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Reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 Can save $  30 million USD per launch

As Mike Wise elucidated in his comment, this is rather speculative, since SpaceX as a private company can (and do) choose to keep their cost structures and breakdowns secret, and the prices vary between launches. We can, however, use a few bits of information to get a coarse overview of the prices involved.

Customer-facing costs

SpaceX currently sells an "off the shelf" Falcon 9 launch for $61.2 million USD (from 2016). This price has in the past been relatively negotiable. Both MDA Corporation and SES (owners and operators of the CASSIOPE and SES-8 satellites which flew on the first and second Falcon 9v1.1 launches, respectively) paid well under the market value for their flights (CASSIOPE, SES-8).

This launch price is up on previous SpaceX rates for Falcon 9:

  • $35 million USD in 2005, 8700kg to LEO
  • $36.75 million USD in 2009, with an increasing cost as mission demands increased.
  • $44 million USD in early 2010 before the first launch.
  • $49.9 million USD in late 2010 after the second launch
  • $54 million USD in 2011
  • $56.5 million USD in 2013-2014 for Falcon 9v1.1

Prices has since stabilized a bit, NASA for example is paying $87 million USD for the launch of TESS aboard a Falcon 9 in 2017. This roughly agrees with Musk's comments that U.S. government launches will cost approximately $90 million USD.

SpaceX Internal costs


Musk has famously stated at the National Press Club that the cost of propellant is only 0.3% the cost of the rocket, which yields about $200,000 for a $60m launch.

First stage

We also know that the first stage is approximately "less than three-quarters" of the cost of the entire rocket. Now, what we can't be sure of is SpaceX's profit and margins on each launch, if the entirety of the rocket's manufacturing costs only $40 million, then the first stage is approximately or just less than $30 million.

An employee I spoke to once concerning the SES-8 launch was that due to delays and the number of penalties that needed to be paid to SES, they barely broke even on that particular launch.

Tag(s) : #space

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