Small launch vehicles
Of the 148 small launch vehicles on a popular industry watch list, about 41 “are likely dead,” Carlos Niederstrasser, a Northrop Grumman master systems engineer, said at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress here.
A three-way launch contest is now down to one unidentified company after two competitors backed out, DARPA announced Oct. 22.
The launch vehicle market is changing rapidly as satellites of various sizes seek transportation to both traditional and nontraditional orbits.
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.