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This--there's a reason they are headquartered where they are. What they've managed to accomplish in such a short time is amazing but let's not forget that it was massive US gov't investment in NASA and SpaceX's neighbors Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, etc. that made this all possible.

The US military is currently spending $400m per launch with ULA. Now with SpaceX, they pay around $100m per launch.

Whatever investment the US government have given to SpaceX, they'll get it back very quickly now that competition exists in the launch market.

Isn't half of that 400 million a kind of retainer to keep ULA available? I thought they're still paying that, so it's not much cheaper yet. And they might still need to pay it to someone.

Yes it's a retainer but still a cost and hopefully ending shortly.

I think the point is that the 400-to-100 figure is not Apples to Apples. Imagine 20 years from now SpaceX' ITS has failed to finance and their Falcon Heavy is a loss leader because too few payloads need it and the rest has moved on to a new rocket. This is like the USGov paying them a few billions a year to keep Falcon Heavy around because it's the only rocket with some specific capabilities. IMO depending on the specifics this is not so unreasonable. It's still great that SpaceX has achieved a factor of 2 improvement already for the base price compared to ULA, which doesn't yet include reusability, but one shouldn't overstate how much ahead they are.

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