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I was wondering if it is possible to send a small payload to LEO or somewhere above 200 km (130 miles) if you are not a rocket scientist? By small payload I mean under 1 kg (Solid State Drive, GPS, etc.). I have read that there are companies which will take your payload and put it into the LEO or GSO/GEO, but could not find any information about pricing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Google Microlaunchers for Charles Pooley's extreme low budget ideas about launching small home made payloads. Not to LEO because the fast orbital speed would make them difficult to track, he's aiming for the Moon and Mars! He's written a book and here's a video presentation: youtube.com/watch?v=DtTeG_HElNk $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff May 4 '14 at 1:38
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You can get a ride for free if it is educational:

To participate in the CSLI program, CubeSat investigations should be consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan and the Education Strategic Coordination Framework. The research should address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.

Or you can pay $125K.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, it is not quite educational. And Jesus! $125K.. These are only two options? $\endgroup$ – Yoda May 3 '14 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ As i was told it is possible to buy launch services to low earth orbit through ArianneSpace or SpaceX, but i cant find any pricing in their websites. $\endgroup$ – Yoda May 3 '14 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ The company linked is a small payload broker for many launch providers, including SpaceX, Orbital, and the Russian Federal Space Agency. $\endgroup$ – Mark Adler May 3 '14 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what you were expecting. Putting things in space is expensive. $\endgroup$ – Mark Adler May 3 '14 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, i was expecting that this service will be expensive, but thought that it could be around $60k or so. By the way, is spaceflightservices the only company which provides these services? $\endgroup$ – Yoda May 3 '14 at 22:08
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The huge delta-v that's required (8+ km/s), and low fuel efficiency of chemical rockets (10 times less efficient that those of an aircraft) means that even a small payload needs a lot of fuel, hence a rather big rocket.

Copenhagen Suborbitals (wikipedia, website) posted photos of just a suborbital test rocket and it looked huge, 3m by 30-50cm thick. According to wikipedia page, they were trying to send a human to a suborbital flight, which is times heavier, but considering that for an orbit you need much more delta-v, an orbital low-payload rocket would be close to that big.

So, yes, $125K is not that exaggerated.

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