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This week SpaceX crept ever closer to making commercial space travel a reality when it announced it successfully test-fired the engines for the rocket it plans to launch October 7. The launch will march the company’s first cargo delivery. This is good news for wannabe astronauts with dreams of taking their own spacewalks.
Located in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX’s success got the Movoto Real Estate blog team interested in space travel–not that it took much effort. But it wasn’t long before imaginary spacewalks around our HQ turned into one of our flights of fancy.
If well-funded men and women might soon find their way into orbit, there will be a need for more housing–outside of cramped sleeping quarters. This led the Movoto team to ask: How could we get a house into space? The more important question, however, was how much would it cost to shoot a house into space?
Mission: Space House
Turns out it would cost $640 million to shoot a house into space. To put this in perspective, American Samoa has a gross domestic product of $462.2 million. So it’s going to take a hefty hunk of change.
If you’re still interested, the good news is you won’t have to host family get-togethers.
Two Asteroids to Dodge
There were two major hurdles we needed to overcome. We needed to figure out:
- How to deliver a house into space
- How to calculate the weight of a house
Both of these, while daunting at first, were easily accomplished after we sent our chief rocket scientist, otherwise known as our tidbit finder, to figure it out.
Space the Final Frontier
To deliver a house into space, the Movoto team needed a vessel. While we thought about strapping rockets to a house’s foundation, we were worried it would break apart on liftoff. To prevent this dilemma, we went with the headline-making SpaceX program for transport.
Recently, SpaceX, one of the world’s premiere private spaceflight companies, engineered a new vessel called the Falcon Heavy, which can deliver 53 metric tons (116,845 lbs) of material into low earth orbit. This became the vessel needed for Mission: Space House. It also gave us a starting point to calculate the enormous $640 million price tag.
According to SpaceX, Falcon Heavy’s commercial missions are divided into two categories, both of which are dependent on weight.
- A spaceflight of up to 6.4 tons costs $83 million.
- A spaceflight that exceeds 6.4 tons costs $128 million.
With these numbers in hand, we moved on to calculating the weight of a house. This gave us an estimation for how many trips it would take to rocket Space House into low earth orbit.
The Perfect Home–to Shoot into Space
To shoot a house into space, you actually need a house. For Mission: Space House we chose a respectable 2,500-square-foot single-story house. This allowed our team to dig into the larger question of how to get this house into Falcon Heavy.
This House Weighs a Ton
There is disagreement over how much a house weighs, but The Seattle Times took a stab at the question and came up with a basic guide.
The newspaper claims a house weighs:
- 200 pounds per square foot for a single level
- 275 pounds per square foot for two levels
- 300 pounds per square foot for three levels
This means our example house would weigh 500,000 pounds (2,500 x 200 lbs), or 227 metric tons. This includes the foundation.
By our calculations, if we chose to use weight as the key figure for Mission: Space House, it would take five trips at $128 million apiece to reach space.
In other words, it would cost $640 million to finagle Space House into a fancy flying machine and launch it out of Earth’s orbit.
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