Ground Ops Costs

Clark Lindsey comments on how Arianespace just raised prices instead of lessening costs. I’m reminded of Rob Coppinger’s recent visit to Kourou, their launch site. It just costs a lot to keep a city going in the middle of jungle, and when that cost must be paid by the monthly rocket flight customers only, it gets expensive per flight.

A lot of ideas have beend expounded on expendable rocket manufacturing and reusable refurbishment costs. But it seems the integration before launch is terribly expensive as well, if not the most expensive part. And the launch control costs as well, as does mission control.

Airports are expensive facilities as well, but they are still cheap per trip since the throughput is large. Though I don’t know how smaller airports manage, if they still need radars, passenger and aircraft services etc…

Anyway, this should be a very important focus. It’s less sexy than the sleek fast machines, but lays the important ground work for space access.

The suborbital trips might be good training and experimentation for this. Virgin galactic seems to opt for grandeur with huge custom facilities, making it into something like a theme park. I do wonder if XCOR’s working on something more modest. This might make a huge difference to their profit margin per flight…

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2 Responses to Ground Ops Costs

  1. Doug Jones says:

    It so happens that I’m working on documenting that very issue for Lynx. In a nutshell, total ground crew including red team, “capcom”, shadow flight test engineer, etc., will be around five- including the guy who drives the truck that tows the bird to the runway. Our people have better things to do than stand around watching a flight- and on that note, my break’s over, back on my head!

  2. gravityloss says:

    Thanks for the info!

    I also wonder how the extra stuff side of the human suborbital business is going to turn out, how much stage props are made to “enhance the experience”. I guess it depends on what the money bag holders believe is necessary. That’s investors and early ticket reservers.

    If you’re selling to competent professionals, you can drop the smoke and flashy lights.

    But if you’re selling to the masses, perception generation is probably most of the budget.

    What are the wealthy suborbital flight participants going to be like? I have no idea whatsoever.

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