• Question: How expensive is it to launch a rocket into space?

    Asked by haydenb to Kevin, Katie, Jon, Floris, Delma, Adrian, Steve, Shefali on 6 Jan 2016. This question was also asked by Shaun, chanel.
    • Photo: Kevin Fong

      Kevin Fong answered on 6 Jan 2016:

      Very expensive. But that’s not because the rocket is made of precious materials, it’s because many thousands of hours of work go into designing and building the components. The money goes into paying for people’s time and to build a rocket you need thousands of scientists and engineers, who work together as a team for many years.

      It’s worth pointing out that the money spent on space exploration isn’t simply lost in space once the mission is over. Because the money is spent on people, who discover new things and develop new expertise and capability as they work, most of the value and all of the new knowledge and discovery actually stays on Earth. Scientists and engineers can use that knowledge and expertise to solve other difficult but important problems.

    • Photo: Steve Price

      Steve Price answered on 13 Jan 2016:

      The rocket itself can be a £100 million+. As Kevin mentioned the companies that build rockets need to recover the money they have spent in creating a reliable rocket that can launch spacecraft repeatedly.
      The satellite or ISS module costs extra on top.
      It might sound expensive, but many commercial companies buy spacecraft and operate them in space and sell access to the communication channels to others.
      When your watching television tonight from your Sky dish then the signal is transmitted from Sky operational location to the satellite and back down to us so we can watch our favourite programmes. Later this year we will be able to watch the Olympics live in HD over a satellite.
      Sky and the operator of the spacecraft are commercial companies and are able to make a profit for their shareholders.