Next level space is multi-trillion dollar businesses

The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop is hosting a special Symposium to discuss Catalyzing major human space activities by 2030.

What are the next levels for space activities?
1000 or more times the flight and material in space
New and vastly larger and more profitable business
Industrialization and use of space resources

Nextbigfuture would say that what is needed for advancement to the next level is:

much lower costs to go to space
much lower costs to build in space
more infrastructure for energy in space
more key proven technology

The key parts are being able to use the various earth orbits, the moon and Cis-lunar area.

Lower costs to space

Much lower costs should have a major breakthrough prior to 2030 with the SpaceX BFR. This could be ensured by canceling the Space Launch System, Orion and the Lunar Gateway. This would free up $100 billion to actually advance space capabilities in a major way.

A fleet of ten fully reusable SpaceX BFR each flying twice a week would be able to take 100,000 tons into space every year. This would be 1,000 launches per year. In 2017 there were less than 100 launches with about 257 tons of payload. The ten SpaceX BFR could be built in one year. There should be 100 SpaceX BFR by 2030. There will also be the small 3D printed rockets from Rocket lab which could also have high flight rates. Blue Origin should also be flying. SpaceX even has the goal of multiple flights per day with the SpaceX BFR.

30,000 launches per year by 2030 with 3 million tons per year into space is possible. The cost could be below $100 per pound. This would be about the level of the commercial aviation in the 1950s.

Using energy and materials available in space can lower costs by another factor of ten.

Having facilities in cycling orbits can also increase efficiency.

The vastly more profitable business would be global internet provision. Thousands of satellites in low earth orbit or a smaller number in higher orbits beam forming to communicate directly with smartphones could be a $30 billion to trillion dollar per year business.

Micrometer accurate GPS and space imaging can also enable robots and drones to have more function on earth.

Space systems can boost the efficiency and productivity of existing earth industries and create new industries. Generating trillions of dollars in new value will provide the private funds to build fast solar system travel, laser-pushed systems and nuclear buildout and massive space colonization.

Large and light at least 100 meter sized structures and then kilometer sized structures would enable huge space telescopes but also giant solar power arrays. The future of next level space business would be helped more with giant solar power arrays producing tens of megawatts or a gigawatt of power. Giant structures in space would also enable giant habitats and industrial facilities.

1. Space bubbles
2. Self-assembled modular
3. Spider-fab in space construction

Space bubble

Devin Crowe gave an update on the NASA NIAC study on one-kilometer space bubble structures which can be used for giant solar power or solar sails.

The plan is bring liquid and gas and blow a large spherical bubble and then shine a wavelength to solify the material. They would spray part of the bubble with a very thin metal layer to make a reflective telescope or a mirror for space solar power.

A cubesat would be able to hold the bubble liquid and gas to inflate a 2-meter diameter metalized sphere.

They would want to create a 30-meter space bubble telescope and then a 100-meter and then a 1000-meter space telescope.

Self-assembly of large modular structures

Cornell University has a NASA NIAC study for a fully modular self-assembled massive space telescope. They are taking mirrors segments based on the current James Webb space telescope mirror segments and then adding in some adjustments so that each piece can function in any random location. They also add solar sails and velcro attachments so that the modules with solar sails can come in contact and stick together. After the object settle then they use magnets to creep into the exactly the correct position to fit together for a larger telescope mirror. The solar sail would be detached and tethered as a sunshade.

800 some modules could form a 30-meter space telescope. Such a telescope would be able to image the surface of an exoplanet and differentiate between a world with a supercontinent or with other continent distributions.

8000 some modules would form a 100-meter space telescope. 80,000 modules could form a 1000-meter space telescope.

They have determined the best orbit to assemble the modules. It is an orbit with some complexity but with the benefit that modules would bump into each other at low speeds.

Spider Fab

Spiderfab was presented at the Future in space Operations workshop.

• SpiderFab architecture combines robotic assembly with additive manufacturing techniques adapted for space
• On orbit fabrication enables order.of.magnitude improvements in packing efficiency and launch mass for large systems. Higher Power, Resolution, Sensitivity and Bandwidth
• On.orbit fabrication with SpiderFab will enable NASA to accomplish 10X more science.per.dollar
• NIAC and SBIR work has validated feasibility of the key processes for SpiderFab
• They are preparing technology for flight demonstrations
• Affordable pathfinder demo can create new mission capability

 

Rudranarayan Mukherjee, NASA JPL gave an update on progress to Robotic Assembly of Space Assets: Architectures and Technologies. This is the path to making 100 meter and even multi-kilometer diameter space telescopes and starshades in space.

The presentation was at the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Presentations at the FISO telecon.

They are able to assemble 3-meter truss modules in the lab with robotic systems in 26 minutes

They have looked at sending robotic assembly systems to the space station and to have modular telescopes built in space.

125 thoughts on “Next level space is multi-trillion dollar businesses”

  1. is it interesting that now humanity has the idea of reuseable rockets that a lot of grandious ideas are eminating out of the woodwork.

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  2. Well corporations USED to be big enough to own countries. The British and Dutch East India companies owned various overseas empires. The various American colonies were often set up as private companies.

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  3. Well corporations USED to be big enough to own countries. The British and Dutch East India companies owned various overseas empires. The various American colonies were often set up as private companies.

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  4. Well corporations USED to be big enough to own countries. The British and Dutch East India companies owned various overseas empires. The various American colonies were often set up as private companies.

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  5. You forgot ball bearings. The basic equation is is the possible profit greater than the risk and the interest on the excess capital required to put your process in space. And if it isn’t it won’t. The two advantages space has is the excellent vacuum and the weightlessness. And in the near term I don’t think there is a trillion dollar worth of processing that needs vacuum and weightlessness. Now if you find platinum like elements on the moon that can be profitably mined then you could get your trillion dollars. This is why I think detail assaying of the lunar surface needs to be done.

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  6. You forgot ball bearings. The basic equation is is the possible profit greater than the risk and the interest on the excess capital required to put your process in space. And if it isn’t it won’t. The two advantages space has is the excellent vacuum and the weightlessness. And in the near term I don’t think there is a trillion dollar worth of processing that needs vacuum and weightlessness. Now if you find platinum like elements on the moon that can be profitably mined then you could get your trillion dollars. This is why I think detail assaying of the lunar surface needs to be done.

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  7. You forgot ball bearings. The basic equation is is the possible profit greater than the risk and the interest on the excess capital required to put your process in space. And if it isn’t it won’t. The two advantages space has is the excellent vacuum and the weightlessness. And in the near term I don’t think there is a trillion dollar worth of processing that needs vacuum and weightlessness.

    Now if you find platinum like elements on the moon that can be profitably mined then you could get your trillion dollars. This is why I think detail assaying of the lunar surface needs to be done.

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  8. Pfft. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, sure. But clouds have opposite effects depending on altitude and time of day. Clouds warm at night, cool during the day, higher clouds tend to have more of a cooling effect, lower clouds warming. It’s all very much more complicated than Arrhenius.

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  9. Pfft. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas sure. But clouds have opposite effects depending on altitude and time of day. Clouds warm at night cool during the day higher clouds tend to have more of a cooling effect lower clouds warming.It’s all very much more complicated than Arrhenius.

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  10. Totalitarian countries already have owners, of course. But I think megacorps would find it cheaper to build new countries from scratch. I could see Musk building a seastead on the equator to launch from, it would have some serious advantages from a noise abatement perspective.

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  11. Totalitarian countries already have owners of course. But I think megacorps would find it cheaper to build new countries from scratch.I could see Musk building a seastead on the equator to launch from it would have some serious advantages from a noise abatement perspective.

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  12. Income inequality that is caused by people bringing vast amounts of new wealth into the world is the good kind of income inequality.

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  13. Income inequality that is caused by people bringing vast amounts of new wealth into the world is the good kind of income inequality.

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  14. Pfft. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, sure. But clouds have opposite effects depending on altitude and time of day. Clouds warm at night, cool during the day, higher clouds tend to have more of a cooling effect, lower clouds warming.

    It’s all very much more complicated than Arrhenius.

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  15. Totalitarian countries already have owners, of course. But I think megacorps would find it cheaper to build new countries from scratch.

    I could see Musk building a seastead on the equator to launch from, it would have some serious advantages from a noise abatement perspective.

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  16. ⊕1 old onion. Tho it isn’t even tea time, you caught me browsing whilst sipping a cuppa. Tea→snout→keyboard. Dâhmn. LOL! GoatGuy

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  17. ⊕1 old onion. Tho it isn’t even tea time you caught me browsing whilst sipping a cuppa. Tea→snout→keyboard. Dâhmn. LOL! GoatGuy”

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  18. It was expected by many to happen ‘soon’, so far to no avail. Largely because it has an impossibly high entry barrier, because besides of designing your mining drone, you have to solve the problem of launching it, communicating with it and keeping it working on long term sustaining mode. Which all are very expensive requirements and make a hard problem into an impossible one. From my side I see it now as the kind of thing I’ll believe it when I see it. But if the new touted satellite constellations and cheaper launchers deliver even partially, we could actually see the beginning of space logistics, and then some actual first mining drones around some asteroid.

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  19. It was expected by many to happen ‘soon’ so far to no avail. Largely because it has an impossibly high entry barrier because besides of designing your mining drone you have to solve the problem of launching it communicating with it and keeping it working on long term sustaining mode. Which all are very expensive requirements and make a hard problem into an impossible one.From my side I see it now as the kind of thing I’ll believe it when I see it.But if the new touted satellite constellations and cheaper launchers deliver even partially we could actually see the beginning of space logistics and then some actual first mining drones around some asteroid.

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  20. Asteroid mining is expected by many to become the source of the first trillionaires. Talk about income inequality! Or don’t.

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  21. Asteroid mining is expected by many to become the source of the first trillionaires. Talk about income inequality! Or don’t.

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  22. For starters: tourism, solar power satellites (see my other comment), asteroid mining, orbital manufacturing (starting with fiber optics, you can make much better ones in zero-g).

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  23. For starters: tourism solar power satellites (see my other comment) asteroid mining orbital manufacturing (starting with fiber optics you can make much better ones in zero-g).

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  24. This artists-in-space thing that Musk has hooked onto could be one early answer. After, it’s because the internet is a mass-medium that it was able to concentrate enough wealth in the hands of a Musk or a Bezos to enable them to fund their magnificent space vehicles. Likewise, art and pop culture are a form of mass medium which can likewise broadly canvas or source their funding, to pay for the missions themselves. This can help in the early bootstrapping process, until the prices can come down to enable a wider variety of missions. Co-passengering could also help to get more missions off the ground.

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  25. This artists-in-space thing that Musk has hooked onto could be one early answer. After it’s because the internet is a mass-medium that it was able to concentrate enough wealth in the hands of a Musk or a Bezos to enable them to fund their magnificent space vehicles. Likewise art and pop culture are a form of mass medium which can likewise broadly canvas or source their funding to pay for the missions themselves. This can help in the early bootstrapping process until the prices can come down to enable a wider variety of missions. Co-passengering could also help to get more missions off the ground.

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  26. It was expected by many to happen ‘soon’, so far to no avail. Largely because it has an impossibly high entry barrier, because besides of designing your mining drone, you have to solve the problem of launching it, communicating with it and keeping it working on long term sustaining mode. Which all are very expensive requirements and make a hard problem into an impossible one.

    From my side I see it now as the kind of thing I’ll believe it when I see it.

    But if the new touted satellite constellations and cheaper launchers deliver even partially, we could actually see the beginning of space logistics, and then some actual first mining drones around some asteroid.

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  27. Perhaps the pollution from 30,000 launches would motivate a space elevator by then, which could carry up all of the non-human cargo with no CO2.

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  28. Perhaps the pollution from 30000 launches would motivate a space elevator by then which could carry up all of the non-human cargo with no CO2.

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  29. It would be hilarious if dumping millions of tonnes of water in the stratosphere gave us high albedo ice crystal clouds that caused the Earth’s temperature to plummet. Quick! Restart the coal burners!

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  30. It would be hilarious if dumping millions of tonnes of water in the stratosphere gave us high albedo ice crystal clouds that caused the Earth’s temperature to plummet.Quick! Restart the coal burners!

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  31. I remember D-wave having a cool graph that showed that by 2016 they’d have computers that could calculate faster than a conventional supercomputer the size of the entire universe. Sure glad we weren’t cynical about that.

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  32. I remember D-wave having a cool graph that showed that by 2016 they’d have computers that could calculate faster than a conventional supercomputer the size of the entire universe.Sure glad we weren’t cynical about that.

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  33. Every time you launch a New Glenn, you need to toss away an upper stage that costs in the neighborhood of $15 million or so, plus a pair of fairing halves that cost around $6 million. That means the minimum cost of a New Glenn launch is going to cost you $21 million dollars. Vulcan Centaur is even worse. In addition to tossing that Centaur upper stage and fairings as well as the SRB’s and the booster body, with only just the engine compartment is recovered with parachutes, you are looking at tossing away a minimum of $50 million worth of hardware per launch. (Vulcan ACES won’t exist for at least another 5 years after Vulcan Centaur starts flying). BFR is to have full reusability of every part of the rocket– The upper stage (BFS) is not thrown away after each launch, and it has no fairings to discard. The only thing that needs to be replaced on a BFR launch is a couple million dollars worth of fuel (LOX and methane). So if it’s going to cost you $21 million to launch a 45-ton payload on a New Glenn and $50 million on a Vulcan Centaur vs. just a couple million dollars on a BFR, which would you choose if you are a corporate exec who wants the best deal? I know which one I would pick.

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  34. Every time you launch a New Glenn you need to toss away an upper stage that costs in the neighborhood of $15 million or so plus a pair of fairing halves that cost around $6 million. That means the minimum cost of a New Glenn launch is going to cost you $21 million dollars.Vulcan Centaur is even worse. In addition to tossing that Centaur upper stage and fairings as well as the SRB’s and the booster body with only just the engine compartment is recovered with parachutes you are looking at tossing away a minimum of $50 million worth of hardware per launch. (Vulcan ACES won’t exist for at least another 5 years after Vulcan Centaur starts flying).BFR is to have full reusability of every part of the rocket– The upper stage (BFS) is not thrown away after each launch and it has no fairings to discard. The only thing that needs to be replaced on a BFR launch is a couple million dollars worth of fuel (LOX and methane).So if it’s going to cost you $21 million to launch a 45-ton payload on a New Glenn and $50 million on a Vulcan Centaur vs. just a couple million dollars on a BFR which would you choose if you are a corporate exec who wants the best deal? I know which one I would pick.

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  35. For starters: tourism, solar power satellites (see my other comment), asteroid mining, orbital manufacturing (starting with fiber optics, you can make much better ones in zero-g).

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  36. I’m kind of surprised Tom” that you penned a rather reasonable and considered response to my points. “” “””

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  37. Self-assembly is also the basis for current solar power satellite designs, like SPS-ALPHA. It reduces manufacturing costs drastically because you’re building modest-size parts in very large numbers. A great book on the engineering details is *The Case for Space Solar Power* by John C. Mankins. The cost projections on the book end up at 15 cents/kWh retail, but a lot of that was launch. I plugged in projected BFR costs and it came out to about 5 cents. (And before anyone says why not just put the panels on the ground, this runs 24/7 regardless of weather so it doesn’t need storage.) Deploying these at scale could use up a lot of BFR launches.

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  38. Self-assembly is also the basis for current solar power satellite designs like SPS-ALPHA. It reduces manufacturing costs drastically because you’re building modest-size parts in very large numbers. A great book on the engineering details is *The Case for Space Solar Power* by John C. Mankins.The cost projections on the book end up at 15 cents/kWh retail but a lot of that was launch. I plugged in projected BFR costs and it came out to about 5 cents. (And before anyone says why not just put the panels on the ground this runs 24/7 regardless of weather so it doesn’t need storage.)Deploying these at scale could use up a lot of BFR launches.

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  39. > liquid methane, the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community. Not quite the entire community, the Blue Origin BE-4 will run on liquified natural gas, which of course is mostly methane.

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  40. > liquid methane the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community.Not quite the entire community the Blue Origin BE-4 will run on liquified natural gas which of course is mostly methane.

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  41. My biggest concerns align with Brian’s in one point: – Everything depends on cost per kg to orbit. If SpaceX BFR doesn’t end up delivering payload as cheaply and as reusably as expected, things can still change but to a lesser degree than touted. I think the change will still be a net positive for space as compared with today’s situation, in terms of amount of launches, use and human activities, even if the BFRs only work a few times before having to be retired. That’s because we don’t have rockets with the baseline capabilities of a BFR: payload, refueling, landers and return stages, all in a single package. If they deliver on that, we would still have a revolutionary spaceship. Regardless if it still costs several hundred millions per flight. Enough for many previously impossible missions, not enough for space launches for everyone. And that’s also an acceptable and fine outcome in my opinion.

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  42. My biggest concerns align with Brian’s in one point:- Everything depends on cost per kg to orbit.If SpaceX BFR doesn’t end up delivering payload as cheaply and as reusably as expected things can still change but to a lesser degree than touted.I think the change will still be a net positive for space as compared with today’s situation in terms of amount of launches use and human activities even if the BFRs only work a few times before having to be retired.That’s because we don’t have rockets with the baseline capabilities of a BFR: payload refueling landers and return stages all in a single package.If they deliver on that we would still have a revolutionary spaceship. Regardless if it still costs several hundred millions per flight.Enough for many previously impossible missions not enough for space launches for everyone. And that’s also an acceptable and fine outcome in my opinion.

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  43. I don’t see it. Other than going bigger with communication satellites and GPS I don’t see any other business case. Maybe space tourism.

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  44. I don’t see it. Other than going bigger with communication satellites and GPS I don’t see any other business case. Maybe space tourism.

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  45. Wow… I’m kind of surprised, Tom, that you penned a rather reasonable and considered response to my points. Thank you for putting aside the casting-of-stones. I think you are right about one thing I’ven’t proposed: before the BFR flies 1,000 times, it will’ve been replaced with yet another, possibly more economical, but definitely LARGER unit. As big as BFR is, when there’s a backlog of hundreds of flights, it then makes sense to ramp up engineering the next rotation and come up with a bigger-yet-orbital-injector. BYOI. _______ Getting the operating cost down below $700/kg — for me — isn’t a set of numbers I can directly validate without taking away most of SpaceX’s profit-per-flight and really shaving down the operational numbers. Call me a skeptic perhaps, but I’ve watched all nature of space “exploration” from the 1960s to today, some 60 years worth… and all I can say is that with rare exception, a conservatıve space program costs WAY more than originally budgeted. And that’s mostly because the time line is long, the investments in things accomplished last decade, must be built and run for years to finally deliver profitability. So far, SpaceX has delivered on its promise: a competent truck-to-space that returns its first stage and performs a soft vertical landing for recovery, renovation, recertification and more flights. And they’ve delivered on lashing 3 of them together to make a Big Rocket. The Falcon Heavy. And technically I think they also recovered the 3 first stages — 2 “boosters” and the main core. This is all very good, and I certainly don’t want to be remembered for saying anything negative about it. But as I understand it, they’re still burning kerosene and LOX. Haven’t quite made the transition yet to liquid methane, the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community. I say that because its a “big thing”, the next step. Google: 31 Raptor Sea Level engines to start. I

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  46. Wow… I’m kind of surprised Tom that you penned a rather reasonable and considered response to my points. Thank you for putting aside the casting-of-stones. I think you are right about one thing I’ven’t proposed: before the BFR flies 1000 times it will’ve been replaced with yet another possibly more economical but definitely LARGER unit. As big as BFR is when there’s a backlog of hundreds of flights it then makes sense to ramp up engineering the next rotation and come up with a bigger-yet-orbital-injector. BYOI. _______Getting the operating cost down below $700/kg — for me — isn’t a set of numbers I can directly validate without taking away most of SpaceX’s profit-per-flight and really shaving down the operational numbers. Call me a skeptic perhaps but I’ve watched all nature of space exploration”” from the 1960s to today”” some 60 years worth… and all I can say is that with rare exception a conservatıve space program costs WAY more than originally budgeted. And that’s mostly because the time line is long the investments in things accomplished last decade must be built and run for years to finally deliver profitability. So far SpaceX has delivered on its promise: a competent truck-to-space that returns its first stage and performs a soft vertical landing for recovery renovation recertification and more flights. And they’ve delivered on lashing 3 of them together to make a Big Rocket. The Falcon Heavy. And technically I think they also recovered the 3 first stages — 2 “boosters” and the main core. This is all very good and I certainly don’t want to be remembered for saying anything negative about it. But as I understand it they’re still burning kerosene and LOX. Haven’t quite made the transition yet to liquid methane”” the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community. I say that because its a “”””big thing”””””” the next step. Google: 31 Raptor Sea Level eng”

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  47. Start with costs for a week long vacation in LEO at most being $50k when a mature industry, and even at ten fold that many thousands want to go. There are over 16.5mn millionaires, doesn’t take but 1/10th of a percent of them to want it before it’s a going enterprise and prices fall to that lower level. With that launch rate LEO access costs trend to the lower of the values associated with the BFR system. It’s not so much that it can not lose, but that there is no excuse to presume it will not succeed, or is not likely to. That’s just from space tourism and presuming there are no BFS variants made which carry many hundreds for the shorter trip. Doing so permits far lower ticket prices, for example, if each person has 2m^3 apiece, launch costs can be $5mn per and a ticket price of under $26k5 can get you up there and reasonably supplied for a month. That’s far more volume than you get on an airliner now, so for the shorter trip it is quite likely more could go per launch for a lower fare, and the lift cost will dominate pricing, look at the all inclusive resort costs against more a la carte operations. That’s just space tourism getting the industry to will over 200 launchers of BFR system per year.

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  48. Start with costs for a week long vacation in LEO at most being $50k when a mature industry and even at ten fold that many thousands want to go. There are over 16.5mn millionaires doesn’t take but 1/10th of a percent of them to want it before it’s a going enterprise and prices fall to that lower level. With that launch rate LEO access costs trend to the lower of the values associated with the BFR system.It’s not so much that it can not lose but that there is no excuse to presume it will not succeed or is not likely to.That’s just from space tourism and presuming there are no BFS variants made which carry many hundreds for the shorter trip. Doing so permits far lower ticket prices for example if each person has 2m^3 apiece launch costs can be $5mn per and a ticket price of under $26k5 can get you up there and reasonably supplied for a month. That’s far more volume than you get on an airliner now so for the shorter trip it is quite likely more could go per launch for a lower fare and the lift cost will dominate pricing look at the all inclusive resort costs against more a la carte operations.That’s just space tourism getting the industry to will over 200 launchers of BFR system per year.

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  49. Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A, B and C and put them into D, E and F for a “huge, profound savings”.

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  50. Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A B and C and put them into D” E and F for a “”huge”””” profound savings””””. “””” “””

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  51. Really? Not really… what you remember is that I couldn’t find much to ballyhoo with regard to D-Wave’s ”brand of quantum computing”, which are not-entangled arrays of quanta. And how that kind of system doesn’t scale as N^q. That’s all. Perhaps you forgot yourself. GoatGuy

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  52. Really? Not really… what you remember is that I couldn’t find much to ballyhoo with regard to D-Wave’s ”brand of quantum computing” which are not-entangled arrays of quanta. And how that kind of system doesn’t scale as N^q. That’s all. Perhaps you forgot yourself. GoatGuy

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  53. I remember Goat Guy having almost this same level of nihilistic argument on the validity of D-wave’s computer systems. I remember how Goat was just CONVINCED that that Google and etc. were getting hoodwinked by IMPOSSIBLE Quantum computing… Wow.. Glad Google, NASA and IBM listened to Goat.. Heh..

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  54. I remember Goat Guy having almost this same level of nihilistic argument on the validity of D-wave’s computer systems. I remember how Goat was just CONVINCED that that Google and etc. were getting hoodwinked by IMPOSSIBLE Quantum computing… Wow.. Glad Google NASA and IBM listened to Goat.. Heh..

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  55. GoatGuy, I wouldn’t obsess about Elon’s Fantastic Phallus. You probably have something concrete to show for your life too. There is no need to be petty.

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  56. GoatGuy I wouldn’t obsess about Elon’s Fantastic Phallus. You probably havesomething concrete to show for your life too. There is no need to be petty.

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  57. The BIGGEST inhibition I have from making comments such as these” is that they sound hopelessly nihilistic. “” “””

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  58. No, I wouldn’t want to make it at all, if it was going to be used to focus anything shorter wavelength than radio, unless the goal was just concentrating sunlight for heat. No chance AT ALL of achieving a telescope quality figure in a blown bubble.

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  59. No I wouldn’t want to make it at all if it was going to be used to focus anything shorter wavelength than radio unless the goal was just concentrating sunlight for heat. No chance AT ALL of achieving a telescope quality figure in a blown bubble.

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  60. I don’t think the comparison between the Shuttle and the BFR is valid, in that the latter should be flying within a year or two, while we ditched the Saturn V to build the shuttle well in advance.

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  61. I don’t think the comparison between the Shuttle and the BFR is valid in that the latter should be flying within a year or two while we ditched the Saturn V to build the shuttle well in advance.

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  62. When I hear people talk about launching this much I ask where is the economic incentive to which the only response is pie in sky speculation…

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  63. When I hear people talk about launching this much I ask where is the economic incentive to which the only response is pie in sky speculation…

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  64. Let me inject just one more idea: WHEN … in the future, you see a fitful start to this magnificent program, and THEN you see lackluster investment in all the research projects, and the immensely powerful nuclear rockets, or sub-light interstellar missions don’t advance, maybe you’ll remember this comment above. And all the things I didn’t list, that bedevil national GDP levels of space investment early in the game. Just saying, GoatGuy

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  65. Let me inject just one more idea: WHEN … in the future you see a fitful start to this magnificent program and THEN you see lackluster investment in all the research projects and the immensely powerful nuclear rockets or sub-light interstellar missions don’t advance maybe you’ll remember this comment above. And all the things I didn’t list that bedevil national GDP levels of space investment early in the game. Just sayingGoatGuy”

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  66. The follower is falling again for one winner, the biggest guys in the block with the biggest rocket taking all blind approach. It is not going to be like that, Blue Origin is going to have a more advanced rocket, and at its pay load capability of 45 tonnes it is going to be the best launching vehicle. I am not sure that most of the time customers would want to use the BFR higher capacity of 100-150 tonnes. The ULA is also offering a very interesting approach to resuability and I am not discounting it at all. Also, there is another bottleneck here. To reach the stage of launching thousands of rockets , if chemical rockets are still going to be the best offerings, we will need to move to Hydrogen fuel for the first stage since the pollution from Kerosene is going to be too high for the upper Atmosphere.

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  67. The follower is falling again for one winner the biggest guys in the block with the biggest rocket taking all blind approach. It is not going to be like that Blue Origin is going to have a more advanced rocket and at its pay load capability of 45 tonnes it is going to be the best launching vehicle. I am not sure that most of the time customers would want to use the BFR higher capacity of 100-150 tonnes. The ULA is also offering a very interesting approach to resuability and I am not discounting it at all. Also there is another bottleneck here. To reach the stage of launching thousands of rockets if chemical rockets are still going to be the best offerings we will need to move to Hydrogen fuel for the first stage since the pollution from Kerosene is going to be too high for the upper Atmosphere.

    Reply
  68. I’ve been reading these articles all day. And I have to say: they seem based on quite a few assumptions which frankly I would call into deep question. FIRST, there is the assertion that the United States should redirect $100+ billion of monies earmarked (or budgeted) for the SLS into a combination of BFR and Blue Origin. … being as old as I am … I actually REMEMBER the arguments of retiring the old Apollo program, and replacing with the Space Shuttle. The argument(s) were similar to everything above. Reuseable space planes with reusable solid rocket boosters, and a totally reuseable to-space plane that’d actually land on a landing strip. The prices being quoted far and wide were astoundingly good. Compelling. Put everything into the Shuttle. And paid for it dearly. It cost what, as LOW as 25× and as much as 75× the cost-per-flight as kerolox? Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A, B and C and put them into D, E and F for a “huge, profound savings”. _____ SECOND — yep № 2 — question of viability. When anyone proposes 30,000 rockets a year by 2030, I have to shake my head. Given $220/kg per-lob cost. That’s easily $660,000,000,000 a year in launches. 60% of the cost of US military — all branches. _____ THIRD — Environmentalists shît-fit. Just one (100 ton) payload into LEO delivers some 2,000 tons of WATER VAPOR and CO₂ into the stratosphere, and above. 30,000 would bring 60,000,000 tons or sixty billion kilograms of effluent. Now, we’re rightly concerned about how we’re treating the lower atmosphere, where rain washes away ‘our sins’ every few months. What about the stratosphere, where there’s basically next-to-nothing to clean it? _____ FOURTH — The idea that we’ll be building space megastructures from materials NOT brought up from Planet Dirt is — in the next 50 years — preposterous. I’m sorry, we have millions of people to mine ore, smelt it, refine it, and so on — and that’s j

    Reply
  69. I’ve been reading these articles all day. And I have to say: they seem based on quite a few assumptions which frankly I would call into deep question. FIRST there is the assertion that the United States should redirect $100+ billion of monies earmarked (or budgeted) for the SLS into a combination of BFR and Blue Origin. … being as old as I am … I actually REMEMBER the arguments of retiring the old Apollo program and replacing with the Space Shuttle.The argument(s) were similar to everything above. Reuseable space planes with reusable solid rocket boosters and a totally reuseable to-space plane that’d actually land on a landing strip. The prices being quoted far and wide were astoundingly good. Compelling. Put everything into the Shuttle. And paid for it dearly. It cost what as LOW as 25× and as much as 75× the cost-per-flight as kerolox?Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A B and C and put them into D E and F for a huge”” profound savings””. _____SECOND — yep № 2 — question of viability. When anyone proposes 30″”000 rockets a year by 2030 I have to shake my head. Given $220/kg per-lob cost. That’s easily $66000000 a year in launches. 60{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} of the cost of US military — all branches. _____THIRD — Environmentalists shît-fit. Just one (100 ton) payload into LEO delivers some 2000 tons of WATER VAPOR and CO₂ into the stratosphere and above. 30000 would bring 600000 tons or sixty billion kilograms of effluent. Now we’re rightly concerned about how we’re treating the lower atmosphere where rain washes away ‘our sins’ every few months. What about the stratosphere where there’s basically next-to-nothing to clean it?_____FOURTH — The idea that we’ll be building space megastructures from materials NOT brought up from Planet Dirt is — in the next 50 years — preposterous. I’m sorry we hav”

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  70. That huge space telescope looks like a giant eyeball in space. I don’t see how they can easily inflate something that large (1 km radius?) and still have it maintain its shape while this metal-spraying is happening. There’s no precedent for this. Wouldn’t you want to make it out of graphene, or some other high-strength polymer like Kevlar, Vectran, or Spectra?

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  71. That huge space telescope looks like a giant eyeball in space. I don’t see how they can easily inflate something that large (1 km radius?) and still have it maintain its shape while this metal-spraying is happening. There’s no precedent for this. Wouldn’t you want to make it out of graphene or some other high-strength polymer like Kevlar Vectran or Spectra?

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  72. This artists-in-space thing that Musk has hooked onto could be one early answer. After, it’s because the internet is a mass-medium that it was able to concentrate enough wealth in the hands of a Musk or a Bezos to enable them to fund their magnificent space vehicles. Likewise, art and pop culture are a form of mass medium which can likewise broadly canvas or source their funding, to pay for the missions themselves. This can help in the early bootstrapping process, until the prices can come down to enable a wider variety of missions. Co-passengering could also help to get more missions off the ground.

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  73. It would be hilarious if dumping millions of tonnes of water in the stratosphere gave us high albedo ice crystal clouds that caused the Earth’s temperature to plummet.

    Quick! Restart the coal burners!

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  74. I remember D-wave having a cool graph that showed that by 2016 they’d have computers that could calculate faster than a conventional supercomputer the size of the entire universe.

    Sure glad we weren’t cynical about that.

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  75. Every time you launch a New Glenn, you need to toss away an upper stage that costs in the neighborhood of $15 million or so, plus a pair of fairing halves that cost around $6 million. That means the minimum cost of a New Glenn launch is going to cost you $21 million dollars.

    Vulcan Centaur is even worse. In addition to tossing that Centaur upper stage and fairings as well as the SRB’s and the booster body, with only just the engine compartment is recovered with parachutes, you are looking at tossing away a minimum of $50 million worth of hardware per launch. (Vulcan ACES won’t exist for at least another 5 years after Vulcan Centaur starts flying).

    BFR is to have full reusability of every part of the rocket– The upper stage (BFS) is not thrown away after each launch, and it has no fairings to discard. The only thing that needs to be replaced on a BFR launch is a couple million dollars worth of fuel (LOX and methane).

    So if it’s going to cost you $21 million to launch a 45-ton payload on a New Glenn and $50 million on a Vulcan Centaur vs. just a couple million dollars on a BFR, which would you choose if you are a corporate exec who wants the best deal? I know which one I would pick.

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  76. ” I’m kind of surprised, Tom, that you penned a rather reasonable and considered response to my points. ” <-- You would not be surprised if you were as wise as you make out--your "math" is a facade hiding cherry picking and considered blindness. " Call me a skeptic perhaps, but I've watched all nature of space "exploration" from the 1960s to today, some 60 years worth " <-- Then forget everything you ever thought you knew, because until SpaceX showed up, all US spaceflight was about the US Congress dumping money into the politically required districts. For the duration, it was also about getting tot he Moon, after that it was all about engineering by zip code--which killed two on the ground and 14 in the air. BFR's Raptor at 300bar is in serial production at an Isp of 360, as far as I can remember the Isp, and the vacuum bell has been deferred until the 2nd iteration. Reusable payload is currently 100 tons at minimum.

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  77. Self-assembly is also the basis for current solar power satellite designs, like SPS-ALPHA. It reduces manufacturing costs drastically because you’re building modest-size parts in very large numbers. A great book on the engineering details is *The Case for Space Solar Power* by John C. Mankins.

    The cost projections on the book end up at 15 cents/kWh retail, but a lot of that was launch. I plugged in projected BFR costs and it came out to about 5 cents. (And before anyone says why not just put the panels on the ground, this runs 24/7 regardless of weather so it doesn’t need storage.)

    Deploying these at scale could use up a lot of BFR launches.

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  78. > liquid methane, the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community.

    Not quite the entire community, the Blue Origin BE-4 will run on liquified natural gas, which of course is mostly methane.

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  79. My biggest concerns align with Brian’s in one point:

    – Everything depends on cost per kg to orbit.

    If SpaceX BFR doesn’t end up delivering payload as cheaply and as reusably as expected, things can still change but to a lesser degree than touted.

    I think the change will still be a net positive for space as compared with today’s situation, in terms of amount of launches, use and human activities, even if the BFRs only work a few times before having to be retired.

    That’s because we don’t have rockets with the baseline capabilities of a BFR: payload, refueling, landers and return stages, all in a single package.

    If they deliver on that, we would still have a revolutionary spaceship. Regardless if it still costs several hundred millions per flight.

    Enough for many previously impossible missions, not enough for space launches for everyone. And that’s also an acceptable and fine outcome in my opinion.

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  80. Wow… I’m kind of surprised, Tom, that you penned a rather reasonable and considered response to my points. Thank you for putting aside the casting-of-stones.

    I think you are right about one thing I’ven’t proposed: before the BFR flies 1,000 times, it will’ve been replaced with yet another, possibly more economical, but definitely LARGER unit. As big as BFR is, when there’s a backlog of hundreds of flights, it then makes sense to ramp up engineering the next rotation and come up with a bigger-yet-orbital-injector. BYOI.
    _______

    Getting the operating cost down below $700/kg — for me — isn’t a set of numbers I can directly validate without taking away most of SpaceX’s profit-per-flight and really shaving down the operational numbers. Call me a skeptic perhaps, but I’ve watched all nature of space “exploration” from the 1960s to today, some 60 years worth… and all I can say is that with rare exception, a conservatıve space program costs WAY more than originally budgeted.

    And that’s mostly because the time line is long, the investments in things accomplished last decade, must be built and run for years to finally deliver profitability. So far, SpaceX has delivered on its promise: a competent truck-to-space that returns its first stage and performs a soft vertical landing for recovery, renovation, recertification and more flights.

    And they’ve delivered on lashing 3 of them together to make a Big Rocket. The Falcon Heavy. And technically I think they also recovered the 3 first stages — 2 “boosters” and the main core. This is all very good, and I certainly don’t want to be remembered for saying anything negative about it. But as I understand it, they’re still burning kerosene and LOX. Haven’t quite made the transition yet to liquid methane, the one very new innovation that Musk embraced quite at odds with the rest of the world’s space community.

    I say that because its a “big thing”, the next step.

    Google: 31 Raptor Sea Level engines to start. ISP 330 to ISP 353, sea level to vacuum. The 2nd stage will have 7 of the same basic engines, but with larger expansion nozzles to realize ISP of 375 or greater. This is a BIG THING, for them to get right. 4,400,000 kg takeoff mass. 100,000 kg into LEO (apparently excluding the mass of the 2nd stage, also by definition injected into LEO). 50,000 kg of return-to-earth “payload” ferrying capacity.
    _______

    As I’ve repeatedly done, I’m wishing them the very best of luck. I have PERSONALLY written math-sim code to work out the flight dynamics of the BFR, and with high confidence, providing the engines perform as they are spec’ed, the bird should make it to orbit, 250,000 kg of rocket “up there” all told. That would be 100,000 kg of payload and 150,000 kg of thruster and retrorocket fuel to get it back, and land it for reuse.

    GoatGuy

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  81. Start with costs for a week long vacation in LEO at most being $50k when a mature industry, and even at ten fold that many thousands want to go. There are over 16.5mn millionaires, doesn’t take but 1/10th of a percent of them to want it before it’s a going enterprise and prices fall to that lower level. With that launch rate LEO access costs trend to the lower of the values associated with the BFR system.

    It’s not so much that it can not lose, but that there is no excuse to presume it will not succeed, or is not likely to.

    That’s just from space tourism and presuming there are no BFS variants made which carry many hundreds for the shorter trip. Doing so permits far lower ticket prices, for example, if each person has 2m^3 apiece, launch costs can be $5mn per and a ticket price of under $26k5 can get you up there and reasonably supplied for a month. That’s far more volume than you get on an airliner now, so for the shorter trip it is quite likely more could go per launch for a lower fare, and the lift cost will dominate pricing, look at the all inclusive resort costs against more a la carte operations.

    That’s just space tourism getting the industry to will over 200 launchers of BFR system per year.

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  82. ” Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A, B and C and put them into D, E and F for a “huge, profound savings”. ” <-- But not mindlessly suspicious. Even with added services bringing the price of a boosters saved Falcon Heavy Launch to $120mn, that's only $1,400 to LEO. The fuel for a BFR is only about $500k. The payload in refuel to reuse mode is 100tons or more. Dividing top end estimates of R&D cost ($10bn) plus build cost ($500mn for first one and $250mn each for the next two) into a pad operations and crew cost amounting to several tens of millions per year yields and initial (first 300 flights) cost of only $175 /lb to LEO. These are all presuming pessimistic costs, and SpaceX has already concluded at least 95% of the Falcon 9 and derivative vehicles at 1/10th the cost and at least as fast as NASA says it could have done...they have a long history of beating costs estimates. " When anyone proposes 30,000 rockets a year by 2030, I have to shake my head. " <-- And when anyone proposes the unlike every other transport mode in history, that space access costs can fall by a factor of 340 in 20 years without at least a three fold increase in it's use, I know they are insane, and at that launch rate, a BFS will have to be built approximately once per year just to keep up. At that rate we are in sub $80/kg to LEO territory at most by 2028. " Environmentalists shît-fit. Just one (100 ton) payload into LEO delivers some 2,000 tons of WATER VAPOR and CO₂ into the stratosphere, and above. 30,000 would bring 60,000,000 tons or sixty billion kilograms of effluent. " <-- Demonstrate that is not dwarfed to the point of being noise, by natural processes. For that matter, demonstrate volume will grow to past 1000/year before other means entirely is adopted. " The idea that we'll be building space megastructures from materials NOT brought up from Planet Dirt is — in the next 50 years — preposterous. " <-- I have no reason to doubt hydrogen split from water ice can be used with heat to reduce most metals with re-crystallization to purity. Generating most organic precursors from engineered single cell organisms seems straight forward enough to do within 30 years time, and these approaches all scale in parallel. If one is problematic it does not stop the rest. 50 years is a very long time given the current pace of technology change. Space is large enough and it's vacuum good enough, you can separate materials by cyclotronic action if need be. " We make thousands chemicals, almost endless plastics, we have abundant oxygen, nitrogen, water, helium, argon, krypton, methane, hydrocarbons, and other gasses where are nearly non-existent on asteroids. " <-- Between CC bodies, siliceous, and nickel iron asteroids, all that's actually really common in the near earth asteroids and the belt, to say nothing of the outer gas giants and their moons.

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  83. Really? Not really… what you remember is that I couldn’t find much to ballyhoo with regard to D-Wave’s ”brand of quantum computing”, which are not-entangled arrays of quanta. And how that kind of system doesn’t scale as N^q. That’s all. Perhaps you forgot yourself. GoatGuy

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  84. I remember Goat Guy having almost this same level of nihilistic argument on the validity of D-wave’s computer systems. I remember how Goat was just CONVINCED that that Google and etc. were getting hoodwinked by IMPOSSIBLE Quantum computing… Wow.. Glad Google, NASA and IBM listened to Goat.. Heh..

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  85. ” The BIGGEST inhibition I have from making comments such as these, is that they sound hopelessly nihilistic. ” <-- No, they are stupidly nihilistic. They are pathological skepticism. " A great glossy magnificent future, replete with sparkling artists' renditions of Elons Fantastic Phallus festoon the pages. " <-- And the MaxQ of a rocket being a more serious situation the lower it's aspect ratio, it should be as arrow like as possible as long it does not incur a greater structural weight penalty from the mass of structure opposing bending loads the thinner it is. " List after list of things built on things, built on things. More and more ideas richly supported by wishware that has yet to even get INTO the lab, let alone out of it. " <-- Except the engine for the BFR is in serial production and out of the lab, and structure has already been built which if it is not found to have been expended in an unexpectedly destructive test, is flight hardware. " But it remains real. Very, very, very real. " <-- What's real is nothing mentioned above is outlandish in any way, and much of it has been proven in subscale practice. When the BFR is a mature system it will have a cost between $25 and $75 / lb to LEO, and even when recovering R&D and first build cost, will not exceed $350. There is no similarity tot he Shuttle except one was partially expended and the rest re-furbishable, and the other refuel to re-use, both delivering material and people to LEO. The STS informs the BFR effort only as an example of how not to do it.

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  86. No, I wouldn’t want to make it at all, if it was going to be used to focus anything shorter wavelength than radio, unless the goal was just concentrating sunlight for heat. No chance AT ALL of achieving a telescope quality figure in a blown bubble.

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  87. I don’t think the comparison between the Shuttle and the BFR is valid, in that the latter should be flying within a year or two, while we ditched the Saturn V to build the shuttle well in advance.

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  88. Let me inject just one more idea:

    WHEN … in the future, you see a fitful start to this magnificent program, and THEN you see lackluster investment in all the research projects, and the immensely powerful nuclear rockets, or sub-light interstellar missions don’t advance, maybe you’ll remember this comment above. And all the things I didn’t list, that bedevil national GDP levels of space investment early in the game.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy

    Reply
  89. The follower is falling again for one winner, the biggest guys in the block with the biggest rocket taking all blind approach. It is not going to be like that, Blue Origin is going to have a more advanced rocket, and at its pay load capability of 45 tonnes it is going to be the best launching vehicle. I am not sure that most of the time customers would want to use the BFR higher capacity of 100-150 tonnes. The ULA is also offering a very interesting approach to resuability and I am not discounting it at all.

    Also, there is another bottleneck here. To reach the stage of launching thousands of rockets , if chemical rockets are still going to be the best offerings, we will need to move to Hydrogen fuel for the first stage since the pollution from Kerosene is going to be too high for the upper Atmosphere.

    Reply
  90. I’ve been reading these articles all day. And I have to say: they seem based on quite a few assumptions which frankly I would call into deep question.

    FIRST, there is the assertion that the United States should redirect $100+ billion of monies earmarked (or budgeted) for the SLS into a combination of BFR and Blue Origin.

    … being as old as I am … I actually REMEMBER the arguments of retiring the old Apollo program, and replacing with the Space Shuttle.

    The argument(s) were similar to everything above. Reuseable space planes with reusable solid rocket boosters, and a totally reuseable to-space plane that’d actually land on a landing strip.

    The prices being quoted far and wide were astoundingly good.
    Compelling.
    Put everything into the Shuttle.
    And paid for it dearly.

    It cost what, as LOW as 25× and as much as 75× the cost-per-flight as kerolox?

    Be DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS of advocates wanting ta redirect all space budget from technologies A, B and C and put them into D, E and F for a “huge, profound savings”.
    _____

    SECOND — yep № 2 — question of viability. When anyone proposes 30,000 rockets a year by 2030, I have to shake my head. Given $220/kg per-lob cost. That’s easily $660,000,000,000 a year in launches. 60% of the cost of US military — all branches.

    _____

    THIRD — Environmentalists shît-fit. Just one (100 ton) payload into LEO delivers some 2,000 tons of WATER VAPOR and CO₂ into the stratosphere, and above. 30,000 would bring 60,000,000 tons or sixty billion kilograms of effluent. Now, we’re rightly concerned about how we’re treating the lower atmosphere, where rain washes away ‘our sins’ every few months. What about the stratosphere, where there’s basically next-to-nothing to clean it?
    _____

    FOURTH — The idea that we’ll be building space megastructures from materials NOT brought up from Planet Dirt is — in the next 50 years — preposterous. I’m sorry, we have millions of people to mine ore, smelt it, refine it, and so on — and that’s just for most metals. We make thousands chemicals, almost endless plastics, we have abundant oxygen, nitrogen, water, helium, argon, krypton, methane, hydrocarbons, and other gasses where are nearly non-existent on asteroids.

    NONE of that is available in space, without extraordinary investments of … Earth-made equipment, ahem… lobbed into space just as everything else.
    _____

    Seriously…

    The BIGGEST inhibition I have from making comments such as these, is that they sound hopelessly nihilistic. A great glossy magnificent future, replete with sparkling artists’ renditions of Elons Fantastic Phallus festoon the pages. List after list of things built on things, built on things. More and more ideas richly supported by wishware that has yet to even get INTO the lab, let alone out of it.

    And I’m sorry, goats for that.

    But it remains real.
    Very, very, very real.

    GoatGuy

    Reply
  91. That huge space telescope looks like a giant eyeball in space. I don’t see how they can easily inflate something that large (1 km radius?) and still have it maintain its shape while this metal-spraying is happening. There’s no precedent for this. Wouldn’t you want to make it out of graphene, or some other high-strength polymer like Kevlar, Vectran, or Spectra?

    Reply

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