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Thread: SpaceX

  1. #5011
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    "SpaceX’s first flight-proven Starship rolled back to factory for likely retirement"

    https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-fir...rship-retired/
    They should set it up alongside Starhopper as a gate guardian, rather than just scrapping it.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  2. #5012
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    If I had the money I'd try to buy it off of SpaceX and build a vacation home out of it on a nice beach somewhere.

  3. #5013
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    Another segment of Stabase's integration tower being stacked, with 4 more to go. It'll top off at 143 meters/469 feet. We stream...

    https://youtu.be/X4lq5Mz1jgQ

  4. #5014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    My guess China well before Blue Origin.
    Just picking up the discussion from a few weeks ago about potential competitors to SpaceX.

    Casey Handmer has posted an interesting blog recently which brings out the potential of second mover advantage.

    As of May 2021, it looks like SpaceX has a reasonably solid lead in launch. This isn’t preordained to last forever, especially as copying a finalized Starship will be much easier for competitors, liberally salted with former SpaceX employees, than getting the design right in the first place.
    I’m not really sure what SpaceX could do to stop that happening really. It is very difficult for the first mover to create a monopoly.

    China may find it more difficult to attract former SpaceX employees than other US companies. But I suspect they may succeed in finding some way to copy a finalised Starship.

  5. #5015
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    Just picking up the discussion from a few weeks ago about potential competitors to SpaceX.

    Casey Handmer has posted an interesting blog recently which brings out the potential of second mover advantage.



    I’m not really sure what SpaceX could do to stop that happening really. It is very difficult for the first mover to create a monopoly.

    China may find it more difficult to attract former SpaceX employees than other US companies. But I suspect they may succeed in finding some way to copy a finalised Starship.
    Industrial espionage has been around since money was invented.

  6. #5016
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    Just picking up the discussion from a few weeks ago about potential competitors to SpaceX.

    Casey Handmer has posted an interesting blog recently which brings out the potential of second mover advantage.



    I’m not really sure what SpaceX could do to stop that happening really. It is very difficult for the first mover to create a monopoly.

    China may find it more difficult to attract former SpaceX employees than other US companies. But I suspect they may succeed in finding some way to copy a finalised Starship.
    Except we have had the clear example of others miserably falling to produce a Falcon 9 copy to date.

  7. #5017
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    Just picking up the discussion from a few weeks ago about potential competitors to SpaceX.

    Casey Handmer has posted an interesting blog recently which brings out the potential of second mover advantage.



    I’m not really sure what SpaceX could do to stop that happening really. It is very difficult for the first mover to create a monopoly.

    China may find it more difficult to attract former SpaceX employees than other US companies. But I suspect they may succeed in finding some way to copy a finalised Starship.
    DavidLondon,
    Nothing can be done to stop that happening, or should be done. Just as with all advances, the market should respond and that is good.

    bknight,
    Industrial espionnage may assist but that is not the point here. It is not espionnage to observe that SpacedX is demonstrating reusability of launchers, engines and all. That should be driving rocket development today.

    Garrison,
    I am amazed how slowly the competition is responding to reusable rockets. Most of the major space agencies are still committed to outdated launchers still in the design stage! WTF?

    cheers.

  8. #5018
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    DavidLondon,
    Nothing can be done to stop that happening, or should be done. Just as with all advances, the market should respond and that is good.

    bknight,
    Industrial espionnage may assist but that is not the point here. It is not espionnage to observe that SpacedX is demonstrating reusability of launchers, engines and all. That should be driving rocket development today.

    Garrison,
    I am amazed how slowly the competition is responding to reusable rockets. Most of the major space agencies are still committed to outdated launchers still in the design stage! WTF?

    cheers.
    SpaceX's basic structures can be duplicated, and the basic functionality of Raptor is on Wikipedia, but functionality needs more than that.

    First, there is the software used to do landings. SpaceX hired JPL's Mars landing guru Lars Blackmore and a few others to run their landing team. Coders extreme.

    Second is materials science. SpaceX and Tesla share a materials team which has developed at least 3 generations of heat shields tuned to various regions of a vehicle, plus they've developed at least 2 new superalloys just for Raptor.

    You can bet those code bits and recipes are locked away, and they don't patent them so others dong get insights.

  9. #5019
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    Exactly. If you made something nice, patent it. If you made something really nice, don't patent it but keep it hidden.

    Duplicating a Starship shell is trivial. Duplicating a functional Starship quite something else. And the others are slow. Really slow. Falcon 9 is very close to equalling the amount of STS missions (3 times faster at that), and other still don't have any reusable rocket in sight. Raptor is functional and can be produced at high rate. No sign of any competitive engines from other manufacturers.

    You'd think that the mere fact that SpaceX shows it can be done would be a trigger for others, but apparently not.
    With sufficient thrust, water towers fly just fine.

  10. #5020
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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Another segment of Stabase's integration tower being stacked, with 4 more to go. It'll top off at 143 meters/469 feet. We stream...

    https://youtu.be/X4lq5Mz1jgQ
    My first thought on reading that was "You're gonna need a bigger crane". And right on cue, more boom segments for Frankencrane have arrived.

    Oh, and for a company which is being secretive about its designs, they sure have left bits of SN 11 sitting around on the mud flats for a long time!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  11. #5021
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    My first thought on reading that was "You're gonna need a bigger crane". And right on cue, more boom segments for Frankencrane have arrived.

    Oh, and for a company which is being secretive about its designs, they sure have left bits of SN 11 sitting around on the mud flats for a long time!
    Ancient artifacts.

  12. #5022
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    Exactly. If you made something nice, patent it. If you made something really nice, don't patent it but keep it hidden.
    When I worked for Exxon that was exactly their policy.


    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    SpaceX's basic structures can be duplicated, and the basic functionality of Raptor is on Wikipedia, but functionality needs more than that.

    First, there is the software used to do landings. SpaceX hired JPL's Mars landing guru Lars Blackmore and a few others to run their landing team. Coders extreme.

    Second is materials science. SpaceX and Tesla share a materials team which has developed at least 3 generations of heat shields tuned to various regions of a vehicle, plus they've developed at least 2 new superalloys just for Raptor.

    You can bet those code bits and recipes are locked away, and they don't patent them so others dong get insights.
    Exactly. The devil is in the details.

    What I find even more interesting is that other aerospace companies have not, for the most part, copied SpaceX's risk-embracing style, but instead stick with plodding, risk-aversion styles of development. That doesn't surprise me too much for long established companies, but it does for relatively new companies like Blue Origins.
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  13. #5023
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    ...Nothing can be done to stop that happening, or should be done. Just as with all advances, the market should respond and that is good...
    .
    Just to clarify that we are not dealing with a competitive ‘market’ with easy access for new entrants. Reusable rocket launches are difficult and expensive. So the barriers to entry are huge. It takes years for a company to build up the necessary mix of skills, capabilities and technology in order to deliver reusable rocket launches. Docmordrid outlined some of the specifics in his post above.

    So what SpaceX has achieved is extraordinary. They are already enjoying ‘first mover’ benefits from Falcon 9 - including the kudos of delivering the first astronauts to fly to the ISS from US soil since the Space Shuttle. And if they succeed in launching a Starship into orbit on a reusable rocket in the next year or so they are likely to enjoy the benefits of first mover advantage for many more years. The first mover advantage seems very strong in this instance, mainly because what they are achieving is so difficult and innovative.

    But that is not to say there is no advantage from being a second mover. Second Mover Advantage is a much broader concept than just industrial espionage, which is illegal and unethical. Any benefit due to learning from the experience of the first mover so you can spend less on getting the design right will reduce costs.

    And the benefits from affordable reusable rocket launch are so significant that I think it is unlikely there will be only one company putting Starship sized spacecraft into orbit using reusable rockets in say 10-20 years time. I can’t see SpaceX being able to avoid any competition eventually. And sometimes first movers can become so accustomed to their market power that they are surprised by how quickly their advantage erodes. Also, Governments are likely to remain important launch clients and may take action to ensure that competition emerges.

    This does not however mean that SpaceX will be unable to remain the market leader. It can use its first mover advantage over the next decade to strengthen its brand, attract the top engineers etc and differentiate its product so clients will continue to prefer to use the original launch pioneer. I think if they do put a Starship into orbit soon they are in a strong position to achieve just that.

    Perhaps a crucial factor in the years to come will be to build up an exemplary launch safety record.

  14. #5024
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    Super Heavy has iterated ... again

    Center cluster: 9 s/l Raptor
    Outer cluster: 20-23 RBoost (higher thrust, no gimbal)
    Total: 29 at first, 32 later
    Thrust (32): >7,500 tonnes/16,530,000 lbf
    Thrust to weight ratio: ~1.5 : 1

    Raptor production rate: ~1 every 48 hrs

    Twitter thread & Super Heavy thrust puck (center cluster mounts)

    20210530_134147.jpg
    https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/...56801881989122

  15. #5025
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    You'd think that the mere fact that SpaceX shows it can be done would be a trigger for others, but apparently not.
    Tory Bruno was recently tweeting again about his nonsensical "analysis" that you needed to average 10 reuses for it to make economic sense. In spite of all the very obvious benefits SpaceX is reaping in both launch cost and the logistics of maintaining high flight rates. The industry in general is still in denial that they're going to have to make any changes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    What I find even more interesting is that other aerospace companies have not, for the most part, copied SpaceX's risk-embracing style, but instead stick with plodding, risk-aversion styles of development. That doesn't surprise me too much for long established companies, but it does for relatively new companies like Blue Origins.
    Bezos deliberately set it up that way. From back in 2016, when they were still talking about flying New Glenn before 2020: "We believe 'slow is smooth and smooth is fast.' In the long run, deliberate and methodical wins the day, and you do things quickest by never skipping steps."

    Jeff Bezos proceeded to fill Blue Origin with management from the most ossified and risk-averse examples of "Old Space", importing their culture along with them...their CEO comes from Honeywell Aerospace.

  16. #5026
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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Raptor production rate: ~1 every 48 hrs
    Wow. I’m wondering what the SLS engines would cost if they could do that (the Shuttle derived engines costing $250 million each)? Of course, I have no doubt that part of the design process for the Raptor included making it to be rapidly buildable. You know - actually thinking about it from a commercial standpoint.

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  17. #5027
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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Another segment of Stabase's integration tower being stacked, with 4 more to go. It'll top off at 143 meters/469 feet. We stream...

    https://youtu.be/X4lq5Mz1jgQ
    I'm curious is the first section twice the length of the one that they are installing?

  18. #5028
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    How many times reusability do they aim for that a production rate of 1 per 48 hours would be necessary?
    With sufficient thrust, water towers fly just fine.

  19. #5029
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    How many times reusability do they aim for that a production rate of 1 per 48 hours would be necessary?
    I’m not sure, but Musk has talked about essentially mass producing these rockets, with an eventual goal of one per week. Of course, serious demand would be required to support that kind of production. For now, they need the engines for rapid prototyping. If they built engines like the other guys it would take months to years just to build one Super Heavy.

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  20. #5030
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I’m not sure, but Musk has talked about essentially mass producing these rockets, with an eventual goal of one per week. Of course, serious demand would be required to support that kind of production. For now, they need the engines for rapid prototyping. If they built engines like the other guys it would take months to years just to build one Super Heavy.
    SpaceX must lower the per person ride charge if they intend on one launch per week.

  21. #5031
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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    SpaceX must lower the per person ride charge if they intend on one launch per week.
    I wasn’t aware they had talked about a per person charge for Starship yet? Falcon 9/Dragon is wildly different, of course, so wouldn’t be a good comparison. They’ve talked about 100 people in a Starship for Mars flights, which I think is too optimistic. On the other hand, they could probably do many more than that for a passenger flight to LEO. Even more if they get around to the fatter Starship they’ve talked about. But demand would also have to develop, it’s chicken and egg.

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  22. #5032
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I wasn’t aware they had talked about a per person charge for Starship yet? Falcon 9/Dragon is wildly different, of course, so wouldn’t be a good comparison. They’ve talked about 100 people in a Starship for Mars flights, which I think is too optimistic. On the other hand, they could probably do many more than that for a passenger flight to LEO. Even more if they get around to the fatter Starship they’ve talked about. But demand would also have to develop, it’s chicken and egg.
    Why do you believe this? Just because of the number of people per launch?

  23. #5033
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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    Why do you believe this? Just because of the number of people per launch?
    No, but that is certainly a very big part of it. Falcon 9 is partly reusable, the second stage burns up, as does the trunk on the Dragon capsule so cost per passenger is much higher than a fully reusable Starship. Assuming 100 passengers in a Starship and 7 in a Dragon/Falcon 9 it will take 15 flights to match a Starship. All those launches cost money too, moving the rockets around, reserving a pad for the launches, going through all the range safety, recovery, etc. procedures.

    Starship is supposed to be much cheaper to put mass in orbit than Falcon 9, that’s really much of the point of building it.

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  24. #5034
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    No, but that is certainly a very big part of it. Falcon 9 is partly reusable, the second stage burns up, as does the trunk on the Dragon capsule so cost per passenger is much higher than a fully reusable Starship. Assuming 100 passengers in a Starship and 7 in a Dragon/Falcon 9 it will take 15 flights to match a Starship. All those launches cost money too, moving the rockets around, reserving a pad for the launches, going through all the range safety, recovery, etc. procedures.

    Starship is supposed to be much cheaper to put mass in orbit than Falcon 9, that’s really much of the point of building it.
    You are correct about the costs and while their may be an economy of scale. But for launching ~100 per week whether into LEO or BEO (Moon or Mars)literally means finding ~5200 people who want to go and can afford whatever the price may be. It is unlikely to be $100. Price will definitely be a determining factor in demand as with any product or service. I don't know their costs, but a one use second stage doesn't seem to be a large part, but certainly greater than zero, of the current price structure for a F9 launch. All of us are guessing about all this because that involves knowing the future, although it does seem a profitable venture if they can generate the demand.

  25. #5035
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    Starship will have many more mission types than F9/FH, not all being comparable. A significant number of Starships are planned to be propellant Tankers and Earth Point to Point cargo/people transports.

    The most recent add-on is missions for the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), which could include Starship Trooper-style drop ships/modules (per USAF FY-2022 budget request). Also, BLEO missions will use a Storage (depot) Starship filled by Tanker flights, which is then used to refuel the mission Starship in one gulp.

    We ain't in Kansas anymore

    Super Heavy engine cluster update

    Center cluster: 3 (gimballed)
    Middle ring: 9 (gimballed)
    Outer ring: 20 (stationary RBoost)

    Fully populated: 32 engines

    Presumably, the 29 engine early flights omit the 3 engine center cluster.

    Oh, my... (brightened a bit, and Musk says the middle ring will be a bit closer to the center cluster than this fan-art.)

    20210531_033120.jpg

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1399221133711446018
    Last edited by docmordrid; 2021-May-31 at 08:31 AM.

  26. #5036
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    Demand for Starships

    Van Rijn: ...They’ve talked about 100 people in a Starship for Mars flights, which I think is too optimistic. On the other hand, they could probably do many more than that for a passenger flight to LEO. Even more if they get around to the fatter Starship they’ve talked about. But demand would also have to develop, it’s chicken and egg.
    bknight: ...for launching ~100 per week whether into LEO or BEO (Moon or Mars)literally means finding ~5200 people who want to go and can afford whatever the price may be. It is unlikely to be $100. Price will definitely be a determining factor in demand as with any product or service. I don't know their costs, but a one use second stage doesn't seem to be a large part, but certainly greater than zero, of the current price structure for a F9 launch. All of us are guessing about all this because that involves knowing the future, although it does seem a profitable venture if they can generate the demand
    On price, I have talked about the potential for cost reduction due to Starships in The Emerging Space Economy thread in post 23 on the supply side game changer - reusable rockets. There is every reason to believe they could potentially bring launch costs down by a factor of 40 or more compared with a traditional (Saturn V/SLS) rocket.

    The key is the interaction of supply and demand. As Van Rijn points out above, it's chicken and egg. I have outlined the main issues on demand for space activity - which a finalised Starship would be well placed to supply - in Drivers of Demand- out to 2030.

    Key drivers are:
    - on-orbit research, development and maybe eventually manufacturing
    - Earth Point to Point (P2P) transport mentioned by Docmordrid above.
    - Space Tourism - inc potentially space hotels.

    I posted more on P2P and space tourism here.

    As explained in the above post links, Robert Zubrin has made a strong case for concluding that high speed P2P travel is potentially best placed to drive a significant increase in demand for Starships. This is competing with the long haul Business Class and First Class flight market - but delivering people (and high value niche goods) much more quickly and, for people, with a space experience thrown in. As bknight says above, price will definitely be a determining factor. Zubrin is confident that the finalised Starship could be competitive in this market. Delivering this competitive price will be an important challenge for SpaceX.

    A lot depends on the price elasticity of demand for all three drivers above, but especially P2P travel. This is because P2P is best placed to ensure sufficient launches for Space X to drive down Starship costs and improve efficiency through experience.

    I included a recent quote from Elon Musk on Starships and P2P travel here.

  27. #5037
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    A Starship can carry 200 people. If you charge each passenger for a 40 minute trip to the other side of the world, (which would be very cool, just for the trip into orbit and back), you can make an extremely insane amount of money. Every day.

    Getting to Australia and back, 40 minutes each way, means wealthy people can go to Australia (or the Maldives) for a weekend getaway. Going to Mars is one thing, but providing safe and speedy travel on this planet is something else.

    Obviously this is just one way to make money with a starship. There will be many other ways. (like, moving cargo very quickly to any part of the world)

  28. #5038
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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    I'm curious is the first section twice the length of the one that they are installing?
    No, you're looking at the first two sections. The latest stacked is number three. All the same number of bays. I'd expect that at some point it'll become impractical to use a ground based crane to stack prefab sections and they'll switch to a twirly tower crane like you see in building construction. They'll need one of those on top of the tower for stacking anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Starship will have many more mission types than F9/FH, not all being comparable. A significant number of Starships are planned to be propellant Tankers and Earth Point to Point cargo/people transports.

    The most recent add-on is missions for the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), which could include Starship Trooper-style drop ships/modules (per USAF FY-2022 budget request). Also, BLEO missions will use a Storage (depot) Starship filled by Tanker flights, which is then used to refuel the mission Starship in one gulp.

    We ain't in Kansas anymore

    Super Heavy engine cluster update

    Center cluster: 3 (gimballed)
    Middle ring: 9 (gimballed)
    Outer ring: 20 (stationary RBoost)

    Fully populated: 32 engines

    Presumably, the 29 engine early flights omit the 3 engine center cluster.

    Oh, my... (brightened a bit, and Musk says the middle ring will be a bit closer to the center cluster than this fan-art.)

    20210531_033120.jpg

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1399221133711446018
    The thrust puck in yesterday's video was for nine engines arranged like Falcon 9. Presumably an interim configuration.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  29. #5039
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    No, you're looking at the first two sections. The latest stacked is number three. All the same number of bays. I'd expect that at some point it'll become impractical to use a ground based crane to stack prefab sections and they'll switch to a twirly tower crane like you see in building construction. They'll need one of those on top of the tower for stacking anyhow.



    The thrust puck in yesterday's video was for nine engines arranged like Falcon 9. Presumably an interim configuration.
    Maybe it my old eyes but I only count 8 with another at the three o'clock position near the center.

  30. #5040
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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    Maybe it my old eyes but I only count 8 with another at the three o'clock position near the center.
    I'll have to look again, but I'm pretty sure I saw eight on the periphery and one in the center. The angled mounting blocks make it a bit awkward to count.
    I also noticed that the assembly has been machined, not just welded together.

    ETA: Here is a picture.
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