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Not Another Post Your Ideas Thread!

Posted by: TerraMrs - Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:40 pm
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Not Another Post Your Ideas Thread! 
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Post Not Another Post Your Ideas Thread!   Posted on: Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:40 pm
With a practical outlook this time.

Most idea topics on this forum are geared towards hypothetical products and general strategies to accomplish massive feats. I would like to know what near term (within 10 years) technologies people would like to see deployed in space. This doesn't mean "commercial orbital hotel", rather it means a product you would actually buy. For example, I would like to see a GPS service that tracked traffic and accidents, and used that information to make sure I can get to point B from point A the fastest. I'd pay money for that, I'd like to hear what stuff you would pay money for that would come from space (though not your business ideas, better keep those to yourself (; ). People at my company (that builds satellites) are always looking for plans to use their technology in ways that will sell well. Anyone has a good idea I like, I'll pass it on, and maybe we'll be using it soon.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:30 am
In-space energy creation.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:20 pm
never going to be practical. dark sky station power plants maybe, but seriously launch costs won't be low enough until we have a space elevator and then there will probably be a working fusion reactor.

space based energy is not a near term thing.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:31 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

I cannot but disagree. SpaceX really can bring down launch costs to levels below $ 10 mio for a Falcon 9 Heavy.

Next the experiences with the ISS as well as with Mars-probes and -rovers show that solar panels can generate power over long periods of time. And the efficiency of solar cells is growing by innovations.

Finally there recently was an experiment that showed that power indeed can be transmitted over a distance of more than 100 km.

What I want to add to the list is equipment using space to have processes available that are not possible at earthian gravity.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:22 pm
you guys really hate thinking of anything under 10-year timescale lol. let me be more specific in my arguments against space-based power.

a) solar cells in space are ~5x more efficient than those on earth i believe, receiving energy all the time so add 2x more so an order of magnitude more effective per unit area. consider however, a launch cost of $1000/lb to orbit, which is VERY optimistic for the best spacex will be able to do. that means in order for it to be cost effective to put solar panels in space we need solar cells to cost more than $100/lb in bulk, which they do not. So discounting the additional cost of transmitter/receiver (considerable), it's not even effective for the generating mechanism itself. it would be better to put 10x the area of solar cells on earth than that 1x area in space.

b) the legitimate argument that space based power is incredibly vulnerable and could easily be destroyed at whim by someone with a big rocket.

now i won't disagree that someday space based power might make sense, especially if fusion doesn't happen. but it won't be in earth orbit, it will be by venus or closer and won't happen for at least 100 years.

and ekkehard you're an economist cmon i know you can think of something less nebulous than 0-g manufacturing. just real quick for one on that vein, simultaneous 3-axis rapid prototyping is something that could be very cool and would require zero gravity (or a needlessly complex earth based system).

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:16 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

the minimum thinkable launch costs of SpaceX I will continue to conclude in the according thread of the Financial Barriers section - but the result may be less than $ 500/kg but more than $ 200/kg.

Regarding solar power generated in space it is more likely that several such satellites will be installed in orbit. And they might collect solar power before beaming it down to Earth. Beaming down might occurr periodically instead of permanently. This way the cost might be brought down significantly.

Regarding the 3D-processes I am thinking of the circumstance that a few years there was an experiment on the ISS to produce a substance that can kill 3D-cancer-tumores that can't be produced on Earth. But I can't work it out at present nor derive something else.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:34 pm
it makes little difference whether you beam power continuously or in bursts, just as it makes little difference whether there's one or several entities generating the power. the main limiting cost is and will remain launch itself, at least for power generation.

as to those spacex costs:
LEO missions: $36.75M

for falcon 9, capable of 12,500kg ~ 30,000 lbs. now LEO isn't where you want a power plant but even if it were, that's still >$1000/lb. as we are within a 10-year timeframe, i think it's safe to assume that they won't decrease their costs by 1/2 in that time.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 2:33 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

At the side of economics there really is a difference - and the purpose of space-based power generation is an economical one.

The difference is that the satellite first would gather power required to beam down power and then the power to beamed down. It wouldn't have to generate both the power for itself at the same time it generates the power for Earth.

Several entities would enable to beam down power more often. This would allow for smaller satellites for this purpose.

Regarding SpaceX you apply the price Musk saif of that doesn't count for reusability. But he considers the Falcon 9 to be reusable completely. So the price should be expected to drop to a much lower level in the nearby future.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:33 pm
i don't buy that. they're going to pocket the profits from the reusability until musk recoups his losses. so yea sure prices will go down, but not by the 1/2 cost we're talking about. after all it's expensive to launch a rocket now matter how you look at it. and you're totally missing my point, i'm completely ignoring the beaming down cost, only looking at the generating cost, which is where it doesn't make sense. if it did, then at some economy of scale the beaming wouldn't matter, but it doesn't so it doesn't matter how much the beaming costs are. believe me if this made sense the aerospace primes would have done it long ago, they're just slow not stupid- power is a very safe investment if you can generate it for less than it costs. only problem is you can't, in space.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:26 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

the costs of beaming down can't be that high because of the economical properties:

1. No variable costs because all the power required is for free in space.
2. Long lifetime as all the other satellites as well as the future possibility of cheap maintenance flights show.
3. Investments on Earth can be reduced.

SpaceX will have variable cost for propellant, refurbishment and launch only once the Falcon is reliable enough. Thes will sum up to less than $ 10 mio. If they want to maximize profit over a period of several years it seems to be interesting to get a lot of universities and average companies as customers - such customers can be got at prices below $ 10 mio. only.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:36 pm
this is totally off topic now, the cost of beaming down is the cost to a) build and b) launch. the power is free on earth too, this is what it must be compared to. within 10 years (the main condition you are persistently ignoring) it will cost more to build a power generating station in space that can make as much power as an equivalent station on earth. but enough on this.

my query was not about futuristic uses of space, but current uses of space that technological advances in other areas (eg, bandwidth) are enabling. we all know what the generic futuristic uses are, some are more feasible than others, but current uses that push the boundary are what really move stuff forward. you can't rely on breakthrough technologies, you have to narrow the gap between breakthrough and practical until it is surmountable and the people with money see the breakthrough as a risky but rewarding investment rather than an insane venture doomed to failure. this is what most of the "alt-space" launcher companies (armadillo, jpaerospace, etc) are trying to do, since launch costs are the main obstacle in space. we can't speed any of that stuff up, even in the best case, if jpa stays on their stated schedule from way back when, when jp said it was a 20 year program, they don't finish for another 7 or so, and i don't think armadillo will "finish" (eg, in orbit) before then either. if anyone's going to, in fact, i think it will be blue origin but that's just speculation. there's stuff that can be done before then that will push the boundaries in other ways, we should explore these options since ultimately they have far more immediate potential than more out-there ideas.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:54 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

yes, it is completely off topic now - I only talk about it because you use economical arguments. Neither the cost to build nor the launch costs are the costs of beaming down since regardless of how often energy is beamed down and how much energy is beamed down there is only one launch of the satellite and it is built only once. So there are fixed costs only. (There is a thread about costs in the Financial Barriers section describing it by the example of vehicles.) Because of this the costs per kwh are decreasng. On Earth there really are variable costs since the majority of power plants consume oil, carbon, uranium etc.

And the topic is realistic because there were articles about the Military and others are researchung and working on space-based power generation. I am talking about the same as Klaus.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:07 pm
satellites don't last forever, the costs are not fixed. you design for a mission lifespan of x years, and if you're generating power at a certain rate, your cost per unit energy is the "fixed cost" / (power * mission duration). the "cost" of actually operating the thing over that time is significant in $ terms, but fairly trivial in comparison to the cost of building and launching, even over a 15 year mission duration (what most satellite missions are, at least at my company). and i was comparing it to a solar power plant on earth, the only thing that's as clean (or cleaner, depending on definitions) as a solar plant in space. obviously a nuclear plant is FAR better in cost/energy terms, but it also has obvious drawbacks (mostly political).

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:15 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

the costs to build and the launch costs are investments that will be depreciated and the depreciations allow for the replacement of the satellite when its lifetime is over. These cost are called fixed costs because they don't vary with the amount of kwh generated and beamed down nor with the number of times any amount is beamed down.

With Klaus' post as well as with your initial post this has to do in so far as the depreciations will be invested into proceeded satellites for power generation and that I because of this would like satellites where the equipment can be replaced by innovations of it(self).



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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:02 pm
Let's play a bit with numbers:

First of all: I'm not the great economics guy, perhaps Ekkehard Augustin can play a bit better with the numbers

:arrow: Energy costs are rapidly rising, at least i face increased costs since 2 years about 50% each year.

:arrow: Elon Musk at ISDC 2008: "$1500/lb on F9 without reusabilty for a satellite to LEO equatorial. At least 50% savings with reusability. Aspire long range to 80% savings with reusability so get to $300/lb."

:arrow: Image

Then my rough assumptions:

Falcon 9 Heavy GEO 15000 kg - $1000/kg
1 Central Control/Beam/Etc. Hub - $50,000,000, 1 Flight
10 Energy Modules - $5,000,000, 10 Flights (mass production)
Solar Array 500W/kg
15 Years Lifetime

Energy Production: 10 [Modules] x 15000 [kg] x 500 [W] = 75 MW

Costs: 11 [Flights] x 15000 [kg] x 1000 [$/kg] + 50000000 [$ Control Hub] + 10 [Modules] x 5000000 [$ Module] = $265 Million

When I then calculate 15 years operation (or a bit longer with lesser/degraded efficiency) then I get the price for 1Kwh = $0.27

I hope I copied the numbers correct from my Excel calculation

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