Dumping Mask: Myth or Reality
In Roskosmos, the opinion is widespread that the commercial success of SpaceX is explained solely by state support and artificially low prices for missiles - dumping. The company Ilona Mask left Roscosmos almost completely without commercial orders for heavy missiles, so you have to look for an excuse in the machinations of the Pentagon, the State Department or the CIA. It's time to separate the facts from speculation and find out what the secret of SpaceX's commercial success is.
SpaceX space company appeared in 2002 and so far has made 67 rocket launches of its development and production. Of these, medium and heavy classes 62 pieces. Customers include the United States Space Agency NASA, the Pentagon, commercial and state-owned companies and agencies in other countries. The officially announced commercial price of launching the payload with a Falcon 9 rocket is $ 62 million, which includes both the cost of the rocket and the launch support work. In fact, this is the best price in the world market for heavy missiles, so the popularity of SpaceX is quite obvious. The real value of a commercial contract can range from $ 55 million (a discount of about 10% on experimental launches) to $ 70 million for a heavy or complex load. In exceptional cases, the missiles flew and three times cheaper.
SpaceX is most famous for developing a reusable first stage rocket. The stated goal of reusable rockets is to reduce the cost by a factor of ten, but so far it has been possible to bring the price down about one and a half times.
The main competitor of the Falcon 9 in the global commercial market is the Russian Proton-M rocket. In an effort to retain customers in 2015, it reduced the price from $ 100 to $ 65 million, but this did not help. Proton-M loses in insurance rates, which have risen due to a high accident rate and today are four times higher than insurance on the Falcon 9 launch: 12% versus 3%. The situation is aggravated by the political aggravation in relations between the USA and Russia and the sanctions war. Also, SpaceX is conducting an active advertising campaign.promoting their rockets as a means of simplifying access to space due to reusability and opening the way to Mars.
SpaceX's state customers, NASA and the Pentagon, are more expensive to start. The launch of the CRS program for the supply of cargo to the International Space Station is paid for by NASA in the amount of $ 133 million. This amount includes a rocket, a cargo spacecraft, and launch support. The cost of the Dragon cargo spacecraft has not been disclosed, but if we compare the similar figures for the Russian Soyuz / Progress / launch: ( 1.2 billion rubles / 0.8 billion rubles./ 0.6 billion rubles.), We can conclude that the price of a rocket + launch is about 2/3 of the total cost. In the same proportion NASA pays for the Falcon 9 to about $ 90 million A similar amount we see in some NASA contracts for launches of spacecraft:. $ 82 - 87 million . The cost of a part of the Pentagon’s completed contracts has not been disclosed, but we can find out two prices from contracts to launch GPS satellites: $ 82.7 million and $ 96.5 million , and the DSCOVR automatic station for $ 97 million .
The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, explainingcommercial success Ilona Mask said that the Pentagon is paying SpaceX $ 150 million for a launch, and this allows the company to understate the value of commercial contracts. According to the head of the Russian department, only the dumping Mask, paid out of the pocket of American taxpayers, leaves Roskosmos without clients. It sounds logical if you do not take into account that SpaceX has completed only four military launches. Even if we assume that the information of the head of Roscosmos about the value of the Pentagon’s contracts is correct, they will still not have a significant impact on the Mask business.
A total of 18 launches were completed under NASA COTS and CRS, NASA research vehicles were launched by two rockets, the Pentagon paid for 4 launches, and 37 rockets were launched under commercial contracts (with the exception of the first unsuccessful one). It turns out the average price is about $ 72 million, which is not much different from the market value, and well below the $ 100 million of Proton-M, which was the lowest price before SpaceX entered the heavy missile market.
Falcon 9 starts
State support for SpaceX is expressed not only in contracts. The company actively exploits state launch complexes at Cape Canaveral and the air base Vandenberg, from where it launches commercial launches. The US Air Force and NASA have signed rental contracts with SpaceX, which include maintenance, construction, and modernization for the benefit of a commercial company. There is no information about the cost of rent, and, apparently, it is either not at all, or it is insignificant. For a state owner, this is a removal of part of the expenses for the same tasks, plus the maintenance of his private owner, who creates new opportunities and increases state potential, among other things.
Providing public infrastructure to a private US operator is also no excuse for Roscosmos commercial failures. After all, Russian rocket-propellers in the same way do not contain Baikonur or Vostochny, for this there is the Federal target program “Development of cosmodromes” and the Center for Operation of Aerospace Space Infrastructure funded from the budget. Yes, and the losses of space enterprises of Russia are compensated by the budget.
It turns out that in the US, state support Ilona Mask turns out to be a convenient tool for conquering the world market, and Roskosmos is not in a position to cope with this competition with all the state space and all the tools of state support.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that government contracts in Russia are much less profitable than in the USA. The rate of return for the state enterprise Roskosmos on the state contract is a few percent, and only on commercial orders you can "eat a fat." Attempting to sell the Proton-M to the Russian Ministry of Defense for $ 100 million would be the basis of a criminal case about misuse of budget funds. The real cost of the launch of the Proton-M under the state order is about $ 53 million. That is why Musk and causes a storm of emotions among Russian rocket builders, which can receive government contracts one and a half times more profitable than commercial ones. From the point of view of the Pentagon or NASA, these contracts are still much more profitable than anything else in the US domestic market, so they are not embarrassed even by $ 97 million for a rocket, because the closest alternative - Atlas 5 - will cost $ 160 million.
Instead of telling each other myths about dumping Ilona Mask, our rocket builders would be worth accepting reality. De facto, this has already happened, only instead of a serious competition for the consumer, Roskosmos decided to surrender without a fight. Otherwise, there is no way to explain the fact that the only market competitor of the Falcon 9 - the lightweight version of the Proton is actually closed before it begins. Russia stilltrying to fight for the demand for light and medium-sized missiles, but almost completely surrendered the most monetary market for geostationary launches. The head of Roscosmos promises to return with the updated "Angara", after a few years, but the economic prospects of this rocket are even smaller than those of the Proton.