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SpaceX reduces launch costs

October 8, 2019

By Chris Forrester

Reportedly, SpaceX has further trimmed the cost of launching satellites using one of its rockets.

Using data from NASA (which uses the USA’s Government Accountability Office research), Space Intel Report (SIR) says that the already highly competitive $62 million per launch used by SpaceX as its ‘base price’, the actual cost now available to clients for forward bookings is nearer $52 million.

The new $52 million price kicks in for launches for 2021 and beyond, and reflects the savings achieved through the successful recovery and landing of its fleet of rockets.

SIR suggests that the $52 million is now the new ‘base price’, and if correct places extraordinary new challenges on Europe’s Arianespace launch vehicles.

In the recent past Arianespace charged about €165-€220 million per launch, although that sum permitted two satellites to be carried into space. Arianespace is developing it’s all-new Ariane 6 vehicles in an attempt to lower these fees.

In the US a major competitor to SpaceX is the United Launch Alliance (a joint-venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin) and the quoted price for a single 2020 launch is a massive $422 million which is why its users are almost always the US military.  The ULA is also looking to slash costs using its new Vulcan rocket in order to get closer to SpaceX launch costs. Vulcan rockets are due to enter service in 2021.

While this fee is wholly unacceptable for commercial launches, the aim for the new Ariane 6 is to cost some 25 per cent more than SpaceX. If SpaceX is able to trim prices to nearer $52 million then Ariane 6 becomes even more unaffordable.

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