SpaceX Business Model

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aaron38

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What if SpaceX were to act like a transportation company and sell one way tickets to Mars, to settle the frontier the way it's always been done? When European colonists went to settle the new world, they didn't plan on going back. They went to stay for the rest of their lives. And as Musk himself has said he wants to retire on Mars, he'll probably want company.

Space hotels in LEO are nice and all, but there's a huge difference between spending a fortune on a one week vacation vs. an entire new world. If people are leaving Earth for good, then they can afford to spend their entire Earthly fortunes on the trip. That could be the business model that supports the Merlin2 and larger FalconX designs. There would be a situation akin to St. Louis in the 1800's, with rich businessmen spending all their money on supplies, then heading out into the wilderness. A boomtown would be created, and R&D dollars would follow.

The technology developed for their trips plus the beachhead they create on the surface makes it that much cheaper for the next groups to follow. And the frontier would be open. Groups could begin pooling resources to purchase seats that become increasingly cheaper, especially as hardware is left in space. A VASIMR ship minus cargo could be remote piloted back to Earth after dropping off it's passengers, to be refeuled and make multiple trips in it's lifetime.

And as Musk himself said: "One of the long-term goals of SpaceX is, ultimately, to get the price of transporting people and product to Mars to be low enough and with a high enough reliability that if somebody wanted to sell all their belongings and move to a new planet and forge a new civilisation they could do so."

There is a lot of work to be done on Mars, and I know there are people who would willingly spend the rest of their lives doing it, building a new life on the frontier. It's not the way we've been thinking about space exploration at all, but it makes sense. I just wonder what the reaction will be when someone finally decides to do it...
 
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Gravity_Ray

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Re: SpaceX Updates

I like your idea aaron.

I think the way things will get done is by the process of private companies combining what they do best together and creating something that is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

I dont see any capsule (be it the Dragon, or Orion) going to Mars. That was a boots and flags mission. If peolpe are going to get serious about a real Mars (or even Moon) mission they will have to attach something bigger to a capsule such as a Bigelow module.

I still fully think that before any humans get there, we need robots there. These robots dont have to look like R2D2 or C3P0, I am thinking a robot that can start doing some ISRU. By the time humans get there, they need to have some basic resources (some Oxygen for example) waiting for them.
 
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oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX Updates

Something a little more near term. I was thinking that the USAF has all the pieces needed to finally do a polar orbit manned station: two crewed vehicles CST-100 and Dragon, two man rated launch vehicles (Atlas V and Falcon 9), two cargo systems (Dragon/Falcon 9 and OSC's Taurus II with its cargo vehicle), and a heavy lifter to put up station components Delta IV Heavy. All the launch vehicles have existing pads or are being constructed and be operational by 2012.

The USAF has always wanted to do this. Its first try the MOL program with Gemini capsules and Titan IV vehicles lost funding in the 1960’s. Next the Space Shuttle launch pad at SLC-6 lost its funding due to the Challenger accident in 1986. It seems that every 20 years the Air Force tries to get manned missions into polar orbit. It’s that time again.

The USAF could put up a 3 to 6 person station using off the shelf components for a tenth the cost of ISS ($20 billion). This is easily within their space budget capability since it would have low development costs and be primarily straight hardware acquisition. By 2015 all the capabilities will be available to start polar manned missions.

Just think if this occurs. The human transport to orbit market would double from the current projections for the ISS support. Two different government agencies with separate funding lines and goals would be buying human transport, insuring a better baseline usage.
 
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stevekk

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Re: SpaceX Updates

aaron38":1sh56c2b said:
What if SpaceX were to act like a transportation company and sell one way tickets to Mars, to settle the frontier the way it's always been done? When European colonists went to settle the new world, they didn't plan on going back. They went to stay for the rest of their lives. And as Musk himself has said he wants to retire on Mars, he'll probably want company.

Space hotels in LEO are nice and all, but there's a huge difference between spending a fortune on a one week vacation vs. an entire new world. If people are leaving Earth for good, then they can afford to spend their entire Earthly fortunes on the trip. That could be the business model that supports the Merlin2 and larger FalconX designs. There would be a situation akin to St. Louis in the 1800's, with rich businessmen spending all their money on supplies, then heading out into the wilderness. A boomtown would be created, and R&D dollars would follow.
Somehow, I never pictured the Oregon Trail filled with a bunch of rich business types.

My picture was more a bunch of settlers looking for a huge tract of land they could create a homestead on, or the guys that wanted to be part of the great California gold rush. Those rich business type guys came along later, when they could move their business out west to serve the new growing customer base.
 
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oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX Updates

Gravity_Ray":38ygut6p said:
I like your idea aaron.

I think the way things will get done is by the process of private companies combining what they do best together and creating something that is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

I don’t see any capsule (be it the Dragon, or Orion) going to Mars. That was a boots and flags mission. If people are going to get serious about a real Mars (or even Moon) mission they will have to attach something bigger to a capsule such as a Bigelow module.

I still fully think that before any humans get there, we need robots there. These robots dont have to look like R2D2 or C3P0, I am thinking a robot that can start doing some ISRU. By the time humans get there, they need to have some basic resources (some Oxygen for example) waiting for them.
ISRU robots that can be used on Mars can also be used on the Moon. The environments are similar enough that one design with variations for each of the robot functional types: communication tower (a wifi/cellular relay to keep the robots in contact with the primary Moon/Earth comm link), explorer (scientific and mineral exploration), shovel (to dig up regolith and ice), truck (to transport material to processors), maintenance and construction (to repair robots and to build facilities: Quonset huts covered with regolith). Material Processors would be more specific to the material and world they operate on.

In all I agree the robot ISRU’s should come first to pave the way for a more thriving and sustainable base.
 
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Valcan

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Re: SpaceX Updates

oldAtlas_Eguy":ay7aakzr said:
Gravity_Ray":ay7aakzr said:
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I heard once that the low gravity of the moon will make any type of human pregnancy impossible. Or atleast the likely hood of it surviving is close to nil.

Mars however was said to be good enough.

Plus any child raised on the moon could never be exposed to high gee's.
 
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aaron38

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Re: SpaceX Updates

stevekk":109g7aga said:
Somehow, I never pictured the Oregon Trail filled with a bunch of rich business types.
That's because by the time they were on the trail they were no longer rich, they'd spent all their money on supplies. But in 1840, it was only the rich that could afford to make the trip. And there were a lot of wealthy people in crowded East Coast cities that decided to start anew out west. So they sold their homes and businesses and moved their families.

It cost ~$1000 for the supplies at a time when the average daily wage was $0.50 a day. Assuming $15/hr - $120/day as an average wage today, that equates to $240,000 in today's dollars. Quite a sum for the average American to raise free and clear.

So the principal holds. The first people on Mars not sent by a government will be those who can afford to pay their own way.
 
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Gravity_Ray

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Re: SpaceX Updates

Valcan

Even though normally I would think that one generation will not be enough to make massive changes to physiology, in this case although I think humans can be conceived on the Moon and brought to term, the resulting change in early development will probably elongated bones and weaken muscles and possibly re-arrange some internal organs.

I would think that a Moon baby will probably not be able to return to the Earth. Mars may or may not be different.

We would need some studies that do not exist right now to fully answer this question.

Humans moving out to space maybe a one way trip.
 
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