Saturday, May 26, 2012

Getting to LEO

A list of private spaceflight companies. It doesn't list the Russian Soyuz who currently have the only human transport to LEO (China isn't selling us seats.) Interestingly it does list the SpaceX dragon because they could potentially transport human now, but is waiting for safety upgrades (SuperDraco engine which makes it a solid ground lander rather than a water lander.)

Others are working on it: Boeing's CST-100, Blue Origin's orbital spacecraft, Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser.

Cost per seat on the Soyuz to LEO range from $20m to $68m with this 2010 article saying $51m.

SpaceX has said they will charge $20m per seat. With an F9 launch price of $57m (now $54m) and seven seats on the reusable Dragon it would seem they could make a profit at a much lower price if they decided to.

The Dragon has been over designed from the start to be a universal lander (Red Dragon.) A Falcon Heavy (FH) will be able to put a fully fueled Red Dragon in mars orbit in preparation for crew transfer and landing for $150m. The FH will have it's first flight later this year and can lift 53mt for a cost ranging from $80m to $125m.

The FH has the potential of launching a Dragon derived shuttle with much more than seven passengers (say 50) to achieve a much lower cost per passenger. This could potentially bring the cost to LEO per passenger down to around $2m per.

Update: It Begins.

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