Session

Technical Session 4: Space Access

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Even with the challenges posed by the world-wide COVID pandemic, small vehicle "Launch Fever" has not abated. In 2015 we first presented this survey at the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, and we identified twenty small launch vehicles under development. By mid-2021 five new vehicles in this class were operational, 41 were identified under development, and a staggering 58 more were potential new entrants. Some are spurred by renewed government investment in space, such as what we see in the U.K. Others are new commercial entries from unexpected markets such as China. All are inspired by the success of SpaceX and the desire to capitalize on the perceived demand caused by the mega constellations. In this paper we present an overview of the small launch vehicles under development today. When available, we compare their capabilities, stated mission goals, cost and funding sources, and their publicized testing progress. We also review a number of entrants that have dropped out since we first started this report. Since the paper was last presented one more system has become operational, two attempted, but failed at their first launch, and a number of new companies have emerged. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, two or three more systems hope to achieve their first successful launch in 2021. There is evidence that this could be the year when the small launch market finally becomes saturated; however, expectations continue to be high and many new entrants hope that there is room for more providers. The author welcomes any comments, feedback, or corrections.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

Share

COinS
 
Aug 11th, 9:00 AM

Small Launchers in a Pandemic World - 2021 Edition of the Annual Industry Survey

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Even with the challenges posed by the world-wide COVID pandemic, small vehicle "Launch Fever" has not abated. In 2015 we first presented this survey at the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, and we identified twenty small launch vehicles under development. By mid-2021 five new vehicles in this class were operational, 41 were identified under development, and a staggering 58 more were potential new entrants. Some are spurred by renewed government investment in space, such as what we see in the U.K. Others are new commercial entries from unexpected markets such as China. All are inspired by the success of SpaceX and the desire to capitalize on the perceived demand caused by the mega constellations. In this paper we present an overview of the small launch vehicles under development today. When available, we compare their capabilities, stated mission goals, cost and funding sources, and their publicized testing progress. We also review a number of entrants that have dropped out since we first started this report. Since the paper was last presented one more system has become operational, two attempted, but failed at their first launch, and a number of new companies have emerged. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, two or three more systems hope to achieve their first successful launch in 2021. There is evidence that this could be the year when the small launch market finally becomes saturated; however, expectations continue to be high and many new entrants hope that there is room for more providers. The author welcomes any comments, feedback, or corrections.