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what are the costs?

Posted by: brianchylinski - Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:29 pm
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what are the costs? 
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Post what are the costs?   Posted on: Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:29 pm
Hello

First time poster. In general, does anyone have an idea of the @ costs for the x-prize entrants? (research, testing, manufacture, etc)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:24 am
Short answer is between US$2,000,000 and US$50,000,000.

It depends entirely on how the team is attempting to compete for the prize and what their final goal is.

Some teams are not just competing for the X Prize, they are developing orbital craft with significant payload capacity for launching satellites. Others are just going for the conjectured sub-orbital tourist market.

Mister Dirt Cheap team rebuilds a V2, man rates it and lands it in the ocean. This is well understood technology now 60 years old. Very little development is required compared to other forms but final application could be more limited.
There are not teams really taking this route but Canadian Arrow might be closest.

Mister Expensive team builds a precursor SSTO with jet engines to get it around. These thing are cool but on the very edges of engineering abilities. The X Prize looks simply like a stepping stone to these guys who are really looking to build international space liners.
Examples are Pioneer Rockets and Bristol Spaceplanes.

The are other teams making exotic craft based on obscure engineering principles and attempting to develop whole new ways of getting to space. These are teams who are convinced big boosters and especially staging are not the way to get to space fast and cheap. The most obvious example here is Scaled Composites. Armadillo are also leaders in this category. The fact that both these teams are in here shows the investment difference possible.

Doing something like this tends to require a lot of money on the development side.

Anybody who attempts to develop a brand new material is going to need deep pockets.

Way on up the high end of the scale are teams approaching one billion dollars for whom the X Prize is just a foot note in their operations. These people are trying to win Government contracts and stuff. Examples escape me at the moment…. Maybe I just dreamed them up….

The biggest factor is the attitude of the team and whether they are professionals or volunteers, how much importance the put on safety and flight testing versus hold together long enough to win.

Somebody else will likely correct all this which is fine cuz I am just rambling now...

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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 20, 2004 8:37 pm
idiom wrote:
Way on up the high end of the scale are teams approaching one billion dollars for whom the X Prize is just a foot note in their operations. These people are trying to win Government contracts and stuff. Examples escape me at the moment…. Maybe I just dreamed them up….


you just dreamed them up, they don't enter in the x-prize, and they don't even try to build rlvs (usually) or get cheap access to space. examples are boeing, lockheed, and of course, though it's government, nasa.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 21, 2004 8:07 am
Yes I did... But it was not me.. I figured out where that wonky idea came from...

It was about a company lobbying to get their RLV legal to launch out of nevada over cities or something...

I think it came from a novel or something. sorry bout that. will try to be more awake when I post.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:23 am
brianchylinski,

Nice to have you on the board!

As for your question, I would say that the costs vary tremendously, depending on the approach taken. For example, the X PRIZE team Armadillo Aerospace uses volunteer labor and off-the-shelf commercial equipment, while Scaled Composites has a group of elite paid engineers, led by a aviation genius (Burt Rutan) who uses a lot of unique inventions. As a result of this difference, Armadillo will probably spend less than $5 million total, while Scaled will probably spend up to $30 million. Clearly, the cost range varies.

Keep in mind, however, that most of the X PRIZE teams are looking beyond the $10 million prize toward the ultimate goal of a space tourism business. So even if they spend more than $10 million or fail to capture the prize, they can still come out profitable in the end.

(Interestingly, while the teams have varying development costs, they all seem to be aiming for the same per-flight costs: about $100,000 to $200,000.)


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