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
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.