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Rockets are only the beginning




An Electron rocket launches from New Zealand on August 4, 2022.

rocket lab

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Preview: Rockets are just the beginning

Five US rocket builders have successfully achieved orbit over the past two decades. But the CEOs of these companies will tell you that tapping into the global launch market isn’t enough.

“Launch is the key to space…but once you have the keys to space, you have to drive the car”, rocket lab CEO Peter Beck told CNBC. “The great space companies of the future are not just a launch company or a spacecraft manufacturer. It’s a combined entity where you provide end-to-end service.”

Breaking into the launch market can seem quite difficult (and expensive) on its own. Yet the five companies move up and down the value chain in everything from building spacecraft and components, to satellite services, delivery vehicles, lunar landers and more.

Rocket Lab, for its part, has expanded beyond its Electron rockets to manufacture satellite buses, space-grade solar panels and other spacecraft components. Beck pointed out that Rocket Lab’s investments focus on “all the pain points in how you build infrastructure in orbit.”

Citing industry studies, Beck also said it was “pretty obvious” where the total addressable market is most attractive between launch, satellites and space services: while the first two reach around 15 billion $ and $30 billion, respectively, the space applications market is estimated at more than $300 billion.

SpaceX has its satellite and internet manufacturing company, Starlink. Elon Musk said the company’s launch activity would likely peak at around $3 billion a year, but its capital-intensive pursuit to build Starlink is seen as tapping into a market that would be 10 times that or more.

pristine orbit is also developing a satellite business, whose CEO Dan Hart told CNBC he hopes to “unlock” space services.

For astrawhich suspended its launch activity to develop a larger spacecraft, a parallel propulsion activity offers “one of those rare products whose production we can adapt to meet the needs of a large number of customers”, according to CEO Chris Kemp.

And Firefly, the newest entrant in the launch business, has started building lunar landers and space utility vehicles, also known as “tugs,” as a sort of last-mile delivery service for satellites. Firefly CEO Bill Weber said his strategy is centered on the idea that whichever company “controls the propulsion and the supply chain will win this battle at launch.”

What’s new

  • Boeing takes on $195m on delayed Starliner program: The hit was part of a $2.8 billion loss at Boeing’s space and defense unit for the third quarter, and means the company has racked up $883 million in Starliner-related charges over more than two years as she strives to complete capsule development and fly astronauts for NASA. . –CNBC/Boeing
  • OneWeb resumes its satellite campaign with a successful launch in India: After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine halted OneWeb launches with Soyuz rockets, the company returned from a hiatus and deployed 36 satellites through ISRO, one of its newest providers launch. – One Web
  • AST SpaceMobile reduces quarterly cash burn and prepares to deploy BlueWalker 3 test satellite. The satellite-to-smartphone company announced preliminary third-quarter results that saw its cash reserves shrink by just $3 million, from an average of $60 million in recent quarters, due to proceeds from the sale. of an investment and the operation of an action program. AST plans to begin the critical phase of deploying the antennas of its satellite next week. – AST SpaceMobile
  • The Aerojet Rocketdyne sale still on the table, as the defense and space maker is reportedly soliciting offers after its $4.4 billion sale to Lockheed Martin was effectively blocked on anti-trust grounds earlier this year. – Reuters
  • White House opens talks with Musk on using Starlink in Iran: Biden administration officials reportedly spoke to the SpaceX CEO about how the satellite service could support Iranian protesters. –CNN
  • Northrop Grumman’s space business reported third-quarter revenue of $3.2 billion, up 18% from the same quarter a year ago. But higher costs to complete contracts, as well as spending on early-stage development programs, squeezed the unit’s operating margin for the quarter. – Learn more
  • SpaceX is adding a $2,500 “high performance flat” antenna to the Starlink mobile offering. The company is now offering an antenna “for use on the move”, specifically on vehicles, with service priced the same as the standard offering at $135 per month and deliveries expected to begin in December. – Space X
  • Relativity unveils 4th generation metal 3D printer, to make its next reusable Terran R rocket. – Relativity

Industry Laborers

  • NASA orders a $2 billion contract from Lockheed Martin for more Orion capsules. The agency expanded its previous agreement with the contractor, requesting three more spacecraft for future Artemis lunar missions. -Lockheed Martin
  • Apex Space, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, raises $7.75 million to support large-scale satellite bus manufacturing. –CNBC
  • Array Labs raises $5 million to build radar satellites that collect 3D images. – Space News
  • Former NASA chief Jim Bridenstine added to Firefly Aerospace advisory board, the last company he joined in the private sector. – Firefly
  • BlackSky Appoints Former Investment Advisor Jon Kirchner as Chief Product Officer. – Black sky

Market Movers

  • Boeing shares fell nearly 9% on Wednesday after reporting third-quarter results. The stock is down 30% since the start of the year.

on the horizon

  • October 31 – SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy set to launch USSF-44 mission of Florida for the US Space Force, in what will be the rocket’s first launch in about three years.