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SpaceX simplifies smallsat rideshare program, effectively slashing prices

SpaceX has reworked its smallsat rideshare program to allow smaller satellite customers to book directly with the company, effectively slashing the prices they are charged.

While it technically hasn’t reduced its prices, SpaceX will now allow satellites as small as 50 kilograms to book directly through the company at its virtually unbeatable rate of $5500 per kilogram. Before this change, customers with small satellites would either have to pay for all the extra capacity they weren’t using, boosting their relative cost per kilogram, or arrange their launch services with a third-party aggregator like Spaceflight or Exolaunch.

Part of the reason for this change is the shift by SpaceX to a new satellite deployment platform that allows for a wider variety of satellites of all sizes. Some tiny satellites will no longer have to rely on an aggregator’s own deployment platform.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • Joe

    So I can get 10 times the mass launched for about 2.5 times what I paid for 5kg. That is a bargain. Expect more rideshare companies to startup and a few of the big ones to fail.

  • Col Beausabre

    Bob, How much do you weigh?

  • Edward

    Since the smallsat launchers still seem to be launching as fast as they can, given the recentness of their entry into the market, SpaceX’s Ridshare program may not yet be hurting them. As they ramp up their launch cadences, we will have to see whether SpaceX becomes their competition or eases out of that market.

  • sippin_bourbon

    It will certainly impact small launchers. They still have the advantage of being able to put your cargo into an orbit not being serviced by the rideshare. And they have capability above 50kg. But this will still put pressure on them.

    The question is, what percentage of small sats are 50kg and below. In other words, how much of the market does this represent.

    I linked to a company that researches this stuff a while back, will need to dig those up again.

  • V-Man

    Is 50kg the minimum size? What if a school wants to launch a 1kg cubesat?

    Is the mass of the dispenser counted in the mass of the satellite? Or they have standard ones built into the adapter?

  • sippin_bourbon

    Speaking of small launchers.
    Long interview with Peter Beck, RocketLab
    Most interesting is that he states the main issues with launch cadence is customer readiness.
    He had said in a previous appearance that customer readiness and government paperwork/permissions are the two biggest hold ups.

  • Edward

    V-Man asked: “Is 50kg the minimum size? What if a school wants to launch a 1kg cubesat?

    50kg is the minimum size that the customer pays for. He can still mount a 1kg cubesat, but he pays for 50kg. This is why the article mentions “aggregators,” companies that arranges for several satellites, that are below the minimum mass, to ride together so that the aggregate of all the satellites equals or exceeds the minimum mass, resulting in the cost to each customer to be much closer to the $5,500 per kg.

    Is the mass of the dispenser counted in the mass of the satellite? Or they have standard ones built into the adapter?

    From the figures in the article, it looks like SpaceX has standard-sized mounting plates rather than standard release mechanisms or dispensers. However, the article does suggest that SpaceX is flexible enough to supply a dispenser, it does not say whether this would be an additional cost to the customer.

    SpaceX also appears to be willing to book and integrate individual ‘containerized’ cubesats without the need for an aggregator’s dispenser.

    Most likely, the mass of a dispenser or release mechanism is paid in addition to the mass of the satellite. This would mean that a 50kg satellite with a 10kg release mechanism likely costs the $275,000 for the first 50kg plus another $55,000 for the release mechanism, and a 40kg satellite with a 10kg release mechanism would still cost the $275,000 minimum price.

    In the 1990s, industry watchers had predicted that if launch costs could be reduced to $2,000 per pound (~$4200 per kg) then there would be a large increase in the demand for launch services. After inflation, SpaceX is charging a similar price to this prediction, and we have seen that there are many smallsats being launched, enough to encourage several companies to dedicate themselves to the smallsat launch market.

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