SpaceX has sent out a press release aimed at silencing the chatter that the young rocket company prices are “too good to be true” (since not even China can match SpaceX’s prices).
However in the process of defending the reputation of his rocket company, CEO Elon Musk does reveal a few interesting tidbits about SpaceX that may have rivals rethink their current practices within the industry.
The price of a standard flight on a Falcon 9 rocket is $54 million. We are the only launch company that publicly posts this information on our website (www.spacex.com). We have signed many legally binding contracts with both government and commercial customers for this price (or less). Because SpaceX is so vertically integrated, we know and can control the overwhelming majority of our costs. This is why I am so confident that our performance will increase and our prices will decline over time, as is the case with every other technology.
The average price of a full-up NASA Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station is $133 million including inflation, or roughly $115m in today’s dollars, and we have a firm, fixed price contract with NASA for 12 missions. This price includes the costs of the Falcon 9 launch, the Dragon spacecraft, all operations, maintenance and overhead, and all of the work required to integrate with the Space Station. If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference. (This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.) […]
SpaceX has been profitable every year since 2007, despite dramatic employee growth and major infrastructure and operations investments. We have over 40 flights on manifest representing over $3 billion in revenues. […]
China has the fastest growing economy in the world. But the American free enterprise system, which allows anyone with a better mouse-trap to compete, is what will ensure that the United States remains the world’s greatest superpower of innovation. (SpaceX)
Note: Emphasis theirs.
Truthfully SpaceX probably would not post prices online if they were not confident that they could service their clients at those rates (as changing prices “midway” can open ones self to a plethora of lawsuits).
While SpaceX’s press release will not satisfy skeptics (something their first successful rocket launch was supposed to do), it may help encourage the rocket industry to become much more transparent with their prices (as forcing tax payers to fork out extra cash is a great to kill off public trust for private space companies).
With the space race heating up between the US and China (note: Russia is apparently having a few difficulties), America will need companies like SpaceX to help us not only get back to the Moon, but also help our species settle Mars without breaking the bank.
Image Credit: SpaceX