SpaceX’s much-anticipated Starship rocket could only cost $2 million per mission. Of course, $2 million is a lot of money when speaking in broad terms, but in space dollars, it’s just a drop in the bucket for a multibillion-dollar industry.
Space.com reports that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the reusable passenger spaceship would cost $900,000 worth of fuel per launch, which added in with other costs, comes out to about a $2 million price tag.
“This is much less than even a tiny rocket,” Musk said at the Los Angeles Air Force Base during the U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day on Tuesday, November 5, during a conversation with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center. “So, it’s something that needs to be made.”
In comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon rockets, which are also multilaunch rockets, cost significantly more than Starship. The Falcon 9 rocket would cost roughly $62 million to launch, while the Falcon Heavy rocket is estimated to cost $90 million.
SpaceX hopes for Starship to be used as a commercial spacecraft that will be able to take off and land again, like an airplane. The hope is to have Starship ready to make commercial flights by 2021. Musk has previously said that SpaceX hopes to land the Starship on the moon by that year, followed by a crewed mission a year or two later.
The ultimate goal for Starship is to help set up a colony on Mars, bringing people on a trip to the moon, and even be used for high-speed transcontinental travel.
“It’s absolutely profound to have a reusable rocket,” Musk said during the Space Pitch Day. “This is the holy grail.”
SpaceX revealed a prototype of the Starship rocket in September. The chromium-nickel stainless steel rocket stands 50 meters (164 feet tall) with a diameter of 9 meters (29.5 feet) and is powered by 37 engines.
The rocket consists of two parts: The Super Heavy first stage is meant to provide enough fuel to launch the rocket into the atmosphere before it falls off. Starship is the passenger vehicle meant to travel through space. Both components of the rocket would be reusable.