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posted by martyb on Friday April 13 2018, @08:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the sky-high-valuation dept.

SpaceX has raised $507 million, bringing the company's valuation to about $25 billion. That makes SpaceX the third most valuable venture-backed startup behind Uber and Airbnb, and also raises Elon Musk's worth by $1.4 billion to about $21.3 billion. SpaceX will launch NASA's TESS spacecraft on Monday, and plans to launch Bangabandhu-1 on May 5 using the Block 5 version of Falcon 9.

While SpaceX is planning to launch a record 30 missions in 2018, and possibly 50 missions in upcoming years, SpaceX expects the bulk of its future revenue to come from its upcoming Starlink satellite internet service. Internal documents show an estimate of $30 billion in revenue from Starlink and $5 billion from launches by 2025.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has said that the company's BFR could be used for 100-person city-to-city flights within a decade:

A lot can (and probably will) change in a decade. But the idea is that a very large rocket, capable of carrying about 100 people, could fly like an aircraft and do point-to-point travel on Earth much faster than a plane — halfway across the globe in about 30 to 40 minutes, Shotwell said, landing on a pad five to 10 kilometers outside of a city center. Shotwell estimated the ticket cost would be somewhere between economy and business class on a plane — so, likely in the thousands of dollars for transoceanic travel. "But you do it in an hour."

"I'm personally invested in this one," she said, "because I travel a lot, and I do not love to travel. And I would love to get to see my customers in Riyadh, leave in the morning and be back in time to make dinner."

How could travel by rocket cost so little? Shotwell said the efficiency would come from being fast enough to be able to operate a route a dozen or so times a day, whereas a long-haul airplane often only does one flight per day.

She also said that the company could enable a manned mission to Mars within a decade. Boeing's CEO is also "hopeful" that humans will set foot on Mars within a decade.

Finally, Elon Musk has showed off an image of the main body tool/manufacturing mold for the BFR. BFR has a height of 106 meters and diameter of 9 meters, compared to a height of 70 meters and diameter of 3.7 meters for Falcon 9.

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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday April 13 2018, @06:03PM (1 child)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 13 2018, @06:03PM (#666553)

    Slightly bigger effect than planes: []

    And .. the whole thing is BS. The math doesn't work for a launch of 100 people at business class prices. (a few k$ each). Even at first-class prices ($10k to $20k).
    The consumables and the logistics, plus amortizing the price of the rocket, the range, the safety ... Doesn't work.
    It's a PR dream stunt.

    As others have pointed out, going from a city to a safe launch area, and back after landing, will negate the time benefits, leaving only thrill seekers who want to one-up Virgin Galactic, and can afford a good 6 figures.

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  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Immerman on Saturday April 14 2018, @05:00PM

    by Immerman (3985) on Saturday April 14 2018, @05:00PM (#666970)

    The BFR is being designed to be fly 100s, eventually many thousands of flights, with only occasional maintenance, amortizing to very little per flight.
    - Fuel is something like $1-200,000 to get a full payload to orbit, so probably only a fraction of that for suborbital (so well under $1000/seat)
    - Even today logistics is only a small fraction of launch costs - and as they become more routine that will fall considerably - there's unlikely to be a need for even as much ground support as your average airline flight.
    - Safety is unlikely to be an issue by the time consumer passenger lines are seriously considered. Besides which the BFR is designed with far more redundancy than the F9 - the BFS will be capable of landing with only one atmospheric engine working, and quite possibly limping in on only the vacuum engines in the unlikely event that both atmospheric engines malfunction.
    - I don't know what your issue with range might be - once you go suborbital pretty much the entire planet is in range, so???

    I'm dubious that they'll be able to reach economy flight prices any time soon, but could easily see them being competitive with first class tickets, especially on flights halfway around the world, where an airplane would generally have to land, refuel, and pay other airport service fees at least once. And even at twice that price there's probably plenty of customers to whom it's still pocket change who would be quite happy to pay the premium for the convenience and novelty. Doesn't even need to be as safe as a typical airliner really, just so long as it's as safe as driving to the launch site.