Author Topic: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)  (Read 5464 times)

Offline philw1776

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Since some of us can't stop kvetching about SpaceX funding for BFR R&D I thought a dedicated topic could firewall these concerns.  This thread covers...
A) Funding initial R&D including prototype test flights (LEO & wherever, not Mars)
B) Funding the 1st 2 synods of Mars landings

Interested in how your estimates vary from my 1st cut.

Scenario A: Initial R&D and early test flights
2019-2021  3 year outlook as BFR goes proto & test flights
Sources of Funds:
1) Commercial launches: Say 23 launches per year at $60M price each yields gross revenue ~$1,380M
IF profit after manufacturing & operations is $30M/flight, cash in = $690M
2) CRS and crew Dragon launches.  I don't know the payment schedule but I believe payment comes after each launch.  Total swags: 5 launches/year at price $100M (Dragon costs & No crew Dragon re-use) with profit $60M each yields $300M cash in.  Folks here on NSF will have much better #s.
3) Other launches FH, Air Force guess $100M cash in placeholder
4) Advanced payment on space tourism flights. $50M/year
5) Comsat revenue: over this time period it is an expense
TOTAL: $1,140M

Uses of Funds:
1) Employees:  SpaceX has ~7,000 employees.  Burdened cost/employee (most are engineers & skilled technical) my guess $120K/employee.  Total ~$840M/year
2) Facilities:  Includes 2.1) all buildings operational & lease payments and 2.2) construction of new Long Beach factory, McG test facilities, Boca & Cape launch control centers and pads.  I have no idea about these costs.  Placeholder guess $200M/year

These total $1,040M leaving $100M/year free cash for BFR, et.al. R&D expenses.  ???

SpaceX has had investments from Google & Fidelity ~$1,000M but that was years ago.  Do not know how much of that is left for R&D in 2019-2021.
I'm sure I've left some items out, both costs & expenses.

Wildcards could be some financial deal funding the comsat constellation where there's investor cash down to fund engineers & satellites plus advanced deposits on launches, probably bulk discounted at a lesser than $30M/launch profit.  Maybe booster re-use keeps profit at this level.  No idea.

Once we're on a better footing here we can move on and guestimate initial manufacturing costs of the 1st few BFRs & BFSs
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Offline speedevil

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #1 on: 09/16/2018 03:17 PM »
Scenario A: Initial R&D and early test flights
2019-2021  3 year outlook as BFR goes proto & test flights
5) Comsat revenue: over this time period it is an expense
I'm not sure I believe this.
This implies that the constellation is only activated in 2021, with full rollout by Sep 2023. (FCC deadline to get it all up - including the very low orbit ones).

For the initial constellation at ~1000km or so, you need at most two planes - several F9 launches at most to fully demonstrate the service to investors fully, with around 100 satellites of 4000. This would greatly reduce the price of money - if investors can take a terminal home and use the internet on it, at nominal speeds albeit a couple of hours a day.

An initial sparse constellation of some 500-600 of the 4000 higher orbit satellites would have capabilities broadly similar to oneweb, and be able to sell capacity directly to users - though it would be limited to areas with around a tenth of the design population.

On the cost front - Elon has said in '2-3 years' they may have a 'fully reusable' F9 costing $6M to launch.
That slashes some $400M/year from costs - if they can get it to work.
If this in fact is true, it also means that BFS has much less of an advantage for launching the satellites, as the BFS can't carry enough satellites to come close to its nominal launch mass, because of having to dispense into multiple planes.

Offline su27k

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #2 on: 09/16/2018 03:36 PM »
IF profit after manufacturing & operations is $30M/flight, cash in = $690M

<snip>

Uses of Funds:
1) Employees:  SpaceX has ~7,000 employees.  Burdened cost/employee (most are engineers & skilled technical) my guess $120K/employee.  Total ~$840M/year
2) Facilities:  Includes 2.1) all buildings operational & lease payments and 2.2) construction of new Long Beach factory, McG test facilities, Boca & Cape launch control centers and pads.  I have no idea about these costs.  Placeholder guess $200M/year

You're double counting here, the manufacturing & operations cost should already included some of the employee salary and facilities cost.

In general I don't see anyway to do a breakdown without going horribly wrong with numbers. I think the only realistic estimate is assuming they can put x% of the company resources (mostly headcount) into BFR project, and try to estimate x. x% times the total revenue would represent the R&D money they put into BFR. For major capital expenditures such as the factory or launch pad, I assume they'll use outside investment (including possible government development contract money) to cover them.

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #3 on: 09/16/2018 03:41 PM »
philw1776

a pretty good SWAG if anything in my guess very generous.  It did surprise me the money available was that low...

interesting analysis

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #4 on: 09/16/2018 03:42 PM »
BFR has no problem dispensing in multiple planes.
1) the satellites have powerful electric thrusters and can move around a lot
2) nodal precession makes moving to different planes merely a matter of waiting for a little bit before final insertion.
3) BFR has propellant to spare AND, because it has good hypersonic lift to drag, it can aerodynamically change planes by diving slightly into the atmosphere. This roughly halves the Delta-v required.

Also, BFR allows reuse of the satellite dispenser which alone can cost millions of dollars.
« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 04:10 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online meekGee

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #5 on: 09/16/2018 03:51 PM »
Is there any evidence that BFR will require much larger workforce?

SpaceX is done with Falcon, Merlin and Dragon development. Not will soon begin to ramp-down manufacturing.

This is where more traditional companies idiotically start downsizing the engineering workforce.  SpaceX won't.

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That, plus I don't see how SpaceX today can't raise single-digit $B just by raising their hand. People will be lining up to be part of this.

"Those of us" that keep the skeptical snark on don't have to participate or agree.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on"...  This was true with F9-era snark, and is doubly true today.

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https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_dogs_bark,_but_the_caravan_goes_on

Curiously, this saying is likely of Turkish origin.


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« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 03:54 PM by meekGee »
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #6 on: 09/16/2018 04:13 PM »
$500m/year gets a minimal BFR in 4-5 years with full capability a few years after. They’re already a year or two into it.

They don’t need a lot as long as they keep at it. I expect to see some (limited) hardware tomorrow.

I think they have PLENTY of money to do some hops next year.
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Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #7 on: 09/16/2018 04:36 PM »
Because SpaceX is able to keep so much in house, I agree a large fraction of BFR costs will be labor. Definitely more than half, maybe more than eighty percent. If BFR development costs are five billion, spread over five years, then as long as they can make payroll and come up with two hundred million dollars a year, they've got this

If it takes ten years, using 2015 as the start date, they achieve full functionality in 2025, laying out a hundred million a year in non labor costs.

Online meekGee

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #8 on: 09/16/2018 05:22 PM »


Is there any evidence that BFR will require much larger workforce?

SpaceX is done with Falcon, Merlin and Dragon development. Not will soon begin to ramp-down manufacturing.

This is where more traditional companies idiotically start downsizing the engineering workforce.  SpaceX won't.

----

That, plus I don't see how SpaceX today can't raise single-digit $B just by raising their hand. People will be lining up to be part of this.

"Those of us" that keep the skeptical snark on don't have to participate or agree.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on"...  This was true with F9-era snark, and is doubly true today.

----

https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_dogs_bark,_but_the_caravan_goes_on

Curiously, this saying is likely of Turkish origin.


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ABCD: Always Be Counting Down


The Turkish phrase I think you are looking for is "Okuz altinda buzagi aranmaz. "  which is roughly "you are to suspicious about what is happening"

easy to be these days :)

Nope, the phrase I was aiming for was the one I quoted... (Follow the link if you're into the cultural origin)

Meanwhile, I can take your claim of "suspicion" at face value only when I see you apply the same level of suspicion and snark at the New Armstrong rocket (or SpaceShipTwo) threads. Until then, you're just barking...

Fly safe...

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Offline mme

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #9 on: 09/16/2018 08:58 PM »
I think the disparagement of earlier attempts to bring a discussion about financing into this thread were premature..

Given Tesla’s approach to partially funding new cars with reservation deposits, I expect Monday’s announcement to also be a marketing pitch along the lines of “1 seat taken for $200million, 9 more available”.

Just because Spacex can raise “unlimited” funds from investors doesn’t mean they will if they don’t have to. Why give up more ownership when you can fund development by selling seats to space years in advance?
Could they be selling tickets for this mission at $200 million? Sure, that is a distinct possibility among many. I even think that is an interesting possibility.

My issue with the discussions re: financing is they are frequently of the "no way can they finance this!" nature and "but what's the ROI for investors?" Followed by the assumption that the only way to get money is to promise an almost immediate and huge financial return and that's all people care about and therefore it will never happen. It's based on a world view that everything is about the Benjamins and only the Benjamins and SpaceX doesn't have the  Benjamins and it's tiring, boring and frankly unimaginative.

We are not talking about raising capital to "disrupt the gaming industry", or to create "<insert random software> in the cloud!", or cure baldness, or improve advertising revenues or what ever blockchain/cryptocurrency hand-wavy quasi-pyramid scheme has the attention of those trying to make a quick or huge return is the fad de jour.

We are in an era of insane wealth accumulation by both individuals and corporations and a small percentage of them want to do something interesting with a relatively small percentage of that money. SpaceX has the track record and connections to get what borderlines on philanthropic "investment."

I am not saying that is how SpaceX will fund BFR, I am saying that money exists and it is a backstop financing option if they need it. Also, SpaceX finds ways to do things on the cheap compared to the industry in general and I suspect they have way more cash on hand then we know about.

Basically, Elon Musk, Gwynne Shotwell, and Bret Johnsen worry about financing the beast so I don't.
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Offline TripleSeven

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #10 on: 09/16/2018 09:04 PM »


Is there any evidence that BFR will require much larger workforce?

SpaceX is done with Falcon, Merlin and Dragon development. Not will soon begin to ramp-down manufacturing.

This is where more traditional companies idiotically start downsizing the engineering workforce.  SpaceX won't.

----

That, plus I don't see how SpaceX today can't raise single-digit $B just by raising their hand. People will be lining up to be part of this.

"Those of us" that keep the skeptical snark on don't have to participate or agree.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on"...  This was true with F9-era snark, and is doubly true today.

----

https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_dogs_bark,_but_the_caravan_goes_on

Curiously, this saying is likely of Turkish origin.


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The Turkish phrase I think you are looking for is "Okuz altinda buzagi aranmaz. "  which is roughly "you are to suspicious about what is happening"

easy to be these days :)

Nope, the phrase I was aiming for was the one I quoted... (Follow the link if you're into the cultural origin)

Meanwhile, I can take your claim of "suspicion" at face value only when I see you apply the same level of suspicion and snark at the New Armstrong rocket (or SpaceShipTwo) threads. Until then, you're just barking...

Fly safe...

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ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

it is not important but its Arabic... :)  four years in country and speak the language.  the Turks have no saying like that at all...and thanks... that is our goal..safe flights :)
« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 09:19 PM by TripleSeven »

Offline speedevil

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #11 on: 09/16/2018 09:12 PM »
Could they be selling tickets for this mission at $200 million? Sure, that is a distinct possibility among many. I even think that is an interesting possibility.
Who was the second space tourist?
Who was the crew of Apollo 8 - first to orbit the moon?

A moon orbiting mission is doable, but may not get you remembered for long.
The first private person on the moon has a better shot.
And - what would it be worth to be the first person on Mars?

There is at least the potential to sell two or three very, very expensive tickets.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #12 on: 09/16/2018 09:42 PM »
Investment and ROI. Investors buy into the value of the company not a product. ROI is how much value the company has gained or loss in value for the % ownership the investor holds.

In 2 1/2 years SpaceX has gained in value 170%. From $10B to $27B.

This why investors are awaiting SpaceX to do additional funding rounds. There is a lot of money to be made even if it may be tied up for 10 years. SpaceX is in an industry that currently has tremendous room for expansion.

On another track SpaceX costs to develop a vehicle is about 1/10 th that of a NASA run development  the such as the SLS/Orion. 10 year s at $2.5B per year is an least $25B putting SpaceX costs to develop a similar size vehicle at $2.5B and they will be able to do it in half the time for a year expenditure of $500M.

The question becomes how much of the F9 development work was factored into the overhead costs in operating (launching) F9. My speculation is about $100-200M per year. Such that the reinvested profits have been going to BFR and Starlink at about$300M per year. Such that the development costs for F9 will be applied to fund BFR development. Resulting in a total of $400-500M for BFR and Starlink.
« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 09:43 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Online meekGee

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #13 on: 09/16/2018 10:10 PM »


Is there any evidence that BFR will require much larger workforce?

SpaceX is done with Falcon, Merlin and Dragon development. Not will soon begin to ramp-down manufacturing.

This is where more traditional companies idiotically start downsizing the engineering workforce.  SpaceX won't.

----

That, plus I don't see how SpaceX today can't raise single-digit $B just by raising their hand. People will be lining up to be part of this.

"Those of us" that keep the skeptical snark on don't have to participate or agree.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on"...  This was true with F9-era snark, and is doubly true today.

----

https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_dogs_bark,_but_the_caravan_goes_on

Curiously, this saying is likely of Turkish origin.


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ABCD: Always Be Counting Down


The Turkish phrase I think you are looking for is "Okuz altinda buzagi aranmaz. "  which is roughly "you are to suspicious about what is happening"

easy to be these days :)

Nope, the phrase I was aiming for was the one I quoted... (Follow the link if you're into the cultural origin)

Meanwhile, I can take your claim of "suspicion" at face value only when I see you apply the same level of suspicion and snark at the New Armstrong rocket (or SpaceShipTwo) threads. Until then, you're just barking...

Fly safe...

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ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

it is not important but its Arabic... :)  four years in country and speak the language.  the Turks have no saying like that at all...and thanks... that is our goal..safe flights :)

Wiki disagrees (see below). The origin may be uncertain, but certainly they offer a Turkish version.

Are you sure you are in Turkey?  Maybe a different country?  What was the airport code?  :)

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But beyond etymology, there the matter of substance.

You posted (and since deleted) that the essence of the saying, which is a favorite of yours, is that "you cannot stop the progress of history", or something along these lines.

How ironic then, that as the caravan passes by, you choose to constantly disparage it.

The caravan don't care.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #14 on: 09/17/2018 12:27 AM »
(mod)Squabbling over the etymology of a saying is boring. Don't do it.

(fan)TripleSeven is not going to change his mind, nor anyone else's either. His posts have little value other than casting doubt, they have no real numbers or data, and they are repetitive.. We need to just ignore him and them and keep talking as if he wasn't there. Because this is tiresome.
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Offline ncb1397

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #15 on: 09/17/2018 01:39 AM »
On another track SpaceX costs to develop a vehicle is about 1/10 th that of a NASA run development  the such as the SLS/Orion. 10 year s at $2.5B per year is an least $25B putting SpaceX costs to develop a similar size vehicle at $2.5B and they will be able to do it in half the time for a year expenditure of $500M.

$2.5 Billion? Same cost as Crew/Cargo Dragon and 10 t Falcon 9? Not bloody likely.
« Last Edit: 09/17/2018 01:44 AM by ncb1397 »

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #16 on: 09/17/2018 01:43 AM »
On another track SpaceX costs to develop a vehicle is about 1/10 th that of a NASA run development  the such as the SLS/Orion. 10 year s at $2.5B per year is an least $25B putting SpaceX costs to develop a similar size vehicle at $2.5B and they will be able to do it in half the time for a year expenditure of $500M.

$2.5 Billion? Same cost as Crew/Cargo Dragon and 10 mT Falcon 9? Not bloody likely.
"According to NASA's own independently verified numbers, SpaceX's development costs of both the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets were estimated at approximately US$390 million in total." https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-urges-lawmakers-to-commercialize-deep-space-exploration/

...because one has NASA's detailed requirements (Dragon Crew), and the other didn't (or at least not much).


So yeah, I do think SpaceX can get BFR, or at least a simplified uncrewed version, developed for no more than another $2.5b. Crewed portion could also be pretty cheap since they can just use Dragon's systems to start with and have literally tons and tons of mass to spare.
« Last Edit: 09/17/2018 01:46 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline ncb1397

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #17 on: 09/17/2018 02:00 AM »
On another track SpaceX costs to develop a vehicle is about 1/10 th that of a NASA run development  the such as the SLS/Orion. 10 year s at $2.5B per year is an least $25B putting SpaceX costs to develop a similar size vehicle at $2.5B and they will be able to do it in half the time for a year expenditure of $500M.

$2.5 Billion? Same cost as Crew/Cargo Dragon and 10 mT Falcon 9? Not bloody likely.
"According to NASA's own independently verified numbers, SpaceX's development costs of both the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets were estimated at approximately US$390 million in total." https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-urges-lawmakers-to-commercialize-deep-space-exploration/

...because one has NASA's detailed requirements (Dragon Crew), and the other didn't (or at least not much).


So yeah, I do think SpaceX can get BFR, or at least a simplified uncrewed version, developed for no more than another $2.5b. Crewed portion could also be pretty cheap since they can just use Dragon's systems to start with and have literally tons and tons of mass to spare.

So..
10 t Falcon 9: $390 million
dragon cargo: $659 million(https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170008895.pdf figure 4)
CCDev 2: $75 million
CCiCap: $460 million
CCtCap: $1206 million

Total: $2.79 Billion


Online Robotbeat

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #18 on: 09/17/2018 02:09 AM »
On another track SpaceX costs to develop a vehicle is about 1/10 th that of a NASA run development  the such as the SLS/Orion. 10 year s at $2.5B per year is an least $25B putting SpaceX costs to develop a similar size vehicle at $2.5B and they will be able to do it in half the time for a year expenditure of $500M.

$2.5 Billion? Same cost as Crew/Cargo Dragon and 10 mT Falcon 9? Not bloody likely.
"According to NASA's own independently verified numbers, SpaceX's development costs of both the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets were estimated at approximately US$390 million in total." https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-urges-lawmakers-to-commercialize-deep-space-exploration/

...because one has NASA's detailed requirements (Dragon Crew), and the other didn't (or at least not much).


So yeah, I do think SpaceX can get BFR, or at least a simplified uncrewed version, developed for no more than another $2.5b. Crewed portion could also be pretty cheap since they can just use Dragon's systems to start with and have literally tons and tons of mass to spare.

So..
10 t Falcon 9: $390 million
dragon cargo: $659 million(https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170008895.pdf figure 4)
CCDev 2: $75 million
CCiCap: $460 million
CCtCap: $1206 million

Total: $2.79 Billion
Yes, and?

You forgot that the $390m included Falcon 1 dev costs.

Everything after included a bunch of NASA design requirements which is part of the reason the price is much higher. BFR doesn't have that.
« Last Edit: 09/17/2018 02:12 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline ncb1397

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Re: Funding BFR Development (Not funding Mars Colony)
« Reply #19 on: 09/17/2018 02:24 AM »
Yes, and?

You forgot that the $390m included Falcon 1 dev costs.


Falcon 1 development was a necessary input for the development path taken for Falcon 9. Otherwise, you very well could have had 3 Falcon 1 like failures on Falcon 9, potentially increasing the cost above the $390 million. BFR/BFS doesn't have a similar demonstrator vehicle (or maybe it does).

Everything after included a bunch of NASA design requirements which is part of the reason the price is much higher. BFR doesn't have that.

All you are doing is replacing NASA requirements with FAA certification, which if anything is even more strict. You can't fly paying passengers on an experimental license. BFS point to point is no different than a Boeing 787 which is no different than BFS for space access.
« Last Edit: 09/17/2018 02:25 AM by ncb1397 »

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