SpaceX Lies

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Aug 8, 2021
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Elon Musk has had a lot of set backs, but that isn't stopping him. His so called fully autonomous vehicles have been ordered off the road. After a few reported fatalities. One problem is, the AI can't predict unexpected driving events. Like running into black ice on the road, which has already been a problem for it.

Tesla wants to make it to where the AI systems would not activate unless the driver has their hands on the wheel. Ok , so what's the point in useing it?
This is a space forum and this is unrelated to space...
 
Sep 24, 2021
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That's the common thing about every corporation. This is the way how business works. Besides these lies, they are doing important work for everyone of us!
 
Nov 1, 2021
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Hey guys,
I like the discussion you started. I would like to add my 5 cents - perhaps it will make you think a bit more deeper about SpaceX and the technology behind it :) But... in the begginning let me apologise for my bad English - thats not my native or primary tongue :)

1. Rocket Engines technological approach. Have you noticed the difference? Looking at all US and Earlier UK rocket engines with regen cooling - all are made out of "Spaghetti" - small cooling tuges, forming the shape of a nozzle. But SpaceX approach is more like USSR's one - lets call it "2 shells"? Was it dictated by Ukrainian and Russian engineers working in SpaceX or..... - we all know that in the beggining, E.Mask visited Russia several times trying to buy decommissioned balistic missiles to send some payload to Mars.

2. Reusability. Is that something new? - No. The idea was sitting in the minds of USSR and US engineers since early 60-s. But here comes the trouble: it will never save the money. Firstly, we all met this issues with the biggest reusable projects - Space Shuttle: to prepare it for next launch it required a complicated and long maintenance, which, apparently was costly. I am sure, from my engineering point of view, it cost a lot for SpaceX to do same (turbopumps, carbon clogs etc)
Besides, to make reusable systems profitable - it needs payloads. Again, same was with Space Shuttle - there was no enough payloads. Well, SpaceX found a payloads - their Worldwide internet system - but still thats not working good.

2 years ago i was doing some calculations as I had required data and numbers. The outcome was - SpaceX launch systems are not cheaper than Proton or Soyuz at all.
It could me more interesting if SpaceX could go with more modern approach like ablative cooling chambers (they actualy tried - look for "Merlin Ablative" in Youtube) - but here comes the trouble - you make cheap not reusable, or overengineered and very expensive reusable systems with WOW effect.

No wonders here, no innivations or reduced lauch cost. Mind you, Electricals cars everywhere - thats not something new :), we saw that in 1900-s - 1910-s with good range and speed :)

In 1990-s when USSR crashed, all technologies and secrets were on sale. Some secrecy inertia was till md 1990-s, but then anyone with coneections could buy any secret technology documentation or "Brains". What if it was bought and in order not to use it officially, it was done through the private space company? :)))) Thats of course the joke, but each joke has part of truth :)
 
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May 11, 2021
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Hey guys,
I like the discussion you started. I would like to add my 5 cents - perhaps it will make you think a bit more deeper about SpaceX and the technology behind it :) But... in the begginning let me apologise for my bad English - thats not my native or primary tongue :)

1. Rocket Engines technological approach. Have you noticed the difference? Looking at all US and Earlier UK rocket engines with regen cooling - all are made out of "Spaghetti" - small cooling tuges, forming the shape of a nozzle. But SpaceX approach is more like USSR's one - lets call it "2 shells"? Was it dictated by Ukrainian and Russian engineers working in SpaceX or..... - we all know that in the beggining, E.Mask visited Russia several times trying to buy decommissioned balistic missiles to send some payload to Mars.

2. Reusability. Is that something new? - No. The idea was sitting in the minds of USSR and US engineers since early 60-s. But here comes the trouble: it will never save the money. Firstly, we all met this issues with the biggest reusable projects - Space Shuttle: to prepare it for next launch it required a complicated and long maintenance, which, apparently was costly. I am sure, from my engineering point of view, it cost a lot for SpaceX to do same (turbopumps, carbon clogs etc)
Besides, to make reusable systems profitable - it needs payloads. Again, same was with Space Shuttle - there was no enough payloads. Well, SpaceX found a payloads - their Worldwide internet system - but still thats not working good.

2 years ago i was doing some calculations as I had required data and numbers. The outcome was - SpaceX launch systems are not cheaper than Proton or Soyuz at all.
It could me more interesting if SpaceX could go with more modern approach like ablative cooling chambers (they actualy tried - look for "Merlin Ablative" in Youtube) - but here comes the trouble - you make cheap not reusable, or overengineered and very expensive reusable systems with WOW effect.

No wonders here, no innivations or reduced lauch cost. Mind you, Electricals cars everywhere - thats not something new :), we saw that in 1900-s - 1910-s with good range and speed :)

In 1990-s when USSR crashed, all technologies and secrets were on sale. Some secrecy inertia was till md 1990-s, but then anyone with coneections could buy any secret technology documentation or "Brains". What if it was bought and in order not to use it officially, it was done through the private space company? :)))) Thats of course the joke, but each joke has part of truth :)
The problem with the space shuttle were insufficient funds for the system that NASA wanted to build and too many compromises had to be made (an over large payload bay for the US Air force for example). The result just didn’t do what they wanted.

But I don’t think that there is any reason why a fully reusable system is impossible to build and clearly neither does spaceX (and they are fairly good at building rockets). The fact that there have been a few attempts that have only been partially successful does not really prove it either way. BTW There will be no carbon clogging using methane as fuel.

Most companies exist to make money for their shareholders, but SpaceX is privately owned and was set up with the goal of establishing a permanent human presence on Mars. Making money is “merely” a means to this end and not the end itself.

SpaceX have designed Starship from the ground up for their own purposes. It’s not designed for commercial launches. There is no commercial demand for 100+tonnes to orbit payloads. The only 100 tonnes to orbit payloads will be SpaceX Mars bound Starships and the orbital tankers to fuel them. The reason why it uses methane is because that is the cheapest fuel and because it can be synthesized on Mars and the reason why it is reusable is that making a reusable rocket is the only way to make the human exploration of Mars remotely affordable.

Having said that SpaceX obviously need money to pay for the Mars project and they have a number of ways of doing that. Such as Falcon 9 commercial launches, ISS resupply, crewed dragon and tourist trips. They will also use Starship for the Dear Moon project, Starlink and HLS which will earn a lot of money.

I don’t think your analysis is correct concerning the costs (which costs did you use for SpaceX?). You are right to say that over engineered and very expensive reusable systems will not meet the requirements. But SpaceX is very good at reducing costs and minimizing engineering (the best part is no part) and there is no fundamental reason why reusability should not work. Just about every other mode of human transport involves reusable vehicles what makes it impossible for rockets?
 
Nov 1, 2021
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The problem with the space shuttle were insufficient funds for the system that NASA wanted to build and too many compromises had to be made (an over large payload bay for the US Air force for example). The result just didn’t do what they wanted.

But I don’t think that there is any reason why a fully reusable system is impossible to build and clearly neither does spaceX (and they are fairly good at building rockets). The fact that there have been a few attempts that have only been partially successful does not really prove it either way. BTW There will be no carbon clogging using methane as fuel.

Most companies exist to make money for their shareholders, but SpaceX is privately owned and was set up with the goal of establishing a permanent human presence on Mars. Making money is “merely” a means to this end and not the end itself.

SpaceX have designed Starship from the ground up for their own purposes. It’s not designed for commercial launches. There is no commercial demand for 100+tonnes to orbit payloads. The only 100 tonnes to orbit payloads will be SpaceX Mars bound Starships and the orbital tankers to fuel them. The reason why it uses methane is because that is the cheapest fuel and because it can be synthesized on Mars and the reason why it is reusable is that making a reusable rocket is the only way to make the human exploration of Mars remotely affordable.

Having said that SpaceX obviously need money to pay for the Mars project and they have a number of ways of doing that. Such as Falcon 9 commercial launches, ISS resupply, crewed dragon and tourist trips. They will also use Starship for the Dear Moon project, Starlink and HLS which will earn a lot of money.

I don’t think your analysis is correct concerning the costs (which costs did you use for SpaceX?). You are right to say that over engineered and very expensive reusable systems will not meet the requirements. But SpaceX is very good at reducing costs and minimizing engineering (the best part is no part) and there is no fundamental reason why reusability should not work. Just about every other mode of human transport involves reusable vehicles what makes it impossible for rockets?
I am impressed by your reply...and thank you for writing such detailed opinion.
I can't say that I was totally right, but once i was present on maintenance of RD-107 for Soyuz after its test run on factory. So, before installing it, it required the turbopump overhaul (even it worked just 30 sec). I witnessed, that was a very complicated, time and resource consuming job. It took 18 days. From other side, I can't imagine a super-reliable, reusable thing which rotates at 25,000 rpm and pumping hundreds liters of cryogenic liquid with pressure above 150 bars :) - the most expesive thing btw :). It will need an overhaul each time and it cost a lot.
That was easy to make napkin calculations of cost for SpaceX, but that was only napkin calculations :) as its difficult to objectively cost it as SpaceX is a company with non-transparent pricing, so we go by public information - launch cost (there are suspicuous fluctuations).
Launch of Falcon 9 with declared cost of $62 mil was launched with GPS IIIA-1 for $84 mil. But strangely DART scientific probe launch cost was $69 mil. But more bigger level was with Falcon Heavy prices - declared price of launch was $150 mil, but US Air Force contract for 1 launch - price was $316 mil. Besides, only government subsidies for SpaceX in 2020 was around $880 mil.
I say this not that i do not believe in Reusability - it works perfect, but the price paid for it - i doubt that it is profitable. It seems that the lower launch cost is covered by subsidies and some unclear pricing for some contracts.
I dont say anything bad - E.Mask is a great person, and SpaceX is a miracle. But if you want to drive a Mercedes, you have to pay much more than the price of Toyota Yaris :)
We have to believe what they want us believe in :)))))
As for methane - you are right, clogging will be eliminated, but thats the cryogenic propellant to use with a creogenic oxidizer (oxygen). I understand that methane is available on Mars and other planets, but usage of both cryogenic components will increase the price in total again (second cryogenic plant+storage+ safety things). Methane has lesser density - means bigger tanks etc.
It will sound like I believe that the Earth is flat, but I think untill our civilization will invent something different than chemical propellants for rockets, we have to stick to storable propellants and deal with their safety issues.
I was thinking why Soyuz and Proton are still used, they were born in 1950-s -60-s? The reason is - we dont need anything better :). The thing is doing well what it was created for and the launch prices are fixed and relatively low.
Falcon 9 and Proton M can be compared and have relatively same paylod capacity. Prices are also almost same. But Proton is simple like steam engine and Falcon 9 is complicated from engineering point of view. Not much reduced by reusability.
Political side of SpaceX business - its another side of this question. After crysis in Ukraine-Russia realtionship and sunctions, NASA needs an alternative orbital transport provider for Sattelites launch and ISS taxi. And on my opinion, most probably that is why SpaceX has payloads to make business.

I really hope, SpaceX will make to Mars. That will be an amazing achevement of humanity and Mask himself. I want to see what they will find there, can't wait.

Thank you for your reply. I really enjoyed reading it.
 
May 11, 2021
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I am impressed by your reply...and thank you for writing such detailed opinion.
I can't say that I was totally right, but once i was present on maintenance of RD-107 for Soyuz after its test run on factory. So, before installing it, it required the turbopump overhaul (even it worked just 30 sec). I witnessed, that was a very complicated, time and resource consuming job. It took 18 days. From other side, I can't imagine a super-reliable, reusable thing which rotates at 25,000 rpm and pumping hundreds liters of cryogenic liquid with pressure above 150 bars :) - the most expesive thing btw :). It will need an overhaul each time and it cost a lot.
That was easy to make napkin calculations of cost for SpaceX, but that was only napkin calculations :) as its difficult to objectively cost it as SpaceX is a company with non-transparent pricing, so we go by public information - launch cost (there are suspicuous fluctuations).
Launch of Falcon 9 with declared cost of $62 mil was launched with GPS IIIA-1 for $84 mil. But strangely DART scientific probe launch cost was $69 mil. But more bigger level was with Falcon Heavy prices - declared price of launch was $150 mil, but US Air Force contract for 1 launch - price was $316 mil. Besides, only government subsidies for SpaceX in 2020 was around $880 mil.
I say this not that i do not believe in Reusability - it works perfect, but the price paid for it - i doubt that it is profitable. It seems that the lower launch cost is covered by subsidies and some unclear pricing for some contracts.
I dont say anything bad - E.Mask is a great person, and SpaceX is a miracle. But if you want to drive a Mercedes, you have to pay much more than the price of Toyota Yaris :)
We have to believe what they want us believe in :)))))
As for methane - you are right, clogging will be eliminated, but thats the cryogenic propellant to use with a creogenic oxidizer (oxygen). I understand that methane is available on Mars and other planets, but usage of both cryogenic components will increase the price in total again (second cryogenic plant+storage+ safety things). Methane has lesser density - means bigger tanks etc.
It will sound like I believe that the Earth is flat, but I think untill our civilization will invent something different than chemical propellants for rockets, we have to stick to storable propellants and deal with their safety issues.
I was thinking why Soyuz and Proton are still used, they were born in 1950-s -60-s? The reason is - we dont need anything better :). The thing is doing well what it was created for and the launch prices are fixed and relatively low.
Falcon 9 and Proton M can be compared and have relatively same paylod capacity. Prices are also almost same. But Proton is simple like steam engine and Falcon 9 is complicated from engineering point of view. Not much reduced by reusability.
Political side of SpaceX business - its another side of this question. After crysis in Ukraine-Russia realtionship and sunctions, NASA needs an alternative orbital transport provider for Sattelites launch and ISS taxi. And on my opinion, most probably that is why SpaceX has payloads to make business.

I really hope, SpaceX will make to Mars. That will be an amazing achevement of humanity and Mask himself. I want to see what they will find there, can't wait.

Thank you for your reply. I really enjoyed reading it.
Thank you, it is nice to have a discussion here which is respectful and informative. Unfortunately I am not that familiar with the Russian space program so it would be difficult for me to comment in detail, however SpaceX have a huge focus on cost and will, I suspect, have designed everything on Starship with cost in mind, ease of production and ease of servicing. Going from the early Falcon 9 to the later block 5 versions there is a lot less refurbishment.

One interesting point is the time it used to take to install heat shield tiles on the Space shuttle. There were around 21,000 unique tiles on the Shuttle and a worker could install 1 or 2 a week. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_thermal_protection_system#Early_TPS_problems

Compare to Starship: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/m4ii51 View: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/m4ii51/video_of_spacex_installing_starship_heat_shield/

No doubt the first orbital launch will crash and burn, but they will find out what went wrong, correct it and try again and I suspect they will get it working without spending a week on each tile.

I know what you mean concerning financial calculations there are many anomalies but I suspect many differences are not down to the rocket, but other things. In some cases a launch might require a special installation to be built or a vast amount of documentation and checks or special insurance and many other obscure things that get rolled into the launch price: https://spacenews.com/spacex-explains-why-the-u-s-space-force-is-paying-316-million-for-a-single-launch/

To make things harder still, apart from occasional Tweets from Musk, we hear very little about cost and lots about price which include all the above problems as well as a margin for SpaceX because SpaceX will sell their services at the going rate or a bit cheaper in order to make money to fund their other programs.

I can’t imagine that the chemical synthesis and transport of hundreds of tonnes of hydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide would be that cheap as both are quite toxic. But methane comes out of the ground and is very cheap in Texas as a byproduct of oil fracking. In fact I suspect methane is 100x cheaper than hydrazine. Liquid oxygen is also very cheap, will be made on site and will only need electricity.

The political dimension is certainly important and is yet another distorting factor. I can’t imagine that China, Russia, the EU or the US would ever completely abandon all of their domestic launch capability on cost grounds however cheap the competition was. So you are correct in this respect.

I too hope Elon Musk is successful, although this is by no means guaranteed, he certainly over promises and there are any amount of unknown risks with a new rocket (and even sometimes with an old rocket) so we shall see. Interesting times.
 
Sep 24, 2021
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Hey guys,
I like the discussion you started. I would like to add my 5 cents - perhaps it will make you think a bit more deeper about SpaceX and the technology behind it :) But... in the begginning let me apologise for my bad English - thats not my native or primary tongue :)

1. Rocket Engines technological approach. Have you noticed the difference? Looking at all US and Earlier UK rocket engines with regen cooling - all are made out of "Spaghetti" - small cooling tuges, forming the shape of a nozzle. But SpaceX approach is more like USSR's one - lets call it "2 shells"? Was it dictated by Ukrainian and Russian engineers working in SpaceX or..... - we all know that in the beggining, E.Mask visited Russia several times trying to buy decommissioned balistic missiles to send some payload to Mars.

2. Reusability. Is that something new? - No. The idea was sitting in the minds of USSR and US engineers since early 60-s. But here comes the trouble: it will never save the money. Firstly, we all met this issues with the biggest reusable projects - Space Shuttle: to prepare it for next launch it required a complicated and long maintenance, which, apparently was costly. I am sure, from my engineering point of view, it cost a lot for SpaceX to do same (turbopumps, carbon clogs etc)
Besides, to make reusable systems profitable - it needs payloads. Again, same was with Space Shuttle - there was no enough payloads. Well, SpaceX found a payloads - their Worldwide internet system - but still thats not working good.

2 years ago i was doing some calculations as I had required data and numbers. The outcome was - SpaceX launch systems are not cheaper than Proton or Soyuz at all.
It could me more interesting if SpaceX could go with more modern approach like ablative cooling chambers (they actualy tried - look for "Merlin Ablative" in Youtube) - but here comes the trouble - you make cheap not reusable, or overengineered and very expensive reusable systems with WOW effect.

No wonders here, no innivations or reduced lauch cost. Mind you, Electricals cars everywhere - thats not something new :), we saw that in 1900-s - 1910-s with good range and speed :)

In 1990-s when USSR crashed, all technologies and secrets were on sale. Some secrecy inertia was till md 1990-s, but then anyone with coneections could buy any secret technology documentation or "Brains". What if it was bought and in order not to use it officially, it was done through the private space company? :)))) Thats of course the joke, but each joke has part of truth :)
This is a very interesting topic you've made. Thanks for sharing, after your article it's inspired me to do some more researches myslef.

Regarding soviet crush - it's a big true! Lots of people were leaving Soviet Union including scientist and engineers! No doubt that the western countries got soviet's technologies and nowdays I have no doubt that we are using them.
 
Aug 8, 2021
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1. Rocket Engines technological approach. Have you noticed the difference?
Kassini, you make a poignant observation in that SpaceX aren't exactly doing anything new, though they will have plenty of smaller innovations of their own. What seems to be the key to them that sets them apart, is getting it to work in production models at scaled cost, instead of the usual space technology cost which is at the bleeding edge and prohibitively expensive.

SpaceX are viewing the space industry as a manufacturing challenge rather than a science/engineering challenge (though they attract and employ many of the brightest). While there are plenty of science/engineering problems still in the space industry, it's not a new industry. Reliably make a part, at a reasonable cost, do it simply, get rid of ridiculously over engineered - and/or unnecessary parts. That's where and how they differ from the competition and how it affects their margins, costs and profits.

Instead of going all high tech - it's Space, so it has to be made from unobtanium route that has been the mindset of the space industry, SpaceX are willing to look at traditional materials. Stainless steel weighs a lot but is cheap, find the right versions and it is good at cryogenic and high temperatures, but most launch designers are keen to use lighter materials at higher cost (though not necessarily a technically better choice). So, that thinking from SpaceX brings down material costs - and build complexity/time.

They also have the advantage to competitors that have been the main players for decades, in that they are doing it from private money and that there are more customers than before. Previously, when the American, Russian military or NASA or whoever said "our payloads, so your rockets must be built to these specifications...", SpaceX is building particularly Starship, their way without interference. It goes through their own review, not 3000 subcommittees, doesn't need to satisfy a politician demanding work in their particular electorate etc. Doesn't need an ounce of whale oil in a flask to satisfy an oblique law made in the 1700s (I made that up, but you understand what I'm getting at).


It was all inevitable that some outsider company would not do things the traditional way, but the big shake up to the industry internationally is going to be from how big SpaceX have become. Companies will have to adapt to be competitive. No more 2 billion dollar SLS launches and similar, after the contracted ones are finished.
 
Nov 1, 2021
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Kassini, you make a poignant observation in that SpaceX aren't exactly doing anything new, though they will have plenty of smaller innovations of their own. What seems to be the key to them that sets them apart, is getting it to work in production models at scaled cost, instead of the usual space technology cost which is at the bleeding edge and prohibitively expensive.

SpaceX are viewing the space industry as a manufacturing challenge rather than a science/engineering challenge (though they attract and employ many of the brightest). While there are plenty of science/engineering problems still in the space industry, it's not a new industry. Reliably make a part, at a reasonable cost, do it simply, get rid of ridiculously over engineered - and/or unnecessary parts. That's where and how they differ from the competition and how it affects their margins, costs and profits.

Instead of going all high tech - it's Space, so it has to be made from unobtanium route that has been the mindset of the space industry, SpaceX are willing to look at traditional materials. Stainless steel weighs a lot but is cheap, find the right versions and it is good at cryogenic and high temperatures, but most launch designers are keen to use lighter materials at higher cost (though not necessarily a technically better choice). So, that thinking from SpaceX brings down material costs - and build complexity/time.

They also have the advantage to competitors that have been the main players for decades, in that they are doing it from private money and that there are more customers than before. Previously, when the American, Russian military or NASA or whoever said "our payloads, so your rockets must be built to these specifications...", SpaceX is building particularly Starship, their way without interference. It goes through their own review, not 3000 subcommittees, doesn't need to satisfy a politician demanding work in their particular electorate etc. Doesn't need an ounce of whale oil in a flask to satisfy an oblique law made in the 1700s (I made that up, but you understand what I'm getting at).


It was all inevitable that some outsider company would not do things the traditional way, but the big shake up to the industry internationally is going to be from how big SpaceX have become. Companies will have to adapt to be competitive. No more 2 billion dollar SLS launches and similar, after the contracted ones are finished.
DanIAm, I agree - private comapnies are not loaded with bureaucracy and can do everything the way they want it to be done. My point was - as private company, SpaceX uses the best and, as you said, cheaper - thats why they've choosen "Eastern" approach :) - I just wanted to seed some doubts about how the technology was obtained :)

But I repeat again - SpaceX is amazing. Its well organized, fast in result delivery and always keep the promises - nobody should care how and when the technology was obtained, which brains were used etc - thats all done for our civilization development and some money of course :)

But again, looking at my posts above - we have a reusable things coming back. It was done with a thought in mind to reduce the cost of launch. But it appears that the price is same as the traditional way that was used since 60-s with same payload capacity. And the new way is technologicaly more complcated. More parts you have - bigger probabily of failure. Why to invent the wheel again :)
I understand, this discussion can go on and on :)... for sure there are a lot of benefits in technology development like it was with Apollo program - it gave us a lot of new things. But still, I believe that SpaceX just appeared in a correct place and in-time - otherewise things could go wrong long time ago.
 
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May 11, 2021
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DanIAm, I agree - private comapnies are not loaded with bureaucracy and can do everything the way they want it to be done. My point was - as private company, SpaceX uses the best and, as you said, cheaper - thats why they've choosen "Eastern" approach :) - I just wanted to seed some doubts about how the technology was obtained :)

But I repeat again - SpaceX is amazing. Its well organized, fast in result delivery and always keep the promises - nobody should care how and when the technology was obtained, which brains were used etc - thats all done for our civilization development and some money of course :)

But again, looking at my posts above - we have a reusable things coming back. It was done with a thought in mind to reduce the cost of launch. But it appears that the price is same as the traditional way that was used since 60-s with same payload capacity. And the new way is technologicaly more complcated. More parts you have - bigger probabily of failure. Why to invent the wheel again :)
I understand, this discussion can go on and on :)... for sure there are a lot of benefits in technology development like it was with Apollo program - it gave us a lot of new things. But still, I believe that SpaceX just appeared in a correct place and in-time - otherewise things could go wrong long time ago.
Kassinni, it is an interesting point that you raise as to what extent Russian technology and ideas have been used by SpaceX and other US launchers. Elon Musk has always praised the Russian engine technology and I believe other companies have used Russian engines on their rockets so it seems likely that ideas from Russia have been incorporated into current designs. Perhaps Russian rocket scientists have also been employed, but I have no information on that.

I would recommend reading Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance, apart from describing Elon’s somewhat unusual early life; it also describes a number of incidents around how SpaceX saved money such as the shroud release mechanism. If I remember correctly it also mentioned several trips to Russia and something about Musk reading some “obscure Russian rocket manual” at some point (I don’t think he can read Russian, but it might have been translated or he might have been looking at the diagrams).

Concerning the price of rockets it is true that the price to orbit has only dropped modestly, but the key element is the cost to orbit which we don’t have a clear picture of and a high price does not necessarily mean a high cost for SpaceX. Imagine coming up with a launch system that only cost half (say) of the conventional launch price. You could then reduce your prices and pass on the benefit to the customer or you could continue charging the same amount (or a little bit less) and pocket the difference. I think that is exactly what SpaceX have done, but it’s impossible to say how big the margin is.

You are right that SpaceX appeared at the right time and place. Despite having some of the best brains in the US, SpaceX only just managed to survive in the early days and if it had started much earlier many things would have been different and it might not have survived.
 
Nov 1, 2021
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Kassinni, it is an interesting point that you raise as to what extent Russian technology and ideas have been used by SpaceX and other US launchers. Elon Musk has always praised the Russian engine technology and I believe other companies have used Russian engines on their rockets so it seems likely that ideas from Russia have been incorporated into current designs. Perhaps Russian rocket scientists have also been employed, but I have no information on that.

I would recommend reading Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance, apart from describing Elon’s somewhat unusual early life; it also describes a number of incidents around how SpaceX saved money such as the shroud release mechanism. If I remember correctly it also mentioned several trips to Russia and something about Musk reading some “obscure Russian rocket manual” at some point (I don’t think he can read Russian, but it might have been translated or he might have been looking at the diagrams).

Concerning the price of rockets it is true that the price to orbit has only dropped modestly, but the key element is the cost to orbit which we don’t have a clear picture of and a high price does not necessarily mean a high cost for SpaceX. Imagine coming up with a launch system that only cost half (say) of the conventional launch price. You could then reduce your prices and pass on the benefit to the customer or you could continue charging the same amount (or a little bit less) and pocket the difference. I think that is exactly what SpaceX have done, but it’s impossible to say how big the margin is.

You are right that SpaceX appeared at the right time and place. Despite having some of the best brains in the US, SpaceX only just managed to survive in the early days and if it had started much earlier many things would have been different and it might not have survived.
Slarty1080, I can tell even more :) - One of the senior engneer in SpaceX is Ukrainian guy, who graduated from the same faculty of the same University that I came from.
As for the manuals and books - Musk doesn't speak Russian, but I have 100% verified info that he was somehow reading a lot of textbooks/manuals for Aerospace Universities printed in USSR :) and he was even sleeping with them.
Once I found his interview, where he explained why SpaceX didnt go with aerospike engines - the reasoning he gave - it sounded like an explination of the high-class rocket engineer. You see guys, space science became more closer to everyone with dissapearing of government monopoly on it. With current technologies - its relatively easier to develop and built something when the info and knowledge are available and not confidential anymore. But still, the most important is an approach. SpaceX did it right, but being "closed" company, we will never know how, from whrere, and how much this technologies were obtained.
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but it seems to me that private company of such kind would never appear and develop so fast without external support, not only in political sphere, but in technological, even if you have 1000000000000000 USD on your account :))))
 
May 11, 2021
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Slarty1080, I can tell even more :) - One of the senior engneer in SpaceX is Ukrainian guy, who graduated from the same faculty of the same University that I came from.
As for the manuals and books - Musk doesn't speak Russian, but I have 100% verified info that he was somehow reading a lot of textbooks/manuals for Aerospace Universities printed in USSR :) and he was even sleeping with them.
Once I found his interview, where he explained why SpaceX didnt go with aerospike engines - the reasoning he gave - it sounded like an explination of the high-class rocket engineer. You see guys, space science became more closer to everyone with dissapearing of government monopoly on it. With current technologies - its relatively easier to develop and built something when the info and knowledge are available and not confidential anymore. But still, the most important is an approach. SpaceX did it right, but being "closed" company, we will never know how, from whrere, and how much this technologies were obtained.
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but it seems to me that private company of such kind would never appear and develop so fast without external support, not only in political sphere, but in technological, even if you have 1000000000000000 USD on your account :))))
Very interesting and it makes sense, I'm sure SpaceX will have made every effort to employ the best of the best whatever their nationality and background. It does seem strange that SpaceX has developed so quickly and who knows what has gone on behind the scenes. It has been very unfortunate that the US space industry has been slowly transformed into a jobs creation program lacking any clear permeant or sensible space policy goals. Musk probably sensed the state of that the US space launch business was in. figured out what might actually be possible and then set out to ruthlessly exploit the situation.

Although Elon Musk does some stupid things and is his own worst enemy sometimes (pot smoking, angry tweets that upset the US financial regulator and that daft peado comment etc) he is the only person I am aware of who has founded or cofounded three multi billion dollar companies in three entirely different sectors of business. He has form in taking on the incumbents in an industry and doing the business equivalent of a judo throw on them. I hope he can continue to expand SpaceX, but as he would say himself success is not guaranteed.
 

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