What a Ride to Space Costs These Days

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

Just in time for your late summer beach reading needs, the Government Accountability Office has released a new report, “Surplus Missile Motors: Sale Price Drives Potential Effects on DOD and Commercial Launch Providers.”

The report looks at the costs associated with using surplus rocket motors in Orbital ATK’s Minotaur launchers, which cannot be used for commercial missions.

Yes, it’s about as exciting as it sounds.

Anyway, the report does contain a couple of interesting tables showing what a ride into space costs these days.

The first of the tables looks at small to medium commercial launchers.


As you can see, the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL and Minotaur-C boosters and Japan’s Epsilon booster at the high end of the price per kilogram.

There’s also this table that looks at a wider range of boosters.


Proton M is actually the cheapest ride to space on a price per kilogram basis at $2,826, followed by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 at $2,864. Pegasus XL is at the high end, followed by Japan’s Epsilon and the Minotaur-C.