Date: 2 Nov 85 00:43:09 GMT
From: email@example.com (Dani Eder)
Subject: Re: Private Space
> rockets. Two companies are now backed with large amounts of money to develop
> private launch vehicles, one of which is a manned vehicle with the intent of
> taking tourists into space for two day trips. The scuttlebut is that Soceity
> Expeditions has agreed to set up a funding package of up to $280M to back
> Pacific American Launch Services (Gary Hudsen) in design and construction of
> the reusable VTVL-SSTO Phoenix. Vessel is modular and refuelable, so unlike
> the shuttle, it can leave LEO. A Phoenix is projected to cost about the same
> as a 747. Completion supposedly by the early 1990's. Maybe you can book a
> flight to watch NASA put up it's space station.
> Actually, I don't honestly know how real the funding is. I've been trying to
> get hold of Gary to find out, but I haven't gotten a call back yet. I'd also
> guess the first flight will be several years late and will cost twice as
> much as expected to develop, build and operate. But even then, it will fly
> economic circles around anything the turkeys at NASA or DOD are up to.
Having reviewed the Phoenix reference design, I can say several things
about it. For a vehicle that has several new technologies in the design
(aerospike engine, oxidizer rich combustor, transpiration cooled heat
shield), he is carrying a very low weight growth margin . The figure in
Hudson's weight statement is about 5% of inert weight (weight without
propellant). It should be more like 20%. After proving the new
technologies, we estimate it would cost Boeing $2.7 Billion to build
a vehicle like the Phoenix, and that the first one off the assembly line
would cost about $300 million (3 times a 747).
Considering that we can use existing manufacturing and assembly
plants, with experienced people , whereas Pacific American would be
starting from scratch, I find it doubtful they could build it for
less than we can. There might be some advantage in engineering if they
go 100% CAD, but on the other hand, we own a CRAY to do number crunching.
We don't yet have a keyboard for every engineer, its more like one/three.
Dani Eder/Advanced Space Transportation/Boeing/ssc-vax!eder
Date: 8 Nov 85 21:13:25 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dani Eder)
Subject: Re: Private Space
Real-Sender: email@example.com (TOPS-20 MMailr forced this upon me)
> > ... After proving the new
> > technologies, we estimate it would cost Boeing $2.7 Billion to build
> > a vehicle like the Phoenix, and that the first one off the assembly line
> > would cost about $300 million (3 times a 747).
> > Considering that we can use existing manufacturing and assembly
> > plants, with experienced people , whereas Pacific American would be
> > starting from scratch, I find it doubtful they could build it for
> > less than we can...
> No offence to you personally or to Boeing, Dani, but the military and
> space branches of major aerospace companies are incapable of building
> anything cheaply. Even when it can be, and should be, built cheaply.
> They simply don't know how any more.
> I agree, by the way, that Hudson's weight margin in particular makes
> Phoenix a high-risk investment. But I strongly suspect that if it can
> be done at all, it can be done more cheaply than Boeing would do it.
> Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology
Since the group I work for is in the midst of a study whose goal
is the reduction of space transportation cost by a factor of 5 to 10,
we have become quite aware of what makes space hardware expensive.
Note that the estimates I gave above are based on the way the Boeing
Company makes things. Most of what we do is build commercial jet
transports, and thus our cost equations are mostly derived from that
experience. For example, the Phoenix tank is to be made of 2219-T87
aluminum alloy , and we happen to have a lot of experience in making
things out of aluminum, i.e. airplanes.
What is the real driver in costs is your design margins. If
you lose one engine on a jet transport, the plane still flys, but
somewhat slower. A small percentage of the rivets holding the plane
together can fall out without catastrophic failures. As a consequence,
the amount of checking you do between flights and the maintenance you
do is small. On the Shuttle, if one engine goes out at the wrong time,
you end up in the Atlantic. If a few key tiles fall off, your skin
burns through, and perhaps lose the vehicle. Therefore, you must check
these things between flights. Which costs money.
When you design an airplane, you stress parts to maybe 50% of
ultimate capacity. On the Shuttle, some parts are designed to 90%
of ultimate strength. Therefore you must design them more carefully,
not making approximations. You must build the parts with much more
attention to quality, since a flaw would be much more likely to degrade
the part below its required strength. These add to cost.
If and when we have propulsion capable enough to allow larger
design margins, we will be able to operate more like airplanes, and
hence be cheaper.
I was looking at the Phoenix to see if there was any good ideas
in it that we could apply to our work, and there are some intriguing
ideas, but they are untried technologies. It will take much time,
people , and money to develop the technologies to the point of
being able to carry passengers. I wish it were otherwise. If you
or anyone else has a cheaper way to do things, please tell me.
You may save the US many billions of dollars in the next fifteen
years. But merely saying "we will be a new, efficient company",
as Hudson is claiming for Pacific American Launch Systems, will not
do. You must be able to say 'we can design a part in x hours' or
'we can build structure in y hours per pound' or 'this engine is
z percent higher specific impulse than the SSME'.
Dani Eder/Advanced Space Transportation/ Boeing