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48 minutes ago, cubinator said:

I will be more looking forward to success of the second orbital launch attempt, I think...

SpaceX isn't afraid to learn from failure. Second launch might have a better chance, but the first is what they'll learn the most from.

I, for one, can't wait to see it launch, let alone land.

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2 minutes ago, stephensmat said:

SpaceX isn't afraid to learn from failure. Second launch might have a better chance, but the first is what they'll learn the most from.

I, for one, can't wait to see it launch, let alone land.

Oh of course. I'm just as excited for the first one, and watching something fail is an amazing way to learn and improve, but I do somewhat expect a boom.

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Just now, cubinator said:

Oh of course. I'm just as excited for the first one, and watching something fail is an amazing way to learn and improve, but I do somewhat expect a boom.

Boom today, boom tomorrow. That can be fun too.

I saw a documentary on Nat Geo that said before SpaceX, 1 in 4 launches ended in mission failure. The reusability plan really smashed the curve. They're rolling SLS out to the launchpad as we speak for Artemis 1. If there's a boom there, we won't see NASA again for ten years.

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11 minutes ago, stephensmat said:

saw a documentary on Nat Geo that said before SpaceX, 1 in 4 launches ended in mission failure. The reusability plan really smashed the curve.

Not sure what that number is, Soyuz, Ariane 5, Delta 4, and more all have pretty good track records

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17 minutes ago, cubinator said:

Not sure what that number is, Soyuz, Ariane 5, Delta 4, and more all have pretty good track records

Atlas V has never had a complete launch failure. One mission (out of 95) was a partial failure, but got the payloads close enough that they used their own on-board propulsion to reach their final destinations.

(A valve stuck open and some Centaur fuel leaked out during the coast phase. That made the second Centaur burn 4 seconds too short.)

Edited by mikegarrison
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48 minutes ago, stephensmat said:

I saw a documentary on Nat Geo that said before SpaceX, 1 in 4 launches ended in mission failure. The reusability plan really smashed the curve. They're rolling SLS out to the launchpad as we speak for Artemis 1. If there's a boom there, we won't see NASA again for ten years.

That's nonsense. What show was that?

As @mikegarrison said above Atlas V, and ULA in general have been incredibly reliable.

33 minutes ago, cubinator said:

Not sure what that number is, Soyuz, Ariane 5, Delta 4, and more all have pretty good track records

Yeah, where "pretty good" is defined as about an order of magnitude or more better than that stat.

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24 minutes ago, tater said:

That's nonsense. What show was that?

I don't know. 

If you sum up all the launches between 1950 or so, and 2002 (the year SpaceX was founded), what percentage failed? 

I wouldn't be surprised if 20-25% failed.

None of that means that modern launch vehicles are unreliable, just that there were a lot of failures back in the 50s and 60s. 

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Maybe missing some context? Perhaps it meant first launch of a new vehicle (took 4 launches for a successful Falcon-1 launch). Or maybe BEO missions? I know Mars-bound missions were especially problematic, at least until the last few NASA rovers...

 

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45 minutes ago, stephensmat said:

Went back and checked. It was 20%, not 25%. My bad.

It was a quote from Stephen Petranek, in the Nat Geo Documentary "Mars: Inside SpaceX"

That guy. 20% is also grossly high. He should not quit his day job... oh.  He's with Time.

 

1 hour ago, AVaughan said:

I don't know. 

If you sum up all the launches between 1950 or so, and 2002 (the year SpaceX was founded), what percentage failed? 

I wouldn't be surprised if 20-25% failed.

None of that means that modern launch vehicles are unreliable, just that there were a lot of failures back in the 50s and 60s. 

I'd like to see a direct quote of what he said. If it was possible to misinterpret it... I saw that show when it was originally on, and now I remember him, I commented out loud (to no one) wondering why this guy was even being filmed.

"...on average, 20% of all attempts to get off the Earth with a rocket fail."

^^^ that's the quote. It's nonsense. This was released in 2018.

Edited by tater
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Picking some random years, before SpaceX (counting launch failures, the rest "got off the Earth"):

2002. 60 launches, 4 launch failures. ~7%

1996. 77 launches, 4 launch failures. ~5%

1990. 121 launches, 5 launch failures. ~4%

1986. 110 launches, 7 failures. ~6%

1977. 130 launches, 6 failures. ~5%

1975. 132 launches, 7 failures. ~5%

1965. 124 launches, 12 failures. ~10%

1959. 23 launches, 11 failures. ~48%

1958. 28 launches, 20 failures. ~71%

1957. 3 launches, 1 failure. ~33%

While early days had a very high failure rate, the total launches was tiny. 50s had a huge rate tiny launches, the 60s was ~10% huge numbers of launches, by early 70s down towards 5-7% (way more launches), and it's been pretty flat since the 70s, honestly at ~5%. The wiki comparison of orbital rockets page suggests the total failure rate for all rockets combined is 5.8%. Might include not reaching target orbit, though (so still "off the Earth").

And of course that statement did NOT say, "before SpaceX" at all.

 

 

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4 hours ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

Don't know if this has been posted.  Lot of stuff we who trawl this thread already know... But it is a good summation - and on the topic I'm most interested in: what will we do with SS once it's flying. 

https://www.science.org/content/article/space-scientists-ready-starship-biggest-rocket-ever

That quote from the article is interesting. It makes sense though, after all, it was only after aircraft were proven as a functioning vehicle that actual real world use began.

"Military aircraft" did not exist until six years after the Wright Flyer. It makes sense that people wouldn't take Starship seriously until it is shown to work.

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I missed that link.

Quote

Pierre Lionnet, a space economist at Eurospace, an industry trade group, is skeptical SpaceX can achieve such a low price point. It may not correctly account for the costs of developing and building the rocket, for example. “When I look at Starship, I’m looking at what seems to be a very expensive device.” To achieve profitability with such high capital costs, SpaceX will have to attain its ambitious launch rates, which means it will need paying customers to soak up all that cargo capacity. SpaceX hopes to develop new markets in space mining, tourism, or other activities not yet dreamed of, but Lionnet is not so sure the heavy lifter will whet that appetite all by itself. “If you’re vegetarian, and I’m offering you a burger, I can offer it at the cheapest possible price, and you don’t eat it.”

My bold. That guy doesn't get it. It is not made to make money. Making money (however done) is to colonize Mars. People are still getting this wrong. The launch market might well develop into big business, but it's chump change until some paradigm shift (asteroid mining?).

Still good points that once it's a thing, maybe people's ideas about ways to do things will follow.

BTW, this is a deep dive on the Starship OLM

 

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2 hours ago, tater said:

That guy doesn't get it. It is not made to make money.

SpaceX is a for-profit company. Their owners may not be demanding a profit right now, but they do actually need to eventually make money. Even if Musk throws all his money into SpaceX, with the volume scale they want to be operating at they better be at least close to breaking even.

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1 hour ago, mikegarrison said:

SpaceX is a for-profit company. Their owners may not be demanding a profit right now, but they do actually need to eventually make money. Even if Musk throws all his money into SpaceX, with the volume scale they want to be operating at they better be at least close to breaking even.

I think what tater means is that SpaceX is not going to make gobs of money just to keep it in their bank accounts and party on yachts, they intend to put it to use on *a thing*, this thing being a Mars colony.

SpaceX’s goal is “to make money”, it’s just what they claim they want to use the money for that tater is talking about.

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1 hour ago, mikegarrison said:

SpaceX is a for-profit company. Their owners may not be demanding a profit right now, but they do actually need to eventually make money. Even if Musk throws all his money into SpaceX, with the volume scale they want to be operating at they better be at least close to breaking even.

What @tater's comment meant is, launch operations themselves really aren't very big - as it has been said in the past in this thread, the whole market is around 10 billions globally. Even with a huge markup on launch prices you won't make a lot of money currently, no matter the rocket; breaking even on development costs is pretty doable, but even that doesn't mean a lot for a company as large as spacex. After all, that's why Starlink was originally created, making the money needed for things that selling launches alone couldn't reach

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58 minutes ago, Beccab said:

After all, that's why Starlink was originally created, making the money needed for things that selling launches alone couldn't reach

This. Factories don't make money building the tooling (tooling manufacturers notwithstanding), they make money building and selling products and services. Starship can be considered a tool for building out Starlink, and that service will be the cash cow that pays for Starship. Selling Starship launches to outside customers  will be gravy.

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4 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

SpaceX is a for-profit company. Their owners may not be demanding a profit right now, but they do actually need to eventually make money. Even if Musk throws all his money into SpaceX, with the volume scale they want to be operating at they better be at least close to breaking even.

Musk is the majority owner. That's why SpaceX is not public.

Starlink was designed as a cash cow, because selling internet is a better business than selling launches. The global commercial launch market is tiny, even including launches SpaceX can never possibly secure, under $10B (if you throw the total spent annually on all the national space programs combined on top of this it starts looking like ~1 month of revenue for Amazon). They could charge $1000/kg and a 150t to LEO launch would be $150M—they just made enough to support 99 of their own launches.

Who knows what the actual costs are, and yes, the goal is to make as much as possible—to facilitate colonizing Mars. If a new space industry comes about because of this vehicle? Cool, colonizing Mars just got easier to afford (this is the only hope to generate really large sums, IMHO, a paradigm shift of some kind). If not, they try and do it as inexpensively as possible and they don't drop their prices all that much, pocketing the difference (yeah, maybe they have to do the accounting such that they charge themselves $1000/kg for Starlink 2 launches like every other customer pays in the example above).

They can seek out more NASA contracts that generate a few billion a year. Say $2B/yr for lunar services. At 150t/launch to LEO and $10/kg, $2B represents 1333 launches at cost. They could dedicate enough of those as they need to get NASA to the Moon and back monthly, and still have >1000 of their own launches paid for—and NASA would I think be happy with monthly lunar service for less than what they spend to fly nowhere per year for the last decade with SLS. At 4 seats/flight that's only ~$40M/seat to the Moon (from LEO, I'm not assuming crew flights any time soon). So ~$100M/seat total, monthly.  $4.8B/year, slightly more than what a single SLS/Orion launch costs, but 12-24X as many crew missions.

 

 

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3 hours ago, SunlitZelkova said:

I think what tater means is that SpaceX is not going to make gobs of money just to keep it in their bank accounts and party on yachts, they intend to put it to use on *a thing*, this thing being a Mars colony.

SpaceX’s goal is “to make money”, it’s just what they claim they want to use the money for that tater is talking about.

Pretty much, yes, they are not making money for return on investment, they are making money to go to Mars. I always say, I am NOT a "Mars bro" or anything, I think the idea is kinda crazy, but they really want to do this.

Thinking about SpaceX the same way you think about ULA—a company whose parent companies are publicly held, and have a fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders that SpaceX does not—is a mistake.

 

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9 hours ago, Flying dutchman said:

The original Wright flyer flew in 1903, the one sold to the army was a later model.

Yes, but that's because the original 1903 prototype was barely capable of flight and also was damaged in a crash. It literally took them years to convince anyone that they really did have a working airplane. By 1906 or 1907 they had built improved models that were impressive enough that basically anyone who saw them realized the Wrights were not scammers, and that finally got the US Army to commission them to build some planes for the Army. But the Army was the first customer -- the first commercial airplanes sold were "military airplanes".

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Musk is not the sole owner of SpaceX, is he? How much of it does he own?

Anyway, Musk, while undoubtedly very rich, is not infinitely rich. We see that in the whole Twitter debacle. Musk lost (on paper, but then most of his wealth is just on paper) 1/3 of his wealth in just a few months this year. Will he get it back? Probably.

But he needs SpaceX to be at least nearly self-sustaining in order to keep it expanding. Otherwise it's going to suck his Paypal/Tesla money dry and then financially crash. Amazon lost money for what, a decade? But they didn't lose so much money that they couldn't ride it out to profitability. A lot of similar companies tried the same thing and failed. In the late 1990s people came to believe that companies no longer had to be profitable in order to thrive -- and almost all of those companies ended up dead.

At some point, if Starlink is a huge cash cow and Mars is a huge cash sink, somebody (maybe not Musk, but somebody) is going to say, "Screw Mars, I'm taking the cash".

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13 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

Musk is not the sole owner of SpaceX, is he? How much of it does he own?

Anyway, Musk, while undoubtedly very rich, is not infinitely rich. We see that in the whole Twitter debacle. Musk lost (on paper, but then most of his wealth is just on paper) 1/3 of his wealth in just a few months this year. Will he get it back? Probably.

But he needs SpaceX to be at least nearly self-sustaining in order to keep it expanding. Otherwise it's going to suck his Paypal/Tesla money dry and then financially crash. Amazon lost money for what, a decade? But they didn't lose so much money that they couldn't ride it out to profitability. A lot of similar companies tried the same thing and failed. In the late 1990s people came to believe that companies no longer had to be profitable in order to thrive -- and almost all of those companies ended up dead.

At some point, if Starlink is a huge cash cow and Mars is a huge cash sink, somebody (maybe not Musk, but somebody) is going to say, "Screw Mars, I'm taking the cash".

I don't disagree with the gist of what you are saying... But the truth is - no one else is trailblazing right now. 

Won't lie... I want him to succeed with SS.  Forecasting what that will mean is difficult.  Could be we get a huge ship with potential no one really wants to purchase... Or... Something entirely new and unexpected (transformative) will occur. 

 

I'm hoping for the latter. 

 

 

 

 

 

('Mars' does not necessarily need to work for SS to succeed - if we only get 3-5 actual paid for missions per year in the first decade, that alone would be significant) 

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