Will the Electron be the most reliable Small Launcher in History?

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Total Members Voted: 17

Voting closed: 03/05/2023 05:14 am

Author Topic: Will the Electron be the most reliable Small Launcher in History?  (Read 2143 times)

Offline Tywin

*Small Launch until 2 tons to LEO...
« Last Edit: 01/25/2023 05:19 am by Tywin »
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Offline arachnitect

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Did any vehicle retire at 100% success? I can't think of one but if any did Electron is already out. Minotaur IV is currently sitting at 100% over 7 launches, but it isn't retired yet.

Offline DeimosDream

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A quick search suggests both Atlas-SLV-3C Pegasus and Kosmos-3M had longer and more reliable launch histories just to name two.

I haven't checked the record for consecutive successes, but as reliability percentage it looks like Electron would need another 5+ years of flawless operation at their current launch rate. Not impossible, but a very tough challenge, so maybe.

Edit: While checking for consecutive success I discovered Atlas-Centaur's record was checkered with partial-failures, so I'm retracting that as a target for Electron to beat and instead noting that Pegasus has made 31 consecutive successful launches vs 13 for electron.
« Last Edit: 01/25/2023 03:38 pm by DeimosDream »

Offline Stan-1967

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I take issue with comparing Electron to other rockets in the 2 tons to LEO class,  the other rockets mentioned upthread are up to half an order of magnitude larger GLOW,  and most benefitted from ICBM heritage.  Pegasus is in the same class,  but still ICBM heritage.

Why compare it to 2 ton to LEO rockets when Electron can even get 2t to LEO?

Offline trimeta

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Comparing the modern small-launcher market to early rockets which were small-lift simply because the technology didn't exist for bigger rockets is kind of missing the point: of course those are going to be very different. For one thing, those early rockets launched more frequently because they were the only types of rockets available, so all launches needed to use them. Plus, their military heritage implies very different things with regards to quality control and failure tolerance.

Conversely, comparing Electron to the rest of the modern small-launcher market also feels inherently dumb: Electron has a 27-launch head start over its closest rival, Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne, and while Electron has one more failure, LauncherOne would need 22 total launches (16 more than they've currently done) before they could match Electron's current success rate. And Electron would presumably have many more successes between now and then. Even a company which only failed its first launch and no other would need 11 launches to match Electron's rate: how long will it take ABL or Firefly (if we count their second launch as a success) to get there, and how many more launches will Electron have in the meantime? So unless Terran 1 has a completely flawless record, or someone manages to significantly outpace Electron's cadence (which is already nearly monthly), it's just not possible.

Oh, and that's not even getting into whether "launched successfully three times, then retired" is more "reliable" than "50 launches, the last 30 of which were successful" (both numbers hypothetical, since I'm comparing to an imagined nine-Aeon-1 Terran 1 record). Which would you rather put a payload on?


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