Poll

Is the small launcher sector dying?

Yes
39 (45.3%)
No
22 (25.6%)
Maybe
25 (29.1%)

Total Members Voted: 86

Voting closes: 03/21/2024 09:29 am


Author Topic: Is the small launcher sector dying?  (Read 8357 times)

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #20 on: 03/21/2023 08:51 pm »
My 5-year NorthAmerican/European prediction is a down selection to 1 each micro/small on each continent.

Astra vs Electron vs Launcher One: Electron seems to be the winner and looks like it will stick around. Astra's v3 was too unreliable and the pivot to v4 came too late: capital is now too expensive. Launcher One was too niche and expensive.

Orbex vs Skyrora: Predicting a down select to one. Skyrora seems to have the upper hand.

Alpha vs RS-1 vs Terran-1. Predicting a down select to one. Not sure who survives the attrition and corners this payload segment as the last small-lift standing. Alpha was first to market but also has the highest sticker rate. RS-1 has the best business plan, but with an unfunded(?) medium lift plan has the least reserves to survive a battle of attrition for market share. Terran-1 has the most part commonality with the Medium version which I thought indicated it would stick around, but some of their comments on Terran-1's maiden flight objectives/outcomes make me think their commitment to keeping Terran-1 flying vs using it as a stepping-stone to Medium might be softening.

RFA-One vs Spectrum: Predicting a downs elect to one. I had thought RFA had the lead, but OHB is selling all/part of its stake makes me think it could be ISARs game.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #21 on: 03/21/2023 10:42 pm »
I bet Electron will still be around in 3 years and probably 5, too. When you have a launcher that actually exists and has an okay track record (not great, not terrible in the case of Electron) at a price per launch lower than medium/heavy launchers, it can stick around for quite a while. Heck, I donít think Pegasus or Minotaur is quite dead yet, is it? (EDIT: Pegasus isnít officially dead yet and thereís at least one more Minotaur IV launch, I think this year.) Electron is significantly cheaper that those and with booster reuse could last for well over 5 more years or longer as there is a lot of inertia in the launch realm.
<snip>
Think Rocket Lab will quickly phased out the Electron once the Neutron comes online. Don't think Rocket Lab want to support 2 launch systems simultaneously.

A launch with the Pegasus is more expensive then a Falcon 9 launch. Plus the L-1011 Stargrazer launch aircraft is ancient and is not able to operated from many airports due to noise restrictions. The last remaining Pegasus launcher will be on display at a museum somewhere.
 
The Minotaurs are only use by the US government, not for commercial usage. The Minotaur-C isn't included in the restriction since it is a re-branded Taurus. However there hasn't been a new Minotaur-C launch contract announced for a while and not expect any more soon.

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #22 on: 04/03/2023 03:59 am »
I bet Electron will still be around in 3 years and probably 5, too. When you have a launcher that actually exists and has an okay track record (not great, not terrible in the case of Electron) at a price per launch lower than medium/heavy launchers, it can stick around for quite a while. Heck, I donít think Pegasus or Minotaur is quite dead yet, is it? (EDIT: Pegasus isnít officially dead yet and thereís at least one more Minotaur IV launch, I think this year.) Electron is significantly cheaper that those and with booster reuse could last for well over 5 more years or longer as there is a lot of inertia in the launch realm.
<snip>
Think Rocket Lab will quickly phased out the Electron once the Neutron comes online. Don't think Rocket Lab want to support 2 launch systems simultaneously.

A launch with the Pegasus is more expensive then a Falcon 9 launch. Plus the L-1011 Stargrazer launch aircraft is ancient and is not able to operated from many airports due to noise restrictions. The last remaining Pegasus launcher will be on display at a museum somewhere.
 
The Minotaurs are only use by the US government, not for commercial usage. The Minotaur-C isn't included in the restriction since it is a re-branded Taurus. However there hasn't been a new Minotaur-C launch contract announced for a while and not expect any more soon.
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

Offline Jim

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #23 on: 04/03/2023 02:25 pm »
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

No, small is define by capability and not physical attributes.

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #24 on: 04/03/2023 03:16 pm »
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

No, small is define by capability and not physical attributes.
I see. I also should point out that Roscosmos tends to define small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of up to 11,000 pounds, in contrast to NASA defining small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of 4,400 pounds or less.   

Offline Jim

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #25 on: 04/03/2023 04:16 pm »
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

No, small is define by capability and not physical attributes.
I see. I also should point out that Roscosmos tends to define small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of up to 11,000 pounds, in contrast to NASA defining small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of 4,400 pounds or less.   


Roscosmos doesn't really matter when discussing US rockets.   And it is not just NASA that defines classes.

Offline AmigaClone

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #26 on: 04/03/2023 04:42 pm »
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

No, small is define by capability and not physical attributes.
I see. I also should point out that Roscosmos tends to define small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of up to 11,000 pounds, in contrast to NASA defining small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of 4,400 pounds or less.   


Roscosmos doesn't really matter when discussing US rockets.   And it is not just NASA that defines classes.

NASA's definition is likely the most significant one for US launch providers. In addition to Roscosmos, I imagine that at least China, and India's equivalent organizations also define classes, with other national or international organizations doing the same.

Offline Jim

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #27 on: 04/03/2023 04:50 pm »
The Minotaur I, II, IV, and V are small launchers only because the Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs from which they are derived have heights shorter than the Firefly Alpha and Terran 1.

No, small is define by capability and not physical attributes.
I see. I also should point out that Roscosmos tends to define small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of up to 11,000 pounds, in contrast to NASA defining small-lift launch vehicles as having a payload mass to LEO of 4,400 pounds or less.   


Roscosmos doesn't really matter when discussing US rockets.   And it is not just NASA that defines classes.

NASA's definition is likely the most significant one for US launch providers. In addition to Roscosmos, I imagine that at least China, and India's equivalent organizations also define classes, with other national or international organizations doing the same.

For the US, there also is the DOD and FAA.  NASA doesn't speak for the US space program (only the US gov't civilian program).

Offline Tywin

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #28 on: 04/13/2023 04:36 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...
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Offline ZachS09

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #29 on: 04/13/2023 04:58 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...

Terran 1 died for a good reason; it was just a one-off testbed for the bigger Terran R.

LauncherOne is a different story.
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Offline trimeta

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #30 on: 04/13/2023 05:59 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...

Terran 1 died for a good reason; it was just a one-off testbed for the bigger Terran R.

LauncherOne is a different story.
Then again, Astra's Rocket 4 is the same story as LauncherOne (or at least, it will be when Astra goes bankrupt before they even launch it).

Offline ZachS09

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #31 on: 04/13/2023 06:21 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...

Terran 1 died for a good reason; it was just a one-off testbed for the bigger Terran R.

LauncherOne is a different story.
Then again, Astra's Rocket 4 is the same story as LauncherOne (or at least, it will be when Astra goes bankrupt before they even launch it).

True, too.
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Offline deltaV

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #32 on: 04/13/2023 07:40 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...
Companies dying is not good evidence of a sector dying. For example restaurants go bankrupt all the time yet the restaurant sector continues just fine.

Offline trimeta

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #33 on: 04/13/2023 08:05 pm »
Well, LauncherOne dead, Terran 1 dead, I'm starting to see a trend...
Companies dying is not good evidence of a sector dying. For example restaurants go bankrupt all the time yet the restaurant sector continues just fine.
In a sense, this makes Relativity's abandonment of small launch even more significant: they didn't run out of money, they just looked at the market and decided it wasn't profitable for them to continue.

Of course, it's possible that their specific system was unprofitable for idiosyncratic reasons, and that this doesn't generalize.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #34 on: 04/14/2023 03:45 am »
Elon and Gwynne said about 5 years ago that they would all end up F9 sized eventually.

And here we are in April 2023.

How much investor money was flushed down the tube because people felt they knew better than SpaceXÖ
« Last Edit: 04/14/2023 03:46 am by M.E.T. »

Online Eric Hedman

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #35 on: 04/15/2023 02:25 pm »
Elon and Gwynne said about 5 years ago that they would all end up F9 sized eventually.

And here we are in April 2023.

How much investor money was flushed down the tube because people felt they knew better than SpaceXÖ
Most VC funding in most industries gets flushed because it is often a crap shoot.  They count on the home runs here and there to cover the losses.  Predicting which way a market will evolve isn't the easiest thing to do. 

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #36 on: 04/15/2023 10:05 pm »
My poll answer is "no", the small launch sector is not dying.  Just during the first 3.5 months of this year (2023) we've seen at least eleven of these small launchers fly, totaling 13 flights and 10 successes.  They include SQX-1, Shavit-2, Electron, KZ-1A, CZ-11, SSLV, RS-1, Ceres-1, TianLong-2, Terran-1, and LauncherOne.  Some may be faltering, but more are coming. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/15/2023 10:09 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline AmigaClone

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #37 on: 04/16/2023 03:09 am »
My poll answer is "no", the small launch sector is not dying.  Just during the first 3.5 months of this year (2023) we've seen at least eleven of these small launchers fly, totaling 13 flights and 10 successes.  They include SQX-1, Shavit-2, Electron, KZ-1A, CZ-11, SSLV, RS-1, Ceres-1, TianLong-2, Terran-1, and LauncherOne.  Some may be faltering, but more are coming. 

 - Ed Kyle

Personally, I would say the number of companies in the Small Launch Sector that are either failing or have decided to go for a larger launch vehicle is more a demonstration of the realistic size of that market as opposed to the size of that market that would need the proposed capabilities of those small launch vehicles.

Offline the_big_boot

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #38 on: 04/17/2023 04:53 am »
I definitely don't see Rocket Lab abandoning Electron in the next 5 years or so. Rocket Lab is in this unique position where, unlike all these other small launchers, Rocket Lab has already invested the time and money into Electron and has gotten to a point where abandoning it wouldn't be very enticing, I mean what other small launcher can you say has not only proved itself to be a reliable vehicle, but has also scaled up its facility's to support a launch cadence of once every 1-2 weeks, has 3 operational launch pads around the world, and (hopefully) is able to reuse its first stage. and not to mention photon. Rocket Lab has already put in the dev work for Electron,

The only real issue with Electron would be the operational cost, but even then Rocket Lab has also shown that Electron can be somewhat financially sustainable. I mean sure they aren't making money with the thing yet, but they're also not losing $100M on it per year like other small launchers (last year for example, they stated they only had a gross loss of 7m for electron), and if they're actually able to increase cadence just a little bit more and start making money on the damn thing, then that just becomes another incentive to keep Electron alive.

Rocket Lab is in a very strong position right now in the small dedicated launch market. And it's not like Neutron would be able to replace Electron, they'd just be abandoning the small dedicated launch market, and for what reason? even if this was just some niche market, it'd be a niche market Rocket Lab controlled.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #39 on: 04/17/2023 09:01 am »
I definitely don't see Rocket Lab abandoning Electron in the next 5 years or so. Rocket Lab is in this unique position where, unlike all these other small launchers, Rocket Lab has already invested the time and money into Electron and has gotten to a point where abandoning it wouldn't be very enticing, I mean what other small launcher can you say has not only proved itself to be a reliable vehicle, but has also scaled up its facility's to support a launch cadence of once every 1-2 weeks, has 3 operational launch pads around the world, and (hopefully) is able to reuse its first stage. and not to mention photon. Rocket Lab has already put in the dev work for Electron,

The only real issue with Electron would be the operational cost, but even then Rocket Lab has also shown that Electron can be somewhat financially sustainable. I mean sure they aren't making money with the thing yet, but they're also not losing $100M on it per year like other small launchers (last year for example, they stated they only had a gross loss of 7m for electron), and if they're actually able to increase cadence just a little bit more and start making money on the damn thing, then that just becomes another incentive to keep Electron alive.

Rocket Lab is in a very strong position right now in the small dedicated launch market. And it's not like Neutron would be able to replace Electron, they'd just be abandoning the small dedicated launch market, and for what reason? even if this was just some niche market, it'd be a niche market Rocket Lab controlled.

Question : Which company has made the most revenue from small launch since Electronís first flight in 2017?

I donít have the exact answer, but I can do a rough estimate.

 

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