Author Topic: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?  (Read 9133 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« on: 05/28/2021 03:08 pm »


Quote
Published on 28 May 2021
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Today I wanted to do a comparison of some key players in the small sat launch industry. With a handful of new launchers getting hardware out on the launch pad, launching and even some getting to orbit, I think nowís a good time to give you a rundown on some of these exciting new rockets and compare them to the Falcon 1 to see if the industry has caught up to what SpaceX was doing 12 years ago!

TIMESTAMPS:
00:00 - Intro
03:45 - What is a Small Sat Launcher?
06:45 - Rockets too cool to not mention
10:15 - Rocket Lab's Electron
13:20 - Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne
16:30 - Astra's Rocket
19:10 - Firefly's Alpha
21:00 - ABL's RS1
22:30 - Relativity's Terran-1
24:30 - Comparison
28:30 - Conclusion

Check out our article version of this video for sources and easy searching! https://everydayastronaut.com/small-sat-launcher-comparison/

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #1 on: 06/11/2023 02:32 pm »
Given that the Electron has had over 30 launches in contrast to Rocket 3 being launched seven times and LauncherOne having six launches, along with the Terran 1 and RS1 having made one flight each as well as the Firefly Alpha being launched twice, the Electron definitely holds the title as king of the new-generation smallsat launchers. It should be noted, however, that the Pegasus has been launched over 40 times, making it the true king of all smallsat launchers developed throughout history.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #2 on: 06/11/2023 04:08 pm »
Given that the Electron has had over 30 launches in contrast to Rocket 3 being launched seven times and LauncherOne having six launches, along with the Terran 1 and RS1 having made one flight each as well as the Firefly Alpha being launched twice, the Electron definitely holds the title as king of the new-generation smallsat launchers. It should be noted, however, that the Pegasus has been launched over 40 times, making it the true king of all smallsat launchers developed throughout history.
Önot for long tho. In a year, Electron will have eclipsed Pegasus.
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Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #3 on: 06/11/2023 04:50 pm »
Northrop has 1 more Pegasus to launch

Offline the_big_boot

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #4 on: 06/11/2023 07:00 pm »
it's kinda sad, out of the 6 main rockets named in this video only 3 are still active (electron,rs1, and alpha) with only one of them launching regularly

Offline Celeste_El

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #5 on: 06/11/2023 07:16 pm »
it's kinda sad, out of the 6 main rockets named in this video only 3 are still active (electron,rs1, and alpha) with only one of them launching regularly
I agree, but Rocket 3 being retired was more than expected. So much so, Astra actually gave Tim payload figures for what was then expected to be the next iteration of the rocket which is misleading given he still used a render for R3 on the comparison chart. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know R3 cant do 335 kg to SSO lol.

Astra not launching any rockets at the moment and the longevity of the company is a different story though.

Offline greybeardengineer

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #6 on: 06/11/2023 10:05 pm »
Is the topic "small sat-launcher" or "small-sat launcher"?

If it is the latter then clearly F9 is king.

Offline the_big_boot

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #7 on: 06/12/2023 02:01 am »
it's kinda sad, out of the 6 main rockets named in this video only 3 are still active (electron,rs1, and alpha) with only one of them launching regularly
I agree, but Rocket 3 being retired was more than expected. So much so, Astra actually gave Tim payload figures for what was then expected to be the next iteration of the rocket which is misleading given he still used a render for R3 on the comparison chart. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know R3 cant do 335 kg to SSO lol.

Astra not launching any rockets at the moment and the longevity of the company is a different story though.

i will agree while yes Rocket 3 being eventually replaced by Rocket 4 was expected, Rocket 3 being dropped as soon as it was with Rocket 4 nowhere in sight was not however

Quote
Astra actually gave Tim payload figures for what was then expected to be the next iteration of the rocket which is misleading given he still used a render for R3

it was more so misleading because Tim also used the price of Rocket 3 ($2.5M) which made the rocket look much more impressive than it actually was.

also if this payload figure was for the next iteration (rocket 4) that would mean that rocket 4 started at 335kg to SSO  and then shrunk down to 300kg to LEO to only grow to a whopping 600kg to orbit

Online trimeta

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #8 on: 06/12/2023 02:04 am »
also if this payload figure was for the next iteration (rocket 4) that would mean that rocket 4 started at 335kg to SSO  and then shrunk down to 300kg to LEO to only grow to a whopping 600kg to orbit
I seem to recall some discussion about Astra shelving what had been their "Rocket 4" plans to move directly to "Rocket 5," but renaming it Rocket 4. So I wouldn't be sure that the "next-generation" rocket Astra was thinking about when giving Tim Dodd numbers is the same as the Rocket 4 they now talk about.

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #9 on: 06/12/2023 02:21 am »
Is the topic "small sat-launcher" or "small-sat launcher"?

If it is the latter then clearly F9 is king.
As the video makes clear, this topic deals with small-lift launch vehicles and is therefore "small sat-launcher". NASA defines a small-lift launch vehicle as capable of lifting a payload mass of 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) or less to orbit but small-lift launch vehicles are characterized by Roscosmos as capable of carrying a 11,000 lb (5,000 kg) payload mass to orbit. Although the Falcon 9 has the capability to orbit small satellites, it is not a small-lift launch vehicle because it carries more than 20,000 pounds of payload into orbit.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #10 on: 06/12/2023 11:53 am »
Eventually there will be no king of smallsat launchers as Starship rideshares will become so ridiculously cheap as to make all small LV's totally uneconomic. Electron is the current king of smallsat launchers but even this will likely be replaced by Neutron as Rocketlab tries to compete with SpaceX rideshare. Even the current F9 rideshares are making life very hard for smallsat LV companies let alone once Starship starts launching rideshare missions. The future of the LV market is large not small.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2023 11:54 am by DJPledger »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #11 on: 06/12/2023 12:40 pm »
I think Stoke might have a significantly lower marginal launch cost than Starship. But even Stokeís vehicle will be technically medium lift launch by NASAís definition. I think itís likely that these <1ton vehicles will almost entirely disappear except for military applications, things like hypersonic research etc.
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 M.E.T.

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #12 on: 06/12/2023 12:43 pm »
I think Stoke might have a significantly lower marginal launch cost than Starship. But even Stokeís vehicle will be technically medium lift launch by NASAís definition. I think itís likely that these <1ton vehicles will almost entirely disappear except for military applications, things like hypersonic research etc.

Prediction: The Stoke hype will fizzle out like most of the others.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #13 on: 06/12/2023 12:52 pm »
I think Stoke might have a significantly lower marginal launch cost than Starship. But even Stokeís vehicle will be technically medium lift launch by NASAís definition. I think itís likely that these <1ton vehicles will almost entirely disappear except for military applications, things like hypersonic research etc.

Prediction: The Stoke hype will fizzle out like most of the others.
I donít think itís hype. The only way to make small/medium launch have an even slightly competitive offering is full, rapid reuse. No one else is doing that yet, only SpaceX right now.

Stoke might fail. Maybe even greater than 50% chance of failing. But itís a far better bet than yet another expendable launcher.

Also, I would NOT be surprised if it grows substantially in the future. If the technology works as intended, youíd get the most value out of it in a larger, say, medium/heavy lift size.
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 M.E.T.

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #14 on: 06/12/2023 12:57 pm »
I think Stoke might have a significantly lower marginal launch cost than Starship. But even Stokeís vehicle will be technically medium lift launch by NASAís definition. I think itís likely that these <1ton vehicles will almost entirely disappear except for military applications, things like hypersonic research etc.

Prediction: The Stoke hype will fizzle out like most of the others.
I donít think itís hype. The only way to make small/medium launch have an even slightly competitive offering is full, rapid reuse. No one else is doing that yet, only SpaceX right now.

Stoke might fail. Maybe even greater than 50% chance of failing. But itís a far better bet than yet another expendable launcher.

Also, I would NOT be surprised if it grows substantially in the future. If the technology works as intended, youíd get the most value out of it in a larger, say, medium/heavy lift size.

Well, as Elon said somewhere, ideas are a dime a dozen. He has more ideas than he can implement in a lifetime. It's producing something efficiently and at scale to turn that idea into a financially viable reality that is the important leap.

My prediction isn't worth more than anyone else's. But it remains my honestly held view at this point in time.

Offline greybeardengineer

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #15 on: 06/12/2023 02:01 pm »
Is the topic "small sat-launcher" or "small-sat launcher"?

If it is the latter then clearly F9 is king.
As the video makes clear, this topic deals with small-lift launch vehicles and is therefore "small sat-launcher". NASA defines a small-lift launch vehicle as capable of lifting a payload mass of 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) or less to orbit but small-lift launch vehicles are characterized by Roscosmos as capable of carrying a 11,000 lb (5,000 kg) payload mass to orbit. Although the Falcon 9 has the capability to orbit small satellites, it is not a small-lift launch vehicle because it carries more than 20,000 pounds of payload into orbit.

That's cool but the thing about artificial market segmentation is that overall market forces don't respect them. Remember the RISC based engineering workstation segment? Pretty much no one under 40 does now.

It is quite telling that the launch provider that is far out in front in using a small rocket to launch satellites is rapidly developing a much larger rocket to survive at all in the launch business.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #16 on: 06/12/2023 02:08 pm »
What percentage of small satellites launched in 2023 are being launched on F9?

Offline joek

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #17 on: 06/12/2023 03:25 pm »
That's cool but the thing about artificial market segmentation is that overall market forces don't respect them. Remember the RISC based engineering workstation segment? Pretty much no one under 40 does now.
...
Fixed that. Sans "engineering workstation" it is alive and well. :) Different conversation not for this thread.

Offline greybeardengineer

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #18 on: 06/12/2023 04:41 pm »
That's cool but the thing about artificial market segmentation is that overall market forces don't respect them. Remember the RISC based engineering workstation segment? Pretty much no one under 40 does now.
...
Fixed that. Sans "engineering workstation" it is alive and well. :) Different conversation not for this thread.

Likewise I am not saying anything about small rockets for sub-orbital military applications. :) Rockets and space launch will continue to thrive and grow. Little rockets to address exclusively a small and non-lucrative part of the market? Not so much. Viable business models based primarily on little rockets? Overwhelming evidence to date says nope.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Video: who will be king of smallsat launchers?
« Reply #19 on: 06/12/2023 04:45 pm »
I think Stoke might have a significantly lower marginal launch cost than Starship. But even Stokeís vehicle will be technically medium lift launch by NASAís definition. I think itís likely that these <1ton vehicles will almost entirely disappear except for military applications, things like hypersonic research etc.

Prediction: The Stoke hype will fizzle out like most of the others.
I donít think itís hype. The only way to make small/medium launch have an even slightly competitive offering is full, rapid reuse. No one else is doing that yet, only SpaceX right now.

Stoke might fail. Maybe even greater than 50% chance of failing. But itís a far better bet than yet another expendable launcher.

Also, I would NOT be surprised if it grows substantially in the future. If the technology works as intended, youíd get the most value out of it in a larger, say, medium/heavy lift size.

Well, as Elon said somewhere, ideas are a dime a dozen. He has more ideas than he can implement in a lifetime. It's producing something efficiently and at scale to turn that idea into a financially viable reality that is the important leap.

My prediction isn't worth more than anyone else's. But it remains my honestly held view at this point in time.
All good points, but thatís why I think Stoke is actually doing fairly well. Stokeís current pace is pretty aggressive. Theyíre executing as fast as anyone has.

Side note:
Thereís not a ton of hydrogen experience out there besides ďOldSpaceĒ (defense contractors and related) and Blue Origin (who seems to want to emulate ďOldSpaceĒ). From just a technology standpoint, Stoke is positioning themselves as the only agile/aggressive/low-cost/etc aerospace company out there with liquid hydrogen as a core competency. Thatís valuable by itself.
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

 

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