The F Heavy is insane, honestly. It apparently costs 90 million per launch for the heavy. That’s honestly obscene, and when all boosters are recoverable (very soon), its going to be game changing for launching things to space.
The F heavy’s payload is almost that of SLS. But it costs a fifth of the SLS per launch without considering reuae.
And the SLS outlcasses the STS by a good margin… Honestly, the Falcon Heavy’s capabilities are just mind boggling now that I am putting it into perspective. There are only a couple of other launchers in history that actually had a larger payload - or even a payload in that class.
But this one is so cheap without reuse that it’s revolutionary on its own. It represents the lowest cost per pound ever. At $90 million a launch and 140,700 pounds, it’s got a launch cost of $639 per pound.
That’s already a revolution, but reuse is going to cut that 600 range by a solid margin. That’s getting to a price point where only modestly wealthy individuals could actually launch themselves into space. Or, even someone who’s upper middle class and saves a lot of money, spending about 100k to get themselves up there plus probably another 50k for food. Reuse cuts this down a lot. Say they’re charging a 40% profit margin for the Falcon 9, meaning the cost of the rocket is 44 million. 70% of 44 million (the amount that the booster costs) is 31 million. So, there may be an incongruency in the cost reporting of 90 million for the Falcon Heavy that already takes reuse into account. Anyways… The Heavy is basically a 9 plus two boosters. 31x3+44x.3=93+13.2=106 million for all the raw pieces. Add in ~3 million in refurbishment costs for a booster you get for n reuse times 31x3/(n)+3x3+13.2=23.1 million per launch plus the initial cost of the boosters. So, maybe 10 reuses on block 5 with all upgrades considered. So, about 37 million per launch for SpaceX. Mark it up for a profit margin at 40% and you’re talking a charge of 51.8 million per launch at a cost per pound of 368 bucks and dropping as they get everything running smoothly. So, your tourist trip would cost more like 80k a ticket. Lots of upper middle class people save up for cars that are that expensive. This technology is REALITY… Reality RIGHT NOW.
This is just nuts, honestly. We don’t need the BFR for a manned Mars mission now, or a moon base. The Falcon Heavy is more than capable of achieving these feats. You could construct a craft in space with the Falcon Heavy.
So, whatever happens with the BFR, this technology exists now. The cat’s out of the bag. The BFR will make it so that it’s not just wealthy or upper middle class hitching rides. It’ll make it so that most people in the developed world who save up money can hitch a ride and various insane projects can be built.
The space revolution has arrived. I never thought it would happen like this a mere 9 years ago. I was frustrated with the state of space travel in 2009. I distinctly remember this, looking at the Constellation program with hope, dreaming of space elevators, maybe when I’m an old man…
I had no idea, no idea that we’d be here in a mere 9 years, watching a rocket launch that could build us a moon base with the pitiful annual budget of NASA.
Imagining 100 billion over 5 years, you spend 80 billion on the moon base itself including development costs (reduced by the launch costs not being so prohibitive), then launch stuff over at 51 million per launch, getting 30,000 pounds per launch at a time to the surface (rough guess considering reuse and comparing GTO to Mars payloads). That would get you a 1.1 million pound moon base, just a chunk more than the ISS’s mass. With Bigelow style modules, you can do about a quarter of a cubic foot per pound, which would get you about ten times the volume as the ISS. But, you’d launch half of that as supplies.
Honestly though, you could do a small moon base for much cheaper. I dunno, shit’s about to get real.