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?


1 Answer 1


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.

  • $\begingroup$ Is it merely a matter of company policy that price to LEO is often not public? Any idea? $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ @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? $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @geoffc: I know at least Orbcomm has a contract, ported at a discount. spaceflightnow.com/news/n1301/01orbcomm . The article indicates that it is due to a prior contract to launch their satellites on a Falcon 1, which was discontinued. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 20:21
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ "Cost" and "price" are two different things. The numbers provided in this answer mix the two. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 0:17

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