The challenge I have with the 'suborbital tourist' economy is that while some folks will pay $200K per ride for less than 3 minutes of zero gravity, one has to compare that to the Zero Gravity Corp which gives you over 6 minutes of weightlessness (in 20 - 30 second increments) for $5K
Sure there is the 'Concorde' effect where the very wealthy will all do it once so that they won't feel left out at cocktail parties but that does not seem sustainable.
My hope is that Blue Origin's plans to move into orbital flights is successful. Spending $200K to spend nearly 90 minutes (1 orbit) weightless has much more appeal.
Once New Glen starts launching in 2020, they want to quickly move past human certification, so practicing with New Shepard is less costly in terms of critical-path length and probably financially too-- bigger rocket, bigger spend per test.
You also need to get to a high TRL for confidence from contractors. People are more willing to take risks than someone sending up $100m+ satellites or vehicles. Those successful human missions get you to a TRL 9 pretty quickly.
But many of these companies have much bigger aims than tourism. Tourism is part of it, but more like orbital hotels, lunar hotels, etc. Not a short trip. But also mining. There's A LOT of money in mining once the vehicles get cheap enough. Which they aren't if you're flying a few times a year (like how most things come down in price when you manufacture at scale).
Nit pick: The point of the ride isn't to get 0 gravity. IT IS TO GO TO SPACE! That has a value much higher than that 5k 0g rides. Sure, 0g is part of it, but that's not why ANYONE is buying a ticket.
This is an incredibly important and underrated point. People aren't going (just) for the roller coaster ride. They're chasing the overview effect, the perspective-altering thrill of seeing the Earth from space.
I suspect a lot of people will pay handsomely for it. If they do (and it works despite the trip's brevity), prices will steadily drop as design and build costs get amortized away to nothing. Eventually it could be accessible to the majority of people (in developed countries), at least at a level where if you saved up you could get to space once in your lifetime — a sort of secular pilgrimage for the 21st century.
Given the apparent change in the worldviews of those who experience this effect, if we're lucky it might even help make the world a little bit better.
Even if the hit rate is low, that doesn't necessarily deter thrill-seekers. 4,800 people have successfully climbed Mt. Everest (8,300 times) at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars ($45k-70k, $11k for the royalty alone), and the very real risk of death (375 deaths). The success rate is about half, up from under 30% before 2006.
 Down from $25k before 2014 https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140219-moun...
It's too bad the average scientist, especially astronomers, astrophysicists won't be able to afford to ride the ride?
(I'm not suspose to bring up the wealth divide in America, but it's been just so---what's the word--obvious. I'm at the point where I'm thinking about the future. A future where companies will just cater to the small percentage of the population with the biggest wad? Yea--I'm envious. )
By the way, your account has been dead for a very long time. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14766847
Yeah, not to mention that this is actually an impossible goal. And if it's the weightlessness sensation you are after, just get a new vomit comet. You need an airplane for that, not a rocket.
> IT IS TO GO TO SPACE!
Yeah, you need a rocket for that. A very small one. Oh, you mean to stay in space? Yeah, now you need a pretty big one.
> a dozen or two launches to gain experience and knowledge to pump back into the New Glen project
then it's probably cheaper to never fly a tourist. It's not great if the revenue from tourists is smaller than the opportunity cost of making the thing safe for tourists.
This is can in the long run give them an advantage over SpaceX depending on how fast SpaceX can actually shift towards manned launches.
There's more than just weightlessness to appreciate on a suborbital flight. Plus the 8 minutes up and 8-20 minutes back down are probably pretty fun too.
Mercury had 8g deceleration on orbital reentry vs 11-12g on suborbital one.
The earlier you do it, the longer you can live life sharing your experience and viewing everything through its perspective, instead of just fly and die maybe a decade later or so.
I'm guessing that would be that the second stage provides retropulsion to get you back to nominal zero velocity over the return point.
So that would be launch, booster returns to the pad, and the second stage pushes you up enough to insure an orbit, then your orient for return. Enjoy the view etc, and then the second stage relights to cancel your velocity to 0 as you arrive over the launch facility (you'll have to scoot 1000 miles or so east as well given planetary rotation) and then separate for a parachute landing of perhaps both the capsule and the second stage booster.
Sounds pretty complex. But you would have to recover all equipment if you wanted to have a chance as meeting the economics of that.
All equipment, and especially the people in the equipment. One "safety incident" would crash the whole operation.
That is not feasible. Your second stage would have to be roughly as large as an entire orbital rocket in order to slow itself down from orbital speeds to zero, which means your first stage would have to be massive in order to push the second stage into orbit.
The reason every vehicle that re-enters the atmosphere uses a heat shield is because it's way easier to carry a relatively light heat shield that sheds off the speed than to carry the massive amount of fuel to shed off the same speed.
It's horizontal velocity (actual LEO velocity) that causes the heating effects a Soyuz or Dragon type capsule needs to survive with heat shield on re-entry.
Depends on the industry in which you earn your salary. Some are not above the board.
Consider, people can also feel weightless by jumping yet extending that to 20-30 seconds is worth 5k.
PS: You can do hours of floating on air in an indoor wind tunnel (ex: www.iflyworld.com), but again that's not weightless.
If I was free falling in a vacuum, or somewhere that the air was being accelerated at the same rate as my fall (like a space station or a vomit comet), there would be no such force, the scales would read zero, and I'd experience what they call weightlessness.
Is that all correct?
It's also worth mentioning that Virgin Galactic has eschewed the Karman Line, preferring the old "50 mile" definition the Air Force uses for astronaut wings. SpaceShipTwo's apogee is expected to be under 100km during this test campaign, though they have said that heavy test equipment sandbags performance.
Still cool though!
ADDENDUM - if you want to keep an eye on other projects, their reusable orbital booster is New Glenn. IIRC it's higher capacity than Falcon 9, maybe more toward Falcon Heavy. Last I heard they're shooting for a first test launch in 2020.
New Glenn's payload is somewhat greater than reusable Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy's is likely greater with a center core expendable or fully expendable mission, which Blue Origin says it will never opt to do.
I don't think plans count.
Personally a lifetime of learning to be cynical makes me think that BFR is too awesome to be true and that it will never happen. Maybe BO's careful approach and Bezos' deep pockets will let them succeed where SpaceX will ultimately fail.
On the other hand, SpaceX has not yet given us any concrete reason to expect them to fail. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Operationally though, I think the jury is still out on how much money SpaceX can pull in there. At 22 launches per year that would be nominally $2.2 billion in revenue per year. Make three of those launches Falcon Heavy and that takes it closer to $2.5 billion. How much of that ends up on the bottom line is a good question, I'm guessing we won't know for sure until the S-1 drops.
Why are they required for combustion in space?
Seems like there's something profound to say about pollution in that joke somewhere.
Because the abort took place after MECO, the capsule reached an apogee of 118.8km. This will likely stand as New Shepard's altitude record.
Blue Origin previously tested a transonic abort and (unexpectedly) recovered the booster. Recovery did not appear to be in question this time.
It definitely didn't reach orbit and it isn't designed to be in space for long, but I wouldn't say it won't ever go to space.
Yuri Gagarin's first flight was in 1961, 8 years after Stalin's death. The purges have long stopped. The constant hunt for wreckers did, too. Yes, there was still political repression, but it was for political action, not "Oh, the project went up in smoke, we're sending the entire team to Siberia."
There was both a disregard, and a regard for safety in the cosmonaut program. Disregard because of heavy political pressure on deadlines, regard because it looked really bad for a cosmonaut to die. The track record that resulted was... Mixed. Could have been much better, but not a complete horror show.
After the failure of Soyuz-11, for instance, the program was grounded for 2 years, the Soyuz capsule was redesigned, and the number of crew in it was reduced, for safety reasons.
For a short time is nothing to talk about during emergency when it comes from the back (eyballs in) and you are protected from the whiplash.
> Accelerating at more than 3 Gs to faster than Mach 3...
I'd call it a reasonable spec, though it does seem that each passenger should be medically cleared and, ideally, physically tested beforehand.
Having said that I believe it's primary for rockets to be safe and efficient rather than beautiful.
The only thing with any claim to match it is the Saturn V with it's black and with paint job and fashion fins.
Edit: The 1st Gen roadster. I'll reserve judgement on the second gen until it's released, but it looks a lot like the new NSX in photos. And the new NSX looked great until we saw them in real life and they turned out to be possibly the worst supercar of the 21st century.
Difference in aerodynamic heating is more than that. I think Blue origin is still supersonic/high supersonic, re-entry from orbit is hypersonic and requires different materials.
Also, landing at 16mph seems a little rough? I guess the capsule is not reused?
Retro rockets fire just before landing. This is the main cause of the dust cloud that kicks up around the capsule.
Various sources on the web put the touchdown speed at 1-3 mph.
Edit: the 3mph comes from a test where they disabled 1/3 of the parachutes :
Similar flights had been done with the same craft three times before, but this time around, one of the capsule’s parachutes was disabled. Bezos said the two parachutes slowed the descent to 23 mph, as opposed to the usual 16 mph with three parachutes.
Just before the touchdown, the capsule’s retro rocket system fired. Bezos said that brought the speed at impact down to 3 mph. The capsule was equipped with a ring of crushable bumpers on its bottom to absorb that remaining force.
Blue Origin is moving through a planned series of test flights necessary to bring untrained astronauts into space on their own custom hardware with an improved margin of safety.
Comparisons with SpaceX will again become reasonable when either a) One of the companies launches a person into space, as both aspire to do, or b) Blue Origin begins an orbital campaign.
Congratulations, Blue Origin. You crushed it again today.
No payload. No orbit. No value.
Nope. No weightlessness at all.
You could bootstrap the future of space flight simply by starting with a small profitable company.
Virgin Galactic isn’t a profitable company either. They could be, of course.
My point was that you can start with a small company with a well-defined goal and product then continue to grow the vision, as long as you remain profitable.
Bezos is a good business person. It’s quite possible he’ll run thin margins and grow the business.
oops, I was shown to be wrong and I stand corrected.
Downvoting without discussion is even easier . . .
Jeff Bezos has said he plans on spending $1 Billion/year on blue origin.
Unlike SpaceX, they don't need to actually worry about money.
To put in perspective how much money Jeff Bezos has (and he is somebody who really want to do space travel): he could privately fund a manned mission to mars and still remain the richest man in the world.
It's just incomprehensible the resources that they have there. Blue O will almost definitely catch SpaceX.
For the press, that means that it's really hard to judge whether BO's vehicles are vaporware or not, which fuels endless speculation. I personally happen to think that SpaceX's "ship something today" situation is good for their development process, but that may just be my software experience showing.
So really there is no comparison since the main goal of Musk/SpaceX everything it does seems to be making the technology to get to Mars.
Where is the gadget-laden, womanizing secret agent who will save us?
Bezos is making the bet that the average person is to trust their luggage but not their life on SpaceX. If they take their time and get it right, there are huge second mover advantages here.
Are you maybe confusing launch failures with landing failures?
As far as I know SpaceX has had two major failures since they started flying Falcon 9. CRS-7 (second stage failure during flight) and AMOS6 (second stage failure during static fire on the pad). They had another minor failure where they lost an engine but still delivered the primary payload to the ISS.
I believe SpaceX has had more successful Falcon 9 launches after the AMOS6 failure than before it. So they've doubled their flight count without another failure.
Someone else brought up ZUMA which has been reported to be a failure of the payload provider (Northrup Grumman)'s specialized payload adapter which failed to release the payload correctly.
SpaceX has had a lot of videos of rockets crashing into barges and the ocean but those were experimental tests which weren't expected to succeed initially and which have no bearing on the success of the mission. They made those videos public even though there was no need to. Probably both for PR reasons and because it's cool to see the attempts and failures leading up to their landing success.
Holding those crashes against SpaceX is like holding crash test videos against an auto manufacturer because "their cars keep crashing".
I don't think they're confusing them, but rather they're worried that consumers might confuse them. SpaceX's videos of their landing experiments got a ton of space fans excited about them, but it very well may have created an association of SpaceX with explosions in the average layman's mind. Blue, meanwhile, while it hasn't penetrated the public consciousness yet, deliberately projects an image of conservatism and caution.
(That said, it seems unlikely that someone so uninformed would be a potential customer.)
I couldnt believe my programming friend bought into the Elon hype. Has 3k of stock and bought a tesla.
Even smart people have weaknesses and overlook things. I remember being an Elon fan until I saw on front page reddit:
"TESLA QUIETLY SOLAR PANELS PURTO RICO"
And it turned out to be a reddit astroturfing/vote manip thread. And then I couldnt unsee, so many threads advertising his projects. Elon is a marketer.
SpaceX customers are laying out $50-80M to put a $100-200M piece of hardware into orbit.
It's the latter we're talking about in this thread.
Dan Rasky's (excellent) oral history videos of his time as NASA's liaison to SpaceX for technology transfer under the COTS program touches on this, as does SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell's oral history.
Blue Origin's motto, on the other hand, is Gradatim Ferociter: Step by Step, Ferociously. They are known for moving slowly and surely.
No, it definitely deserves to be downvoted.
It's plausible that it could become a PR issue.
Here is a full SpaceX manifest both past and future:
As it stands right now, they are most likely the largest rocket company right now (or at least the top 2), they seem to be adding more order every other month. Not a sign of their customer base losing confidence in them.
There's no footage that I'm aware of.
It's all about perception I guess.
Sure, maybe they test things out with rockets they know are already going to crash. But that's as far as I'd go.
I googled it for you.
>"Zuma" satellite is the third payload sitting on a Falcon 9 that has been lost in four years. By way of comparison, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX's sole competitor in the military launch business, hasn't lost a single payload in 12 years and 124 missions.
>two recent government reports raise questions bearing upon the reliability of SpaceX products and processes. The first is an evaluation of quality controls among launch-vehicle suppliers to the military space program. That report, prepared by the defense department's Inspector General and dated December 20, found 181 deviations from quality standards at contractor sites. Over a third were "major nonconformities," meaning deviations that might contribute to a failure in quality controls.
You've totally missed the point.
Haha, and then you edited your comment to attack the source. Honestly the person could have been North Korea's super extra special space dictator and it wouldn't change the reality that SpaceX has a higher incident rate than comparable companies. Which is what OP basically asked.
• Proton-M: 9 failures and 2 partial failures in 102 launches.
• Ariane 5: 2 failures and 3 partial failures in 98 launches
• Antares: 1 failure in 8 launches (this is SpaceX's competitor in NASA resupply launches)
• Pegasus (smallsats): 3 failures and 2 partial failures in 43 launches. Derivative Minotaur-C had 3 failures in 10 launches.
• Falcon: 1 failure, 1 partial failure, and 1 non-launch payload loss (Amos-6) in 58 launches (59 campaigns).
SpaceX's failure rate is in line with industry norms.
While ULA has a perfect safety record since it was formed in 2006, its rockets do not (though they are still impressive).
• Atlas V: 1 partial failure in 78 launches.
• Delta IV: 1 partial failure in 36 launches.
Bizarrely, the author here attributes nonconformities at all three EELV contractors — including ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne — to SpaceX. The actual breakdown:
• ULA: 21 major, 43 minor
• SpaceX : 33 major, 42 minor
• Aerojet Rocketdyne: 14 major, 28 minor
SpaceX's 93% launch success rate is still below average for ALL launches (94-95%), and has a higher incident rate than its "competitors" in any form. That's what was asked. You don't need to apologize for SpaceX.
Some of the rockets in your "thorough" have radically different missions, specifications, and costs than the type of rockets we're discussing. Let's talk about what we're actually comparing. Orbital launch rockets actually beat "industry" averages by a signification margin. And let's talk about failures, unrecoverable ones.
* Altas V (actually built by Lockheed Martin, not ULA): 98% successful launch rate.
* Delta (entire family): 99% success rate across the ENTIRE family.
* H-IIA: 98% success rate
* Araine 5: 98% success rate.
* Long March (entire family): 98-99% success rate.
See a pattern? All of the above families have mission histories of 100+ launches.
>the author here attributes nonconformities at all three EELV contractors — including ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne — to SpaceX
No they didn't. Are you just purposefully misreading the article?
>The first is an evaluation of quality controls among launch-vehicle suppliers to the military space program.
>at contractor sites.
Beyond reading comprehension differences, I am not interested in willfully misrepresenting basic facts as some sort of intellectual jerk off exercise. SpaceX is below the industry average and way below the launch success average for the type of work they're doing. That's what the OP asked.
Then why is spaceX at 93%? 2 unrecoverable failures in 59 campaigns equals 96.6% success.
All the competitors you listed have roots in government space programs going back many decades. Rockets tend to have a lot of "infant mortality" that those programs are way past.
Also, some of your claims are value/wrong: the Delta and Long March families are very large and very old and if you count the earliest attempts of governments to build ICBMs you get reliability figures worse than SpaceX.
Conversely the H-IIA, Delta 4, Atlas 5, Ariane 5 have fewer than 100 launches each.
Good data can be found here: http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/logsum.html
(ATLAS ORBITAL 325(46) .86 .86)
(ALL ATLAS 582(116) .80 .80)
"If you do this thing that you didn't do, you get worse figures."
It's only confusing if you're wanting to be disingenuous.
(Missed this before.)
>It was formerly operated by Lockheed Martin and is now operated by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture with Boeing.
>The Atlas V was developed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services
Honestly just stop.
How do you get to this number? Even in the least charitable way to calculate it, excluding Falcon Heavy, using Amos in the numerator but not the denominator, and counting the secondary payload loss on CRS-1, Falcon 9's failure rate is 3/57. That's 5.2%, or a success rate of 94.74%.
>Some of the rockets in your "thorough" have radically different missions, specifications, and costs than the type of rockets we're discussing. Let's talk about what we're actually comparing. Orbital launch rockets actually beat "industry" averages by a signification margin. And let's talk about failures, unrecoverable ones.
Zero of those rockets are non-orbital. The only one not in Falcon 9's class is Pegasus (though the TESS mission was intended for Minotaur). Ariane and Proton are Falcon's main competitors in the commercial market, where ULA is uncompetitive.
>See a pattern?
Yes, designs tend to get safer as they mature. Falcon is at 58 launches and is likely to exceed 80 before any crewed launch. Its last failure was mission #29.
>All of the above families have mission histories of 100+ launches.
Counting 'family' legacy back to ICBMs is ludicrous. Atlas V has flown 78 times, Delta IV 36 times (Medium and Heavy), H-IIA 39 times.
And can you cite those family success rates? The Thor/Delta family, by a quick calculation per Wikipedia's launch lists, has an 87.42% success rate.
>No they didn't. Are you just purposefully misreading the article?
No, but the article's author is purposefully misleading readers by citing that number alone:
>Against that backdrop, two recent government reports raise questions bearing upon the reliability of SpaceX products and processes. The first is an evaluation of quality controls among launch-vehicle suppliers to the military space program. That report, prepared by the defense department's Inspector General and dated December 20, found 181 deviations from quality standards at contractor sites.
Moreover, ULA rockets consist of both ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne parts (and indeed RL10 caused Atlas' partial failure). If we're correlating nonconformities with risk, their numbers should be added together. And, of course, the inspector general didn't evaluate RD-180 production facilities.
I didn't do that and you know it. Those are all rockets used in orbital payload missions. All of them have been used within the last 5 years.
I used some inline JS for this table here:
Just like the hundreds (thousands?) of pre-SpaceX test rocket launches from Greenwood Lake, New York to the modern rocket era.