[ExI] structural scale dependence, was: RE: IQ and beauty

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 04:37:00 UTC 2015

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 10:29 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On
Behalf Of Dan TheBookMan
> On Oct 21, 2558 BE, at 8:59 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> >>…It appears our future in space is dependent upon getting launch costs
down because the old LOX/kerosene and LOX/H2 stages will not advance much.
They were fairly mature fifty years ago.
> >…But inefficiently implemented, no?
> Well so goes the story.  Certainly there were examples of astonishing
> But after all these years, in spite of having access to an inexhaustible
supply of
> highly trained rocket builders trained by the military and NASA, no one
has yet
> found a much cheaper way of doing it.

Not at all. The incentives in big aerospace regarding NASA is not to
economize. Cost plus contracts and the whole political aspect drive up
prices here -- as they do everywhere else with similar incentives. There's
a reason consumer electronics have steadily gone down in price over the
years, but just about anything where government is the big player
(education, healthcare, roads) has gone up in price -- adjusting for
inflation. My speculation is that were government in charge of, say,
consumer electronics -- if government were the main buyer of these and did
the usual cost plus financing -- we'd live in a world where only the
richest could afford computers, smartphones, and TVs.

And this regime in rocketry has been the rule for decades now. The
comparison with consumer electronics is apt because over the same period
we've seen a general fall in prices. Now, mind you, they're not exactly the
same. Rockets from 1960 to today were unlikely to be similar to, say, PCs
during the same time, though I think the fact that the launch to orbit
price went up -- when in any other industry if you simply keep doing the
same thing over and over prices should go down simply because your per unit
capital costs should drop. This is the sort of thing that happens in
subsidized and protected industries where the producers are basically
earning a rent and have no incentive to economize.

>>… I still believe convention rockets can be done much cheaper… Dan
> OK cool, good luck to you.  I honestly hope you succeed.  We all do.  The
> I see is that this kind of work has the engineers always designing waaay
close to
> the failure points, crazy thin margins everywhere, little if any
structural redundancy,
> always on the ragged edge of a RUDE.  That means inherently expensive
> processes, inspections, testing, all of it costing money money money,
with a
> discouraging scarcity of opportunities for savings.

As an outsider, I see actual processes involved in this business as being
overly labor intensive, which drives up costs.


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