« SpaceX and RPK Win Station Resupply Demonstration Contracts | Main | Robert Bigelow on Launch Demand »


Neil H.

> Buried near the back of the article is the fact that Musk expects to invest $200 million on Falcon 9/Dragon development in addition to the $278 million to be provided by NASA, or a total of $478 million. Even though I probably shouldn't be, I'm a little shocked at the development price tag and the scale that it implies.

I'm not sure how the COTS contracts are worded, but the implication I got was that as long as you met the milestones, the money didn't have to necessarily to go towards a particular project, but could go towards other projects or even be pocketed as profit. It's possible that SpaceX just took a gamble and wrote a very large profit margin into their contract, and still managed to have a contract more appealing that their competitors.

Jonathan Goff

That is interesting. At SpaceX's burn rate (which looking at the numbers appears to be about $200k/person/year), that would imply something like 600 people on board. That's a lot of people.

OTOH, as you start building and flying more hardware, it's possible that the raw materials, and purchased parts cost relative to headcount could go up substantially. For instance, since they're planning on mass producing engines, the amount of money per head will go a lot higher. I'm not completely sure, but it seems plausible. 30 engines is quite a decent production run. At MSS we're also doing regen cooled pintle engines, but on a much, much smaller scale. We had at one point been contemplating a production run of as many as 20 engines, and that would've been a chore to get through, even though our engines are something like....150x smaller than theirs.

Of course, between them and all of their teaming partners, it wouldn't be too ridiculous to get that high of a head count...maybe.

That's just a mind bogglingly large amount of money anyway you slice it. And the ATK Shaft is going to take 10x as much and not even deliver a capsule with it? With no engine-out capabilites, probably costing something like 2-4x as much per pounds?

Cryin shame.


PS Now all I need to do is get a vehicle flying well enough that we can convince Elon to pay us to trick-out the Dragon with powered landing mods....

Daniel Schmelzer

Neil: As far as I know, you are correct, although I thought you had to provide a business plan with a good bit of detail about additional investments. Don't know how much wiggle room NASA gave.

Jon: I agree that the $200k/employee @ 600 employee figure is plausible, but while writing the post I imagined a $175k/employee @ 800 employee figure, which would put the company about twice as large as I originally imagined.


They will have to contract out with other companies for a lot of the hardware for Dragon and Falcon 9. There is where the cost increases appear.

The comments to this entry are closed.