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Delta IV Heavy suitability as a booster for a manned craft

Posted by: Andy Hill - Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:56 am
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Delta IV Heavy suitability as a booster for a manned craft 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 22, 2004 2:50 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
May be Boeing one day will find themselves forced to do service for private space missions .... May be that Boeing is going to be forced to launch private manned orbital vehicles :) . If so the will find themselves in situation simmilar to IBM's former situation at the PC market...

I agree. And so does Burt Rutan. He said as much in public.


I don't want to bore you with a story, but boeing sounds to me like a privatized part of a government-company (or however i can put that).

For comparison, the Dutch railway (called NS) was once from and operated by the government. Somewhere down the road they thought that if they would privatize the whole thing, service would go up and ticketprizes down. Wrong. Allthough service is quiet an opinion (apart from arriving and starting to late) service has gone down, or stayed at the same level, and prices has only gone up.. It is even more efficient to get a car and drive to your destenation.

Now is railway not really a market where you can have easily multiple competitors, but same goes for space, isnt?

My point with the NS, once a monopoly has been established, you can do whatever you want. Until there is a competitor. And most of the time, they spent time doing nothing and filling their own pockets.

If the Delta IV would be anywhere near as cost-effective as the Ariane rocket, i'm sure the market will be there when a lifter is there, but i think it will be so expensive, even the military will think twice.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:15 pm
The railway question cannot be compared to the Boeing question because of special economic differences.

A railway net has a huge amount of sunk costs because the rails and net cannot be sold at a market. To remove the net means additional sunk costs too in the shape of investment into the removal. These are the causes of the lack of competitors. What might be sold much more easyly are the waggons and the machines but these are a asmall portion of total investment and total costs compared to the net..

Boeing instead doesn't have a comparable amount of sunk costs - they can by sold to another competitor relative easyly. And as we know they get competitors - look at SpaceX for example.

The problem with Boeing is their economic power by financial ressources, diversification etc. They can do crossfinancing and they can exist for a remarkable period of time suffering losses.

In principle each monopoly can get competitors if sunk costs are sufficiently low and so cannot work as a barrier to new entry. The Theory of Competition has proved that a monopoly really cannot keep prices within the profit zone - this is the case if there are no or only low barriers to new entry.

A special problem concerning Boeing is the demand-side market power of the government: NASA and the military.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 22, 2004 4:59 pm
Point is, it smells the same and it has the same effects.

Does anybody know any pricing, or is it not for sale?


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:47 pm
What Burt and I are referring to is just competition. If Boeing has competition, they will have to compete or lose market share. And Ekkhard's IBM PC comparison implies that they will be unable to compete and so loose that market, just like IBM has lost the PC market.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 8:09 am
Stefan, you are right - it has the same effects.

But the difference in the nature and the causes of the effects menas that different measures are required to handle or to remove the effects. In the case of Boeing this is competition at the supply side as well as competition at the demand side.

Supply side competiton will increase at the end of February according to the newest article under www.xprizenews.org because SpaceX's Falcon I will be launched then and by this begin its operations.

Demand side competition is a lot harder to be increased because of the huge financial power and ressources of the government (NASA and military) - they can force the people by law to pay taxes and then give NASA and military taxes by congress voting if they have the majority there which is the case today. The US citizens are lucky to have a congress that isn't responsible to elect the government but is independent of the government and more responsible to the citizens and voters than the german "Deutscher Bundestag".

So to increase demand side competition has to be increased by establishing additional demanders having huge financial ressources that are non-governmental. These additional demanders would compete to increase the market prices to launch payloads. This in turn would increase the number of suppliers and thus the supply side competition - and Boeing would be left to the government. Then the day will come when the congress and the government recognize that Boeing's competitors are cheaper. They will turn to these competitors then because of the bad political impact of taxes upon their share of voters and the congress majorities. Beginning that moment the government is trapped by demand side competition I guess.

Then again all the technical arguments here - that all are important economically too - do matter a lot and the question will be what the technical and economical advantages are. That time Boeing will fell to be urged to look for them.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 10:39 am
You're right Ekkehard (as usual ;) ), but, governments are, most of the time, not really 'aware' of the changes, or they dont want to change. Or change is slow, too slow. So, unless the government changes quickly when they see that the Falcon 1 is reliable, boeing doesnt have-to change. If they allready have contracts, it doesnt matter if they lower the prices for other people, they allready got the money.

But i'll help hoping it will happen soon. We ultimately need such heavylifters to get large sections of big space stations in orbit or to the moon, its simply unevitable.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:19 am
Yes - I agree.

The military at least does change - the first cargo of the Falcon X is a military satellite as far as I know. It was at least when I looked at SpaceX's timetable for the first time.

But SpaceX has to scale up the capacity to meet Delta4 Heavy's capacity. The next Scale-up is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2005 and will carry the third-scale version of Bigelow'S Nautilus: Falcon V.

I don't know this moment wether additional vehicles are under construction.

It may be sufficient to take away all the scale-ranges from Boeing where the majority of business is going on. Then Boeing would lose a large amount of their crossfinancing potential and their economies of scope and scale - and the price of Delta4 Heavy would increase. This way the vehicle could become too expensive seen from the point of the government and the congress.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:31 pm
Does anyone know the cost of a delta IV heavy launch, I remember seeing that the US Airforce paid $140M for the launch but I think that included the construction of a demonstration payload as well.

My understanding was that the demo payload was basically a weight with loads of sensors installed that sent back positioning and stress data to Earth, that being the case I cant see how this would cost the majority of the money. Does this mean that a Delta IV Heavy would cost $100M or so? How does this compare in cost to an Arianne 5 ES launch or even the original Titan II rocket?

If this is the case then although it is a significant saving on a shuttle launch (ignoring the fact that the shuttle has a much greater payload capacity) it is way to expensive to use as a booster for manned flights which are likely to be even more expensive due to the safety issues of making the delta man rated.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:36 pm
100 milion is a ridiculous price imo. What does cost so much for a launch anyway? A lot of grounpersonal? Fuel? Rebuilding the spacecraft?

I suppose lots of cost-cutting can be done if you need a lot less persons to guide a launch, buct 100 milion is a lot. Way to much imo. I wonder what boeing's profits will be from those 100 million.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 2:13 pm
Besides - did you realize that the Delta4 Heavy failed to launche the demontration payload to the geostationary orbit?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 2:19 pm
Looks like another example of Big Business ripping of the American tax payer. At these prices I cant see NASA or any private company like Bigelow using it to launch many spacecraft.

Come on SpaceX stop this Rip Off, lets have Falcon flying!! A Falcon V with a couple of small SRBs attached might be able to launch an orbital craft big enough.

I think the going rate for a Soyuz launch is about $30M but that is only a guess I've seen in the media as the Russians keep fairly tight lipped about costs.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 2:46 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Besides - did you realize that the Delta4 Heavy failed to launche the demontration payload to the geostationary orbit?


Yes I did, it seems that Boeing are still calling the flight a success though. See link

http://www.floridatoday.com/!NEWSROOM/s ... AFOLO1.htm

If the payload had been a real satellite it would probably have been put in a useless orbit, but Boeing and the Airforce are happy with the result. I dont suppose any of the $140M will be refunded for poor performance. I sometimes wonder whether the likes of Boeing and Lockheed have to closer ties with the US government, it all seems very incestuous.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 23, 2004 3:13 pm
LOL, i read the article on space.com swiftly and they talked a bout a succes also. If i would be payed 140 milion to do that, anything will be a success if nothing has to be repayed :D

I hope Bigelow is gonna need the rockets very soon, otherwise we can have a long wait in 2005.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:00 am
Andy Hill said:
I sometimes wonder whether the likes of Boeing and Lockheed have to closer ties with the US government, it all seems very incestuous


Yes. Yes I would say they do. I mean, not to say that there's necessarily anything inappropriate going on, but the government IS getting to that age where they start to notice big aerospace contractors. But it's not just him, you know. Just the other day I cautght young Lockheed trying to rush out the door on her way to some such and I said "Young lady that is Entirely too much makeup for a congressional hearing! You march right back into the bathroom and take off about ten layers of that stuff!" I think the voters and government are going to have to have a talk.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 24, 2004 6:33 am
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If the payload had been a real satellite it would probably have been put in a useless orbit, but Boeing and the Airforce are happy with the result. I dont suppose any of the $140M will be refunded for poor performance.


Again, it's a government contract to work on a project on the basis of time & materials. Boeing sells the Air Force on the Delta IV, and estimates a budget. Airforce bigshot says, "Way cool technology, got to have it. We'll pay you to develop and launch it on the basis of your time multiplied by an hourly rate + the cost of materials + a reasonable profit margin"

While boeing would *like* the Delta to be a success so that they can get more contracts to build Delta's, the risk isn't really there. In some cases, it's not a bad thing to mitigate the suppliers risk, particularly if nobody will otherwise take the job. However, the space industry is start to reach the point where they can take the risks by buying suitable insurance. The government should really stop funding mediocrity.

However, government funded aerospace is in no way confined to the US - look at EADS and Arianespace, and Airbus, and .... you get the picture.


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