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Launch cost comparison

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by JRod0802, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. JRod0802

    JRod0802 Member

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    #1 JRod0802, Nov 17, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
    Ok, I put together some numbers after looking around a bit online. These seem to be ball-park correct, but finding cost was sometimes hard. The below table is sorted by kg to LEO (so basically how powerful the rocket is). I think that's important because when a company wants to launch a payload they look at the rocket that will just barely launch their payload, and then they look down the list, just to check if a rocket that can launch even more somehow costs less. If there is a rocket that can launch more but costs less, they'd go with that simply because it can get the job done and it costs less.




















































    kg to LEO Total Cost Dollars per kg
    Falcon 9 1.1 reusable ~8,000 kg (estimate) ~$15 Million (estimate within a few years... I expect this number to continuously go down as SpaceX learns more and is able to fly a rocket more times before retiring it) $1,875
    Atlas V 401 9,050 kg (link) $164 Million (link) $18,122
    Delta IV-M+ (4.2) 13,140 kg (link) $174.5 Million (link) (link) $13,280
    Falcon 9 1.1 expendable 13,150 kg (link) $61.2 Million (link) $4,654
    Atlas V 541 17,100 kg (link) $226 Million (link) $13,216
    Ariane 5 ECA 21,000 kg (link) $192 Million (link) (Wiki page said Ariane 6 would be $96 Million which is half of the Ariane 5, so Ariane 5 would be $192 Million) $9,143
    Delta IV-H 28,790 kg (link) $375 Million (link) $13,025
    Falcon Heavy reusable ~35,000 kg (estimate) ~70 Million (estimate within a few years... I expect this number to continuously go down as SpaceX learns more and is able to fly a rocket more times before retiring it) $2,000
    Falcon Heavy expendable 53,000 kg (link) $281.56 Million (link) (I did some math on this one, since the price is only listed for a fraction of the maximum possible payload... it very well may end up being less expensive than this) $5,312

    This shows that if you had to launch a payload of 8,000 kg or less, you'd go with a Falcon 9 1.1 reusable for ~$15 million. If you had to launch a payload of 8,001 kg - 13,150 kg, you'd go with a Falcon 9 1.1 expenable for ~$61.2 million, since it's the next cheapest rocket (or, you'd break up your payload and use multiple Falcon 9 1.1 reusable launches if you could). If you had to launch a payload of 13,151 kg - 35,000 kg, you'd go with a Falcon Heavy reusable for ~$70 Million, since it's the next cheapest rocket. If you had to launch a payload of 35,001 kg or more (up to 53,000 kg), you'd go with a Falcon Heavy expendable for $281.56 million (or, you'd break up your payload into something smaller and use multiple Falcon Heavy reusable launches).

    Note that no other rocket comes close to competing with any of the reusable SpaceX rockets. Also note that even without reusability, SpaceX rockets are still the cheapest in most situations. Let's go through that same thought experiment assuming reusability doesn't exist.

    If you had to launch a payload of 13,150 kg or less, you'd go with a Falcon 9 1.1 expendable for $61.2 million. If you had to launch a payload of 13,151 kg - 21,000 kg you'd go with a Ariane 5 ECA for $192 million. If you had to launch a payload of 21,001 kg or more (up to 53,000 kg), you'd go with a Falcon Heavy expendable for $281.56 million.
     
  2. rabar10

    rabar10 FFE until Model 3

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    Thanks for making that chart! Very helpful for comparison sake.

    I think the quote Ariane 5 price is in Euros. The wikipedia entry for Ariane 5 mentions the goal of an in-design Ariane 6 costing 70 million euros (or ~96 million USD) per launch, which would be about half the current Ariane 5 launch cost. So 150-190 million USD per launch is probably closer for that one.
     
  3. JRod0802

    JRod0802 Member

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    Good find! I just updated my post to include that information.
     

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