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posted by n1 on Monday April 10 2017, @10:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-goes-up dept.

The US Air Force is open to buying rides on previously flown SpaceX rockets to put military satellites into orbit, a move expected to cut launch costs for the Pentagon, the head of the Air Force Space Command said on Thursday. [...] "I would be comfortable if we were to fly on a reused booster," General John "Jay" Raymond told reporters at the USSpace Symposium in Colorado Springs. "They've proven they can do it. ... It's going to get us to lower cost."

SpaceX has so far won three launch contracts to fly military and national security satellites - business previously awarded exclusively to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. All those flights will take place on new Falcon 9 rockets.

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  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday April 11 2017, @04:25PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 11 2017, @04:25PM (#492335) Journal

    Is this (or is it not) possible?

    If launches become significantly cheaper, could this cause payloads to become cheaper?

    If the cost to put up a satellite becomes way cheaper, then maybe you don't put quite so much money into a payload? It still needs to accomplish its mission and design lifetime. But you can start to consider that it is not so out of the question that a satellite could be replaced.

    Also, as more and more payloads are built, experience in building them, and volume leads to less expensive payloads. Imagine, sort of like computers. Especially micro computers. When micro computers first took off, starting about 1975, memory capacity, for example, rapidly expanded. I don't think it was a significant technology advance. It was simply that the demand and economics were to make higher and higher density memory chips. Even if 64K of memory took up an entire board. Before long it was a single chip for 64 K and you had a bunch of those on a board. In only a few years computers had a megabyte of memory -- if you can imagine that much! My point: as far as I know (please correct if I'm wrong) no significant new capability was magically discovered that caused memory density to increase and micro computers to explode with memory and speed. It was just economics. There was demand. Computers were cheap enough to cause more demand -- in a feedback cycle.

    Could this happen with launches and payloads?

    If you are a company that builds satellites, and you build one satellite, what happens if you now have demand for 100 satellites? Can you build them more cheaply? What if you start to see demand for 500 satellites?

    Does more demand for launches drive the price down further?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11 2017, @09:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11 2017, @09:11PM (#492458)

    X has another division up in the NW figuring out how to make check sat's for a world wide comm network.