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SpaceX Announces Falcon 9 SmallSat Rideshare Program

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Cosmacelf, Aug 5, 2019.

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  1. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    #1 Cosmacelf, Aug 5, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2019
    Elon Musk officially has a ride-share business. His rocket company SpaceX introduced Monday the SmallSat Rideshare program, which uses regularly scheduled Falcon 9 missions to carry payloads up to 150 kg for as low as $2.25 million per customer. “Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary,” a webpage for...
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  2. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    I wonder how many of those small sats they can take in each launch.

    And I wonder how few sats they can get committed on a launch and at least break even on the variable costs specific to the launch.


    I'm an industry outsider - this sure looks like reliable access to space for small sat people. Is this pricing competitive with other launch providers? If SpaceX is really consistent about the launch cadence, does this suck the oxygen out of the small sat launch market?
     
  3. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    According to this: https://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/f9guide.pdf

    Falcon 9 can take about 7,600 kg to SSO. Their cheapest rideshare price is $2.25M for 150 kg. If they had nothing but these 150 kg rideshares, it would net them about $114M in revenue, far above their $62M price for a GTO mission. Of course, you have to take into account extra mass for adapters and couplings, ejectors, etc, so they'd never get that much revenue. But you could see that it would be a profitable business for them.

    AFAIK, this is VERY competitive with other small sat launch providers. I would think it would destroy the competition, but maybe others have some more thoughts?
     
  4. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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    These are Vandenberg launches, which is pretty neat for us out here as West Coast launches are getting rare:
    C7F3A85B-9B3D-42AC-B50C-D2DD708034DB.jpeg
     
  5. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    The more I think about it, the more I realize how brilliant this is. They don't even need to break even on their first or second mission. By having regular launches at this really low price point, they've created an entirely new market. By the third mission, they'll have tons of new revenue that didn't exist before. This is brilliant, and only made possible, of course, by having resuseable rockets.
     
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  6. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    Whew! And what will they offer when Starship becomes available, supposedly at a lower per launch cost than F9?
     
  7. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    They will reap larger profits for a while, but then further reduce pricing to make the market even bigger, as long as there is, in fact, extra demand at lower pricing. If there isn't more demand, they will simply reap larger profits. Business 101.

    Oh, and yes, SpaceX has the launch market completely cornered now due to their reusability. The ONLY reason other companies haven't folded yet is due to pork from Congress and subsidies from other nation states.
     
  8. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    Here you go. From Rocket Lab's wikipedia page: "The vehicle is capable of delivering payloads of 150 kg to a 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit,[40] the target range for the growing small satellite market. The projected cost is less than US$5 million per launch."

    So SpaceX is about half the price of what Rocket Lab charges for similar service.
     
  9. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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  10. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    Basically $5M for a 150kg to SSO. I think their pricing is on the website...no?

    Edit: Spaceflight - Schedule and Pricing

    SpaceX doing the ride share thing is a 180 degree turn from a few years ago, when they couldn't care less about aggregating a bunch of small satellites. A major reason they've changed their mind is no doubt their experience on SSOA with Spaceflight. We'll leave it at that. o_O

    There are a few issues with a big rocket aggregating a bunch of small sats, such as:
    --As has been the issue for years with SpaceX, the supply of satellites lags the theoretical supply of rockets
    --Its really hard to align the schedules for a bunch of different customers/satellite manufacturers; that problem goes exponential as you increase volume
    --Not everyone wants to go to the same orbit

    Given that SpaceX is advertising "no primes" (primary passengers traditionally define the launch schedule for an aggregated launch) and "regularly scheduled launches", its pretty likely that SpaceX's ride share program is going to fill out starlink (and other 'underperforming') missons as opposed to having a bunch of dedicated aggregated launches.
     

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