Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of rockets. It will take seven days to get there.
Using a space shuttle costs about $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into space. For the space elevator, the estimate is about $200.
Nextbigfuture does not believe an earth based space elevator will be built. One on the moon or Mars would make sense. This does not. There are easier and cheaper ways to get into orbit with lower costs.
Here are the estimated costs for one use and partially reusable and more reusable Spacex rockets.
One use Falcon 9 rocket launch cost $1,862/lb
One use Falcon Heavy launch cost $1000/lb
The above costs are from Wikipedia and the Spacex website.
First stage reusable Falcon 9 launch cost $1200/lb
First stage reusable Falcon Heavy launch cost $600/lb
The cost of fuel and the Spacex rockets has been repeated a few times.
Musk reiterated the origin of the SpaceX production model, saying fuel is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of a rocket, with construction materials accounting for no more than 2 percent of the total cost, which for the Falcon 9 is about $60 million.
Musk said that a rocket’s first stage accounts for three-quarters of its total price tag, so a vehicle with a reusable first stage can be produced at far less cost — assuming the hardware is fully and rapidly reusable.
A reusable rocket stage would be able to launch about 80% of the cargo of a one use rocket. The weight of fuel is needed to fly the stage back and the extra weight of landing legs and other modifications for reuse have to be carried.
Two launches with second reusing the first stage.
Capital cost – 1.25 times the cost of one full rocket.
0.6% for fuel
Launch cargo 1.6 times the cargo of one rocket.
78% of the cost of a single use rocket
Three launches with reuse of the first stage twice.
Capital cost – 1.5 times the cost of one rocket
0.9% for fuel
Launch cargo 2.4 times the cargo of one rocket
62.5% of the cost of a single use rocket
50% of the cost with five launches and four reuses of the first stage [$930 per pound for the 9 v1.1 and $500 per pound for the heavy]
Reusable first stage falcon heavy [with about twenty reuses] can get down to about $350/lb [one third the one use price].
Reusable (about fifteen times) Falcon 9 rocket launch cost all stages reusable $100/lb [all three stages of a falcon heavy, should get to about ten times cheaper]
Just getting the carbon nanotubes and robotics
“Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it.”
Universities all over Japan have been working on the problems and every year they hold competitions to share and learn from each other.
A team at Kanagawa University has been working on robotic cars or climbers.
Obayashi is working on cars that will carry 30 people up the elevator, so it may not be too long before the Moon is the next must-see tourist destination.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.