Space Launch Services Market size is anticipated to witness significant growth over the forecast years. Rising interest and efforts towards satellite and probe launches is a major contributing factor to the growth. The development and deployment of satellites for myriad functions such as national defense, weather monitoring, daily communications, surveillance, and more has surged significantly over the years, which has in turn increased the need for efficient space launch services in recent times.
Space launch services are required for the deployment of spacecrafts and are generally executed by LSPs (launch service providers). These LSPs are responsible for nearly the entire launch process, from carrier rocket construction to payload integration to assembly & stacking as well as the actual launch.
Rapid technological progress in space technologies as well as development of novel interplanetary and planetary satellite carriers is a major trend driving space launch services market expansion. Major organizations are carrying out focused efforts towards advancement of small satellite technologies in recent years.
For instance, NASA has initiated a collaborative effort with teams from nine universities to develop small satellite technologies, designed to enhance propulsion, navigation as well as heat transfer management in small vehicles. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is making similar headway in small satellite technology development, with its SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) project, which is designed to deploy commercial satellites into low earth orbit at less than 2,000 km above the surface of the earth.
Space technology entities are also working on creating advanced payload technologies. For example, Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the US Space Force for the development of a cyber-secure communications payload to be deployed on commercial or military satellites. Thus, the emergence of these novel technologies in the space industry is anticipated to augment the space launch services market outlook.
With regards to payload, the satellite segment is set to gain significant traction in recent years. This is mainly due to the proliferating need for earth monitoring in recent years, in order to gain precise and integral information pertaining to mapping, mineral exploration, land use planning and resource management, among others.
The Low earth orbit segment is the most common in the space launch services industry, with a majority of space-related missions being targeted towards LEO. Furthermore, small satellite deployment and rising number of spaceflights for cargo delivery to ISS are key contributing factors to segmental market growth.
The space launch services market share is bolstered by the presence of major players such as Eurockot Launch Services (ArianeGroup, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center), Antrix Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Arianespace (ArianeGroup), ULA (Boeing, Lockheed Martin), China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, SpaceX, ILS (Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center), Orbital ATK (Northrop Grumman), ISC Kosmotras, and Starsem, among others.
Acquisitions, partnerships and expansions are among the key business strategies being employed by space launch services market players to gain a strong position in the global market. For example, Mitsui & Co., Ltd and Yamasa Co., Ltd are set to acquire Spaceflight Inc., in an effort to enhance the company’s investment and expansion efforts for rideshare launch services in the commercial & government sectors, as well as to advance Mitsui’s space services portfolio.
Meanwhile, Interstellar Technologies Inc., D-Orbit SpA and Marubeni Corporation have joined hands to sign a Letter of Intent, in an effort to create an agile satellite release system which will be mounted on ZERO, a small satellite launch vehicle.
The economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic has asserted a significant influence on the space industry. Numerous space-related events across the globe have been postponed or even cancelled in some cases due to the nationwide lockdowns and containment directives put into effect by governments worldwide.
For instance, prominent entities like Rocket Lab and Guiana Space Center have suspended flights and launches. Some satellite manufacturing activities, like the production of Soyuz-2, have also been halted. Additionally, various space related events and conferences have either been cancelled or postpones due to the COVID-19 outbreak. An example of this is the postponing of the Space Foundation’s 36th Space Symposium.
However, organizations are rapidly undertaking initiatives in order to recover from the impact of the pandemic, by actively planning and executing satellite launches, despite the turbulent global atmosphere. For example, in May 2020, NASA and SpaceX forged ahead with their launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, in the first mission to launch astronauts into space from US soil for over a decade. This initiative, alongside the resumption of various other launch and space technology development activities in recent times will likely spell advancement for the space launch services market in the post-pandemic era.