A World With A Million SpaceX Starships

SpaceX Starship will be a fully reusable rocket. It will be able to fly 6000-8000 miles on Earth which is the same as long-range commercial passenger planes. It will do this in a single stage. It will remain a fully re-used one-piece vehicle. However, SpaceX Starship will be 25 times faster than current planes. Many people do not realize that SpaceX Starship will be twenty to one hundred times lower cost.

The estimated salary, benefits and overhead are an estimated average annual cost $200,000 for each SpaceX employee. This means that the 3,000 employees building Starships would be $600 million per year. If there were 100 Starship built each year and 20 Super Heavy Boosters, then each Starship would have about $4 million in labor and each Super Heavy booster would have about $10 million in labor. If the production rate was halved and the staff levels were the same then the labor for Starship would be $8 million and the Super Heavy booster would be $20 million.

The steel is about $200 per kilogram. The dry mass of the Starship will be about 120 tons and the Super Heavy Booster will be about 300 tons. This would be $2.4 million for the Starship if most of the material was the steel alloy. The Super Heavy would be $6 million of steel.

If the steel and salaries are half of the total cost of the rockets then the unit costs at different production levels would be:

Two Starships per month would mean $37 million per Starship
Two Starship per week would mean $13 million per Starship

Reaching a Starship cost of $5 million would require 3000 employees to build about 300 Starship every year. This would be $1.3 million in labor, $2.4 million in material and $1.3 million for other costs.

A typical Boeing 737 costs about $100 million. A jumbo 787 costs about $300-400 million.

The World currently has about 35,000 commercial passenger aircraft and this was projected to rise to 50,000 in 2040. At an average cost of $100 million the passenger air fleet in 2040 would have a capital cost of $5 trillion. A mature SpaceX Starship operation would have a cost of $5 million per Starship. This means if all commercial passenger plane industry asset base was converted and replaced with Starships then there would be one million Starships.

This assumes that Starship reusable rockets are made safer than commercial passengers jets are today. It also assumes that there was a straight conversion of passenger planes to passenger reusable rockets with the same capital base. There would be many differences that could radically change the supply and demand situation.

A SpaceX Starship would have higher usage rates than a commercial jet. Two ten-hour commercial flights in one day would be replaced by ten 30-40 minute flights from a reusable rocket. One reusable rocket could also carry one thousand passengers for a short ride that involves no meal service and there would no need for large seats to enable people to sit or rest for ten hours or more. Passengers would be strapped in for boarding, a thirty-minute ride and then unboarding. One reusable rocket could replace twenty passenger jets.

The assumption of straight replacement is that a wealthy world with 10 to 15 billion people and 80% at current middle-class levels or higher could have a thousand times the demand. Ten billion active global travelers instead of 1 billion and an average of fifty times more flights per person. People could globally commute daily or weekly with super-short and convenient flights.

There would also be rocket air cargo. Costs as low as $300 per ton for each 100-ton payload flight. High volumes of supply chain movement to get things around the in world in one to two hours.

At the start of the 1930s, there were about 1 million air passenger flights in the world each year. There are now over 4 billion passenger flights each year. A million Starship (reusable rocket) world assumes a radical change in cost and convenience and demand for global commuting to drive passenger flights to 1 trillion passenger flights per year.

There is also the assumption that any environmental impacts would be mitigated.

The busiest airports in the world have 2000 flights take off every day. This is up to about 100 per hour. A World with Starship Global commuting would need ultra-efficient ground operations at many rocket ports to handle ten thousand takeoffs and landings every hour. There would need to be hundreds of rocket pads at each rocket port.

Daily global reusable rocket commuting would be a world that is basically one giant city. People everywhere would be able to have face-to-face interaction within one hour.

Self-driving vehicles would merge cities into megacity regions.

Researchers have determined there is a 10-15% increase in productivity from a doubling of a population within an area. If the world is effectively transformed into a giant city of ten billion people then this is eleven to twelve doublings from the current average city size. This would be a 100-180% increase in per-person productivity and per person GDP. The economic and transportation activity would be motivated by doubling to tripling the income of people engaged in high touch global business.

The top 29 global megaregions currently generate $29 trillion in GDP. If connectedness was boosted with self-driving vehicles for a 25-30% boost in productivity for all megaregions this would be a global boost of $8-10 trillion. Boosting the entire global economy ($130 trillion) would add $30-40 trillion. Some megaregions are relatively close, so there is the potential for larger population integrations. China has about 250 million people in the cities around Shanghai. This is a three doubling integration. In the USA, the northeast megaregion is close to the Great Lakes region and the Toronto-Buffalo cluster. If all three could be more tightly integrated this would be boosting the productivity of 130 million people.

This rich world with massive connections and a massive fleet of reusable rockets would trivially have millions commuting to orbit and support tens of millions of people in cities on the moon and a few million on Mars.

A powerful, productive and profitable business can support and require trillions or future quadrillions in useful activity. Global commercial aviation is not supported by $800 billion per year in government grants. It is personal travel, business travel and tourism.

SOURCES- SpaceX, Visualcapitalist, Wikipedia, Brian Wang analysis
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

80 thoughts on “A World With A Million SpaceX Starships”

  1. I am not sure I agree. These rockets are being built for Mars journeys and re- entry. By comparison, the suborbital environment is very benign.

  2. If there is a future with a million starships, I will be disappointed. I would hope that a better way to put payload in orbit than the starship would be developed, and starships would place it in orbit.

  3. Because human society has reached such levels of connection that the probability of planetwide pandemics is increasing

  4. Just to point out the absurdity of the claim that you can have a rocket fully equipped to carry 1000 passengers for 5 million dollars: airplane passengers seats cost a minimum of 3000 dollars to manufacture and install, but let's assume that spaceX can do it for 1000 dollars (and companies have executive meeting rooms with office chairs more expensive than that) 1 million out of the supposed 5 is just for the passenger seats, unless they plan to have people standing like in a subway coach…

  5. Brian, the cost of a airbus a-380 is about 450 million in todays dollars and they produce about 30 each year. elon has compared the volume of starship to that aircraft, this is the price he will be competing against if he was to sell starships like an aircraft company.

    since elon is going to be operating these rockets as well, you can imagine the operating costs involved, cost per flight is probably be higher than the concord.

    this means starship is going to be only commercially successful in fast, long distance sub orbital transport, orbital and intersolar transportation.

    maybe with starship/super heavy 2.0 and fewer/larger engines he could bring operating costs down closer to modern commercial aircraft and production numbers. But until then I don't think production numbers greater than a few dozen a year is likely at all, look at how many falcon 9's are running after all.

  6. Oh, it's quite possible. Doesn't even require any particular advances in the art, just spending the money. Really huge amounts.

    The catch is that, if you want to launch humans, your mass driver needs to be a couple thousand miles long, in order to keep the acceleration down.

    And you want the end of the mass driver to be as high up as possible, and away from occupied places, due to the sonic boom when the payload emerges into air.

    You'd basically have to start somewhere out in the Pacific, if you meant to launch at Pike's Peak.

    If you're launching durable payloads, it gets easier.

  7. Ah, from Earth! Did not think that was remotely possible. Large gas gun on Hawaii comes to mind as closest. Of course, I was remembering O'Neill lunar, apparently almost trivial task!

  8. O'Neill was envisioning a system launching, basically, dirt, in aluminum cans which were chilled to cryogenic temperatures in advance. The cans went up with the dirt, to contain it, and be aluminum stock at the destination. And the speed was fairly low, launching from the Moon.

    Here we're discussing a launch from Earth, with a lot higher launch velocity. Superconducting loops on the payload make more sense given the higher thrust and final velocity, and so a higher accumulated heat if the loop is resistive.

    The loop could be part of a launch vehicle capable of reentry, but I was thinking a launch cradle that let go of the payload once it was up to speed, rapidly decelerated and was sent back to the start for reuse.

  9. So you are planning to recover the buckets. I was hoping for metal (banded?) buckets that would be recycled in orbit. They would have to be light compared to load, or you would have to make a lot. This tech may be able to handle low quality buckets. It seems to be about precise timing rather than anything totally new. Also, I'm wary of over emphasizing efficiency in general, as we just need something better than nothing! However, this design may not generate so much heat in the *rotor*/bucket, but only in more complex situations than mass driver(?). Or, use rotovators. The big question is the place to do stuff, lunar surface, practice for Mars, or lunar Halo orbit, start our future in the stars. Some stuff has to happen each place, but the balance is extremely important right now, as it is actually happening.

  10. I didn't find any of it all that far out. It's all sound engineering, and generally not even requiring any major innovations. Just building on a huge scale.

    I really like the orbital ring, but the amount of traffic necessary to justify building one is terrifying.

  11. I expect 'plandemic' is the clue here: He's suggesting the pandemic was exploited to greatly increase government control over the economy, and in a very destructive way.

    Thus this future doesn't happen, because we won't be free to make it happen.

  12. I did read that article. I've also designed a mass driver segment. (I was an EE student when I was in the L-5 society.)

    You really don't need fancy for a mass driver, each segment typically sees exactly the same conditions, over and over. Just an inductor/capacitor circuit that rings at the right frequency for the anticipated speed of the payload at that point, switching to pass the power on to the next segment, and a charging circuit to pre-charge the capacitors with the energy lost accelerating the payload.

    It's like a long line of daisy chained buck circuits, with the drive coil functioning as the inductor.

    I suppose you could run it in a reluctance mode, but given that the payload is running in vacuum, there's a pretty high priority on minimizing heat in the 'rotor', so superconducting probably is the way to go.

  13. How does this favor hydrogen engines? That sort of very deep cryogenics has its own problems.

    And isn't really suitable for first stages anyway, which is why Blue Origin is also going with Methane for their first stage.

  14. Well, there certainly is industry to do, Space Solar and all things that can only be done in 0 g. Plus much, much more. Now, if you are thinking habs before robots and work, of course not. The false separation/fight between bots and human flight is between science bots and human scientists. Bots to help humans have been ignored. They will start industry with minimum human presence. O'Neill style, bootstrapping. If you are thinking humans first, you don't understand O'Neill.

  15. But everyone IS wealthy enough to afford a team of horses? A team of a hundred horses or more.

    Or at least, the equivalent power output propelling a carriage with luxury features that King Louis XIV would be stunned by.

  16. You've reversed cause and effect. The reason nobody put the resources into space habitation is because there is no industry to do up there.

  17. You're going to have to spell that one out.

    How does 18 months of life-on-pause, a resulting recession, and a few million deaths (at most) result in normal technological and industrial advancement suddenly stopping?

    The far more destructive plagues in the past usually left people pushing for greater tech in the aftermath and faster development. (Not always, Plague of Justinian I'm looking at you)

  18. Maybe hyperloop. Electric motors are useless for mass drivers once you have the payload up to a couple hundred kilometres per hour, really just the first few hundred meters of the mass driver. After that it's just a big non-contact linear motor.

  19. So, the new cpu controlled motors tech should also make better mass drivers, maglev propulsion, hyperloop, anything like that!

  20. Futurists put way too little emphases on the past, in my opinion. You have to know about the past to understand how things most naturally develop. Right after they invented hot air balloons, they imagined there would be balloons everywhere whisking people about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloonomania
    Obviously, that did not happen.
    I am not saying rockets will not have some role in travel between continents. There will almost certainly be a market for that. Rapid disaster relief, especially when other forms of transportation are down, seems like a very nice fit. Delivering heavy objects to locations where there are inadequate roads seems promising. There are places where windmills could generate well, if they could simply be placed as if from a hand above. Alaska, Siberia, Antarctica, mountain tops…
    To trade stock in the US, you don't need to get to Wall Street every morning. You trade online. Quite a bit of shopping has moved online. As the technology matures, people will take vacations online, work virtually, and not just typing, and calling, but using avatars, and related technology. 3-D printing will also help to empower this growth. They can now setup a supercomputer without the company that designed them present to supervise the assembly: https://www.zdnet.com/article/this-powerful-supercomputer-was-built-in-just-20-weeks-with-a-bit-of-help-from-a-tiny-robot/
    I have used Google Earth as a vacation myself.

  21. Brian made so good points, but i have to disagree on some issues.

    Because of structural stress when launching rockets Starship would require more maintenance than airplane,be more prone for failures and would do less flight hours. The time it would be grounded would be much higher than airplane and it would be less safe than ordinary aircraft.

    I really cant say how much (more) it would pollute.

    Perhaps it could be used in some specialized market, like ultra fast cargo deliveries, since cargo loss is much more acceptable than loosing a lot of people at the same time. And if you do rocket launches pretty often, because structural stress things will go wrong sooner than later. Perhaps you can do 100 launches or more if things are improved like they are doing it with Falcon 9(almost 10 per booster).
    But to launch Starship with a lot of people in it and without appropriate maintenance as often as aircraft I doubt it. And you need to make some fancy cabins and so on and that also costs money.

    Software control over multiple engines will allow Starship to land safely in some unpredictable event(one of the engines does not startwork as intended), but still that won't make it safer than aircraft.

    Dont get me wrong, I want Starship to succeed.
    It won't be easy, but 1 Starship could probably be used from 10 – 100 times with some maintenance. On the other hand, more the uses, more chances of something goes wrong.

  22. We have had pandemic flu in the past. Quite lethal ones too.

    Ye here we are and humans still have a future.

  23. Yeah, Isaac Arthur is my absolutely favorite futurist. He brings forward these really outlandish ideas, but with his background as a physicist he picks battles that seem to be well grounded if more than a little far out.

  24. Yeah, Isaac Arthur is my absolutely favorite futurist. He brings forward these really outlandish ideas, but with his background as a physicist he picks battles that seem to be well grounded if more than a little far out. Good catch.

  25. Actually there are possibilities that could facilitate those kinds of repayment schema, if the potential profit are there.
    Cloud scoops on Jupiter for volatiles, resources in metals and energy that dwarf what we can extract here on earth. Antimatter capture in the magnetic fields of Saturn. We're really just limited by our imaginations and technology.
    If people were willing to go through the contortions of the Pebble Mine in Alaska to dig gold and copper while destroying the salmon fishery then obviously the massive minerals available in space have some value even if the market crashes.
    Rare earth minerals are common there, fissile materials including helium-3 on the moon, the list goes on. Building nuclear salt water rocket manufacturing and testing facilities on the moon that cannot be built on earth but open the entire solar system to exploration, commercial endeavors and colonization affordably. Wow, no limits to potential trillionaire development really. Once we get it all started that is, that is the trick and the opportunity. Elon is leading the way.
    Given the reality of resources and energy available, we really are just limited by our imaginations to find a market niche that leads to more market niches that create off planet populations that create more market niches….

  26. I agree with that, we will likely need government/private partnerships to get the ball rolling. I think the fulcrum for self sustainability will be when we get large populations living off of the planet. They will have access to energy and resources, while the planet will have the manufacturing capability. Kind of like Alaska where I live now. Most things are shipped up from the lower 48, but we do a lot of resource and mineral extraction that ships south and/or overseas as well as tourism.

  27. I never want to live on a planet that looks like the graphic of megacities above. Without nature, what is the point?
    Also, there is a major problem with this analysis. We are not sustaining the necessary birth rates to make this a reality. Without a drastically higher birth rate, or a viable and affordable aging reversal regime that currently does not exist, we will never reach these projections.

  28. Also $200/kg isn’t what Brian uses, he’s using $20 to get that answer, so it ends up being off by 10X. 

    Ordering a custom SS Alloy as SpaceX plans could obviously be expensive if they only order smallish quantities but they won’t because Tesla will use it in CyberTruck too. A brilliant idea, driving down the cost for Starship and giving CyberTruck a killer promotional meme of being built of the very same tough metal as Starships going to the moon and Mars.

  29. You restate the problem: "Launch provider and satellites are the only space industries 50 years ago and today" Had we started O'Neill in 77, this would not be true!

  30. "- ~12 years breakeven" -pg 9. This is not the start of revenue, this is when revenue is such that internal investment is sufficient to continue the project to completion. Classic O'Neill "bootstrapping". The revenue would already have exceeded the investment by then. But expenses keep coming in as growth continues. You grow as fast as possible, and make money thru effort and spending. It is called "business". Thanx for the advice! I will continue to try telling investors of this great opp!

  31. In what way is Blue Origin cleaner? Both Starship/Super Heavy and New Glenn use methane as the fuel, so I think they are equal in that area.

  32. I lived in Thousand Oaks when the Saturn engine was first tested. So, you are saying they will be gradually enlarged like jets? Just a matter of time and experience? The current use seems to be that there is a difficulty, but that sounds great!

  33. I assume they would subcontract the heavy lifting to Blue Origin given their cleaner launch potential.

  34. Try telling lenders ~"I need to borrow a trillion dollars and I cant start making payments for 10-20years". Not exactly an easy sell.

    I think you've posted that link at least twice a month for the past few years.

  35. And an excellent idea it was, it would be difficult to get more efficient than in house SpaceX projects on capital costs if you're paying retail for a launch provider.

    Launch provider and satellites are the only space industries 50 years ago and today, I dont really count the occasional beyond leo science types. Something else is needed to justify that many reusable rockets, further expansion of the coms satellites industry is an insufficient driver.

  36. Rocket engines scale fairly well, the square cube law favors them. So, given how many engines the Superheavy has, I would not be shocked to see a 2-300% scale Raptor as the next step, allowing a reduction in engine count.

  37. I think there's a bit of room for improvement beyond Starship, and SpaceX will certainly pursue it, just as they didn't settle for the Falcon rockets.

    But, chemical rocketry has fundamental limits, and so there's not a huge amount of room for getting past the Starship's projected capabilities while sticking with it.

    My expectation is that the traffic to space that Starship will enable, will be enough to justify building a non-rocketry route to space.

    Maybe a combination of an orbital ring and a space fountain. The latter to get you above the atmosphere, and the former to bring you up to orbital velocity.

  38. Larger jet engines are more fuel efficient so they use fewer and larger engines and the next thing they do is build super jumbo jet airplanes with four engines again.

  39. Tech is moving quite fast and the pace is accelerating, because more advanced civilization is capable of advancing faster, and we are more advanced each passing year.

    Starship won't be relevant long enough to have time to build large fleet, not even larger than 1k I would say. Of course Musk may build even 100k if he wants in decades ahead, but what I mean is that at the time, much safer, cheaper designs will be developed.

    Some startup(well funded), some government somewhere will develop better ships using new concepts, new tech, new knowledge/science(which we will gain in next few years) quite soon, before 2030. Starship will become outdated by then.
    SpaceX to remain relevant will need to design and build completely new spaceships even faster as the time goes by. I believe that Starship will be in museum even before 2030.

  40. See O'Neill "The High Frontier" for instructions based upon your insight: "even if launch costs were free". Launch is about more than cost of launch itself, it is a restriction on source of materials (Earth is running out already), requirements to be folded up and sturdy for launch, inability to make stuff for launch in 1 g, on and on. Criswell LSP is a starting plan for Space Solar thinking. "easier ways to make money", that solve global weirding/warming/heating are pretty rare. And, I'm talking BIG $$$$$ here!


  41. -Another issue is the assumption of perpetual reusability: planes can fly 3500 hours per year for 30 years, even assuming that you are 30 times faster (10 hours flight become 20 min) you have to assume 3500 flight hours reusability or 10500 20 min flights with a rocket…
    If your rocket is safer than a plane and more (or equally) comfortable than a plane and it is 10 times cheaper to build/fly/maintain than a plane it still has to fly 1050 flights to be at the same cost of a plane

  42. I don't think this analysis is accurate nor realistic.
    -first issue is safety and it is several orders of magnitude better for planes. Assuming that rockets safety could reach and surpass the one of passenger planes without increases in building costs, operating costs, refuelling times, and so on is a big assumption.
    -second is reliability and certainty of operations: rockets launches get postponed if weather conditions are not perfect and your competitive advantage of sending people anywhere in 30 mins goes south pretty fast if you leave people sitting in a rocket for hours awaiting for the sky to clear.
    -third is a flight comfort issue: rockets launch with high G forces and the human population (at least the wealthy one) is ageing so your customers base of fully athletic passengers capable to find a launch tolerable is not big and will get smaller, furthermore an elderly millionaire with a cracked rib, a dislocated shoulder or a compressed disk in the backbone is going to be very bad PR.
    -To make launches more forgiving you need to have lower acceleration which reduces rockets efficiency exponentially (the longer you carry fuel around the more you use fuel to carry it around) and fuel is a major factor: superheavy and the biggest passenger planes carry approximately the same level of fuel (in the order of few hundred tons) , but this analysis considers 5-10 rockets relaunches per plane flight, so this business model should consider it.

  43. One thing to bear in mind is that you are not trying to get to orbit. That means thrust and fuel can be reduced. Less fuel and thrust, means less noise. Still considerably louder than a jet, but not nearly as loud as a rocket fully loaded headed for orbit or further. Will that be in the tolerable range at 20 miles away? Hard to say. 
    One thing going against them is that most places 20 miles away from a destination are either populated or water. If you go with water and land on something like an oil platform, relative cold air near the surface of the water can easily carry sound 20 miles at a high volume. Also the sea tends to be windier. That can be a challenge for tail landing. These are not insurmountable issues, but they are genuine challenges.
    And, yes, this would be pointless to use for short distances. Probably 1,000 miles+ And at first, I see this as used mostly for crossing oceans. I also see it as attractive for large items regular aircraft would have issues with.

  44. That's why Musk created Starlink, for instance. He's going to create his own markets for his rockets.

  45. …to build about 300 Starship every year…

    You will need a use for that many reusable rockets.
    It could end up like the Falcon Heavy for the foreseeable future.

    Industrializing space is very difficult risk proposition even if launch costs were free.
    The first mover costs needs to be socialized, there are always easier ways to make money. I have a hard time seeing a point to point freight service much less people mover. But, make something cheap enough and you will always find customers.

  46. No, I get that. What I'm saying is, just because you're wealthy enough to, doesn't mean you do something inefficiently just for yucks.

    There's more than one way to get around on Earth as fast as a suborbital rocket, or for that matter get into orbit, without the huge noise problems. What they suffer from is a common need for huge fixed investments before the first passenger.

    A society as wealthy as you're suggesting would, I think, be more likely to build a network of underground/underwater maglev/vacuum trains. Put things into orbit using space fountains or rotovators. And avoid the noise pollution inherent in large scale rocketry.

    I think the Starship is a transitional technology, IOW. It's going to push the traffic up to the point where other technologies will become more cost effective and displace rockets.

  47. I am expecting at least a continuation of doubling world GDP every 25 years with at least one extra tech boom doubling over the next 75 years. 20X GDP by 2100. 12B people with $100K average would be about 10X current economy. Basically everyone catching up and minor progress at the developed country level. Decent progress at the developed country level and everyone catching up would be $200k average. Then a 2X-8X from really good technology and business improvements beyond incremental

  48. Not entirely off topic, SN11 testing seems to have been put on hold for a little while, and they're moving on to assembling BN1.

    Mind, BN1 is not intended to fly, it's a dry run for assembly and transport of the Superheavy.

    My suspicion is that they've decided to do this while working out some Raptor (Integration?) kinks before the next actual test fire on either vehicle.

  49. Well, it's less unrealistic than FTL, since it doesn't require any violations of physical law.

    But it has a "Suppose everybody were wealthy enough to afford teams of horses?" feel. At those kinds of traffic levels, other approaches to high speed travel might start to look better, like undersea maglev trains running in vacuum. 

    At those traffic levels, we likely wouldn't be using rockets to get into orbit anymore, either.

  50. I concur. Strictly suborbital rockets will be an offshoot of the current Starships (not Superheavy), and they can use air optimized thrusters only.

  51. Yep, those are conservative projections.

    Rockets that exist in some form and may develop a new industry with a clear path there, those are unbelievable.

  52. As opposed to Faster than light travel, Dyson spheres, antimatter propulsion, Nuclear fusion propulsion to 10% of light speed, Super human AGI, molecular nanotechnology, infinite life spans?

  53. Yeah, I was a bit surprised at that $200 a kg; We manufacture deep drawn parts here of 304 SS, and like heck it costs that much. Maybe once we've turned it into fuel injector housings or solenoid tubes, but certainly not the raw coil.

    Heck, even Inconel isn't THAT expensive, that's getting into the price of single crystal turbine blades.

  54. The suborbital starship is a single stage. Seven engines currently. The planet is Coruscant. The Galactic capital of Star Wars.

  55. A lot of current air travel is short-haul — a few hundred miles to 1500 miles. I kind of doubt that will be replaced by rockets.

    Rockets make MUCH more noise than airplanes. That's why Elon says they will have to be at least 20 miles away. I'm not sure that is far enough, especially for cities not on the shore. I have a feeling that will introduce extra movement of passengers and cargo that will raise barriers to using rockets. I have no idea how to estimate how much of a barrier that would be.

    I'm dubious about the practicality of some of the other assumptions, as well, but I am not able to evaluate them as carefully as I would like, so I won't venture specific guesses about them.

  56. I think cities will be soon jockeying to find a nearby place for a spaceport. Musk says they will have to be at least 20 miles out in the water. I saw yesterday there is over $50 billion in funds heading to cities as part of the $1.9 stimulous package. Lets see its 26 miles from Erie to Canada across Lake Erie. I will have to get my letters in the mail to the local politicos suggesting a tunnel over to Canada. It would be a nice place for a space port out in the middle of Lake Erie. Toronto metro area has 6.1 million people and is the fastest growing metro area in NA. Can't get left off the main line to Mars.

  57. I don't think you'd be seeing the proposed traffic levels using the current Raptors. I assume there will be successor engines.

  58. I think the thermal and mechanical stresses of sub-orbital flight will preclude more than one flight per day, if even that.

  59. The economics come down to fuel use, and time. A plane flying fast, even at high altitude, creates A LOT of drag, especially over great distance/time. Starship reaching up to space doesn't have this problem and doesn't need to burn that much fuel.
    Time also adds to it, the amount time vehicle takes for a trip costs more, the more it does the cheaper it is for it do the thing it does. So quick flights will be cheaper. Plus less time for all support staff doing that one thing during the trip.

  60. You are very right. Rockets on the surface seem to be simpler than airplane jet engines, but the Raptors we've seen so far look anything but simple.

    So the probability of an engine failing will be higher, just by the sheer number of them per flight, even if the Raptors are as safe as airplane jet engines.

    The Raptors would need to be actually above the reliability of commercial airplane jet engines, to have a similar reliability profile on the SS/SH vehicles.

    For the depicted planet, it's an idea brewed on the 70s from a sci/fi planet imagined in the 50s. So I wouldn't take too much from it in terms of feasible futurism.

  61. 304 Stainless is more like $2 per kg or $2000 per ton than $200 per kg. You apparently calculated though based on $20 per kg or $20,000 per ton to get $2.4M for a 120 ton Starship. Actually it’s more like $240k worth of Stainless Steel in that Starship with the same error for SH. This error gets carried forward in the estimate.

     With this sort of rough Calc it doesn’t matter if SpaceX uses a bespoke alloy or not. Starship may be amazingly cheap to build in quantity.

    At 100 per year, SpaceX will automate the welding of ring sections and many other operations. The marginal labor cost will drop steadily. They plan to get the Raptors down to a few hundred thousand dollars each. The bespoke alloy of stainless will be used in common with CyberTruck so they’ll get the cost way down at the new Texas mill that will make it. It won’t be much more than 304, which is less than $2 per kg.

  62. Correct me if I'm wrong. I believe the starship will use 30 rocket engines. This strikes me as a maintenance hassle. After all, the airlines have gotten away from using 4-engine 747's and A380's and replaced them with 2-engine 777's and A350's. Additionally, even the suborbital version of the starship is a two stage vehicle. This would be like using the equivalent of two planes to fly a plane-load of passengers from LA to Shanghai. Both of these make me question the economics of this starship business.

    BTW, is that image of that planet in the Star Wars movies made since 1999? The one will all of those high rise buildings as far as the eye can see? I do not consider that to be desirable living.

  63. This assumes that Starship reusable rockets are made as safe or safer than commercial passengers jets are today.

    This is the big unknown right now. So far it seems rockets are as temperamental and accident prone as ever.

    When they get the hang of the rocket reuse, we shall see if they can really get as reusable as airplanes.

    Fortunately they won't have to risk people. Just by launching stuff into orbit will show if the rockets really are or can become that safe and reusable.

  64. This all looks good, but I wonder about passenger comfort – assuming the G-forces are considerably more than a plane at take off?

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