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Let's say I won the jackpot on the lottery and want to finally launch the satellite I've been building in my garage for past few years and just finished yesterday.

How long would it take between me contacting the space agency with the shortest queue, and the satellite reaching LEO? Assuming I pay the regular fare, no skipping the line or premium express services, but my sat is top-notch, attach it to the fairing and it's good to go, if any inspections are required, the sat would pass them with flying colors.

(more seriously, just how long is the usual backlog of commercial satellites awaiting launch, currently - how far into the future do payload manifests reach?)

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    $\begingroup$ Arainespace are always on the lookout for a buddy sat. I'd imagine if you had something under 3 tonnes they could get you up pretty quick IE under a year. $\endgroup$ – tl8 Jan 28 '16 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ @tl8: But I guess this is only if I agree to their inclination. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 28 '16 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ It would have to be Geostationary. $\endgroup$ – tl8 Jan 28 '16 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ Is it a cubesat? $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jan 28 '16 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @gerrit: I'm aware queues for cubesats are much shorter, but then some requirements on cubesats are quite oppressive. (practically any propulsion disallowed, enforced max lifetime before orbit decay/burn-up, very limited power options etc.) $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 28 '16 at 16:16
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The Ariane 5 user manual contains a mission integration schedule that's 24 months long (page 140). This includes a pile of analysis and tests to ensure spacecraft compatibility with the launcher.

The Falcon 9 user manual has a schedule that's 22 months long.

More user manuals can be found here.

Edit: fixed the links.

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It really depends on how much cash you are willing to put up, and how much testing you've already done. There are a series of tests that must be done prior to a rocket launch to ensure compatibility. These include fit checks, flight path analysis, vibration analysis, and others. If you were to be the primary load on a spacecraft, then you'd have to make sure all of these were done. If you paid extra cash to ensure that you were given priority, and bumped other payloads, then you might be able to accomplish the task in 6 months, especially if you were willing to be flown on an experimental flight, such as the Falcon 9, that happened to be aligned with your time table.

The most parallel example in recent years that I've seen to your situation was the launch of the Cygnus capsule on an Atlas 5. The failure of Cygnus was at the end of Oct 2014, the launch of Atlas 5 was Dec 2015. I suspect just figuring out which provider would launch required a month or two, making that time to launch at about a year. I doubt that they paid a premium to do this launch, although I would argue that any ULA launch comes at a premium.

Finally, note that with SpaceX in particular, the manifest has been in play for a long time. Several of the payloads launched had been waiting on the ground for extended periods of time, ready to launch. Some satellites also aren't completely ready. You might be able to slip in the cracks and have a launch sooner, if you are completely ready to go, or you might get bumped for some time. There is a lot of randomness to rocket launches still to this day.

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Trailblazer was awarded and got to the launch pad in 4 months, it was an 80 kg microsatellite and the launch attempt (unsuccessful) was on a Falcon 1 in 2008, but it was flying as a backup for another satellite that had been scheduled and couldn't make it. Some Russian launch vehicles (Dnepr, Soyuz) get last minute openings from customers who have a delay and can't make the launch and it is not uncommon to find openings for CubeSats or microsatellites within 4-6 months of the launch date. More typically, the Russian vehicles prefer to have a full manifest at least 12 months prior to launch. Most other large launch vehicles set their manifests nearly 24 months prior to launch, with the exception of secondary payload slots for (mostly) CubeSats of various sizes. These slots often don't firm up until about 9-12 months prior to liftoff.

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