In a recent Tweet showing a particular graph, the prices of Rockets have shown to drop tremendously throughout the years. This is one of the greatest accomplishments in the space industry since rockets are the backbone of space exploration in general. The space industry would be nothing without rockets and this is why most of their budget goes into their production.
What if there was a way to make these rockets cheaper? This is something that SpaceX has done well over the years developing rockets that can be reused therefore dropping the price tremendously and allowing the budget to be used for other things. There are still a lot of improvements that could be made to space exploration and these cannot be done without the right funding.
How much rockets used to cost
With expensive rockets, the launch of the launching alone would cost an enormous amount of money. Back in 1966, the price of construction for these vessels was $8,000/kg. Imagine just how many kgs a single rocket would weigh. Back in 2010 when Elon Musk started the original Falcon 9, production costs were at $3,750/kg. Although this is a significant success, SpaceX innovated to reduce the prices even more.
The upcoming New Glenn rocket this 2021, is said to cost only $1,750/kg which is more than a 50% drop from the previous Falcon 9 back in 2010. In 2022, SpaceX is expected to roll out the new Starship, which is currently under development that would only cost $500/kg. This means that the cost of the starship is only 6.25% the cost of the previous soyuz 2.1 back in 1966 at $8,000/kg.
Marginal cost of Starship mass to orbit should be well under $100/kg. Fully burdened cost depends on flight rate. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 7, 2020
Drop in rocket costs could leave more room for future innovation
The dramatic drop in price is already good news but Elon Musk announced that it would drop even further in the future. SpaceX's CEO replied to the tweet by saying that in the future, rockets could cost only $100/kg which is a huge drop in price given the comparison. Producing rockets of that price means space agencies and companies like SpaceX could build rockets at only 1.25% of $8,000/kg.
Since Elon Musk aims to make space exploration a bit more commercial, it is only natural that the prices of these rockets have to drop dramatically in order for this to be possible. Another reason why the rockets are so cheap is because they can be reused again and again without waste and are still functional. Reusable rockets are not only better for the environment but they are actually also more economically efficient since the price spent on a rocket would be a singular purchase and it could just be refilled.
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Written by Urian Buenconsejo