Small launch vehicles
Small launch vehicle company Vector has replaced its founding chief executive and disclosed that financial difficulties have forced the company to suspend its operations.
Spaceflight announced Aug. 6 that it will purchase the first commercial launch a new Indian vehicle scheduled to make its debut later this year.
Virgin Galactic’s merger with a publicly-traded investment company is likely a one-off event based on the company and people involved, and not a sign of more fundamental changes in the industry, investors argue.
As Rocket Lab prepares the next launch of its Electron rocket, it and other small launch vehicle developers say the U.S. government can be a better, and smarter, customer for their services.
Despite a surge in Chinese launch activity and growth of commercial Chinese launch developers, executives with American companies said they’re not worried about potential competition with them.
Startups in the burgeoning small launch vehicle market acknowledge that only a handful of vehicles will survive a likely shakeout, driven more by commercial rather than government demand.
Space startups seeking funding should stay away from increasingly overcrowded parts of the market and instead seek more novel approaches that could offer much bigger returns.
German launch services provider Exolaunch announced a memorandum of understanding April 11 with Virgin Orbit to send satellites into space as early as 2020 on LauncherOne dedicated and rideshare missions.
Three launch vehicle developers, one of which is still in stealth mode, have qualified to compete in a DARPA competition in early 2020 to demonstrate responsive launch capabilities.
Small launch vehicle developer Relativity announced April 5 a contract with Telesat to launch a portion of that company’s low Earth orbit broadband satellite constellation.
The Air Force Space Test Program has awarded contracts to Rocket Lab and Vox Space. More vendors could be selected.
Developers of small launch vehicles, who have promoted their vehicles as providing dedicated access to space for small satellites, say they’re also open to flying rideshare missions as they face competition from larger rockets.
The Air Force is looking to attract startups and commercial businesses to pitch ideas to the military. But Roper acknowledged the Air Force has to do a better job at this.