Why Are LAUNCH COSTS So High?
Peter A. Taylor, 2004
Why do space launches cost so much? Specifically, why are the costs so far out of line with the cost of seemingly comparable airplane operations? Fuel is about 15% of the operations and maintenance (O&M) cost of a typical military airplane, and 38% for commercial aircraft, according to Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach, 1992, by Daniel P. Raymer. Space launches should be more energy intensive than airplane flights, so one would expect that propellants would be a larger fraction of the total operations cost for a launch industry that was as mature as the airline industry. Why are the non-fuel costs orders of magnitude higher for rockets?