The demand for launch services has rapidly increased over time in the space industry. In 2021 alone, 11 launches have already taken place and many more launches have been scheduled across throughout the year.
Let’s take a look at the leading launch service providers in the space industry today and why their product is in high demand in the space market.
SpaceX Smallsat Rideshare Services
Elon Musk’s SpaceX made 26 launches in 2020 and in 2021, the Falcon 9 Transporter-1 carried a world record 143 satellites into orbit. The smallsat rideshare service is of high appeal and currently causing other small launch vehicle developers to up their game.
Jarrod McLachlan, the senior manager of rideshare sales announced that due to the increase in demand, more full rockets are in production and will be in operation soon enough. Though he did not reveal if future missions will beat the 143 satellites record, he hinted that there was an inclination towards “slightly larger microsats” and this would, of course, decrease the overall number of satellites that would be launched in a mission.
Future rideshare missions will now be bound for sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), a decision that is based on customer demand. The launch service provider also carries out the transport of payloads to mid-inclination orbits by transporting the satellites as secondary payloads.
The company’s transparent pricing is also a feature that sets it apart from other launch service providers. A prospective client simply needs to choose the desired orbit on the Smallsat Rideshare page, schedule a date, input the mass of the payload, et voilà! A price is generated.
The California-based launch company successfully launched its LauncherOne rocket into space on 17 January 2021, deploying 10 payloads using the air-launch technique. In this approach, the rocket takes off from beneath the wing of a jet aircraft rather than the conventional launchpad which makes the LauncherOne system the most flexible system in the world.
The next launch is estimated to be in a few months and, in the words of the company’s Vice President of Business Development Stephen Eisele, “We’re pleased to have them all on our next launch, and we look forward to continuing to provide a high cadence and flexibility going forward”.
The next launch is booked to carry the US Air Force’s payload along with 6U CubeSat for the Dutch Air Force and two 3U CubeSats for Poland’s SatRevolution. The contract was announced in January and the rocket for this mission is in its final stage of integration.
Rocket Lab is a private aerospace manufacturer and launch service provider owned by a New Zealand subsidiary that has so far carried out 97 launches. Its suborbital sounding rocket, Atea, currently operates a lightweight, semi-recoverable orbital launch vehicle called Electron which launches smallsats and CubeSats. The company has revealed the manifest for its next Electron mission which is scheduled for mid-March and will transport seven satellites including the company’s second Photon satellite.
No doubt, the price feature and its ability to launch smallsats on larger launch vehicles give Space X’s rideshare the upper hand and, as a result, its competitors have become focused on meeting demands that SpaceX currently doesn’t fulfill. For example, Virgin Orbit operates a schedule and orbit, a requirement by some customers that SpaceX does not offer.
Competition in the space industry is growing fierce with every rocket that heads for outer space and it is thrilling to see these companies strive to promote space exploration from just a possibility to a smooth journey.
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News Source: Space News
Headline: Strong Interest for SpaceX Smallsat Rideshare Launch Services