Economics

Specifications used for Economic Analysis

  • Velocity at exit: 5.6 km/s (or 6.6 km/s)  
  • Orbital Velocity Required = 8km/s 
  • Launch Tube: 17 Km long (15km acceleration and 2km deacceleration) by 1.2 meters I.D.  
  • Acceleration = 8 sec at 79 Gs to 5.6 km/s at exit 
  • Delivery Cylinder: 9,000 Kg 1 meter in diameter by 7.5 meters in length
  • Carrier Sleeve Shuttle:  15 meters in length by 1.1 meters O.D. 
  • 250 s impulse composite sleeved solid rocket motor for delta V 
  • 12,000 Kg (or 9,000 Kg at 6.6 km/s) of composite solid rocket fuel
  • Launch cadence:  every 3 hours (8 times per day, six days per week) 

The estimates below are for an all in operational cost model and also show incremental costs for launching the next pound to low earth orbit.  Excluded are the substantial up-front capital costs, other ongoing research and development costs and external security costs. 

 

Staffing estimates are for operational staff only and assume a launcher operating at eight launches per day.  An automatic loading quench launcher design is assumed with only minimal inspection maintenance required.  Related necessary operations such as maintenance of vacuum, cooling, loading and exit door (and exit membranes if needed) are included as shown.  Fitment of nose cones and solid rocket motors are also included.  Production of Nose Cones and rocket motors are included as outside purchases. 

 

Operation in a remote location is assumed.  

Power Generation Economics

The power generation economics are based on a continuous charging of the launch tube, a key benefit of the storage capability of a quench launcher designpresumes a 50% efficiency and includes power for cooling, vacuum and related facilities. 

 

As the launcher is also a power storage device, the opportunity to use renewable energy sources in the form of wind and solar is significant.  Power estimates assume 50% generation from renewable sources and 50% from natural gas turbines. Gas costs of $4 / MCF and conversion to at the rate of 1MCF = 1kWh of electricity 

Launch Power Requirements: (at 5.6 km/s)

Work = ½ MV² /time = 20,000* kg x 5,600² m/s = 3.13¹¹ joules  required over a 8 second duration at 79 G’s on 17 km track 8 times per day. (* Mass = delivery cylinder at 9,000 kg + composite rocket fuel at 9,000 kg + nose cone + engine nozzle = 20,000 kg)

Power generation cost assumed at $100 per MWh (½ from gas turbines ½ from renewable) times 2 for efficiency loss, times 8 launches per day.

All other power, including cooling, vacuum maintenance, and facilities is assumed to be 25% of launch power.

Delivery Cylinder Manufacturing & Loading Expenses

The composite delivery cylinder itself is considered a deliverable to LEO.  Users of the launch system are expected to provide raw materials in cylinders to EML launch specifications.  Re-use or up cycling of composite materials on orbit is a key economic issue.

Nose Cone and Rocket Motor and Exit Membranes (if needed) Expenses

A separate operation to create ablative carbon nose cones, exit membranes (if needed) and composite rocket motors is assumed.  The composite sleeve of the solid rocket motor is an essential needed material on orbit and considered a deliverable to LEO.  Based on Purdue University estimates of $5 per Kg for solid composite fuels or $50,000 / flight and $5,000 per rocket nozzle, consumed each flight and $5,000 per carbon ablative nose cone consumed each flight.  Membrane cartridges, if needed, for exit seals estimated at $10.00 / per MSI, 5,000 SI per membrane and 15 membranes per cartridge or $750 each, rounded to $1,000 per flight. 

Operational Staffing Requirements

Executive Team

CEO
CFO
VP Operations
VP Quality
VP H/R
VP Communications
Administrative Assistants (3)

Six Executives + three admins = $2.0m / yr.

 

Directors

Security
Logistics
Launch Operations
Facilities Operations
Quality Directors
Launch Inspection and Maintenance
Facilities Inspection and Maintenance
Vendor and Raw Materials
Corporate Controller

Nine directors plus three admins = $2.0 m / yr.

 

Operating Staff

10 Logistics, Purchasing, Accounting
15 Loading and component assembly
10 Security (non-DoD)
20 Quality
10 Fire Control
10 Power Generation
10 Vacuum Generation
10 Cooling
20 Maintenance
20 Facilities and residence support
135 Operating Staff = $17m

Total estimated staff cost = $21 m per year

 

Travel, Executive Offsite Space Lease, and Misc. Expenses

3,500 square feet, Seattle or Dallas area $120,000 per year

Travel, to remote site, and as needed (10 person trips / week x $1,500 per trip / 50 weeks per year) $750,000 x 2 for private aviation for trips to / from remote location) Other misc. expenses $1,000,000 per year.  Total = $4,000,000

 
EXCLUDED OVERHEAD EXPENSES

(Federal “public good” Project and cash-based accounting assumed)
Depreciation & Amortization
Interest Expense
Security (DoD)
Taxes

 

COMMENTS

Loss of .5 km/s from friction is added to the required 8.0 km/s Delta V
The typical specific impulse from a solid propellant is 220-280 s depending on propellant. Corresponding ideal nozzle exit velocities are 2150-2740 m/s. Ignoring gravity. This gives propellant mass/launch mass = 1exp (Delta_v/exhaust_velocity).

 
SUMMARY

Capacity to LEO = 48,000,000 pounds per year (20,000 lbs. x 8 / day x 6 days / week x 50 weeks per year)

Operating Staff Costs = $21,000,000 / year

Electrical Generation Cost = $39,000 / launch + 25% or $48,000,000 per year

5.6 Km/s exit speed Composite Solid Rocket Fuel = $50,000 / launch or $120,000,000 / year

6.6 Km/s exit speed Composite Solid Rocket Fuel = $30,000 / launch or $60,000,000 per year

Other consumables per flight = $21,000 / launch or $21,000,000 / year

Misc. Expenses = $4,000,000 / year

Total Op Expense = $214,000,000 per year or $4.45 per pound (5.6 km/s)

Total Op Expense = $154,000,000 per year or $3.08 per pound (6.6 km/s)