It seems that launching rockets to orbit is already pretty mature technology. Yet, costs of payload delivered are very high (around 50,000 USD/kg for GEO, around 4,000 USD/kg for LEO). I wonder what is the main cost factor. Could you give a cost breakdown of a Delta IV Heavy launch? (Cost breakdown of any similar launch is also interesting for me.) Thank you!


1 Answer 1


Salvatore T. "Tory" Bruno, president and chief executive officer for United Launch Alliance (ULA), shared this "Launch Vehicle Weight and Cost By Major Elements" infographic in one of his recent tweets:

    ULA Launch Vehicle Weight and Cost By Major Elements

There was no additional description posted for it that I could find. It seems to be for the Atlas V though (judging by the vehicle's and payload fairing shape) so for a launch vehicle utilizing Common Core Booster (CCB) and not Common Booster Core (CBC) that Delta IV launch vehicles use. It should give you an overview though. Delta IV Heavy of course uses three CBC's, two as boosters and central one as its first stage. It also uses an extended payload fairing.

  • $\begingroup$ Would be helpful with one extra thingy: First stage:Second stage ratio. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Nov 14, 2015 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ I think this explains well where the cost to ULA comes from. The cost to the customer involves much more than this, however (engineering, lobbying, profit, "assured access", etc.) $\endgroup$
    – costrom
    Jul 2, 2019 at 14:47

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