Manila, Philippines – According to Elon Musk on Twitter “Last I checked, over a million dollars less … to insure a Falcon 9 mission”.
SpaceX is launching regularly more than every other space organization around the world. CEO Elon Musk said that low insurance premium costs as confirmation of the improving dependability of Space X Falcon 9 rockets reusability.
Insurance on a launch is “the acid test” for the reliability of a rocket, Musk added in another tweet. A top space insurance underwriter, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNBC that Musk’s reference is true for insurance premiums, which are based on the rocket’s price tag, but not for the insurance rate, which is based on the market’s perceived reliability of the rocket(cnbc).
SpaceX won’t give any numbers about the cost to make the rocket, but it says it intends to keep its baseline price the same for the Falcon 9 of $62 million price tag. The insurance rate on a SpaceX Falcon 9 is about 4% currently, the underwriter said. The same rate as competitors’ similarly-capable rockets, such as the European launcher Arianespace’s Ariane 5 or U.S. rocket builder United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V. But Ariane 5 and Atlas V launches go for upwards of $165 million each, meaning a Falcon 9 insurance premium is about $2.5 million while its competitors’ insurance premiums would be in the range of $7 million.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin a joint venture ULA, competitors of SpaceX are skeptical of the efficacy of reusing rockets because SpaceX and its financials remain private. But the company CEO Elon Musk has often pointed that using reusable rockets is key to saving the company money.
SpaceX has been successfully recover the large “first stage” Falcon 9 boosters and land it vertically for reusability. The Falcon 9 boosters, which SpaceX has often landed successfully, make up about 60% of the total cost of the rocket, or estimated about $37 million. SpaceX has also been able to recover the fairings – which make up about 10% of the total cost, or about $6 million, catching them using a large net or dragging it out from the ocean.
Two years Elon Musk said that SpaceX Falcon 9 is capable of at least 100 launches. SpaceX has since pared that rocket reuse goal with 44 total landings and 31 reflown rockets according to spacex.com.