11 Expensive Space Vehicles For The Future of Space Travel:
11. Big Falcon Rocket
Announced in 2017 By Space X founder Elon Musk, The Big Falcon Rocket is Space X’s next generation launch vehicle and spacecraft that’s set to replace all of the company’s existing hardware by the early 2020s.
The craft is designed to have a number of functions including Mars Colonisation, Earth to Lunar transportation, Intercontinental Transportation and as an orbital launch vehicle.
The rocket is set to be powered by a new generation of Raptor rocket engines and Development work began on these in 2012.
The company publicly stated an inspirational goal for initial Mars-bound cargo flights of BFR launching as early as 2022, followed by the first crewed flight to Mars in 2024.
No price has officially been announced however launch prices for the Falcon Heavy are thought to touch around $90 Million Dollars.
10. Lynx Space Plane
Also known as the XCOR Lynx, this suborbital horizontal-takeoff and horizontal-landing, rocket-powered space-plane was originally under development by XCOR Aerospace.
The LYNX was originally designed to carry one pilot and one paying passenger into orbit with an optional cargo also on-board.
The initial design was to include an ascent speed of mach 2 with a maximum altitude of 62 km and a Primary Internal Payload of 120 kg.
The Mark 2 model built on the mark 1 with a Maximum Altitude of 107 km, a Primary Internal Payload of 120 kg and on-board reaction control system thrusters.
In 2008 Mark I production was expected to cost US$10 million and the Mark II around US$12 million dollars.
In May 2016, the company halted development of the Lynx space-plane and announced that it was both laying off staff and focusing on an engine project for the United Launch Alliance.
9. The New Sheppard Rocket
Developed by Blue Origin, The Space Company of Amazon founder Jezz Bezos, The New Shepard reusable launch system is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing, suborbital manned rocket under development for sub-orbital space tourism.
The first flight took place on 29 April 2015 and since then it has had 7 flights and 6 landings with the vehicle reaching 100.5 km on On 23 November 2015.
The New Shepard booster successfully performed a powered vertical soft landing which was the first time a booster rocket had returned from space to make a successful vertical landing.
Crew test flights on the New Sheppard are planned for 2018 and the New Sheppard 4 rocket will be the first one to actually carry passengers and its thought a price of around $150,000 to $250,000 per ticket will be charged for the trip.
8. SpaceShip Two Space Vehicles
Designed and built by The Spaceship Company that is owned by Virgin Galactic in California Spaceship Two, is an air-launched suborbital space-plane that is designed for space tourism.
On 31 October 2014 during a test flight, VSS Enterprise, the first SpaceShipTwo craft, broke up in flight and crashed in the Mojave desert.
The second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, VSS Unity, was unveiled on 19 February 2016 and is launched from the WhiteKnightTwo launcher aircraft, which takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California
Costs to develop SpaceShip Two are thought to have run into the $400 million dollar mark as of May 2011 with prices of a ticket costing $250,000 dollars.
Its understood Virgin Galactic had 200 paid-up customers on its books for the early flights as of December 2007 and by the start of 2011, that number had increased to over 400 paid customers.
7. Orion Capsule
Also known as The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, this American built Spacecraft that is currently in development, intends to carry a crew of 4 into low earth orbit.
Orion is also designed to to facilitate human exploration of asteroids and Mars and also to retrieve crew and supplies from the International Space Station.
The vehicle, which is designed and build by NASA was announced on May 24, 2011 and is based on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle from the cancelled Constellation program.
The first test flight of the vehicle was launched aboard an un-manned Delta IV heavy rocket on on December 5, 2014 with a flight lasting 4 hours and 24 minutes and a successful landing.
The first mission to carry astronauts is not expected to take place until 2023 at the earliest and the cost of funding the entire project is thought to be somewhere close to $20.4 billion dollars.
6. Dragon 2 Capsule
Possibly one of the most exciting and anticipated space vehicles of the 21st century, the Dragon 2 Space Capsule is currently in development by Elon Musk’s Space Company, Space X.
The vehicle includes a set of four side-mounted thruster pods with two SuperDraco engines each, and these can serve as a launch escape system or launch abort system during or just after flight.
The spacecraft was unveiled on May 29, 2014 during a press event at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and its first flight is expected in August 2018 to the International Space Station.
SpaceX completed a launch pad abort test of the spacecraft on May 6, 2015 and a hovering test on November 24, 2015 with its first passengers expected to take flight in December 2018.
Targeted launch costs for a full Dragon 2 Capsule are thought to be around $160,000,000 million dollars or if you want to fly as a tourist, $20,000,000 per seat.
5. Dream Chaser
Known mainly as the Dream Chaser Cargo System, this spacecraft has been designed mainly as a re-supply craft to service the International Space Station.
The craft is expected to launch vertically on an Atlas V, Ariane 5 or Falcon Heavy rocket and can supply the Space Station with both pressurized and un-pressurized cargo.
There is also a potential crewed version of the Dream Chaser under consideration called Dream the Chaser Space System which would be capable of carrying up to seven people to and from low Earth orbit.
The Dream Chaser has been designed by Sierra Nevada Corporation and currently we have unknown information on the price of development… leave your comments below to give us a rough idea!
4. Mars One
The Mars One manned interplanetary spacecraft is expected to head for Mars sometime in the early 2030’s being assembled in low Earth orbit and comprising two propellant modules including a Transit Living Module and a lander.
Contracts have been signed with Lockheed Martin to build the Demo Lander with the same designs as the Phoenix lander that originally went to Mars.
Mars One funding comes from private investment, intellectual property rights, the sale of future broadcasting rights, and astronaut application fees, all of which are currently un-disclosed.
Its understood that several companies from the Netherlands and South Africa are involved in the project and estimates by Mars one for sending and living four astronauts on Mars at around $6 billion USD.
Currently the largest of all space vehicles by a factor of 2… the Falcon heavy had its successful test flight in February 2018
3. Falcon Heavy
With its successful launch on February 6, 2018 the reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle also known as Falcon Heavy, carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk as a dummy payload into space.
The vehicle consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as a central core with two additional first stages as strap-on boosters.
Falcon Heavy is designed to carry humans into space farther than ever before, including to the Moon, Mars, and potentially to asteroids for mining expeditions and is currently one of the worlds largest Space Vehicles.
This has been put on hold to allow Space X to further develop their Dragon 2 Capsule and Big Falcon Rocket Launch system which is still some years away from being completed.
The Falcon Heavy was developed with private funding and Elon Musk has said that it cost no more than $500 Million to develop the rocket.
The New Glenn launch system is still in production and will be one of the largest space vehicles ever
2. New Glenn Launch System
The second launch system that is currently under development by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin space company, New Glenn is expected to make its initial test launch in 2020.
New Glenn is a 7-meter-diameter, two- or three-stage rocket and its first stage will be powered by seven BE-4 engines that are also designed to be re-usable.
Launches of the New Glenn are planned to be made from Spaceport Florida Launch Complex 36, which was leased to Blue Origin in 2015.
The New Glenn Space Vehicle will also be available for space tourism flights, with priority given to customers of New Shepard and contracts are in place with three customers for New Glenn flights including Eutelsat.
The SLS will be the biggest of all the space vehicles on this list when it is completed
1. SLS Launch System
The brainchild of NASA, the SLS launch system is the next generation of rockets currently being developed at Kennedy Space Centre.
The project is part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans including a manned mission to Mars and is expected to be able to lift 70,000 to 130,000 kg into Low Earth Orbit.
The whole system has been designed to replace the space shuttle and The SLS is to be the most powerful rocket ever built with a total thrust greater than that of the Saturn V.
During September 2011, it was stated that the SLS program has a projected development cost of $18 billion through 2017 and is one of the most expensive Space Vehicles ever.
The vehicle will comprise of 4 parts including The Space Launch System’s Core Stage that will be 8.4 meters (28 ft) in diameter and use four RS-25 engines.
The Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB’s) have been heavily upgraded and include a centre booster segment, new avionics, and new insulation which eliminates the Shuttle SRB’s asbestos and makes them much lighter.
Nasa eventually hopes to build the Mars Transfer Vehicle in-orbit by using a number of Block 2 SLS payload lifts and this could even be powered by Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket engines.
The other main focus of the SLS launch system is the construction of the Lunar orbital platform that will allow exploration of the lunar surface and provide a docking port for onward missions to Mars.