The SFO SEP is fully laid out in Exploring and Using the Space Environments which was presented at the 37th Space Congress. A way to pay for it was explained in Innovative Financing of a Large Space Project presented at the 38th Space Congress.
The SEP is comprised of four interlocking and dependent items.
To examine closer:
HLV: Current methodology dictates that there are only two ways to reduce launch costs, build cheaper expendable vehicles or truly reusable vehicles. Both of these solutions will reduce the costs but not as significant as the method proposed in the SEP. To significantly reduce cost per pound more of the pounds need to be permanently usable in orbit.
What is the whole purpose of launching a rocket but to put an item(s) in orbit. If it costs x amount to launch a rocket then the cost per pound is x divided by the mass of the item that is LEFT IN ORBIT, not the mass of the complete vehicle. If more of the mass that is lifted is usable in orbit the lower the cost per pound.
What SFO is proposing is that the Space Base segments be a part of the HLV. In this way each time a rocket is launched the Space Base receives a new segment AND payload. Add to that the recovery of the second and third stages by a space tug and the price per pound of usable mass goes way down.
MV: In order for a system of this magnitude to operate profitably many different types of functions must be done on the ground as well as in space. A Space Base has to be large enough to support all revenue producing business, which necessitates a great many people. By building a vehicle that can lift 20 people plus three crew we meet the operational needs and lower the price per usable on orbit pound.
Space Base: This is the primary revenue generator. This is where the money will flow from to support the other activities. By putting up a very large structure all types of activities can be pursued. Everything from renting space to manufacturing to a port of call will be done on this base. It will be very much like a seaport in the early 1900's.
SMLI: By locating the manufacturing facilities next to the launch complex high launch rates can be supported. The SEP calls for 1 HLV launch per week and 1 MV launch per month. Traditional rocket construction techniques will not be sufficient, methods form other industries such as auto, computer and energy will be utilized. True assembly lines, horizontal integration and just in time stock will become the norm. This in turn will improve efficiency and reduce the time and cost to build launch vehicles and Space Base segments.
The four interlocking pieces are what make the SFO SEP different from all of the others and what will ultimately make it happen and very profitable.
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