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DonPMitchell
The use of the Dnepr rockets lately got me wondering, just how much does it cost to launch stuff? We've talked about payload performance of rockets, but not cost and not reliability figures. I couldn't really find this information in one place, so I've spent an hour poking around on a variety of websites:

CODE
Rocket            LEO      GTO     Escape      price       kg/mega$    Launch:Fail
------            ---      ---     ------      -----       --------    -----------

Ariane 5         18,000    6,800             120 million    57 GTO        26:3
Atlas II          8,610    3,720              90 million    41 GTO        63:0
Atlas V 401       9,750    4,950              90 million    55 GTO         8:0
Atlas V HL       25,000   13,605    8,600    130 million   105 GTO
Delta II          5,648    2,133    1,000     50 million    43 GTO       115:2
Delta IV M        9,106    4,231              70 million    60 GTO         5:0
Delta IV Heavy   21,892   12,757             140 million    91 GTO         1:0
Dnepr 1           4,500                       12 million   375 LEO        39:6
Falcon 5          4,100    1,050              18 million    88 GTO         0:0
Falcon 9-S9      24,750    9,650              78 million   124 GTO         0:0
Kosmos 3M         1,500                       12 million   125 LEO       434:20
Long March 3      4,800    1,400              37 million    38 GTO        13:2
Pegasus XL          440                       14 million    31 LEO        11:1
Proton           21,000    5,645    6,220    100 million    56 GTO       238:18
Soyuz             7,400    2,000    1,200     35 million    57 GTO     1,691:101
Titan III        15,400             3,700     70 million   220 LEO       158:13
Titan IV 405     21,680                       90 million   240 LEO        37:4
Tziklon 3         4,100                       22 million   186 LEO       121:8
Zenit 2          13,740                       60 million   229 LEO        37:6
Zenit 3SL                  5,250              85 million    62 GTO        14:2


Some interesting things emerge from seeing all the numbers on one place.

1. The Dnepr is a cheap way to get something into orbit!

2. Launching geosynchronous satellites from the equator is a big win (Ariane, Falcon, Zenit SL).

3. The Falcons will be exciting if they do what they claim.

4. I see over 2000 Russian launches. Why am I missing so many US launches?

5. The R-7 ... wow. (I'm counting all R-7 launches, which is a little unfair, because most failures were very early)
ugordan
Interesting stuff. I had the impression the Delta IV Heavy marginally surpasses the capability of an Atlas V HL (I assume this is the yet-unflown 3 CCB variant?). This shows it's actually inferior in both LEO and GTO performance. Is that figure correct? If so, it really makes you think twice about the feasibility of cryogenic propellants for the first stage.

The Falcon 9 should be a good competitor, but it's notable it has a poorer GTO performance -- likely because it doesn't have a high energy cryogenic upper stage (it's RP-1 powered, IIRC). It still packs a better GTO payload than an Ariane V and for a substantially lower price, too. In theory, anyway...

The Proton is also one heck of a capable rocket, but it too suffers from a weaker upper stage.

The Dnepr 1 is really cheap - you get 4 of them for the price of a Delta II which has 'only' 600 kg more payload to LEO! Not so reliable, though...

1700 launches of an R-7 derivative... Mindblowing...
djellison
I'm not sure where you got some of the prices from , but I've seen Delta II as $60m in '99 dollars.

Doug
hendric
Don,
Be interesting to have a $/kg column as well.
DonPMitchell
Most of the prices are from Space And Tech, but some are from Astronautix.

I see astronautix lists Delta IV Heavy with LEO payload = 25,800 and GTO payload = 10,843. Boeing's site, which I would take as definative says Delta IV LEO = 21,892, GTO = 12,757. These variances are typical, I suppose people are getting numbers from publications at different dates. I'll update the table using the corporate website data if I find it.

The latitude of the launch site makes a big difference too. The Proton launching from Baikonur has to perform a more expensive orbital-plane change than the Altas and Delta rockets launching from Cape Canaveral.
DonPMitchell
I added a kilogram/dollar column.

The dnepr is the winner in price for LEO, but they need to work on quality assurance. The SpaceX Falcon series sounds too good to be true. I hope they can walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. Their investors will have to be patient and weather a few early failures, and if not they could go under. The US government has a strategic policy of promoting multiple vendors, so they may protect SpaceX for a while.

Reliability makes it a trickier issue. If you had a $150 million satellite to put into GSO, who would you hire? If you were free to chose, that is (ahem).

The numbers are a little unfair for the Soyuz and Proton, because they include statistiics from all the way back to the 1950s and 1960s, while other rockets only count modern performance. I only counted 4-stage Protons, but for the Soyuz I counted every R-7 launch form the first ICBM test.
Jim from NSF.com
US prices are too low. Can't say anymore
mchan
I don't know if the US prices in Don's table are low in general, but the Titan IV (not just 405 but any version) is definitely NOT the same price as the entry level Atlas V 401. My recollection of Titan IV pricetags are at least 3X the $90 million stated in the table.

If a Titan IV launch had been as cheap as an Atlas V 401, we'd still be flying them. smile.gif
DonPMitchell
Astronautix's prices are quite a bit different than Space & Tech's prices.

Ariane 5G - 180 million
Atlas V 401 - 138 million
Atlas HLV - 254 million (year-2000 dollars)
Proton K - 70 million (1994 dollars)
Delta IV Heavy - 254 million (exactly the same as Atlas HLV???)

The launch contract for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory by Atlas V has been fixed at 194.7 million.

Just googling around, I can't really find good sources of real price information beyond Astronautics and S&T. Anyone ideas? Three must be real data someplace?
djellison
QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jul 28 2006, 06:02 AM) *
Delta IV Heavy - 254 million (exactly the same as Atlas HLV???)


Not surpising given that they're part of the same program, and there was some mention that paperwork had gone in directions it perhaps shouldn't have done a few years ago.

Doug
dvandorn
I'm sure there are factors in every launch vehicle/spacecraft combination which affect the overall cost of each.

On the one hand, the launch vehicle builder has to adapt its vehicle to a given mission's needs. The Delta II flew in several different configurations, with differing numbers of SRBs and differing size/Isp of SRBs. The Atlas V that launched MRO used no SRBs, and oozed majestically off its pad, while the same basic vehicle, with five SRBs attached, took off with New Horizons like the proverbial bat out of Hell.

These differences in configurations affect cost quite a bit. And it seems to me that American launch vehicles have gotten more alternate-configuration-happy than some other countries' launchers -- ESA and the Russians seem to fly vehicles with fewer available configurations, so their costs are a little easier to estimate.

That might be why it's hard to pin down how much the use of a given American launch vehicle actually costs. The costs vary enough, from one config to the next and from one customer to the next, that the best you can probably hope for is a range, and maybe a set of weighted averages.

-the other Doug
AndyG
QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jul 27 2006, 11:01 PM) *
I added a kilogram/dollar column.

...from which we can work out the energy costs, since each kg in low Earth orbit requires about 33Mj. Taking that step, all these rockets are (not surprisingly) woefully inefficient.

How bad? Well, the best bet is obviously the Dnepr, at 12280 joules/$. Compared to my electrical costs (averaging about 17Mj/$) that's a mark-up of some 1400 times.

Hmmm. (Hey, it's a Friday...let me have some fun) we could add another column...

I see that the Proton is about the same in terms of energy costs as Beluga caviar.
An Atlas II is equivalent to a 1958 bottle of Highland Park**.
Meanwhile the appallingly expensive Pegasus XL is on a par with the average truffle.

ohmy.gif

Andy

** Anyone thinking that a bottle of whisky, nice as Highland Park undoubtably is, could be worth nearly $3000 is in need of help.
mchan
Delta and Atlas kept evolving with new configurations because new customer payloads kept pushing the payload capacity of existing launcher configurations, and because of efforts to reduce production and operations cost while increasing reliability. Ariane 4 also had a fair number of configurations to increase payload capacity. Proton had payload capacity to spare, and consequently had fewer configurations (mostly in different upper stages for different orbits and for increased reliability).

The difference can be large between the cost to the launcher manufacturer / service provider to build and launch a rocket, and the price the manufacturer / service provider charges a customer to launch a payload. This thread is mostly discussing price. Price is negotiated and is affected by non-cost related things such as positioning vs competing launchers (if such exist), scheduled availability of the launcher, and quantity discounts.

A story on launcher pricing -- When a NASA payload slated for a Delta with 3 solids grew past its mass reserve margins, the Delta manufacturer representative told the spacecraft engineer that an extra solid would only add a million dollars to the launch price tag. The spacecraft engineer then asked about adding 6 more solids (for the max 9 solid configuration) for an additional 6 million dollars, and was told the pricing didn't work that way. The 9 solid configuration Delta was in a different payload class, and was priced a lot higher than the 3 solid configuration plus 6 million dollars.
DonPMitchell
The Proton is not inefficient. It takes enormous energy to change the plane of an orbit. Note that Proton's payload to Mars is more than its payload to GSO! The Russians need a launch site closer to the equator. For the same reason, it will be inefficient for the ATV to go from Kourou to the 52-degree ISS orbit.

With regard to rocket costs, very complex contracts are involved. The price of the Atlas V 401 went from $77 million to $138 million because fewer rockets were launched, but a fixed batch payment was made to Lockheed. So these figures are not telling us the real fly-away cost of the rocket. That must be closer to the cheaper figures, because the larger figures include R&D costs.

I don't know how to find the fly-away cost of the rockets, so take all these figures with a grain of salt.
remcook
talking of which...when will be the first soyuz launch from Kourou?
mchan
Outside of working for a launcher manufacturer and having access to proprietary information, the figures one would find from any published sources should all be taken with some grains of salt. smile.gif
Rakhir
QUOTE (remcook @ Jul 28 2006, 12:34 PM) *
talking of which...when will be the first soyuz launch from Kourou?

It is still planned for the second half of 2008 but it will probably shift to 2009.
DonPMitchell
What type of missions are planned to use the Soyuz from an equatorial launch?
DonPMitchell
Another data point for the cost of an Atlas V, 401 configuration:

QUOTE
NASA announced today the award of launch services for the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter mission to Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch
Services Inc. of Littleton, Colo. The total cost of launch services
for NASA, which includes spacecraft processing, and associated
mission integration services such as telemetry support and
mission-unique items is $136.2 million dollars.
GravityWaves
QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jul 27 2006, 07:09 AM) *
The use of the Dnepr rockets lately got me wondering, just how much does it cost to launch stuff? We've talked about payload performance of rockets, but not cost and not reliability figures. I couldn't really find this information in one place, so I've spent an hour poking around on a variety of websites:

CODE
Rocket            LEO      GTO     Escape      price       kg/mega$    Launch:Fail
------            ---      ---     ------      -----       --------    -----------

Ariane 5         18,000    6,800             120 million    57 GTO        26:3
Atlas II          8,610    3,720              90 million    41 GTO        63:0
Atlas V 401       9,750    4,950              90 million    55 GTO         8:0
Atlas V HL       25,000   13,605    8,600    130 million   105 GTO
Delta II          5,648    2,133    1,000     50 million    43 GTO       115:2
Delta IV M        9,106    4,231              70 million    60 GTO         5:0
Delta IV Heavy   21,892   12,757             140 million    91 GTO         1:0
Dnepr 1           4,500                       12 million   375 LEO        39:6
Falcon 5          4,100    1,050              18 million    88 GTO         0:0
Falcon 9-S9      24,750    9,650              78 million   124 GTO         0:0
Kosmos 3M         1,500                       12 million   125 LEO       434:20
Long March 3      4,800    1,400              37 million    38 GTO        13:2
Pegasus XL          440                       14 million    31 LEO        11:1
Proton           21,000    5,645    6,220    100 million    56 GTO       238:18
Soyuz             7,400    2,000    1,200     35 million    57 GTO     1,691:101
Titan III        15,400             3,700     70 million   220 LEO       158:13
Titan IV 405     21,680                       90 million   240 LEO        37:4
Tziklon 3         4,100                       22 million   186 LEO       121:8
Zenit 2          13,740                       60 million   229 LEO        37:6
Zenit 3SL                  5,250              85 million    62 GTO        14:2


Some interesting things emerge from seeing all the numbers on one place.

1. The Dnepr is a cheap way to get something into orbit!

2. Launching geosynchronous satellites from the equator is a big win (Ariane, Falcon, Zenit SL).

3. The Falcons will be exciting if they do what they claim.

4. I see over 2000 Russian launches. Why am I missing so many US launches?

5. The R-7 ... wow. (I'm counting all R-7 launches, which is a little unfair, because most failures were very early)



The reason you're seeing so many Russian launches is because Plesetsk and Baikonur have been the most active launch pads in the world
dvandorn
QUOTE (GravityWaves @ Sep 16 2006, 11:48 AM) *
The reason you're seeing so many Russian launches is because Plesetsk and Baikonur have been the most active launch pads in the world

That's, um, sort of circular logic, isn't it? It's sort of like saying "The reason you see so many babies in this town is because this town has one of the busiest maternity wards in the world." Both sides of that equation reflect a result without recognizing a real cause.

-the other Doug
GravityWaves
QUOTE (dvandorn @ Sep 16 2006, 02:16 PM) *
That's, um, sort of circular logic, isn't it?



Not really because it still depends on how good your pad and launcher are and how reliable a nation's launch service is with each pad - there are at least 7 other Russian and American pads I didn't mention, Wallops, 'Space-pork' Kodiak, US aircraft launches, SLC launcher, Kapustin yar, Svobodny and Russian sub launches. You could probably count all the launches from these 7 pads on both hands - while the Chinese Long March and the European Kourou would be far more active. Plesetsk and Baikonur have been built to launch the best rockets and none of the other Russian pads are able to launch a Soyuz.
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