Two Thousand SpaceX Super Heavy Starship Launches for the Price of One SLS Launch

One SpaceX Starship will cost about $5 million as SpaceX will mass-produce nearly one hundred in 2021. Each Starship and Super Heavy booster will cost less than about $40 million. The development costs of the competing Space launch system have been about $40 billion. The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket cost will be about $4 billion while ignoring most of the development costs. Each SpaceX Super Heavy Starship will cost about $40 million. Before considering the full reusability of SpaceX Super Heavy Starship will cost one thousand times less than SLS. Full reusability will drive the cost down to $2 million or less for each SpaceX Super Heavy Starship launch. This means two thousand SpaceX Super Heavy Starship launches for the price of one SLS launch.

Eric Berger of Ars Technica interviewed Elon Musk.

Elon says SpaceX plans to build one Starship a week by the end of 2020. SpaceX is designing its factory to build one Starship every 3 days (72 hours). The three-day build target would be by the end of 2021.

Previously Nextbigfuture had reported on Elon Musk’s telling Robert Zubrin in an interview that SpaceX would build two Starships each week with a staff of 3000 people.

SpaceX would make 120 Starships per year if they were building one four shifts for 7X24 production at the rate of one every 3 days. They would need to build at least 800 Raptor rocket engines for those Starships and likely would need 2000 Raptor engines if many of the Starship needed Super Heavy boosters with over 30 Raptor engines each.

SpaceX will be making a series of large tents and buildings to house its Starship factory.

Those tents and buildings will be the SpaceX Starship gigafactory. The manufacturing rate will be comparable to the speed of construction of commercial wide-body airplanes.

Elon has said that mass production will bring the cost of the Starship down to $5 million. This cost will be far lower than the cost of wide-body planes. The Starship will be capable of hypersonic speeds of mach 20.

The SLS is getting $2.5-4 billion of funding each year from 2021-2025. The plan is to launch 4 times in that five year period. Each SLS is costs $3-5 billion.


SOURCES- Ars Technica, Robert Zubrin interview Elon Musk, SpaceXCentric, Elon Musk tweets
Written By Brian Wang,

145 thoughts on “Two Thousand SpaceX Super Heavy Starship Launches for the Price of One SLS Launch”

  1. Once he has built a working Starship he can work on a machine that will shape and weld the domes.

    Doing it by hand is expensive, time consuming and quality isn’t that good.

  2. If you have a factory to make starships then you can not only create colonies and outposts on the Moon and Mars but you can begin to build the large rotating O’Neil Cylinder habitats with 1g of gravity!

  3. I can`t even imagine what SLS will look like once Starship is in use. A rocket company that in 18 years does more launches than everyone else each year and will produce the world`s first true spaceship. By that I mean the kind that we read about in science fiction. It is fitting that it is made of steel like the first steam ships to ply the oceans after centuries of much smaller wooden sailing ships. Elon is an amazing person. At 76 I`m looking forward to this and hope to see the first very large telescopes come on line. Which should for the first time give us the discovery of other life (vegetation) on some of the exoplanets we`ve been discovering.

  4. If we were talking about NASA I would agree considering their track record, the SLS being a prime example of such. Considering Elon Musk’s track record and that this is just a new iteration of an already functioning technology he has been working on for over a decade with a history of success, I would not bet my money on his failure.

  5. That’s correct.

    Those big numbers are Elon Musk’s usual “aspirational” projections.

    Even if he denies it and whips his employees to achieve them, you can’t have a lot of spaceships before having a single working one.

  6. All you did was describe the problem with representative democracy. True Democracy, lets say every bill is put to a national vote and we have one vote a year, would have a higher bit rate, as you put it. Do away with the senate, only have a House w/2 year terms and make its only job to propose and draft bills for a national vote and to approve national emergency measures for funding. Granted that can make things too reactionary, but it would do away with special interest influence. It’s much harder to buy off 100 million than it is 300.

  7. Producing 100 of them in 2021? I’ll be happy if one flies in 2021. Can’t mass-produce them before you have a working version.

  8. May be possible.. Another thing that in my opinion would be useful, is Stir Welding, that join the metal in a continuous way than simple welding point to point, that potentially could create a lot of microfractures..

  9. China, Russia, France, Italy, and Britain are all actively working on reusable rockets now. Blue Origin is only a decade behind SpaceX. Boeing jetliners will be obsolete in a decade. Humans will colonize the Moon, Mars, Venus orbit, Ceres, Psyche, Titan, and Europa. I hope Elon achieves work/life balance, reads “Longevity Paradox” by Gundry, and lives to 120 years of age, because he is the most innovative human being of our time, and we need him. His greatest innovation may be his Ad Astra online school system. Saving humanity from itself is far more important than weaponizing bird flu in Wuhan. I think Elon Musk should get the Nobel Peace Prize.

  10. did you know … if you dig a 3 km mine shaft into the surface of mars… then the temperature at the bottom of the mine shaft is the same as the surface temperature of earth…. then if you add water… you have all the ingredients for life… If there’s not life at present…then we could engineer a form of life that could live there…source of energy… geothermal…

  11. Yes, so it’s only an advantage for someone who plans on not being based (or not being known to be based) in a terrestrial country. Otherwise you could just put the server there.

  12. Which may explain why he will spin it off and sell it. If he does that once its up and running he will sell it for billions…and then use that money to expand spacex even more, probably a combinatino of tourism, asteroid mining, and interplanetary travel.

  13. I doubt it. They have a law in the US that if you are an American company, you can’t take pictures of Earth without permission. That suggests that they are still asserting their authority. SpaceX also has to receive permission to launch satellites.

  14. Jobs program. How many people working on the project would be able to retire before the first launch?

  15. That was one of the things they hate about Trump, I think – he’s not corrupt. Or at least not corrupt in any way that the Parties can use to control him. Someone who’s been in DC for 40 years? They know where his bodies are buried and can use that to control him. But when you don’t have anything hidden (for all his flaws, Trump’s been pretty wide open about his life) there’s no levers or hooks they can grab to make him do what they want.

  16. Just pointing out, 40 million apiece is after the supply chain is up and running. 1000 starships in needed to have enough redundancy to relocate 100k People or so to Lunar and Mars locations. and at 40 Million apiece, all the billionaires out there will have a fleet of 25 for only a billion. Big toys for Big buyers. It is really an easy amount of money for them to come up with.

  17. He’s using automatic tank welders right now actually for barrel rings, some with history from water tower manufacturing. The real killer is the domes, which he has mentioned.

  18. He doesn’t think it works out, but there are plenty of others who think it will when he gets $/kg down to where they think it’s feasible. There are several nations with the cashflow and the drive to set up space solar power beaming, if someone can haul the stuff for a low enough cost.
    He’ll take their money regardless, and it gives a heavy lifter like Starship work to do between synods to Mars.

  19. That mining operation will require water. Some other starships will provide it. From other asteroids? From Mars? From the Moon?

    Maybe the real user of Mars will be as a gateway to the Asteroid Belt, rather than a destination in itself.

  20. So I see plenty of negativity about the NEED for so many Starships, even if there price gets so low.

    The way I see it, there IS demand for space infrastructure… demand that never materialized because of the very high costs.

    1 – it seems there are talks for the militarization of Starship. If Space Force starts to buy Starships for rapid (30 min) deployment of special troops anywhere on Earth, that can already fulfill Space X production capacity.

    2 – civilian transport 30 mins across Earth will always be a niche imho. Few people or cargo have the necessity to go around so quickly. I would target have giant spacious jets that landed on water (no runways big enough) allowing even cheaper but much more spacious long range flights

    Even so, that niche can mean quite a few Starships

    3 – asteroid prospecting and mining. There are so many riches in the asteroid belt that their own exploration can result in an oversupply and reduction in value of those riches. Those riches are long waiting for not just CHEAP access for private enterprises, but specialty for the CAPACITY.
    Sending specialized probes for those asteroids cost much more than sending crews of geologists and other specialized workers to prospect them. You can imagine a dozen companies in a gold rush… each company using at least some 5 starships for prospecting millions of asteroids, several other starships for mounting mining operations and other starships for mineral transport

  21. It’s the 21st century. We don’t care that some thought police consider a 1970s TV show to be bad-thought. We can just download it and watch it anyway.

  22. Will there be any point to lower capacity rockets if small objects can hitch a ride on a Starship as part of a larger launch?

  23. So if the USA had a multiparty system, do you see it ending up like Switzerland, or like Italy?

    Because one of those outcomes doesn’t look better run than the current USA to me.

  24. We DO have two totally corrupt an inefficient political parties, and they DO permit no other competition. I used to be a Libertarian, until it became obvious to me I was wasting my time, because the LP had been legislated into futility.

    However, any democracy still suffers from the “low bit rate” problem, even if its parties aren’t hideously corrupt. Multiple issues and one vote, it’s just a bad mismatch.

  25. Actually I have to disagree. The problem is not democracy, it’s that we have two totally corrupt and inefficient political parties in charge that allow no other competition in the political arena. Just like economics, if you want better service and price you need more competition. As we saw with Ross Perot before he cracked up, the average American hungers for more political choices and will vote for them. Give us a political centrist party with good platforms and you would rapidly find the Republicans and Democrats find themselves holding the fringes of the political system and the centrist party holding the majority center. If we could crack their hold on power things like the SLS would not happen.

  26. Perhaps it compares the transcontinental railroad (which comparison may have already been made):

    Beginning in the early 1870s, railroad construction in the United States increased dramatically. Prior to 1871, approximately 45,000 miles of track had been laid. Between 1871 and 1900, another 170,000 miles were added to the nation’s growing railroad system. Much of the growth can be attributed to the building of the transcontinental railroads. In 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act, which authorized the construction of a transcontinental railroad. The first such railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. By 1900, four additional transcontinental railroads connected the eastern states with the Pacific Coast.

    Four of the five transcontinental railroads were built with assistance from the federal government through land grants. Receiving millions of acres of public lands from Congress, the railroads were assured land on which to lay the tracks and land to sell, the proceeds of which helped companies finance the construction of their railroads. Not all railroads were built with government assistance, however. Smaller railroads had to purchase land on which to lay their tracks from private owners, some of whom objected to the railroads and refused to grant rights of way.

    The Feds did not provide the capital. In space, no one can hear you scream “land title”.

  27. The basic problem is a low bit rate. You simply can’t control in detail a complex machine when your control signal is about 4 bits per year.

    What I mean is, you’ve got one vote for Senator, for instance, and even assuming a competitive race, you’ve got umpteen thousand different policies you might be trying to influence, with your one bit vote signal. Say the guy who has the space policy you like is a gun control fanatic, and the guy whose views you like on gun control wants to shut down NASA and hand their budget to the department of agriculture? Unless you’re a single issue voter, you’re screwed.

    Democracy is basically incapable of meaningfully constraining government choices on more than one or two overwhelmingly important issues. Throw in some lying by the candidates, and it almost doesn’t work at all, except in those rare instances where some action enrages so many people that a whole set of politicians gets thrown out.

  28. So you’re saying we should regard actual numbers from SpaceX as just metaphorical? They say $5m but just mean “much cheaper”. They say “100 rockets a year” but it just means “more than we do at present”?

    In many ways that’s a more damning statement about Musk than the many people saying he won’t achieve his goals.

  29. One possible advantage to having your data centre in space. Outside of all the legal jurisdictions.

  30. If IBM had made a hundred computers in 1943 they’d have gone broke.
    In 1943 there was only a market for 5 computers.

  31. There will be between five to seven Starship tankers built for every other version of Starship, whether cargo or passenger. Part of the fleet of ships will be in transit to non-Terran destinations after fueling in orbit. These will not be limited to Holman transfer trajectories once port of call refueling is established.

    Part of the local operations would be engaged in support of construction projects. Others will resupply the services contracted to clean up a half century worth of accumulated space junk. Remote mining operations need transport of personnel, equipment, and resupply logistics support.

  32. Wright scaling is a 22% drop in price per doubling of cumulative total built. So 3 halvings backwards to double the price. So if 5 million after 120, then number 15 is 10 million each and second is 20 million. So about a billion, which SpaceX raised in funding round last year.

  33. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
    Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

  34. Yeah, things we got bored of waiting of them to happen.

    I think it’s best they come to the public eye of a new generation as a surprise than to expect too much and get nothing.

  35. supernatural evidence

    Where have I heard that before? From “scientists” with religious agendas.

  36. Yes, I have heard that argument before, but this is not how the real world works, Starlink is going to be highly profitable but not the mine of gold that you think it’s going to be (by the way, Elon Musk has said that he’s thinking of spining off Starlink and making it public, like Tesla, if they do that they won’t be able to sink their profits in the Starship program).

    If SpaceX ever makes profits on Starlink bigger than the GDP of a medium/small-sized country, then other companies will want their own portion of that pie and they will launch competing communication satellites networks. Even if SpaceX refuses to launch satellites for a competitor (that alone could gain them an antitrust prosecution), then Blue Origin, Ariane, the Russians, … will be more than happy to do so. The expectation to get half of those $10B in revenues can encourage a lot of companies to invest in a few hundred launches of reusable New-Glenn launches, or cheap disposable Ariane 6/Soyuz launches.

    Competition will force Starlink to bring their prices down until the profits are a modest percentage above their costs. The kind of insane profits you were talking about can ever happen only with abusive prices under a monopoly, which Starlink has not been granted.

  37. He’s already doing terrestrial solar. There are also better/safe/clean nuclear options (like liquid salt Thorium). If you thought people were angry about their view of the sky before, wait until you put up a bunch of huge space reflectors beaming intense sunlight to the earth disbursed by the atmosphere. What happens when a huge space mirror “oopsies” on targeting and fries a town?
    Would you sign that insurance policy? And if solar sails are a thing, how much energy to fight the solar winds during sunspot activity? How big a blot on the night sky is a huge solar reflector? How about a hundred?
    Personally, I wouldn’t throw my hat in the ring for space based solar as a viable terrestrial energy source. It has Many practical issues.

  38. True, but Mars is premature. (So I agree with your analysis in that regard). Building industries such as StarLink to move the project along is far better. There are many paying industries he can create (with his own money and investors if need be), Then go to Mars after Lunar industries are established. There’s no profit (monetary life-blood) yet in Mars. Start mining asteroids, and there will be.
    Building 18m diameter rockets will be alot easier to do in Lunar orbit once the infrastructure’s in place. Thence to Mars and beyond…. and something about infinity that I can’t quite recall.

  39. Agreed. They built Raptor mainly on the simulator using advanced, proprietal flow analysis.

  40. They have some marvelous simulation capabilities at Spacex. But simulation doesn’t give you everything you want, like real-world experience with welding techniques. Spacex uses iteritive improvement both on and off the computer. The expenses are always strictly controlled but they have always blown stuff up. If you wait too long to pull the trigger on an idea, you risk becoming stagnant like NASA.

  41. No, that’s not beside the point, that’s precisely my entire point, and has been all along. It shows how the article is a gross exaggeration and affirming that SpaceX can launch two thousand Superheavy Starships for every SLS launch is ludicrous and NASA bashing for the sake of it.

  42. He already created his own market and a second revenue stream with Starlink. By end of 2023, this should bring in $10billion in profit (not just revenue) per year. This is based on current carrier revenue. Assuming $25m/rocket to build – that buys quite a few. Applications that he can go forward with using Spacex funds: Building Earth and Lunar Von Braun stations with Bigelow modules as per the Gateway Project. Sell industrial and hotel space. That would allow commercialization of near zero g. It would also allow 1G living to allow protracted stays. It would allow construction facilities orbiting the moon with magnetic accelerators pushing tanks of minerals into low orbit (you can do that practically on the moon) for construction of factories to build large ships in zero g. . As for moon bases with 1G to keep people fit, Dig circular tunnels, put in Hyperloops and spin the station rings to yeld variable “gravity”. Also below ground shields from radiation and can be coupled with ice mining and general purpose mining for minerals.
    Then there’s mining metal asteroids like the one Spacex will be launching toward in a couple of years….
    With the Starlink money, he doesn’t need anyone to fund his next big steps. Each can be designed to bring in revenue. Not simply conduct “science” and suck down $billions with no particular master plan.

    If you think about it, StarLink answered your question. Without it the sat market would have flatlined for him.

  43. I’m already subscribed to every technological site that there is in the Internet, I have a lot of free time, thank you very much. That’s how I can positively say that there is no serious plan to colonize Mars any time soon, because it will be known. Going public, so every interested party can join the effort, is the only way to face one of the biggest challenges that mankind has ever faced (again, you don’t seem to understand even half of the difficulties of colonizing Mars).
    I’m eager to see the colonization of Mars in my lifetime, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because it will first take years of preparation on Earth that have not even started yet, and are not even planned to start either.

  44. It can be either way. There is also a supernatural evidence, but it is almost always excluded by the dogma materialistic science.

  45. There is a lot of manual labor including welding that will have to be automated. But I think he has to figure out what he is doing before he can automate it.

  46. I’m saying that you do not know the extent of what they’re working on ahead of getting to Mars. So you can’t credibly say that they’re not doing it.

    You’re also making all kinds of exaggerated claims based on the absence of publicity. Oversimplifying that SpaceX can’t be working on things ahead of time because they can’t work on *all* the required things. Which is just nonsense.

    Anyway if you can’t read between the lines then I’m not going to insist. SpaceX is not what you say they are. Before even knowing what they’re doing in private, you should at least know what’s public knowledge. For instance you could register for L2 at NASASpaceflight and stop arguing on NBF for a few days, instead reading the large amount of info there. Correct your misconceptions.

  47. No, of course I know that SpaceX has never said they are going to colonize Mars themselves.

    It’s you that have said that they may be preparing it in secret, even if we don’t know it. You just said it a couple of messages before this one.

  48. SpaceX never claimed to colonize Mars on their own, but the opposite.

    You really have no idea of what SpaceX is doing.

  49. No, of course not. No single company can prepare the colonization of Mars alone, in secret.
    You have seen way too much science fiction to think that anyone like SpaceX can do that. We are very far to realistically colonize Mars, we need biologists, agronomists, psychologists, architects, materials engineers, chemists, geologists, miners, nuclear engineers, … … you don’t seem to realize how massive the effort needed is, how unbelievably expensive is going to be. To think that SpaceX could do that with a couple hundred million and a few dozens of engineers is ludicrous, no single company can do it, only the government could afford it, or a joined effort of most of the society.
    Besides, why prepare it yourself in secret when every University and research group out there is going to be ecstatic to design it and prepare it for you ?.

  50. There’s some kind of curve here showing the cost per StarShip as it ramps up to full production. Then the integral of that curve would represent the total cost of the making the first 120 StarShips. Which would be approximately how much? And where do the funds come for that?

  51. Yep. Still though, there’s a lot of good SF in terms of industrial vision, and if some of it is sexist etc (it is) that’s a separate thing.

    I do also agree with the over acting “shortcut”. Still I reckon most people even lacking the experience, will instinctively better appreciate good acting that appeals to a particular thing they haven’t experienced themselves and yet can grok. Verisimilitude.

  52. Yeah, I got you, there is no need for planing and preparations : Our God, Elon Musk, will provide. /s

  53. << they[‘ve] yet to start the most basic preparations for it. >>

    Well there goes your credibility. You’ll just have to wait and see for yourself.

    I called it first. You’re making baseless assumptions. That are contrary to what’s really going on outside of what little you’ve seen.

  54. << Musk says that they want to put a million persons in Mars. So, yes the cost of such massive colonization would be in the ballpark of a thousand of billions of dollars. >>
    It doesn’t have to happen on day 1. Which means they don’t need the sum of decades of gradual colonization on day 1, or now.

    << Who could have they talked in secret to fund it, because it won’t be the government, they have their own NASA mission of flag planting and abandon for Mars. The only way to fund that is being public and recruiting thousands and thousands of all kind of companies to join the effort. >>
    It’s a known thing that SpaceX is years ahead of what they show in public, and years ago already it leaked out that they are already working on ISRU. Even if it’s most likely something they would focus on only if someone else does not do it; because the primary focus for SpaceX is to establish transportation to Mars. Or (IMHO) whatever turns out to be the first major colonization and/or industrial and/or scientific outpost. E.g. if less than 1G turns out to be a show stopper for at least the first phases of human presence.

    << No, what you say makes no sense, no one would prepare the colonization of Mars in secret. They need the involvement of every University and research group out there to design, plan and prepare such colonization. >>
    Oof. Then you are just setting yourself up for surprise. Your call.

  55. The 70s and 80s had a lot of good interplanetary science fiction.

    But a lot is considered irredeemably racist/sexist/oppressive nowadays.

    Without the memory of experiencing things that really were bad and ugly, the only option we have left is over-acting.

    Yep, that’s another thing that gathering more life experience will cure.

  56. Musk says that they want to put a million persons in Mars. So, yes the cost of such massive colonization would be in the ballpark of a thousand of billions of dollars.

    And please, if I’m wrong, care to explain where am I wrong ?. Who could have they talked in secret to fund it, because it won’t be the government, they have their own NASA mission of flag planting and abandon for Mars. The only way to fund that is being public and recruiting thousands and thousands of all kind of companies to join the effort.

    Where am I wrong about the preparations of the colonization of Mars ?. Where are they training hundreds of people to build the first habitats in Mars, mine it, search for water ?. Where are they designing in secret the habitats for Mars ?, the materials to build them ?, ….

    No, what you say makes no sense, no one would prepare the colonization of Mars in secret. They need the involvement of every University and research group out there to design, plan and prepare such colonization.

    So no, there won’t be a colonization of Mars any time soon because they haven’t yet to start the most basic preparations for it.

  57. It’s beside the point
    Your own posts went too far to the other extreme.

    You don’t understand the NBF reality distortion ratio. It may be optimistic. But it doesn’t mean there’s no truth to the articles.

  58. No, I’m not wrong, Starship will hardly reach a cost price of $5M any time soon, and even you said that in your previous message.

  59. You are attacking me as if I wasn’t seeing the benefits of the Starship or the prowess of SpaceX, but I have never doubted any of that.

    My original post was a response to the article that affirms that SpaceX can launch twwo-thousand SuperHeavy Starships for every SLS launch. And this is false, is based on an Starship estimated cost of $5M, and it won’t be even close to that any time soon.

    So of course I’m focusing about the rate of production of their rockets and their cost target of $5M. This is the point I have been defending all along to affirm that the article is way, way wrong.

    So I’m not saying that the Starship is a bad rocket at $200M or whatever their price is going to be, because it’s not, Starship is going to be a fantastic. But this article is still a gross exaggeration.

  60. << design and prepare the technologies to build habitats in Mas ? …. and most importantly: finding a funding for that colonization ?, it will take hundreds of billions, if not trillions, to colonize Mars. >>

    You’re wrong, and SpaceX doesnt have to show everything publicly, for everything they’re doing to be real.
    Trillions is hyperbole

  61. Hyperbole all over, incl name calling. 4 letters is hard to read? LOL
    I did not say nefarious but I have consistently and fully admit to calling your bias for mysticism and general hand waving.

  62. Sorry MTCWFFLKJ, I have no nefarious agenda, I just don’t believe that launching on any project automatically end in an automatic geometric propagation of the end result. If anything the end result is a new equilibrium. You need to be overtly self centred not to see that or even wish that for others. My critical commentary may help some people see that.

  63. The root of the problem is that the public does not have the time or means to recognize said waste. The same way people take doctors’ word for it when getting a diagnosis. Except as opposed to medicine, technology like rocket science has a much larger depth and breadth of consequences.

    SpaceX at its current rate of progress will not take decades (meaning it’ll be closer to decades than a century or more) to make the Earth a multi-planetary hub of industry.

  64. Well, it will be nice for the NASA Astronauts flying in the inaugural flight of their cramped Orion to have a hotel and spa to relax in when they reach the moon. They may even be able to book a table for dinner on the way. The arrival of the Orion LM will be spectacle for the tourists staying at the lunar hotel, and they can look forward to a much more comfortable flight back in their spacious mk 4 Starship Lunar.

  65. I’m not saying that SpaceX won’t be able to develop the Starship, in fact I have no doubt at all that they will build it.

    What I’m saying is that they won’t manufacture hundreds of them every year when there is no demand to pay for them.

    If they intend to use them to colonize Mars, shouldn’t they already be creating a company to drive that colonization ?, chose the first colons ?, train them on the skills they’ll need ?, design and prepare the technologies to build habitats in Mas ? …. and most importantly: finding a funding for that colonization ?, it will take hundreds of billions, if not trillions, to colonize Mars.

    The Starship will arrive in just a couple of years, mass production is supposed to start immediately, and yet they have not even had talks about starting to plan the colonization of Mars, so, no, the hundreds of Starships that they want to build every year won’t be used colonizing Mars because there won’t be any colonization of Mars by then. It take many years for the preparations and they haven’t even started anything.

    I believe that the appropriate saying is : SpaceX is putting the cart before the horse here.

  66. It’s beside the point that they dont have demand now (too early) for a hundred vehicles (too many).

    Arguing that and failing to see the massive launch capacity for P2P and/or LEO/BEO and saying that 5M$ per vehicle is too little and too soon, is a strawman to the quantity and quality of what SpaceX can create in vehicles and market and industry.

    The point is that they have an excess of capacity and that the market stands to benefit. Even by failing by half or more on their best possible production timing and quantity.

    Likewise saying that they can’t do 5M$ this soon is missing the point. Not seeing the actual point is a large part of what prevented other/previous aerospace from doing what SpaceX does.

  67. BTW, considering the cost and capability difference, the SLS is disgusting and a blight on the country. I would say a blight on our political animals but they have no shame to appeal to anyway.

  68. If he can get costs even close to that low, there are going to be governments and venture capitalists the world over that will start dusting off old ideas and business plans that didn’t make sense with the old launch costs, but will with the new. That is a lot of capacity to use up but I’m pretty sure that if it is built it will find a use.

  69. Of course I have a basis to say what I’m saying : “There is no demand for hundreds of Starships per year”, and SpaceX is not working in creating that demand. So, no, SpaceX doesn’t have the means to build the thousands of Starships that they say they will build.

  70. And you have no basis to say it’s not going to happen. They have the means and the world (basically) has more than enough reasons to use that capacity.

  71. Please read my messages. Of course they have the resources to build profitably a few rockets per yer, but I’m talking about their plan of building a 100 rockets per year and more concretaly of reaching their target price of $5M per rocket. Without a very intensive mass production you won’t drive prices down to such level.

  72. Not being able to reach 100% of some theoretical goal is not evidence, if it is true, that you can’t reach 1% or anywhere in between, nor evidence that anywhere in between is not profitable or feasible, etc.

  73. So much negativity from you and others here!

    I’m reminded of what Rick said about Victor Laszlo in “Casablanca”: “It will be interesting to see how he does it.”

  74. not to restate the obvious… they will be used for colonizing mars …That’s why he’s building them… now you could argue maybe he won’t succeed… but they are trying nonetheless….

  75. What help an uncertan future use would be ?, they’ll need the money now to build them. And they need to manufacture at 100% capacity to ever dream of bringing the price down to $5M. Mass production is what drive sthe prices down.

  76. I think elon is proving the simulation-prototype-build model flawed. Yes simulation is important and SpaceX uses a lot of it too, but they don’t slow down development to make the simulations work first. I think what Elon has found is simulation only makes sense after the hardware is built, not before. He’s also discovering that hardware-lead development is much cheaper and faster than simulation-lead development.

  77. You have the wrong idea.
    It’s like saying the failures were really strange when they had a sequence of failed landings – before a long sequence of successful landings and relaunches – and “therefore” they’re doing something something systematically wrong.

    The welding quality has improved plenty fast enough. So not only are they on track to having good enough “welding quality” but they’re likely proving in-situ mfg/maintenance for Mars.
    And if you’re really still stuck on “welding quality”, and you still find the idea strange, it’s because it is a strange idea and a strange argument to make. Given the vast amount of “welding” that Musk’s other businesses have made and learned from.

    Separately I have almost serious doubts about Mars’ viability but it isn’t for lack of means (SpaceX, and any competition/partners) to get and stay there.

  78. ..I remember that years ago SX built his fortune on rigorous scientific foundations; one for all: the papers that described the retro propulsion for automatic landing. Today failures are very strange: if you look at the welding quality, it’s terrible, there is almost 100% probability to have a catastrophic explosion. If you test something you need confidence about the harware you test.. Rocketry needs precision and reliability at the core..

  79. He’s not losing that much in terms of materials … it’s just a couple rolls of steel… 24/7 army of labors probably costs more than the materials that got exploded… But then consider they sell rocket launches for 100 million a piece… that’s a lot of scratch to hire an army of labors to weld 24/7… I feel it’s almost like a new industrial revolution if they are willing to hire that many people to work steal in a crazy frenzy..

  80. give that Elon’s making everything of steel… there might be a way to use automotive welder robots in an assembly line… Of course space industry usually doesn’t care about mass production…

  81. Not seeing the forest for the trees. Anywhere between 5M$ and current price is already more than competitive.

  82. That quote does not say what you say it says. Do you know the difference between numbers and words?
    And can you actually show how those words are unarguably equivalent to Musk saying that Starship could not have been done without Maezawa’s funding?

    That’s not what the words difference, non-trivial, and material impact mean.

  83. << No, I’m not asking you how they are going to fund the Starship development, Maezawa’s funding has already taken care of that. >>
    You say that like you have access to their financials. Which you don’t.

    << how they are going to be building hundreds of them every year if they have no use for them. >>
    There’ll be use for them later and whether they use that mfg capacity to 100% is beside the point.

  84. No, I’m not asking you how they are going to fund the Starship development, Maezawa’s funding has already taken care of that.

    What I’m asking you is how they are going to be building hundreds of them every year if they have no use for them.

    Who is going to pay them ?.

  85. So you want SpaceX to stop doing what allowed them to get from nowhere to this far ahead, and to start doing what every other company has basically ever done and now has failed to compete with against SpaceX.

  86. And is not speculation that they wouldn’t be building Starship with their trademark quick-iteration operating without Maezawa’s funding. Search for Elon Musk statements about it. “This is a non-trivial amount that will have a material impact on the BFR program.”, “It makes a difference”, “I’ll tell you, it’s done a lot to restore my faith in humanity”, …

  87. Are you seriously asking how they could find the money to build something reusable and possibly applicable to P2P with closer to the volume of the ISS than any historical orbital launch vehicle’s payload, for the price of an expensive supercar?
    With what money were they going to build rockets that land and relaunch multiple times? This is a question you answer with the knowledge of c.2000, not 2020.

    << By the way you are all supposing that they will be able to make those flights smooth enough to allow common passengers and not hardened astronauts. >> And you suppose they won’t which is equally baseless at best.

    << They will improve them, but it will take many years. >>
    Engineering claims without numbers are not credible.

  88. Again, with what money if they haven’t created any commercial demand for Starship rockets ?.

    Yes, of course sub-orbital passenger travel will eventually happen … some day, decades from now. Because this is the time that regulators will take, with no accidents, to deem it safe to allow commercial operations and be anywhere close to inhabited zones. Or are they going to take the pirate route and operate from International waters ?. By the way you are all supposing that they will be able to make those flights smooth enough to allow common passengers and not hardened astronauts. This is not how SpaceX rockets work now, they do suicide landings (at supersonic speeds and braking at the very last moment). It’s the only way to have enough fuel to land, and Intercontinental flights are at the very edge of Starship sub-orbital range (with no booster), so they don’t have fuel to spare. They may improve that in the future, but still this is not what SpaceX currently do.

  89. …And the price is not going to drop to 5 million a rocket in 2021, even if the Musk manages to build 120 rockets in 2021.

  90. I agree, I think Elon is on a bad path, SX is doing a lot of test on real hardware that were destroy every time, losing a lot of time/money. Simulation is the answer, a lot of engineering simulation on powerful hardware ( that SX has)

  91. Way down the list of important things that curing aging will rid us of is the public’s short term memory of good art, e.g. science fiction. So when people want to point to something awesome, they won’t have to rely on the latest fad/cheesy hollywood rendition.

  92. So much word salad.
    And << unlikely that the starship will be ready for anything in 2021 >> this is just something said that when in 2021 it turns out to be wrong, changes nothing in your agenda-driven rhetoric.

  93. It matters because they will do whatever they choose and you or anyone not SpaceX, other than an eventual board or investors, having a different opinion will not change it.

    << passenger sub-orbital travel is not going to happen any decade soon >> this is just speculation

    << They have needed the sponsorship of a Japanese billionaire to pay for the first Starship, who is going to pay for the others ? >>
    Only to make it happen sooner. Production wasn’t hinged on that contribution.

    << they can barely afford the prototype.>>
    Also speculation at best.

  94. No point of putting data centers in space. Satellites can communicate up and back just fine with low latency. Servers are heavy and unreliable. You will only need them for space colonies because latencies to and from Earth would be atrocious.

  95. “…way too stressful for the passengers…” They said similar things about airplanes at the beginning. But Americans often have only very short vacations…the less time in transit…the more time they have at the destination. Easy to reduce g forces. You are not trying to go into orbit.
    One Starship could launch the whole constellation of satellites but it would take a while. They will probably make bigger more powerful satellites. 5G and beyond.
    I also suspect he is planning a big spinning space station…a city up there. Probably higher so there is a greatly reduced risks of collisions. And, of course, there will be Moon and Mars activities. Maybe some deeper space stuff…Jupiter…Saturn. Asteroid mining. Though Moon mining is more attractive in my opinion.

  96. It doesn’t matter that SpaceX is not a democracy. It’s not enough to want to build those Starships, they will also need the money. They have needed the sponsorship of a Japanese billionaire to pay for the first Starship, who is going to pay for the others ?. Their price is not going to go down to $5M magically, they will need to build a few hundreds of them until mass-production will bring that price down to those levels.

    Elon Musk would do better to dedicate part of his time creating some kind of demand for his rockets: contact companies to create asteroid mining ventures, in-orbit solar panels that radiate power to ground, space stations builders, zero-gravity manufacturing, … whatever, just make sure that there will be some companies waiting for your rockets when you build them. Because as you admit yourself, right now there is no use beyond a couple of them.

    So far what he has said makes no sense : commercial passenger sub-orbital travel is not going to happen any decade soon, extremely fast package delivery is a tiny market that won’t support the growth of your Starship fleet. His only proposal that has any economic viability is Starlink, but Starlink won’t support a mass-production of Starships because with hundreds of satellites deployed by launch, it won’t make use of more than two or three Starships.

    So, I’m sorry but no, SpaceX is not going to afford the mass-production of hundreds of unused and stockpiled heavy lifters, they can barely afford the prototype.

  97. Sorry but this isn’t a democratic decision. SpaceX will do whatever the execs decide (chiefly Musk) and if they want to flood the market with cheap orbital access, they will.

    One knock on effect will be the incredibly overdue end of the orbital access catch 22 where no one builds because there’s no market and where there’s no market because no one demands cheap volume/mass to orbit and there’s no demand because no one expects any such mass building to happen.

    Large industrial activity will follow unless people really insist on not breaking that catch 22; kinda like your argument.

    There’s no room for thousands and probably not hundreds for the very near term, but waiting for the market in the particular case of P2P and LEO/NEO/BEO industrial territory, is committing to it never happening.

  98. Sorry, but no, this is not going to happen because it doesn’t make sense. What are supposed to do a thousand Starships ?, being stockpiled on a graveyard ?. There is no need of a thousand heavy lifters, we have barely use for a couple of them right now.

    You just not build something you don’t have any use for. Passenger intercontinental transportation ?, no, using rockets for that is way too dangerous and way too streesful for the passengers: they are not astronauts. Very fast intercontinental package delivery ?, possibly yes, but the market for that is tiny when there already are economically unbeatable 24-hour plane deliveries. Very little packages will make sense to pay the huge premium to be delivered by rocket. Putting satellites in orbit ?, no, why would you need a thousand Starships for that ?, a single one can put the entire Starlink constellation in orbit : 100 reusable launches for a single Starship, and 400 Starlink fit in every Starship launch means that a single Starship can put 40,000 Starlink satellites all by itself. What is supposed SpaceX to do with the other 999 Starships ?.

    Who is going to pay for that thousand of Starships that are going to be stockpiled with no use whatsoever for them ?. You first need to create a market before building such fleet, and right now, or in the near/mid future, with their reusability there won’t be use beyond half a dozen of them in any best-case scenarios (package deliveries, space exploration, satellites, …).

  99. Add the Alcântara launch facility constructed in Brazil, which could be refurbished and/or expanded. The U.S. has a recently acquired usage agreement with Brazil.

  100. While NASA has rules for rating rockets and internal standards for contractors carrying it’s astronauts, there is no legal requirement for SpaceX or anyone else to be “certified” to carry passengers to space.

  101. Fast iteration. The engine is good, all he needs is a body and fuel tank that can survive re-entry. Exactly what he has been testing for.

  102. It only should only take about 5 test flights to become human-rated, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
    Starship will be ready to replace Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy in 2021.

    And, there are space launch complexes in Cape Canaveral Florida, and Vandenberg AFB California, Pacific Space Launch Complex Alaska, and Spaceport America in New Mexico.

  103. It is unlikely that the starship will be ready for anything in 2021. Not sure what he is going to do with building 120 starship a year except satisfying is megalomania. Passengers to space are not certified, there is no infrastructure even for delivering packages not to mention proven demand.

    “To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

    ― Lao Tse

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