Author Topic: Countdown to new smallsat launchers  (Read 144897 times)

Offline Comga

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #520 on: 03/17/2019 06:40 pm »
Av Week has an article Little Launchers Lining Up (paywall).  Some highlights are:
Quote
Now, lured by the prospect of thousands of small satellites needing rides to orbit, companies over the last four years have worked on more than 100 little launchers, with about 40 currently in development or testing.

They have a table of 39 launchers in development worldwide, each with organization, name of rocket, country, and estimated launch date.  44 more are mentioned without dates.  There is also a big table of where the funding is coming from.  Much of this data comes from a watch list kept by Carlos Niederstrasser of Northrop Grumman, so at least some of the big companies are paying attention.

Foremost are are the ones that are working already:  Pegasus, Minotaur, Rocket Lab, plus they say 3 Chinese vehicles are operational.   Of the "upcoming soon" the ones they treat most seriously seem to be Virgin, Vector, Relativity, and Firefly.

Everyone sees a shakeout coming, and a huge first-mover advantage.   The CEO of Firefly says "I’m really glad Rocket Lab has a 150-kg launcher because if they were launching a 1-metric-ton now at the [flight] rate they’re talking about, it would be very difficult to justify these companies.".

The same Carlos Niederstrasser gave a paper at the 32nd Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites which has this list, albeit the one below is sorted by launch date.  Beyond the six demonstrated system, several are past their "Latest Launch Date" only a few, like Launcher One, showing likelihood of making their dates.
   Organization      Vehicle Name      Country      Latest Launch Date         
   Launched                           
   Northrop Grumman      Pegasus XL      USA      5-Apr-1990   
   Northrop Grumman      Minotaur I      USA      27-Jan-2000   
   CAST      Chang Zheng 11      China      25-Sep-2015   
   ExPace      Kuaizhou-1A      China      9-Jan-2017   
   CAST      Kaituozhe-2      China      3-Mar-2017   
   Rocket Lab      Electron      USA/New Zealand      21-Jan-2018   
   Not yet launched
   Celestia Aerospace      Sagitarius Space Arrow CM      Spain      2016   
   SpaceLS      Prometheus-1      United Kingdom      Q4 2017   
   zero2infinity      Bloostar      Spain      2017   
   Virgin Orbit      LauncherOne      USA      H1 2018   
   LandSpace      LandSpace-1      China      H2 2018   
   Vector Space Systems      Vector-R      USA      H2  2018   
   LEO Launcher      Chariot      USA      Q4  2018   
   bspace      Volant      USA      2018   
   OneSpace Technology      OS-M1      China      2018   
   RocketStar      Star-Lord      USA      2018   
   ISRO      PSLV Light      India      Q1 2019   
   Rocketcrafters      Intrepid-1      USA      Q1 2019   
   Firefly Aerospace      Firefly       USA      Q3 2019   
   Bagaveev Corporation      Bagaveev      USA      2019   
   DCTS      VLM-1      Brazil      2019   
   Space Ops      Rocky 1      Australia      2019   
   Stofiel Aerospace      Boreas-Hermes      USA      2019   
   ABL Space Systems      RS1      USA      Q3 2020   
   Gilmour Space Technologies      Eris      Australia/Singapore      Q4 2020   
   CONAE      Tronador II      Argentina      2020   
   CubeCab      Cab-3A      USA      2020   
   ESA      Space Rider      Europe      2020   
   Linkspace     NewLine-1      China      2020   
   Orbital Access      Orbital 500R      United Kingdom      2020   
   PLD Space      Arion 2      Spain      3Q 2021   
   Aphelion Orbitals      Helios      USA      2021   
   Launcher      Rocket-1      USA      2025   
   Cloud IX      Unknown      USA               
   Interorbital Systems      NEPTUNE N1      USA               
   Orbex      Orbex      United Kingdom               
   Skyrora      Skyrora XL      UK/Ukraine               
   SpinLaunch      Unknown      USA               
   Stratolaunch      Pegasus (Strato)      USA               
   VALT Enterprises      VALT      USA               


CAST = China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
DCTA = Departamento de Ciencia e Tecnologia Aeroespacial
Linksapce = Linksapce Aerospace Technology Group 
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Notaris

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #521 on: 03/25/2019 07:59 am »
Has anyone heard about Zenovision of Long Beach, California? I just stumbled over their web page.

Next to suborbital plans, they also have orbital launchers announced, though no technical details provided besides targeted payload mass to unspecified orbit.


Source: http://zenovision.com/?page_id=601

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« Last Edit: 03/25/2019 07:59 am by Notaris »

Online Kryten

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #522 on: 03/25/2019 09:53 am »
Their listed corporate address in long beach is a 'virtual office' space. I've also been unable to find a company of the name 'Zenovision' registered in the US, the state of California, or in Germany. There's a 'Zeno Vision' in the UK but that's an unrelated software company.

Offline PM3

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #523 on: 03/25/2019 10:39 am »
At least that "black engine" technology they are refering to is real.

CFC ceramic engine chambers developed by German Aerospace Center and the University of Stuttgart:

https://event.dlr.de/en/jec2019/black-engine/

"Transpiration Cooled Ceramic High Performance Rocket Engines"

-  Improvement of high performance rocket engines
-  Use of high temperature resistant and porous Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC)
-  High operation efficiency combined with transpiration cooling
-  High operational reliability and damage tolerance
-  Adaptation potential focussing several propulsion system cycles
-  Light weight at high strength combined with CFRP housing
-  Low fatigue caused by low thermal expansion structures
-  Innovation potential for porous injection
-  Optimization of the supersonic nozzle interface
-  CMC/CFRP subsonic combustion chamber
-  CMC injector: new design technology
-  CMC supersonic nozzle extension.

A paper on the basics, published for the 65th International Atronautical Congress 2014:

Status and Future Perspectives of the CMC Rocket Thrust Chamber Development at DLR

Quote
After more than 15 years intensive investigations on transpiration cooled CMC high performance rocket thrust chamber technology it can be stated, that transpiration cooled inner CMC liners can be operated damage free and under high pressure conditions in cryogenic stage propulsion. ...

Black Engine Aerospace UG, Heilbronn
company registerd in March 2018
https://www.bea-space.com/

Quote
A New Space company
Innovative Launcher technologies
Partners: IAF, ESA, Zenovision, OHB, DLR, University of Stuttgart, University of Kaiserslautern, University of Heilbronn

« Last Edit: 03/25/2019 07:10 pm by PM3 »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #524 on: 04/01/2019 07:26 am »
Hypersonix from Australia. Spartan launch vehicle with Boomerang reusable first stage. 150 kg to SSO using expendable third stage. This scheme has been presented before by Heliaq as the Austral Launch Vehicle. Looks pretty complicated.

http://hypersonix.space/

http://heliaq.com/
« Last Edit: 04/01/2019 07:33 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Notaris

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #525 on: 04/01/2019 08:00 am »
Hypersonix from Australia. Spartan launch vehicle with Boomerang reusable first stage. 150 kg to SSO using expendable third stage. This scheme has been presented before by Heliaq as the Austral Launch Vehicle. Looks pretty complicated.

http://hypersonix.space/

http://heliaq.com/

There is a scientific paper of (a previous version (? -in the paper there is a single rocket based first stage instead of the dual body configuration of the webpage) of) the concept published in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rocket: https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/1.A33610

For Spartan:
150 kg to SSO in a 3-stage configuration (with the 3rd stage being "big" compared to the small kick stage of electron) with two reusable stages with different technologies each (rocket based and scramjet based): definitely a challenge!
« Last Edit: 04/01/2019 10:15 am by Notaris »

Online niwax

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #526 on: 04/12/2019 09:11 am »
I got to hear a short talk by one of the founders of Isar Aerospace yesterday. I didn't get to take notes and it was somewhat superficial, but I'll try to remember as much as I can:
- They have secured/are looking for the order of €100m in funding
- They started out developing engines for sale but now want to build an entire 500kg-1t launch vehicle
- Currently around 20 engineers, end of year ~50 mostly engineers, 150 needed for the first launch
- They specifically want to not do any development in the US to circumvent ITAR and be able to sell engines and technology on the world market
- One of their primary investors is a former SpaceX VP and early employee who is now helping out in sales. Between the lines he indicated they are in talks with actual customers
- They're looking at an orbital launch in 2021 from an undisclosed government-provided launch pad
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Offline novak

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #527 on: 04/12/2019 04:46 pm »
I got to hear a short talk by one of the founders of Isar Aerospace yesterday. I didn't get to take notes and it was somewhat superficial, but I'll try to remember as much as I can:
- They have secured/are looking for the order of €100m in funding
- They started out developing engines for sale but now want to build an entire 500kg-1t launch vehicle
- Currently around 20 engineers, end of year ~50 mostly engineers, 150 needed for the first launch
- They specifically want to not do any development in the US to circumvent ITAR and be able to sell engines and technology on the world market
- One of their primary investors is a former SpaceX VP and early employee who is now helping out in sales. Between the lines he indicated they are in talks with actual customers
- They're looking at an orbital launch in 2021 from an undisclosed government-provided launch pad

Interesting.  We've had a couple of relative latecomers now announcing ~1ton to LEO launch vehicles, counting ABL and now Isar.  I'm calling them "latecomers" to mean that they appear to not have made or tested much hardware, putting them well behind both Firefly and Relativity- but both of them intend to launch by 2021, so perhaps they've done more development than I know about, though my cynical side says those dates are not at all realistic.  Looks like Isar's launch vehicle architecture is conceptual because although they do list the thrust of a single Ariel engine, they do not show the aft end of the vehicle and list its thrust as "plenty."

Maybe these guys have an interesting angle with ITAR though.
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Offline ringsider

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #528 on: 04/12/2019 07:54 pm »
I got to hear a short talk by one of the founders of Isar Aerospace yesterday. I didn't get to take notes and it was somewhat superficial, but I'll try to remember as much as I can:
- They have secured/are looking for the order of €100m in funding
- They started out developing engines for sale but now want to build an entire 500kg-1t launch vehicle
- Currently around 20 engineers, end of year ~50 mostly engineers, 150 needed for the first launch
- They specifically want to not do any development in the US to circumvent ITAR and be able to sell engines and technology on the world market
- One of their primary investors is a former SpaceX VP and early employee who is now helping out in sales. Between the lines he indicated they are in talks with actual customers
- They're looking at an orbital launch in 2021 from an undisclosed government-provided launch pad

Interesting.  We've had a couple of relative latecomers now announcing ~1ton to LEO launch vehicles, counting ABL and now Isar.  I'm calling them "latecomers" to mean that they appear to not have made or tested much hardware, putting them well behind both Firefly and Relativity- but both of them intend to launch by 2021, so perhaps they've done more development than I know about, though my cynical side says those dates are not at all realistic.  Looks like Isar's launch vehicle architecture is conceptual because although they do list the thrust of a single Ariel engine, they do not show the aft end of the vehicle and list its thrust as "plenty."

Maybe these guys have an interesting angle with ITAR though.

LOL "circumventing ITAR". Nothing gets the USG in a tizzy much more than someone pointing out how they are circumventing the USA's global reach.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #529 on: 04/12/2019 08:02 pm »
I saw a comment a couple of days ago about the "great consolidation" now Rocket Lab is starting to fly regularly, and I do think that is an interesting topic. We certainly start to see some companies failing for various reasons e.g. Aphelion, ARCA, XCOR.

I few months back I posted this list of potential winners/losers in the USA only:-

Cream:
Virgin Orbit (because they have stamina, massive money, commitment and will get there one way or another)
Rocket Lab (because they have serious money and made very solid progress)
Stratolauncher (because Paul Allen's dollars)

Long shots:
Firefly Aerospace
Relativity

Very long shots:
Aphelion
ABL
Interorbital
Go Launcher
Vacuous Space Systems AKA Vector
EXOS
New Ascent
Odyne
Rocketcrafters
Scorpius
Stofiel Aerospace
Ventions
UP Orbital
Whittinghill
Launcherspace
Cloudix

DOA:
ARCA
CubeCab
Mishaal
Bagaveev
RocketStar
Spinlaunch
VALT
XCOR
bspace

I guess we could add some international names to that list as well like OneSpace, Landspace, PLD, Gilmour, Interorbital Japan and Orbex Space but I leave that area alone for now.

What has changed? Who is going down in flames, who has risen like a pheonix?

This topic again comes up in an interview with Peter Beck:-

As he watches his competitors, Beck says he can get a good idea of how far the companies are coming along. "If they're making a big song-and-dance about engine tests, you know they’re miles away," he said. Even full stage tests, he says, is an indication that they're a long way away.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/04/rocket-lab-widens-its-lead-in-small-launch-will-many-others-survive/


He's right. I think in all these markets if you are just starting to test engines or haven't even got to that point you are basically dead unless your uncle is a billionaire.

Everybody talks about consolidation, but actually the only companies that will really consolidate (i.e. die) are those that started too late to have any chance - most of the others who started 3-5 years ago are way behinf Rocket Lab but are far ahead of new groups. They have money, customers, technology, staff - such that when the new guys show up there is no investor money left available, all the customers are locked in, the key staff have jobs, lots of innovative tech has IP protection.

But I don't see all the 100+ projects dying - many are just dreamers who will keep going, pretending they have a chance for decades with a website and a story but no money or real technology. There a few like that in every list.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #530 on: 04/12/2019 11:05 pm »
Its taken RL two years from first launch till reaching commercial operation where they can launch monthly. While they didn't have LV failure as such, still had technical problems that set them back ie engine controller issues.

I expect their competitors to still take at least a year to get up to speed assuming trouble free test launches.


Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #531 on: 04/13/2019 03:53 am »
I saw a comment a couple of days ago about the "great consolidation" now Rocket Lab is starting to fly regularly, and I do think that is an interesting topic. We certainly start to see some companies failing for various reasons e.g. Aphelion, ARCA, XCOR.

I few months back I posted this list of potential winners/losers in the USA only:-

Cream:
Virgin Orbit (because they have stamina, massive money, commitment and will get there one way or another)
Rocket Lab (because they have serious money and made very solid progress)
Stratolauncher (because Paul Allen's dollars)

Long shots:
Firefly Aerospace
Relativity

Very long shots:
Aphelion
ABL
Interorbital
Go Launcher
Vacuous Space Systems AKA Vector
EXOS
New Ascent
Odyne
Rocketcrafters
Scorpius
Stofiel Aerospace
Ventions
UP Orbital
Whittinghill
Launcherspace
Cloudix

DOA:
ARCA
CubeCab
Mishaal
Bagaveev
RocketStar
Spinlaunch
VALT
XCOR
bspace

I guess we could add some international names to that list as well like OneSpace, Landspace, PLD, Gilmour, Interorbital Japan and Orbex Space but I leave that area alone for now.

What has changed? Who is going down in flames, who has risen like a pheonix?

This topic again comes up in an interview with Peter Beck:-

As he watches his competitors, Beck says he can get a good idea of how far the companies are coming along. "If they're making a big song-and-dance about engine tests, you know they’re miles away," he said. Even full stage tests, he says, is an indication that they're a long way away.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/04/rocket-lab-widens-its-lead-in-small-launch-will-many-others-survive/


He's right. I think in all these markets if you are just starting to test engines or haven't even got to that point you are basically dead unless your uncle is a billionaire.

Everybody talks about consolidation, but actually the only companies that will really consolidate (i.e. die) are those that started too late to have any chance - most of the others who started 3-5 years ago are way behinf Rocket Lab but are far ahead of new groups. They have money, customers, technology, staff - such that when the new guys show up there is no investor money left available, all the customers are locked in, the key staff have jobs, lots of innovative tech has IP protection.

But I don't see all the 100+ projects dying - many are just dreamers who will keep going, pretending they have a chance for decades with a website and a story but no money or real technology. There a few like that in every list.

I used to say "If the company is talking about how they are going after suborbital flights or the "sounding rocket market" then they are years away from getting to orbit..."

Edit: spelling
« Last Edit: 04/14/2019 03:34 pm by HMXHMX »

Offline novak

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #532 on: 04/13/2019 04:48 am »

This topic again comes up in an interview with Peter Beck:-

As he watches his competitors, Beck says he can get a good idea of how far the companies are coming along. "If they're making a big song-and-dance about engine tests, you know they’re miles away," he said. Even full stage tests, he says, is an indication that they're a long way away.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/04/rocket-lab-widens-its-lead-in-small-launch-will-many-others-survive/


He's right. I think in all these markets if you are just starting to test engines or haven't even got to that point you are basically dead unless your uncle is a billionaire.

Everybody talks about consolidation, but actually the only companies that will really consolidate (i.e. die) are those that started too late to have any chance - most of the others who started 3-5 years ago are way behinf Rocket Lab but are far ahead of new groups. They have money, customers, technology, staff - such that when the new guys show up there is no investor money left available, all the customers are locked in, the key staff have jobs, lots of innovative tech has IP protection.

But I don't see all the 100+ projects dying - many are just dreamers who will keep going, pretending they have a chance for decades with a website and a story but no money or real technology. There a few like that in every list.

I used to say "If there company is talking about how they are going after suborbital flights or the "sounding rocket market" then they are years away from getting to orbit..."

I think the point that PB is making is that we have a plethora of rocket companies acting like they are in a race to reach orbit, but really, they are in a race to own a market.  Arguably, the distance from a company that has one orbital launch to launch provider is greater than the distance from startup to company with one orbital launch- especially in terms of man hours and in terms of dollars.

Rockets are impressive, and more than one company has turned them into a show for VC dollars.  But the race is longer and harder than any of them tells the VCs.

The companies that are in real danger of "the great consolidation" are the ones with a high burn rate that need to raise more money.  There's kind of a point where it's hard to return from, where you commit to a market that may or may not ever exist, with a vehicle that may or may not ever work.  At that point, you have a very limited time to make it work in not just a technical sense but an economic one.

The poorer companies with a lower burn rate can look for a different angle, maybe try to sell only a piece of a launch vehicle (engines are in- but someone could make actual money off avionics). The actually successful ones can rely on actual cash flow to attempt a pivot.  Godspeed to all the companies that find themselves in the middle.
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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #533 on: 04/13/2019 07:03 am »
Previous video on ARCA constructing their test stand, propellant tank and engine.

Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #534 on: 04/13/2019 07:05 am »
Latest ARCA video showing integration of the engine test avionics.

« Last Edit: 04/13/2019 07:05 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #535 on: 04/13/2019 10:36 am »
LOL "circumventing ITAR". Nothing gets the USG in a tizzy much more than someone pointing out how they are circumventing the USA's global reach.
Let's be completely clear.

No one in the West wants to "circumvent ITAR"

What they mean is circumvent the American interpretation of ITAR rules which is very expensive and very US-centric.  :(

XCOR's Congressional Liaison called the closest thing they've ever seen to a protection racket, with it's prior restraint of free speech.  :(
« Last Edit: 04/14/2019 10:33 am by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #536 on: 04/13/2019 02:07 pm »
LOL "circumventing ITAR". Nothing gets the USG in a tizzy much more than someone pointing out how they are circumventing the USA's global reach.
Let's be completely clear.

No one in the West wants to "circumvent ITAR"

What they mean is circumvent the American interpretation of ITAR rules which is very expensive and very US-centric.  :(

XCOR's Congressional Liaison called the closest thing they've ever seen to a protection racket, with it's prior restraint of free speech.  :(
What other interpretation is there except the American one? We write the rules, we get to interpret them (for the greater good,  obviously).
« Last Edit: 04/13/2019 02:08 pm by ringsider »

Offline Katana

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #537 on: 04/13/2019 09:01 pm »
I think the point that PB is making is that we have a plethora of rocket companies acting like they are in a race to reach orbit, but really, they are in a race to own a market.  Arguably, the distance from a company that has one orbital launch to launch provider is greater than the distance from startup to company with one orbital launch- especially in terms of man hours and in terms of dollars.
No company stays in the gap between "reaching orbit" and "becoming launch provider".

Also no liquid rocket company stays between 100km Karman line and orbit (Armadillo achieved 82km before quitting).  Some solids exist in this range.  Up aerospace lived as a sounding rocket company for 12 years and launched 12 customer flights up to now.

Maybe it's impossible to reach orbit without being prepared as a launch provider, technically, financially, and in terms of team and management.

From 1950s to 1970s, many national programs seek to "reach orbit" as the only goal, e.g. Vanguard. They are also large and expensive programs.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2019 07:15 am by Katana »

Offline novak

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #538 on: 04/15/2019 05:57 am »
No company stays in the gap between "reaching orbit" and "becoming launch provider".

Ok, sure, at least not historically.  Not on purpose.  But when you have a hoard of companies with minimal funding racing to get to orbit with whatever the hell vehicle they can throw together, you might have some of them unable to progress even after success reaching orbit. 

Even if not, as others have pointed out, there's a serious time lag between getting a single vehicle up and actually being able to sell a reliable product.  If you're rocketlab, looking back over your shoulder at 100 different companies that claim to have the same goal as you, it's good to know that you're that far ahead.  Whether or not that's the easy part is kind of immaterial to whether it's expensive or time consuming.


Maybe it's impossible to reach orbit without being prepared as a launch provider, technically, financially, and in terms of team and management.

I think this is just a weird concept.  There are technical barriers that could potentially exist between these two states- say you've got a stage sep sytem that works 50% of the time- sure you get to space but how often?  And financially it makes perhaps even less sense, as it's easy to imagine a vehicle that just isn't that competitive economically getting pushed out of the market without selling much at all.

Despite not seeing why that would be the case, I'll still hope that you're right- would be a shame to see someone fly and then go home without doing what they came to do.
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Offline Katana

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Re: Countdown to new smallsat launchers
« Reply #539 on: 04/16/2019 06:35 pm »
No company stays in the gap between "reaching orbit" and "becoming launch provider".

Ok, sure, at least not historically.  Not on purpose.  But when you have a hoard of companies with minimal funding racing to get to orbit with whatever the hell vehicle they can throw together, you might have some of them unable to progress even after success reaching orbit. 

Even if not, as others have pointed out, there's a serious time lag between getting a single vehicle up and actually being able to sell a reliable product.  If you're rocketlab, looking back over your shoulder at 100 different companies that claim to have the same goal as you, it's good to know that you're that far ahead.  Whether or not that's the easy part is kind of immaterial to whether it's expensive or time consuming.


Maybe it's impossible to reach orbit without being prepared as a launch provider, technically, financially, and in terms of team and management.

I think this is just a weird concept.  There are technical barriers that could potentially exist between these two states- say you've got a stage sep sytem that works 50% of the time- sure you get to space but how often?  And financially it makes perhaps even less sense, as it's easy to imagine a vehicle that just isn't that competitive economically getting pushed out of the market without selling much at all.

Despite not seeing why that would be the case, I'll still hope that you're right- would be a shame to see someone fly and then go home without doing what they came to do.

If your rocket is designed to be a product, following the standard rules of aerospace program, e.g. TRL, then the reliability risk after reaching orbit is minimal, only 1 or 2 final levels of TRL. VC could  cover this risk up to now (before really harsh market competition comes).

If you skip the rules and race to orbit with something not so professional, you get trapped halfway in endless failure modes. The best maybe something similar to Japanese L-4S or French Diamant: cheap per launch, too coarse to be a product, discarded after reach orbit, but LOTS of failures and expensive total cost.

Being pro is cheaper than being amateur to reach orbit.

Moreover, VC would select pro companies designed for product, instead of amateurs racing for orbit. If you tend to fly and go home, no chance. VC could even invest for team instead for things.

VC selection is especially true in China which have a brutal competition culture: >3 powerful companies with sub billion investment and ex pro teams headhunted from national system (headhunting caused national media conflict). Only 1 amateur company alive up to now: Linkspace (the first one, Armadillo analog, nicknamed as cheats).

In rest of the world,  the number of amateur companies (e.g. Garvey / Vector) is larger than the number of financially powerful companies with ex pro teams.

Questions: When and how did Rocketlab team shifted from amateur to pro?
« Last Edit: 04/16/2019 07:28 pm by Katana »

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