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Selenian Boondocks

RLV Markets Part IV: Why Small May Be Beautiful

31 May 2015, 04:35 UTC
RLV Markets Part IV: Why Small May Be Beautiful
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

With the progress SpaceX has been making with trying to recover their F9R first stage, and their concepts for Mars Colonial Transport, BFRs, and 4000 satellite constellations, a lot of the industry has been fixated on very larger RLVs. I may very well be wrong, but I think there are actually a lot of reasons why smaller RLVs might be even more interesting.
Several years ago during a late night conversation at a Space Access Conference, Jeff Greason made the observation that for a healthy space transportation industry, you really want 2-3 healthy competitors. With only one provider, you get monopolies, two is better, but three is ideal. But for RLVs each provider probably want to maintain a small fleet (at least 2-3 airframes) of RLVs so that they can provide dependable service even if they either have a mishap or have to pull one of the vehicles for maintenance or repair. Having a single vehicle may work during the development phase where you’re transitioning into operations, but once you’re in full operations, you want enough demand for 2-3 companies with probably 2-3 vehicles per year. And for each of those vehicles, in order to get the per flight price ...

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