You can book hotels, cars and airplane flights online. Now you can book a satellite launch online, too. SpaceX activated an online booking form this week for its smallsat rideshare program. This program lets small-satellite operators share the cost burden of a launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Last year, the cost of entry was over $2 million, but the site now places the price at as low as $1 million. That covers sending 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of payload to sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). That kind of orbit lets the satellite pass over the same spot on Earth at about the same time every day. NASA’s Earth-observing Terra satellite is an example of an SSO orbit.
Prices may vary with the weight and type of orbit the satellite will be delivered to. For example, the SpaceX online calculator estimates a 400-kilogram satellite launch will start at $2 million. The form walks you through various launch options and add-ons like adapters, fuel and launch insurance. SpaceX also accepts non-refundable reservation deposits online.
SpaceX has plans to launch SSO missions roughly every four months. “Once your reservation request is approved, SpaceX will provide you with a welcome package outlining next steps for launch,” SpaceX says.
It’s not quite the same as booking a flight from London to New York, but SpaceX is putting an effort into make reaching orbit easier and cheaper than ever before.