Sign up ×
Space Exploration Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for spacecraft operators, scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As a student of economics and finance I would love to learn more about the cost structures of sending a payload into orbit.

More specifically -

  • What is the cost-per-pound to send something into LEO for the handful of operating private and public space programs?
  • How has the cost-per-pound to orbit changed over the years?

UPDATE: Has anyone come across newer costs?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The cost depends on the rocket, and on the percent capacity of said rocket, but here's a few numbers for you, cost in U.S. dollars/kg to LEO (Wikipedia*). It should be noted that not all rocket prices are publicly available, in fact, most aren't.

  • Falcon Heavy: \$2200
  • Falcon 9 v 1.1- \$4,109
  • DNEPR- \$3,784
  • Ariane 5- \$10,476
  • Delta IV- \$13,072
  • Atlas V- \$13,182

* Cost per kg to LEO column has since been removed from linked to Wikipedia page. Here is a link to the latest archived version that still includes that column.

share|improve this answer
Is it merely a matter of company policy that price to LEO is often not public? Any idea? – Everyone Sep 16 '13 at 17:03
@AlanSE SpaceX is pretty much the only company that actually quotes a price publically. Beyond NASA they have dozens of launches booked. So some companies have clearly bought launches. CSA and Cassiope is a known discount case. But SES and Thiacom are next, surely they have signed a contract for those launches? – geoffc Sep 16 '13 at 18:58
@geoffc: I know at least Orbcomm has a contract, ported at a discount. . The article indicates that it is due to a prior contract to launch their satellites on a Falcon 1, which was discontinued. – PearsonArtPhoto Sep 16 '13 at 20:09
Also, SES has one with no price listed, and Thaicomm has one, no price listed. At the least, the Falcon 9 prices are no higher than is listed on their website, thus I think the price is reasonable to be included. – PearsonArtPhoto Sep 16 '13 at 20:21
"Cost" and "price" are two different things. The numbers provided in this answer mix the two. – Erik Sep 17 '13 at 0:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.