ULA CEO Tory Bruno said long time ago that only 1/2 cost of orbital launch is cost of building of rocket. SpaceX never denied this. F9R block 5 total cost of launch can be about 60-80 million per flight. Atlas V cost per flight can be about 110 million.

Half of this is cost of building rocket.

Second half is unrelated to building of rocket (or refurbishment of F9R used 1st stage ).

So let speak only about the second half.

What are exactly things that cost SpaceX F9R 30-40 million per flight, ULA Atlas V 55 million per flight.

What I read cost of fuel is only 3% cost of flight ( so 6% of second half ).

After each launch, you need refurbish launch head, decoupler and umbilicals and then before flight, there is flight door installation. That together can take about 4-5 days, but doesn't sound so expansive.

Than there are things like stage integration, payload integration, transportation costs, storage tanks for fuel, oxidizer which must be refilled, some fueling hardware ( or cost of fueling ), those big white cylinders, that protect launch pad from lighting ( forget name ) and so on.

F9R engines must be, before each flight test fired at McGregor test site, but ULA does not have similar test site.

F9R also fly on subcooled LOX and cooled propellant, so they need some special subcooling hardware.

Tory Bruno also said that Vulcan will need some massive water sound suppression system, because when sound blast hit ground and bounce back it could damage spacecraft, rocket.

Than there are things like annual insurance fees or annual cost of renting of launch site from government, which can be calculate over one launch.

So can anybody here give exact breakdown of those costs for either F9R or Atlas 5 or any other orbital rocket.

For example Atlas 5 :

  1. Cost of fuel and oxidizer - 6 % of the second half (unrelated to cost of building rocket).
  2. Refurbishment of the launch tower after each flight - 10 % of the second half.
  3. transportation costs - 5 % of the second half.
  4. payload integration - 10 %.

and so on.

I don't know any of this figures for sure, but want have better idea, how big each of this costs items could be and which are the most expensive.

If there is some cost item, that I didn't mention, you can of course mentioned it by yourself.

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    $\begingroup$ You've done a pretty good gob outlining all the other costs factors. Getting actual numbers will be a guessing game, as those figures are highly proprietary for most if not all vendors. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ You're making a big assumption that the ratio of costs is the same for SpaceX, just because they haven't said anything in response to what ULA has said. SpaceX has been aggressively pursuing cost reduction since the start, and reduction of operational costs is a good part of why they were cheaper well before they ever started landing rockets. $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2020 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Insurance may be significant. If you want to insure the cost of the launch, and 1 launch in n fails, then the cost of insurance is going to be more than 1/n of whatever a failure costs (if it was less than 1/n then the insurance company would lose money). $\endgroup$
    – user21103
    Jan 8, 2020 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Are you including personell costs? $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Jan 14, 2020 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ ULA could also be including fixed costs per year amortized over the number of launches. SpaceX has about 7,000 employees. Only a subset of them are involved in actual rocket construction. The rest would be facilities managers, support staff, sales people, maintenance workers, flight controllers, accountants, secretaries, etc. People you have to pay no matter how many rockets you fly. Then there are building maintenance costs, leasing / refurb costs for launch facilities, and on and on. the more you fly, the lower the per-flight fraction of the fixed costs to recover. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Hanson
    Jan 14, 2020 at 22:22


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