danvk.org » space http://www.danvk.org/wp Keepin' static like wool fabric since 2006 Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:59:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Elon Musk on Rockets http://www.danvk.org/wp/2012-12-31/elon-musk-on-rockets/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2012-12-31/elon-musk-on-rockets/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 16:08:11 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=945 I watched this interview with Elon Musk of SpaceX a few weeks ago and have found myself thinking about it now and again:

(Fast forward to 24’30″)

His claim is that, by creating a truly reusable spacecraft, they’ll be able to reduce the cost of getting to space dramatically (by 90+%, or perhaps 99%). The space shuttle was an attempt to do this, but it fell well short.

He makes an analogy that’s been sticking with me: imagine that planes were disposable. To fly from San Francisco to London, you’d buy a new jet, fuel it up, fly it, and then throw it away. Repeat for the return trip. Total cost: at least $500 million. Nobody flies this way. It would be insane. But to a large extent, this is what we do for space travel. I’m not sure what the marginal cost of one flight in a jet is, but Musk says that the cost of fuel for a rocket is typically around 0.3% of the cost of the rocket. So there are huge potential savings here.

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