SpaceX updates its prices

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The competition heats up: SpaceX this weekend updated the prices and listed capabilities for buying a Falcon 9 launch, while also adding the price and capabilities of its not-yet flown Falcon Heavy. Here’s the link to the SpaceX page.

The damage shakes out to $62 million for a Falcon 9 rocket launch with a payload of 4,020 kilograms (8,860 pounds) and $90 million for a ride on the much-anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket, set to debut in late 2016, which can ferry 13,600 kilograms (29,980 pounds) to Mars. In addition to adding an interplanetary destination to its wares, SpaceX has also upped the payload capacity of the Falcon 9 to low Earth orbit from 29,000 pounds to over 50,000 pounds.

The Falcon Heavy is expected to put slightly more than 50 tons into low Earth orbit, half of what a Saturn 5 could do, and about two thirds what the first version of SLS will be able to do. Yet, their price to buy a launch is actually less than what every other rocket company is charging for rockets approximately comparable to the Falcon 9 and about 500 times less than the cost to build that SLS rocket (what an SLS actually costs to launch is anybody’s guess, but it certainly ain’t anywhere near $100 million). And the upgrades on the Falcon 9 have also made it better than those other rockets because it can now put 25 tons into low Earth orbit, only slightly less than the space shuttle.

That they have added the Falcon Heavy is also more evidence that they are confident that its first test flight will be this year.


  • LocalFluff

    Wow, Falcon 9 can take as much to LEO as Atlas V and Ariane 5? I think that’s big news, never heard that predicted

  • NormD

    Do you know why they were able to upgrade the F9 payload to low Earth orbit by such a huge amount?

  • I don’t know the specifics, but I can make a good guess. After doing several launches with their new fuel system that allows them a greater fuel capacity, they now can do reasonable calculations about how much that system ups the rocket’s payload capacity. Hence the new numbers.

  • Edward

    The new capability may be taking into consideration a barge landing. SpaceX’s December launch performed a return-to-launch-site landing. Had they landed on a barge, downrange, then they could have reserved more fuel for getting payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

    In addition (and far more important), the Falcon 9 v1.1 is larger and more powerful than the previous version, Falcon 9 v1.0, which could only take 23,000 lb to LEO. SpaceX is now retiring the Falcon 9 v1.1 in favor of Falcon 9 “full thrust” version. It seems to be the same size but with more thrust on the Merlin 1D engines.

    This link shows that the thrust level will go from 5,900 kiloNewtons to 7,600 by the end of this year.

    SpaceX has had a program of continuous improvements to their rockets, and not just minor improvements, which most rocket companies do. Frankly, it is hard to keep up with them. (I mean that in the remembering-the-information sense, not a competition sense, which would also be true.)

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