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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 23 2018, @09:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the Spaaaaaaaaaace! dept.

Ariane chief seems frustrated with SpaceX for driving down launch costs:

[...] chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain Charmeau, gave an interview to the German publication Der Spiegel. The interview was published in German, but a credible translation can be found here. During the interview, Charmeau expressed frustration with SpaceX and attributed its success to subsidized launches for the US government. [...] Even as Charmeau decries what he calls subsidies for SpaceX from the US government, he admits that Ariane cannot exist without guaranteed contracts purchased by European governments. To make the Ariane 6 vehicle viable, Charmeau said Ariane needs five launches in total for 2021 and eight guaranteed launches for 2022.

[...] Charmeau said the Ariane rocket does not launch often enough to justify the investment into reusability. (It would need about 30 launches a year to justify these costs, he said). And then Charmeau said something telling about why reusability doesn't make sense to a government-backed rocket company—jobs. "Let us say we had ten guaranteed launches per year in Europe and we had a rocket which we can use ten times—we would build exactly one rocket per year," he said. "That makes no sense. I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'" This seems a moment of real irony. Whereas earlier in the interview Charmeau accuses the US government of subsidizing SpaceX, a few minutes later he says the Ariane Group can't make a reusable rocket because it would be too efficient.

China's first private rocket reaches 127,000 feet on maiden flight:

OneSpace Technology Co., a Beijing-based aerospace company, has successfully launched a suborbital rocket. This was the first flight for China's commercial launch sector.

[...] The mission was designated OS-X0 as it was the first test launch of OneSpace's OS-X rocket. During the flight, the launch vehicle reached an altitude of 127,106 feet (38.74 kilometers) and had a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound. This was confirmed by Shu Chang, the company's founder and CEO.

[...] OneSpace is not the only Chinese private company developing launch vehicles. Last year, Link Space, another Beijing-based startup, presented the design of its New Line 1 reusable rocket. That company is targeting 2020 for the first orbital flight of its booster.

Although the Space Launch System's promoters are focusing on the vehicle's payload capacity to trans-Lunar injection orbit, NASA now claims that the SLS Block 1's payload to LEO may be greater than the 70 metric tons originally estimated. This comes as the SLS project has been negatively compared to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy:

While a comparison between NASA's SLS Block 1 and SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is often made, the gulf between the two has actually widened. As the Block 1 design has matured, the agency has refined the vehicle's capabilities by a significant amount. Though NASA prefers to position SLS as a deep-space rocket, [Spaceflight Insider] sought a clarification of the vehicle's capabilities to a more common destination for rockets: low-Earth-orbit (LEO).

NASA replied: "Now that the SLS design has matured and the program has more data as a result of progress with hardware manufacturing and testing, our current analysis shows the Block 1 configuration of SLS can deliver an estimated mass of 95 metric tons (209,439 pounds) to low-Earth orbit based on a 200 by 200-kilometer orbit with a 28.5 degree inclination, which is a commonly used orbit in the industry for estimating performance."

See also:

Here's China's plan to compete with SpaceX and Blue Origin:

How China plans to challenge SpaceX with reusable rockets: State contractor says its first reusable rocket could come in two years

Union votes to end ULA strike


Original Submission

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Europe Accepts the Inevitability of Reusable Rockets 22 comments

Previously, the EU-propped Ariane Group's CEO scoffed at the idea of pursuing reusable rockets (the upcoming Ariane 6 is fully expendable) due to Europe having a small market of 5-10 launches per year, as well as the potential effects on rocket-building jobs:

[Chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain] Charmeau said the Ariane rocket does not launch often enough to justify the investment into reusability. (It would need about 30 launches a year to justify these costs, he said). And then Charmeau said something telling about why reusability doesn't make sense to a government-backed rocket company—jobs.

"Let us say we had ten guaranteed launches per year in Europe and we had a rocket which we can use ten times—we would build exactly one rocket per year," he said. "That makes no sense. I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'"

This seems a moment of real irony. Whereas earlier in the interview Charmeau accuses the US government of subsidizing SpaceX, a few minutes later he says the Ariane Group can't make a reusable rocket because it would be too efficient. For Europe, a difficult decision now looms. It can either keep subsidizing its own launch business in order to maintain an independent capability, or it can give in to Elon Musk and SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Charmeau seems to have a clear view of where he thinks the continent should go.

Now, the attitude has changed:

Europe says SpaceX "dominating" launch, vows to develop Falcon 9-like rocket

This month, the European Commission revealed a new three-year project to develop technologies needed for two proposed reusable launch vehicles. The commission provided €3 million to the German space agency, DLR, and five companies to, in the words of a news release about the project, "tackle the shortcoming of know-how in reusable rockets in Europe."

This new RETALT project's goals are pretty explicit about copying the retro-propulsive engine firing technique used by SpaceX to land its Falcon 9 rocket first stages back on land and on autonomous drone ships. The Falcon 9 rocket's ability to land and fly again is "currently dominating the global market," the European project states. "We are convinced that it is absolutely necessary to investigate Retro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies to make re-usability state-of-the-art in Europe."

Ariane Group isn't one of the five companies, but then again, €3 million isn't a lot of money.

Even a fully reusable rocket is on the table:

[...] attitude of the new RETALT project appears to have indicated European acceptance of the inevitability of reusable launch vehicles. Engineers will work toward two different concepts. The first will be a Falcon-9-like rocket that will make use of seven modified Vulcain 2 rocket engines and have the capacity to lift up to 30 tons to low-Earth orbit. The second will be a more revolutionary single-stage-to-orbit vehicle that looks like the Roton rocket developed by Rotary Rocket about two decades ago.

They should mine Elon Musk's Twitter for clues. Try making the rocket out of stainless steel.

Previously: Full Thrust on Europe's New Ariane 6 Rocket
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News


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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday May 23 2018, @10:03AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @10:03AM (#683026) Homepage Journal

    -m.

    I lived in France during the Summer of 1993 while working on the French side of CERN. I expected to return a couple years later for my dissertation work.

    So I asked my friend Chris - a UCLA grad student - how I could import my truck. Chris was working on bringing his own wheels over from The Land Of The Free to the land of Six Weeks Paid Vacations Per Year.

    "First: don't import your car during August. The entire country takes the entire month off for vacation."

    Perhaps You Can See Where I Am Going Here.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:02AM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:02AM (#683041)

    The reason little progress has been done in the field in 50 years. There is little reason what spacex is doing in the 2020's that could not have been done in the 1970's. The physics is the same now as it was then. The major difference is that computers are smaller and lighter weight. The physics that must be calculated are the same.

    I worked in the field for 30 years. Anything new or innovative is squashed. I've been told flat out that it's much better to be behind schedule and over budget than ahead and/or under budget. When you are ahead, makework is arbitrarily created by management, superfluous requirements created and the managed/thrown out to keep the project just viable so that it is not cancelled. I'm too old now, but had to fight against this my entire career. I wish I could have seen more.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:13AM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:13AM (#683043)

      You're not too old, unless you've given up. Just ask that Botanist that just finally decided to end his own life.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:24AM (10 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:24AM (#683048)

        I wish, but it's not changing any time soon. There are people still working out there that literally believe you need mainframe computer to fly a rocket. Why? Because that's what was needed in 1962.

        Science marches forward, one death at a time. Of all of Musk's endeavors, spacex was the one I had the most confidence in succeeding.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:44AM (9 children)

          by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:44AM (#683061) Homepage Journal

          I hear your pain.

          We have what were once called space age materials such as graphite epoxy

          The Saturn 5s computer was in a cylinder that was 17 feet in diameter and 3 feet high

          A few years ago I read that one pound launched to LEO cost ten grand

          Photovoltaics are much more efficient so they don't have to weigh as much

          There was a time when only military coders practiced unit testing.

          Faster denser memory. Oodles of new algorithms

          Flash and optical storage

          Diode lasers

          Blue leds so lamps weigh far less and use very little power

          The blockchain

          US astronauts launched atop Russian rockets

          Many American rockets have Russian engines

          --
          Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:04PM

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:04PM (#683071) Journal
          • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:29PM (3 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:29PM (#683081)

            Ten years ago, even smart people like Niel Tyson deGrasse were saying things like that space was impossible for non-government entities and I so wanted to punch him in the face and yell no you fat fuck (apologies to Ave), space is not that hard. It's a myth that is propagated to keep people out and prices high. It's no more difficult to build a Falcon 9 than it is to build a B737. 737's are produced at a rate of about 2/day and 40% more cost.

            Also, like the rocket equation, there's a similar rocket cost equation -- as long as you are spending $150 million on a lanch, you'r going to want to spend 300million to make sure your satellite is going to work. And since you're spending $300 million to make sure it works, you'll spend $400million to doubly make sure it works, then $450million to triply make sure and so on. This is why every gram counts. If a launch cost were $100/kg, there's no way a satellite would cost a billion $.

            • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:05PM (2 children)

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:05PM (#683090) Journal

              It would be neat to see BFR come well under the cost of Falcon 9, and then see how many small satellites can be deployed in one launch. If the rocket doesn't carry much mass, it will have more fuel to adjust into different orbits and still return for full reuse.

              There are small launch providers that are offering a relatively cheap dedicated ride for small payloads, but they use expendable launchers that keep the price into the millions. SpaceX is hoping to prove that it can rapidly reuse a Falcon 9 within 24 hours or so. Yet there's no clear need for them to do so at this point (even at 50 launches a year, that's less than one per week, and that's out of 3-4 launch sites). It seems like a way to test the techniques needed for rapid reuse of the BFR. SpaceX is on track to create space capabilities so cheap that the market will have to adjust to take advantage of it (you'll see smaller companies and universities launching spacecraft and robots built with off-the-shelf parts to low-Earth orbit or the Moon).

              Conversely, BFR could allow a heavy, "dumb" payload that does not need to be made from the lightest components possible or employ origami-like folding. There have been problems with the JWST related to folding [spaceflightnow.com]. If you can fit up to 150 metric tons into a huge fairing, you can send up a cheap but large telescope.

              As for Neil deGrasse Tyson, he has made a career of talking a lot, and sharing opinions/predictions alongside some science facts. So there is no doubt that he will crash and burn on some subjects. He was also describing the situation as it was at the time (minimal commercial interest in space, with Beltway bandits being overfunded by the U.S. government) and probably coming from a place of trying to defend NASA (the public may incorrectly blame NASA for problems that are better blamed on Beltway bandits, Presidential administrations, and Congress). Has he admitted that he was mistaken about commercial spaceflight?

              Is it really no more difficult to build a Falcon 9 than it is to build a B737? You could probably cut some corners or make mistakes with the B737 without killing anybody (on the maiden flight) whereas the Falcon 9 has to endure much more stress.

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              • (Score: 4, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday May 23 2018, @07:59PM (1 child)

                by frojack (1554) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @07:59PM (#683246) Journal

                Is it really no more difficult to build a Falcon 9 than it is to build a B737?

                No. Its a LOT simpler.

                F9 is an incredibly simple rocket, as rockets go. It is levels of magnitude less complex than a 737,
                even though it weighs 20 times as much.

                These days your middle of the road 737-800 costs about $96.0 million.

                F9 - Empty 549,054 kg (1,210,457 lb) Cost about $62 Million per launch.

                However, SpaceX has a 40% profit margin on each launch, so the rocket direct
                costs are about $36.7 million. 1/3 the cost of a new 737-800.

                (First stage is estimated to cost $27 Million, or about 75% of the entire rocket.)
                Figures from here http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/ [spacenews.com]

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                • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:51PM

                  by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:51PM (#683275) Journal

                  So it costs less, sure. But if a major mistake is made, the aircraft might still be able to land without killing all of the passengers. The Falcon 9 might be able to explode a little further from the ground.

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          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:24PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:24PM (#683096)

            And what new algorithms had to be developed? The control theory and dynamics were understood in the early 1900's.

            Control of a rocket is the classical inverted pendulum problem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qJY-ZaKSic). Many propulsive rocket landings had been done in the 60's and landing something like the LEM is in many ways more difficult than landing a tall rocket because of its small phase margin (imagine pushing a bicycle backwards from its seat). They're not that computationally difficult (as in requiring billions of calculations/sec)

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:55PM

              by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:55PM (#683103) Homepage Journal

              I expect better algos and faster computers ultimately reduce consumption of fuel. Consider the jitter: would reducing jitter result in a lower LEO price?

              Just blowing smoke here, I'm just a physicist and consulting software engineer [soggywizards.com].

              --
              Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:39PM

              by frojack (1554) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:39PM (#683268) Journal

              landing something like the LEM is in many ways more difficult than landing a tall rocket

              Not so sure of that.

              LEM is quite wide, higher percentage of outboard mass and inertia help stabilize the platform, the pendulum was much much shorter, and the LEM was quite hover stable. Watch video of Apollo 15 LEM landing, [wikimedia.org] - not a hint of attitudinal instability - (and still riveting all these years later).

              A small tilt induced a lateral motion, but the central descent engine [wikipedia.org] could gimble very fast, and the LEM had upper body thrusters that could have also be used (although they weren't used that way until Apollo 13 life boat mode).

              Remember Armstrong manually landed the LEM, on the first moon landing. There weren't all that many calculations going on per second, although the pucker factor must have been high.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday May 24 2018, @02:44AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24 2018, @02:44AM (#683383) Journal

            this could not have been done in the 70s

            I strongly disagree. The rockets of the 70s wouldn't quite have the performance of modern ones, but they were sufficiently advanced to get the job done. The key problem has always been launch frequency not performance margins.

            NASA has done much over its lifetime to kill demand for orbital launch services, first with a Shuttle monopoly on commercial launch that lasted almost ten years to 1984 - a commercial launch provider simply couldn't exist before that point, followed by a stagnant launch cartel (where five launch providers, including NASA's Space Shuttle, each maintained their own niche monopoly in the US market). The Department of Defense was the organization that finally brought that tumbling down with its Evolutionary Expendable Launch Vehicle program starting in the 90s.

            As a result, SpaceX couldn't have started much before it did and still have a launch market to sell to.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by driverless on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:46AM (2 children)

    by driverless (4770) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:46AM (#683064)

    You too may be a big hero
    Once you've learned to count backwards to zero
    "In German, oder Englisch, I know how to count down
    Und I'm learning Chinese now!" says Wernher von Braun

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:31PM (1 child)

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:31PM (#683265) Journal

      IIRC that last line didn't contain the word now. It would have ruined the scansion.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by crafoo on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:54AM (1 child)

    by crafoo (6639) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @11:54AM (#683068)

    Very interesting articles. If nothing else, it shows that SpaceX is a huge motivator behind every other group out there trying to build new rockets. Everyone is compared to SpaceX. It's also very interesting to hear how economics in a particular area dictate rocket design. Of course this would happen, especially as the design process becomes more political. I guess I don't have much really to say other than it was interesting reading all of these articles collected together.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by frojack on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:43PM

      by frojack (1554) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:43PM (#683269) Journal

      very interesting to hear how economics in a particular area dictate rocket design. Of course this would happen, especially as the design process becomes more political.

      And when the design process becomes more gender neutral perhaps our rockets won't appear so phallic.
      .
      .
      .
      running and ducking...

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      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by engblom on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:39PM (6 children)

    by engblom (556) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:39PM (#683084)

    As an European, it is sad to hear this attitude. I only see three situations possible:

    1. Because of too expensive launches, Ariane will be out-competed in a few years. Bye, bye Ariane
    2. Ariane get some EU support and artificially prolonged life a few years and then bye, bye.
    3. They develop reusable rockets and begin competing with SpaceX and because of lower prices (reusing a rocket is cheaper) they get more than the mentioned 10 launches a year and maybe a future.

    They should have taken the 3:rd option a long time ago, now it might be too late. It is going to be difficult to catch up with SpaceX.

    As they clearly are saying they are not going to take the 3:rd option they are going to disappear. Bye bye.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:05PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:05PM (#683128)

      But not for very long, so they should keep contacts of their people who will be let go. Soon everyone and their dog will be wanting to send something into orbit for whichever weird reason, and SpaceX will be overwhelmed like Tesla is now, and whoever steps in and offers more launch capacity or shorter queue will get the job. Either Ariane gets on the bandwagon, or is dissolved and another new company is built from scratch a bit later.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:26PM (2 children)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:26PM (#683137) Journal

        SpaceX will be overwhelmed like Tesla is now

        I'm not convinced. With Falcon 9 Block 5, the company is hoping to create a rocket so rapidly reusable, that they could launch the same one every 24 hours (and they have 3 launch facilities, soon 4). BFR will be similar except that they won't be destroying the second stage. In practice, that pace doesn't make sense yet. They will be lucky to hit 50 launches a year and it seems like they will be able to meet all of the demand. Not only that, but SpaceX plans to launch thousands of satellites to operate its own satellite internet service.

        The demand for launches will only significantly increase if prices go down. SpaceX is doing that and will eat Ariane's lunch, but for now they don't intend to compete with small launch services such as Rocket Lab.

        http://spaceflight101.com/2017-space-launch-statistics/ [spaceflight101.com]
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_spaceflight [wikipedia.org]

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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:47PM (1 child)

          by frojack (1554) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:47PM (#683272) Journal

          They will be lucky to hit 50 launches a year and it seems like they will be able to meet all of the demand.

          Demand follows closely upon the heels of capability.

          If the world does the sensible thing, and returns to the Moon permanently, the demand will be insatiable for years to come.

          --
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          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 23 2018, @09:33PM

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @09:33PM (#683291) Journal

            I agree, but Falcon 9 Block 5 seems to be overengineered.

            1. SpaceX intends to replace all Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches with BFR. There will surely be a transition period in which some customers stick with the more proven Falcon 9, but that's where the company is heading. As I've said before, I don't think the ~5 year delay of Falcon Heavy indicates that BFR will be delayed by years. Falcon Heavy is a design largely made of unchanged Falcon 9 cores, intended to increase the overall reusability of the vehicle while boosting maximum payload. Falcon 9 evolved greatly until Block 5, including many improvements to make reusability possible. Falcon 9 Block 4-5 has something like double the payload capacity of the original Falcon 9, and was able to launch payloads that were originally intended for an early design of Falcon Heavy.

            2. SpaceX has given some numbers:

            https://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2018/05/12/spacex-just-launched-first-next-gen-falcon-9-block-5-rocket-heres-what-we-know-elon-musk/604880002/ [floridatoday.com]

            "SpaceX expects the Block 5 program as a whole to launch about 300 missions before the introduction of BFR into the manifest"

            https://twitter.com/ChrisG_NSF/status/994648157576458240 [twitter.com]

            "About 30-50 Block 5s are planned. Dependent on how many customers demand to launch on a new rocket."

            This activity will be spread out across at least 5 years. So we can see that SpaceX doesn't really need to fly a Falcon 9 first stage more than 10 times, and certainly not 100 times. They may reach a point at which they are flying 60-80 times a year just before BFR is introduced, but that pace in no way necessitates the ability to reuse a Falcon 9 first stage within 24 or even 72 hours. They could just be launching the next one using a different core, or from a different facility (they have 3 launch sites today and are working on a 4th in Texas).

            They will have to carefully schedule just to make two launches in 24 hours on the same booster possible. It's not something they need to do, but likely a way to collect data and grab headlines by announcing to the world that "we can do this, and we will do it routinely with BFR".

            3. SpaceX says you can launch for $50 million on a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage, compared to $60-62 million on a fresh rocket. That's a nice price cut, but not dramatic enough to create a surge in launch demand. Dramatic will come once BFR can beat that number while offering the capability for more massive and voluminous payloads.

            They are still trying to catch fairings, and they are talking about recovering a second stage with a "giant party balloon" (actually an inflatable heat shield). The first could be doable, and might knock down the price to $45 million. Recovering the second stage still seems like a waste of money and effort with the Falcon 9 design.

            In summary, I don't see the company being flooded with demand (that they can't handle) related to Falcon 9. They will be in a better position once BFR flies, lowering both total launch price and cost per kilogram. Perhaps with the lower launch cost and bigger fairing, BFR will be able to easily launch lots of small payloads at once. If you are only paying for 2-10% of the launch, you might be able to fly a payload even as a small company, university, club, or private individual. CubeSats FTW.

            About the Moon: I don't think there will be major momentum to put colonies there before the EOL of the Falcon 9, and BFR might be necessary to make it happen:

            https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/01/spacex-bfr-150-top-target-should-be-moon-colonization.html [nextbigfuture.com]

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    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @03:20PM (#683133)

      it IS curious, that even (or because) ariane is sponsored by tax-payers euros, that they don't just proclaim that building re-usable rockets is more EXPENSIVE
      and requires more RESEARCH ...
      there's probably something between the lines that is keeping the WW2 first-starter countries from going to rockety versus the WW2 clean-up crew?

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fritsd on Wednesday May 23 2018, @06:25PM

      by fritsd (4586) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @06:25PM (#683197) Journal

      But, Arianespace also has something that SpaceX can use to great profit:

      The Kourou launch base. Practically ideal for geostationary satellites.

      Maybe they could start a joint venture?

  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by RamiK on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:44PM

    by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:44PM (#683086)

    You think this is a software company and having 2-3 times the labor force automatically means 2-3x the production costs? This is a rocket. Having 30 guys retrofitting a "reuseable" rocket or 100 guys building a new rocket can sway either way depending on parts and labor costs. Especially considering all the material wear those rockets go through.

    Rockets and boosters are basically long tubes with fans and fuel tanks. Even if you can somehow make them last a half dozen launches, it's REALLY cheap just building new ones and scrapping the old ones for the metal. Just ask the Russians...

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