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Payload ( English payload ) is the load , the transport means ( vehicle , aircraft , rocket , elevator can absorb etc.) until the maximum permissible total weight is reached. It corresponds to the mass of the payload that can be transported. In technical terminology, “the weight to be transported” is also referred to as the payload.


Actually, only the payload should be transported and, if possible, no weight. In principle, the following applies: The higher the payload in relation to the total mass, the lower the consumption for the drive energy, since the mass to be accelerated is then lower. If the maximum permissible payload is exceeded, the intended functionality or safety is no longer guaranteed and increased wear and tear or even damage can occur.

Motor vehicle

Payload is the maximum load that a ready-to-use vehicle can transport without exceeding the permissible axle loads and the permissible total mass (see guideline on § 42 StVZO of August 15, 1983, Verkehrsblatt 1983, p. 464). This definition applies according to German approval regulations, manufacturer specifications may be based on other formulations.


Payload range diagram as a scheme

The possible range of an aircraft depends, among other things, on the respective payload and is determined according to the payload range diagram of the aircraft type . Passenger aircraft have the passengers and their luggage as their payload, whereas in the case of cargo aircraft it is the transported goods. The currently largest cargo aircraft in the world, the Antonov An-225 , has a maximum payload of 345 tons, i.e. fuel and cargo. The payload factor is the percentage ratio between the capacity actually used and the capacity offered on the market. When it comes to bombers , one speaks of a “bomb load”.

Space travel

In space travel , the payload refers to the mass that can be transported by a rocket or spaceship (in addition to the fuel ). In connection with space travel, useful weight is sometimes used synonymously for it. A typical payload in space travel is a satellite. A secondary payload is an additional load that is carried in addition to the primary payload in order to make the best possible use of the transport options, for example with piggyback satellites such as the Cubesats .

The payload ratio is calculated as follows:


Payload ratio
Vehicle system bulk with fuel

Sometimes the payload is only 2% of the launch mass (see launcher ).

See also


  • H. Riedl: Lexicon of Motor Vehicle Technology, Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-613-02996-5 , p. 337
  • N. Klußmann, A. Malik: Lexikon der Luftfahrt , Springer Vieweg, 4th edition, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-662-54039-8 , pp. 469-470

Web links

Wiktionary: Payload  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ N. Klußmann, A. Malik: Lexikon der Luftfahrt , Springer Vieweg, 4th edition, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-662-54039-8 , p. 469
  2. Useful mass. In: M. Founder: Lexicon of manned space travel , Lexikon Imprint Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-89602-287-3 , p. 195
  3. ^ E. Messerschmid, S. Fasoulas: Raumfahrtsysteme , Springer Vieweg, 5th edition from 2017, ISBN 978-3-662-49637-4 , p. 47