Author Topic: Underestimated/Overesitmated players in the future of spaceflight  (Read 973 times)

Offline Darkseraph

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This thread is for discussing which players are either underestimated or underestimated in the future of spaceflight.

I'm going to start off with two I believe are completely underestimated: China and Blue Origin

This year could be described as the "China Steamroller" to paraphrase a meme used for SpaceX. They've launched 32 times in a year, 31 of those are successful. They captured on video from orbit they suborbital launch of a OneSpace rocket. They have a communications satellite on the farside of the moon, a first. If their rover lands successfully in December, it will be the first to softland on the farside of the Moon, another first. Outside of their vibrant state driven space program, they appear to have an inchoate commercial market developing with multiple companies, several with plans for reuse. If the population of low-earth orbit increases beyond 6 anytime soon, it will likely be because of the Chinese Space Station, which is relatively small now but there are plans to increase it to the size of Mir. As the size of the chinese economy increases, they amount they have available to invest in space will only go up. To sum up, in a decade or two, China will be a serious competitor(or partner!) to the U.S in both government led space programs and commercial.

Blue Origin since 2015 has made remarkable progress with landing and reusing suborbital vehicles and landing contracts for the DoD. They're producing the engine for ULA's Vulcan which will almost certainly win a launch contract from the Air Force, but also they have now their own share of the funding for New Glenn at $500 million. Although it is complained that they are slow compared to SpaceX, I think this criticism is a mistake. By having the richest man in the world as their backer, they don't have to bake in compromises to the design of their reusable vehicles. New Glenn will be reusable from day one, with huge margins on payload, a more efficient engine cycle (staged combustion) and a better fuel for reuse(methane). They will have Falcon Heavy-like performance in a single stick configuration. The other reason i believe they are underestimated is that their founder could easily fund a LEO megaconstellation to compete with Starlink and OneWeb. It would give New Glenn a huge flight rate, massive economies of scale and have such obvious synergies with AWS, Amazon's successful cloud service. Faster, secure communications between Amazon datacenters and delivering internet services directly to customers would obviously be of interest to one of the world's most monopolistic corporations. And all of it would barely dent Bezo's net worth. It might even massively increase it if such a megaconstellation started making huge amounts of money, the reason Musk gave for Starlink.

The beginning of any exponential curve looks to be growing slowly!

« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 01:24 PM by Chris Bergin »
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline Tywin

Completely agree.

The case of China, is special big...in the decades of 2020, they go to has a regular fly to her own space station, they will go to launch significant science missions, since telescopes, to more mission to the moon, to Venus, Mars, maybe Jupiter, asteroid, etc...

And they go to show the CZ-8 reusable rocket, and off course when they show the CZ-9, they will has all they need for make her own Moon base, about the 2030...

And for the Blue Origin, sometimes I think so, has some parallelism with the race between USSR and US...at the moment SpaceX beat in every step about the reuse and the human space exploration...but Blue Origin, work in secret, in silence, and has a lot of money...I think so they New Armstrong will be her Saturn V, and they go to be in the race to the Moon-Mars with SpaceX...

Will see, a wonderful next decades...

Offline RedLineTrain

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Undestimated:  SpaceX and China

Why SpaceX?  Over the next few years, SpaceX will become less capital constrained due primarily to Musk's ownership of a good chunk of Tesla.  That ownership will increase as Tesla's stock price appreciates due to Musk's very generous incentive pay package at Tesla.  I could see Musk being the richest man in the world at some point in his life (currently #29).  Up to now, Tesla has been something of a drag on Musk, Inc.  Also, I expect Starlink to be a big contributor to SpaceX's financial strength, although perhaps it will take longer to establish than expected.

Why China?  I think that they have less of a "not invented here" syndrome that holds many Western competitors back.  Also, their launch cadence is becoming monstrous.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 07:22 PM by RedLineTrain »

Offline Coastal Ron

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This thread is for discussing which players are either underestimated or underestimated in the future of spaceflight.

I'm going to start off with two I believe are completely underestimated: China and Blue Origin

Two good choices, although neither of them have the "velocity of change" that SpaceX has today, so I think we should temper our expectations. For instance, SpaceX has already been flying reusable orbital rockets, and is already working on their second generation of them. Both Blue Origin and China are far behind.

Blue Origin has perfected sub-orbital reusable rockets, but won't field a reusable orbital rocket for a number of years - maybe around when SpaceX is starting to fly their 2nd generation orbital rocket.

China has been launching plenty of expendable orbital rockets, but I'm not sure we have seen evidence of reusable orbital rocket technology testing yet.

Otherwise pickings are slim for entities other than SpaceX that have big audacious space plans that can be executed in the near-term...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline rayleighscatter

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I think underestimated would be India's space program (government and potentially private).

Their RLV, the mini space shuttle, that they launched two years ago was done completely for 15 million USD. All of the research, engineering, materials science, facilities, payroll, launch, etc.

They obviously have the talent, the groundwork is there, and if the government or a private investor decides to tap the Indian aerospace community it could really change things. If they could do their RLV program for 15 million, imagine what they could do with 1 billion.

So like anyone, they need the money to effect a change. But they'll need a lot less of it than any of the other players in the field.

Offline saliva_sweet

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I see people touting the most overhyped companies like BO as underrated. BO has been the "black horse" that fields a superrocket any day now and flies to the galaxy since CCiCAP. Probably since it existed. So far... nada.

Actually underrated at this point is EU. Arianespace had a part sold off which resulted in a total company valuation of approximately twelve euros and half a can of beer (I don't remember the exact numbers). Yet Ariane 6 appears to be actually on track to launch when planned. Unlike every other rocket in recent development - SLS, Vulcan, New Glenn, Falcon Heavy, Angara, BFR. After a bunch of handwringing EU found the money for it. If it turns out to be a dud and won't serve the market as it exists then... EU will find another bunch of money and make something else. Maybe Prometheus based, maybe reusable or maybe something different. But we still have the will, the means and the ability to execute.

Offline Tywin

I see people touting the most overhyped companies like BO as underrated. BO has been the "black horse" that fields a superrocket any day now and flies to the galaxy since CCiCAP. Probably since it existed. So far... nada.

Actually underrated at this point is EU. Arianespace had a part sold off which resulted in a total company valuation of approximately twelve euros and half a can of beer (I don't remember the exact numbers). Yet Ariane 6 appears to be actually on track to launch when planned. Unlike every other rocket in recent development - SLS, Vulcan, New Glenn, Falcon Heavy, Angara, BFR. After a bunch of handwringing EU found the money for it. If it turns out to be a dud and won't serve the market as it exists then... EU will find another bunch of money and make something else. Maybe Prometheus based, maybe reusable or maybe something different. But we still have the will, the means and the ability to execute.

Falcon Heavy already exist  ;) and Ariane 6, born dead, and the cost of the development is about 4,5 billion euros...somenthing crazy...if you say they spend all this money in the Skylon, well at least they try something new and innovate technology...



Offline speedevil

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Unlike every other rocket in recent development - SLS, Vulcan, New Glenn, Falcon Heavy, Angara, BFR. After a bunch of handwringing EU found the money for it. If it turns out to be a dud and won't serve the market as it exists then... EU will find another bunch of money and make something else.
Actually flying on time and budget isn't the sole metric.
If SLS had just flown, and cost just a billion dollars per launch, perhaps with a clear route to costing $500M per launch and twice a year launches, that would be great, but by no means underestimated from a 2013 perspective.

It would not be a significant change in the market.

Ariane 6, by the time it flies, will have competition from at least (touch wood) F9 with an unbroken string of some 40 launches, as well as possibly New Glenn, as well as the upcoming ULA option shortly afterwards, and of course, the spectre of BFR.
F9 may or may not by that time have a fully reusuable version.

Ariane 6 is a much better fit for much of the market than Ariane 5, and would have been a world-beater if available in 2009.

I think the standout is SpaceX.
I would not be surprised to see 30 'test' launches in a month sometime in 2022, and the capability to put a couple of thousand tons a year on the moon or many thousands of tons through TMI, without external funding.

I think that the systemic flexibility allowing components to underperform will allow BFR to be brought in on time, and that it's going to hit its reuse goals of $5m cost/launch quickly.

This would surprise nearly all in the space community who don't expect it so soon if at all and many of which who are implicitly assuming it's impossible.(edit)

And it will surprise the general public, who have SLS and BFR together in the same mental box, and don't really understand how utterly revolutionary the ~500 times cost difference will be.
(Counting SLS+Orion + DSG element cost as one 'equivalent' launch)
« Last Edit: 11/10/2018 01:05 PM by speedevil »

Offline saliva_sweet

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Falcon Heavy already exist  ;)

Yes. Angara too.

Offline Slarty1080

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Unlike every other rocket in recent development - SLS, Vulcan, New Glenn, Falcon Heavy, Angara, BFR. After a bunch of handwringing EU found the money for it. If it turns out to be a dud and won't serve the market as it exists then... EU will find another bunch of money and make something else.
Actually flying on time and budget isn't the sole metric.
If SLS had just flown, and cost just a billion dollars per launch, perhaps with a clear route to costing $500M per launch and twice a year launches, that would be great, but by no means underestimated from a 2013 perspective.

It would not be a significant change in the market.

Ariane 6, by the time it flies, will have competition from at least (touch wood) F9 with an unbroken string of some 40 launches, as well as possibly New Glenn, as well as the upcoming ULA option shortly afterwards, and of course, the spectre of BFR.
F9 may or may not by that time have a fully reusuable version.

Ariane 6 is a much better fit for much of the market than Ariane 5, and would have been a world-beater if available in 2009.

I think the standout is SpaceX.
I would not be surprised to see 30 'test' launches in a month sometime in 2022, and the capability to put a couple of thousand tons a year on the moon or many thousands of tons through TMI, without external funding.

I think that the systemic flexibility allowing components to underperform will allow BFR to be brought in on time, and that it's going to hit its reuse goals of $5m cost/launch quickly.

This would surprise nearly all in the space community who don't expect it so soon if at all and many of which who are implicitly assuming it's possible.

And it will surprise the general public, who have SLS and BFR together in the same mental box, and don't really understand how utterly revolutionary the ~500 times cost difference will be.
(Counting SLS+Orion + DSG element cost as one 'equivalent' launch)

I agree, although there might be some time slippage. There are some big unknowns like the TPS and the fin control on BFR, that said SpaceX are addressing these issues from the top down and from the bottom up - we will have to wait and see.

Re the public also agree. Outside of the space enthusiast community I don't think there is a detailed level of awareness about BFR and SLS at the moment. The awareness there is probably puts BFR and SLS in the "big rocket in the future" category. If / when BFR and SLS start to make orbital launches public awareness may increase and it might well shock a lot of people to realise that shortly after launch 90% of SLS will end up at the bottom of the Atlantic whereas BFR returns intact. It might cause an emperorís new clothes moment.
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades Ö well ... there is now!"

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