SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docks with Space Station and the cost per pound for delivery

On Saturday, astronauts on board the International Space Station docked with and entered a privately designed, built, and funded resupply ship. Count that as a major victory for SpaceX specifically and private space travel in general.

The Wall Street Journal has two great articles:

Here is a one paragraph summary of the plan:

NASA is handing over orbital delivery work to American business in order to focus on bigger and better objectives, such as getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. The space agency hopes astronaut ferry trips will follow soon; SpaceX contends its Dragons could be carrying space-station astronauts up and down within three or four years.

Here is the Wall Street’s summary of the last week:

The Dragon—19 feet tall and 12 feet wide—was launched Tuesday from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Mr. Pettit used the space station’s robot arm to snare the unmanned capsule on Friday.

Now that SpaceX has demonstrated their hardware can safely reach the space station, they can move forward with the remainder of their $1.6 billion contract for 14 resupply trips.

The Dragon carried about 1000 pounds of food and supplies up. It will bring back about 1400 pounds of stuff. The article points out the return trip is something new. Previous supply launches were one-way trips for the hardware.

Let me do a little math

  • $1.6 billion – contract amount
  • 14 – number of resupply trips
  • $114,286,000 – cost of each resupply trip
  • 1000#– weight of delivery
  • $114,286 – cost per pound of material delivered
  • 16 – ounces per pound
  • $7,143 – the cost per ounce of material delivered

Maybe you can cut that in half for the value of the return trip, so its only $77,000 per pound for delivery.

That’s an expensive dinner guys! Enjoy!

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