SpaceX And/Or Rocketry In General

archae86
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RE: a new project aimed at

Quote:
a new project aimed at putting up to 4,000 satellites into low Earth orbit to provide low-cost Internet access.


That one is a bit of a surprise. Not so long ago low(-ish) orbit constellations were all the rage in planning. Bill Gates was deeply in involved in one, and one, Iridium, actually got built.

Iridium was a terrible flop, though, somewhat like the afterlife of Concorde in revenue service (which could only claim to make money by pretending the provision of the aircraft was free) it had an afterlife serving military and NGO folks. But the original target customer base turned out to be vastly better served by conventional cell phone coverage which expanded far faster than anyone predicted when the Motorola folks dreamed up Iridium.

It is not clear to me how much the retreat of the low orbit projects was just driven by the image of the Iridium failure, and how much by hardheaded analysis of the prospects for the proposed systems. My guess is both. The retreat had an enormous impact on the market for satellite launch capacity.

Maybe part of Elon's motivation is finding enough jobs for his launchers to do to allow true economy of scale in manufacturing and refurbishment. And part of his economic calculation is probably lower launch cost than anyone else dares put in their plans.

robl
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RE: RE: a new project

Quote:
Quote:
a new project aimed at putting up to 4,000 satellites into low Earth orbit to provide low-cost Internet access.

That one is a bit of a surprise. Not so long ago low(-ish) orbit constellations were all the rage in planning. Bill Gates was deeply in involved in one, and one, Iridium, actually got built.

Iridium was a terrible flop, though, somewhat like the afterlife of Concorde in revenue service (which could only claim to make money by pretending the provision of the aircraft was free) it had an afterlife serving military and NGO folks. But the original target customer base turned out to be vastly better served by conventional cell phone coverage which expanded far faster than anyone predicted when the Motorola folks dreamed up Iridium.

It is not clear to me how much the retreat of the low orbit projects was just driven by the image of the Iridium failure, and how much by hardheaded analysis of the prospects for the proposed systems. My guess is both. The retreat had an enormous impact on the market for satellite launch capacity.

Maybe part of Elon's motivation is finding enough jobs for his launchers to do to allow true economy of scale in manufacturing and refurbishment. And part of his economic calculation is probably lower launch cost than anyone else dares put in their plans.

Your points are well taken, but is it not interesting that Google has dumped a bunch of money into Elon's pocket. Everyone wants a piece of the internet service market and if you can provide a long-term, low-cost option then you will have the bigger piece. Google recognizes this. And if Elon can use his launch facilities to put them in orbit, well so much the better.

To me Elon is a visionary with substance. It will be interesting to see how things unfold within a year.

robl
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Here (scroll down) is an

Here (scroll down) is an animated look into the "future" of SpaceX. If it materializes then it will be fantastic.

Mike Hewson
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According to this there's a

According to this there's a launch this Sunday. I assume that will include another booster landing attempt.

I've been checking this Elon guy out. He's basically an engineer ( more power to him ! ) rather than a financier. I like that. Technical brains at the top, management underneath. Sort of a flip-over of the NASA model. I'm also impressed at his Tesla plunge and that he is quite articulate with patent issues. By that I mean he doesn't patent everything just because he can, he has clearly reflected upon whether that does/doesn't accelerate technology uptake to move the field forward. So many times we have seen patenting law bring promising advances to a screeching halt. Or should I say the car-crusher ? :-)

Cheers, Mike.

( edit ) His overtures to China re. Tesla production is a clear message that he'll go out of US jurisdiction to manufacture if need be. I also note that he went to the US Federal court to challenge for an opportunity to compete for national security launches.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

mikey
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RE: According to this

Quote:

According to this there's a launch this Sunday. I assume that will include another booster landing attempt.

I've been checking this Elon guy out. He's basically an engineer ( more power to him ! ) rather than a financier. I like that. Technical brains at the top, management underneath. Sort of a flip-over of the NASA model. I'm also impressed at his Tesla plunge and that he is quite articulate with patent issues. By that I mean he doesn't patent everything just because he can, he has clearly reflected upon whether that does/doesn't accelerate technology uptake to move the field forward. So many times we have seen patenting law bring promising advances to a screeching halt. Or should I say the car-crusher ? :-)

Cheers, Mike.

( edit ) His overtures to China re. Tesla production is a clear message that he'll go out of US jurisdiction to manufacture if need be. I also note that he went to the US Federal court to challenge for an opportunity to compete for national security launches.

His problems may lie in his partnerships with China and others when he tries to share his 'secrets' between Governments. He may think globally but most Governments still think locally, as in mine, mine, mine!! Many companies have had to NOT do what's best for them in order to comply with Government secrecy requirements.

He seems to be aiming for about a once a month launch, that could be tough to maintain, but is probably good for business.

David S
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RE: I've been checking this

Quote:
I've been checking this Elon guy out. He's basically an engineer ( more power to him ! ) rather than a financier. I like that. Technical brains at the top, management underneath. Sort of a flip-over of the NASA model. I'm also impressed at his Tesla plunge and that he is quite articulate with patent issues. By that I mean he doesn't patent everything just because he can, he has clearly reflected upon whether that does/doesn't accelerate technology uptake to move the field forward. So many times we have seen patenting law bring promising advances to a screeching halt. Or should I say the car-crusher ? :-)


My only comment to that would be that if he doesn't patent something, someone else will and freeze him out of making his own invention.

David

Miserable old git
Patiently waiting for the asteroid with my name on it.

Mike Hewson
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RE: RE: I've been

Quote:
Quote:
I've been checking this Elon guy out. He's basically an engineer ( more power to him ! ) rather than a financier. I like that. Technical brains at the top, management underneath. Sort of a flip-over of the NASA model. I'm also impressed at his Tesla plunge and that he is quite articulate with patent issues. By that I mean he doesn't patent everything just because he can, he has clearly reflected upon whether that does/doesn't accelerate technology uptake to move the field forward. So many times we have seen patenting law bring promising advances to a screeching halt. Or should I say the car-crusher ? :-)

My only comment to that would be that if he doesn't patent something, someone else will and freeze him out of making his own invention.


What he's doing by putting the 'visible' technology parts in the public domain is to clearly establish 'prior art' ie. so a later would-be patentee can't claim it as theirs. What had happened in the past was the purchase of patent rights and then non-action on any development. Interestingly for much of the SpaceX stuff he has acknowledged the clear difficulty in pursuing any patent breaches against nations like Russia and China ie. the likely competitors for space launches. Oddly he didn't even mention US competitors as taking a role there. He's avoiding the various secrecy issues simply by making many things public. He just drops them in the public domain and moves on. I reckon he wants to spend effort on the product so that it competes well on price/value/performance, and not be distracted by wrangling. Notably SpaceX constructs from base materials some 80% of the component value of it's rocketry.

In historical generality : often the greatest benefit has been reaped by those who developed the ideas. Not because of patent protection and like mechanisms especially, but simply because it is the inventors who understand the topic the best from the get go. Frequently a cognitive head-start can be worth more than wielding some legal restraint. No wonder that he's been classified as a 'market disrupter' by NYSE analysts ! It is certainly a bold move in such a high-tech field to compete with minimal patent protections, that's very much against traditional Venture Capital 101 .... :-) :-)

Cheers, Mike.

( edit ) Actually it wasn't patent law that crushed cars, it was leasing with recall clauses rather than outright freehold sale.

( edit ) A good example of something quite visible that he could have attempted patent but didn't, is the vane hypersonic steering system. Since he is so far ahead of the pack on the re-usable launcher approach anyway, it's not like lack of license fees would be a noticeable near term loss. This reminds me of the former USSR's approach to a Concorde knock-off : besides being sucked in by a classic spy/sting operation, there is still crucial functional data that is invisible in any case. My bet is that the best 'secret' to the grid vanes is how to use them properly ....

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

robl
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SpaceX to launch a Falcon

SpaceX to launch a Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral at 1820 this Sunday. This will be SpaceX's second attempt at recovering the first stage aboard a floating platform.

The launch mission is to put a "Deep Space Climate ObserVatoRy" into orbit.

robl
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SpaceX launch scrubbed until

SpaceX launch scrubbed until 1807 ET Monday Feb. 9. Problem with the tracking system.

robl
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Delayed again until Tuesday

Delayed again until Tuesday ~1800. Light rain, thunder and low ceiling at present but article stated Air Force's Eastern tracking is still down. Among many its many functions is also the self destruct initiator should something "go wrong".

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