Speechless

Holy Crap! Obama’s NASA Budget Proposal is Amazing! For once in my life, I think I’m actually speechless for now.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
Jonathan Goff

About Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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179 Responses to Speechless

  1. Patrick says:

    Kelly,
    The VSE wasn’t the problem–it was Griffin’s implementation of the VSE that was the problem.

    And I disagree that Bolden’s intentions don’t matter. First, O’Keefe was well on his way with the spiral-development path before he retired (apparently Columbia weighed on his soul, quite understandable); second, Mike Griffin didn’t hit any wall that wasn’t of his making–in fact, he got his way for six years and $10B.

  2. Woot! I get to be the hundredth comment on a three sentence post!

  3. Kelly Starks says:

    > 98Jonathan Goff
    > If NASA was convinced we already knew how to do
    > autonomous prox-ops ==

    They certified Dragon for it – which implies they think its possible. The progress still runs that way I believe.

    >== and propellant transfer, then why do they claim
    > we can’t whenever it comes time to incorporate them
    > into a mission?

    Well for one thing that would negate the need for a HLV. Back when they wanted to use one (during shuttle) they considered it very within reach.

    ;/

    Just because NASA doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to admit is known, how to do something, doesn’t mean it isn’t known.

    > == Sure we know how to build some HLVs, that
    > doesn’t mean we know how to build cost-effective
    > ones. Sure we know how to build some RLVs, but
    > that doesn’t mean we know for sure how to build affordable ones, ==

    Affordable isn’t a technology issue. I mean the industrial and mil evaluation in the mid ’90s was you can make a 25 ton cap craft that could be turned around in under a day with about 100 guys. McDonnell Douglas internal estimates were for margin op costs per pound down to $100 a pound for a SSTO or 1+TO DC-X like shuttle. DOE in their SSPS study in the ’70’s found the Rockwell and Boeing proposals for 100 ton to 500 ton to orbit for $10’s of dollars a pound, completely credable. (I loved the StarRaker proposal!!)

    NASA likes to study things. Often things that don’t need to be studied, or where the studies they are proposing won’t answer any questions about the topic. The studied the shuttle leading edges for impact vulnerability – but they never tested them. The above studies (and demos in some cases) give you all the info you’re going to get before you operate a fleet of production craft. NASA isn’t even proposing building test detonator craft.

    As to affordability. A trivial fraction of per flight costs even has anything to do with operating the ships!! The full margin cost of a shuttle flight is only $60 million or about $1,200 a pound, but add in all the fixed costs and NASA overhead for the centers and its over a $ Billion a flight and over $20,000 a pound (GAO numbers here). So if you want affordability, your really looking at your market size and utilization rates – not at the ship.

    >== and the list goes on. I don’t know what planet you’re
    > living on, ==

    I’ve been working at big aero firms that do this stuff and at NASA for 30 years. Firms that have been doing this for generations.

    > == but I can see dozens of useful technology development projects that could be done within the framework of this project that would give us much better capabilities than we have today.

    >== And prove them in a way that even NASA
    > couldn’t claim they were too risky to implement in the future.

    NASA can claim depending on airlines is to high risk if it serves their (and congresses) political interests. I’ve been in arguments where they argued equipment already marketed in industrial catalogs would take a massive R&D effort to develop. And others where they argued that issues that could kill crew weer to trivial to except. I spent most of ’08 listening to NASA brag about the huge safty advance Orion offered, while I was working down specs to levels of redundancy NASA demanded – which was far bellow what they demanded in Shuttle or ISS, or what Mil or industrial customers demanded.

    White House folks under Regan and others stated that NASA was one of the least trustworthy agencies they dealt with, and were completely unembarrassed to be caught lying.

    I’ld be curious what you list of technologies you’ld like them to verify is though?

  4. Kelly Starks says:

    > 99Patrick
    >
    > Kelly,
    > The VSE wasn’t the problem–it was Griffin’s implementation
    > of the VSE that was the problem.

    Completly agree. Mater of fact if Griffens Implementation attempted to meet Bush’s VSE requirements for affordability. I think Bush and company wouldn’t have washed their hands of them, and let them fight with congress no their own.

    > And I disagree that Bolden’s intentions don’t matter.
    > First, O’Keefe was well on his way with the
    > spiral-development path before he retired (apparently
    > Columbia weighed on his soul, quite understandable);

    I heard he found Congress’ tolerance for reform hit a WALL as soon as he started to talk about downsizing even tiny redundant centers or groups. He stated he realized he wouldn’t be allowed to do any real reforms, and he was wasting his time. So he left.

    >second, Mike Griffin didn’t hit any wall that wasn’t of his making ==

    Ah yes – but the bricks arn’t any softer just because yuo laid them yourself.

    😉

  5. Kelly Starks says:

    > 100 Jonathan Goff
    >
    > Woot! I get to be the hundredth comment on a three sentence post!

    Imagine how much you’ld get no a one sentence post.

    😉

  6. Brett Thomason says:

    Yes, 103 posts of speechlessness!! Woot indeed, Jon. About HLV, isn’t Delta IV H good enough? An early comment mentioned TransHab for iss. Oh, about iss, and I mentioned this to Zubrin once, couldnt some mods be taken for Mars flight vessel some day? But anyone know more of whats contained in the President’s proposal for T Hab??? Its an inflatable, I think, which had me very excited in those days, but it got cut. Bigelow’s outdone them since then. But T Hab was to be something like 100 x 40′. KELLY, you still around? KS, you sound interesting! What did you do in the program for 16 yrs, and are you still workin? But on Ares vs Elon’s team, that sounds too rosie. Where is that 2011 cots ready date from. And would it be several Mervins or whatever, and how much testing before human rating. Anyway, Ares Orion has only been $10B in 7 years? for all the studying, planning, getting right, logistics (and, of course, gov pork pork pork, but still). Now other co.s have work, but

  7. Brett Thomason says:

    But the utah srb co (and i and probably alot of folks dont like them much) wont have work like other cos still will. Maybe that was part of the ares design choice. 35 years of all those families and all the businesses and town suddenly killed off, and the resource infrastructure gone. That shoudnt be the determing factor. But this is to give something to think a little on what might have been part of the choice, and yes, all the proud families of Huntstville too. Shoot, I’m swinging the wrong way again. My last difficult thought: when the moon & mars were actually the declared goal of a nation, i just couldnt believe all the presumed space lovers just tearing away at everything. I thought, man, be quiet. My God, the moon & mars has been legislated! and all the endless second guessing & backbiting & stabbing at nasa confusing & disolving the public.

  8. Kelly Starks says:

    > 104Brett Thomason
    >
    > ==About HLV, isn’t Delta IV H good enough?

    NASA didn’t develop it so it (or Falcon 9 heavy, Direct, etc) don’t exist! If you think they do – your probably not cool enough to see the Emperors new cloths either.

    😉

    > An early comment mentioned TransHab for iss. ==

    Its all Bigelows now.

    > == Oh, about iss, and I mentioned this to Zubrin once,
    > couldn’t some mods be taken for Mars flight vessel some day?

    Its not built to be boosted, endure for years without servicing, protect the crew aganist radiation past the Van Allen belts, etc.

    It would be cheaper and better to just launch new modules built for the job.

    Course that would eliminate the need for a big HLV, so that’s a unknown technology. But if asked NASA would bid to study the feasibility of constructing large structures in space.

    ;p

    >== KELLY, you still around?

    I believe so – but I might be hallucinating? Or this is a really crappy here after..

    8{

    > KS, you sound interesting! What did you do in the program
    > for 16 yrs, =

    I was in mission operations directorate at JSC doing shuttle ops and mission control support from ’81-87. Space station Freedom program office ’87-’93, ’93-’95 a couple jobs around NASA HQ (most interesting a support job in office of space access technologies), and ’08 I was writing requirements for parts of Orion’s life support and cooling systems.

    Otherwise since ’95 I’ve gone contractor, so have resume – will travel.

    😉

    >= But on Ares vs Elon’s team, that sounds too rosie. Where
    > is that 2011 cots ready date from. And would it be several
    > Mervins or whatever, ==

    First test flights of Falcon/Dragon are this year (

    http://spacex.com/

    Lists 3 NASA COTS – Demo flights of Falcon 9/Dragon this year, and

    http://spacex.com/press.php?page=20100203
    Following those flights, SpaceX will begin the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, conducting a minimum of 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 with a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS.

    I think each F9 uses 9 Merlin’s. (might have wanted to build bigger merlins Elon)

    >==and how much testing before human rating.

    Don’t know what tests NASA wants to spec for COTS-D, but all the dragons were designed for human rated – though they haven’t finished the escape towers yet.

    >== Anyway, Ares Orion has only been $10B in 7 years?
    > for all the studying, planning, getting right, logistics (and,
    > of course, gov pork pork pork, but still). ==

    Yup. Aers Orion was a excellent design for its primary task as pork generation. Far superior to Shuttle which was vastly cheaper to develop, and took far more flights to generate the same operating expenses. All those shuttle design faults have been corrected in Ares/Orion, and with Ares/Orion only carrying at most 1/5th as many people per year to orbit, and 1/3rd as many human flights – even with its lower safety standards, the numbers of astronauts’ killed per decade will be less, and with so few flight opportunities per year the astronaut core will be far less likely to make waves if they ever want to fly.

    Clearly superior for the needs of NASA and Congress!!

    ;/

  9. So Jon, how about posting something new 😉

  10. Trent,
    Sorry I’ve been meaning to. Just been busy at work, and at home I’ve been spending so much time over on NASASpaceflight lately that I keep getting back to my blog around the time when I know I need to be getting to bed. I’ll see what I can do.

    ~Jon

  11. steve lussier says:

    If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your handle over at NASASpaceflight? I’ve been reading over there the past few days — discovering how deep my ignorance of booster acronyms and demonized NASA administrators runs, trying to make sense of what is happening, or may happen — it’s a confusing soup for a newcomer.

    I’ve been a space fan all my life, and in the last year or so have taken an interest in DIRECT (clued in by some posts on Dailykos.com) and then in the Flexible Path scenario from the Augustine Report. Like you I’m very excited about the new budget.

    But how likely is it to survive Congress? Now that everything has hit the fan, I find I’m scrambling for info and opinions that have some grounding in reality, and increasingly frustrated that there is no Big Vision coming from Obama to counter all the bitterness and sloganeering that is being pumped out. It doesn’t really feel like we can wait until summer. Isn’t rolling it out like this a mistake on his part? Or am I just getting sucked into the vortex of those who feel hardest hit by the changes? Might Obama, as several over at NASASpaceflight seemed to think yesterday (perhaps it has changed; things move pretty fast over there), be tossing out this budget as a bargaining position just to play hardball with folks like Shelby? Or, again, is that more like wishful thinking on the part of people who feel the rug’s been yanked out from under their feet?

    I’m not exactly expecting you to know the answers to all these questions, but it would be quite a relief to read some folks debating them who aren’t filled with rage and despair — so if you and/or your commentors can shed any light, provide any scorecards, ID a key player or two, or point me in the direction of some other useful and active discussions, it would be much appreciated 8^)

    Thanks,

    Steve

  12. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    Steve,
    My handle over there is the super-original “jongoff”. As for if this will be accepted by Congress? Ultimately I think there’s a pretty good chance that something that looks like this will pass, with only a few compromises. Possibly a shuttle extension until the CRS flights begin or something like that. Honestly I think there’s a high probability that Constellation at least is gone. The argument for keeping the shuttle flying till CRS is active is a lot more convincing than the case for keeping any significant part of Constellation. Not that I would mind having the budget passed as-is. I think it’s a great budget. But being realistic, I think there’s going to be at least one important compromise made in order to get enough support to get it passed.

    ~Jon

  13. steve lussier says:

    Thanks for the fast reply. Once I posted my long, somewhat whiny plaint, I went back over to DIRECT thread 3 and saw the Luc and Mark S and some others are getting into a pretty solid slog through of the disagreement. Gotta love this from Luc:

    “In 10-15 years:

    I think NASA will be doing incredible, cutting edge research again exploring SEP, NEP, Air Breathing 1st Stage, Real Resusable (like Skylon,) and many things I am unqualified to think up.

    I think the U.S. aerospace industry Oldspace AND Newspace will be thriving on regular launch contracts from NASA and burying Ariane V, Soyuz, the Long March, and everybody else in the global launch marketplace.

    In 8-10 years, I think there will be 6-8 viable HLV proposals submitted by the above in response to an RFP put out by NASA to lift 200mt/year to the Moon and optionally to Mars in the future. I hope NASA will award at least 3-4 contracts, so there are redundancies.

    I think that Bigelow will have at least one habitat in orbit and will be responding to RFPs for stations and habs from NASA.

    I think scores (maybe hundreds) of Americans (and others) will have a chance to orbit the earth who otherwise would not have had the opportunity.

    I think private investors will get the itch to invest in space businesses, and that this could be the next boom/bubble. The hope is more boom than bubble, as there is real investment in real hardware that can provide intrinsic value (read STUFF from space.)

    Not to sound too melodramatic (again,) 😉

    – but I think it could put the U.S. back on top in a very real and sustainable way. It would give us a way to harness our underutilized and atrophied industrial base and do something where the barriers to entry are high enough that we won’t have to worry about global competition for a decade or more (two or more decades from now,) and if we run with the ball they won’t catch us at all.

    I honestly believe we could catch up on all the outer space expectations we boomers had for the 21st century within 15-20yrs – just in time for us to die happy ;D ”

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19548.msg536668#msg536668

  14. @Jonathan Goff

    Demand determines how costly an HLV is. If all we end up doing with an HLV is space adventurism then the cost will always be high– no matter what breakthrough NASA comes up with. But if we build them and frequently launch them for space colonization and space tourism, then the cost will be cheap.

    If you built a Jupiter HLV and used it for launching customized space stations for science or space tourism, manned flights to the Moon, habitat modules for a continuously growing lunar base, space stations to a Langrange points, interplanetary habitat modules for Mars, fuel depots to various points in space then the cost would go down. If that same Jupiter core vehicle were also used, without the SRBs but with 6 SSME, to launch space tourist and satellites to LEO then the demand for the core vehicle would be extremely high and the vehicle cost would fall dramatically due to economies of mass production.

    And if we really want to dramatically lower the cost of interplanetary space travel while also protecting astronauts from the dangers of galactic radiation and major solar events with the appropriate amount of mass shielding then NASA needs to– finally– launch a light sail to one of the Langrange points. Light sails are reusable space craft that use no fuel and could potentially transport several thousand tonnes to Mars in less than a years time. They could also be used to capture small asteroids and bring them back to the Langrange points for processing into hydrogen and oxygen or used to mass shield space stations. So we could develop a game changing interplanetary transportation system by just deploying very very very big aluminized kites!

  15. Kelly Starks says:

    > Gotta love this from Luc:
    >
    > “In 10-15 years:
    >
    > I think NASA will be doing incredible, cutting edge research
    > again exploring SEP, NEP, Air Breathing 1st Stage,
    > Real Resusable (like Skylon,) and ==

    Our NASA?! The one boasting about starting a research program no auto docking, while the ISS groceries are already being delivered with such a system? Brushing of reusable space craft as beyond current technology – after operating a fleet of partial reusables for 30 years?

    > I think the U.S. aerospace industry Oldspace AND
    > Newspace will be thriving on regular launch contracts
    > from NASA ==

    NASA hasn’t stated any goal or program that would require them. And given gov process, they are already scheduled out for 10+ years.

    > In 8-10 years, I think there will be 6-8 viable HLV
    > proposals submitted by the above in response to
    > an RFP put out by NASA to lift 200mt/year to the Moon
    > and optionally to Mars in the future. ==

    There aren’t 6-8 companies that are capable of building such craft, and NASA just had the moon return canceled. Hell in 10 years I could see Virgin or someone going to the moon, but unless there some stunnig political reversal in DC in the next could years – the window for a classic HLV Apollo on steroids program in 6-8 years is closed.

    > I think that Bigelow will have at least one habitat in orbit
    > and will be responding to RFPs for stations and habs from NASA.

    He already has 2 test habs adn responding to NASA RFPs and inquiries.

    > I think scores (maybe hundreds) of Americans (and others)
    > will have a chance to orbit the earth ==

    Maybe – though this also works against the idea of a major NASA program?

    > I think private investors will get the itch to invest in space businesses, =

    If someone starts making real money in space, I thnik this is a real possibility.

    > – but I think it could put the U.S. back on top in a very real
    > and sustainable way. It would give us a way to harness
    > our underutilized and atrophied industrial base and do
    > something where the barriers to entry are high enough
    > that we won’t have to worry about global competition==

    I desperately hope US aero will turn around from its dive, adn DC turns around from its preference for less and less areospace industry.
    However. As to barriors to entry keep other nations out – were the nation taking a financial slide adn are so indebt that every incomtax dollar to the feds is JUST able to pay the interest no out T-bill loans. We’re are already on the hook enough to china that they can openly harras our Navy adn demand we back off watching them – adn we roll over. Another 5-10 years were not going to have the money to do anything like a major space program, adn will be in the shadow richer nations like India and China with far more industrial capacity.

  16. Kelly Starks says:

    > 112Marcel F. Williams
    >=
    > If you built a Jupiter HLV and used it for launching customized
    > space stations ==, manned flights to the Moon, habitat
    > modules for a continuously growing lunar base, space
    > stations to a Langrange points, interplanetary habitat
    > modules for Mars, == then the cost would go down. ==
    >==If that same Jupiter core vehicle were also used, without
    > the SRBs but with 6 SSME, ==

    I wonder how low it could go?
    The hull facility is a $300M a year facility regardless of the number of tanks, I think they said getting up to 20 ETs a year would boost it to $320M. P&W said expendable SSMEs would run $37M ish a peace. Even assuming that drops to $30 with 20 flights a year – thats still $180M in engines, $16M in hull, probably assembled and outfitted <$300M per booster? Then you add the overhead adn fixed costs, but the Base $300M is 5 times the margin cost of a shuttle launch, so likely the per flight cost will be much higher.

    GAO estimates for 4 Ares/Orion/Altai launches a year came out to nearly $8 billion a launch with the overhead. Jupiter has less then a tenth the overhead adn assuming 20 flights a year for such a Jupiter… er Still looking like over a billion a launch with overhead??

    ELVs have a real high hard floor to their per flight costs, since they have the developmebnt costs of a RLV (higher ni the few historic samples), but you need to pay for a new ship for each flight.

  17. Pete says:

    > I think private investors will get the itch to invest in space businesses, =

    If someone starts making real money in space, I thnik this is a real possibility.

    The world spends a couple of hundred billion on space every year, lack of real money has never been the problem.

    I could envisage ~1000kg payload launch vehicles delivering standardized space craft, space station and satellite modules that were assembled in space, propellant for depots, and what not. Seems that would be a ~100 billion dollar commercial market that could be readily accessed by the private sector with a little forethought (low entry barrier).

  18. The operation cost of a Jupiter HLV shouldn’t cost more than the current Space Shuttle cost which NASA estimates are about $450 per mission. Although payload cost per kilogram will be a lot lower since a Jupiter HLV would carry substantially more payload into orbit than a space shuttle even if it carried a 22 tonnes Orion on top. If NASA finally used disposable SRBs, these cost could be lowered along with increasing the payload capacity.

    A single Altair cargo launch to the Moon would probably cost a little over $1 billion. If you assume that NASA will have at least $8 billion a year for Jupiter HLV launches due to the end of the shuttle program ($3 billion a year), end of the ISS program ($2 billion a year) and the end of the Constellation development ($3.4 billion a year), then NASA should have enough for at least HLV launches per year. $8 billion a year would only buy you about three weeks of military occupation in Iraq.

    However, building just 8 Jupiter HLVs per year is still not a high enough demand to move from the craft production to the mass production of an HLV. However, if the Jupiter core vehicle (without the SRBs) was also used by the private commercial industry as a SSTO vehicle for launching up to 25 tonnes into orbit (paying passengers, commercial satellites, fuel depot, cargo launches), then the demand for the Jupiter core vehicle would go up dramatically requiring hundreds of Jupiter core vehicles to be developed each year– if it were to grab a significant amount of market share. This could potentially reduce Jupiter core vehicle cost by an order of a magnitude since vehicle production would probably move from craft production to mass production. The production of the expendable SSMEs alone could possibly go up from only a few dozen produced per year to over 1000 engines produced each year under this scenario. That’s plenty of capacity for several competing vendors.

  19. Kelly Starks says:

    > 115Pete
    >
    >>> I think private investors will get the itch to invest in space businesses, =

    >> If someone starts making real money in space, I thnik this is a real possibility.

    > The world spends a couple of hundred billion on space
    > every year, lack of real money has never been the problem.

    Where are you getting those numbers from?

    > I could envisage ~1000kg payload launch vehicles delivering
    > standardized space craft, space station and satellite modules
    > that were assembled in space, propellant for depots, and
    > what not.

    No current market for any of that. Hell most of the launch market is declining and going to fewer bigger launches!

  20. Kelly Starks says:

    > 116Marcel F. Williams
    >
    > The operation cost of a Jupiter HLV shouldn’t cost more
    > than the current Space Shuttle cost which NASA estimates
    > are about $450 per mission. ==

    ??
    Ah the margin cost of a shuttle flight is about $60 million, total program cost per mission is $1.3 billion ish. (GAO numbers) Where did you hear $450?

    Looks like (see my numbers above) a Direct could possibly launch for les then $300 million. So $25 tons for $60M + or $120? tons for $300m +?

    Course if you were to clean up the shuttle for lower servicing costs per flight and quicker turn around times (higher flight rate) its cost could come down a lot. Really though its the fixed and overhead costs / number of flights that the 800lb gorilla of launch costs.

    > ==If you assume that NASA will have at least $8 billion a
    > year for Jupiter HLV launches due to the end of the shuttle
    > program ($3 billion a year), end of the ISS program ($2
    > billion a year) and the end of the Constellation
    > development ($3.4 billion a year), ==

    Not sure your numbers are accurate – but given ISS is tasked to fly to 2020, and they never paid $3.4 billion a year on constellation as far as I know?

    >== $8 billion a year would only buy you about three weeks of military occupation in Iraq.

    Actualy the total cost of the Iraq and Aphgan wars is about $800 billion.

    >== if the Jupiter core vehicle (without the SRBs) was also
    > used by the private commercial industry as a SSTO vehicle
    > for launching up to 25 tonnes into orbit (paying passengers,
    >commercial satellites, fuel depot, cargo launches), then
    > the demand for the Jupiter core vehicle would go up
    > dramatically requiring hundreds of Jupiter core vehicles
    > to be developed each year–==

    Woah there boy!! Hundreds of Jupiter craft a year?!! There’s no capacity to make even a fraction of that many, nor facilities to launch that many, nor places willing to clear out downrange pretty much every day for launches. Nor markets of that scale with costs near current levels.

    For that kind of flight rates you need to look at RLVs. Which can sustain high flight rates, adn provide much lower costs and higher safty levels..

    Also the loss rates of 2% of all launches – would really cramp your style.

  21. “Not sure your numbers are accurate – but given ISS is tasked to fly to 2020, and they never paid $3.4 billion a year on constellation as far as I know?”

    Check last year’s NASA budget.

    “Woah there boy!! Hundreds of Jupiter craft a year?!! There’s no capacity to make even a fraction of that many, nor facilities to launch that many, nor places willing to clear out downrange pretty much every day for launches. Nor markets of that scale with costs near current levels.”

    Well, they better get prepared. The space tourism industry is going to be huge in the 2020s, IMO. A Sea Launch configuration would probably be best for such a Jupiter-lite rocket. And such a high flight rate would mean that practically every major coastal port in the US could doing what Long Beach, California is doing– and sailing their launch configuration to the equator to launch their payloads into orbit.

    “For that kind of flight rates you need to look at RLVs. Which can sustain high flight rates, adn provide much lower costs and higher safty levels..”

    There’s nothing wrong with building hundreds of disposable rockets. There were nearly 70 satellite launches worldwide back in 2007. We need to manufacture more things here in the US.

    While reusable space craft might reduce cost even more, I doubt if you’ll be able to safely use them more than about 10 times. Plus their lower cost might make space flight even more affordable for even a higher volume of people which might actually increase the demand for the production of more launch craft!

    But for expendables and reusables, a high demand for space flights is the key to dramatically reducing cost of a particular rocket.

  22. Kelly Starks says:

    > 119Marcel F. Williams
    >
    >> == Hundreds of Jupiter craft a year?!! There’s no capacity
    >> to make even a fraction of that many, nor facilities to
    >> launch that many, nor places willing to clear out downrange
    >> pretty much every day for launches. Nor markets of
    >> that scale with costs near current levels.”

    > Well, they better get prepared. The space tourism industry
    > is going to be huge in the 2020s, IMO.

    Assuming your assuming a 25 ton tourist craft, thats what a 25 tourist craft? so your Jupiter launcher is still costing passengers $20 million a seat. The response for ISS tours at that cost wouldn’t fill one of those ships.

    And again, killing 1 out of 50 tourists is bad for marketing… and political support.

    > == A Sea Launch configuration would probably be best for
    > such a Jupiter-lite rocket. ==

    A sea launch for a 1000 ton booster?

    Thats a damn big ship.

    >> “For that kind of flight rates you need to look at RLVs.
    >> Which can sustain high flight rates, adn provide much
    >> lower costs and higher safty levels..”

    > There’s nothing wrong with building hundreds of disposable rockets.==

    Except theirs no infastructure to do it, and its keeping your costs per launch way way up.

    > There were nearly 70 satellite launches worldwide back
    > in 2007.

    I think it was closer to 50 worldwide.

    > While reusable space craft might reduce cost even more, I
    > doubt if you’ll be able to safely use them more than
    > about 10 times.

    On ave each shuttles have flown about twice that often (some obviously quite a bit more) – and they are not exactly built tough!

    Design for rugged use adn servicability and hundreds of flights per airframe should be a big issue. Certainy high performance aircraft subjected to worse loads have stood up more. Also its considered doable by the manufacturers.

    Besides, you’re Jupiter tourist craft requires stagering amounts of infrastructure and labor. Cost per flight at least several hundreds of millions of $.

    > == Plus their lower cost might make space flight even
    > more affordable for even a higher volume of people
    > which might actually increase the demand for the
    > production of more launch craft!

    Only if you caused the market to go up a couple orders of magnitude — which you could build a RLV to support easier — and should see as a good thing?

    > But for expendables and reusables, a high demand for space
    > flights is the key to dramatically reducing cost of a
    > particular rocket.

    Oh agreed. I just wonder if you could support that with a expendable like a Jupiter?

  23. Vladislaw says:

    “If someone starts making real money in space, I thnik this is a real possibility.” – Kelly.

    That isn’t how wallstreet works. There is a reason a bull is the symbol for a rising market. Investors move with a herd mentality. A business will not have to make a dime for this to happen. It is the POTENTIAL for FUTURE profits that is a stock broker’s bread and butter when it comes to selling stock. EVERYONE wants in on a ground floor opportunity. Once Bigelow has a destination in place and lockmart-boeing-spacex have a made a successful flight .. look out.
    Witness the dotcom boom, a classic economic model to compare this with. First is the speculation phase, investors will be clamoring for a piece of the action and will be begging for stock from any company with space in their name.

    ( you are just starting to get an inkling of this for suborbital and virgin galatic as angel investment groups are starting to form for venture capital – the first sign of a future market bubble)

    This speculation phase always ends the same way, as capital comes pouring in over capitalization and over production capacity is built, forcing companies to lower their prices to survive. Then what follows is a market shake out as the larger successful companies start buying up the smaller companies and small parts suppliers as they vertically and or horizontally intergrate to lower costs. ( In a lot of cases the major stakeholders were not even involved in that business, they just have the capital to buy up over capacity for pennies on the dollar) so you will see airlines and others buy up small suborbital companies and add it as a new division.

    So, from what i am seeing, all it is going to take for a huge capital infusion is a successful flight and then the stock brokers will dust off the phone banks and start calling their investor lists and start selling the new next best money maker since the IPOD.

    ( I studied economics, not rocket science – smiles)

  24. Pete says:

    “> The world spends a couple of hundred billion on space
    > every year, lack of real money has never been the problem.

    Where are you getting those numbers from?”

    I do not seem to be able to find the original source (without buying a report), but here is the first link I found that suggests 150 billion for the Global space and satellite market (though I doubt this includes everything):
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/ITFacts/?p=8639

  25. “Assuming your assuming a 25 ton tourist craft, thats what a 25 tourist craft? so your Jupiter launcher is still costing passengers $20 million a seat. The response for ISS tours at that cost wouldn’t fill one of those ships.”

    Polls show that 7% of the wealthy would be willing to pay $20 million for a chance to fly into space. That also means 93% wouldn’t:-) There are 100,000 people on this planet worth over $30 million. So that’s 7000 people willing to pay over $20 million to fly into space. Of course we know that people have paid up to $35 million to fly into space. If you assume that only 10% of that number would actually get around to flying into space each year aboard a 6 passenger capsule ( 2 pilots and 4 passengers) then that would mean 700 people paying to fly into space each year. That would be 175 flights per year. NASA had 5 manned flights last year and a maximum of 9 manned flights in one year.

    But at 175 per year, the cost per passenger is probably going to go down dramatically to maybe under a million dollars per passenger. And there are about 9 million millionaires on the planet!

    “you’re Jupiter tourist craft requires stagering amounts of infrastructure and labor.”

    A Jupiter SSTO vehicle would be the simplest booster ever launched since it has no SRBs and only one stage. The current Sea Launch rocket, Zenit 3SL, weighs about 462 tonnes fully fueled. A manned Jupiter SSTO would probably weigh less than 900 tonnes fully fueled.

    Anyone interested in seeing a youtube video of how the Sea Launch company works can click the following URL:

    http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/10/sea-launch-history.html

  26. Pete says:

    “The operation cost of a Jupiter HLV shouldn’t cost more than the current Space Shuttle cost which NASA estimates are about $450 per mission.”

    Lets optimistically assume 100 ton payload at 450 million each, that is $4,500/kg. One can already buy cheaper launch vehicles than that, and one would need near an order of magnitude improvement on that to achieve CATS.

    Even with existing smaller launch vehicles the flight rates are far too low to enable safe and low cost access to space. A HLV would need a ~1000 fold increase in market size to get the flight rates necessary to justify it (a couple of flights a day are likely required). I see no sensible way of growing that much in one go, it would require trillions of dollars up front to force a market of that size.

  27. Kelly Starks says:

    > 123Vladislaw
    >
    >> “If someone starts making real money in space, I
    >> think this is a real possibility.” – Kelly.
    >
    > That isn’t how wallstreet works. There is a reason a bull
    > is the symbol for a rising market. Investors move with
    > a herd mentality. A business will not have to make a
    > dime for this to happen. It is the POTENTIAL for FUTURE
    > profits that is a stock broker’s bread and butter when
    > it comes to selling stock. ===

    Agreed. My point was right now no one sees a way to make big money in space, and NASA has convinced people (even space advocates to a surprising degree) that space is impossible. 50 years of space flight and it takes one of the highest funded government agencies, spending enough each year to buy a new aircraft Carrier, just to operate the shuttles? This to be replaced with 50’s style capsules on boosters that cost significantly more then that be launch? If NASA is the best and the brightest, and they can’t do any better then this. Then “obviously” space is impossible.

    Its why the X-prize folks could get a insurance policy to cover half the prize. The insurance company found the top experts in the country assured them something like SS1 would cost over a $billion, and be impossible for a small organization. Instead itcost $35 million, adn that really excited folks.

    Maybe once Virgin starts routine flights of the SS2 fleet that will convince investors that developing space is possible — or at least that Branson’s space ideas are worth investing in? Ok SS2 is a long way from a space shuttle from a engineering standpoint, but conceptually its very similar. So it might push the investor mind set to the point they see space as a industrial possibility.

    Some think that if the internet frounteer hadn’t drawn attention away from space, perhaps space would have been developed then. The technology to do it (to develop all the systems needed) was avalible for decades even then. I think really a sold busness case based space development concept has to be fielded, and investors have to at a gut level beleave it can be done.

    On the engineering side. You have the big aero firms who have been talking about and proposing design for all this for decades. Amazing folks when given a chance like with the DC-X in the ’90’s, or the DOE SSPS studies in the ’70’s. BUT NO ONE STEPS UPS TO PLACE A ORDER!!

    So the aero firms wait – in most cases as the US phases down aerospace over the last couple decades, then went out of busness. But the capacity is still there – but still being ignored or forgotten.

    ===
    > So, from what i am seeing, all it is going to take for a
    > huge capital infusion is a successful flight and then the
    > stock brokers will dust off the phone banks and start
    > calling their investor lists and start selling the new next
    > best money maker since the IPOD.

    Successful flight of what? We’ve had successful flights into space for half a century. Maned flight for nearly that long. Airliner sized shuttles have flown for nearly 30 years now, representing the bulk of all human efforts in space. But still no big investments.

    So whats going to be the killer ap / product that excites investors?

  28. Kelly Starks says:

    >124Pete

    > The world spends a couple of hundred billion on space
    > every year, =
    >
    >== here is the first link I found that suggests 150 billion
    > for the Global space and satellite market (though
    > I doubt this includes everything):
    > http://blogs.zdnet.com/ITFacts/?p=8639

    I’m dubious. It talks about the US gov spending a $100 billion next year. That’s 2.5 times the total mil space and NASA budgets.

    I think they are refering not to space, but to efforts using space as a small part of their effort. For example talking about the total sales of the Direct-TV company as being space – but only the sats in orbit (a very small fraction of the efforts – and one they might phase out) involves actual space development.

  29. Kelly Starks says:

    > 125Marcel F. Williams
    >
    >> “Assuming your assuming a 25 ton tourist craft, thats
    >> what a 25 tourist craft? so your Jupiter launcher is still
    >> costing passengers $20 million a seat. The response
    >> for ISS tours at that cost wouldn’t fill one of those ships.”

    > Polls show that 7% of the wealthy would be willing to
    > pay $20 million for a chance to fly into space. ==

    But actual buyers to fly tourist to the ISS has been only a handful, and they are already flying repeat customers. So it might be that far more rick foks are willing to say they would – then actually will when its offered.

    No solid way to be sure.

    >== But at 175 per year, the cost per passenger is probably
    > going to go down dramatically to maybe under a million
    > dollars per passenger.==

    Not with a Jupiter expendable system, requireing a KSc support facility.

    >> “you’re Jupiter tourist craft requires stagering amounts
    >> of infrastructure and labor.”

    > A Jupiter SSTO vehicle would be the simplest booster ever
    > launched since it has no SRBs and only one stage. ==

    It also needs to be completely constructed for each fight, and needs hundreds of millions of dollars of engines and systems per flight. Thousands of man hours per flight and massive industrial infrastructure to produce it.

    No for massive flight rates like that, or tonage like that, you eaither need to build staggering infrastructure and pay through the nose or you fly a simpler, reusable craft. Its certainly not a major effort to do that — vastly easier and cheaper then your jupiter senerio — but it is different.

    Closer to DC-X or something then Jupiter. Jupiter isonly sensable if your pnly going to fly a couple times a year – adn never use it on a large scale.

    Some old designs like the star clipper
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld019.htm
    or others
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld053.htm
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld057.htm

    My fav, star raker 😉
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld047.htm
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld039.htm

    ?? didn’t post

  30. Kelly Starks says:

    > 126. Pete
    >
    > Lets optimistically assume 100 ton payload at $450
    > million each, that is $4,500/kg. One can already buy
    > cheaper launch vehicles than that, and one would need
    > near an order of magnitude improvement on that to achieve CATS.
    ==
    > = a couple of flights a day are likely required). I see no
    > sensible way of growing that much in one go, it would
    > require trillions of dollars up front to force a market of that size.

    really the critical part is the high flight rate. A RLV would (given past history) cost about as much as a similar cargo capacity airliner. Engine costs, fuel costs, within a factor of 5-10. Maintenance costs could be a couple man months a year using DC-X test results. Perhaps much less with more then ten million spent to analyze and develop it like was done in the DC-X.

    Did some looking into this with a project for a large scale CATS project I tried to get launched. If you can tap a really big market, and can field the system, you could do launch to orbit for dollars per pound with tech you could field.

  31. Kelly Starks says:

    Weird, this post did post?

    onemore time..

    > 125Marcel F. Williams
    >
    >> “Assuming your assuming a 25 ton tourist craft, thats
    >> what a 25 tourist craft? so your Jupiter launcher is still
    >> costing passengers $20 million a seat. The response
    >> for ISS tours at that cost wouldn’t fill one of those ships.”

    > Polls show that 7% of the wealthy would be willing to
    > pay $20 million for a chance to fly into space. ==

    But actual buyers to fly tourist to the ISS has been only a handful, and they are already flying repeat customers. So it might be that far more rick foks are willing to say they would – then actually will when its offered.

    No solid way to be sure.

    >== But at 175 per year, the cost per passenger is probably
    > going to go down dramatically to maybe under a million
    > dollars per passenger.==

    Not with a Jupiter expendable system, requireing a KSc support facility.

    >> “you’re Jupiter tourist craft requires stagering amounts
    >> of infrastructure and labor.”

    > A Jupiter SSTO vehicle would be the simplest booster ever
    > launched since it has no SRBs and only one stage. ==

    It also needs to be completely constructed for each fight, and needs hundreds of millions of dollars of engines and systems per flight. Thousands of man hours per flight and massive industrial infrastructure to produce it.

    No for massive flight rates like that, or tonage like that, you eaither need to build staggering infrastructure and pay through the nose or you fly a simpler, reusable craft. Its certainly not a major effort to do that — vastly easier and cheaper then your jupiter senerio — but it is different.

    Closer to DC-X or something then Jupiter. Jupiter is only sensible if your only going to fly a couple times a year – and never use it on a large scale.

    Some old designs like the star clipper
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld019.htm
    or others
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld053.htm
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld057.htm

    My fav, star raker 😉
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld047.htm
    http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld039.htm

  32. Vladislaw says:

    “If you assume that only 10% of that number would actually get around to flying into space each year aboard a 6 passenger capsule ( 2 pilots and 4 passengers) then that would mean 700 people paying to fly into space each year. That would be 175 flights per year. NASA had 5 manned flights last year and a maximum of 9 manned flights in one year. ”

    I had read on a russian space website that there were over 300 people who had wanted to be considered for a space flight to the ISS.

    I have a little bit of a different take on it. I do not think it is as important how many up and down passenger flights you have per year, to low earth orbit, but how long each passenger actually stays in space. Passenger flights will not give you the break through in launch costs you need, in my opinion. It will be the high flight rate of cargo serving those passengers. If most of the people stay in space long enough to require cargo flights is where the break through will come for reusables. You could then use the high profit margin on a reusable cargo vehicle to actually run the passenger side as a loss leader. Run the numbers on how much cargo will be needed if 70-80% of those passengers stay on orbit for 4-6 months each.

  33. Vladislaw says:

    “Its why the X-prize folks could get a insurance policy to cover half the prize. The insurance company found the top experts in the country assured them something like SS1 would cost over a $billion, and be impossible for a small organization. Instead itcost $35 million, adn that really excited folks.” – Kelly

    “Successful flight of what? We’ve had successful flights into space for half a century. Maned flight for nearly that long. Airliner sized shuttles have flown for nearly 30 years now, representing the bulk of all human efforts in space. But still no big investments.” – Kelly

    That is why i mentioned angel investors versus a venture captial firm. An investment firm with a 5-10 billion portfolio do not even CONSIDER a company with a capitalization of 25 million. It is just to small to even consider. They wait until AFTER the shake out and then invest in the new industry leaders. Even though they are “venture” capitalists an investment firm is still pretty conservative. That is why you look for the formation of angel investor groups forming AHEAD of the pack, they feel a technology is ready and jump in the earliest.

    you are seeing this now with the formation of two angel investment groups already formed for newspace. You are also starting to see some consolidations happening, with scaled composite and space dev being bought up. This is happening as we speak but in investment circles “on the street” you are not seeing or hearing about any of it. Once you start seeing Cramer going on endlessly about the investment possiblity of new space, smart money will have already been positioned.

    The successful flight I am waiting for is a “for profit” flight. That is why I want NASA out of the launch business. I want to see jobs created for wealth creation in the human launch business and NASA jobs are not formed to create wealth they are formed for “the mission” or “the program”.

    No matter how hard NASA tries there will never be ANY form of outlet for people to actually get truely involved. They can not even show support by investing money in a system. I can promise you this, a person that puts some “skin in the game” and buys stock in a company will feel more connected to spaceflight and become more of an advocate then anything NASA can do.

    Witness what we see in the blog-o-sphere, among spaceofiles the world is coming to an end at NASA or it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but step out of “spacenut” realm and look what we see.. a couple 30 second blips on the news, hell even fox news isnt running this 24/7 that “Obama is ending manned spaceflight”. It just isnt important enough to the man on the street because the man on the street isnt involved with space and NEVER has been a part of it.

    Only when they start having a vested interest in it, will it start to matter.

  34. “ets optimistically assume 100 ton payload at 450 million each, that is $4,500/kg. One can already buy cheaper launch vehicles than that, and one would need near an order of magnitude improvement on that to achieve CATS.”

    A Jupiter HLV would not really be designed for a lot of manned space flight traffic. And because it still uses SRBs, I doubt if its cost could be cut more than 50%. A Jupiter SSTO (Jupiter without the SRBs) however would be a lot cheaper since the demand for the booster could be several hundred a year and the demand for the SSME could be over 1000 per year. That would move the rocket vehicle production from expensive ‘craft production’ to assembly line and even robotic ‘mass production’.

  35. Pete says:

    “A Jupiter SSTO (Jupiter without the SRBs) however would be a lot cheaper since the demand for the booster could be several hundred a year and the demand for the SSME could be over 1000 per year. ”

    No it would not be, the market/flight rate is not even within an order of magnitude of that. Also note that after each shuttle loss the fleet was grounded for ~3 years. High flight rates are also necessary to develop/demonstrate high safety levels (hence the dishonesty of NASA claiming high levels of safety from large launch vehicles).

    The commercially accessible launch market would be lucky to be a couple of hundred ton a year. To create a competitive and redundant launch industry (necessary if one wishes to achieve CATS), one would need a minimum of something like three vehicles types each flying say a hundred times a year (assuming RLV’s one might need at least three of each type).

    One will not find a market for this unless the launch vehicles are in the 1000kg range. Hence any development of a launch vehicle larger than this is doomed to economic failure as anything more than a glorified missile and will only serve to perpetuate the status quo. Working from existing markets, a conventional launch vehicle larger than ~1000kg payload will not bring about safe and cheap access to space. And this assumes payload sizes are fungible…

    Whenever someone suggests a HLV they are suggesting putting off safe and cheap access to space for another couple of decades. A NASA HLV would permanently put NASA out of the launch business, so in that regard it is not necessarily a bad thing.

  36. Kelly Starks says:

    > 132Vladislaw

    > The successful flight I am waiting for is a “for profit” flight. ==

    There have been lots of commercial for profit launchs over the decades. Thats nothing new. What knew thing will insight investors.

    >== even fox news isnt running this 24/7 that “Obama is
    > ending manned spaceflight”. It just isnt important enough
    > to the man on the street because the man on the street
    > isnt involved with space and NEVER has been a part of it.

    More basiv=c. The man on the street isn’t interested – because it hasn’t done anything interesting. Commercial or NASA cargo launchs doesn’t make a difference. Its still nothing happening. NASA contracting firms to do launches is even more boring then NASA contracting firms to build some new lauchers to NASA specifications. If anything, to the man on the street – contracting out for launches to the ISS makes it seem like even NASA is bored withspace launches.

  37. Kelly Starks says:

    > 133 Marcel F. Williams

    > A Jupiter HLV would not really be designed for a lot of manned
    > space flight traffic. And because it still uses SRBs, I doubt if
    > its cost could be cut more than 50%. A Jupiter SSTO
    > (Jupiter without the SRBs) however would be a lot cheaper
    > since the demand for the booster could be several hundred
    > a year and the demand for the SSME could be over 1000
    > per year. ==

    At likely over $400 million a peace in margin costs (6 adn a half times the margin cost for a space shuttle) and likely lower safety. Add to that the cost to mass produce the ships, and build adn launch them.

    All in all a very high cost launcher system – likely incapable of handeling the kind of flight rates your talking about.

    Why avoid a cheaper safer RLV solution?

  38. Kelly Starks says:

    > 134 Pete

    >== The commercially accessible launch market would
    > be lucky to be a couple of hundred ton a year. To
    > create a competitive and redundant launch industry
    > (necessary if one wishes to achieve CATS), one would
    > need a minimum of something like three vehicles types
    > each flying say a hundred times a year (assuming RLV’s
    > one might need at least three of each type).

    > One will not find a market for this unless the launch vehicles
    > are in the 1000kg range. Hence any development of a
    > launch vehicle larger than this is doomed to economic
    > failure == Working from existing markets, a conventional
    > launch vehicle larger than ~1000kg payload will not bring
    > about safe and cheap access to space. And this assumes
    > payload sizes are fungible…

    Payload sizes are generally not fungible, and 1 ton capacity is damn small. SpaceX found very little demand for their Falcon 1, with clients moving toward the bigger Falcon 9.

    Really safely and economics needs more then a couple dozen flights a year. Hell the test flights should be in the hundreds.

    Whenever someone suggests a HLV they are suggesting putting off safe and cheap access to space for another couple of decades. A NASA HLV would permanently put NASA out of the launch business, so in that regard it is not necessarily a bad thing.

  39. David says:

    I’ve had a couple of more thoughts about this. Turning over manned spacecraft activities to the private sector sounds like a pretty good idea, except that no one in the private sector has built an orbital spacecraft yet. Unless something truly unexpected happens, there won’t be one before the proposed retirement of the shuttle.

    The second thought I had about this regards liability. This is something Marcel mentioned in post #74. Everyone knows that spaceflight is dangerous. What happens when there’s a fatal accident with NASA astronauts aboard a private spacecraft? How much is the insurance going to be to cover a company for something like that? We wouldn’t be talking about one space tourist, but a crew of three or more people. Presumably, the government would still have to “insure” these flights in some manner to protect the companies with which they’ve contracted.

    Of course, if the government contracts with the private sector, that money the government uses ultimately comes from the American taxpayer. So, although it may be seen as giving the private space industry a boost, it seems like this would involve a diverting of from NASA into private industry. It seems like this would have to happen until the private sector could become financially self-sustaining. The best path for the private sector to make money would be in commercial satellite launch. And this, of course, is already happening.

    I would love to see manned spaceflight in the private sector, but apart from millionaires riding with Richard Branson I don’t see it doing much of anything else. I think it will probably happen sometime, I just don’t know when.

    I could obviously be very wrong about this. What do other people think?

  40. Pete says:

    “Payload sizes are generally not fungible, and 1 ton capacity is damn small. SpaceX found very little demand for their Falcon 1, with clients moving toward the bigger Falcon 9.

    Really safely and economics needs more then a couple dozen flights a year. Hell the test flights should be in the hundreds.”

    Exactly. One off launch vehicles and payloads favor being big, it is a vicious circle and SpaceX is quickly being sucked back into the old business model. 🙁

    CATS vehicles will also have to go through a number of iterations before they become viable. Doing that at ~25 ton scale probably means a decade plus per iteration, say 30-50 years to make CATS happen (not that it would). CATS vehicles will likely need to be prototyped at ~1000kg scale if the development is to be fast and low cost (optimal is actually probably closer to 500kg – two person). Probably need to be doing a prototype every 2-3 years.

    What is really required to make CATS happen is not shot in the dark build it and they will come launch vehicles, but modular satellites, stations and depots that can be easily assembled from many ~1000 kg lots. Akin to the containerization of shipping, this could revolutionize the space industry by creating a CATS compatible market, encouraging instead of discouraging the development of high flight rate CATS vehicles. The vast majority of payloads could not be practically assembled from ~500kg modules. For example, an atmospheric pressure inflatable shell with the volume of the ISS could weigh around 500kg – one would use multiple shells and outfit it in space.

    For CATS to happen much higher flight rates are required and much faster prototyping cycles. Either the global launch market has to increase by an order of magnitude (or two) and launch vehicles somehow become much faster to develop, or, the average payload size has to decrease by and order of magnitude (or two) and orbital assembly refined. It would seem to me that the latter is more than ten fold less expensive and more possible than the former. I have some hope for the latter, none for the former.

  41. Kelly Starks says:

    > 138David

    >== except that no one in the private sector has built an
    > orbital spacecraft yet. Unless something truly unexpected
    > happens, there won’t be one before the proposed
    > retirement of the shuttle.

    Well SpaceX’s Dragon is entering flight tests. Its man rated, though they haven’t implemented the escape tower yet.

    As a nit – all orbital craft have always been built and flown by the private sector. Who do you think builds NASA’s ships adn staffs its centers? [Very few folks in the centers are NASA civil servants.]

    > The second thought I had about this regards liability. This is
    > something Marcel mentioned in post #74. Everyone knows that
    > spaceflight is dangerous. What happens when there’s a fatal
    > accident with NASA astronauts aboard a private spacecraft?
    > How much is the insurance going to be to cover a company
    > for something like that? ==

    Good question. It depends on what NASA chooses. They can absorb all damages (gov legally is supposed to cover the big stuff) or not if they want to discourage commercials from offering launch services.

    >==
    > I would love to see manned spaceflight in the private sector,
    > but apart from millionaires riding with Richard Branson I
    > don’t see it doing much of anything else. I think it will
    > probably happen sometime, I just don’t know when.

    Thats the major question. With large scale tourist ops – the cost could come way down to the price of more conventianal tours. But there is a hell of a big investment adn market development effort to get to that point.

  42. Pete says:

    That should have read:
    The vast majority of payloads *could* be practically assembled from ~500kg modules.

    The point I am trying to make here is that one really should start by creating a high flight rate CATS market, then high flight rate CATS vehicles should hopefully follow. And creating a high flight rate at large payload sizes is prohibitively expensive and time consuming – need to start small, adapting the market to suit.

  43. Kelly Starks says:

    > 139 Pete
    > Exactly. One off launch vehicles and payloads favor being
    > big, it is a vicious circle and SpaceX is quickly being sucked
    > back into the old business model. 🙁

    Worse then that. The market for space launches is declining since the big multi purpose sats are lasting to long, and being run off the market by fiber and cell nets.

    >==
    > CATS vehicles will also have to go through a number of
    > iterations before they become viable. Doing that at ~25
    > ton scale probably means a decade plus per iteration,
    > say 30-50 years to make CATS happen ==

    Not really. Its not that big a technology leap or anything. Oh the first ones won’t be up to the standards of airliners in relyability adn safty. But upping the safty hundreds maybe a thousand fold – adn cutting direct op costs a hundred fold was projected as a doable goal for a first gen DC-X. Likly for other designs as well.

    Really the big thing would be building them up to commercial/industrial aerospace standards, not mearly to the norms of spacecraft, much less NASA, quality standards.

    >==
    > What is really required to make CATS happen is not
    > shot in the dark build it and they will come launch
    > vehicles, but modular satellites, stations and depots that
    > can be easily assembled from many ~1000 kg lots. ==

    I’d disagree that that necessary or advantagious to CATS development. But the real question is – what possible benefit is it to launch customers? You can hardly expect them to cripple their launch cargo’s, increase their costs, hurt their reliability to help your launcher project along.

    You have to serve the customer – not the other way around.

    > For CATS to happen much higher flight rates are required
    > and much faster prototyping cycles. Either the global launch
    > market has to increase by an order of magnitude (or two)
    > and launch vehicles somehow become much faster to develop,==

    Ah, they take about as long, and as much money adn effort, as a similar sized aircraft. Your not likely to to do much better then that without cutting nasty corners.

  44. Kelly Starks says:

    …need to start small, adapting the market to suit.

    You NEVER get to adapt the market to you. Its always the other way round. Gov can’t get folks to buy high MPG cars. Ford couldn’t sell the Edsel. Vegetarianism can’t get folks to give up steak.

    In busness you don’t get to sell what you want to sell — only what others want to buy.

  45. Pete says:

    “Not really. Its not that big a technology leap or anything. Oh the first ones won’t be up to the standards of airliners in relyability adn safty. But upping the safty hundreds maybe a thousand fold – adn cutting direct op costs a hundred fold was projected as a doable goal for a first gen DC-X. Likly for other designs as well.”

    Yes, the shuttle promised similar things. 🙂 The DC-Y would have been a great improvement, but I doubt it would have been as successful as you suggest – pushing too many margins. I will note that in recent years TSTO seems to have become increasingly favored in RLV circles. Realistically, we are far from just one vehicle away from CATS. Armadillo, Masten, XCOR chose the development paths they did for a good reason. SpaceX is not really on a development path to CATS, though they recently restated their intent to quickly progress to reusabilty (perhaps better described as rebuildability?).

  46. Pete says:

    “You NEVER get to adapt the market to you. Its always the other way round. Gov can’t get folks to buy high MPG cars. Ford couldn’t sell the Edsel. Vegetarianism can’t get folks to give up steak.

    In busness you don’t get to sell what you want to sell — only what others want to buy.”

    Disruptive technologies (and CATS will need to be disruptive), work a little differently to incremental markets. Disruptive technologies compete with non consumption – they create new markets, and they usually start from the bottom and work their way up (the transistor, mini steel mills, the PC, etc.). This is what the statement “extraordinary launch vehicles require extraordinary markets” is getting at. This is also one of the reasons why developing disruptive technologies is so difficult – as you have to successfully concurrently develop both new technologies and new markets.

    As you stated, current satellites are very refined and very long lived, but they are incredibly expensive and stagnant. They are ripe for disruption. A disruptive technology could come in at the bottom end, offering less comprehensive but much cheaper and more responsive services. Services not currently supplied by existing satellites due to these small market niches not being worth the hassle. If combined with small low cost reusable launch vehicles such a disruptive technology could quickly reinvent the launch market.

  47. “At likely over $400 million a peace in margin costs (6 adn a half times the margin cost for a space shuttle) and likely lower safety. Add to that the cost to mass produce the ships, and build adn launch them.”

    A Jupiter HLV wouldn’t be launched by a ship since its a heavy lift vehicle. A Jupiter SSTO (Jupiter without the SRBs) is not a heavy lift vehicle since it only launches around 25 tonnes to orbit. Since it only has a single stage, it would be much safer than a multistage rocket (fewer stages or boosters, fewer things to go wrong). And since it would probably have 6 SSME, that would further add to its safety.

  48. Pete says:

    “A Jupiter HLV wouldn’t be launched by a ship since its a heavy lift vehicle. A Jupiter SSTO (Jupiter without the SRBs) is not a heavy lift vehicle since it only launches around 25 tonnes to orbit. Since it only has a single stage, it would be much safer than a multistage rocket (fewer stages or boosters, fewer things to go wrong). And since it would probably have 6 SSME, that would further add to its safety.”

    There is some merit in such SSTO designs, though it is still an ELV, and a pure LH2/LOX one at that (much more expensive than RP-1/LOX). It would have a similar GLOW to the Falcon IX heavy (about half that of the shuttle stack and a third that of the Saturn V, so still fairly “heavy”), and have a slightly smaller payload and similar drymass. LH2 tanks are not cheap and it seems to me that this would be quite a lot more expensive than a Falcon IX heavy, probably leading to a lower flight rate.

    Use of LH2 plus a lower flight rate would probably negate the reliability advantages of the SSTO design. Incrementing reusability is also not really possible, unlike the Falcon. Also, reusing the first stage of the Falcon – which is planned in the near term, would presumably lead to much greater reliability for it. So I doubt this system would necessarily be significantly more reliable than the Falcon either.

  49. Kelly Starks says:

    > 144 Pete
    >
    >> “Not really. Its not that big a technology leap or anything.
    >> Oh the first ones won’t be up to the standards of airliners
    >> in relyability adn safty. But upping the safty hundreds
    >> gen DC-X. Likly for other designs as well.”

    > Yes, the shuttle promised similar things. 🙂

    Shuttle was only half built, adn never built up to commercial/industrial standards – but it did deliver its cost reductions and such as projected. GAO said margin cost per pound to orbit would be about $240 a pound, adjusted for inflation and the 50K not 60K cargo load except in Columbia – its about that.

    >The DC-Y would have been a great improvement, but I doubt
    > it would have been as successful as you suggest – pushing
    > too many margins.==

    Ignoring the SSTO function (which wasn’t the critical point from expense and reliability standpoint), what do you think was pushing it?

    Note: I didn’t say projected cost savings – I said tested and verified.

    > I will note that in recent years TSTO seems to have become
    > increasingly favored in RLV circles. ==

    Seems to be a fad thing more then anything.

    > Realistically, we are far from just one vehicle away from CATS.

    Why? Its not like were doing something radically new. Just something launch craft didn’t bother with before.

    >Armadillo, Masten, XCOR chose the development paths
    > they did for a good reason. ==

    Mainly the reason was they havent the money or expertice. Hence why its taking them years to do what bigger firms did in months long ago.

    > SpaceX is not really on a development path to CATS,
    > though they recently restated their intent to quickly
    > progress to reusabilty (perhaps better described as
    > rebuildability?).

    I can’t figure SpaceX. They weer always saying they were designing for reusability – but the Falcons are built around a design optimised for a expendable missle? Its like copying a 911 porche, but saying you want to build it into a UPS truck? I mean they are doing a great job getting the company up and running , and competing in the existing market. But its a dumb design to start with if you want to move toward a RLV.

  50. Kelly Starks says:

    > 145 Pete

    >> “You NEVER get to adapt the market to you. Its always
    >> the other way round. Gov can’t get folks to buy high
    >> MPG cars. Ford couldn’t sell the Edsel. Vegetarianism
    >> can’t get folks to give up steak.
    >>
    >> In busness you don’t get to sell what you want to
    >> sell — only what others want to buy.”

    > Disruptive technologies (and CATS will need to be disruptive),
    > work a little differently to incremental markets.

    Only if you can develop a new market tuned to you. None of the existing market will go for it in this case.

    The nightmare for space launch, is its the first transportation systems built to go where no one goes now.

    > Disruptive technologies compete with non consumption –
    > they create new markets, and they usually start from the
    > bottom and work their way up (the transistor, mini steel
    > mills, the PC, etc.). ==

    The transistors and mills sold to the existing markets, and out competed the existing players.

    PCs got nowhere until a killer ap was developed. Hence why folks keep wonder what will be the killer ap for space launch.

    ==
    > As you stated, current satellites are very refined and
    > very long lived, but they are incredibly expensive and
    > stagnant. They are ripe for disruption. A disruptive
    > technology could come in at the bottom end, offering
    > less comprehensive but much cheaper and more
    > responsive services. ===

    It is – but unfortunatly its not space based.

    Possibly things like 3rd world cell phone and internet needs could drive a new generation Irridium. But thats still to small to really keep a fleet busy enough to lower costs.

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