daniel l.

SpaceX BFR Discussion.

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On 2/24/2018 at 1:08 PM, tater said:

Yeah, with the min cost being the pro-rata cost of the vehicle (vehicle cost/uses + some dev amortization), then plus fuel (with profit margin built in).

The best data from Spacex seems to indicate that the cost of a booster is less than a third of the cost to launch a Falcon 9.  The whole idea of getting it down to the pro-rata cost of the vehicle (assuming Musk's wild "1000 launches" scheme) is not going to happen.

From Southwest Airlines 2016 annual report (page 45): http://investors.southwest.com/~/media/Files/S/Southwest-IR/Annual Reports/2016_AnnualReport_LUV.PDF

Payroll : 40% of expenses
Fuel : 22% of expenses (which is historically low: in 2003 it was 16% [listed twice under 20%] and in 2011 it was 37% [part of a 7 year run over 30%] see page 4)
Vehicle pro-rata costs (rentals and depreciation): 8.6%
Maintenance and repairs: 6.2%
Landing fees (presumably whatever they pay the airports):  7.3%
Everything else: 15%

Even if you get the pro-rata vehicle costs down to the fuel costs (somewhere between 100-1000 flights) you can expect that the rest of the spacex payroll to be pretty steep (and when launch/landings become commonplace he won't be able to work geniuses like slaves, they will go elsewhere or expect more pay and more time off).  Obviously an airline is more of a "asymptotic goal" and won't match up all that well, but it is the best data we have for an ideal situation.  There is a *long* way to go to get here, but certainly removing booster costs gets you 1/3 of the way there (or more likely 1/2, I'd expect a lot of costs can't be avoided).

I'd assume that a post-BFR rocket would involve something other than chemical rockets (assuming fuel costs began to dominate) but would be designed on "Elon time" taken to a whole new level (because there wouldn't be a hurry to replace the BFR).  There are quite a few ways to get into orbit (or at least get enough delta-v to save a ton of fuel) but they require a lot of research that will take a very long time (and aren't getting the funding for much more than powerpoint slides).

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2 minutes ago, wumpus said:

The best data from Spacex seems to indicate that the cost of a booster is less than a third of the cost to launch a Falcon 9.  The whole idea of getting it down to the pro-rata cost of the vehicle (assuming Musk's wild "1000 launches" scheme) is not going to happen.

From Southwest Airlines 2016 annual report (page 45): http://investors.southwest.com/~/media/Files/S/Southwest-IR/Annual Reports/2016_AnnualReport_LUV.PDF

Payroll : 40% of expenses
Fuel : 22% of expenses (which is historically low: in 2003 it was 16% [listed twice under 20%] and in 2011 it was 37% [part of a 7 year run over 30%] see page 4)
Vehicle pro-rata costs (rentals and depreciation): 8.6%
Maintenance and repairs: 6.2%
Landing fees (presumably whatever they pay the airports):  7.3%
Everything else: 15%

Even if you get the pro-rata vehicle costs down to the fuel costs (somewhere between 100-1000 flights) you can expect that the rest of the spacex payroll to be pretty steep (and when launch/landings become commonplace he won't be able to work geniuses like slaves, they will go elsewhere or expect more pay and more time off).  Obviously an airline is more of a "asymptotic goal" and won't match up all that well, but it is the best data we have for an ideal situation.  There is a *long* way to go to get here, but certainly removing booster costs gets you 1/3 of the way there (or more likely 1/2, I'd expect a lot of costs can't be avoided).

I'd assume that a post-BFR rocket would involve something other than chemical rockets (assuming fuel costs began to dominate) but would be designed on "Elon time" taken to a whole new level (because there wouldn't be a hurry to replace the BFR).  There are quite a few ways to get into orbit (or at least get enough delta-v to save a ton of fuel) but they require a lot of research that will take a very long time (and aren't getting the funding for much more than powerpoint slides).

The difference is that aircraft get used so many times that the pro rata cost is incredibly low. 8.6% of a flight cost measured in thousands of dollars is not a big deal.

ITS costs had one of the vehicles at ~230 M$, the booster more like 130 M$ (from memory). Given the downscale, call total cost for BFR/BFS 270. At 10 flights, that's 27 M$/flight. That;s already in expendable F9 territory for vehicle cost (lower, probably).

So pick a reflight number, and do the math. What does F9 really cost? I have not seen the booster being 1/3 the cost cited, unless they are saying the launch is marked up 100%, I usually see closer to 2/3. If a flight is 65 M$, what do you think the SpaceX profit is? That can determine how many flights you need from BFR/BFS to be the same as F9---note that this assumes launching identical payload sizes as F9, so this is a worst case number of them wasting 100+ tons of possible cargo delivery by using BFS to put a 6 ton sat in GTO (BFS goes into a GTO itself with the excess prop, then lowers perigee for direct entry).

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2 minutes ago, tater said:

The difference is that aircraft get used so many times that the pro rata cost is incredibly low. 8.6% of a flight cost measured in thousands of dollars is not a big deal.

ITS costs had one of the vehicles at ~230 M$, the booster more like 130 M$ (from memory). Given the downscale, call total cost for BFR/BFS 270. At 10 flights, that's 27 M$/flight. That;s already in expendable F9 territory for vehicle cost (lower, probably).

So pick a reflight number, and do the math. What does F9 really cost? I have not seen the booster being 1/3 the cost cited, unless they are saying the launch is marked up 100%, I usually see closer to 2/3. If a flight is 65 M$, what do you think the SpaceX profit is? That can determine how many flights you need from BFR/BFS to be the same as F9---note that this assumes launching identical payload sizes as F9, so this is a worst case number of them wasting 100+ tons of possible cargo delivery by using BFS to put a 6 ton sat in GTO (BFS goes into a GTO itself with the excess prop, then lowers perigee for direct entry).

They generally borrow money to buy the fleet, the increased cost of interest on the loans is leveraged against increased sales. So that gets factored in. BTW this is always the case, in carrying a capital inventory the alternative use of the money has to be factored in, even if you don't borrow. The good thing is the cost goes down as the fleet depreciates in value (value goes off the balance sheet and onto the P/L sheet), if you consign an aircraft to a depreciable life after say 15 years and thereafter has only salvage value, and you use your fleet for a long period of time then that cost will drop to a trivial level.

So what determines the vehicles lifespan, why doesn't an airline buy a new airframe after 15 years and consign the old air-frame to the desert or sell it to Middle of Nowhere Airlines? The issue is competition, if the competition is fierce (i.e. the mean net profit per ticket is low), then to keep cost down you use the plane as long as you can, as long as your passengers will accept it, as long as the FAA will allow, and as long as your repair crew is not charging more to repair an older vehicle. IOW, the cost of your capital inventory is low and expensed cost is also low.  SW defines competition in the medium distance commercial airline market, so they use a single type of plane, lowering cost and optimizing maintenance  and use it repeatedly and force ticket prices down.

In the case of SpaceX,  the longevity is more market driven, alternative prices per launch are several fold higher than what they are offering, the are trying to attract new customers (including their own sat. tele. business) which they see that in many aspects of space they can outcompete by reusing the same cores, boosters and fairings. But the price driver for their satellite communication will be in getting the cost of launch down and since they are the customer they can set their own QC (Hughes is certainly not looking amorously at their move). For the other market, as long as their competitors are selling at 3 to 10 times their price the same service, then its probably good for them to use that differential to replace their cores from time to time. Essentially they are building infrastructure that they need to keep going. They are not in exactly the same situation as SW, but it a nice selling point to offer '1000' reuses.

We have to factor out one thing. If you have an old core, and you need to place a payload that is in the F9 expendable range, you can either offer the customer a ride on a F9, recover the core and boosters, or offer a used core to be expended. My guess that factoring in the rockets known depreciation they will probably offer and F9 expendable more cheaply than an FH reusable if the core is of a certain number of reuses. Again, part of your business is building cores, then you want to keep that operation going (otherwise your workers may be working for your competitors as their business dies).

In terms of the BFR, I am not sure how their product testing will play out. In order to stay on topic I just want to mention, its hard to compare something in the engineering/early construction phase, with the operating model for a 737 that has been in flying since 1968 or the F9 which has been recycling for the last couple of years. These handwaving arguments are often points where threads derail into off-topic never-land. I caution about making economic conclusions at this point, and I would remind everyone that SpaceX has yet to turn a profit in any of their their operations, they are just throwing more skin into the game, and frequently (as in the oil boom of 2014) this does not have a pretty outcome.

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52 minutes ago, wumpus said:

The best data from Spacex seems to indicate that the cost of a booster is less than a third of the cost to launch a Falcon 9.  The whole idea of getting it down to the pro-rata cost of the vehicle (assuming Musk's wild "1000 launches" scheme) is not going to happen.

From Southwest Airlines 2016 annual report (page 45): http://investors.southwest.com/~/media/Files/S/Southwest-IR/Annual Reports/2016_AnnualReport_LUV.PDF

Payroll : 40% of expenses
Fuel : 22% of expenses (which is historically low: in 2003 it was 16% [listed twice under 20%] and in 2011 it was 37% [part of a 7 year run over 30%] see page 4)
Vehicle pro-rata costs (rentals and depreciation): 8.6%
Maintenance and repairs: 6.2%
Landing fees (presumably whatever they pay the airports):  7.3%
Everything else: 15%

Even if you get the pro-rata vehicle costs down to the fuel costs (somewhere between 100-1000 flights) you can expect that the rest of the spacex payroll to be pretty steep (and when launch/landings become commonplace he won't be able to work geniuses like slaves, they will go elsewhere or expect more pay and more time off).  Obviously an airline is more of a "asymptotic goal" and won't match up all that well, but it is the best data we have for an ideal situation.  There is a *long* way to go to get here, but certainly removing booster costs gets you 1/3 of the way there (or more likely 1/2, I'd expect a lot of costs can't be avoided).

I'd assume that a post-BFR rocket would involve something other than chemical rockets (assuming fuel costs began to dominate) but would be designed on "Elon time" taken to a whole new level (because there wouldn't be a hurry to replace the BFR).  There are quite a few ways to get into orbit (or at least get enough delta-v to save a ton of fuel) but they require a lot of research that will take a very long time (and aren't getting the funding for much more than powerpoint slides).

Their payroll per flight is too high, this is due in part to launch delays working between a couple of sites, once the boca chica site is operational, if two sites are delayed they can still launch from the third. Southwest does not build their own 737s, SpaceX build their own rockets, if they can build more efficiently, their cost will go down, if they can launch more frequently and more predictably, then the cost of launch crew per launch goes down.

BTW SW relative competitiveness is not asymptotic, but saturation kinetics.

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Obviously this whole thread is pretty speculative.

I think the only hard numbers that matter for the stated goal of BFS/BFR is that it make F9 obsolete. That means that it needs to be able to launch the same payloads at the same profit margin (per launch), and that as a business, clearly they need to make back their dev investment over some time frame. The talk last year said that it was cheaper per launch than F1 (which I think they quoted as around 12M, though last number I saw was 8.5 M). That's for around 500kg to LEO.

I don't think 10 reuses is out of the question at all, and there will be more operational data on this with block 5 F9. If block 5 can do 10, then BFR can likely do better as methlox is cleaner, and the boosters are basically very similar except size. At 10 reuses, the per launch vehicle cost is only 30M$. Reused F9 might be cheaper to fly for F9 sized payloads that don't want to be comanifested. I think that BFR is likely to not be ideal for single small, payloads. That said, small payloads might be possible to send with BFS alone (the lighter, cargo version as an SSTO to LEO).

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My point was that even if they effectively remove the cost of the booster (which would come anyway with a Falcon 9 and 10 launches), I don't expect that payroll costs will go down all that much (launch/logistics people would replace manufacturing, but the costs will be still significant per launch).  On the other hand, the subsidies necessary to compete with Spacex would just keep getting harder and harder to justify, and also get harder to keep quiet about (except for Bezos, who just writes another billion dollar check.  And is equally committed to reuse).

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43 minutes ago, tater said:

I don't think 10 reuses is out of the question at all, and there will be more operational data on this with block 5 F9. If block 5 can do 10, then BFR can likely do better as methlox is cleaner, and the boosters are basically very similar except size. At 10 reuses, the per launch vehicle cost is only 30M$. Reused F9 might be cheaper to fly for F9 sized payloads that don't want to be comanifested. I think that BFR is likely to not be ideal for single small, payloads. That said, small payloads might be possible to send with BFS alone (the lighter, cargo version as an SSTO to LEO).

Conservatively, I think we can expect to see 6-8 reuses out of F9 B5, with end-of-life boosters being expended rather than refurbished. A 9-meter methalox version might be able to manage 20-30.

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1 hour ago, wumpus said:

My point was that even if they effectively remove the cost of the booster (which would come anyway with a Falcon 9 and 10 launches), I don't expect that payroll costs will go down all that much (launch/logistics people would replace manufacturing, but the costs will be still significant per launch).  On the other hand, the subsidies necessary to compete with Spacex would just keep getting harder and harder to justify, and also get harder to keep quiet about (except for Bezos, who just writes another billion dollar check.  And is equally committed to reuse).

I suppose it depends on what their labor costs really are.

Airlines don't make their aircraft, so their costs have high labor, as they are a service industry.

A launch provider that also manufactures is different. If they expend every booster, then you need the same labor for every vehicle, both mfg, and operations. With reuse, this changes, and operations has a baseline, as does mfg. At some point, they either make much bigger rockets (using the staff who would make many small rockets to make a few big ones), or the mfg staff drops, and they mostly pursue operations.

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Say, I don't think we've discussed this...

What's the name of the BFR going to be?

It may just stay "BFR" or be something like "BFR Launch System", in which case you might see a line like, "The Heart of Gold, a BFR system spaceship built by SpaceX, lifted off from Mars today for its return trip to Earth."

Or it could get an official name, like the Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy. The kestrel and the merlin are both species of falcon, though we know Falcon was named for the Millennium Falcon. Based on this nomenclature, "Raptor" would have been a better name for the launch vehicle itself, since raptor is a general name for all birds of prey (the engine could have been named Condor or Eagle or Goshawk or somesuch).

Other potential bird-themed names:

  • Osprey
  • Harpy
  • Phoenix
  • Gryphon

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25 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Say, I don't think we've discussed this...

What's the name of the BFR going to be?

...raptor is a general name for all birds of prey (the engine could have been named Condor or Eagle or Goshawk or somesuch).

Other potential bird-themed names:

  • Osprey
  • Harpy
  • Phoenix
  • Gryphon

How about, Gyrfalcon?

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Limited Contact Unit, or Limited System Vehicle. (to follow his love of the Culture series)

 

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The Archaeopteryx because its the first real spaceship that can do multiple missions of different types.  

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Prometheus? It is technically a result of our discovering fire.

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It’s of epic proportions. And with a nudge to rocket history I propose...

TITANIC!

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If the giant 5 engine rocket is the Saturn V, the giant 7 engine rocket would be the Neptune VII.  Eh.  

 

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Why not Hawking? It would make sense to name the first batch or so of BFRs after famous scientists.

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How about... the 

Asymptote

Ares

Asimov

Clarke

 

Just now, daniel l. said:

Why not Hawking? It would make sense to name the first batch or so of BFRs after famous scientists.

Yes!  I was actually just about to post that!  Name the BFR the Hawkings.

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I'd call it Moby Dick. Just because how huge they are. (and beause it's a bit of micky-ish show-off).

Edited by YNM

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I suspect they'll use Heart of Gold, or Gold-class for short. Perhaps they'll let the first Mars colonists name the individual ships.

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17 minutes ago, Mitchz95 said:

I suspect they'll use Heart of Gold, or Gold-class for short. Perhaps they'll let the first Mars colonists name the individual ships.

Infinte improbability landing?

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6 minutes ago, PB666 said:

Infinte improbability landing?

Someone else's problem (tm)

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27 minutes ago, PB666 said:

Infinte improbability landing?

Controlled by AIs ! Hopefully there will be tea.

21 minutes ago, Rakaydos said:

Someone else's problem (tm)

That'd be the Bistromath...

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7 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

Say, I don't think we've discussed this...

What's the name of the BFR going to be?

It may just stay "BFR" or be something like "BFR Launch System", in which case you might see a line like, "The Heart of Gold, a BFR system spaceship built by SpaceX, lifted off from Mars today for its return trip to Earth."

Or it could get an official name, like the Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy. The kestrel and the merlin are both species of falcon, though we know Falcon was named for the Millennium Falcon. Based on this nomenclature, "Raptor" would have been a better name for the launch vehicle itself, since raptor is a general name for all birds of prey (the engine could have been named Condor or Eagle or Goshawk or somesuch).

Other potential bird-themed names:

  • Osprey
  • Harpy
  • Phoenix
  • Gryphon

I think BFR should be renamed to “T. Rex”. 

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14 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

Say, I don't think we've discussed this...

What's the name of the BFR going to be?

It may just stay "BFR" or be something like "BFR Launch System", in which case you might see a line like, "The Heart of Gold, a BFR system spaceship built by SpaceX, lifted off from Mars today for its return trip to Earth."

Or it could get an official name, like the Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy. The kestrel and the merlin are both species of falcon, though we know Falcon was named for the Millennium Falcon. Based on this nomenclature, "Raptor" would have been a better name for the launch vehicle itself, since raptor is a general name for all birds of prey (the engine could have been named Condor or Eagle or Goshawk or somesuch).

Other potential bird-themed names:

  • Osprey
  • Harpy
  • Phoenix
  • Gryphon

Im geussing because of the 'Raptor' engine name, it might be named after a raptor, like 'Hawk' or 'Eagle'. 

Im surprised no American orbital rocket is named 'Eagle' so far, XD.

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