SpaceX conducted the first of up to 12 commercial resupply missions for NASA in October 2012, its Falcon 9 launching the Dragon cargo capsule to the ISS.NASA

Competition Reshaping Launcher Industry

By Graham Warwick, William N. Ostrove
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
December 31, 2012

For decades, space-launch providers have survived, and prospered, on government support in the form of development funding, launch contracts and infrastructure subsidies to maintain access to space.

That is changing as international competition increases, privately funded players enter the market and government budgets come under pressure. The result is an unprecedented set of challenges to traditional launch providers even as the industry continues to worry about future demand.

The replacement cycles of large commercial communications-satellite operators that have driven demand for launch services are nearing an end and, beginning around 2014, fewer launches are expected. In addition, budget constraints on governments are expected to limit their satellite procurements.

Europe’s government-supported Ariane 5 currently launches roughly half of the world’s commercial satellites, but faces increasing competition from the Russian Proton, which remains competitive despite a spate of launch mishaps. China, India and Japan are all developing potentially competing launchers, and SpaceX in the U.S. has more than $1 billion in commercial launch contracts for its privately developed, low-cost Falcon 9.

Read more: Competition Reshaping Launcher Industry — Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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