Is the U.S. National Security Space “Launch Market” only big enough for two launch providers?

In October 2018, the US Air Force selected four companies (Blue Origin, Northrop, SpaceX, ULA) to compete for the newly established National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program that replaces the 1990s vintage EELV program. The Air Force has… Read the rest


Thinking about SpaceX’s Petition to Launch an Additional 30,000 Satellites

On October 15, various news outlets, including SpaceNews, reported that SpaceX submitted filings for up to an … Read the rest


The White Elephant in the hangar

 

Earlier this summer, multiple news outlets reported that Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch was for sale for $400 million. At the time, we wondered… Read the rest


An Ocean’s width between success and muddling

It is sometimes interesting to observe how two companies operating in the same business confront challenges from completely different philosophies. In this case, the two companies in question are SpaceX (a U.S. company)… Read the rest


Virgin Orbit – Approaching Pole Position?

 

Over the past five years, the launch sector has (improbably?) become one of the hottest startup sectors, with more than 100 companies announcing plans to enter the market. To date, however, only one of these new entrants … Read the rest


Paying a premium for obsolescence

 

On 30 September, the US Air Force awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) a $1.18 billion contract modification to support the launch of five Delta IV Heavy rockets stretching through the end of February 2024. When combined with an earlier $1.01 billion production contract, each launch will cost a hefty $438 million. The contract modification was necessary because, with the end of the EELV program, … Read the rest


SpaceX Starship Webcast

 

On September 28, 2019 (eleven years after the first successful launch of the Falcon 1), Elon Musk hosted a nearly two-hour webcast update on SpaceX’s Starship development plans.  While the broad outlines of the company’s plan were already well known (prior speeches, Musk tweets), the webcast provided some important new details and (fantastical?) claims that, … Read the rest