'd probably still be too expensive for most non-governmental users.
They were talking $80m before reuse. Could probably go as low as $20m with reuse.

At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #31 on: 03/13/2018 09:38 am »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.
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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #32 on: 03/13/2018 10:06 am »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.

If he's using metric tons, that's $15.15 a pound.  ;D

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #33 on: 03/13/2018 10:11 am »
That's the cargo version. 
The passenger version was outside, right?
Were the coupled vehicle loads ever confirmed to be ok for the unfaired version? Putting a big aerosurface atop a long skinny stick like F9 does not seem like a great idea...

They were OK for the unfaired version on top of Atlas V. Courtesy of extensive CFD modeling and wind tunnel testing between 2010 and 2014.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2018 10:20 am by woods170 »

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #34 on: 03/13/2018 10:51 am »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.

If he's using metric tons, that's $15.15 a pound.  ;D

As somebody has pointed out, that's cheaper than the estimates for a space elevator:

Quote
For a space elevator, the cost varies according to the design. Bradley C. Edwards received funding from NIAC from 2001 to 2003 to write a paper, describing a space elevator design. In it he stated that: "The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound"
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #35 on: 03/13/2018 11:10 am »
That's 30,000 tonnes for $1B... the cost of building and launching one SLS/Orion.
2.5 orders of magnitude.
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Offline niwax

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #36 on: 03/13/2018 12:35 pm »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.

If he's using metric tons, that's $15.15 a pound.  ;D

As somebody has pointed out, that's cheaper than the estimates for a space elevator:

Quote
For a space elevator, the cost varies according to the design. Bradley C. Edwards received funding from NIAC from 2001 to 2003 to write a paper, describing a space elevator design. In it he stated that: "The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound"
Chances are he took current launch cost, dropped it by an order of magnitude and rounded. BOM on ficticious graphene/nanotube wire isn't exactly precise right now.
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Online jpo234

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #37 on: 03/13/2018 12:51 pm »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.

If he's using metric tons, that's $15.15 a pound.  ;D

As somebody has pointed out, that's cheaper than the estimates for a space elevator:

Quote
For a space elevator, the cost varies according to the design. Bradley C. Edwards received funding from NIAC from 2001 to 2003 to write a paper, describing a space elevator design. In it he stated that: "The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound"
Chances are he took current launch cost, dropped it by an order of magnitude and rounded. BOM on ficticious graphene/nanotube wire isn't exactly precise right now.

I wouldn't be surprised. The point is, that this was the aspirational cost target for a futuristic technology 15 years ago and BFR might beat it by an order of magnitude (if you adjust for inflation).
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #38 on: 03/13/2018 01:03 pm »
Nanotube wire exists, and has about the same strength as decent (but not state of the art) carbon fiber, but it costs the same as synthetic diamond. But chemically, nanotube wire is nearly identical to carbon fiber (although it is more flexible). You CAN build a space elevator with similar materials, but it’d never pay for itself in mass. We could launch it with BFR, but it’d be pointless.

Also, launch costs were $10,000/pound when the space elevator thing was at its peak hype like 15 years ago.
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Offline Mariusuiram

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #39 on: 03/13/2018 01:20 pm »
I doubt many of the traditional GEO sat companies are planning huge new GEO constellations. And even if they were, once SpaceX ramps up Starlink it will probably be hard to see them funding their direct competitor.

Big customers in the next 5-10 years (beyond SpaceX), in my mind, could be non-traditional commercial companies / pursuits. These are all probably low probability occurrences (say sub<35%), but don't need all to work:

Planet or their ilk: They are pushing the constant world coverage concept and if they manage to develop the algorithms they hope, their demands for higher resolution and better coverage should ramp up. With lower costs, it seems likely they could ramp up to a lot more satellites and slightly bigger (albeit still small vs traditional telescopes).

The Space Mining Companies: Its still a bit farfetched but maybe it does gain traction with some government funding or billionaire support. Likely would not be as simple as launching a single probe. Likely need multiple launches to NEO, which means relatively big rockets for small payloads.

Empire Building: Bigelow receives the most attention, but I would be shocked if there isnt another group looking at the lower launch cost trend and growing interest in space and coming up with a concept for a private space station / complex / whatever. Anything requiring significant volumes of material to space will be very dependent on the lowest possible costs, which at this point should be SpaceX.

Lastly, I also suspect there is a higher probability of government missions contracted "commercially". Military space seems to be shifting based on all the interviews I am reading and they are looking at completely new concepts for how to create distributed robust networks up there. This seems like something that SpaceX could benefit from as it would bring down the typical size as well as reduce the risk aversion.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #40 on: 03/13/2018 02:36 pm »
At SXSW Elon was saying the goal is $5M for 150 tons to NEO with BFR ready by the early 2020s.

If he is using US Tons that is an amazing $16 per pound.

If he's using metric tons, that's $15.15 a pound.  ;D

As somebody has pointed out, that's cheaper than the estimates for a space elevator:

Quote
For a space elevator, the cost varies according to the design. Bradley C. Edwards received funding from NIAC from 2001 to 2003 to write a paper, describing a space elevator design. In it he stated that: "The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound"
Chances are he took current launch cost, dropped it by an order of magnitude and rounded. BOM on ficticious graphene/nanotube wire isn't exactly precise right now.

He got a quote from Mitsui on nanotube price. Also the $100/lb price is for pound to GEO.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2018 02:37 pm by su27k »

Offline OccasionalTraveller

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #41 on: 03/13/2018 05:38 pm »
SES, and other operators, will at the very least need more satellites and launches when their current on-orbit satellites' station-keeping fuel runs out. Either new satellites to replace the old ones, or on-orbit servicing in the mould of SSL's Mission Extension Vehicle. I suspect that 2017 was a lull for ordering largely because 2002 was (using data from Gunter's Space Page - GEO-Sat Contracts). Orbit lifetime for GEO satellites has traditionally been 15 years.

One-for-one replacement assumes that SES (and the other players) aren't going to order additional satellites for their existing fleets. They're usually referred to as 'communication' satellites, but the vast majority of the payloads are direct-to-home broadcasting by satellite (DBS). SES has as part of their global fleet four satellites at 19.2°E serving Central Europe (Astra 1KR, 1L, 1M and 1N), and three at 28.2°E primarily serving the UK and Ireland (Astra 2E, 2F and 2G). 1KR was ordered in 2003 and flew in April 2006, with an anticipated 15 year lifetime, so unless it's performed much better than design lifetime, SES had better get on with ordering a replacement.

We're seeing a slow shift to 4K broadcasting as content becomes available. Channels tend to run the newest standard in parallel with older ones, so 4K requires new capacity. 4K requires four times as many pixels as HD, which (if using the same compression method and parameters) requires four times the bitrate. 4K content generally is using the newer HEVC/H.265 compression method rather than the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 used by most HD content, but while this has an eventual goal of using half the bitrate of H.264 for the same content, that implies that 4K will still need twice as much capacity as HD. Typically, early compressors (particularly real-time compressors for live content) barely achieve much improvement over the previous generation; I can't find anything particularly reliable on how HEVC is doing so far.

On the other hand, the 'cord-cutting' trend might be generalised to cancelling of subscriptions of all types. In some countries DBS subscriptions have dropped away - although in the UK this means that the viewer can still view BBC, ITV and other free-to-air channels using the same equipment.

On-demand Internet access to TV content through services like BBC iPlayer or Hulu is growing, but it has a major problem - each connection from a viewer to a content server is an independent connection, with the data being sent once for each viewer. Even live streaming content from a TV content provider, YouTube or Twitch is sent individually to each viewer. Multicasting does not yet work at internet scale, as far as I'm aware, it only works within a single ISP (e.g. AT&T U-verse).

There may be a shift from the current dumb birds - which know nothing of the format of the data being broadcast, and simply transpose from the uplink frequency to the downlink and rebroadcast - to smarter satellites that employ digital signal processing. This press release indicates that SES-14 was to be the first such satellite for SES. Whether that changes the equations for payload size, lifetime, and technology obsolescence, I don't know. It may mean smaller payloads that can then stay on orbit for longer; it may mean that the hardware is obsolete within a few years of being launched. I think SES suggested that it would be cheaper to build and launch the satellites and they would be replaced more frequently, but I can't find the slide that I saw that on.

It's probable that current analogue satellites will be replaced by digital ones only when their station-keeping fuel runs out or something else breaks (e.g. a steerable dish gets stuck, a reaction wheel fails), unless more capacity is required before then.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2018 05:45 pm by OccasionalTraveller »

Online Zed_Noir

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #42 on: 03/15/2018 08:47 am »
....
Big customers in the next 5-10 years (beyond SpaceX), in my mind, could be non-traditional commercial companies / pursuits. These are all probably low probability occurrences (say sub<35%), but don't need all to work:

Planet or their ilk: They are pushing the constant world coverage concept and if they manage to develop the algorithms they hope, their demands for higher resolution and better coverage should ramp up. With lower costs, it seems likely they could ramp up to a lot more satellites and slightly bigger (albeit still small vs traditional telescopes).
....

Planet and their irk might not survive competition from SpaceX. The VLEO portion of the Starlink constellation are good platforms for observation. It will not be hard or expensive to add a mass produced optical sensory package to the later iterations of the Starlink VLEO birds. It seems to me that SpaceX will just absorb the market segment of LEO & VLEO observation constellations eventually.

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #43 on: 03/15/2018 10:18 pm »
....
Big customers in the next 5-10 years (beyond SpaceX), in my mind, could be non-traditional commercial companies / pursuits. These are all probably low probability occurrences (say sub<35%), but don't need all to work:

Planet or their ilk: They are pushing the constant world coverage concept and if they manage to develop the algorithms they hope, their demands for higher resolution and better coverage should ramp up. With lower costs, it seems likely they could ramp up to a lot more satellites and slightly bigger (albeit still small vs traditional telescopes).
....

Planet and their irk might not survive competition from SpaceX. The VLEO portion of the Starlink constellation are good platforms for observation. It will not be hard or expensive to add a mass produced optical sensory package to the later iterations of the Starlink VLEO birds. It seems to me that SpaceX will just absorb the market segment of LEO & VLEO observation constellations eventually.

Starlink may provide secondary payload slots on Starlink sats to third parties, like the new Iridium sats. A smart player would contract for a large quantity of VLEO secondary slots, then reuse the beam director for the intersat lasercomm as their optical sensor telescope frame basis (though would likely need something like a membrane lens to increase aperture). One could essentially become a third party earth observation organization with nation-state capabilities, like an outsourced NRO. I get the impression Musk didn't want to involve himself in that, as he wanted to be the satellite equivalent to a dumb pipe provider competitor, much in the way cellular carriers began to undercut each other approaching marginal cost of data transmission once a low cost player entered the field. For certain customers, having near 24/7 on-demand optical coverage would be game changing. As the number of sensors goes up, that coverage approaches 24/7 realtime continuous coverage as well.

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #44 on: 03/15/2018 10:47 pm »
... reuse the beam director for the intersat lasercomm as their optical sensor telescope frame basis (though would likely need something like a membrane lens to increase aperture).

Are membrane lenses a thing yet?  Are you talking about a photon sieve or a Fresnel lens?

I know folks who worked on in-space laser communications.  They just used smallish silicon carbide mirrors.

Quote
For certain customers, having near 24/7 on-demand optical coverage would be game changing. As the number of sensors goes up, that coverage approaches 24/7 realtime continuous coverage as well.

How big is this market?  My understanding is that Planet Labs is having a hard time making this case to anyone with a lot of money.  The usual examples are for things like ports where you'd like to track containers.  The folks that really care about that have video cameras mounted on nearby buildings, which is a lot cheaper than satellites.

Offline Rocket Rancher

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #45 on: 03/15/2018 10:55 pm »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

I don't think there has been enough Soyuzs booked to launch that many, hence the Blue Origin deal.
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Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #46 on: 03/16/2018 12:36 am »
The GTO satellite market is in a lull. Are their expectations that one of the big players is going to announce a new set of GTO satellites (5+) due to launch in 3-4 years? Or are they all building and launching one at a time?

Is the chance of SpaceX launching some OneWeb sats greater than 0? For example, if LauncherOne isn't able to meet the schedule?

Is LauncherOne really going to be cheaper than SpaceX? Would OneWeb pay more than SpaceX rates just because they perceive StarLink as a competitor. I imagine SpaceX would have no problem launching OneWeb satellites.

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

I don't think there has been enough Soyuzs booked to launch that many, hence the Blue Origin deal.

They booked 21 Soyuz and were looking at 32-36 sats per flight.

Online Roy_H

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #47 on: 03/16/2018 09:20 pm »

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

I don't think there has been enough Soyuzs booked to launch that many, hence the Blue Origin deal.

They booked 21 Soyuz and were looking at 32-36 sats per flight.

So that works out to a quite reasonable $40M to $45M / flight. Soyuz mass to LEO ~7,100kg, Falcon 9 (with recovered booster) ~ 15,000kg or about twice Soyuz although I don't know if 70 satellites would fit in the F9 fairing. Just trying to figure out how much of a premium One Web is paying vs launching via SpaceX.
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Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #48 on: 03/16/2018 09:38 pm »

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

I don't think there has been enough Soyuzs booked to launch that many, hence the Blue Origin deal.

They booked 21 Soyuz and were looking at 32-36 sats per flight.

So that works out to a quite reasonable $40M to $45M / flight. Soyuz mass to LEO ~7,100kg, Falcon 9 (with recovered booster) ~ 15,000kg or about twice Soyuz although I don't know if 70 satellites would fit in the F9 fairing. Just trying to figure out how much of a premium One Web is paying vs launching via SpaceX.

The contract value is somewhere in the $1B to $1.5B range.  It includes options for 5 more Soyuz and 3 Ariane 6.  The initial OneWeb deployment is 648? satellites, which is covered by having at least (10 on first flight) + (20 x 32) = 650 on the 21 Soyuz flights.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #49 on: 03/16/2018 10:14 pm »
Middle of that range ($1.25B) equates to $1.86M/sat.  NG is launching 400 on five flights... a price per launch of $150M would match the Soyuz per sat price.  Likely Blue significantly undercut this price with launches in the $100M-$120M range.  Falcon might be able to lift half the NG payload at roughly half the price, so comparable value to a constellation operator.  Doesn't seem anyone else can compete at this price point.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #50 on: 03/17/2018 03:03 am »

The OneWeb constellation is being deployed on Soyuz rockets.

Not all of them.   http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-gets-oneweb-as-second-new-glenn-customer/

The first ~700 Oneweb sats will launch on Soyuz.

I don't think there has been enough Soyuzs booked to launch that many, hence the Blue Origin deal.

They booked 21 Soyuz and were looking at 32-36 sats per flight.

So that works out to a quite reasonable $40M to $45M / flight. Soyuz mass to LEO ~7,100kg, Falcon 9 (with recovered booster) ~ 15,000kg or about twice Soyuz although I don't know if 70 satellites would fit in the F9 fairing. Just trying to figure out how much of a premium One Web is paying vs launching via SpaceX.
Soyuz has a much smaller fairing, so double probably would fit just fine in Falcon 9. And for 10 flights or so, SpaceX probably could be bargained with.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #51 on: 03/17/2018 03:10 am »
Middle of that range ($1.25B) equates to $1.86M/sat.  NG is launching 400 on five flights... a price per launch of $150M would match the Soyuz per sat price.  Likely Blue significantly undercut this price with launches in the $100M-$120M range.  Falcon might be able to lift half the NG payload at roughly half the price, so comparable value to a constellation operator.  Doesn't seem anyone else can compete at this price point.
Of course, if you can fit them in the FH fairing (which could get a little larger), for a fully recovered FH, that's 140 satellites for $90m, or just $640,000 per satellite.

Fully expendable FH, at $150, would be cheaper still, but you'd likely run into volume constraints. Still, for $150m, you could probably launch 310 of them, equating to $480,000 per launch.


...and heck, while we're at it... BFR could launch like 750 of them for less than a $10 million Falcon 1, so $13,000 per satellite. (Of course, I expect BFR will be priced similar to F9 and FH until development is paid off, unless you have some bargaining power.)
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #52 on: 03/17/2018 10:08 am »
Middle of that range ($1.25B) equates to $1.86M/sat.  NG is launching 400 on five flights... a price per launch of $150M would match the Soyuz per sat price.  Likely Blue significantly undercut this price with launches in the $100M-$120M range.  Falcon might be able to lift half the NG payload at roughly half the price, so comparable value to a constellation operator.  Doesn't seem anyone else can compete at this price point.
Of course, if you can fit them in the FH fairing (which could get a little larger), for a fully recovered FH, that's 140 satellites for $90m, or just $640,000 per satellite.

Fully expendable FH, at $150, would be cheaper still, but you'd likely run into volume constraints. Still, for $150m, you could probably launch 310 of them, equating to $480,000 per launch.


...and heck, while we're at it... BFR could launch like 750 of them for less than a $10 million Falcon 1, so $13,000 per satellite. (Of course, I expect BFR will be priced similar to F9 and FH until development is paid off, unless you have some bargaining power.)

It seems that these constellation sats are going to generally be volume limited -- indications from Blue that customers love the 7m fairing, and Falcon's notably volume-limited fairing.  The mass-limited end of the spectrum will be propellants, bulk supplies like food and water, maybe heavy equipment for construction...
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #53 on: 03/18/2018 11:24 pm »
Only LEO payloads are likely to be volume limited on Falcon 9 and even most on Falcon heavy.

SpaceX can always make a larger fairing. But there has to be sufficient demand. I just don’t buy this being a significant constraint for spaceX, even though people keep trying to make it so. If it were, they’d simply make another bigger fairing.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #54 on: 03/19/2018 09:34 am »
Only LEO payloads are likely to be volume limited on Falcon 9 and even most on Falcon heavy.

SpaceX can always make a larger fairing. But there has to be sufficient demand. I just don’t buy this being a significant constraint for spaceX, even though people keep trying to make it so. If it were, they’d simply make another bigger fairing.

I guess a bigger fairing is just as impossible as getting a rover out of RedDragon. Though that is out now I just shake my head remembering the endless discussion about that.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #55 on: 03/19/2018 09:49 am »
Only LEO payloads are likely to be volume limited on Falcon 9 and even most on Falcon heavy.

SpaceX can always make a larger fairing. But there has to be sufficient demand. I just don’t buy this being a significant constraint for spaceX, even though people keep trying to make it so. If it were, they’d simply make another bigger fairing.

External demand?  I don't think so.

I suspect they'll build the fairing next year, qualifying for Class C payloads and preparing for constellation initial deployment.
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Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #56 on: 03/21/2018 04:47 am »
... reuse the beam director for the intersat lasercomm as their optical sensor telescope frame basis (though would likely need something like a membrane lens to increase aperture).

Are membrane lenses a thing yet?  Are you talking about a photon sieve or a Fresnel lens?

I know folks who worked on in-space laser communications.  They just used smallish silicon carbide mirrors.

Quote
For certain customers, having near 24/7 on-demand optical coverage would be game changing. As the number of sensors goes up, that coverage approaches 24/7 realtime continuous coverage as well.

How big is this market?  My understanding is that Planet Labs is having a hard time making this case to anyone with a lot of money.  The usual examples are for things like ports where you'd like to track containers.  The folks that really care about that have video cameras mounted on nearby buildings, which is a lot cheaper than satellites.

The Falconsat demo was a photon sieve lens, and DARPA MOIRE project originally was a photon sieve but switched to segmented membrane fresnel lens.

Starlink lasercomm has been described as using a 6 inch SiC primary mirror.

As for the on-demand surveillance market, Planet still is ridesharing, so their distribution isn't great. Planet is now trying to add propulsion capabilities, which should improve their sat distribution. Shortening the tasking cycle and lowering cost will change the nature of market. There's a group trying to get tasking down to 90 minutes right now, orderable through a smartphone app, to give a sense of the changes occurring in this space. When you get to full continuous coverage though, the economics change significantly enough that the very nature of the market changes.

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #57 on: 03/22/2018 05:30 pm »
The Falconsat demo was a photon sieve lens, and DARPA MOIRE project originally was a photon sieve but switched to segmented membrane fresnel lens.

Thanks for that pointer.  I'll go read about those.

Quote
As for the on-demand surveillance market, Planet still is ridesharing, so their distribution isn't great. Planet is now trying to add propulsion capabilities, which should improve their sat distribution. Shortening the tasking cycle and lowering cost will change the nature of market. There's a group trying to get tasking down to 90 minutes right now, orderable through a smartphone app, to give a sense of the changes occurring in this space. When you get to full continuous coverage though, the economics change significantly enough that the very nature of the market changes.

But... who's going to buy this imagery?  And how much are they going to buy? Remember that it's 3-5 meter GSD.  What problem does that solve?  I have talked to farmers and other folks in Ag about this.  They can't figure out what Planet's value proposition is.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #58 on: 03/22/2018 06:00 pm »
Well, FarmersEdge is a customer now that this farmer down the road from me use the imagery to say Hi to space with his cows:

http://www.kansas.com/news/business/agriculture/article205574004.html

What he uses it for is kinda silly. But the resolution is enough for farmers in that group to benefit by applying the images to their needs.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #59 on: 03/22/2018 07:46 pm »


... reuse the beam director for the intersat lasercomm as their optical sensor telescope frame basis (though would likely need something like a membrane lens to increase aperture).

Are membrane lenses a thing yet?  Are you talking about a photon sieve or a Fresnel lens?

I know folks who worked on in-space laser communications.  They just used smallish silicon carbide mirrors.

Quote
For certain customers, having near 24/7 on-demand optical coverage would be game changing. As the number of sensors goes up, that coverage approaches 24/7 realtime continuous coverage as well.

How big is this market?  My understanding is that Planet Labs is having a hard time making this case to anyone with a lot of money.  The usual examples are for things like ports where you'd like to track containers.  The folks that really care about that have video cameras mounted on nearby buildings, which is a lot cheaper than satellites.

The Falconsat demo was a photon sieve lens, and DARPA MOIRE project originally was a photon sieve but switched to segmented membrane fresnel lens.

Starlink lasercomm has been described as using a 6 inch SiC primary mirror.

As for the on-demand surveillance market, Planet still is ridesharing, so their distribution isn't great. Planet is now trying to add propulsion capabilities, which should improve their sat distribution. Shortening the tasking cycle and lowering cost will change the nature of market. There's a group trying to get tasking down to 90 minutes right now, orderable through a smartphone app, to give a sense of the changes occurring in this space. When you get to full continuous coverage though, the economics change significantly enough that the very nature of the market changes.

Planet business is packaging and selling of data from earth observation images of varies spectrums. Satellite business is just an necessary evil to collect this data. They are not opposed to buying data from other constellation operators.

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #60 on: 03/28/2018 01:22 am »
Well, FarmersEdge is a customer now....What he uses it for is kinda silly.

That's my point.  I've yet to hear about a non-silly need for Planet Labs style imagery.  The kind of need where lots of folks in the same situation say, yeah, that's a good idea, and buy as well.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #61 on: 03/28/2018 01:55 am »
Planet Labs is awesome for checking on construction status. Particularly their new Skybox which has 0.9m imagery.

I can check to see if Raptor or BE-4 has had any test firings and when based on ground burn markings. I can watch as Tesla expands the Gigafactory, places solar panels, etc.

If you want to know what your competitors are up to or if some company you’re considering investing in is BSing you, Planet Labs provides pretty valuable insight. The higher resolution Skyboxes are a real game-changer, too. You can see exactly what stage of construction something is in. You can measure stockpiles of coal or other commodities.
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Offline rory

Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #62 on: 03/28/2018 02:28 am »
Well, FarmersEdge is a customer now....What he uses it for is kinda silly.

That's my point.  I've yet to hear about a non-silly need for Planet Labs style imagery.  The kind of need where lots of folks in the same situation say, yeah, that's a good idea, and buy as well.

Who's to say the FarmersEdge daily satellite imagery is silly? They've been resellers since at least early 2016, along with FarmLogs. It's important enough to their product that it's featured on the top bar of their website — in fact it seems to be the basis of all their mapping features.

FarmersEdge has raised over $60 million. FarmLogs has raised another $37 million. I think it's safe to say their Planet imagery is providing real value to many paying customers.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #63 on: 03/28/2018 01:17 pm »
Your right. Only meant the one example was fun and silly. It was meant to say I don't know how the data is used by the customer.

Offline niwax

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #64 on: 03/28/2018 03:13 pm »
This is an interesting recent video covering aerial photo applications and companies:
For example, the Gates Foundation relies on low-cost satellite imagery to count huts in Africa for population estimation to guide humanitarian efforts.
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Online First Mate Rummey

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #65 on: 03/28/2018 04:08 pm »
I don't think SpaceX is willing to launch OneWeb satellites at this point. Higher launch costs or longer time to deploy OneWeb with non SpaceX launcher will make Starlink more competitive. This may change, for example if OneWeb will become a lot more or a lot less competitive than Starlink, than SpaceX may be fine with launching if it doesn't directly impact its constellation business.

Maybe also true for DreamChaser. Each of the three companies has a minimum of 6 launches each. Using F9 (rather than a costly other launcher) for DreamChaser would make it more competitive than F9 + Dragon for eventual additional launches.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #66 on: 03/28/2018 04:21 pm »
I don't think SpaceX is willing to launch OneWeb satellites at this point. Higher launch costs or longer time to deploy OneWeb with non SpaceX launcher will make Starlink more competitive. This may change, for example if OneWeb will become a lot more or a lot less competitive than Starlink, than SpaceX may be fine with launching if it doesn't directly impact its constellation business.

Maybe also true for DreamChaser. Each of the three companies has a minimum of 6 launches each. Using F9 (rather than a costly other launcher) for DreamChaser would make it more competitive than F9 + Dragon for eventual additional launches.

I'd bet they would. 

I understand your logic, but launch revenue could fund the deployment of Starlink.  And I'm sure Starlink will get a better price per launch.  Each launch of the Falcon family makes the next launch cheaper and improves the overall position of SpaceX in the marketplace.

They have the launch sites and Block 5 could be the vehicle that makes it possible to do 30-40 launches a year.  That's a lot of launches.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2018 04:22 pm by wannamoonbase »
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Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #67 on: 03/28/2018 07:15 pm »
Can't see SpaceX turning OneWeb away once they have room on their manifest. Doesn't mean they give them a great price though....
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #68 on: 03/28/2018 07:27 pm »
I don't think SpaceX is willing to launch OneWeb satellites at this point. Higher launch costs or longer time to deploy OneWeb with non SpaceX launcher will make Starlink more competitive. This may change, for example if OneWeb will become a lot more or a lot less competitive than Starlink, than SpaceX may be fine with launching if it doesn't directly impact its constellation business.

Maybe also true for DreamChaser. Each of the three companies has a minimum of 6 launches each. Using F9 (rather than a costly other launcher) for DreamChaser would make it more competitive than F9 + Dragon for eventual additional launches.

I'd bet they would. 

I understand your logic, but launch revenue could fund the deployment of Starlink.  And I'm sure Starlink will get a better price per launch.  Each launch of the Falcon family makes the next launch cheaper and improves the overall position of SpaceX in the marketplace.

They have the launch sites and Block 5 could be the vehicle that makes it possible to do 30-40 launches a year.  That's a lot of launches.

Getting these payloads on Falcon takes them off the table for other (more expensive) launch services suppliers, which is as important to long term goals as is making money on Dragon 2, for instance. 

Starlink will always be flown at cost vs OneWeb being at market price, so that dollars per sat on orbit advantage is guaranteed.  Starlink needs to win the global internet market competition based on satellite capabilities and system software, though, more than launch expense, IMO. 
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #69 on: 03/28/2018 08:00 pm »
I don't think SpaceX is willing to launch OneWeb satellites at this point. Higher launch costs or longer time to deploy OneWeb with non SpaceX launcher will make Starlink more competitive. This may change, for example if OneWeb will become a lot more or a lot less competitive than Starlink, than SpaceX may be fine with launching if it doesn't directly impact its constellation business.

Maybe also true for DreamChaser. Each of the three companies has a minimum of 6 launches each. Using F9 (rather than a costly other launcher) for DreamChaser would make it more competitive than F9 + Dragon for eventual additional launches.

I'd bet they would. 

I understand your logic, but launch revenue could fund the deployment of Starlink.  And I'm sure Starlink will get a better price per launch.  Each launch of the Falcon family makes the next launch cheaper and improves the overall position of SpaceX in the marketplace.

They have the launch sites and Block 5 could be the vehicle that makes it possible to do 30-40 launches a year.  That's a lot of launches.

Getting these payloads on Falcon takes them off the table for other (more expensive) launch services suppliers, which is as important to long term goals as is making money on Dragon 2, for instance. 

Starlink will always be flown at cost vs OneWeb being at market price, so that dollars per sat on orbit advantage is guaranteed.  Starlink needs to win the global internet market competition based on satellite capabilities and system software, though, more than launch expense, IMO.
Its a competition thing and the "Cost of Money" item is a major hidden cost in the business case. This is how much the capital outlay at the beginning of the effort costs before the effort makes money. Starlink gets rides at SpaceX internal cost. One Web would get rides for the Internal cost + some profit %. That would be some where above a 20% value. So if the internal cost is $.75M/sat then the profit value could be $.25M for a total of $1M per sat for a much lighter sat. But note this is a competitive price per sat for One Web to other providers. It would make on the launch every 100 sats $25M in profits for SpaceX. For every 1000 sats $250M in profits. This is a significant customer and would not be ignored by the space access transport arm of SpaceX even if it is a competitor to Starlink. Starlink would still have the advantage because of the "Cost of Money" issue because of a lower cost per sat for deployment and a lower capital expenses prior to revenue generation.

Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #70 on: 03/28/2018 08:43 pm »
Getting these payloads on Falcon takes them off the table for other (more expensive) launch services suppliers, which is as important to long term goals as is making money on Dragon 2, for instance. 

Starlink will always be flown at cost vs OneWeb being at market price, so that dollars per sat on orbit advantage is guaranteed.  Starlink needs to win the global internet market competition based on satellite capabilities and system software, though, more than launch expense, IMO.

Starlink needs to win (from a Musk perspective) for any reason at all.
This can include the satellites being a really nice shade of purple, if that turns out to be important.

Rather more likely to be important is a six or twelve month in getting a full constellation deployed. If Starlink gets up and working in the minimal usable configuration six months earlier, due to other providers not being able to launch as fast, that could rapidly drive revenues which dwarf the launch profits.

These revenues can be directly plowed into finishing BFR and BFS and incidentally killing off any temporary benefit to other launch providers.

Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #71 on: 03/28/2018 08:44 pm »
I think you're both right but I have to give a lot of credit to AncientU for the 'starve the other providers" aspect which is perhaps more easily overlooked.

on the other hand, Speedevil's "get there first" aspect has a lot of merit.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2018 09:01 pm by Lar »
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Offline Jcc

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #72 on: 03/28/2018 09:53 pm »
It's possible for both Starlink and OneWeb to be successful, as broadband becomes truly ubiquitous and cheaper, demand for it will go up everywhere. The difference between 800 sats and up to 12000 says that Starlink will have far greater capacity even if OneWeb is first to market, the best scenario for OneWeb is they saturate their system with customers and traffic, but Starlink could undercut their price and win customers from them.

Anyway, the willingness to launch a competitors satellites would be a defense against charges of monopoly and regulators going after them, so they should want OneWeb to succeed.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #73 on: 03/29/2018 05:41 am »
From an anti-trust standpoint SpaceX has to offer the same price for launch services to their competitor OneWeb that they offer other customers. So if OneWeb wants to ride a F9/FH/BFR then all they have to do is contract with SpaceX. SpaceX is not really in a position to refuse.

As total number of flights per year increases then the margins on profits per flight increase because there is less fixed costs applied to each individual launch. By OneWeb contracting will SpaceX it may actual reduce the launch costs for Starlink because flight rate increases.

Now back to who or what may be SpaceX's next big commercial customer. We have stated the obvious of Starlink and OneWeb but there could be a new application or business case that closes with lower launch costs than what is currently available. One such item that keeps being kicked down the road is Space Based Solar Power Satellites. To close the business case the $/kg needs be be < $500/kg. The best currently is FH with a possible of as low as $2,000/kg. But if the business case closes the launches is not 50 to hundred its more like hundreds to a thousand launches of something as big as the BFR.

In the future I see two different large customer types. Large sat constellation operators and bulk cargo for very large on-orbit construction or propellant for interplanetary flights. At the moment it only seems like the first type have business cases that currently close (maybe). But a bulk cargo application could show up based on providing an alternative to the high individual costs of launching to common orbits such as an on-orbit (probably LEO) satellite assembly and deployment facility that accepts bulk shipment of assemblies that is them fashioned into final satellites that is then using a refuelable tug (prop depot required) to do the deployment. This business case has been studied but there is yet to be enough monetary incentive to implement mainly a lack of low $/kg bulk transport.

The final leg in this is that although the FH is a beast it is still not really large enough or cheap enough for the bulk transport business cases to close so that by default leaves only large constellation operators as the possible next big customer. But we can still be surprised if NASA chooses on a fast trac BEO HSF support flights for its new Lunar focus. 2 to 4 FH launches each year is still significant even if the number of launches is low. Yearly contract value $200-500M depending on circumstances and number of launches. Such contracts would be multiple years on the order of 3 to 5 or a total contract value of $.6B to $2.5B. So don't count the US government out quite yet as a player in this game of who and what will be the next big customer.

Offline Mader Levap

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #74 on: 03/29/2018 02:48 pm »
There is very simple reason for SpaceX to launch OneWeb. These sats will be launched either way by someone, so why not get something out of it, even if it is for competing constellation?
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Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #75 on: 03/30/2018 02:06 am »
For example, the Gates Foundation relies on low-cost satellite imagery to count huts in Africa for population estimation to guide humanitarian efforts.

Not an example of a trillion dollar business though.  Humanitarian efforts are tens of billions a year, the imagery part of that might be tens of millions a year at best, more likely a million a year, as they are going to use older imagery that hasn't been shot to spec and so is much cheaper.

Cellphone and broadband service is a large scale business.  Oil is a large scale business.  The business of space-based imagery seems mostly to be building satellites for spooks who use it when they can't get a drone in.

Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #76 on: 03/30/2018 02:36 am »
For example, the Gates Foundation relies on low-cost satellite imagery to count huts in Africa for population estimation to guide humanitarian efforts.
>
The business of space-based imagery seems mostly to be building satellites for spooks who use it when they can't get a drone in.

Except for the large number of farmers who use satellite imagry to keep track of their crops*, businesses, cities, and villages for muicipal needs etc. etc. My family includes farmers in WI, PA and MI and every one of them now uses satellite imagry.

* ex: Land O’Lakes (the dairy & butter co.) bought GEOSYS, and resells imagry to farmers through agricutural retailers.
« Last Edit: 03/30/2018 02:45 am by docmordrid »
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Offline Mader Levap

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #77 on: 03/30/2018 12:51 pm »
  The business of space-based imagery seems mostly to be building satellites for spooks who use it when they can't get a drone in.

Ahahahaha. No.



How you can write that just after posting this very video? Did you even watch it?
« Last Edit: 03/30/2018 12:52 pm by Mader Levap »
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Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #78 on: 04/01/2018 12:20 am »
That video is supposed to be thrilling, but it doesn't say much quantitative, except in the title.
  • At 3:10, it says that the GSD of WorldView 4 is 30 cm, which means that it "can clearly see a single sheet of paper placed in a parking lot".  No.  A single sheet of paper would be barely resolved.
  • At 3:35, Dan Jablonsky talks about how his satellites, at 30 cm resolution, can see lane and turn markings on roads.  Supplying that imagery might be a real business, except all the companies that do road mapping do it from cars, not satellites.  This Vox article says that Google and competitors must spend $1-2 billion/year on road mapping.  That seems a bit high.  This NY Times article mentions that the Google team in Hyderabad that converts imagery to the lane graph is "over 2000" people.  2000 entry-level workers in India is more like $10m/year.  Obviously the overall program costs more than that but not two orders of magnitude more.  [I led the team that built Google's StreetView cameras.]
  • At 9:20, DG is giving imagery to Gates foundation at a huge discount because otherwise the satellites would be unused over those areas.
  • At 11:00, Dan Jablonsky says "Our largest customer is the US Government."  Which is what I said.  The next biggest customers are other governments.
  • After that is mapping companies.  The mapping companies do not pay the same as USG does for imagery, because they typically buy older imagery and don't specifically task the satellites.  This Forbes article says Microsoft spent $130 million getting a 30cm GSD basemap of all of Europe and the US, and that was very expensive because they did it from airplanes.
  • At 13:18 comes the most important quote in this video.  "Our customers are demanding more actionable information..."  That's the business.  To make money in the imagery biz, you have to deliver information which makes it possible for your customers to make even more money than you are.
  • And then at 19:00, this becomes a banner for Maxar and a plea for the public to pay for lots of programs that will benefit Maxar.

  • In short, this video does not suggest how space imagery can be even a multibillion dollar a year business, let alone a trillion dollar a year business.

    Offline Mader Levap

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    Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
    « Reply #79 on: 04/01/2018 01:42 pm »
  • At 11:00, Dan Jablonsky says "Our largest customer is the US Government."  Which is what I said.
  • Nope. You said it is for spooks. Big difference.
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    Offline IainMcClatchie

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    Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
    « Reply #80 on: 04/04/2018 04:40 am »
  • At 11:00, Dan Jablonsky says "Our largest customer is the US Government."  Which is what I said.

  • Nope. You said it is for spooks. Big difference.

    You're right, that is what I said.  To my mind, spooks pretty much are the USG, from an overhead imagery revenue perspective.

    The largest single non-spook US government customer that I know of is the National Agricultural Imagery Program [Edit: looked at old notes, forgot about USGS, duh].  NAIP shoots the entire US every three years from airplanes, and contracts with the six largest aerial imagery collection companies.  They shoot leaf-on, which is the opposite of what everyone else wants.  Because they shoot when most everyone else is idle, and because they are so large in scale, they pay less per area than every other (non-spook government) customer and (to date) the imagery shot is promptly put in the public domain.

    Interestingly (for me), the various government agencies that NAIP coordinates with are having trouble working together (article).  The result is that NAIP is probably going to move to a model where they pay providers less, but the imagery is only usable to the US Department of Agriculture.  The other government agencies will have to pay the providers for their own licenses, and the overall revenue for the same imagery collected will go up.  Folks who used to use the freely available imagery are out of luck.

    Edit: added USGS budget.  This got much bigger in 2017 due to $22m of Landsat and Sentinel 2 budget added.  I'm not sure where that was before, maybe NASA?

    NAIP 2017 budget:               $24.1m.
    USGS 2017 imagery budget: $55.1m
    NGIA 2017 budget:           $4900m (estimated, classified)

    Obviously just some of the NGIA budget is spent on collection, but it's a sizeable fraction.

    My estimate is that spooks spend an order of magnitude more on imagery than other USG customers.  Budgets for non-spook imagery are decreasing rather than increasing, and I suspect classified imagery budgets are down from the all-time high of the 1967 - 1984 KH-9 program, whose budget and some of the imagery collected are the only things still classified about that program since my friend Phil Pressel got it declassified.
    « Last Edit: 04/04/2018 05:09 am by IainMcClatchie »

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