SpaceX Will Pass Total Space Shuttle Launches in 2021

SpaceX has had 114 successful space launches out of 116 attempts and they have had 10 successful launches so far in 2021.

The Space Shuttle had 135 missions.

SpaceX should surpass the Space Shuttle by the end of 2021 just by maintaining the first-quarter launch pace.

In 1974, Werner Von Braun wrote an article for Popular Science that promoted the vision of the Space Shuttle.

Werner Von Braun said that each Orbitor would be re-used 100 times and that this would enable the launch cost to be $10.5 million. This would be inflation-adjusted to $60-70 million in today’s dollars. The SpaceX Falcon 9 can sell launches for $50 million. Each pound of orbital payload would be $160 (1974 dollars). This would be about $900-1000 per pound. This is about the price per pound to low earth orbit for the Falcon 9.

The Space Shuttle goal was to bring the cost down to $5 million per launch. (1974 dollars). This goal was never realized and the average cost to launch a Space Shuttle was $300 million (2000 dollars) or about $1 billion.

The Space Shuttle ended up needing the heat shields to be repaired and fixed after every launch and there were about 25,000 people working to support the Shuttle program.

The massive deviation in launch costs was never addressed. The Space Shuttle fell short of its cost goals by over twenty times.

Proper attempts and reusable spacecraft waited for SpaceX.

Robert Zubrin noted how the Space Shuttle tried to reuse the orbiter instead of creating a more easily reused first stage.

Reusable first stages were in some initial concepts for the space shuttle.

SpaceX is going beyond the visions of the Space Shuttle with the fully and rapidly reusable Super Heavy Starship.

SOURCES- Popular Science, Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

56 thoughts on “SpaceX Will Pass Total Space Shuttle Launches in 2021”

  1. I don't know, reusing like 8 rockets for about 100 launches within 5 years with little refurbishment in between at about 10% the launch cost is pretty g*ddamn impressive.

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  2. So, this is an important current topic. The factors that lead to the present ISS of long term crew 0g are actually positive, unless the test subjects suffer unexpectedly. Let me present quick outline of O'Neill updated for more robots. Robots on Moon, set up and visited by crew. Perhaps small LEO hangout for crew and ship matings, refuel, not permanent crew. LEO ISM robot factories, test w/ small amounts of launched material (current DARPA plan, first actual look at ISM w/ funding). Lunar telebots make mass driver structure, set up by visits and install hardware brought in from Earth. Tow factories to mass driver catch point. Process for simple, dumb heavy stuff to hide in. Make spin g when need long term. The main difference between Mars and O'Neill is that O'Neill is not concerned with people in Space! But, they are there, so all of this can take off. He wants money making infrastructure. Why not?

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  3. The misspelling here is different at least, every single other one I see is "O'Neil" that I remember, indicating a single starting source somewhere, which is then misstating O'Neill as Island 3 only, very common. The people making the spelling mistakes never have read O'Neill, as they are clueless, so forgetting something they never knew is not the problem. Janov is even worse. The clear majority of times, out of very few total, that I see a footnote or such about Janov, it is garbled or incorrect in such a way as the source will not be found. Local paper intentionally happened to spill image remover on the printing plate to mask "Life in Hell" line that reads "If you drive your parents crazy, it is because they ARE crazy". Sandor Ferenczi's name was not on the reprint of his paper in the appendix of Masson's "The Assault on Truth". People in denial do this sort of thing all the time, often unconsciously. It is the way neurotics are. Both O'Neill and particularly Janov elicit this. A lot. Revolutionary, like Galileo.

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  4. Insisting that people getting one author's name correct is indicative of them understanding the issue is another thing that just looks weird.

    I know I don't memorise the spelling of every author I read.

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  5. Not even remotely impressive. When they surpass the shuttle with manned launches. Then we can discuss this as an actual notable feat.

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  6. it hasn't already? I think the count was like 79 plus a falcon heavy or two. I don't remember that many Shuttle flights.

    Checking out the wiki real quick . . . looks like it operated for three decades. I suppose that makes sense!

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  7. It was a very good decision to cancel the Space Shuttle. After half a decade of operating it both NASA and congress became well aware it didn't live up to the usefulness/dollar metric compared to the alternatives.

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  8. I'm not sure that VentureStar would have gone anywhere even *if* they hadn't cancelled it when they did. However much aerospikes may look cool, they have proven to have pretty significant downsides to them.

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  9. I think plenty in the CAD/CAM of Merlin would be impossible in the late '70s, but I'm not sure that they could not have worked around it using manufacturing techniques they had then. Certainly the control systems for the propulsive landing would be much, much, much harder to build than they are now, as well. Falcon 9 might be forced to use parachutes and splash down on the water, rather than hoverslamming into a barge like it actually does.

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  10. g is only about 10% of air pressure for mass of normal living appliances and people. Easy! Compared to waiting 20 years certainly. Far easier than if we had spent much time to find out 0 g was impossible. A risk we took! Easy if planned for. See the proposed launched partial or 1 g stuff. ——————-Easier than Mars!!!——————

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  11. 1 g is NOT 'so easy'. You make people think you're crazy when you say things like that. It complicates building a habitat in all sorts of ways.

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  12. We certainly had absolutely no need to know anything about living in 0 g to start doing O'Neill in 1977. When 1 g is so easy, do it now, and then take 20 years to see if 0 g is ok long term, if desired. No doubt it would *help* to know that 1 g was not necessary, but by limiting our dreams to Mars, we thought we had to wait for the info before starting. Even worse, we assumed the answer would be that 0 g is possible, and made no back up plan in case it was 6 months and dead.

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  13. Dan, if zero g had no negative health effects, there's no question that zero g habitats would be cheaper than rotating habitats. So you can hardly say we didn't need to know it.

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  14. Maybe SpaceX could catch the Booster by its grid fins on one side of the launch tower and the Orbiter by its ( strengthened ) front fins on the other side. Rotate the top of the tower 180 deg and lower to mate the two vehicles?………………

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  15. The Shuttle was subject to a lot of really bad design compromises driven by politics.

    For instance, using an aluminum airframe, rather than the originally intended titanium airframe. This is what necessitated those amazing but fragile tiles, where a titanium airframe would have been heat resistant enough to get by with a much easier and less fragile heat protection system. They literally had to pump cold air through the airframe shortly after landing, to remove the heat soaking through the tiles, or the aluminum would anneal and end up uselessly weak.

    Or the segmented boosters, which were segmented solely so that they could be manufactured in a particular Congressman's district, they were originally to be manufactured one piece on site.

    And the boosters were only needed because of the omission of the intended reusable first stage.

    As originally intended, the Shuttle probably would have been much more functional and reliable, and cheaper to operate.

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  16. Pay up. O'Neill is *bootstrapping*, aka ISM/RU, much before your misunderstood idea that O'Neill is only about Island 3. The way you determine O'Neill progress is to ask whether the stuff is in orbit or on a planet surface. "Is the surface of a planet the right place for an expanding tech civ?" Ever see that question before? If not on a planet, it is O'Neill, as the ISS for instance. Pay up! There is no space in his name. Hiding it by misspelling is common, but does not work anymore. Have you read "The High Frontier" by Gerard K. O'Neill?

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  17. If it's so easy as you keep pestering, why don't you build one? I will put in a hundred dollars if your O' Neill makes progress.

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  18. Hmmmm, did you see that NASA just scrambled to put an American astronaut on the latest Soyuz to ISS mission, just so there would be at least one American on the ISS at all times? Not on a SpaceX rocket, on a Soyuz instead. And NASA is so desperate to keep an American in the soon-to-be-Russia-expanded ISS that they may make him break a record and stay there for over a year, even breaking Scott Kelly's 340 day record. I thought travel to the ISS was easy now?? "Vande Hei was named to this mission only last month, as NASA seeks to hedge against the risk of delays to its Commercial Crew vehicles disrupting a continuous U.S. presence on the ISS." And the Soyuz has had 140 missions, and remains in service, so it'll be the record holder unless SpaceX steps up the pace AND reuses the same model spacecraft a lot more than it has for any previous model; to be fair, progress in changing models is a good thing, not a bad thing, but it's apples to oranges comparing ALL of SpaceX's models to the single model Space Shuttle.
    https://www.americaspace.com/2021/04/09/short-notice-vande-hei-russian-crewmates-head-to-space-station/

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  19. Oh yes! We have learned the big thing that we don't need to know, that was the main focus of ISS: it is basically a real pain or impossible to live in 0 g. We don't *need* to know about 0 g only if we understand that we don't have to live low g on Mars or suffer 0 g transport to Mars. But we don't understand that collectively, to put it mildly, so the info is vital to dissuade us from Mars. Very useful! And, of course, the 0 g experiments that are being done by 0 g sufferers is a bonus, very efficient, if you don't count the costs to the people in 0 g. But my point is even simpler: Space is easier than planets because of all the usu reasons O'Neill states, but also because it is far closer. Earth's big advantage is that it is very close to us. For now!

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  20. All those shuttle concepts were terrible. Sad, that those were all they could come up with. The goal of the concept was to be fully reusable. They kept right on going forward when the plans they looked at were not going to achieve that. They needed to go back to the drawing board until the math says they achieved their goal.

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  21. Reverse question: what if anything does falcon 9 do that wasn’t technically possible in the late 70s?

    Sure things are easier now. GPS, cheap computing and all that but what makes it technically impossible?

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  22. I will let BB get into the details, as he is a real stickler on this, and he is right mathematically. I am saying that the increase in Musk rockets is the same shape as an exponential curve, but it is not an example of exponential growth at all. The mechanism of product making product is absent. Interest on money is more money, and it then makes more money the same as the orig money did, on and on till bankruptcy. Just beyond Musk is Criswell, who makes factories to make factories to make solar cells. This looks quite exponential far longer than Musk plan, but still runs down until the top factory or combo of them can make copys of themselves.

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  23. not clear that is/will be/can be a privateer's domain – too much at stake once ubiquitous satelite comms have saturated. power, research, tourists not profitable in foreseeable. How many communications, weather, and monitoring satelites do we need – after the cubesat/ micorsat fad is played? LEO, GEO, etc won't even clutter that much.

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  24. Well, yeah, in that sense, the growth on Earth-based launches won't be truly exponential forever.

    Such a thing would require actual unlimited growth of needs and resources, and that's only possible by growing our civilization's size in terms of population, space and energy.

    And even then, the growth can't be exponential forever, or we can end up eating the Solar System, the Galaxy and universe in a surprisingly brief time.

    But a nice S-curve of several centuries taking us into Kardashev level I and II would be really nice to have, with level III as an added longer term bonus.

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  25. Now, to get picky, the lander VT was not taking off of the *ground* but off of another vehicle. Another stage, as it were. So each stage of the Saturn was a VT, then a VL, and a VT, then a VL into the water. (Dragon could use escape thrusters to actually VL, as it is designed to do, w/o chutes.) This ignores non energetic separations and dockings, and in-space firings.

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  26. Musk commercial cargo/crew was just a way to get some money and some activity from a clueless gov *leadership*. Mostly by default, in a way.

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  27. meh. budgets and expectations and public engagement were different pre-STS-130s. Also, better gift shop at Kennedy SS than the Cape.

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  28. Yes, the lander was not the whole thing. My recent understanding is the difference between boosters and all other stuff. Making a booster bigger/dumber/heavier does not cascade back down on anything carrying it, so whatever is cheapest for the load size is simple choice. From then on, every ounce counts.

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  29. the 'long-term success' legacy has not yet gelled at SpaceX – the start line is still ahead to provide a robust 'fleet' that can provide all services to all customers as a 'mature' provider.

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  30. I am a great fan of Musk rockets. The notion of exponential is that the size of the current effort *determines* the size of the next iteration, exactly like compound interest. No different input otherwise, just the same thing but more results because the base is larger. BB will say that using any human effort means it is not exponential, and he is right in the long run. When Musk does things on Earth, it not only does not automatically lead to more, it raises the prices he pays. His effort looks like exp growth, but it is not self growing, it is Musk grown.

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  31. I know you are not a fan, but Musk's plans, if successful, will end up in an S-curve of launches growth, which looks exponential for a while.

    Like what we saw going on since the start of aviation up to the arrival of full blown commercial airliners in a few decades. After that first jump, airplane travel growth flattened but it still kept growing.

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  32. Musk sez "Without more innovation, there will be no base on the Moon or city on Mars". Yet we already have an orbital base doing useful stuff for 20 years crewed continuously. Perhaps the surface of a planet is not the right place for an expanding tech civilization?

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  33. DC-X was later, but it was one rocket that was VTOL. Lunar Lander had a VT mounted on a separate VL. Obviously, VL is 99% of the way to VTOL, except for mass, and thus actual possibilities.

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  34. The lunar landing modules were VTOL rocketships made in the 1960s.
    Though they had somewhat lower aspect ratios than our current models.

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  35. Increasing, but not exponential even at the start. Launch is inherently a linear project, unless the rockets mate successfully, and not in the usu rocket sense. Lunar mining will lead to exponential growth, feeding ISM factories that do make more factories, as was done on Earth until energy and materials got a little scarce and expensive. But to be clear, more launch cheap launch good!

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  36. The Space Shuttle has done more useful work with their launches to date than SpaceX has done with theirs.

    Hope springs eternal.

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  37. You have to wonder if the shuttle could have been done differently & succeeded. Or more likely if a vtol rocketship could have been developed in the 60's & 70'.

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  38. And the next step is doing the same in shorter and shorter periods of time.

    That would show space launches start going into an exponential growth curve, finally.

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