Ponder the remarkable contrast. We see phenomenal breakthroughs in space exploration almost weekly. On the other hand, the production line for the 747, the plane that opened up world travel to the masses, is slowing down and could be shuttered in a couple of years.
7/26 – Satellite Today – Sky and Space Global Details Vision for 200 Satellite LEO Network – The company, Sky and Space Global, plans to put 200 nanosatellites, or cubesats, into a low Earth orbit to provide a worldwide communications network. It is categorized as narrowband, providing only voice and messaging along with data forwarding.
Company estimates the cost for constellation of 200 satellites will be somewhere in the range of $120M up to $160M.
They make their calculation based on something in the range of $500K or less to build each satellite plus launch costs of $200K or $250K. The point estimate for each satellite is an average cost from $600K to $800K.
To put that in perspective, the company says their total cost is somewhere in the range of one communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit.
Ponder that cost trade-off. You could launch either a constellation of 200 smallsats or one geosync satellite.
7/27 – Behind the Black – New smallsat company plans to hundred satellite constellation – Discussion of Sky and Space Global’s plans points out the technology for smallsats (my new word of the day) is about to disrupt the world (!) of geosynchronous communication satellites. Disruption of that entire industry will be comparable to what SpaceX has done in the realm of launches, according to the article.
Just consider the slow-motion earthquake: a launch vehicle that lowers cost even before reusing the first stage and putting up a Earth-covering constellation of satellites for the cost of one satellite in geosynchronous orbit.
Simultaneously, the creative destruction of older technology continues relentlessly onward:
7/27 – Wall Street Journal – Boeing Considers Ending Production of 747 – Technology marches on. One cutting edge, world-changing, technological marvel of the last 50 years is fading away.
In September, Boeing is cutting production of the 747-8 to 6 a year with a plan to increase production to 12 in the following year.
In an SEC filing, the company gave a likelihood of “reasonably possible” that it could close the 747 production line if there aren’t enough orders.
Current backlog is only 21 aircraft. If there were no more orders, a massive and likely flawed assumption, there would only be about 3 left for the year starting September 2018.
Boeing has produced over 1,500 of the planes.
Even if the production line closes in 2018 or 2019, those massive jumbo jets will still be flying passengers from continent to continent 30 years from now.