How many times have you needed to send a heavy payload into space but been frustrated by all the complex manuals and hoops you need to jump through in order to find exactly the type of rocket, launch date, and orbit you need to get the job done? Well, United Launch Alliance has made the process easy with a new interactive page where visitors can design their own custom rocket perfectly tailored to their needs. The Atlas Vs start at the low low price of $109 million, so at that price point, it would be fiscally irresponsible not to snag one.
All kidding aside, the new tool is actually a pretty insightful resource, both for educational purposes and as a helpful first step for any potential clients who are actually in need of an Atlas V launch. In a press conference on Wednesday, ULA CEO CEO Tory Bruno said the new tool, RocketBuilder.com, offers consumers an “unprecedented level of transparency” as they figure out what type of launch they need, and how much it’ll cost them.
“The sticker price on the rocket is just the tip of the iceberg,” Bruno said. “There is a whole host of other costs.”
Toggling through the site allows visitors to select a launch date, orbit, payload weight, and service options.
A big selling point for ULA’s launches is their reliability. The site calculates “ULA added value,” an extra cost that factors in the rocket company’s record of 113 successful launches with no failures and their tendency not to let launch dates slip too far off schedule. Sure, it’s an extra cost, but ULA factors it in almost as insurance.
SpaceX, for instance, offers launches that start at $62 million, but as Bruno alluded to when he shaded the hell out of Elon Musk’s company, sometimes SpaceX rockets explode.
“Nobody really chooses to have low reliability, to blow their rocket up, or to be late,” said Bruno. “It’s something they strive to avoid, but it’s very difficult to obtain.”
So, go ahead and play around on the site just to see what launching a rocket really involves. Make nice a rocket with a payload that weighs 69 kilograms. You do you, but in the process you’ll learn a little bit more about what launching a rocket actually takes.
“Ultimately, RocketBuilder will help drive down costs even further as customers are able to optimize the cost-effectiveness of their designs,” Bruno said in a release.
Photos via ULA