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SpaceX: Bigger isn't always better.

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Peartree

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Relativity Space, a small launch startup aiming to fly its orbital rocket from Cape Canaveral for the first time next year, announced Wednesday it has signed a contract with Iridium for up to six launches of the company’s spare communications satellites.

Since SpaceX has been launching Iridium's satellites, does this mean that they hacked off Iridium somehow, or that Relativity Space was cheaper, or that SpaceX couldn't launch them fast enough? Does anyone know why Iridium would NOT use SpaceX after using them for their previous launches?

[edit] Never mind, it's in the last paragraph. Iridium doesn't want to launch ten satellites at a time. They want to launch single replacements and spares.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/06/...r-iridium-announces-plans-for-vandenberg-pad/
 

dhbarr

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Hooray, a space bus and a space truck and space cars and space motorbikes!
 

TomJo

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Big companies in the space industry have set the trend. After that, other companies emerged that could provide single satellite launches. Almost all countries (where private space companies are possible) have their own operator, which can make it possible to launch even one microsatellite into space at an affordable price. In fact, a whole new market for launching small satellites has emerged.
 

afadeev

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Relativity Space, a small launch startup aiming to fly its orbital rocket from Cape Canaveral for the first time next year, announced Wednesday it has signed a contract with Iridium for up to six launches of the company’s spare communications satellites.

Since SpaceX has been launching Iridium's satellites, does this mean that they hacked off Iridium somehow, or that Relativity Space was cheaper, or that SpaceX couldn't launch them fast enough? Does anyone know why Iridium would NOT use SpaceX after using them for their previous launches?
Most likely answer - the price and the timing.
SpaceX had launched the final batch of Iridium Next satellites on 2019, bringing the total to 75 in orbit deployed over 8 launches. That left 6 spare satellites in storage. Iridium, likely, bid out for the services to launch those final 6, and Relativity must have come in lower than SpaceX. They are likely also more flexible on launch timing, since Iridium is their one and only customer.

Iridium had paid SpaceX ~$490 for previous 8 launches, or $61 per batch. That's kinda high.

BTW, Iridum was the premier customer for SpaceX, it its early days.
It's pretty cool that they are now boot-strapping another (smaller) launch provider, Relativity.

Thanks, Iridium!
 

Peartree

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This thread died and scrolled off the page six months ago. Suddenly it's back. Weird.
 

TomJo

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I'm waiting for the space tugs.....
The space tug is a controversial thing. Doesn't that violate the outer space treaty?
After all, theoretically, a space tug can remove a satellite from orbit, but if it is not used for good, as planned?
Unfortunately, there are too many things on which people will not be able to come to an agreement for a long time.
 

Antares JS

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I'm a bit skeptical of Relativity Space's idea to 3D print an entire launch vehicle. 3D printing works well for certain parts, but I'm skeptical of 3D printing propellant tanks that have to withstand significant internal pressure.

I could be wrong, but that's just my thoughts right now.
 

shockie

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This thread died and scrolled off the page six months ago. Suddenly it's back. Weird.
don't you know everything that's written on the internet is immortal? Long after we are all gone and forgotten, our brilliant musings will still be here for all to ponder.
 

TomJo

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I'm a bit skeptical of Relativity Space's idea to 3D print an entire launch vehicle. 3D printing works well for certain parts, but I'm skeptical of 3D printing propellant tanks that have to withstand significant internal pressure.

I could be wrong, but that's just my thoughts right now.
I think everything is very well calculated there. This method of production in such an expensive area allows such companies to offer services at an adequate price. Of course, with large-scale production, other methods of reducing the cost can be applied.
Printed components significantly reduce the number of welds and other joints. With the right design and materials, these components can be even stronger than standard components.
 
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