Community > Forum > Perception, Barriers & Regulation of Privatized Space Travel > Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space

Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space

Posted by: sanman - Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:34 am
Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 46 posts ] 
Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space 
Author Message
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Intrinsic Motivation vs Extrinsic Motivation   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:10 am
Here's an interesting TED Talk by Dan Pink which I saw recently, and which may or may not be useful to this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y


I'm wondering if the ailing aerial transportation industry can be transformed into a higher-end aerial transportation industry, with adequate potential to jump off toward space. Creating higher-end air travel/transport will allow for the emergence of a higher-end supplier base and broader technical services ecosystem capable of truly innovating greater technical solutions that will breach the gravity well in more robust way.

That way the heavens don't have to be opened up on a wing and a prayer.


Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
User avatar
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:25 pm
Posts: 160
Location: Ireland
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:25 am
sanman wrote:
Private space travel needs to find a "killer app" or indispensible market which can guarantee its future. I would say that rapid intercontinental travel is that market, to act as a stepping stone or jump-off point to space. Sure, it does compel a technology selection bias towards hypersonics, but the payoff is that you have a strong guaranteed market that won't fail you. You only have to worry about the technology failing, and not the market failing - and that's safer, because if the market fails, then no amount of technology will keep your business alive.


Ok, I follow what you are saying and I agree with the essential premise behind it. I'd like to re-examine what you said from the perspective of a gambler. All high-level businesses are gamblers when viewed in a certain perspective. They assess the costs, the risks and the payoff and decide whether an investment is a worthwhile gamble.

Let's assume that it takes 12 hours to fly from New York to Tokyo via a standard sub-sonic airliner and costs $2000 dollars for a first class ticket. I'm picking these numbers out of my head but I think they are close to correct. Let's suppose that the average traveler is 40 years old and has 40 years left to live. Another assumption is that the sub-sonic airliner has a 0% chance of crashing or causing any of the passengers to die. Obviously these numbers are rounded off but I believe they are close to what statistical data will show.

If a hypersonic sub-orbital passenger service between New York and Toyko is to be commercially successful, it will need to provide a service that gives some kind of financial advantage to its customers. I have already established that the customers have an average of ~350000 hours left to live in their lives. (24*365*40) If the hypersonic sub-orbital service can reduce the flight time from 12 hours to 2 hours, there is a potential saving of 10 hours per customer. To make this a worthwhile gamble for a business person, the safety factor would have to be less than 1 accident in every 35000 flights, while keeping the monetary costs at $2000 per flight. This would make the gamble of risking 350000 hours of remaining life span vs the potential saving of 10 hours worthwhile, or at least break-even. A weighting system to balance the $ cost vs hours of lifetime is left as a exercise for the reader.

At this point in the exercise, it's worth pointing out that the space shuttle was projected to have an accident rate of 1:1000 when it was designed. The true figure has been closer to 1:60. I think it will be difficult to sell the idea of an experimental hypersonic passenger service to the public, until the technology has been proven. Especially if the potential customers read this post. :wink: I don't like to be pessimistic, but I think there are a lot of hurdles to jump before this business could become a viable enterprise.

johno


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:29 am
An examination of hyper-sonic transports has shown that they are technologically harder to sustain than orbital flight. The orbital crafts spends minutes in the aerodynamic hell the hyper-sonic transport spends an hour in. It is more likely such a transport will be a generation on from a successful re-usable orbital vehicle.

The mistake is to look for a single killer app. Multiple sources of revenue are needed to create a large enough and durable enough space economy.

A system designed for hyper-sonic transport would have few other applications. You would also need to explain why hyper-sonic transport would suceed when super-sonic transport failed.

What happens when one of you major destinations of fly-over countries just flat-out bans hypersonic flight near its territory?

Single markets and vertically integrated companies are far too vulnerable.

Great video btw.

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:03 pm
johno,

Remember that early airline safety was not too good, either. There's no reason why hypersonic airliners won't be able to evolve to function with good safety.
Besides, the air-freight business is supposed to be more lucrative than passenger transport, so that could predominate during the early proving years.

idiom,

As I said before, market economics trumps technological efficiency. That's why VHS beat Sony Betamax, even though the latter was a technically superior product. So even if hypersonics is not as elegant or as efficient a technology as simpler rockets, the fact that it can leverage an intercontinental travel market more effectively than rockets can means that it could be the better ascent path. Find a good market, and the rest can flow from there.

As far as finding a multiplicity of revenue sources, that's what makes the air travel market so large and so resilient -- it services travelers all over the world. The airline industry is not dependent upon travelers from one country, or from any one feeder group. The air transport market doesn't consist of some limited number of green shoots that can be counted on the fingers of one hand - the market is literally a pool of fluid opportunities, which has resulted in commoditization of services offered. If some country or some industry is experiencing downturn, there are still plenty of others queuing up to travel. This is all the more so in an increasingly globalized world - might as well swim with the tide, rather than against it.

Imagine if a large multi-national Airbus-style consortium were started by the US in cooperation with like-minded collaborators like Europe and Japan -- then a large economically practical hypersonic airliner could be built. The technological spinoffs alone would make such a project more practical than a Large-Hadron Collider or a Constellation program.

The power to shorten flight-times across great distances could liberate vast amounts of economic potential, enabling new kinds of global commuting and business interactions. New wellsprings of demand could spring forth and new markets could be tapped. New eco-systems of technology and component suppliers could then grow, which could then equally enrich and nurture the space industry.

I think that the space industry has to work on making itself more relevant to life here on Earth, and there's a limit to how much benefit remote sensing and micro-satellites can provide.


Back to top
Profile
Spaceflight Trainee
Spaceflight Trainee
User avatar
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 5:26 pm
Posts: 33
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:19 pm
Something to keep an eye on: http://www.tapir.caltech.edu/~dimlyus/xlaunch/


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:32 pm
Michael Joyce wrote:



And maybe that's one of the experimental ideas that a higher-end ecosystem of service-providers could eventually pursue, after having coalesced themselves around a higher-end air transportation services industry.

With flame-holding being a key challenge of hypersonic scramjet flight, perhaps microwave power transfer would provide a way to heat a flowstream without resorting to fragile supersonic combustion methods that are literally like a candle in the wind.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:17 pm
I immediately thought of Reaction Engines when you talked about hypersonics, intercontinental travel, and space launch...

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:08 pm
Quote:
Imagine if a large multi-national Airbus-style consortium were started by the US in cooperation with like-minded collaborators like Europe and Japan -- then a large economically practical hypersonic airliner could be built. The technological spinoffs alone would make such a project more practical than a Large-Hadron Collider or a Constellation program.


I can imagine it pretty easily. It was tried. It produced the Concorde (lit. the Agreement) which the market crushed. The market also killed the Tupolev Tu-144 after less than 100 flights. Neither aircraft was profitable.

While there are proven markets in space, there are *dis-proven* markets in high-speed transport.

Which do you think a consortium would rather sink billions into at phenomenal risk? Why do you think no billionaire has started out by developing a high speed transport?

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:22 pm
Lourens wrote:
I immediately thought of Reaction Engines when you talked about hypersonics, intercontinental travel, and space launch...


There is a great example of a hyper-sonic transport, the LAPCAT, being derived from an orbital launcher, the Skylon.

Michael Joyce wrote:


Again, with beam technology, the orbital craft is always proposed first, because it has a stronger market and is much simpler technologically.

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:19 am
idiom wrote:
I can imagine it pretty easily. It was tried. It produced the Concorde (lit. the Agreement) which the market crushed. The market also killed the Tupolev Tu-144 after less than 100 flights. Neither aircraft was profitable.

While there are proven markets in space, there are *dis-proven* markets in high-speed transport.

Which do you think a consortium would rather sink billions into at phenomenal risk? Why do you think no billionaire has started out by developing a high speed transport?


I was waiting for the Concorde comparison.

The Concorde was too little for too much cost. Its capacity was too low to be profitable, and it wasn't fast enough. The Boeing 2707 might have done better, but the high-temperature alloys weren't advanced enough at the time to keep the costs under control. By the same token, one could say that the electric car has been tried variously in the past and fizzled, but it was really because the technology hadn't come of age yet.

The cancellation of one space initiative after another shows that there are plenty more disproven markets in space. Meanwhile rapid trans-global transport is an idea whose time has come. In an increasingly globalized economy, the market for it is stronger than ever. The fact that it could be leveraged towards serving space markets is an added plus.

What's necessary is to vault the private aerospace technical community into a higher level of technology, so that they can serve their existing market base with higher-tech offerings, while also leveraging these towards the space-end of aerospace. Everybody still needs to keep their day-job, while pursuing the space dream with increasing vigor.

The LAPCAT Skylon-derivative could be built by a consortium of US-EU-Japan, and it would revolutionize both the air and space ends of aerospace.


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:33 am
But why wouldn't you build the Skylon first?

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:34 pm
I'd say that the market for LAPCAT is stronger than for Skylon, since we're talking about the growing market for intercontinental travel, as compared to the still puny space market. Build the intercontinental transport first, and make the spaceplane a higher-end variant based off the same components and design concept. That way, if the space market doesn't pan out, you'll still recoup your investment through intercontinental markets.


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:20 pm
Why does Boeing, who have super-sonic and hyper-sonic tech and orbital tech stick to sub-sonic for trans-continental travel?

Are they just stupid?

Or would you expect this 'consortium' to be back by the government so that it can keep flying while losing money?

The trans-continental travel market is incredbily cut-throat, while the space launch market is generally pretty bloated. So to compete in the transport market you have to immediately have very low prices in order to secure market share.

To secure market share in space you mostly just have to show up.

Even the people designing and marketing LAPCAT think it should be built second due to its reduced feasability.

While airlines are pushing towards quieter, more efficient aircraft with simpler airport requirements and larger passenger capacities, you are proposing that a company could boot-strap its way to success using one of the mostly costly development programs of all time, to launch a product into a politically risky cut-throat market with very thin margins, and do it all while trying to engineer across borders and across languages.

It stretchs the limits of credibility let alone feasability.

May I suggest this interview on The Space Show with Peter Sage

Where is your market estimate on the number of passenegers willing to pay reguarly for hyper-sonic flight with high g-loading and increased radiation exposure?

Where is your realistic estimate of development cost?

How long will it take each country to certify your craft for travel?

For a space payload it easy to know that $40,000 per kilo will get you by while $10,000 per kilo will storm the market. Its a very patient market. Its used to the risks, it fully expects things to blow up and your customers will happily take out insurance against your mission failing.

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:59 pm
Posts: 188
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:52 pm
Sure, let it be a government-supported venture, just like Amtrak. Government is useful for capital-intensive industries, where high startup costs make it harder for purely private initiatives to get off the ground. Boeing, Lockheed & Co can't do it because the risk is too high - note that they aren't seeking supply contracts for ISS, either. So this is why govt has to come in and swallow the risk.

So what if the govt has to support it while it loses money in its early years - it's not like the US Space Program has ever been profitable. Hell, if the postal service was privatized, then would people living in remote sparsely-populated rural areas ever get their mail? No - not affordably, anyway.

Whoever introduces this type of high-speed intercontinental technology would have no competitors in that niche space. We're talking about being able to fly from New York to Beijing in a few hours.

Privatized, commoditized, cutthroat - they're all the same thing, just in different stages of the evolutionary chain. You think Man's going to be able to afford to colonize the Moon or Mars without some cutthroat competition and cost reduction?

Intercontinental travel is a known market, with proven demand - it's a known quantity, and not a conjectured or hoped for one. It's the natural bridge to space travel, which requires faster velocities to breach the gravity well.

The natural synergies of the intercontinental and space markets mean that their mutual complementarity should be exploited for common benefit. In an era of increasing globalization, faster global travel options are necessary and beneficial.

Nobody's going to cross underneath the polar icecap in an overturned bathtub and a scuba tank - now that would be foolhardy. You need the Nautilus to do it. Likewise, space is an endless deadly void, and it's going to require some serious gear to tackle it. It's just a vastly more difficult frontier, and you're not going to be able to Lindhberg or Amelia Earhart your way across it.

High-speed intercontinental transports can take us up into this void, while achieving velocities that usefully approach escape velocity. It's only appropriate that a rational partly state-supported and partly market-supported approach be taken, in order to cope with the risks while building on existing markets and technologies.

If a hypersonic transport gets built, then the first one should be taken by the Whitehouse, and designated Airforce A.


Back to top
Profile
Moderator
Moderator
avatar
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:01 am
Posts: 747
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: Most Commercially Feasible Route to Space   Posted on: Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:43 pm
Okay well the *most* commercially feasible route would be one that requires the least government support and that makes into black ink the soonest.

HS Transports are a fun idea, but requiring a huge consortium and government oversight and new international treaties to allow operation is differnt from "most commercially feasible".

_________________
What goes up better doggone well stay up! - Morgan Gravitronics, Company Slogan.


Back to top
Profile ICQ YIM
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 46 posts ] 
 

Who is online 

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


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