Poll

Is the small launcher sector dying?

Yes
40 (43.5%)
No
24 (26.1%)
Maybe
28 (30.4%)

Total Members Voted: 92

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


Author Topic: Is the small launcher sector dying?  (Read 12307 times)

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #60 on: 04/22/2023 05:14 am »
There doesn't seems to be many new small satellite launchers LSPs getting inroad in the US after the 6 established in the 2010s have flown so far (and at least 2 of them have been struggling despite reaching orbit more than once). The most famous of them - Launcher - has now dropped out and I don't think anyone else in the US planning for small launchers are even close to getting a try so far (Stoke Space for example is skipping the small category IIRC).

The interesting thing to watch for is whether dedicated small sat LSPs can survive elsewhere on the globe. Europeans certainly want a few (see ESA funding, even if that's meager) but I am not sure who's going to make it, if any. The forerunners so far seems to be Isar Aerospace, RFA, and if UK included Orbex and Skyrora, but each of them seems to have major problems of their own (would have bet on Orbex until their CEO's recent sudden leave). There might be enough room there for 1-2 but I'm not sure.

It's even less clear in Asian-Pacific countries, I know that one Japanese company that might be flying soon (funded by e.g. Canon) but they seems more of a government oriented LSP using solid motor powered rockets. The closer relative to the US ones - Interstellar Technologies - is nowhere close to an orbital launcher IMHO. There might be some surprises out there like the Korean company that recently test flown their hybrid fuel motor or the similar Gilmore in Down Under, all of which are hard to judge status.

And there's of course the absolutely chaotic Chinese market which no-one seems to really understand what's going on, with 3 LSPs reaching orbit lately and many more seemingly having notable progress. Of course their "private LSP" definition might be very much different from any other places on Earth so they might as well be treated as launching from Mars in some senses.
« Last Edit: 04/22/2023 05:17 am by Galactic Penguin SST »
Astronomy & spaceflight geek penguin. In a relationship w/ Space Shuttle Discovery. Current Priority: Chasing the Chinese Spaceflight Wonder Egg & A Certain Chinese Mars Rover

Offline Craigles

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #61 on: 04/23/2023 04:04 pm »
Even excluding the Transporter missions, I still think SpaceX wins considering they launched IXPE (325kg). IIRC the whole Electron program is still cashflow-negative, while the F9 program is certainly cashflow positive and the IXPE launch itself as well.
I wonder.  On Transporter 7, SpaceX felt compelled to shave a few bucks by removing the second stage nozzle extension.  Why would they need to do so? 

 - Ed Kyle
SpaceX would not modify the M1D-Vac without a 'smart requirement' need. One such need is to address the versatility of the small launcher sector. A small stage closely derived from F9 could add versatility for tugboats and dispensers while leveraging SpaceXs kg/$ efficiency.
I'd rather be here now

Offline c4fusion

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #62 on: 09/06/2023 12:36 pm »
Looks like more nails into the small sat launcher dream, this time from Tory Burno:

https://www.twitter.com/torybruno/status/1698121784003015116

Quote
Incorrect.  The small LV market has almost completely collapsed.  There was a brief tick up with small sat experiments and demos, but those quickly moved over to heavy launch vehicles as ride-shares at lower cost.  There will be room for 1 or 2 micro launchers, but no more.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #63 on: 09/06/2023 02:45 pm »
Looks like more nails into the small sat launcher dream, this time from Tory Burno:
Tory tweet:
Quote
Incorrect.  The small LV market has almost completely collapsed.  There was a brief tick up with small sat experiments and demos, but those quickly moved over to heavy launch vehicles as ride-shares at lower cost.  There will be room for 1 or 2 micro launchers, but no more.
Tory is not an unbiased expert. Tory is an excellent CEO and is doing the PR part of his job. This specifically includes emphasizing the things his company's only product (future Vulcan Centaur launches) is "better" than the competition.  Rideshare is "better" than small launcher.  SMART is "better" than landing a booster. Centaur is a "better" high-energy upper stage.   (Atlas V launches and Delta IV heavy launches are no longer products in the marketing sense, because no more can ever be sold).

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #64 on: 09/06/2023 03:11 pm »
RocketLabís Electron is launching a heck of a lot more often than Atlas V or Delta IV or Vulcan. 8 Electron (including HASTE) launches and we still have a third of the year left. ULA, among its launch vehicles, has only launched ONCE this year.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #65 on: 09/06/2023 03:22 pm »
Electron launch manifests is growing as for other smallsat launches none are operational.
 
Hard to say if VO failure was from lack of demand or poorly managed financies. They didn't have huge manifest but that wasn't why they ran out of money. Didn't really allow for time and cash reserves needed to build up to an operationsl level plus delays from odd early not unexpected failure..

Smallsat operators want a reliable ride to space, until these new LVs are operating regularly and reliably its a huge risk booking a flight. With Electron and F9R rideshare customers know they will get to orbit safely and on schedule.  Electron will wait for them, F9R won't.

Back to the expensive taxi versus cheap bus ride scenerio . If you miss bus how much will delays waiting for another bus going to right location cost the business.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2023 03:24 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #66 on: 09/11/2023 03:16 pm »
The industry isn't dying, but a shakeout is occuring, as often happens in new industries.

Offline the_big_boot

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #67 on: 09/11/2023 06:42 pm »
In a recent Jefferies conference, Rocket Lab stated that they are now fully booked for 20 launches next year for electron
https://wsw.com/webcast/jeff286/rklb/1852585?mobile=True

Online trimeta

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #68 on: 09/11/2023 07:36 pm »
In a recent Jefferies conference, Rocket Lab stated that they are now fully booked for 20 launches next year for electron
https://wsw.com/webcast/jeff286/rklb/1852585?mobile=True
Although at least one launch previously scheduled to launch in 2023 has been delayed to 2024, so in theory that could be at the expense of this year's 15 targeted launches.

Offline the_big_boot

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Re: Is the small launcher sector dying?
« Reply #69 on: 09/11/2023 08:30 pm »
In a recent Jefferies conference, Rocket Lab stated that they are now fully booked for 20 launches next year for electron
https://wsw.com/webcast/jeff286/rklb/1852585?mobile=True
Although at least one launch previously scheduled to launch in 2023 has been delayed to 2024, so in theory that could be at the expense of this year's 15 targeted launches.
i doubt it, this isn't really news, kineis have been stating launch would be in 2024 for month now in articles, interviews and even on their own site (for example look at this article made by kineis back in june https://www.kineis.com/siae-2023-kineis-est-intervenu-sur-la-maitrise-du-risque-pour-les-entreprises-du-new-space/)

Quote
launch of the constellation of 25 nanosatellites, planned for 2024.


and as of 6 days ago, rocket lab is still standing strong targeting 15 launches this year. If the Kineis delay was an issue we should have heard about it months ago
« Last Edit: 09/12/2023 01:14 am by the_big_boot »

 

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