56 votes
Accepted

Why is Falcon 9's fairing so big?

One of the keys to SpaceX's cost advantage is standardization on common parts. One example is the Merlin engine, which is used on both the first and second stages of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (...
SafeFastExpressive's user avatar
56 votes
Accepted

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

It is still way too early to make such a judgement. It's easy to be overly optimistic about the cost of a program. The Space Shuttle was supposed to have dozens of flights each year and be super-...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 48k
50 votes
Accepted

What is SpaceX doing differently with their Falcon 9 so that it doesn't cost as much as the Space Shuttle?

A few factors: First, the shuttle had extreme capability and performance requirements that Falcon 9 didn't have, for example: Recovery of a 100-ton vehicle from orbit, with a reusable thermal ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
48 votes
Accepted

How much more expensive are scientific instruments for space use?

Preface: I am far, far from an expert in space electronics; I don't think I can weigh in on how much these sensors actually are, which is the title question; all I can offer is an uneducated inane ...
0xDBFB7's user avatar
  • 2,239
46 votes

Why has a rocket system like Starship never been proposed before? It does not seem to use any new science, materials or fuels

I wonder why nobody ever proposed a space launch system like Starship. What exactly do you mean by "like Starship"? Systems like Starship have been proposed before, although differing in ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
42 votes

Why has a rocket system like Starship never been proposed before? It does not seem to use any new science, materials or fuels

Fundamentally, it's because of economics. There simply wasn't any demand for a large rocket between today and the space race. Let's analyze what (I think) makes the Starship concept special: Size: ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 18.8k
42 votes
Accepted

What makes aluminum aerospace grade?

Read David Hammen's comment below the question. Once you get past the (well deserved) sarcastic humor he absolutely nails the answer. There is no checklist for getting an alloy of anything to be ...
BradV's user avatar
  • 3,292
29 votes

How much more expensive are scientific instruments for space use?

I'll chime in with the other two well-stated answers. In addition to all the testing, there is the issue of "What do you do when the instrument fails a test?" Most COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) ...
Tom Spilker's user avatar
  • 18.3k
24 votes
Accepted

Cost-effective Space Shuttle: was it feasible?

Necessarily speculative, but here goes... Let's look at what "the initial concept" really was. The post-Apollo vision was to build space infrastructure that would enable the manned exploration and ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
24 votes

How much does air on the ISS cost?

The current cost of resupplying the ISS is around $80,000 per kg, although this price has varied over the years. (references) The pressurized volume of air on the ISS is 1,005.0 $m^3$ (ref). As the ...
phil1008's user avatar
  • 4,258
23 votes

What makes time on the DSN so expensive?

I realize that the equipment is awfully expensive and probably takes a small army of people to maintain, but that still boils down to a few thousand dollars per hour of radio time ... The cost in ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 74.8k
23 votes
Accepted

Were Apollo astronauts charged for their berths during their missions?

Okay, this is misleading. They received beyond their normal salary the government Per Diem, which amounts to $8/ day. Also, this was reduced somewhat because they didn't need to pay for their sleeping ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
22 votes

Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

A 3D printer on station isn't likely to lead to direct cost savings; the range of items it can replace are limited, and it has to be supplied with feedstock mass in any case; it won't allow for ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
20 votes

How will the UK leaving the EU affect ESA?

The EU and ESA are not related. They have different member states, where neither is a subset of the other. The only potential issue is simply economic. If the British exit from the EU results in a ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
  • 58.2k
19 votes

Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

The 3-D printer on the ISS is more for testing purposes than anything. The idea is that for really long duration missions, a 3-D printer will allow them to make something in case something breaks, or ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
19 votes
Accepted

What would it cost to bring a 1 gram payload to the CMBR rest frame (i.e. Δv 368 km/s ?)

With current technologies, this is unfortunately well outside our reach. However, there is promise on the horizon! Chemical Engines The Tsiolkovsky equation is always your friend when calculating Δv ...
Jack's user avatar
  • 9,976
19 votes

How much does it cost to return 1 kg from the ISS to the Earth? What are the parameters influencing this price?

For ISS, download payload is significantly more limited than upload. Being a scarcer resource, download mass is priced accordingly. Spacecraft Upmass to ISS Downmass from ISS Notes Cargo Dragon 3,...
Woody's user avatar
  • 21.6k
15 votes
Accepted

Why is fuel cheap compared to rocket?

As noted by others, Methane, RP-1, LOX are manufactured in large scale across the US and much else of the world. (Manufactured may be the wrong word, perhaps produced is better). It is functionally ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.6k
15 votes

What would it cost to bring a 1 gram payload to the CMBR rest frame (i.e. Δv 368 km/s ?)

Jack did a great job describing how to do it using propulsive engines. I have a different answer: We already (almost) planned to do it (inadvertently). The original plan for the recently launched ...
asdfex's user avatar
  • 15k
15 votes

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

Eh, to begin with this statement isn't accurate. SpaceX ... has the same capabilities if not better? Falcon Heavy as stands can't replace SLS and launch Orion on the required orbit without ...
Barry Jenakuns's user avatar
14 votes

Why is the cubesat structure so expensive?

It's expensive because of the quality requirements. Material cost is small, low demand is a factor but a structure that size can be made much cheaper than this. The main cost factors are : The ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
14 votes

Why is fuel cheap compared to rocket?

Making fuels is a matter of relatively cheap bulk liquid processing from relatively cheap feed-stock. Yes RP-1 is more expensive than JET-A because more processing is needed and it's more specialized ...
Peter Green's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

How much fuel does the Falcon Heavy use? What is the price RP-1?

SpaceX doesn't publish this, but Spaceflight101 usually has pretty good estimates for this sort of data. Core and boosters, each: LOX Mass 287,430 kg RP-1 Mass 123,570 kg Second stage: ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
13 votes

Cheapest rocket to go to space?

They say space is hard. If you simply plop a big tube full of fuel and oxidizer on top of a surplus engine and light it, you will not go to space today. To get a feel of the smallest shoestring you ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 8,006
13 votes

What is the most expensive part of a rocket?

The satellite The most expensive thing is usually the satellite(s) source ranging in the hundreds of millions USD. Rockets costs usually in the single hundreds of millions range. The engines The ...
Antzi's user avatar
  • 12.6k
13 votes

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

All the answers are right in their own way. One thing that is not addressed: The Falcon Heavy is not even remotly on par with the SLS in terms of rocket diameter and payload mass. According to ...
CKA's user avatar
  • 546
12 votes
Accepted

What makes SLS (Space Launch System) \$10 Billion (or \$36 Billion) project?

Pork. It is a jobs program not a technology program. The SRB's are built by ATK, but the design ensured they needed to be reworked, so they could not just the existing Shuttle ones. Need an extra ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.6k
12 votes

How much will SpaceX's constellation of Internet satellites cost?

First of all, let's figure out how many satellites per launch vehicle. The estimate of the mass of these satellites is 386 kg. The mass for a launch of a Falcon 9 is 5500 kg. That means one could ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
12 votes

How much does a launch scrub cost?

It will be difficult to find information about SpaceX costs, but Space Shuttle launch scrub costs have been published. NASA estimates every launch cancelled after fuel tanking has begun can cost ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
12 votes

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

Part of it is leveling employment. The government is fond of large projects that require multi-year ramp-up and ramp-down and massive up/down swings in employment need. Suppose in 2019 you're hiring ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar

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