SpaceX vs. NASA: Speed-to-Market

NASA is clearly slower to market and to iterate than SpaceX.

Bent Flyvbjerg
Geek Culture

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By Atif Ansar and Bent Flyvbjerg

Source: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/spacex

In terms of speed-to-market and iterative updates, SpaceX is on average nearly twice as fast as NASA. In terms of actual delivery time, SpaceX projects have a shorter actual duration from the decision to build to completion.†

On average SpaceX projects took 49.2 months (~4 years) whereas NASA’s took 82.3 months (~7 years). This difference is statistically significant .

As its platform has stabilized, SpaceX’s speed-to-market has been persistently trending lower towards 2 years:

In contrast, NASA’s speed-to-market is trending back upwards, towards 4 years and above

Since our estimates of actual delivery times exclude pre-planning prior to final investment decision or contractual close — SpaceX’s relative speed is in fact faster than our deliberately conservative calculation.

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Bent Flyvbjerg
Geek Culture

Professor Emeritus, University of Oxford; Professor, IT University of Copenhagen. Writes about project management. https://www.linkedin.com/in/flyvbjerg/