# What is the time breakdown for getting a rocket like the Falcon 9 or Atlas 5 ready for launch?

I've been looking everywhere for the detailed drivers for why it costs so much to launch cargo of any kind into LEO. From all the people I've talked with and the research through google, labor for getting the rocket ready to launch is the cost driver, since people cost a lot to pay per hour, and a lot of them are needed to build and inspect the rocket before launch. However, it never gives a breakdown as to where most of the man-hours go. I suspect it goes into building and inspecting the engines, since a lot of the assembly and qualification testing is not automated, but I haven't been able to find a good answer so I don't know.

What is the time breakdown for getting a rocket like the Falcon 9 ready for launch? Is most of the time spent in building the rocket, in assembling components for the engines? Or is it mostly spent inspecting and qualification testing those components/assemblies for flight?

Also, I know there are significant differences between the Falcon 9 and Atlas 5, but since data from SpaceX and ULA is hard to get, I figured I'd not pick only one rocket, since there might be next to no useful information out there.

• @user11377 - I don't think you'll get detailed cost breakdowns - aerospace companies are pretty tight lip about costs, but SpaceX's Falcon 9 cost an average of $2500 per pound compared to around$13 000 for Delta IV and Atlas V rockets. I'm guessing that most of those savings are achieved through streamlining and low overhead, as they are not reusing the boosters yet. Nov 16, 2015 at 15:38