Main Engine Cut Off

Dream Chaser Launch Costs

Catching up on some reading, and there’s an interesting little tidbit on Dream Chaser’s launch costs in a SpaceNews article by Jeff Foust:

Competition in the launch market has helped drive down costs for SNC. “When those launch vehicle prices come down — which, by the way, is about 80 percent of our costs on every mission we fly — that opens up the commercial market,” he said. That includes other applications of Dream Chaser, such as a free-flying experiment platform.

The only fairings that can currently fit Dream Chaser (including its cargo module) are those of Atlas V and Ariane 5. Last we heard, Dream Chaser flights are currently slated for an Atlas V 552.

Based on the last numbers we have for an Atlas V 551 price (just above $150 million), we could assume the additional RL10 engine on a 552 pushes its price above $160 million. That figure puts the Dream Chaser portion of mission costs at around $40 million.

For now, Atlas V 552 is the cheapest launch vehicle that can carry Dream Chaser. We’ll see how prices for Vulcan, OmegA, and Ariane 6 shake out, but I think New Glenn is Sierra Nevada’s only near-term hope for dropping their price significantly. We still don’t have a price for New Glenn, but even if it’s $100 million, that would cut $60 million from Dream Chaser’s mission cost.