Wikipedia speaks of satellite insurance. This is restricted as follows:

It covers three risks: relaunching the satellite if the launch operation fails; replacing the satellite if it is destroyed, positioned in an improper orbit, or fails in orbit; and liability for damage to third parties caused by the satellite or the launch vehicle.

But these are specific to satellites.

  • What insurance cover do/did long-term missions/projects receive? E.g. Chang'e, Mars One, Dawn
  • What insurance cover is provided to entities on board such craft, other than State/Employee/Group Insurance?
    • Does it cover mixed nationalities? E.g. ISS
  • Are the terms of insurance different during
    • launch/return
    • whilst resident in orbit
    • when back on surface after exposure
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It makes no economic sense for governments to get insurances for anything. Their cost of accidents is a constant cash flow anyway. The logic of insurance is for the little guy who takes few large risks to even out the consequences. Government is already much larger than any insurance company so it's cheaper for gov to "insure themselves" than to pay extra premiums to unload their variation in accident costs to a smaller insurance company. Even companies like ULA and SpaceX should carry their own risks because that's the core of their business. Their investors do want to take that risk. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 14:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No sane insurance company would touch the ISS (too valuable) or Chang'e (too unknown), particularly after the movie Gravity (too unrealistic) came out. Mars One? That's a suicide mission. Insurers don't cover suicide. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2014 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


First of all, NASA typically doesn't insure its launches. Insured launches are typically for commercial entities. This, as you mentioned, is done in case of some sort of major satellite malfunction, or a poor launch. A common cost is around 10% of the cost of launch for such missions, give or take. Typically, they stop taking effect after some short period of time, maybe a few months to a year.

As far as manned space flight and insurance, it's a whole new ball game. Typically, being an astronaut excludes one from life insurance (at least, as a result of the spaceflight itself). Being high profile government missions, those astronauts who died were able to find other ways to get their funds, and NASA provides some life insurance, but this won't necessarily happen in the private enterprise. There are companies which are signing up to insure manned spaceflight missions, but each will have their own terms no doubt.

The bottom line is, private manned space flight will be dangerous, and no doubt command a very high insurance premium. There are a few companies willing to sign up to provide such services, but this no doubt will be a point of major difficulty in private space flight. There is some similarity for high risk travel on Earth, such as insurance for climbing Mount Everest. In fact, they probably will be quite similar to such things. The terms of these agreements have yet to be worked out, however.

  • $\begingroup$ The humans have been a space-faring ( peering out the top of the cradle anyway ) species 50 years now. Pretty much most missions have been well documented, if classified. Any idea whether other spacefaring nations cover their crew/s? $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 17:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "...NASA typically doesn't insure it's launches." Not in a classic way (i.e. take out a policy). However, one viewpoint is that U.S. tax payers are the insurer of NASA missions; if a mission fails and NASA decides to try again, then the funding for the second try comes from tax dollars. No, that's not a complaint. $\endgroup$
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @GreenMatt: True enough, but NASA rarely repeats missions, at least, not in a direct sense. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 17:36

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