Small launch vehicles
Vector, one of dozens of ventures developing small launch vehicles to serve perceived high demand for small satellite launches, announced Oct. 19 that it closed a $70 million Series B round to move into full operations.
Faced with growing competition from startups entering the field, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems is looking to reduce costs on its existing Pegasus and Minotaur rockets.
The number of small launch vehicles under development continues to grow despite some high-profile setbacks and uncertainty about the demand for such vehicles.
Emerging private Chinese company Landspace is set to launch its first rocket into orbit in the final quarter of 2018, carrying a small satellite for a state television company.
With about $40 million in hand and an agreement to use a new launch site, British small launch vehicle startup Orbex argues that it’s joined the small group of companies in this sector of the industry that should be taken seriously.
Lockheed VP: “As the UK develops its space industry further, I think you’ll see bigger economics from the mini-satellites and the value they create from data."
In its quest for cutting edge commercial solutions to military problems, the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) is not ignoring the talents of traditional government contractors.
DARPA announced a prize competition April 18 to demonstrate the ability to rapidly launch small satellites, a competition whose regulatory challenges may tower over its technical ones.
Companies that are developing small launch vehicles or who provide rideshare launch services say they expect new Chinese launch vehicles to drive down launch prices, raising concerns among some of unfair competition.
At last count, at least 35 small launch vehicles were in development. Some of them may actually fly. Will that wave of activity continue to swell this year, or will it break and crash?