Commercial space is no longer the sole domain of satellite telecommunications. Nearly every sector of the space enterprise is opening up to commercial providers.

Two of our three finalists for this year’s Commercial Space Achievement award represent longstanding commercial pillars of the space industry: launch and satellite communications.

The third is a pioneer in one of the most daunting space sectors to commercialize: human spaceflight.

The SpaceNews editorial team selected the three achievements below as some of this year’s biggest. The winner of this category, chosen with valuable input from previous recipients of a SpaceNews award, will be revealed during our annual awards celebration.

Tickets are on sale now for the SpaceNews 2023 Icon Awards, being held Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf.

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s honorees, one of which will be named 2023’s Civil Space Achievement:

Intelsat and SES earn billions by meeting C-band clearing deadlines

Intelsat and SES are due a combined $7 billion windfall for returning publicly owned C-band to the FCC, on top of the $2 billion already received for helping make the spectrum available for U.S. telecom networks.

SpaceX launch tempo

SpaceX has already exceeded its record-setting launch rate for all of 2022, with 80 launches and counting performed since the start of 2023 . Not even China (government and commercial launches combined) is launching as often as SpaceX.

Virgin Galactic’s first commercial SpaceShipTwo flights

After years of development delays, including a fatal accident in a 2014 test flight, Virgin Galactic started commercial flights in June, continuing them on a monthly basis since then. This allows the company to finally serve customers who, in some cases, bought tickets more than 15 years ago while working on a new generation of vehicles that promise more frequent and less expensive suborbital flights.

Stay tuned for more updates as we spotlight the honorees for our final awards category Nov. 13.