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posted by janrinok on Monday January 22 2018, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-busy-up-there dept.

After a failure to reach orbit last year and several delays, Rocket Lab has successfully launched an Electron rocket into orbit:

Rocket Lab has returned to action with the second launch of its Electron rocket from the Māhia Peninsula from the North Island of New Zealand's eastern coast. Several attempts to launch at the end of last year were scrubbed before regrouping for a new attempt – which was also scrubbed, due to a wayward boat, a technical issue and then the weather – before finally launching at 01:43 UTC on Sunday and appears to have been a success.

Much like Vector Space – which is currently in small-scale suborbital testing with aims to enter the launch market next year – Rocket Lab caters to much the same market, offering small satellite users a dedicated launch system to eliminate ride-sharing requirements on the larger, more established launchers.

According to the company's website, Rocket Lab lists its launch services with Electron as costing $4.9 million (USD) per flight.

Three cubesats were deployed.

Rocket Lab has two more upcoming launches planned for Q1 2018, including a lunar lander for Moon Express. The Electron rocket will deliver the Moon Express payload into low-Earth orbit, where the lander will use its own thrusters to get to the Moon:

Once in low-Earth orbit, the MX-1E will need to complete a translunar injection (TLI) burn, cruise through space, conduct a breaking[sic] burn to enter lunar orbit, and finally complete descent and landing burns—all by itself. It would be an unprecedented accomplishment, a single-stage spacecraft that can make it all the way to the surface of the moon from low-Earth orbit.

How will a cheap disposable rocket fare against reusable rockets?

Also at Wired.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Rocket Lab Makes Suborbital Launch From New Zealand 12 comments

"Made it to space. Team delighted. More to follow!" the U.S. company, founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, tweeted at 4:29 p.m. New Zealand time Thursday. It is the first test of the company's Electron Rocket from New Zealand, a country of just 4.7 million people deep in the South Pacific.

Rocket Lab aims to build a New Zealand base from which to launch small satellites into low orbit. The country is considered a prime location because rockets originating deep in the Southern Hemisphere can reach a wide range of Earth orbits.

[...] With a height of 17 meters and a diameter of 1.2 meters, and 3D-printed engines, the Electron Rocket is capable of carrying a maximum payload of 225 kilograms, according to Rocket Lab, whose investors include Lockheed Martin Corp.

Bloomberg

Related stories:
Vector Space Completes First Test Flight, Hoping to Expand the Small Satellite Launch Market
"Planet" Purchases 3 Launches from "Rocket Lab"
New Companies Begin to Target the Micro-Satellite Market
Moon Express and Rocket Lab Team Up for 2017 Lunar Mission
Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine


Original Submission

Launch of Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Due Dec. 7-8 1 comment

Rocket Lab to launch second orbital-class rocket as soon as next week

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is designed to carry small satellites to orbit, targeting a market niche microsatellite owners say is currently under-served by larger, more expensive boosters. Using nine first stage engines and a single upper stage powerplant, the rocket can deliver up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of payload to at 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) sun-synchronous polar orbit.

The upcoming launch will be the second by an Electron rocket. The Electron's inaugural test flight May 25 reached space after a successful first stage burn and second stage ignition, but a data reception error with ground tracking equipment prompted an early termination of the mission for safety reasons.

[...] Backed by U.S. and New Zealand venture capital funds, and investment from the New Zealand government and U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Rocket Lab says it will sell future Electron rocket missions for $4.9 million per flight. The Electron is sized to provide a dedicated ride for small satellites that today must ride piggyback on bigger launchers.

Rocket Lab.

According to SpaceFlightNow's Launch Schedule: "Launch window: 0130-0530 GMT on 8th (8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST on 7th/8th)

Previously: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine
Moon Express and Rocket Lab Team Up for 2017 Lunar Mission
New Companies Begin to Target the Micro-Satellite Market
"Planet" Purchases 3 Launches from "Rocket Lab"
Rocket Lab Makes Suborbital Launch From New Zealand

Related: Vector Space Completes First Test Flight, Hoping to Expand the Small Satellite Launch Market
Vector Space Systems Partners With Virginia Space for Launches


Original Submission

Rocket Lab's Electron Rocket Launched "Humanity Star", a Temporary Source of Light Pollution 30 comments

Rocket Lab has put a highly reflective object into orbit around Earth:

US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab put three commercial satellites into orbit during its rocket launch this past weekend — but it turns out there was another satellite that hitched a ride on the vehicle too. The company's Electron rocket also put into orbit a previously undisclosed satellite made by Rocket Lab's CEO Peter Beck, called the Humanity Star. And the probe will supposedly become the "brightest thing in the night sky," the company announced today.

Shaped a bit like a disco ball, the Humanity Star is a 3-foot-wide carbon fiber sphere, made up of 65 panels that reflect the Sun's light. The satellite is supposed to spin in space, too, so it's constantly bouncing sunlight. In fact, the probe is so bright that people can see it with the naked eye. The Humanity Star's orbit also takes it all over Earth, so the satellite will be visible from every location on the planet at different times. Rocket Lab has set up a website that gives real-time updates about the Humanity Star's location. People can find out when the satellite will be closest to them, and then go outside to look for it.

The goal of the project is to create "a shared experience for all of humanity," according to Rocket Lab. "No matter where you are in the world, or what is happening in your life, everyone will be able to see the Humanity Star in the night sky," Beck said in a statement. "Our hope is that everyone looking at the Humanity Star will look past it to the vast expanse of the Universe and think a little differently about their lives, actions, and what is important for humanity." That includes coming together to solve major problems like climate change and resource shortages, Beck says.

Some astronomers are not happy about the geodesic sphere:

The only good thing about the "Humanity Star" (aka the NZ pollutes the night sky project) is that it burns up in 9 months. 9 months is way too far away IMHO.

— Ian Griffin (@iangriffin) January 24, 2018

Also at BBC.

Previously: Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit


Original Submission

Japan Launches the Smallest Rocket to Put a Satellite in Orbit 9 comments

Souped-up sounding rocket lifts off from Japan with tiny satellite

A modified sounding rocket originally designed to loft science instruments on high-altitude suborbital arcs blasted off Saturday from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan and soared into orbit to become the world's smallest satellite launcher.

[...] Standing just 31 feet (9.5 meters) tall and spanning around 20 inches (52 centimeters) in diameter, the SS-520-5 rocket was modest by launcher standards. With Saturday's successful flight, the solid-fueled booster became the smallest rocket to ever put an object in orbit around Earth.

A student-built shoebox-sized CubeSat named TRICOM 1R — weighing in at about 10 pounds (3 kilograms) — was mounted on top of the SS-520-5 rocket for liftoff from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture.

[...] The SS-520 is designed to propel more than 300 pounds (140 kilograms) of science research instrumentation to an altitude of nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers) for a few minutes of exposure to space before falling back to Earth. Engineers added a third stage on top of the basic SS-520 booster to give it the capability to reach orbital speeds of more than 17,000 mph (27,000 kilometers per hour).

Also at The Verge.

Related: Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit


Original Submission

Lunar X Prize Could Continue Without Google, or Even the Prizes 5 comments

Although the Google Lunar X Prize ended without any teams landing rovers on the Moon, some teams still intended to complete the mission. Now the X Prize Foundation has announced that the competition will continue without prize money, although a new sponsor could change that:

Just a few days after the Google Lunar X Prize ended without a winner, the X Prize Foundation announced today that it's relaunching its competition to send a private spacecraft to the Moon. The competition will be "non-cash," meaning it won't have prize money for whichever team first completes its mission to the lunar surface — at least for now. The foundation is looking for a new sponsor that can replace Google and provide funding.

"We are extraordinarily grateful to Google for funding the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE between September 2007 and March 31st, 2018. While that competition is now over, there are at least five teams with launch contracts that hope to land on the Lunar surface in the next two years," Peter H. Diamandis, X Prize founder and executive chairman, said in a statement. "Because of this tremendous progress, and near-term potential, XPRIZE is now looking for our next visionary Title Sponsor who wants to put their logo on these teams and on the lunar surface."

One of the teams, Moon Express, had contracted with Rocket Lab to launch a payload to the Moon using an Electron rocket, but Rocket Lab only reached Earth orbit for the first time in January 2018.

Previously: Moon Express and Rocket Lab Team Up for 2017 Lunar Mission
Google Lunar XPrize Deadline Revised; New Prizes Available


Original Submission

Rocket Lab Set to Launch Commercial Payloads on April 20 3 comments

Rocket Lab is about to win the small satellite launch space race

Life is pretty good for Rocket Lab and its founder Peter Beck right now. With two test flights of its Electron rocket completed in the last 10.5 months, the company says it will move into commercial operations later this month. The 14-day launch window for the "It's Business Time" mission, carrying two private payloads, opens on April 20.

In an interview, Beck said Rocket Lab hopes to fly eight missions in 2018 and reach a monthly launch cadence by the end of the year. The company's initial test flight in May 2017 failed to reach orbit, but a second flight in January of this year was almost entirely successful. Rocket Lab will become the first of a number of small-satellite launch companies to begin serving customers.

Previously: Rocket Lab Makes Suborbital Launch From New Zealand
Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit


Original Submission

NASA Awards Launch Contracts to Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit 1 comment

NASA awards Venture Class contracts to Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit

NASA has awarded launch contracts to two launch providers, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, whose rockets carry smaller payloads than the traditional workhorse rockets used to orbit uncrewed spacecraft and satellites.

With technology continuously making space hardware lighter and smaller, the new CubeSats being built today are quite capable of making scientific studies and testing new spacecraft technologies. NASA is looking to further utilize these low cost platforms.

In order to keep CubeSat costs effective, they are traditionally launched as a secondary payloads on larger launchers such as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V or SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

The new Venture Class contracts puts these low-cost payloads onto smaller, lower-cost launchers. Each rocket could allow NASA to send approximately 12 CubeSats into orbit without having to be constrained to a certain trajectory when flying as a secondary payload. This could give NASA the ability to send CubeSat payloads into orbits that are best suited to accomplish particular missions or perform the scientific research they were designed for.

Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit.

Related: Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit
Rocket Lab Set to Launch Commercial Payloads on April 20


Original Submission

Rocket Lab Plans to Build its Next Launch Site in the US 7 comments

Rocket Lab plans to build its second launch site in the U.S. Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is located in New Zealand:

Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab says it's looking to expand its spaceflight operations by creating a new launch pad in the United States. This new site will be the second one for the US-based startup, which already launches its rockets from a private pad in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab hasn't picked a location for the second launch site yet, but has narrowed it down to four places, all at government-run launch facilities. These include the US's two most prolific spaceports, Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The other two sites include Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, as well as the Pacific Spaceport Complex in southern Alaska. Rocket Lab says a final decision will be made in 2018. First, the company needs to work through all the necessary regulatory hurdles and costs, as well as figure out how long construction will take. A new pad will be built specifically for Rocket Lab's primary vehicle, the Electron.

The company's third launch, "It's Business Time," has been delayed. That launch will carry commercial payloads.

Also at SpaceNews and NBR.

Related: Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit
NASA Awards Launch Contracts to Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit


Original Submission

Rocket Lab Plans to Go Public, Announces Much Larger "Neutron" Rocket 4 comments

Rocket Lab plans to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), become a publicly traded company, and develop a medium-lift partially reusable rocket. "Neutron" would be competitive with SpaceX's Falcon 9 and capable of launching cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.

The funding from the SPAC merger will enable another new initiative. Rocket Lab said it is working on a medium-class launch vehicle called Neutron, capable of placing up to 8,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit, more than 20 times the capacity of Electron. The company disclosed few technical details about Neutron, but said that it intends to make the first stage reusable through propulsive landing on an ocean platform, similar to SpaceX's recovery of Falcon 9 first stages.

The new vehicle is intended to support the growing interest in satellite megaconstellations. "Neutron's eight-ton lift capacity will make it ideally sized to deploy satellites in batches to specific orbital planes, creating a more targeted and streamlined approach to building out megaconstellations," Beck said in the statement.

Rocket Lab had previously resisted building a larger vehicle. "There's no market for it," Beck said during a side session of the Smallsat Conference in August 2020. "If you build a larger rocket, you relegate yourself to being purely rideshare, and rideshare is really well-served."

The first Neutron launch is scheduled for 2024 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The vehicle will leverage the infrastructure the company built at Launch Complex 2 there for the Electron rocket, which will make its debut from that pad later this year. Rocket Lab said it's "assessing locations across America" for a factory that would handle large-scale production of Neutron.

Press release.

Also at The Verge and CNBC.

Previously (company history as seen on SN):


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 22 2018, @02:43PM (3 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 22 2018, @02:43PM (#626075)

    Too bad they had to resort to Silicon Valley investors to make it a reality.

    Question from the dark side: is their launch capacity sufficient to loft an NK nuke?

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    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by ElizabethGreene on Monday January 22 2018, @03:02PM (1 child)

      by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 22 2018, @03:02PM (#626084) Journal

      It is large enough to carry a nuclear weapon, but NK is unlikely to ask them to do so. NK has an indigenous launch-to-orbit capability; They don't need to buy it.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 22 2018, @05:01PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 22 2018, @05:01PM (#626132)

        They don't need to buy it.

        Of course, as a matter of national pride, the would never want to buy such a thing.

        As a matter of practicality... building warheads is relatively expensive, so you want a reliable launch vehicle...

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    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday January 22 2018, @03:04PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday January 22 2018, @03:04PM (#626085) Journal

      NK's problem is apparently miniaturizing nukes to fit on missiles.

      Fat Man [wikipedia.org] was 4,670 kg (too heavy for a missile), and the B53 was 4,010 kg. That's probably around the maximum weight for a usable nuclear missile warhead. But then you have smaller stuff like the W91 [wikipedia.org] (140 kg). The W88 [wikipedia.org] had a mass of about 360 kg. And there are more in between, around 1,500 kg for example.

      The Electron rocket has a payload of 150–225 kg to 500 km sun-synchronous orbit [wikipedia.org]. The Moon Express payload to LEO has a mass of about 200 kg.

      The payload should be able to go up for suborbital ballistic trajectories. I don't know how much (math is hard!).

      How much does a NK nuke weigh? There doesn't appear to be any estimates on the public web.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by ElizabethGreene on Monday January 22 2018, @03:00PM (10 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 22 2018, @03:00PM (#626083) Journal

    This is a fantastic achievement, good on you RocketLab. Getting it right on your second launch is awesome.

    >> How will a cheap disposable rocket fare against reusable rockets?

    The market segments for these are different enough that I don't think a legitimate comparison exists yet. The Electron would be 1.7 million dollars per launch cheaper than the non-reusable end-of-life Falcon 1. SpaceX's doesn't fly that now and the next smallest system, the Falcon 9, is huge by comparison. For scale, with a taller fairing a single Falcon 9 could carry a pair of Electron rockets (the whole rocket, not just the payload) to LEO. The $5 million question is "is there a market for small-payload launches that isn't filled by the current secondary payload system?"

    It's definitely a company to keep an eye on. Being outside the US (and free of the ITAR bollocks) is a good thing, imho.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Monday January 22 2018, @03:26PM (8 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday January 22 2018, @03:26PM (#626099) Journal

      http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities [spacex.com]

      Falcon 9 launch price is $62 million. This price could go down by 10-30% depending on reusability factors (will you use a "flight-proven" Falcon 9 and use it in partially reusable rather than fully expendable mode).

      Falcon 9 gets 22,800 kg to LEO.

      Big Falcon/Fucking Rocket launches are expected to be cheaper than Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy launches due to complete reusability of both stages. With a payload of 150,000 kg to LEO in fully reusable mode.

      Electron can get 225 kg to LEO [spacelaunchreport.com] for $4.9 million.

      Let's say the BFR costs $50 million (it might end up closer to $10 million). What if the BFR ends up reserving a significant amount of propellant in order to change its orbit several times and deploy CubeSats in the appropriate orbits? Maybe it could release 100x 250 kg payloads, and still have enough propellant to land both stages.

      The logistics of reserving a seat with 99 other payloads could be annoying. But you could have a few big ones and CubeSats.

      Now we have had people estimating that BFR will cost $7 million per launch:

      http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3343/1 [thespacereview.com]
      https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/10/spacex-bfr-to-be-lower-cost-than-falcon-1-at-7-million-per-launch.html [nextbigfuture.com]

      So now we're talking $4.9 million for 225 kg vs. $7 million for 150,000 kg. This is the "Oh, shit" moment for human space activities.

      SpaceX will have to launch a lot of reused BFRs to get down to that price, but it can be done. The U.S. government could purchase a huge dedicated fleet of BFRs and still save money in comparison to some of their other activities (e.g. Space Launch System).

      Electron is only the first launch vehicle from Rocket Lab, and they might increase thrust and payload while reducing price. But their ability to make their rockets reusable is hindered by their small size. Smaller rocket means less fuel can be reserved for landing. The fuel is relatively cheap compared to the rocket. That's why the larger-than-Falcon-Heavy BFR could end up launching at prices cheaper than even the Falcon 1 (when adjusted for inflation). And that's why I added the comment to the summary and have some doubts about the ultimate viability of Rocket Lab, although I commend them for their initial success. BFR will probably be flying within 6-10 years, so that's when we should expect the bloodbath.

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      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 22 2018, @05:08PM (4 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 22 2018, @05:08PM (#626137)

        BFR will probably be flying within 6-10 years,

        at a price somewhere between $50M and $7M... depending.

        RocketLab launched just the other day, and is projecting costs of $5M. With 6-10 more years of development, who knows what this landscape will look like.

        Certainly, BFR is making some convincing "own the world" noises, but they're still unproven.

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        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday January 22 2018, @05:17PM (3 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday January 22 2018, @05:17PM (#626142) Journal

          How much are university customers paying to get there CubeSats launched alongside larger payloads on Falcon 9 rockets? Answer that and we'll see how viable the $4.9 million price tag is. Remember that Rocket Lab says they want to launch around 50 per year.

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          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 22 2018, @05:46PM (2 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 22 2018, @05:46PM (#626152)

            $4.9 million price tag

            I'm guessing that their marketing department has worked out this number as a price point to shoot for, not the true cost of operations. If they manage to get up to 50 launches per year, I'd expect those launches to cost quite a bit less than $4.9M each. And, I'm even more sure that this launch cost far more than $4.9M to-date to accomplish.

            They make a big deal about the sun-synchronous orbit as a sort of high-value trajectory, probably attempting to justify the $1.65M/cubesat price point.

            I think it's exciting and encouraging that they are able to chart a different technological course and at least potentially succeed in the space market. I hate homogeneous global systems, monoculture crops, and all their like. Even if RocketLabs ultimately fizzles on the business end, hopefully some of the tech they develop can cross-pollinate with other programs to make the whole ecosystem more robust. Even better if the business end works and we can operate several different kinds of launch vehicles, instead of one booster to rule them all (one booster to find them, one booster to bring them all and in the darkness... yeah.)

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            • (Score: 2) by Alphatool on Tuesday January 23 2018, @01:41PM (1 child)

              by Alphatool (1145) on Tuesday January 23 2018, @01:41PM (#626540)

              $4.9 million is a significant reduction in current launch costs. Spaceflight Industries operate in the secondary payload market and they publish their prices [spaceflight.com]. Basically, it looks like Rocket Lab will be noticeably but not dramatically cheaper than current services, but the services are different enough to complicate the comparison. Rocket Lab also allows some payloads to switch from secondary status to their own rocket which offers more flexibility and eliminates the compromises that must be made as a secondary payload, so there is an added advantage there too.

              I hope that BFR (or any rocket) slashes the cost of orbit so much that $4.9 million is an expensive launch, but until then it looks like Rocket Lab have a very competitive place in the market.

              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 23 2018, @02:43PM

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 23 2018, @02:43PM (#626563)

                After all, they do have rocket scientists in engineering, hopefully the marketing and accountants can project their window of opportunity and amoritize the cost of development across the competitive life of the launch vehicle. +/- 50% maybe, marketing isn't as precise as orbital trajectories.

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      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday January 22 2018, @10:03PM (2 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Monday January 22 2018, @10:03PM (#626259)

        It's going to be a really really long time before FH of BFR get down in price, if they ever do.
        I don't believe that you can conduct such a big operation for only $7M, period. Not now, and certainly not after another 10 years of inflation.
        Even $50M feels unnecessarily aggressive target for so much weight.

        How much of the number is the fuels? How much are the range, the pad? How much is the legalese, the insurances, the safety, even the launch camera/radar infrastructure?
        There is no commercial reason to go so far (per kg) below your competitors. And there is no way the math works under $20M, if you count amortizing the dev costs, engineers, accidental losses, interest on years of financing... after those fixed launch costs, even if the rocket's metal was free to build.

        Is it cheaper to tag along on a reusable rocket with a big sat which pays most of the cost? Sure, like it's cheaper to operate a full bus than a bunch of cars (especially if you sink the cars at destination). But there is a market for "not having the overhead of being the tiny sat next to the big important one".
        Like all engineering, it's a matter of tradeoffs. The small guys can have a profitable niche, and could pick up enough market share that they have progressed in cost or reuse by the time the big guys deliver on their lofty promises (late. looking at you, Elon).

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday January 22 2018, @10:30PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday January 22 2018, @10:30PM (#626286) Journal

          Falcon Heavy won't have a long time to get down in price before being replaced by BFR. Falcon Heavy is not fully reusable, but the 2 boosters and the first stage are. It can also reuse the 2 boosters while expending the center - first stage. The second stage is always going to be expendable, practically.

          The only reason why Falcon Heavy is kind of a good idea is because the boosters and first stage are interchangeable with the Falcon 9 first stages. So there's already a supply of them and they are proven (as Falcon 9s anyway).

          There were actually some good reasons to delay Falcon Heavy so much... the Falcon 9 gradually evolved, and still is as it will fly as Falcon 9 Block 5 soon (the final version?).

          SpaceX can gradually bring prices down with reusable rockets, and BFR launch won't debut at $7 million. But they could face competition as ULA and others are now working on partially reusable rockets and in-orbit refueling so they have an incentive to bring prices down. BFR launch price of $7 million is eventually reasonable because it will be built to be reused up to 1,000 times each, with no part thrown away (well, I'm not sure about the fairing). Fuel cost is about $500,000. And if they are only launching payloads every 1-2 weeks, they could use the same BFR every week. One single rocket launching ~30 times per year. Few customers would need expendable mode BFR since 250 ton payloads have never launched in history (Saturn V did just 140 tons).

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          • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday January 22 2018, @10:45PM

            by bob_super (1357) on Monday January 22 2018, @10:45PM (#626299)

            Using your numbers: 30 launches at $7M, with $500k fuel ... $210M income, minus $15M fuel ... $195M / year gross profit .... minus all those costs I listed in my previous post.
            Not happening.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 22 2018, @05:03PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 22 2018, @05:03PM (#626134)

      Being outside the US (and free of the ITAR bollocks) is a good thing, imho.

      I'm not fully acquainted with the details, but I did read that RocketLab took significant US investment in part to ease regulatory approvals.

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