SpaceX vs Blue Origin – Which Philosophy is better?

– SpaceX is the most well known namein the private spaceflight industryand needs little introduction. It was founded by dotcom
billionaire Elon Musk in 2002,with the goal of making
humanity multi-planetary. They have repeatedly made
ambitious development claimsand stunned the world
by delivering upon it. Two years before that, however,in the year 2000, Jeff Bezos,founded a private spaceflight
company called Blue Origin,with the goal of enabling
millions of peopleto live and work in space. The technologies being developedby these companies seem
to largely overlap,but they are just very similar answersto two very different questions. Today we’ll be looking
at these differencesin their approach to spaceflight. Hi everyone, TJ here
for I need more space. In each episode of this seriesI’m going to take two
components of spaceflightand compare them to one another. Hopefully, we both learnhow they came to beand get a better
understanding of the storyof space’s past and future. In this video, we’re
going to cover the originsand motivations between
both SpaceX and Blue Origin. Let’s jump in. – Seven, six, five- First station
engine sequence intiation- Four, three, two – On the 20th of September, 2008,SpaceX’s Falcon 1 became the
first privately-developedliquid-fuel launch vehicle to reach orbit,on its fourth launch attempt. Blue Origin, almost a decade later,still hasn’t gotten there,and this draws them a lot of criticismfrom the spaceflight community. It makes absolutely no
sense at first glance. Between 2002 and 2019,SpaceX has developed a smallsat launcher,developed an orbital workhorse rocketwhile also being one of
the cheapest launcherson the market,vertically landed the
boosters of said rocket,re-flown them multiple times,and dropped its launch cost even further. They developed a cargo resupply spacecraftfor the ISS,and a crewed variant
for orbital spaceflight,developed the largest
rocket currently operationaland shot it into a heliocentric orbit. Still not over that. Developed the world’s firstFull Flow Staged Combustion enginefor their fully reusable
interplanetary spaceship capableof carrying 100 tons
to the Martian surfaceand crews of up to 100 people. Meanwhile, Blue Origin
has only managed to fly,propulsively land, and re-flya suborbital booster-capsule systemcalled New Shepard for space tourists. However they have nearly
finished developmenton a massive semi-reusable
orbital launch vehiclecalled New Glenn,which absolutely dwarfs
their first rocket,designed a lunar lander called Blue Moon,planned a biconic crew capsule,which they proposed for
commercial crew phase one,and possibly even a space
plane called the New Lindberghin the far future. So, what’s going on here?Why has SpaceX seemedto make so much more progress than Blue?They both hire from the same talent poolof incredibly talented aerospace engineersand they even poach them from one another. So it makes no sense for themto have barely anything to show for it. Well, it’s intentional. Blue Origin’s design philosophy
has been Gradatim Ferociter,or Step by Step Ferociously. SpaceX sprints through their development,constantly tweaking their designsto the extent that no two
Falcon 9 cores are identical. They always have some new
hardware being tested. Developing an orbital class rocket engineis one of the hardest
engineering challenges knownto our species. It is incredibly resource intensive,requires a ton of auxiliary infrastructuresuch as test stands,and has no guarantee of successbecause of the unique ways
in which it pushes mechanics,thermodynamics and material sciencesinto their physical limits. SpaceX has had a very hard time fundingand developing their Merlin
engine by themselves. Developing it from scratch
was near impossible,but SpaceX does the
impossible all the time. So they adapted NASA’s Fastrac engine,originally developed for the
reusable X-34 space planeinto the Merlin 1A. This engine was very
different from the Merlin 1Dthat flies on the Falcon 9 Block 5 today. SpaceX didn’t even build the
turbo pump assembly for it. Instead it was outsourced to
one of the original developersof the Fastrac, Barber-Nichols. Over the next few years,
SpaceX developed the Merlinwith incredible testing regimen. They would fire the engine
at the McGregor Facilitywith new optimisations
until something broke,failed, melted, or cracked. Then they would relay
the data to Hawthorne,order the fixes and replacements,and torture it on their test stands again. This has turned their Merlininto one of the best Kerolox
engines in existence. It has the highest thrust to weight ratioof any liquid rocket engine. Also being able to relight,
survive supersonic reentry,and land the Falcon 9 boosterswith consistent precision. Because of the same development,the Falcon 9’s payload
capacity more than doubled,from 10. 4 megatons on the first versionto 22. 8 megatons on the Block 5. They are very reliableand there is just one incidentof them shutting down in flight,on the Commercial Resupply One Missionwhich still completed successfully. All of this,on an engine that they had
not designed themselves. This represents the best of SpaceXand the reason for their
absolute superiorityin the launch industry. They took the engine they
could afford to developand honed it into becoming one
of the best in the industry. The same engine powered
trailblazing Falcon 1,their workhorse for the Falcon 9,and the colossal Falcon Heavy. This earned them the
CRS contracts from NASA,which were essential to SpaceX’s survivalin its early days. It brought on their
most important clients. Iridium, SES, NROL, foreign governments,and private satellites. This provided them with
the capital they neededto survive and continue developingtowards their goal of
interplanetary spaceflight. Blue on the other handbelieves that “Slow is
smooth, and smooth is fast. “They take large, calculated
development steps,three at a time. The design choices they make
are deliberate and strategic. Consider the New Shepard. It is a suborbital boosterthat carries crew and lands vertically. It uses hydrogen as its main propellant. This sounds like an
absolutely awful decisionat first glance. Hydrogen is very difficult to work with. Its only advantage isthat it has the highest vacuum efficiencyof any liquid propellant,which is wasted as its
entire launch profileis within the Earth’s atmosphere. Hydrogen has a tendency to
leak through the tank wallsof the booster because of
its smaller atomic sizeand light the exterior on fire,which makes it unsuitable
for carrying crew. Hydrolox engines are heavier than mostand hence have poor
thrust to weight ratio,a factor which is very importantfor vertical propulsive landings. Hydrolox is more difficult to throttlebecause of its lower density,which also makes landing it harder. So why would Blue pick Hydroloxout of all the propellant options?Well because you can make
it out of lunar ice depositsvia In-Situ Resource Utilization. Wait, what?The New Shepard can’t even getto lower earth orbit by itself. What does the Moon have
anything to do with it?Okay, let’s look at the
New Shepard booster. Now imagine that the
LH2 tank gets replacedby a massive spherical one,and the liquid oxygen tanks gets splitinto two attached around the sides. Isn’t that basically the Blue Moon landerwith a crew descent stage on top?Blue Origin build the
technologies they requiredfor their lunar lander,while also developing
a space tourism vehiclethat will generate revenue. The engine they developed for this vehiclewill be reused as the super
efficient second stage enginesfor New Glenn. It’s honestly a genius move. Blue Origin has also built some
very strategic partnerships,both in the industry and politically. While SpaceX prefers
tight, vertical integrationand developing everything in-house,Blue Origin is willing to collaboratewith legacy industry. Blue’s BE-4 engine will be the main engineon United Launch Alliance’s
next generation Vulcan rocket. The Blue Moon lander can be launchedwith a variety of rockets
apart from New Glenn,including the Space Launch
System, Vulcan, or Atlas V. When NASA solicited a crew
lunar lander for Artemis,they quickly partnered
with Lockheed Martin,Northrop Grumman, and Draper
to make a very strong bid. They also worked with Maxar
on the Gateway’s powerand propulsion element, and interestingly,Blue’s Low Earth Orbit
Space Station conceptshowed a very similar module on top,suggesting further collaboration. While SpaceX picked the locationsof the manufacturing at Hawthorne,testing at McGregor, Texas,and launch sites at the Cape basedon feasibility, affordability
and convenience,Blue’s recent moves have been
more politically motivated. They have their HQ in
Kent, a suburb of Seattle,which is home to Amazon,and they fly New Shepard from West Texas. But, now, here’s the interesting part. They picked Cape Canaveralto manufacture their New Glenn rocketsand leveraged Florida’s
Space Coast subsidies. They are also building an
engine production facilityin Huntsville, Alabama, which
is politically significantfor spaceflight policy. It is homeof United Launch Alliance’s
manufacturing facilityand NASA Marshall Space Flight Center,where they will test their enginesfor both the New Glenn and Vulcan. This represents the core
distinction between SpaceXand Blue Origin, and it is a
product of their upbringing. See, when Elon founded SpaceX,it nearly used up all the capital he had. SpaceX had to scramble to get customersand contracts if they
were going to survive,let alone develop anything else. This turned them into an incredibly agileand efficient company that
iterates their designsas well as their plans constantly. This is clearly indicated by
Starship’s development process,which has fundamentally changed the designin every possible waywhile still being true to its purpose,a fully reusable Super
heavy-lift launch vehiclecapable of taking crew and
cargo to the Martian surface. Blue, on the other hand,
has had no such constraints. Bezos graciously sells $1
billion of his Amazon stockand leaves a neat pile of cashat the factory’s doorstep every year. Stable funding is guaranteed,and no one’s in a hurry to grab contracts. They can take their timeto build incredibly robust
system infrastructuresand will support their plans for decades. It is the reasonwhy their first orbital rocket
isn’t a smallsat launcherbut a behemoth with a seven meter coreand height comparable to the Saturn V. Oh, and Bezos casually mentionedthat this is the smallest
orbital launch vehiclethey’ll ever build. So, now we can clearly seewhy SpaceX and Blue Origin take
their respective approaches. But what are they doing it for?Why do they choose to go to space?Why does Kent play Hawthorne?- Why does Rice play Texas?- That’s my terrible JFK impression. Sorry. SpaceX has a very clear goal. To make humans multi-planetary. We are the only sentient
life form we are aware of,stuck here on the pale blue dot. Over the past century,
humanity has grown to a scalewhere our individual actions
have measurable effectson the entire planet. Climate change, nukes,
bio-weapons, AI, who knows. This is an existential
risk, and the probabilityof our extinction will be much lowerif we can have
self-sustaining civilizationson multiple planets in the Solar System. Elon believes that it is uncertainhow long the window to
achieve this would be open. Therefore we must do our bestto establish a backup
civilization on another planet. The only feasible option being Mars. The minimum number of resources requiredfor a self-sustaining
civilization on Mars works outto be about one million people,along with a massive amount
of cargo, raw materials,structures, supplies,and equipment manufactured on Earth. To accomplish thiswith traditional rockets
simply isn’t possible,which is why SpaceX is focused
on developing Starship,to transport 100 Mars settlers at a timealong with supplementary cargo missions. Blue Origin has different
plans and motivations. They stress on the fact that
this planet is irreplaceable. No other place in the Solar Systemcan provide a better place to sustain lifethan Earth itself. However they do acknowledge
that it is finite. We are reaching the limits of the materialand energy resources,
and damaging this planetin the process. Blue Origin’s solution
involves moving heavy industryinto space and turning Earthinto sort of a national park for humansand the rest of the biodiversity. It is also essential that
humanity keeps growing. In the far future,even the Earth as a whole
cannot support a populationof trillions of people. This is where Jeff Bezos’
grandest vision comesinto the picture,
enabling O’Neill colonies. O’Neill is known for questioningwhy humans must live on planetary surfacein the first place,and for his designs of
massive rotating citiesin their orbits. This has a vast amount of advantagesand is much broader
topic for another time. Bezos was absolutely
fascinated by the ideaand even discussed it in
his graduation speech. Jeff Bezos acknowledgesthat the gargantuan rotating space citieswon’t happen in his lifetime. Instead he hopesto create the infrastructureit would require for future generationsof entrepreneurs to make this a reality. He likens it to the internet,the postal delivery network,and banking system that he
was able to build Amazon upon,and would like to solve someof the barriers to spaceflight access,so that the humans of the futurecan develop the new frontier. This involves reducing the cost of launch,making the use of asteroid
resources feasible,and accessing the lunar ice depositsto fuel a colossal cislunar economycapable of bringing
such visions to reality. So, we have spent this video
establishing the differencesbetween Blue Origin and SpaceX. Let’s leave it off on a note
about something they share,a firm belief that humanity
isn’t confined to this planet. They are both committing the drive,resources, and talent we requireto solve the major barriers
to spaceflight access. These companies are at the forefrontof a new wave of private spaceflight,and they are taking some very
interesting approaches to it. So, who do you think has a better visionfor the future of human space settlement?Is it SpaceX’s Mars
habitats, terraforming,multi-planetary spaceships,or Blue Origin’s vision
of preserving Earthas a natural parkby moving factories into spaceand building sprawling space citiesfrom off-world resources?Let me know in the poll above. Let’s have a discussion discussionin the comments section
about other distinctionsin the approaches taken
by Blue and SpaceX. What did I miss?Also, I just really want
to do a quick tease,that I have started a store,INeedMore. Space/Shop or /Store. Both work. I’ve got some shirts on here,and just some cool
designs I think you guyswould really enjoy. So thanks for watching. Hope you follow me on social media. I’m at TJ_Cooney on Twitter. I just post random photos
and videos about spaceflightand the history of spaceflight
I find interesting. Just really hope you consider subscribingand join me on this adventure. All right, thanks guys,
and I’ll see you next time. Bye.

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