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Regulatory Development Study: Cost Estimation

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Cost Estimation of Small and Medium Payload Commercial Spaceflight Launch Systems


The UK Space Agency recognizes the importance of evaluating costs and price points for future space transportation systems, specifically launch vehicles. To support this endeavour, the Agency's Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE) is tasked with advancing research, planning future programs, and providing technical oversight for various projects and programs. With over 100 small companies claiming to be developing new launch systems, many expressing interest in operating from the UK, it becomes crucial to assess the credibility of launch prices quoted across the industry and evaluate the competitiveness of commercial spaceflight offerings.


In response to this need, UK Launch Services Ltd (UKLSL) was awarded a small study by the UKSA's OCE. The objective was to establish methodologies and tools for estimating the costs associated with the development and operation of small and medium launch systems. The project involved a meticulous review of previous and existing tools and methodologies, assessing their suitability for meeting the OCE's objectives.


Leveraging their expertise and industry knowledge, UKLSL critically evaluated these tools and methodologies, considering their strengths and limitations. Subsequently, UKLSL developed a new and simplified tool, accompanied by an associated methodology, specifically tailored to meet the OCE's requirements. This new tool provided the OCE with the capability to perform cost estimation at the desired level of accuracy and detail.


By engaging in this study, UKLSL enabled the OCE to make informed decisions by providing robust cost estimation capabilities. The development of the new tool and methodology enhanced the OCE's ability to assess the financial implications of small and medium launch systems, contributing to effective planning and decision-making processes.


The collaboration between UKLSL and the OCE exemplifies their commitment to advancing the understanding of launch system costs within the UK space industry. Through their diligent efforts, methodologies and tools were established, empowering the OCE to perform accurate cost estimations and support the UK Space Agency's objectives in the realm of commercial spaceflight.


The findings were then published and presented at the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Paris, France, 18-22 September 202


Dr. Adam Baker*, Mr. Andy Bradford, Mr. Liam Graham, Ms. Victoria Montag, Mr. Andrew Ratcliffe, Mr. Tristan Stindt



spaceflight launch


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