Is SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Strategy Missing The Mark?


With SpaceX's first successful demonstration of the reusable booster rocket they've been developing, many experts predict the world of space travel is on the verge of a revolution. 

Blogger NuuBee at doesn't agree. This comment NuuBee left posits the idea that Elon Musk can't get more than a 10% reduction in overall launch costs using his re-usable rocket strategy.

NuuBee thinks SpaceX could have put humans on Mars quicker, and they could have done it more profitably too.

Read NuuBee's interesting comment...

NuuBee commented at

The reason it costs so much to put 1 kg into space is because for every 1kg you want to put into earth orbit, you need to expend approximately 13kgs in fuel and additional expendable stages.

This was true for the space shuttle as well. The only reasonable cost-cutting is a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle. But Musk isn't trying that, he's going with the tried-and-true kerosene multi-stage rocket.

What he's essentially trying to do is use less expensive consumer grade parts, and some more modern design methods to iterate after failures in building the launch systems.

None of this is actually new really. lower grade parts and additional redundancy have been tried in the past, with failures experienced. I suspect Musk will succeed in using lower-grade parts with the additional redundancy's this time around, considering the massive improvements in electronics we've made.

However, this won't change the simple math of 13kg of launch vehicle mass for every 1kg that makes it to orbit.

At best he'll reduce launch costs 10%

Reducing launch costs is a short-term waste of time (long term, go for some form of space-elevator or entirely new physics for propulsion). History has shown us that as long as humans have a place to go, they will pay to go there, regardless of cost.

With this known, Musk would do better spending his money sending robotic-automated martian-landscape development equipment.

If he had spent his time renting space on Russian rockets, and building space habitats that self-fuel, self-mine-for-water, and self-power that land on Mars, he'd probably have 2-or-3 modules on Mars by now, ready for rich people to explore.

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