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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.