Future Elon and SpaceX Domination Will Be Like Rockefeller and Standard Oil

John D Rockefeller created Standard Oil, which built up the modern oil and refining industry. Standard Oil created massive price advantages and scale beyond its competitors. It grew by increasing sales and through acquisitions. In 1868, the Lake Shore Railroad, a part of the New York Central, gave Rockefeller’s a transportation rate of one cent a gallon or forty-two cents a barrel. This was a 71% discount for a promise to ship at least 60 carloads of oil daily. Smaller companies could not produce enough oil to qualify for discounts.

SpaceX already has a price advantage for rocket launch. They are already about ten times cheaper than ULA and have big cost advantages over Russia and China.

Standard was able to have kerosene prices drop from 58 to 26 cents from 1865 to 1870. Rockefeller used the Erie canal as a cheap alternative form of transportation to ship his refined oil from Cleveland to New York City.

Nextbigfuture has described how SpaceX has at least a six-year lead in reusable rockets. SpaceX is on track to lower launch costs by 5 times every four years. Competitors who are catching up in 6 years to where SpaceX is now will still be at a 10X price disadvantage. Competitors who are ten or more years behind SpaceX will be at a 100X price disadvantage. There will be virtually no competitive launch contracts to support competitors.

SpaceX will have Starlink and other satellites and space applications generating tens of billions of dollars each year in revenue. The Space industry is a $300 billion per year industry and only $8 billion is in launch. $3-4 billion is in commercial launches. $5 billion is in national military and government launches. SpaceX already has 60% of commercial launch.

Nextbigfuture has written several times about how I believe Starlink will reach a $50 billion per year business.

Rockefeller used and enlarged his price advantages to ramp up his scale and had 90% of the global oil industry at its peak. At the point of Standard Oil’s breakup in 1911, it had 64% of the global oil industry. This was nearly 40 years of domination for Standard Oil. The 34 companies that Standard Oil were broken into were hugely valuable. They were likely worth an inflation-adjusted $1.6 trillion. Rockefeller had 25% which was worth $400 billion.

SpaceX and Elon Musk will continue to improve the rockets after the reusability of rockets gets near the tens of thousands of reuses of passenger airplanes. The improvements for the next version of the Super Heavy Starship will be increased safety.

Increased safety by 1000X to 10,000X will get rockets to the safety of passenger planes. Those safe rockets will be able to transport passengers at 20 times the speed of sound. By 2025, the international business, first-class and private jet market will have 100+ million flights per year.

Business travelers account for 12 percent of passengers but are typically twice as profitable for airlines. Business passengers can be 75 percent of an airline’s profits. First-class and business tickets may cost as much as 10 times the price of coach tickets.

The premium air travel market could be taken by safe reusable rockets. Instead of paying for extra luxury on a ten-hour international flight, there will be a shift to paying the premium for a half-hour flight that is 20 times faster.

I estimate that a single-stage Starship might only have one crash in 1000 flights. It should be ten times safer than the crewed Falcon 9. This could be flying sub-orbital point to point cargo flights by 2022-2023.

The SpaceX point to point tickets could be $5,000 to $20,000 each. 100 million tickets per year for an average of $10,000 each would be $1 trillion per year. This could happen by 2030-2040.

The overall global airline revenue was about $824 billion in 2018. It is growing at 9.4% per year. It should double to $1.6 trillion in 2025 and could be $3.2 trillion by 2032 and $5 trillion by 2040.

When the Concord was flying in the 1990s, the air ticket prices were roughly as follows:
Full-fare Coach – $1,500
Business Class – $3,000
First Class – $6,000
Concorde – $12,000

The SpaceX Starship will be thirteen times faster than the Concorde. Each SpaceX Starship could make ten flights per day. These international rocket flights would be about 20-30 minutes long. Each might transport 100 to 300 people. I think a larger version would be made in a follow-up iteration (Starship version 3). 1000 to 3000 people per day. Each vehicle could fly 1 million people per year. 3000 to 4000 uses in one year, could mean each vehicle retires in one year or has major refurbishment.

SpaceX Starship passenger ticket prices could justify more of a premium versus first class. They would be first class plus saving the traveler a day in travel.

Elon’s World

By 2030-2040, Elon Musk could have:
a $10-20 trillion valuation (10 to 20 times the $1 trillion per year market for 2030 premium long-distance travel) SpaceX travel business and an array of satellite services.

a $500 billion to $1 trillion company with Tesla if they are selling 10+ million cars per year and also have a dominant self-driving car taxi service.

Boring company could be remaking city infrastructure with tunnels as cheap as a single lane of traffic and possibly offsetting the cost with bricks made from the tunnel dirt.

There could also be hyperloops, so that Elon would have domination of future planes (rockets), trains and cars.

Elon could make Rockefeller look like a pauper. Elon has over 50% of SpaceX and could have $10 trillion in net worth in 2030-2040. Elon could be like twenty to thirty John D. Rockefellers.

There have already been government officials talking about taking Elon’s reusable rockets as strategic assets. Elon may need the Moon and Mars to be beyond the reach of existing Earth governments in regards to anti-trust and other actions.

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

93 thoughts on “Future Elon and SpaceX Domination Will Be Like Rockefeller and Standard Oil”

  1. He will not become the richest human ever from Travel. It will be space that makes him rich though, the biggest land occupier and miner the world has ever seen.

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  2. There were people buying airline tickets in the 1920’s when safety was shaky at best.

    Even today, motorcycle drivers take 16.5 times the risk per mile as Shuttle astronauts. Granted, you really are not going anywhere when you are going around and around the planet.

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  3. It is only in the last 30 years that airplanes have been reasonably safe. And in the 1920’s and 1930’s you were taking your life in your hands. If we had the same rate as we had in the 1920’s there would be 7,000 fatal aircraft accidents every year. But obviously, if it was still that bad, more people would be taking the train. Heck, people would insist that the airports were way out of town so it is not raining airplanes all the time in town.

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  4. If humans get that good at making rockets safe, I imagine aircraft will gain another few orders of magnitude as well and remain substantially safer.

    I doubt Starship will reach that level of safety/reliability. Maybe Starship v7 in the 2050s. We are still quite early in the commercial space era. It took decades of commercial flight to reach modern levels of safety.

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  5. Electric car is obvious. Unfortunately, no one other than Tesla has made an electric car with better range than the first Model S released 7 years ago. For something so obvious, Tesla is kicking everyone else’s butt.

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  6. Face to face still seems to be necessary for rapport building. Once a rapport exists, the telepresence tools can work quite well. So, I don’t see business travel being entirely eliminated.

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  7. Wait, 400 years? Are you counting from the Norse colonies or something? Or did it take until 1900 in this Mandella-verse?

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  8. Combustion of LH, RP-1 and CH4 produce CO2 and the biggie greenhouse gas H2O–a low percentage atmospheric trace gas more commonly known as water vapor.

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  9. You will never be 100% certain.
    Reliability is always calculated as a probability. That’s just how the mathematics works.

    Though once you are more than 6 or 7 standard deviations away from failure you might as well pretend it is 100% safe. At that point the issues you haven’t even thought of outweigh whatever you are calculating. eg. The rocket has a higher chance of being hit by a meteor on the launch pad.

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  10. The planes they were making in the early days were NOT reliable enough, safe enough, or big enough to replace trains and ships. They still aren’t for many purposes.

    Note that TomH didn’t indicate that “suborbital flights are too dangerous” he explicitly named the SpaceX single stage Starship.

    If I said in 1918 that “a Sopwith Camel is too small, dangerous and unreliable to replace trains for passenger transport” and someone shows me a DC-3, then that is what is technically called “a different plane than the one I was explicitly talking about”.

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  11. I realize nothing can beat experience and reliability over a period of time. The data will speak for itself.

    I do wonder if it’s possible to be 100% certain of the reliability over a period of time, if the data on each flight can be gathered, and brought into a supercomputer simulation to verify/predict safety milestones.

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  12. Yeah, that’s what they used to say about planes. “Whaaa, planes will never be reliable enough to replace trains and ships.”

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  13. Jesus, for a minute I’d thought I’d come to The Onion. No, Elon Musk isn’t going to become the Rockefeller of the stars. 20 years from now everybody will be using reusable launchers else they’ll be out of business. No different than Henry Ford and the automobile.

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  14. Separate “crash” and “die”. The service might be viable if passengers live through (fairly rare) crashes 99% of the time.

    Divide the Starship into a 2nd stage booster and a cargo/passenger 3rd stage. This gives Starship a lot more flexibilty. It could launch 3rd party modules, specialized cargo/fuel/passenger modules, Mars-specific modules, OR a sub-orbital passenger vehicle that can get aviation officials’ approval for service. (For LEO missions, the 2nd stage would stay attached to the 3rd all the way to orbit, but separate for re-entry.)

    Launch – have a high-reliability escape system on the passenger module, with fast-igniting rockets to separate the passenger module from the 2nd stage booster section.

    Re-entry – use the ‘escape’ rockets to propulsively slow the passenger module, to avoid the worst of re-entry heating. The escape rocket mass gets used each trip, instead of being dead weight or being discarded. (Not easy, but seems to fall in the realm of ‘possible’.)

    Landing – make the passenger module a small, extendable-wing jet so it can land at most major airports. This is a big infrastructure advantage – SpaceX can start with a single launch center, and have passenger jet modules fly back conventionally. The passenger jet modules could also shuttle passengers to launch sites.

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  15. SpaceX already has a price advantage for rocket launch. They are already about ten times cheaper than ULA and have big cost advantages over Russia and China.

    I’m as big a fanboy of SpaceX as anybody, but this isn’t even close to true. Even if you factor in the pad maintenance subsidies, a medium-end Atlas V launch (which would launch almost everything that SpaceX puts into GTO on an F9) costs less than $120M/launch. (If you put a 5m fairing, 3500 kg payload to GTO into the ULA RocketBuilder, it spits out $73M for an Atlas V 501, which I don’t believe for a second. Still, the real number will be considerably less than double that.)

    F9’s cost for a reused/recoverable launch is now $55M or so. That a factor of 2.2x, which is a huge difference. But it’s nowhere near 10x.

    Now: If you want to compare an FH3R ($90M base) with a Delta-IVH (~$550M, if you factor in the maintenance subsidies), now you’re up to a factor of 6, which is getting closer to 10x, I guess.

    Brian, I urge you to be a bit more careful with the numbers. The politics matter right now, because it really is make-or-break time on whether Artemis will continue with SLS or be replaced with something saner. The odds are long on getting it bent over to a commercial system, but they’re absolutely zero if SpaceX gets even slightly discredited. Over-hyping does nobody any good.

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  16. Tesla worked for both Westinghouse and Edison at different times.
    The guy came up with a lot of brilliant ideas but wasn’t able to maintain himself as an independent adult.
    It’s actually a pity that one of the two (Westinghouse or Edison) didn’t get more paternal, set Tesla up in a nice house, give him a tough nursemaid to keep him functional, and then get another 20 or 30 years worth of brilliant work out of him instead of letting his life fall apart.

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  17. Why don’t you just come out and admit that you refuse to recognise the sovereignty of occupied Koenigreich Hannover. Bigot.

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  18. Love Elon and SpaceX but lest we forget, there is another space entrepreneur out there with a whole lot more bucks than Elon. Jeff Bezos. We don’t know what he is doing in anything like as great a detail, but whatever it is he can afford it.

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  19. Well put.
    I think the estimation for the shuttle was 1 crash per 100. That 99% reliable sounds okay, doesn’t it? And it worked out pretty well like that.

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  20. Even if you achieved the same levels of safety tomorrow, inherently you wouldn’t be sure you’d done it for decades. You can’t tell the difference between one in ten thousand and one in a ten million until you’ve actually FLOWN ten million flights; They’re indistinguishable at 1000 flights.

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  21. If Musk plans to use Starship for commercial passenger flights that pass thru controlled US airspace during take-off or landing, he will need to get FAA type certification for the vehicle. That would require a huge amount of work, take 6-8 years or more, and cost several $billion. For example, it would be incredibly difficult to show by analysis that this type of vehicle design can meet current FAA reliability/safety requirements for commercial passenger aircraft.

    Given that TSLA S & X autos have demonstrated a slightly higher driver-fatality-per-million-vehicle-year rate than similar luxury cars, why should we believe Starship will achieve a several orders of magnitude increase in reliability?
    https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*z74ioMHFfiedJlwYOVKp7g.png

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  22. Point to point travel anywhere in the world in an hour won’t matter much if it still takes an hour or more to get to the airport (spaceport?) and get through security. And Boring company won’t help that much in megacities with 5 million or more people (it could help in airport design by relocating access roads underground and leaving the surface just for airports and planes. but the tunnels must get larger and be multi-lane then).
    But the comparison to Rockefeller is wrong for a very important reason.
    Oil is a natural resource. Yes, it has to be refined to be useful, but that s not why Rockefeller got so rich. It was near monopoly access to the oil itself and the ability to charge “rent” for it – rent-seeking – that did that. At about the time Rockefeller began making his fortune, political economist Henry George was promoting his 700pg bestseller, Progress and Poverty, which showed how ownership of Land – in classical economics meaning ALL of nature’s resources, including location, and even oil – produced great, and unearned, wealth. People were well aware of his cure, a Land Value Tax, back then. It was one reason for the trust busting under Teddy Roosevelt.
    Musk won’t have that problem, but he can’t do rent-seeking in the same way, unless he gets to monopolize the sky and subterranean space, where there’s already push-back from everyone from NIMBYs to Urban Planners to transportation experts.
    Musk has to keep a technological edge, which won’t be possible forever.

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  23. With that kind of reliability it will be fine for putting people in orbit (which is inherently very dangerous) but that’s not going to be good enough to justify using it for point to point travel here on Earth.

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  24. The New Glen is most likely a couple of years out, not 6 years out and the BFR (I prefer this to its silly name of Starship) is still a dream. The New Glen will compete well against the Falcon Heavy which can’t stick a landing of the center booster.

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  25. well, I do not see that to be such a big problem. In case of a disaster that happens right at take-off a 500m security distance should be sufficient, maybe a “firewall” too. If it happens later in flight it makes no difference if you took off from land or sea. I am sure given time there will be measures invented to further enhance security. Nobody has done this yet. And the 737max case shows one faulty element in a plane can do the same for all on board a plane too, i.e. kill verybody.

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  26. Yes, not exactly. Ocean ports are mostly way up river and/or aren’t very good, if I recall. If you are going to have a platform out there, you probably want to take a ship to a port. But, I suppose, smaller vessels would work just fine for this application.

    Of course, if the point is to save time on a journey to Germany you might not be saving a large amount. Though if you are a tourist, going up a river is fine for entertainment. If you have business to conduct in a large city…I don’t know. If you want to save time, you probably just land on a platform near or in France and take a plane or TGV to Berlin or wherever.

    In any case, there certainly are landlocked countries in Europe.

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  27. They have a lot of catching up to do. Meanwhile- SpaceX continues to improve its record on the customer’s dime. Getting people to switch will mean throwing more money at subsidizing the industry in the hopes of getting market share, and that is after the huge capital expense of development. That is going to be a whole lot of cheddar.

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  28. Kodak, AOL and Xerox have shown to us how easy it is to fall from top to nothing by only one wrong decision or oversight – The advantage Elon has is that he does not have to listen to a bunch of idiots questioning his decisions, it s always good to have a genius on top, but then again look at Tesla (the guy). Genius alone is not enough either. So the future stays as it always was, more or less unpredictable. As for spaceX, I do hope they make it to become the interplanetary Standard Oil equivalent, however, chemical rockets get us only that far that fast and one revolutionary new “field drive” like the one envisioned by Burkhard Heim in the 60s may change the playing field totally.

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  29. Germany landlocked? Maybe you brush up on your geography? North sea PLUS baltic sea make 20% of its borders 🙂

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  30. I agree, to accomplish the same levels of safety equal to modern airliners in a short period of time seems far fetched. Where I’m coming from is that I believe with the momentum in technological progress, and our mastery of chemical combustion, we could possibly see this form of travel within our lifetimes.

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  31. The Chinese State will throw whatever resources are required to have their national champion rocket companies to compete with Space-X

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  32. I think there was a bit of sarcasm there.
    Good to see you in the comments, Brian. I think you are doing a wonderful job.

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  33. 2001: With the combination of a vast technical lead and network effects over the entire world of installed software Microsoft will retain and increase its position as the dominant company in computing.

    1990: With the combination of a vast technical lead and ever growing market share, the Japanese industry will continue to take over the world market.

    1970: With the combination of a vast technical lead and world leading tech development IBM will retain and increase its position as the dominant company in computing.

    1950: With the combination of a vast technical lead and huge advance manufacturing facilities General Motors will grow to take over the entire automobile market.

    1905: With the combination of a vast technical lead and the world’s leading aircraft developers the Wright Flyer company will continue to dominate the growing field of aeroplanes.

    1890: The British ship building industry…

    1850: The British East India company…

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  34. OK, let’s put it this way: Hard to imagine a rocket getting within a few orders of magnitude of that safety record, within a couple of decades and for cheaply enough that one company could pull it off by itself and so maintain control of the technology.

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  35. Carbon footprint will be a negative factor for this type of travel.
    Low carbon footprint/passenger mile is becoming more important to opinion leaders.
    Lots of RP-1 (kerosene) + few passengers = heavy carbon/passenger mile

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  36. Yes, we have the historical examples of the various American colonies revolting against and becoming independent of their colonial masters.
    But it took nearly 400 years to go from the first settlements to the point of being able to do so.
    There were entire empires rising and falling in the time that it took for American colonies to become independent enough to shake off European control.

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  37. So we should ban passenger planes too. Remember 9-11 and the world trade centers. Planes were used as weapons in WW1 and WW2. Also, we should ban drones. Have you seen the slaughter bot drones. Then we should ban cars. Cars were use in all wars as well.

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  38. Click on the pale little drop-down menu icon at the top right side of your comment, there’s the edit option.

    Concerning business travel, a lot of deal making still requires some personal face-to-face engagement, given we tend to judge new people’s trustworthiness mostly on non verbal visual clues.

    But a lot of internal office meetings and ongoing commercial relationships can, and have moved towards relying on video-conferencing and app sharing tools like those you mentioned.

    Something that will become even more common, as we finally enter the age of widespread wireless VR/AR devices. They haven’t caught up yet, but are about to, with precise room mapping and 6 degrees of freedom on wireless headsets just entering the market.

    With this, people could share legit virtual meeting spaces and rely even less on moving their bodies across space to interact.

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  39. Not surprised at all. Exactly the opposite, in fact.
    It appears that SpaceX will provide near-future infrastructure for most launches during this new period of expansion. The government of the US has helped Elon and the others in this endeavor and would be in a strong position to object if the company were to attempt to do something that was projected to jeopardize national security. Same rules apply to General Electric. They would never be permitted to sell the GEAE to an adversary.
    The government does not want to nationalize this industry- it wants it to commit to becoming an integral part of the Military Industrial Complex. This would not be limited to restricting military/intelligence payloads for other nations, but also will have long-term objectives in mind, such as staking out strategic real estate and providing support for American industrial expansion in relation to adversarial nations (China).
    Everything SpaceX is doing now has military ramifications. Senator Shelby may be hurt by this newcomer, but there are many others in Congress and the Pentagon who see a shiny new toy that is not to be shared.

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  40. Landing rockets on tails is so 1960’s. During the first lunar landing, the astronauts actually flew across the surface searching for a good landing spot before finally setting the craft down. Since this was done in a vacuum, it was all on the rocket’s tail.

    “Armstrong took over the landing himself when he saw that the computer was guiding them to a boulder-filled landing zone. Landing was achieved at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT) with only 25 seconds of fuel left. Armstrong announced, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Capsule communicator and astronaut Charles Duke responded from Earth: “Roger … Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

    https://www.space.com/15519-neil-armstrong-man-moon.html

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  41. As an example

    ICN – I paid for that. Delta one. The significant other visited her relatives.

    REF – Business, it happens. Crappy arse economy.

    HNL – Vacation. I paid for that. Comfort+

    SFO – Corporate pilgrimage. company paid trip. Chit arse economy again.

    ICN – I paid for that. Personal as the significant other needs to settle some land/legal matters. Delta one of course.

    SJC – Points trip to visit the middle daughter DEA forensic scientist. Personal. I paid the points to make it comfortable.

    I could go on, but you get the drift. Business travel is decreasing greatly because of internet connectivity and conferencing services. When it does happen, you fly back of the bus chit arse service, so what’s the point? The business travel portion of my travel is steadily decreasing over time as it is replaced by video conferencing services. My personal travel, is well personal. My point is don’t count on business travel to take up the slack.

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  42. To add…. how do you edit a comment anyway… I spend about 5 hours a day in Zoom/hangouts/webex. Most of my travel at this point is personal. On a business travel basis, maybe 4 trips a year and most of those are pilgrimages to corp HQ in silly-con valley.

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  43. Meh, why do business folks travel? I used to travel globally a lot in that I work for a fortune 100 tech company. The last few years, not so much. Webex, Zoom, Hangouts, etc. have drastically reduced the need to travel. These days, international travel is more a personal thing on my own dime; you know, things like scouting where an expat would like to retire. This sort of throws a big wrench into the math that Brian proposed I suppose…

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  44. Sounds like Skylab, a repurposed 2nd stage, if I remember.
    See if I have the facts here: Mars ship is a booster with fueled “top” that also needs its fuel to reach orbit. Top can also go suborbital trips without a booster. But once in orbit, it needs (just the booster? seems wrong) to refuel before heading out to Mars.
    But we are not going to Mars! So we have a bunch of people in a ship in orbit, which is already set up for fairly long life support. Could they send the rocket motors back down for re-use and remodel(gut) the tanks for more room? We have a space station part!
    Like your thinking! The factors quickly become complex, but any advance in ideas could make a huge difference. Everything is still very expensive.

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  45. Basically, space launchers are just a funny name for ICBMS and nukes and they should be forever banned from private hands.

    That ladies and gentlemen, is the mindset that took us to 40 years of manned space stagnation after the Apollo missions went to the Moon.

    We can’t give enough thanks to people like Jerry Pournelle and the forgotten commercial space activists of the 80s and 90s, for the societal phase change we are about to see.

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  46. If Elon can get to Mars first, in a big enough way, then the anit-trust move could be the beginnings of a Mars revolt.

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  47. Somebody suggested the size and shape of the rocket determined this. A thin, tall rocket would be more easily blown off course than a relatively short, heavy one whose centre of gravity is higher.

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  48. SpaceX is the only company worth its salt in Elon’s stable. Tesla is a millstone around his neck. He has stupidly leveraged SpaceX ownership for the loser Tesla and could lose both companies for that. His other companies are extended yawns.

    No Rockefeller here.

    If he focused on his winner he might get to keep what counts.

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  49. Hows this idea: Fly the point-to-point starships only enough times to cover the initial build cost, + gutting the ship, sticking it on top of a superheavy booster, and shooting it into LEO to be connected to a circular truss a la the von braun station concept. You could build and fund the majority of the station with that model, extremely quickly.

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  50. Most of SpaceX competition are state actors and companies with long term relationships with the State. So SpaceX advantages in price may not give them as great an advantage as stated in the article. Even with the lower prices I still think it will take a long time to develop a large demand for lofting cargo into space. As for passenger travel via rocket that will be a small market. I just don’t see space ports near any major cities. And jet travel gives lots of people the willies so I can’t imagine lots of people getting on a rocket. Maybe a few adventurous millionaires at most.

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  51. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/11/after-wasting-billions-on-sls-us-gov-will-claim-spacex-heavy-launch-intellectual-property-rights.html

    The day-to-day leader of the National Council is Space Executive Secretary Scott Pace. Scott Pace is the former director of the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University.
    Scientific American Asked – NASA is spending billions of dollars developing its own heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, as the centerpiece for future exploration activities beyond low Earth orbit. But private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are pursuing more reusable heavy-lift vehicles of their own that may be less expensive to build and operate. Is there room for public-private partnership there, and what might that look like?
    Pace said “Heavy-lift rockets are strategic national assets, like aircraft carriers. There are some people who have talked about buying heavy-lift as a service as opposed to owning and operating, in which case the government would, of course, have to continue to own the intellectual properties so it wasn’t hostage to any one contractor. One could imagine this but, in general, building a heavy-lift rocket is no more “commercial” than building an aircraft carrier with private contractors would be.”

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-plotting-u-s-space-policy-with-white-house-adviser-scott-pace/

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  52. I don’t think the rockets are going to go that fast. If you are not going into orbit, you don’t need that much speed to make airplanes very slow by comparison. 10,000 mph permits more paying costumers and less fuel cost to divide between them. Even 5,000-8,000 mph sounds great. And you can probably keep the G-forces down to around 2. Most of the rich are in their 50s or beyond and are not going to be happy or healthy at 4+ Gs.

    At lower speeds everything becomes safer as the engines are nowhere near their maximums.

    I think there will be an increased risk of being shot down…getting mistaken for an ICBM or cruise missile. Russia will probably not be pleased if SpaceX tries to fly over for a multitude of reasons.

    Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Hawaii, The Bahamas, and other islands would love to have these tourists/business people. Unless there are some major mishaps on approach or launch. An airplane blowing up on takeoff would be a tragedy, but it would mostly be limited to those onboard. But with the fuel onboard, an explosion could do quite a bit of damage, especially in a crowded country like Hong Kong. I think he will need platforms more than 1/2 mile from shore like oil platforms. And landing in somewhere like Germany where they are basically landlocked gets tricky. Business would want to relocate closer to these tourists which makes accidents potentially much worse.

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  53. How will the algorithms change in the next FEW years; Branson learned a value~.~lesson…
    How will nano-shape-memory affect all of this 3D priming in the future of space endeavors…
    QUANTUM space endeavors.podcast
    controlled quantum obsolescence podcast
    Can’t see what all the limbo is about for going into space; AI will have all the details and make it virtual in caverns-spaxcee-mag-lev…like current simulators far more advanced.
    (Sp[ace) a thumbnail for AI-Super-iIntelligence..with Bostrom & Sam Harris anent sentient intelligence and Artificial Intelligence…there must be a divide and dividend somewhere…u think Ilon …

    https://www.csis.org/podcasts/technology-policy-podcast/quantum-closer-we-think

    https://www.quantumrun.com/article/future-space-exploration-red

    Attorney: High-profile gamer Tfue stands for all vulnerable to exploitation in FaZe Clan suit

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  54. What isn’t clear to me is weather. Can someone help me with this? I know it’s a dumb question, but I haven’t seen it addressed. They are always postponing launches due to weather. While that happens with airplanes, it’s much less often. A business traveler in a hurry is not going to be willing to wait 2-4 hours for the weather on the launchpad to improve; safer to book business class and be confident you’ll get there at a predictable time. Does anyone know if/how this problem is addressed?

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  55. This is IMO, the make it or break it factor.

    If they can’t prove airplane like reliability, there won’t be that many cycles per rocket, these cycles won’t be as fast as expected and there won’t be that many passengers. Probably none, if the rocket reliability stays 2 orders of magnitude less than aircraft’s.

    But they could still change space access and cost per pound to LEO, given there is no better option yet.

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  56. If everything goes according to plan, market acceptance will be phenomenal, competitors will be in an everlasting slumber which wouldn’t. It didn’t happen already with Tesla.

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  57. Modern airliners have a fatal crash event rate of less than 1 in 1 million. Airbus a330 for example has had 2 fatal crashes in 10 million flights. Hard to imagine a rocket getting within a few orders of magnitude of that safety record.

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  58. 5-6G would be a killer for some passengers with heart conditions – there’s no question in my mind that they’ll simply have to reduce that for a general public flight profile. But I don’t see any reason that they can’t. You might lose a little efficiency in getting to altitude.

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  59. I think the differences are quite large…enough to make the comparison arbitrary. Standard oil gobbled up the competition and used predatory tricks to control a market.
    Elon just wants to bring prices down on some very important transportation infrastructure to make it viable. He is not consuming the competition.

    And I think Rocket lab looks interesting. They are going for bang for buck too.

    Elon is not buying smaller car companies or other rocket companies.

    He is succeeding because he is going where government has been the payer (paying too much generally) or unions have driven up costs and deals with oil companies have resulted in environmental damage. Most of the people with deep pockets are coward investors. Bigger risks, bigger rewards.

    And he seems to have an aversion to things that are not sleek, clean, and high end. That leaves a lot of opportunity for others: motorcycles, 4x4s, road legal dune buggies, lower performance cars, vehicles with lots of shiny knobs and buttons (not everyone wants nested hidden controls), not everyone wants to pay a premium for speed). He is still appealing to just high earners and Apple snobs. Concord was not flying the masses. There are only so many millionaires.

    His tunnel boring method is still slow. In fact, most of what he is doing is not very innovative other than rockets landing on their tails. High performance electric car? The R/C cars of the 80’s made it obvious that this was possible.

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  60. The problem is, they don’t just have to improve on SpaceX’s current price performance. They have to improve on SpaceX’s price performance when they hit market. As long as SpaceX keeps improving, they’re chasing a moving target.

    And having a lot of traffic really helps SpaceX improve, because they can use the low priority traffic as paid testing opportunities, while potential competition has to burn capital to test.

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  61. I think that, for most people, the g force issues can be handled with proper seating and elevated oxygen levels during the high g part of the flight.

    And I’m really hoping this emotional support insanity has about run its course.

    It’s the passenger projections that really strike me as dubious.

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  62. I question the passenger projections, lets be somewhat kind and say that many of the people who can afford first class travel aren’t in great physical condition. How will they handle the 5-6g peak acceleration of rocket travel? https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/14775/falcon-9-g-level-acceleration-profile
    For comparison, airplane passengers can expect to experience a maximum g-force of around 1.25.
    https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/21902/what-level-of-g-force-does-our-body-experience-when-we-are-traveling-in-a-passen

    If you need a physical before purchasing a ticket, that reduces your potential pool of passengers.

    And do they have to allow emotional support turkeys on the passenger flights too? What’s it cost to design and build acceleration couches for pets of every shape, size and phylum? – Asking for a friend. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/roadwarriorvoices/2016/01/12/passenger-takes-turkey-on-delta-flight-as-emotional-support-animal-and-now-were-so-confused/83290688/

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  63. There is a lot of “could” in this article. Starlink could generate 20 billion in revenues per year, Tesla could sell more than 10 million cars per year, the safety of Space-X rockets could be improved by a factor of 1000, the market for fast air flights could be worth 100 million times 10 kUSD.. You get the picture…

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  64. “There have already been government officials talking about taking Elon’s reusable rockets as strategic assets.”

    Link?

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  65. There is so much more to do in Space, particularly if O’Neill is understood, that the markets Musk are in will be only a part. Mars is tiny, Space is big. Unlimited growth compared to planet limited stasis.

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  66. “…There will be virtually no competitive launch contracts to support competitors…”

    You’re assuming a new entrant cannot improve on SpaceX’s price performance.

    The global launch market revenue from the 33 commercial orbital launches in 2017 was estimated to be just over US$3 billion while the global space economy is much larger at US$345 billion (2016 data)

    Lots of new competition in the works, they’ll have to share what is currently a fairly small pie-enter Starlink.

    Even if launch demand increases, getting a few launch contracts could serve to bootstrap not a general launch provider, but vertically integrated components of larger space ventures. SpaceX’s external customers will never see the cost savings per launch that Starlink currently enjoys.

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