Fast Cheap Good
You get 2/3 most of the time. In this case, it's sort of cheaper (less moving parts, less mass into orbit) and good (if it works). And just confirming my initial thought, slow.
Another month, another successful SpaceX launch. This time, a Falcon 9 sent into orbit a twin set of communications satellites that eschew chemical-engine propellant in favor of solar power. Typically, half the weight of a satellite is its propulsion fuel, used to maneuver it into position once in space. However, the two just …
SpaceX concentrated on minimising R&D cost and time. Last year's prices were $61.5million for 13150Kg to low Earth orbit. After paying off R&D, the launch cost is expected to fall to $1100/Kg assuming recovery of stage 1.
Skylon is a much more challenging design. The budget figures are $12billion R&D, 15000Kg to low Earth orbit for £650/Kg (including R&D). I could not get dates for the prices (probably 2004), so I have not tried to adjust them for inflation. Skylon has not yet received 1% of its R&D budget. If the money appeared tomorrow, the first test flight could be in 2021.
Skylon would have to stay on budget for years to compete against a mature Falcon in 2022. On the other hand, SpaceX could keep their prices near current levels and buy Skylon. Plenty could happen in the next seven years. The Chinese are eating their own dog food, even though it costs more than SpaceX. The EU are looking for ways to cut costs. The US government are looking for ways to increase launch costs and I have no idea what the Russians will do.
Whoa! Those are some industrial looking pieces of machinery!
Hardly the sleek, shiny, graceful vision of ion propelled vehicles science fiction promised, is it?
But then, these are real, and they (hopefully) work, so I guess I can live without the bling.
Well, I guess "(22,236 mi)" might have first been discussed by Arthur C Clarke, but "35,786 km" was discussed by SF writer Konstantin Tsiolkovsk, and later by Herman Noordung.
Clarkes contributions were:
He wrote in English.
In a popular tech. publication (not science or fiction).
About communications satellites (not space stations or research or gun platforms or anything else).
> I'm confused how one geo-stationary object could be deployed over
> "Latin America, Canada and Alaska", without also including USA etc.?.
Alaska is roughly level with the top of Canada, so you could have one satellite in geosync orbit with two beams. One covering Alaska and Canada and one covering the middle of South America, neither would cover (much of) the mainland US.