Community > Forum > Perception, Barriers & Regulation of Privatized Space Travel > Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's

Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's

Posted by: skymik - Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:51 am
Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 19 posts ] 
Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's 
Author Message
Spaceflight Enthusiast
Spaceflight Enthusiast
avatar
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:44 pm
Posts: 4
Location: France
Post Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's   Posted on: Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:51 am
Good morning,

I'm working on a French website which partly speaks about some topic which seems futuristic at the present time but which will be real for common citizen in a few years.

That's why I have to writte some articles about commercialization of space and rise of space tourism.

I have already done some research and it seems that succesful company like Scaled Composites, Space Adventures or Space X are not the first ones.
There was a first wave of private compaies in the 90's but entrepreneurs of the space sector all failed in this period.
(Their business was apparently about low cost rockect launch service, especially for small satellites used for "satellite phone")

So my question is: Why, according to you, did this first wave fail? What has fundamentaly changed in the 00's?

(In fact, i have lots of questions, but let's begin with this one :-) )


Thanks in advance,

Sorry for my English.


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:23 am
Posts: 3745
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:58 am
To me it seems as if the market for small satellites, microsats and nanosats is in the beginning currently and far from maturing - this will have been more valid in the 1990s.

For this reason those space companies didn't get sufficient numbers of customers and failed for that reason - they did nothing wrong but were too early. This is the risk of all pioneers and innovators and has occurred at other markets too.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


Back to top
Profile
Moon Mission Member
Moon Mission Member
User avatar
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2004 5:38 pm
Posts: 1361
Location: Austin, Texas
Post Re: Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's   Posted on: Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:17 pm
skymik wrote:
(Their business was apparently about low cost rockect launch service, especially for small satellites used for "satellite phone")
I was working at Motorola when Iridium was launched and everyone was predicting a giant new market that would replace regular cell phones. Other satellite constellations were proposed and work actually started. Iridium's few dozen launches strained the available launch capacity and Teledesic was proposing launching HUNDREDS of satellites. This caused several groups to start work on new launch vehicles. But Iridium lost money because the phones were large and expensive and the service was not as good as regular cell phones. The only market remaining was for remote locations like Antarctica and Mount Everest. That was too small a market and the other constellations were never launched.

Quote:
So my question is: Why, according to you, did this first wave fail? What has fundamentaly changed in the 00's?
It failed because satellite phones failed. The new factor is the X-Prize! I was really skeptical at first. Who cared about suborbital? I sure didn't. When Rutan first announced he was planning a space flight and showed the EZ rocket, I though, what, is this a joke? I was imagining an EZ rocket in orbit. But when SS1 was unveiled, Diamandes suddenly became a visionary genius! Now let us hope that the suborbital tourism market does not follow the model of the satellite phone market!


Back to top
Profile WWW
Spaceflight Participant
Spaceflight Participant
User avatar
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:09 pm
Posts: 88
Location: Austin, TX
Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:11 pm
I have a really, ultra-simplistic outside take on this. One thing I think that all the '90's launch startups had in common was that (correct me if I'm wrong here) they were all being financed by millionaires. As opposed to billionaires. Millionaire financing seems like hot stuff in most areas of business, unless you're trying to put something in orbit. Rotary rocket gave themselves the added difficulty of trying to develop all sorts of wacky technology that hadn't been done before, like rocket-propelled helicopter blades, to name one. It's sort of a rule in business that the more you innovate, the greater chance there is to fail. The bottom line though, is having enough money in the hands of a crazy enough person. :twisted:


Back to top
Profile
Spaceflight Enthusiast
Spaceflight Enthusiast
avatar
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:44 pm
Posts: 4
Location: France
Post Re: Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's   Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:56 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
! Now let us hope that the suborbital tourism market does not follow the model of the satellite phone market!


Yes, let's hope!

Thanks for all your analysis!

According to your explanations, failure of satellite phones provoked failure of the first space private companies.
But "Mankind" had still to launch usual satellites: spysat, meteosat, mediasat,...
Why did those new companies fail recover this kind of classic markets???

Everybody laugh at governemental agencies like ESA or NASA.
According to some people, They would be inneficient dinosaurs full of public servants.
So in that case, the price of a Ariane5 launch should have been far more expensive that the price of a launch on a new private companies.
In that case, why did medias chose to use Ariane (for example) again?

Those companies failed because the Demand for lauch of "constellation" vanished.
They maybe only counted on the "scale" factor for decreasing prices...

But Today, there still isn' any big Demand for launch.
So Why companies like SpaceX believe in success? What is/are their asset(s)?


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:25 am
Posts: 887
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:24 pm
Large, cheap, established Russian boosters done for a lot of start ups. Goldin's distractions with the X-33 crapster, and the Roton flop all soured the industry.

The Russians are hard to beat. They have launched 1700 times with their workhorse, and the prices are very low.

The Soviet model and the free trade model had different strengths and weaknesses.

The R-7 was born in the Gulag.

Strong backs and scarred hands gave birth to this HLLV of the 50's as men bowed to omnipotent Chief Designers backed by the force of Stalin's war machine drawing down resources from a good bit of Asia on pain of Death.

Failure was truly not an option in those days--for that would spell a return to Kolyma--or Nordhausen in the case of the V-2. Its metal was tempered in blood and lubricated by the sweat of the Worker.

Talk about motivation!

This is blue collar rocketry. This fearful technocratic-industrial mindset was perfect for the high thrust rockets needed to get to orbit.

Compare that to flighty Branson types with a new project every week--idle days spent making reality shows, a lot of talk about free trade and Ayn Rand--and all we have seen yet are very limited suborbital flights and a lot of talk about 'wouldn't it be nice if."

This kind of white collar thinking gets us nice, lightweight aircraft---but I doubt that that model can recapture the force of will that gave us the R-7, born as it was of blood and iron--fire and fear. If Musk had the money of Bill Gates, and became a ruthless tyrant--he might stand a chance.

That is how Boeing and LockMart stay in business. So it is best to learn from the Machiavellian machinations of the primes while having the ability and good graces to sweet-talk investors out of millions--or billions--of dollars.

It also helps if you could threaten to send your enemies to Siberia. :twisted:

Sounds like a good idea for a book...

The Gulag & The Rocket: How Soviet Muscle Outclassed Free-Trade Fantasies


Last edited by publiusr on Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:17 pm
Posts: 243
Location: So Cal, baby!
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:28 pm
Well, if we can lay aside publi's standard pinko-propaganda HLLV diatribe for a moment (you know, Sigurd, you should just write a daemon that would post a piece of Das Kapital to every new thread and save publi the trouble...)

...anyhow, SpaceX has two very important things going for it:

1). It is owner-operated. Musk and his engineers have only themselves to answer to.

2). They have paying customers. Government contract, baby... it's nice work, if you can get it.

Some folks say there is an increasing demand, BTW:

http://www.spacemart.com/news/industry-05zg.html

Always take everything with a grain of salt, though...

http://www.astronautix.com/articles/thew2004.htm


Last edited by SawSS1Jun21 on Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Back to top
Profile
Moon Mission Member
Moon Mission Member
User avatar
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2004 5:38 pm
Posts: 1361
Location: Austin, Texas
Post Re: Failure of commercialization of space in the 90's   Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:43 pm
skymik wrote:
But Today, there still isn' any big Demand for launch.
So Why companies like SpaceX believe in success? What is/are their asset(s)?
Well, they aren't a success yet. They have yet to launch a rocket. Conestoga looked like a good new cheap rocket until it failed. We aren't out of the woods yet! Time will tell if this is a new era or just another repeat of the 1990's.


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:25 am
Posts: 887
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:49 pm
I think sheer scale is also a problem. We have been poisoned with the idea that spaceflight can be easy what with the movies.

Below is an article on the Redstone--which is closer to what I cann the x-prize scale of activity we have seen so far--being around the Falcon I though weaker than Falcon V:
http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/2 ... plorer.htm

Now compare poor little Redstone with the Monster From The East:

http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/2 ... uno_19.jpg

Comparison of the Juno I and R-7 launchers. In this case the R-7 is the version used to launch Vostok and was built from the Apex/AER kit. The actual R-7 used to launch Sputnik was 111 feet tall in comparison to Juno I being only 71.25 feet.
The R-7 also generated ten times more thrust. The models are in 1/144th scale



That is what you are really competing against.
You must match it if the orbital market is too be yours. Good luck.


Last edited by publiusr on Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:17 pm
Posts: 243
Location: So Cal, baby!
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:51 pm
Quote:
Well, they aren't a success yet. They have yet to launch a rocket. Conestoga looked like a good new cheap rocket until it failed. We aren't out of the woods yet! Time will tell if this is a new era or just another repeat of the 1990's.


Very true.

I might point out that it is possible that nobody has ever made money launching rockets. Even the primes are probably not using a sustainable model if you take away the gov't business (which probably does amount to subsidy, as alleged by some folks across the Pond) Even publi's ultra-cheap, economy-of-scale, 1700-launches-at-98%-success R-7 is subsidized, and the Russians are constantly broke even when they can get $20M per seat from Tito et.al.

The business model for self-sustaining commercial launch enterprise is still only hypothetical. That doesn't mean people will stop trying.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:25 am
Posts: 887
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:08 pm
Russia has to rent their own facilities from the Kazakhs. if you look at the update to my post showing the difference in size between the X-prize scale Redstone and R-7--it at least gives you a target to aim at in the orbital market. You are probably going to need at least one million pounds of thrust--R-7 class--so you can have an orbital rocket to begin with. Get that done first.

If the Delta II is to be sacrificed--it may be possible to pick up its tooling. There was a concept called Delta Sprint that allowed a very tiny Mercury capsule to be launched atop Delta II--so any orbital rocket has to be at least that big.

Even without solid strap-ons, Musk's Falcon V is in Delta II range--so he is closer than anyone else. That is still two tons less than R-7 the Progress launch vehicle ISS must rely upon.

Musk's Falcon V is a single core rocket--and he does not want strap-ons. But if he gets that Delta II tooling--and compromises--allowing Falcon to have solids as well as five engines--such a Falcon VI rocket would be pushing into R-7 territory, a minimum standard.

Musk's biggest threats are the folks insisting that he launch off an island (with all the logistical nightmare that entails) so they won't worry about he rocket doing a CATO into their precious AF rockets.

Those kinds of games are what shut Beal down the father of the simple, monster size pressure-fed (H2O2 and kero) rocket concept that really scared the primes:

http://www.spaceandtech.com/spacedata/e ... ages.shtml
http://www.spaceandtech.com/spacedata/e ... _sum.shtml
http://www.bealaerospace.com/
http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/bealba2.htm


Last edited by publiusr on Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:17 pm
Posts: 243
Location: So Cal, baby!
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:15 pm
From what I see, Falcon V is a very good match for R-7:

Falcon V:
http://www.spacex.com/ (see Falcon Overview)
400 km, 51 deg (Space Station) 5,450 kg


R-7 (Commercial Soyuz/Fregat):
http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/soygatst.htm
LEO Payload: 5,500 kg. to: 450 km Orbit. at: 51.8 degrees.

Looks like damn similar performance to me.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:25 am
Posts: 887
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:32 pm
Falcon is more delta II class. Soyuz capsules mass out to seven tons to ISS. Fregat is a bit less due to hypergolics.


Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:17 pm
Posts: 243
Location: So Cal, baby!
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:39 pm
Only the Government Model Soyuz (FG) can do that. Subsidies don't count for the purposes of this analysis, right?

Besides, the body sections of Falcon are modular to allow for addition of more tankage if required by the mission (an advantage of the pure cylinder design). You could add another 20% propellant, go to a FLOX 30 oxidizer and pick up a lot more performance if you felt you needed to (and didn't mind not recovering a merlin or five) Strap-ons are not the only way to improve performance.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:25 am
Posts: 887
Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:48 pm
True--but it could help. The point is R-7 just has so much more margin and can also be stretched even more. With hydrogen upper stages (ONEGA) R-7 will place 13 tons or so in LEO

Here is another comsat booster
http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/soyuzst.htm


Back to top
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ] 
 

Who is online 

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


cron
© 2014 The International Space Fellowship, developed by Gabitasoft Interactive. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use