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SpaceX isn't winning the 2018 launch race

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by bxr140, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    :eek:

    Certainly a bit of tongue in cheek on the subject, but you can't argue with the numbers. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

    --The Chinese have hucked up 23 long marches this year and plan for another 20.
    --SpaceX has launched 15 so far with 14 more on the books (happy for a fact check on those)
    --No statistics on human rights violations associated with those launches

    China just set new national launch record while putting up two more Beidou navigation satellites - SpaceNews.com


    Big picture, more launches is of course good for the space industry, though not directly for the American industry since we can't fly Chinese. You don't hear about it much in western (or at least US) press, but the Chinese satellite manufacturing capacity is also increasing at a pretty good clip, which is drawing some of the newer/smaller players in space away from the legacy manufacturing nations.
     
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  2. Darthdaddy

    Darthdaddy Member

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    Great for the Chinese but not a fair comparison as the article indicates. They have the advantage of money, government support and number of workers. Space X is a small company in comparison and has shaken up the aerospace industry as Tesla has done. How many of there boosters can they re-use? And how many times? A fair way is to use how many total launches from the US, not just Space X.

    I say the more the merrier. Maybe will help people see we are on one tiny speck of dust in a vast cosmos and we must take care of it.
     
  3. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    #3 Grendal, Aug 28, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
    Here are the yearly statistics:
    2018 in spaceflight - Wikipedia
    So China is at 23 launches for the year compared to the 15 of SpaceX.
    However, most of the Chinese Long March rockets are smaller rockets with smaller payloads. So the Chinese are leading in number of launches but I calculated recently that the amount of payloads from all of those 23 rockets would add up to half of what the 15 SpaceX rockets launched. I used the following chart Comparison of orbital launch systems - Wikipedia and added the max payloads to LEO and compared them. It wasn't even close and I was being conservative with the SpaceX payloads.

    Edit: SpaceX has about 10 to 12 more launches pending for the year depending on many factors. My guess is they'll end the year with 24 or 25.
     
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  4. Lasairfion

    Lasairfion Member

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    I wonder what their cost efficiency is too? I doubt their one time use rockets come cheap.
     
  5. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    I'm excited to hear that there's anybody, anywhere in the world, vaguely competitive on some reasonable metric with SpaceX. Thanks @bxr140 .
     
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  6. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    They are government rockets so their cost is whatever the Chinese government wants to sell a launch for. The quality is pretty good (now) and the price is pretty reasonable since they do get a number of launches.
     
  7. N5329K

    N5329K Active Member

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    since they do get a number of launches....
    Just not from the same booster!
    Robin
     
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  8. SSonnentag

    SSonnentag Supporting Member

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    Any stats on the amount of cargo launched, China vs Space X?
     
  9. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    I think there was a post earlier in this topic on that: China launched about half as much payload (by weight) in about 40% more launches.. something like that.
     
  10. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    So the 23 launches by China add up to (roughly) 126,000 kg.
    The 15 launches by SpaceX add up to (also roughly) 268,000 kg.

    I just compared the max LEO payload to max LEO payload for each rocket. For SpaceX I used the reusable number with a very minor amount extra for the number of expendable launches they did. Overall, I tried for a fair comparison.
     
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  11. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    So you’re making the case that the long march rate is even more impressive because they aren’t just launching the same thing over and over? ;)
     
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  12. N5329K

    N5329K Active Member

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    I remember when "made in Japan" meant cheap crap that self-disintegrated as you watched. I wonder how long it will take "made in China" to lose the same reputation?
     
  13. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    In context of the global space industry, they kind of already have. There's no comparison with whatever useless junk gets sold at Walmart and such--the financial commitment required to put any kind of asset on orbit demands technical due diligence. People simply wouldn't spend their money on Chinese space products if they thought they were going to lose $X million on a "cheap Chinese satellite/rocket".

    I think the future plays out on a larger sociopolitical playing field. Right now Americans have no problem buying all that useless junk from Walmart, but there's NFW we engage in defense trade (and even the most commercial of satellites is still a defense article). The later is mostly due to the overall technical advantage on the American side, so it will be interesting to see how that changes as the Chinese catch up. They may have bought and (ahem...) 'borrowed' some of the foundation of their technology, but there's definitely an impressive technical base that's been built there over the years that is really starting to stand on its own. In some ways that makes their 23 launches this year far more impressive than spacex's 15--SpaceX's well funded dream team was always going to crush at the olympics, so to speak.
     
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  14. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    SpaceX operates on a shoestring budget compared to Boeing and ULA. I would not describe SpaceX as “well funded”.
     
  15. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    I'm with you on this one. SpaceX is small piddly company compared the entire nation of China. What China has done this year is very impressive but their launches have the backing of the government and doesn't have to play the odd political games that SpaceX is forced to do. I doubt the Chinese launch industry has to wade through an unending stream of bureaucratic paperwork that forces cost overruns and delays. I'm not saying the Chinese don't have their own unique issues that they need to deal with but China is more in the position of where the USA was in the 50's and 60's. Their launch industry has been given a mandate by the government and the focus is on the goals. I don't think there is much of a comparison and what SpaceX has done far exceeds what the launch industry of China has done.

    A more proper comparison is to compare what China has achieved next to the rest of the American launch industry. The fact that China has come along in a very short period of time and crushed what ULA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, and Orbital has had decades to do is very impressive. Our government should be kissing the boots of Elon and SpaceX for doing what all of those companies should have done long ago. Without SpaceX, the USA would barely be in the launch industry.
     
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  16. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    Those are two quite conflated concepts.

    Make no mistake, SpaceX is objectively well funded. You don't need to be a space insider to see it either--regardless if its production or IRAD, facilities or flight hardware, it is quite clear that every project they work on gets the budget it needs.

    Put another way, good ideas don't go unfunded at SpaceX, and that's the most important part here. SpaceX is run by a genius [who is also a megalomaniac that needs to stay off twitter, but I digress...] with a clear vision and a near unilateral ability to green light The Right Thing within the company. Specifically as a result of that genius is access to coffers of funding which ensure The Right Thing doesn't turn into The We Kinda Tried Thing.

    Of course SpaceX works on a fraction of the budgets wheelbarrowed into the front offices of Boeing, Lockheed, and Airbus, but don't forget that a significant portion of the money flow at those companies is subject to blowing political winds propelled by masterminds in high government positions. The rewards system relative to those space programs are as much about regional economic benefit/jobs as they are launching rockets.

    Elon, on the other hand, doesn't give a *sugar* about people. He only cares about his vision. Hence the massive success of SpaceX.
     
  17. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

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    China's going to need a significant cultural shift. I'll say 30 years.
     

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