SpaceX launched a new web-based booking tool for its new Falcon 9. This service was announced last year to expand its addressable market to include small satellite customers who don't have a budget or need a full rocket that can cost in excess of $ 60 million. Prices for rideshare services that SpaceX offers through the website start at $ 1 million. For a payload weighing up to 200 kg (440 lb), with an additional weight adding $ 5,000. US per kg to the cost.
The selection tool asks you to specify the desired orbit (synchronous with the Sun, low Earth, or polarity) and the minimum ready date (the earliest your payload can fly) with dates starting in June of this year at the time of writing this article. Then you enter the total weight of what you want to fly and get an estimated cost. As a result, you will get a number of screens where you choose whether you need a 15-inch or 24-inch port on the launch vehicle (which largely depends on the volume and mass), as well as the specific rocket you choose." looking to book a trip (from upcoming scheduled missions).
Other options include add-ons like port adapters to meet the standard sizes that SpaceX uses, as well as a SpaceX-provided separation system in case you don’t have your own, along with options for on-site fuelling if your spacecraft has its own propulsion system, and insurance for up to $2 million in value. It's a bit like setting up a car through a Tesla Configurator - but for launching something into space.
This is also not just a form of lead generation; Once you have selected all your options and confirmed that you are not subject to any actions or restrictions on international arms trafficking (ITAR) imposed by the US government, you can enter your credit card number to instantly pay us $ 5,000 as a Deposit. with a further three payments to make up any amount, including the largest, that must be paid within five days of SpaceX confirming your request.
SpaceX has also published an accompanying Rideshare user guide that explains more about the program, including technical requirements, details about things like environmental testing, legal aspects, and more. But it's still amazing that, in theory, I could just prepay to send something into space as easily as I could reserve a Tesla model Y.
Of course, I would lose this deposit, because I have no idea about getting anything into space from a regulatory point of view, or the minimum amount of $ 995,000 needed to pay the balance for even the smallest payload without any extra bells and whistles. But if you know what you're doing, there's no easier way to book an orbital flight right now.