Source Confusion from TechCrunch+
The article by the Energy Consulting Group cites an article by Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch which is not an interview with Musk but instead a badly summarized series of Tweets. The Energy Consulting Group presumes the following
(1 000 rockets) x (3 launches per day) x (1 000 tonnes) = 3 000 000 tonnes/day
This follows from this statement in their TechCrunch source,
total of mor [SIC] than 1,000 flights per year, per vehicle.
This claim in the TechCrunch+ article blurs the 2050 goal and the current goal.
In Tweets from Nov 7, 2019 Musk says
Payload to orbit per year of Starship fleet is most mind-blowing metric, as it’s designed to fly 3X per day, which is ~1000X per year [...] If we build as many Starships as Falcons, so ~100 vehicles & each does 100 tons to orbit, that’s a capacity of 10 million tons of payload to orbit per year
That does NOT say that 1,000 Starships will fly be flying three times a day. That says 100 Starships will fly three times a day, for 300 flights a day, every day where each of the 100 Starships fly 1000 times a year.
You can see this series of Tweets from Jan 16, 2020
Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multiplanetary Starship design goal is 3 flights/day avg rate, so ~1000 flights/year at >100 tons/flight, so every 10 ships yield 1 megaton per year to orbit Building 100 Starships/year gets to 1000 in 10 years or 100 megatons/year or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync
So where did the actual 1,000 rockets come from? It seems one of two places,
The actual statements of Musk seem like they would incline one to believe that the immediate plan calls for
- 1,000 Starships that will depart Earth every 26 months to ferry cargo and passengers to Mars,
- In addition every year there will be 100,000 lifts of cargo on the Starships, performed by 100 rockets lifting off ~3 times a day for a year carrying 100 tons for a yearly capacity of 10 M tons to orbit.
This is a launch cadence of
1,000 launches/2yr (every two years for the main trip) +
100,000 launches/yr (lifting 10M Tons)
= 500 launches/yr + 100,000 launches/yr
= 100,500 launches/yr
This 100,500 launches/yr will produce drastically different math from 3,000 launches/day (1,095,000 launches/yr) that the Energy Consulting Group assumes.
Launches per day = (100,500 / 365)
btfd = 275 launches * 1000 (tons of LNG) / 1,000,000 (million) * 48.7 (conversion million-metric-tons-LNG to billion-cubic-feet-NG)
btfd = 13.4
So SpaceX will consume 13.4 btfd not the 150 btfd the Energy Consulting Group calculated in their analysis.
As for the 100 MT (1,000 launches/day) goal, this Musk says is the 2050 goal. It's certainly not weighed properly in light of all the other claims Musk has made about the 10 megaton/year goal. In the context of "100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync" that's no where to be seen (we remain at 0), and SpaceX would have to have a polished Starship production line to produce a Starship every three days (even once never mind for 10 years without stall). Not to mention I don't believe they've reused a single orbital launch craft twice in a day (nevermind a Starship three times in a day). They're no where near achieving either of these goals. They're still making test rockets and the last test was over five months ago.
This claim checks out as being Musk's 30 year "goal". But the more realistic projection is for 100,500 launches/year which he talks far more about, and he's still no where near reaching that. Moreover, if you're going to cite the 2050 goal then the title "SpaceX's Starship May Nearly Triple US Natural Gas Demand" seems to be of poor form as you're comparing the current consumption of LNG to the projected consumption of one company in thirty years.