SpaceX has successfully launched a Taiwanese satellite into space and … lost millions of US dollars

SpaceX company, persistently developed by Ilon Mask, makes significant progress in terms of creating missiles with the return of the first steps. They can be reused (understandably, after evaluating the condition of the experts and repairing). On Thursday, SpaceX successfully launched the Taiwanese satellite Formosat 5, then returned to the ground the next stage, smoothly lowering it to its platform, which is in the ocean.

The Falcon 9 rocket was launched from the California cosmodrome Vanderberg. The communications satellite entered the calculated orbit 11 minutes after the launch. Representatives of SpaceX said that this is the fifteenth launch with a successful return to Earth first stage. Launching, launching the satellite into orbit and returning the stage passed without a hitch. From a technological point of view, everything is fine. But this, unfortunately, can not be said about the financial side of the matter. Now SpaceX has lost more than ten million US dollars.

Given that the commercial launch of SpaceX and so relatively inexpensive, to correct the financial gap, the space company may long. It is reported that instead of $ 62 million, the usual price paid by SpaceX customers for launching their vehicles into space, Taiwan, which created the first satellite in its history, paid only $ 23 million

And it's not charity – it's extremely difficult for companies like SpaceX to do to anyone Something discounts, since the profitability of the whole business and so is not very high. So, how did Taiwan pay for the launch of its satellite into space nearly three times less than the normal price? The thing is that SpaceX pays a penalty for each delayed launch of its missile. And in the case of the Taiwanese satellite – this is not a little delay, say, for a week. No, the satellite was originally to be launched in 2013.

Formosat 5 itself is the first Taiwanese satellite that was built on the money of this state. And all this time the inhabitants of the country expected that their device was about to appear in orbit. But something was always in the way. The company will decide to upgrade its missiles, as happened in 2011, when SpaceX decided to focus its efforts on the new versions of Falcon 9. As a result, the launch of the satellite was postponed to 2015. That launch will be postponed due to organizational moments. So, SpaceX began to look for a "partner" to the creators of the communication satellite in order to fully load its carrier rocket. But it did not work out. And the downtime was increasing. Under the terms of the contract, the company had to reduce the cost of launching the satellite into orbit in case of delay. Well, since the simple was significant, the cost of launching the missile for the client eventually became minimal (by the standards of commercial cosmonautics).

Satellite Formosat 5

In 2015 the launch was again postponed. This time the reason was an accident, during which both the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon ship were destroyed. The following summer brought another failure – an accident when the Falcon 9 exploded. It happened on Cape Canaveral, on the launch pad. Then the company Planet, which seems to have agreed to launch its satellites along with the Taiwanese (which would bring, in case of a successful launch, the money of SpaceX), decided to turn to other companies. As a result, her satellites were launched with the help of an Indian rocket. The national space organization remained the only client for the specific launch of Falcon 9.

Taiwan's representatives were patient. They did not look for an alternative "space cabman" like Orbital ATK, but preferred to wait for the fulfillment of obligations from SpaceX. This company, by the way, promised to take away from the total amount of launching 1.25% each month of downtime. The situation was spelled out in the agreement, it was carried out rigorously.

What happened in the end? The company SpaceX did not say anything about the commercial component of this contract. But experts estimated that the start cost Taiwan $ 23 million. Usually SpaceX earns about 40% of the total price of bringing cargo into orbit. However, Ilona Mask lost $ 14 million

However, the positive thing in everything is that it was possible to return the first stage of the rocket to Earth. If the company can use it again, the losses will not be so significant. The fact is that the first step, according to Mask, its creation, costs $ 26 million for each system produced. In the end, if one of the launches of Falcon 9 is made using this stage, the company will cover its losses and even make a profit.

In general, the company is doing well, even this trouble can not be considered critical. Let me remind you that all efforts Mask directs to achieve its main goal – the flight to Mars.