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RLV Markets V: Additional Thoughts on Passengers–Divisibility and Elasticity

4 Jun 2015, 07:04 UTC
RLV Markets V: Additional Thoughts on Passengers–Divisibility and Elasticity
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[Note: While digging through unfinished blog post drafts, I found this one from April 2009. I think this was originally supposed to be the third in the series, but is now the fifth. While the series doesn’t exactly flow, and some of the examples now seem a bit anachronistic, I thought these two provided some interesting points worth consideration.]
The Impact of Divisibility on Flight Rate
One important technical thing about passengers as customers for RLV flights is that while people are not infinitely divisible1, they don’t have to be moved in large batches either. Sure, down the road if you have thousands or tens of thousands of people flying to space every year, having larger transports is eventually going to make sense2. But with realistic near-term demand, even a two-seater RLV might potentially be big enough to be useful. By flying people in smaller batches, the same nominal demand for manned spaceflight can result in a higher number of flights for a smaller vehicle, which counterintuitively could be cheaper than flying a largeer vehicle less frequently. For instance, several years back when Bigelow and LM unveiled some of their original plans for crew vehicles launched on Atlas V, Bigelow ...

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