Establishing a Price to GTO

credit SpaceX

According to an article in SpaceNews,  Asiasat has recently placed a launch order with ILS for a Proton launch as a hedge against possible delays in the introduction of the Falcon 9 V1.1.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is the fact that it contains pricing information for both launch vehicles. Specifically, SpaceX pricing for both Asiasat launches under contract is $52.2 million, while the Russian back up launcher is cited at twice the price, $107 million.  Now consider that in context of the previous article in which ULA CEO Michael Gass states that competition is counterproductive if it is “forced,” and risks driving up costs.

Are SpaceX and ILS being forced to compete, or is ULA simply non competitive in the first place?

Now also consider the fact that Ariane, the current market leader with the Ariane V, which has outstanding launch record, has recently announced that it is pursuing new initiatives to drive down pricing, and is willing to abandon its politically driven and  highly counterproductive geographic return policy to do so.  Another goal of the new program to be competitive (that word again)  is eliminating the market subsidy the Ariane V currently receives.  Does anyone think that this would be happening if not for SpaceX ?

The success of the Falcon 9 in its first three launches is having a major impact on the launch industry, but the effect is still limited by the fact that the company has yet to conduct a geostationary launch. It is becoming increasingly obvious that a successful introduction of the Falcon 9 v1.1 into this market will be a bellweather event which cannot be ignored.  If this occurs successfully, and on time, roughly one year from now,  Mr. Gass and ULA may find themselves facing competition of a different sort, this from other government interests all starving for resources, and hungrily eying the $100 million or more that will demonstrably be wasted with every EELV launch.

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