Main Engine Cut Off

SpaceX’s Tom Ochinero at APSCC 2017 on Pricing, Launch Sites, and How BFR Affects Falcon’s Future

Peter B. de Selding wrote a nice report over at Space Intel Report on comments made by SpaceX Senior Director Tom Ochinero at APSCC 2017.

On pricing in the era of reusability:

We continue to differentiate [in price] between a flight-proven vehicle [and a new first stage]. But because the market’s acceptance of these flight-proven vehicles has been fantastic, I don’t foresee that type of differentiation lasting.

Our goal has always been to be a launch service. We’ll take your package from here to here on a certain date and it shouldn’t really matter what color the truck is or the number of miles on the engine.

The current [insurance premium] numbers that I have seen is that they don’t differentiate between a previously flown first stage or a stage that hasn’t flown. We want to get away from that kind of service model.

Yours truly, ruminating on the same topic back in July:

In this new model, a customer wouldn't know and, more importantly, shouldn’t care whether the first stage that flies their payload is making its first or fifth flight. That decision becomes part of SpaceX’s internal fleet management operations, the same way that hardware and procedural upgrades are handled today.

Back to Ochinero, with some interesting comments on the need—or lack thereof—for their Texas launch site:

What we have manifested in customer commitments are not bottlenecked by the lack of a fourth launch site. We can manage with the three. Between upgrading our production capability, having the pads — and most importantly, the visibility — between the balance of those three we don’t foresee not being able to meet customer commitments. I am happy to take on more launch commitments right now.

And on BFR and how it affects Falcon’s future:

I can see how people might take it that we are going to shut down and transfer. This is not the case. We’ll continue to produce Falcon, then develop BFR and then offer it to the market and see what the market chooses.

The transition from Falcon to BFR is farther away from where we are today than we are from Falcon 9’s first flight.