I was thinking today about the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload pricing cost. $62M for 22,800 kg to LEO.
I had been checking out the CubeSat specifications.
This got me thinking about the SpaceX Starlink, this constellation was originally going to be nearly 12,000 low-cost satellites providing a terabit
If these can offer communications to the ground for subscribers at a reasonable cost perhaps SpaceX would hook up a private satellite network to
ground as well. In this way, a constellation of up to 22,800 personal satellites could be launched and controlled by the ground via a Starlink
connected ground control system. These personal satellites could have some autonomous behavior and provide a 2-year personal satellite space service
Imagine if you had your own satellite under your control for a cost of lets say $10,000 or $417 per month for 24 months The company would have gross
revenue of $228,000,000 per launch. Subtracting from this $10,000 unit cost the $2,719 per unit for launch costs, then subtract about the cost for a
high-end smartphone $1,000. Then subtract the design cost per basic package of about $1,000 each, and you are up to $5,281 on the cost side per unit.
From there everything is an upgrade. This locks in a minimum net cost for a launch of 22,800 personal satellites of $5,281 per unit or $120,406,800
for the entire first payload.
That provides the company that can pull this off a gross profit of $107,593,200. If the company does some efficient engineering and the cost of sales
is reduced by some viral campaigns and crowdfunding the company could have a remaining $100M in net profits for one launch.
I might be wrong on some of these assumptions but I think they are in the ballpark. These PS-units would provide high-resolution imaging, data
storage, and transfer services to the PS vehicles, high-speed data, and some room for added sensors in the various spectrum. If you think people spend
so much time on their phones now imagine if they can access their own PS over multiple devices.
Who would be interested? Schools, computer and space geeks, clubs like Ham clubs and various space and engineering clubs. I imagine the basic unit
having lots of interesting stuff on it like 8K cameras, telephoto lenses, all sorts of RF listening bandwidth, likely lots of apps would find a
market. If one launch per year could be sold and made $100M profit at its base profit margin imaging the value added by all of these private operators
building on the 1-kilo platform and developing apps and sensor packages for them. It could be a huge industry all by itself in the end.
The 2-year life means constant upgrades and these satellites will de-orbit themselves making the need for them always stay at a certain service level
ensuring a profitable market. SpaceX I think would be all in as it would show off some of the high technology solutions they can provide with a single
Falcon 9 launch to LEO.
Of course, if it is very successful selling out the first payload the company could upgrade to the Falcon 9 heavy with a per kilo cost of only $1,655
each for 54,400 PS units and using the same assumptions that would raise the net profits per launch up to $345,168,000 net for the launch.
edit on 12/1/2019 by machineintelligence because: added content