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The result was a cost-per-call range of $3.00 to $1.30 in the first five years with a steady decrease to 30 cents
per call in Year Fifteen.
The initial market was anticipated to be the professional or business person who requires communication beyond that available from existing or projected telephone systems. With increasing capacity, greater market saturation, and declining costs, the universe of users could become the entire population above some given age -- the age of 16 was arbitrarily selected in the study. Since there is now one telephone for every two people in the United States, it was assumed that the saturation level for the personal portable communicator would be one for every four persons by the Year Twenty.
Revenues are greatly dependent upon fees from user calls. Telephones and CB radios were used as analogous products to determine the market penetration, delays, etc. A decrease in the cost of the ground unit was assumed at Year Ten.
If a large and highly-sensitive two-beam antenna is placed in geosynchronous orbit with two reception lobes sweeping across the United States in an east-west and norht-south direction, the satellite could locate with great accuracy
a very small, very-low-power radio transmitter on the ground. The tiny transmitter might be affixed to a vehicle, package,
or person. Technical studies indicate that the locator satellite could pin-point the position of such a ground transmitter to within 100 feet anywhere in the continental United States. The locator satellite would then transmit the ground co-ordinates of the tiny transmitter to a central ground station. Thus, it would be possible to fix the location of important shipments, trucks, rail cars, or people.
The potential market is somewhat analogous to the personal portable communicator. Best-case analysis showed revenues of $8-million at the end of Year One, based upon the best mix of transmitter purchase/rental price and the cost of the service. Least case showed $2.8-million gross revenue at the end of Year One. Market saturation occurs in about 12 years at about $85-million gross revenues for leastcase and about $300-million for best-case.
Perishable Cutting Tools:
Good perishable cutting tools (PCT's) exhibit the sort of cost characteristics amenable to consideration for space materials processing
$200 to $500 per pound. Generally,
the harder the PCT material, the higher the cost. A tool made of harder alloy manufactured in space and having a longer life and/or a faster cutting speed would have a market at a competetive price. When down-time and lost production costs
are also considered, especially in factories using numerically
controlled machines, costs appear to be even more competetive for space-made cutting tool alloys.
The market for space-produced PCT's is strongly sensitive to transportation costs and to the degree of improvement of physical properties attainable through orbital manufacturing. But hard physical data on such PCT alloys is not available yet. The potential market indicates that the product area is one that should receive attention and be subjected to further R&D to
obtain such data.
The existing and projected market for PCT's is:
Carbide tools represent about 50% of this market.
A small improvement in PCT hardness, lifetime, or cutting speed would certainly be expected to capture at least 5% of this market because PCT's with the highest performance now hold 5% of the total market. With any reduction in space transportation costs, the maximum market penetration by the Year 2000 could possibly attain 50% of the total market. Therefore, a reasonable projection of the market for spaceproduced PCT's would range from $280-million to $2.8-billion.
New Bearing Materials:
Wear is perhaps the greatest bearing problem. Balls, rollers, races, and inserts are the items subjected to wear. Additional desireable bearing material characteristics are corrosion resistance, very low creep, high-temperature
capability, and lubricity.
Initial experiments in alloying metals in orbit
and the potential capability of producing directionallysolidified materials offer promise of new and better bearings. However, it is very early to say what the outcome of planned experiments in this field of applied research might be.
The total market projections for ball and roller bearings indicate the magnitude of the projected utility of such materials:
If planned experiments yield affirmative data, the best market projections that can be made at this time involve an assumption of capturing from 1% to 10% of the total market, giving gross revenues for space-produced bearing materials in the year 2000 ranging from $69-million to $690-million.
Semiconductor Electronic Materials:
Skylab experiments involving crystal-growing in weightlessness have shown that it is possible to produce crystals with a minimum number of dislocations and other imperfections. This capability, plus the abilities to form very large thin films and produce high-purity materials in wightlessness, leads to the possibility of producing totally new semiconductor electronic materials.
Linear extrapolations of the current semiconductor market growth rate indicates a $12.7-billion market in the year 2000. If orbital experiments provide affirmative information and improved products result as anticipated, an overly-conservative estimate would target space semiconductor material as capturing at least 1% of the total market which would amount to about $500,000 in 1985 growing to $1.27-billion in 2000.
The capability to manufacture dimensionally-solidified materials in orbit holds promise of permitting the space manufacture of cobalt/rare-earth (CORE) magnets. Such magnets would possess very cohesive magnetic field and would permit the construction of electrical equipment of reduced size and weight.
The market for magnets indicates an acceptable price of