SpaceX Recovered $6 Million Fairings So Falcon Heavy Will Be 92% Reusable

Elon Musk tweeted that both SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload fairings were recovered for the first time. They will be reused on the Starlink satellite launch mission.

The two side boosters and the center core were landed and will be reused.

This means that SpaceX will be able to reuse 92% of this Falcon Heavy launch. Only the roughly $7.5 million second stage will not be reused.

I think the rough costs of SpaceX Falcon Heavy components are
$30 million for each of the three first stage boosters. Actually slightly more for the center booster.
$7.5 million for the second stage
$6 million is the combined cost of the two fairing halves. These are the nose cone covers of the payload.

Reusing three engines and a fairing would be $96 million out of $103.5 million.

These are Block 5 first stage boosters. Those are being shown on a Falcon 9 to be reusable for at least four launches and SpaceX has designed them for ten reuses before refurbishment.

The three first stage boosters would be $12 million for the ten reuse assumption. $30 million each and then $10 million for ten recoveries and repairs.

The $7.5 million second stage is thrown away. The faring is waterproof and can be reused. The reuse of a recovered faring has not been demonstrated. I assume $1 million costs for reusing farings. A ten reuse Falcon Heavy would cost $20.5 million for each mission. If only five reuses were made the cost would be about $35 million for each mission.

The Falcon Heavy has more fuel and can get satellites to far more orbits than the Falcon 9. The Falcon Heavy can reach tough orbits. The satellites will not need to use up a lot of fuel to reposition.

SpaceX will be reusing the boosters and the fairings from this mission within months.

If SpaceX pulls this is off in 2019 and then is able to consistently reuse first stages for ten times each then they will have about a fifteen to twenty-year lead on competitors like Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance.

SOURCES – Elon Musk Twitter, Nextbigfuture cost analysis from Elon Musk and SpaceX statements
Written By Brian Wang,

31 thoughts on “SpaceX Recovered $6 Million Fairings So Falcon Heavy Will Be 92% Reusable”

  1. Yeah, I was a little bit confused as to why the fairings would cost the same (approx) as the entire second stage.

  2. What did Hughes actually accomplish? I saw the movie and if I recall the only achievement he could list was a movie that was apparently racy by the standards of WW2, but these days would be on cartoon network.

  3. Watching those multiple boosters return to base is giving modern rocketry a whole new level of visual excitement. It’s straight out of the old sci-fi novels of starships landing at busy space ports.

  4. I agree, Elon is an amazing visionary but so are the 6000+ employees that work incredibly hard to bring his visions into reality.

  5. They wont ever recover the second stage, because Starship will eventually replace everything that came before it.

  6. It took you 6 paragraphs to tell me things are faster… shit.

    The point I’m making is simple, competitors will catch up. Some US competitors have deeper pockets then Elon (Blue Origin), and some competitors (China) is all done by the government, with nearly unlimited funds/talent/ & espionage.

  7. How long is this “unstable video connection” gag going to persist? Hopefully it won’t continue into the era of BFR/StarshipSuperHeavy.

  8. What he said. And thats only smartphones.

    Tech is a case where multiple technologies multiply each other over time when it comes to progress.

  9. Whats the chance of recovering the second stage?
    This program is the ultimate proof that the ability to reduce and recycle can be a positive for the bottom line and society.

  10. Credit Gwynne Shotwell and 6000 other SpaceX employees. Musk is a smart guy, but only one guy, who splits his time between multiple companies.

  11. There’s about 10,000 tons of aerospace-grade parts and materials in the Earth’s “debris belt” – all the dead satellites and empty stages. In some cases, you have complete functional satellites, except a key part failed or they ran out of fuel.

    A “salvage and recycling center” could be profitable if you could do it cheaply enough and develop some revenue streams. One revenue source is “garbage collection” to avoid future collisions and Kessler Syndrome. This would be via a fee assessed on satellite operators and nations who have left debris in orbit.

    The salvage yard would send “tow trucks” to chase down debris, repair the usable hardware, break it down for parts, or feed the materials into a recycler, then sell whatever they can get for it. Whatever isn’t usable would be hauled to a low enough orbit to burn up.

  12. But if they don’t take the rug bazaar approach, then think of all the follow-on economic activity they could unleash through cheap launches. Bigelow could be the next big name dominating the space headlines.

  13. In 2009 the best smartphones were, the iPhone 3G, and the HTC HD2, great smartphones, don’t get me wrong, but think about this…
    We went from the most powerful smartphone CPU’s having about the same operations per second as a ~300MHz Pentium 3, to now, we have smartphone CPU’s that are 100x more powerful than that and (in the case of Snapdragon 855, and Apple A12), rival those found in mid-range laptops.

    In 2009 the most powerful smartphones had 512MB of DDR RAM, now we have smartphones with 12GB of RAM, that means our phones today have more RAM than 2009 phones had in storage capacity(base iPhone had 8GB flash chip).

    In 2009, smartphones had 1GB to 32GB of storage, with most being closer to 4GB or 8GB. Nowadays, we have smartphones with 1TB(1024 GB) of starage capacity.

    In 2009, the best smartphone display was a 4.3″ 800×480 TFT LCD. Nowadays, have smartphone displays with higher resolution than TV’s from a few years ago, and they aren’t 4mm thick, now the display panel is almost as thin as paper.

    In 2009, the best cell phone networks were HSPA+ ones with a top theoretical speed of 42Mbps. In 2019, we are now entering the deployment of 5G NR networks that can offer 4Gbps speeds, faster than a wireline home internet connection….

    All in all, yes, there were smartphones in 2009, but they might as well be from a completely different universe compared to what we have now.

  14. Didn’t New Horizons launch on a $150,000,000 Atlas V?
    $15,000,000 is 10x cheaper than an Atlas V, *AND* Falcon Heavy can deliver far more payload to orbit than Atlas V…
    Delta IV Heavy costs $320,000,000 and still delivers less to orbit than a re-usable Falcon Heavy, which costs 21x less than the Delta IV…

    Imagine how much more NASA could do if they weren’t saddled with ULA and expensive rockets…

    Also, $15,000,000 per Falcon Heavy launch, imagine, if someone created a payload system that could deploy 100x 55U smallsats(55U is the largest cubesat class), that would total 7500kg(payload adapter, and cubesats combined). And the $15,000,000 could be shared between the 100 satellite owners and the launch would only cost $150,000 per satellite…
    SpaceX would then, on a cost-per-kilogram to orbit basis, beat even the Electron….

  15. I still had a desktop pc, still had a smartphone in my pocket which was & is all black, with the front being nearly all screen, although my TV did lose some weight, and now hangs on a wall…above the TV stand. lol
    I love technology, I’m an early adopter of such, but a decade isn’t really that much time. Look at airlines, nothing big has happened there in over 50 years.

  16. exactly. Mining asteroids makes far more sense, which is also what “Planetary Resources” thought…until they went belly up last year. It’s just to early for that kind of stuff.

  17. I think it is more like 15 or more.
    Think about it, Blue Origin might have launched/landed NS, but that is not the same thing as orbital. New Glenn won’t even be ready til next year, so they are still about a decade or more behind SpaceX, just from that standpoint. Even assuming they can immediately get the landing right, they still have a ways to catch up.

  18. Well, they can charge that and still be a bargain today.

    But if they continue pushing the prices down, they will have to eventually reduce what they charge NASA too.

  19. It occurs to me that the hardware of the upper stages could be used in specialized orbital vehicles. Tugs anywhere in cislunar space, dead satellite recovery, satellite refueling or repair, debris removal, station keeping for large installations are an incomplete list of functions these vehicles could perform. If the upper stage was modified so that the tankage, avionics, and engines could be easily removed, and integrated into new configurations, you’d have an orbital Lego set, as well as scrap aluminum for additive manufacture in orbit.

  20. Congrats to all of SpaceX, but I do disagree with the article. In that SpaceX will have a 15-20 year lead on competitors. That’s ridiculous, They have a lead, but it’s more like 5-10 years. It’s easier to follow, then to lead.

  21. So if you can get twenty launches of a F9H then SpaceX’s launch costs should go down to something like $15 million per launch including fuel and refurbishment.

    They should definitely charge NASA $100 million per launch 😉

  22. This launch was quite the achievement.

    All three block 5 first stages were recovered as well as the payload fairing.

  23. spacex should build a materials recycling and production plant in LEO… -then they could recycle 2nd stages also and sell resulting recycled metal products to other companies also wanting facilities in LEO…

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