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With a (predicted) $5.5 Billion dollar market, why isn't SpaceX trying to build its own 'mini launch vehicles'? With the brand and the technology they have, they can easily capture a huge chunk of the market.

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  • $\begingroup$ The cost of a rocket does not scale linearly with payload mass. The cost and weight for electronics will be about the same for a smaller rocket. Therefore using the same rocket for launch of many small satellites together may be cheaper. Using the same launch vehicle instead of developing a new one saves a lot of money. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Dec 28 '18 at 12:36
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They already have one. The Falcon 9. Earlier this month a single Falcon 9 put 64 smallsats on orbit. It was arranged by a rideshare company, Spaceflight, at prices that small launch vehicles would have a hard time competing with, starting at \$300,000.

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Everything SpaceX does is in service of Elon Musk's ultimate goal of retiring to Mars. The Falcon 9 was a stepping stone, developing a separate small launcher would take a lot of development effort that doesn't help the ultimate goal.

Their plan involves moving all payloads to the BFR, a reusable spaceship that could be more economical than throwing away a small rocket on every launch.

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They already dipped their toes in that, it was called Falcon 1. Basically they didn't find enough demand to justify keeping it around. Granted today there is more of a demand for such then there was in the past, but...

The ultimate solution will be Starship (BFR). The estimated cost of a single launch is about \$6 million. An Electron rocket costs \$5 million. The amount of payload that Starship can take to LEO is VASTLY larger then an Electron rocket.

As for the \$5.5 billion market size, that would include building and launching them. Let's say there is 100 launches per year, that would only come to a \$1 billion launch cost of total launches per year. They could do it, but there is a limit to how much engineering they can do, and it is more worth their while to go after the bigger fishes of Starlink and Starship.

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    $\begingroup$ “The estimated cost of a single [BFR] launch is about $6 million.” I’d be very skeptical of that. Let’s see how well the Falcon 9 Block 5 does first. $\endgroup$ – Michael Dec 28 '18 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael though it's worth noting the BFR will likely be able to achieve lower costs than the F9B5 every will, due higher reusability % and focus. $\endgroup$ – NPSF3000 Dec 28 '18 at 23:08

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