SpaceX has renegotiated its lease with the city of McGregor, Texas, in order to begin testing the Falcon Heavy rocket.

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The competition heats up: SpaceX has renegotiated its lease with the city of McGregor, Texas, in order to begin testing the Falcon Heavy rocket.

What I found stunning about this article is this quote:

The Falcon Heavy will have commercial, civil and national security applications, Ra said, adding that customers will pay $81 million to $135 million per launch, depending on the weight of the payload and the rocket’s destination. That is about twice the price of a Falcon 9 launch.

These prices for the Falcon Heavy are actually comparable or cheaper than that charged by most other rocket companies for geosynchronous launches. If SpaceX succeeds in doing this — launching Falcon Heavy at these prices — they will certainly open deep space to private enterprise. And even if their prices end up being twice this, those prices will still be anywhere from one fourth to less than a tenth of what it will cost NASA to launch its SLS rocket.

Which should make us all wonder: Why is anyone in Congress still voting to fund SLS?



  • joe

    Waste is an ingrained part of American government, especially when they are playing with monopoly money!

  • Perhaps wait for Falcon Heavy to actually fly before declaring victory.

    You’ll need to lay out a jobs program to replace SLS, employing the same people in the same districts, if you want it replaced.

  • The House has proposed cuts in NASA’s budget. I expect that over the next several years NASA will only be launching and running science missions, while commercial and manned space becomes the province of private enterprise, the Russians, and the Chinese. I would also wager that the next people on the Moon won’t be wearing American flags.

  • Tim

    A “jobs program”? Really!? And the moon? What’s to gain walking over dimes and picking up pennies?
    Most likely will be a University in the USA to land on the moon next. Spacex just gets things done!
    Look at the milestones 5 & 6 recently achieved for CCiCap, Grasshopper, F9 1.1, etc,.
    I like their odds and their willingness to take on challenges and risks and costs!

  • Tom Billings

    Not just the same people in the same districts, but at the same or higher civil service pay grades. That’s one place that things get sticky in planning lots of small useful projects, instead of one large porker. The managers of project offices that have 100 people under them are paid lots less than those with 1,000 people under them. I wouldn’t be surprised if project managers are primary campaign contributors. Primary campaigns where all the donations go to incumbents are golden, for the incumbent. Unhappy project managers could do a congressman or Senator a lot of grief contributing to challengers, if they thought the incumbent hosed their nice high paying job, by dropping them 2-3 pay grades in the deal cut to replace SLS/Orion. Higher paid project managers are happier with incumbents.

    Another sticking point is political capital. NASA District Congressmen and Senators have to horse trade to get NASA line items through the larger committees. How many times you go to the well with members of the appropriations committees you’ve done favors for in the past is a distinct measure of expenditure of political capital. 2 line items for SLS and Orion mean going to the well twice. Replace them with 10-20 line items that each could be cut to get the funding for something that the other member wants instead, and you expend lots more political capital for the same total number of jobs in your District.

    Thus clout in local terms, as well as in D.C., is at stake here, mucking with the ability to plan replacement of SLS/Orion with useful stuff like landers, propellant depot tech, etc.

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