Companies should forget about trying to close the massive decade plus lead that SpaceX now has with large reusable rockets.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy is like a DC-10 aircraft and SpaceX will make it 80-90% reusable with 64 tons of payload. The SpaceX BFR will be 100% reusable and will be like a 747 with 150 tons of payload.
The Blue Origin New Glenn rocket plans to have a first stage that can be reused 100 times. It will be able to take 45 tons to low earth orbit. It is expected to make its initial test launch in 2020. It will likely take several years after that for all of the testing to be completed and for reusability to be mastered.
The New Glenn will not be beating the SpaceX Falcon Heavy and will be far less capable than the SpaceX BFR.
There is a race for the global internet satellite network. SpaceX is trying to build out a low earth orbit satellite network of thousands of satellites to provide high-speed internet.
The SpaceX system will have 4,425 satellites using Ka- and Ku-Band spectrum to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users worldwide. SpaceX has proposed a separate V-Band, where it has proposed an additional constellation of 7,500 satellites operating even closer to Earth.
SpaceX says its end-user terminals will be a small flat panel the size of a laptop. This will use phased array technologies to allow for highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites.
There are potential low earth orbit high-speed satellite internet competitors.
Boeing wants to launch a network of nearly 3000 satellites to 1200 kilometer altitude and use the V-band.
The OneWeb satellite constellation—formerly known as WorldVu—is a proposed constellation of approximately 882 satellites expected to provide global Internet broadband service to individual consumers as early as 2019.
Samsung has outlined a 4600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 kilometers (900 mi) that could provide a zettabyte per month capacity worldwide, an equivalent of 200 gigabytes per month for 5 billion users of internet data. However, this proposal has not yet advanced to full development.
Many more needs and opportunites
By 2023-2025, SpaceX could have dozens of SpaceX BFR able to launch many times per year each and possibly every week. There are still no large payloads or systems that can be easily carried by the SpaceX BFR.
All of the space missions are building small, cheap and weak. SpaceX BFR will be five to ten times cheaper than the Spacex Falcon Heavy. Spacex Falcon Heavy is already five to tens cheaper than competing launchers now.
The space solar power arrays are currently being planned and built with a few tens of kilowatts. The new Kilopower nuclear reactor is only being made at 10 kilowatts of power and is targeting a first flight in space in 2024. Some of these power system could produce power at 5 kilowatts per kilogram. If a SpaceX BFR was filled with 150-tons of dense power generation, then it could take 750 megawatts of power generation with each launch. The supply chain and production capability is not yet built to fully load a Falcon 9 with space flight ready power generation.
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.