SpaceX rideshares are eating into small launcher business

by | May 21, 2020 | commercial launch services, Launches, Satellites, SpaceX

The very competitive offer to launch 200 kg of ride-share payloads into orbit for just US$1 million plus any extra at the same US$5,000 per kg rate – about half that of a competitive dedicated small launch vehicle – is beginning to show benefits for SpaceX.  Ride-shares have always been tricky in the past to manage.  Fearful of having the “tail wagging the dog” – that is, having secondary payload holding up the launch of the main – and most important – payload, launch providers of mainline launch vehicles have traditionally shied away from offering such a service. However, with the increase in the small satellite market, and wanting to compete against small launch vehicles, large launch providers are getting back in on the act.

The “tail wagging the dog” scenario is somewhat mitigated when a launch vehicle such as SpaceX offers more like a regular bus service than an uncommon ride. Thus should a small satellite “miss the bus” than it can now probably catch another one in relatively short time and will not mind being bounced from the flight if required. A recent example of this type of launch order was the agreement of SpaceX to launch two sets of three Planet Skysat satellites on two Starlink carrying Falcon 9 flights.

Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites on 22 April 2020. Courtesy: SpaceX

Of course, such a scencario only works for certain orbits and for spacecraft with an amount of in orbit manoeuvrability. However, one way around this conundrum is to use specialist delivery spacecraft to make more dedicated drop offs to ensure satellites reach their correct orbital planes.  For example, following an agreement signed on 22 April, the Momentus Vigoride delivery spacecraft will be carrying 12 propulsion-free Swarm Spacebee location data relay communications spacecraft after being launched into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December with a Vigoride in-space shuttle from Momentus to drop them off in specific orbital planes.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

PocketQube sat maker FOSSA Systems makes Falcon 9/Vigoride launch booking via Momentus

Picosat manufacturer FOSSA Systems signed a service agreement deal during September 2020 with the launch arranger Momentus for the firm Read more

Momentus orders Terran 1 spacelaunch for its Vigoride Extended GEO spacecraft delivery tug

[caption id="attachment_93937" align="alignnone" width="892"] Artists impression of Terran 1 launch. Courtesy: Relativity Space[/caption] Momentus, the start-up planning to offer delivery Read more

Momentus Vigoride delivery spacecraft gets first order from launch arranger Exolaunch…then Spaceflight books Vector launch

Space News reports that German launch arranger Exolaunch (previously known as ECM) has ordered multiple missions of the Vigoride delivery Read more

NASA awards launch contract to SpaceX and orders a lunar lander from Firefly

A NASA announcement on 4 February 2021 outlines the award of the SPHEREx launch contract to SpaceX. SPHEREx (Spectro-Photometer for Read more

SpaceX completes another Starlink launch

At 0619 GMT on 4 February, SpaceX launched another 60 Starlink satellites into LEO. The mission saw a Falcon 9 Read more

Close but no cigar (again): like its predecessor Starship SN9 test flight goes well until explosive crash landing fires up FAA controversy further

Just as the Starship SN8 test launch ended in an explosive landing failure in December – after all the hard Read more

Businessman offers up US$100 million to part fund charity spaceflight on SpaceX Crew Dragon/Falcon 9 combo

The businessman/entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, 37, who is founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, has chartered a SpaceX Crew Dragon flight Read more

Record breaker! 143 satellites carried by SpaceX Falcon 9 was most ever launched on single rocket

Space and satellite tracking analysts (including those at Seradata) were reeling at their increased workload as a total of 143 Read more

Cookies & Privacy

Click here to read about use of cookies on the website

Categories

Archives