She works with four customers at Mojave – Stratolaunch, The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic and Masten Space. A typical lease fee at Mojave is around $50,000 per month, but it varies depending on the square footage a company requires.
Drees said the first launch of Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship One craft made “attracting other customers automatic.”
With low-cost launchers being built for $5 million or less, such as Vector Space’s Vector-R, Alaska Aerospace must offer services on a lean budget, Campbell said.
“If Rocket Lab says their total mission budget is $4.95 million, they can’t spend $2 million to launch,” Campbell said, before noting his spaceport charges “somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to $500,000 to achieve full launch costs.”
Both SpaceX and Virgin Galactic pay monthly rents for access at Spaceport America, and SpaceX built “a nice launchpad” for testing back in 2012, Hicks said.
Next steps for government regulation
Spaceports have five-year operator licenses from the FAA, which interacts with the facilities frequently, including an annual safety inspection. The bulk of licenses go to launch operators, which Nield says come in “different flavors.”
“SpaceX has several different kinds of licenses, and some allow them to launch the same rocket with the same general payload on the same trajectory an indefinite number of times,” Nield said.