Business, Space, Technology and Society When Will SN15 Fly? April 23, 2021 Rand Simberg 12 Comments An interesting new video.
12 thoughts on “When Will SN15 Fly?”
While I like and agree with all the SN testing, it sure has to be expensive zapping all those raptor engines.
The Raptor engines cost around a million dollars apiece. Musk has enough money he can keep on blowing them up until he gets it right, and the expense will be a rounding error. (Musk’s current fortune, if somehow converted to cash, would buy right around one hundred thousand Raptor engines.)
Long before that, SpaceX would take on investors, like they did a couple weeks ago to raise over $1 billion or last summer where they raised almost $2 billion. Cost should always be a concern but who is it concerning too?
SpaceX has/had prototypes lined up, meaning the people who are concerned about cost are already informed and prepared to deal with the loss of test vehicles.
Perhaps in the not too distant future, they will cannibalize their current product and get customers to pay for testing, like they did with the Falcon 9.
What is your point?
Nothing about space has ever been as cheap as SpaceX has made it.
Research costs a lot of money. Destructive testing is not unusual, the Air Force did it for years developing rocket systems before NASA got going. Perhaps it’s the pace that concerns you but why? It’s not like SpaceX is poor, and the sooner they get the bugs out the sooner they will become profitable with Starship.
Falcon 1, Falcon 9 , Grasshopper and Falcon 9 Heavy had a far shorter and less costly debugging period and were making profit far sooner. I suppose some of those may have spent longer on a drawing board phase. Though they actually had competent engineers that didn’t need as much on the job training and well educated work force building those in Hawthorne.
Though suppose they’re be saving money per man hour.
I’ve noted before Spacex certainly seem to be burning money at the moment.
Weren’t they suppose to be in orbit and building 2 Starships a week by now? Need to find my post from over a year ago think they’re even beyond timeline what I was expecting for orbit.
Though have a demo that showed capability that exceeded the lunar mission requirements and allowed them to secure the additional funding certainly threw them a proverbial life line and help recoup the cost. Now they just need to get the super heavy and the orbital refueling to work so they can put it in lunar orbit.
Eric – calm down.
I started out by saying all this testing is good – which includes test failures which destroy the engines. I don’t know of any other way to work the bugs out of the system. I applaud what they are doing.
I’m just saying that a lot of engines get destroyed in the process and you usually do not see so many engines get destroyed to work out a concept.
The pace of the program doesn’t concern me .. I like it.
Nothing about the program concerns me
Not a bad thing…just an unusual thing.
I agree that a lot of engines are getting wasted. I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Eric has a point. It makes one wonder, is NDT really better than a production line making regular improvements? Freezing design and limiting change orders sounds like a good plan*, but I can’t say I have seen that plan save money in the short run or long run. At least not in relation to space.
One might suggest SpaceX is wasteful. The company that tries to reuse everything including the fairings is wasteful in development, but operations is usually were waste becomes a big problem.
*yes, that’s a joke for those familiar with cost plus.
There have been some pretty significant changes to the engines throughout the tests, so they are wasted either way as they wouldn’t be used even if they weren’t in a bazillion pieces.
This reminds me of when everyone was trying to deduce the cost to produce a Falcon 9. Musk says Super Heavy and Starship are supposed to be cheaper. I assume the engines are the most expensive part. How many millions of dollars does each test cost?
Even though that is a high cost, no other rocket company could do testing like this for that amount of money. When ULA and BO roll out their launchers, public perception might have changed so that people will be suspicious of the lack of testing. If they haven’t blown anything up, how can we trust they found all the problems?
Felix does a pretty good job. I like him better than most of the other Starship fanboys.
Felix Schlang’s reports are very good. I look forward to them all.
SpaceX is a privately held company, and thus doesn’t have to make a “profit” ever. And now that Musk is one of the world’s richest men, it doesn’t even have to have a positive cash flow (you know, just like Blue Origin?). But Starship does have a number of large contracts: the AF upper stage methalox engine contract, the HLS proposal contract, and now the LSS delopment and demo contracts. Those add up to around $3.5bln, which is likely a lot more than SpaceX has spent on Starship development to date. And for the forgetful among us, that’s how it worked with the Falcon development. SpaceX got the commercial cargo contract before it ever successfully flew a thing, and after spending 6 years blowing up test rigs.
There are a lot of good YouTubers focused on space stuff. A few years ago, I tried to convince the host of the Spaceshow to get on YouTube but he wasn’t interested. He could put together a pretty good show with not much expense or work.
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