Space transport economics

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For economic purposes, transport from Earth to interesting solar system locations may be considered in stages.

Earth to Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

Three economic targets are considered:

  1. Minimum cost to LEO, with negotiable payload.
  2. Maximum payload to LEO, with negotiable cost.
  3. Minimum cost per kg, with negotiable individual launch cost and payload.


  Cost Payload $/kg  
Delta II (US) $45M 5.1 tons $9300/kg  
Space Shuttle (US) $270M 24.4 tons $11000/kg  
Ikar-1 (Russia) $6M 4.2 tons $1900/kg  
Proton (Russia) $50M 20.9 tons $2900/kg  
Near Future Invest. Req.
Falcon 1 (SpaceX) $6.7M 0.57 tons $11700/kg  
Falcon 9 - S9 (SpaceX) $78M 24.7 tons $3200/kg  
Energia (Russia)   88 tons    
Far Future Invest. Req.
Space Elevator $40M 20 tons $2/kg $100B


LEO to Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO)

LEO to L1

LEO to Luna

LEO to Luna Transfer Orbit (LTO)

LTO to Low Luna Orbit (LLO)

L1 to LLO

LLO to Luna

LEO to Mars

LEO to Mars Transfer Orbit (MTO)

L1 to MTO

MTO to Low Mars Orbit (LMO)

LMO to Mars

See also