Most people out there who have wanted a new car have started off at the automaker’s website using the configurator to build up your dream ride and see just how much it might cost you. If your dream ride is a rocket, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has a new website where you can configure your rocket and see how much it would cost to put your payload into orbit. The RocketBuilder site allows launch hopefuls to choose all sorts of options and see the estimated cost immediately.
The first thing you choose is the launch date for the rocket. Right now you have options for Q1-Q4 2017 and 2018. In 2019 you have the option to choose Q1-Q3 for launches. There is no indication why Q4 is not available at this time. After choosing when you want to launch, you can choose the orbit type you desire launching from east or west coasts. The basic orbit is GTO at 100 m/s, but you can also choose GEO, MEO, LEO, and Earth Escape. The GEO orbit adds $6 million to the launch cost.
West coast launches for sun sync and polar orbits will start at $117 million compared to the basic $109 million GTO east coast launch orbit. Next you choose the payload weight and payload fairing size, the heavier your payload and larger the fairing, the more prices go up. Next you choose your service options with things like mission analysis cycles, payload environmental instruments, and on-board video systems available, among other things.
Once your configuration is complete you can submit it to ULA for more information. I’d wager they get hoards of fake submissions. ULA does note that RocketBuilder doesn’t include all services required for US governmental compliance. That means the launch will cost more than what you see.