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Does not fit in the orbit. The global space industry is experiencing a boom that Russia has overslept
Material posted: Publication date: 13-09-2017
The space services market is just emerging, but it is clear that our country is on it among the Laggards. Private space, rapidly developing in the United States, we have nominally: they had 84 running in 2015, 33 satellites were commercial, we have – 0 from 25. However, experts say: if you remove the artificial barriers, it is possible and we have to quickly develop a commercial space, we are not that behind, but just "not yet started".

Passengers of Russian aircraft will be able to catch satellite Wi-Fi signal; Western hedge funds will use satellite data for making investment decisions; and in the United States are experimenting on 3D printing satellites. Against the background of futuristic plans to colonize the moon and Mars these messages the last days sound quite mundane, but they demonstrate the successes in space exploration, which finally ceased to be the preserve of classified government programs. Private capital began to see the return in orbit, and now, as experts suggest, the funds and the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs will create a snowballing effect, creating a much broader and far into space. The space services market is just emerging, but it is clear that our country is on it among the Laggards. The outdated way of Russian cosmonautics does not allow it to compete with promising business projects.


In 1969 after the landing of "Apollo 11" moon Commission headed by Vice-President Spiro Agnew has further defined the goals of the national space program: building bases in orbit and on the surface of earth's satellite, the expedition to Mars in 1983. But the logic of development rested in the cost of the projects. According to official data, from 1959 to 2003 the US spent on the space program more than $1.1 trillion. Now costs Washington they are about $17 billion a year, the $2 billion (the cost of the Federal space program for 2016-2025 – 1.4 trillion roubles), and the total in the world in the space spent $66.5 billion from state budgets (Euroconsult report data for 2014). The expedition to the moon for tens of billions on Mars for hundreds (in December 1990 of the expert Commission for the project NASA Mars Direct has identified the level of $450 billion, soon the project turned). High, which kept the state budget, – the contents of the ISS (about $6 billion a year, the Russian contribution – $1 billion, U.S. – $3 billion). But from the point of view of political prestige to surf the near-earth space is less interesting.


The exit to this arena of the private sector was programmed: at the time, was found under the state program "space" technology allowed the development of mobile telecommunications devices, and their functionality is already pushed himself to the development of the orbit. The starting point of the commercialization of space – 1990‑ies, when the satellite signal that was previously available only to the military, "opened" to the public. Further, the question encourages regulation of the industry, which would be the case in the United States.

In 1958, the private space was proclaimed a business which serves the "common good" of Americans, and therefore should be supported (National Aeronautics and Space Act), in 1984, Washington was allowed to launch satellites for private rockets (Commercial Space Launch Act) and facilitate the process of licensing of remote sensing satellites of the Earth (remote sensing; Land Remote-Sensing Commercialization Act). In 1990, NASA ordered to buy launch services from third party contractors (Launch Services Purchase Act), in 1998 adopted a law on commercial use of space (Commercial Space Act).

The development of private space contributes to the constant sequestration costs to NASA (in 1966, the Agency received 4,41% of the state budget; in 1991 – 1,05%, in 2014 is 0.5%). Besides, for the conversion of space technology NASA had to find civil applications. The formal reason for this was the closure of the expensive Space Shuttle program. The last space Shuttle landed in 2011, and in 2006, NASA announced a competition for the development of the launch vehicle and cargo spacecraft (COTS). The tender was won by SpaceX (the rocket Falcon 9 + Dragon) and Orbital Sciences (the rocket Antares + Cygnus), received $396 million and $288 million, respectively. And soon they got the contract and actual delivery of cargo to the ISS (the project CRS). In may 2012, Dragon became the first private ship, pristykovatsya to the station, a year later succeeded Cygnus. SpaceX just "hired" to 20 flights until 2017 for a total of $4.2 billion, Orbital Sciences (later Orbital ATK) – 10 flights (over $2 billion). From 2019, the start of the continuation of the project, CRS‑2, in which at least six missions before the end of the life of the ISS would do the same plus company Sierra Nevada Corporation.

In fact, NASA has gone from monopoly industry to the moderator, not resisting the trend, but leading it. "Cooperation of state and business remains the leading trend of Astronautics in the United States – said a senior researcher of the State astronomical Institute. Sternberg, Moscow state University, CEO space company "Asmeret" Marat subdivided. For economic purposes, Americans go to experiments, because NASA actually revealed state secrets by passing SpaceX their specialists. If not for the help from the state, the company Elon musk would have lacked the resources to develop missiles."

...and do not count

Faster just the process of commercialization of space is in the field of creation and operation of satellites. Moreover, the experts had strayed from their accounts. According to estimates by the BBC since 1957, they was running about 6500. Initially, the leadership runs kept the USSR (over 100 satellites per year), and the Americans crossed runs only in the 1990‑ies. The NASA report included the following figures: in the orbit is valid 4041 satellite (1468 belongs to CIS, 1338 – USA, 215 – China), as well as 13 344 residue "dead" satellites (4808 "number" of CIS, 4145 – USA, 3576 – China data for April 2016). The calculations also leads portal UCS Satellite Database, and Satellite Industry Association (SIA) gives a classification of operational satellites by function (see figures).

Satellite market began to take shape long ago – in July 1962 launched the first private communications satellite Telstar 1, in 1964, Syncom 3 carried broadcast the Olympic games in Tokyo to the United States, in 1965 Intelsat I have established a link between the two sides of the Atlantic, and in the 1970s through the commercial satellites has paved the communication channel between the Kremlin and the White house.

But estimates of the volume of the space industry also vary. In 2015, the Space Foundation estimated the entire market at $330 billion (average growth of 9% per year), and the commercial sector – 76% of this. SIA report for the year 2015 indicates a figure of $335 billion, of which the satellite industry is 60%, or $208 billion, the remaining 40% are predominantly "government" space (the production of missiles and spare parts, transport services that are not associated with satellites). At the same time, SIA is considering the satellite industry as part of the global telecommunications industry, which turnover in 2013 amounted to $5 trillion.

"These assessments are very conditional and, in my opinion, illegal, – said the "Profile" candidate of technical Sciences, member-correspondent of the Russian Academy of cosmonautics. K. E. Tsiolkovsky Andrei Ionin. – There are the traditional space markets – production of missiles, satellites. It Marinochka environment: many of the technologies still classified, production and innovation cycles are very long. Is conditional-space markets with space indirect relationship. For example, satellite communication is developing according to the laws of the market. Yes, the market is developing quickly, but only because the volume of communication in principle grow. The specificity of the market of navigation, the boundaries of which are blurred. What to include in the scope of the market – the cost of the entire receptor, which usually acts as a smartphone, or only the navigation chip that is 300 times cheaper? Same thing with the navigation built into the car. Some technologies are combined with other, mutually dissolved".

If you focus on the methodology of the SIA, in its reports to the market, "decomposed", respectively the stages of the business process: the production of satellite and aircraft launch and on-orbit servicing – receiving and signal processing ground equipment – sale services to consumers (see figure).

The last segment is the most cost effective. It also has a clear leader – satellite TV (78%), the position of which is due to the rapid growth of the TV audience (in 2004 – 100 million subscribers worldwide in 2015, 230 million), development of HD-TV (increase in the number of channels is 7 times since 2008) and various premium services ("video on demand", etc.).

A modest position of mobile communication is due to the fact that the volume of information in the transfer of votes is significantly less than television images. And in the segment of remote sensing is taken into account only the cost of the services – it-yourself satellite signal is free, whether it be GPS, GLONASS, Galileo (European) or Beidou (China). (See. table.)

The actual volume of data of remote sensing can be felt in the analysis of ground segment equipment. It is divided into the network infrastructure (gateways, a ground control station; $9.6 billion in 2015), the equipment for consumers (satellite antennas, phones; $18.3 billion) and the device for receiving the navigation signal (GNSS; $31 billion market only specialized navigators, about $70 billion – together with chips in smartphones, laptops, etc.). The SIA forecast that by 2022 the number of navigation devices will increase from the current 2.2 billion to 7 billion pieces.

As for the production of satellites and their components, the turnover in this segment is growing at 5-10% per year. Forecast International lists the leading manufacturers: Lockheed Martin ($10.1 billion projected revenue in 2014-2018), Astrium ($9.7 billion), Thales Alenia ($6.8 billion), Boeing ($6.6 billion), Space Systems/Loral ($4.1 billion). Leaders in the supply of spare parts, Harris, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. The total market for this period is $68,2 billion growth Driver is the increase in orders for high-performance satellites (high throughput satellites) required providers of high-speed Internet and HD television images.


In the development of satellite services can be traced to two "generations". First, the prosperity experienced telecommunications industry in 1994 the company presented the first DirecTV satellite dish in 1999, the U.S. broadcasters access to the local stations receiving the signal that previously had a strictly military purpose, has been simplified by the special law (the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act). Develop voice. In 1997, Iridium has begun developing the first satellite constellation for space communications, in 1998 a similar "constellation" began to create competitors – ORBCOM and Globalstar. Other major providers are Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat and SES Global. Today, telecommunications remain the most popular type of satellites (50% active).

But soon the championship can go to the satellites of Earth remote sensing (54% of currently running vehicles in 2015) – this direction is connected with the current "wave" mastering near-earth space. According to SIA, the RS market is growing at 10-15% per year, but more importantly, changing his appearance, if before it was a sphere of solid firms that provided high-resolution imagery, as a rule, the contractors, the manufacture of satellites‑the cameras and Geoinformatics (with the creation of GIS-products based on their data) started a small IT company that are often limited to web-quality snapshots, but instead increase the frequency of updates.

A textbook example of such company is Planet Labs of California has set a target to obtain images of each point of the globe twice a day. Over the past three years it has attracted about $250 million of private investment (with its market capitalization exceeded $1 billion) and launched over 100 satellites – the so-called "dove". SkyBox Imaging, professing the same approach was created in the nearby garage in Silicon valley in 2009, and in 2014, purchased for $500 million Google for its Google Maps service. Another "neighbor", the company SpireGlobal from San Francisco, is developing satellites with sensors to monitor the weather and movements of terrestrial objects in real-time. BlackSky Global, GeoOptics, Hera, OmniEarth, Satellogic is "the family" such companies is increasing every month. Assessment SIA, last year investments in RS amounted to $2.3 billion.

The products of these companies business from many different areas, says Director of the space policy Institute Ivan Moiseev: "They are relevant to "smart" agriculture (analysis of condition of land, control of harvest), transport logistics, navigation, insurance business, construction, cadastral registration. The mapping used to take years, but with space technology, it is much easier and cheaper."

Фото: Wikipedia
10 times since 2011, increased the number of launched into orbit "cube-Sats" – microsatellites, which experts pin their hopes for a breakthrough in deep spacePhoto: Wikipedia

A new approach to satellite imagery would be impossible without reduction and cheapening of the apparatus. Radical solution became the so-called "they were launched" (CubeSat) is a micro-gathering as a constructor of standard cubes of size 10х10х10 cm (recently, this record was broken – the PocketQube company introduced the cube with the side dimension of 5 cm). In the end, if in the early 2000s, the satellites cost tens of millions of dollars (a satellite GPS – $45 million, meteorological – $450 million, intelligence – $1-10 billion; data SIA), "cubsat" weighing 1-2 kg costs about a thousand times cheaper. In 2011, went into space a dozen "cube-Sats", in 2015 – already 108.

However, because of the cheapness "they were launched" occupy a small fraction of the market: since 2005, their production worldwide was spent less than $100 million in addition, many of them do not carry commercial functions as research or study (the format of the "cube" was invented in 1999 by California Polytechnic and Stanford universities). On some of these projects, the money collected via crowdfunding (project SkyCube).

"The breakthrough in space will provide small devices, nano - and micro-satellites, – said Marat subdivided. – It's like with computers: desktop computers have replaced the huge mainframe computer. Similarly, half of the large satellites will eventually be replaced by small. They are made in less than a year, and then just stamped, while the period of production of a large satellite is 5 years. Yes, the small devices often fall down: in year group may carry up to 20% loss. But they are easily renewable and interchangeable. The only question is the technology – when small satellites will be able to do very cheap. For example, star sensors is one of their key components – now worth $100 thousand, but DARPA (the Agency for future defence research development USA) has announced a competition for the creation of these sensors for just $1 thousand".

One of the next "revolutionary" projects – with a few thousand micro-satellites to cover the globe free Wi-Fi Internet. For its implementation is already underway the competition – Google, OneWeb and Facebook create their group. "The geostationary orbit, which are generally placed satellites broadband Internet is limited in its resources, and soon the satellites will begin to interfere with each other, create interference, explained Ivan Moiseev. – Therefore, in order to improve Internet coverage of the planet is possible only with the help of small satellites that will create a kind of Internet cloud. We will not need a landline service providers, you can connect from anywhere."

Фото: Shutterstock
While most of the revenues from the exploitation of near-earth space generates the satellite TV market (photo – ground station signal reception)Photo: Shutterstock

Interesting trends are occurring in terms of geographical concentration of the satellite industry. The undisputed leader here is the United States (43% of the market in 2015), but their share in the production of satellites is gradually reduced (from 80% to 60% in 2012-2015) and Europe is increasing (from 17% to 25%). About 30 countries have already built their satellites, the report said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), dividing them into "major" in this area (China, US, EU, India, Japan, Russia) and "minor" (Argentina, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Ukraine). Accelerated pace of developing China. "In previous decades the Chinese have created their own potential, had mastered the technology of satellites, rockets, orbital groupings, – said the "Profile" senior researcher of the Russian Institute for strategic studies Irina Prokopenkove. Now they have turned to civil industry, and went the American way – the priority is the commercialization of space, entering the world market. In particular, the navigation system Beidou is moving in the framework of the concept of the Great silk road. By 2020, Beijing intends to introduce Beidou around the globe".

One should not discount India, although now, according to the expert, it is slightly behind China. The production of space technology in the country is managed by a government Agency – the ISRO, but it gradually passed into the hands of business, raise private space company. The most famous Earth2Orbit and Dhruva Space, and the leaders of the latest promise to produce satellites is 1000 times cheaper than it is now makes ISRO.

Cosmic quagmire

Russia, however, a new "cosmic" influences had not yet touched our private space exists nominally. For example, in the United States from 84 launched last year satellites 33 was commercial, in Russia – 0 out of 25 (data from FAA. According to the SIA – 1 commercial). Previously, the orbit made up of four Russian production unit: Perseus-M1 and Perseus-M2 "Dauria aerospace" in June of 2014 (a year was sold to an American Aquila Space) and research "Tabletsat-Aurora" company "Sputniks" and DX1 of the same "Dauria". At the hearing two operators GEODATA – "ScanEx" (supplying images for "") and Sovzond. This list is exhaustive.


How to recognize members of the industry, the company "garage" in the Russian climate, not live – minimum entry threshold in the industry is $10 million (assessment guide "Dauria"). "In the West, private space is developing through venture capital, long-term investment. This is a story about cheap loans, confidence in the future – what we have, in principle, no. The industry rests on the enthusiasm," explains subdivided.

The history of the same Dauria, founded in 2012 by Mikhail Kokorich with partners, significant. It was planned that the startup will become a major international provider creating cloud storage who will benefit from the various services. But those plans went awry. In 2014, the U.S. branch of the "Dauria" in Germany and the United States were closed and a number of projects have been frozen. "After Crimea and "Boeing" investors said: guys, forget about the money," said Kokorich in April 2015. The company survived, focusing on the manufacture of satellites on order. She managed to raise $100 million from India's Aniara Communications operator for the manufacture of geostationary satellite (in the spring it was reported that work on the project has not yet begun) and $70 million from the Chinese investment Fund Cybernaut on the creation of groups of Urban Observer (satellite imagery of 100 cities of the world). At least three order "Dauria" has in Russia: the creation of "Roscosmos" two "cube-Sats" MCA-N for 310 million rubles (Assembly is completed, the launch that was planned for mid-2016), microsatellite Auriga also over 310 million (invest Fund "SKOLKOVO" and "VEB innovations", the launch is expected in late 2017) and satellite for HD shooting for the "Sovzond" company for $100 million (to be completed by 2018). If these projects will take place after 2018 "Dauria" could return to its pre-crisis idea of Internet coverage North of the planet (Pyxis), as well as to launch several "Perseus" with the prospects of the group.

Фото: Фонд Сколково
The most successful representatives of the Russian private Astronautics is the company "Dauria aerospace". But it is in the midst of crisis, had to abandon most of their projectsPhoto: SKOLKOVO Foundation

But most private space, the initiative dies in the Bud, experts state. The reason is very onerous work rules in the industry. Obtaining a license for space activity may take a year, the list of requirements for licensing classified, to access it you need the permission of the FSB to work with state secret. License for space activities should get and suppliers, which reduces their range and increases the price. The requirements for quality components, especially microelectronics, extremely high: only chips for military or space grade, in the case of short-lived commercial satellites leads to losses, acknowledges Ivan Moiseev. "Standards written for enterprises, the scale of RSC "Energia", making large military satellites, says Moses. – You will have to produce a lot of documents, that the matter did not belong. Add to this the information protection industry. A new person is difficult to understand what was happening. If you are a man from another sphere, who suddenly decided to go into satellites, then read these regulations, will be terrified and go look for something simpler".

For comparison: in the USA the licensing requirements for satellites (NASA System Engineering Handbook) are freely available, genernation for private space in one place (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14 Aeronautics and Space), the term of the license – not more than 120 days. The difference in the approaches of the two space powers experts explain the conscious desire of our government agencies to prevent competitors in the industry. Moreover, as a result of the reforms of recent years (conversion of "Roscosmos" Federal Agency to the Corporation) it has only increased. "The state Corporation on the one hand, regulated industry, and with another – itself is an economic entity, a classic conflict of interests, – said Andrei Ionin. – The purpose of "Roscosmos" as a producer is a profit for it to ask him. So why should he help private owners, declining part of the budget money? Here is the flaw with the state the industry should not be the end of the Corporation shall be the Supervisory authority, which would take care of the private sector".


The expert community agreed, but the real action has not yet reached. First, they could put the amendments to the law on space activities that in the beginning of 2016, suggested the deputies Dmitry Gudkov, Valery Zubov. The bill defined the types of spacecraft, the construction of which is subject to licensing, and the rest, including small satellites, are allowed to produce freely. But in the state Duma have not given the document. "The bill was vaguely worded, it should have the freedom to produce anti-aircraft missile launchers. Or it is necessary to rewrite, or to go through the government, by changing the position of the Roscosmos on licensing. This is a more realistic way," says Moses. However, as the expert believes, the backwardness of Russia in a private space while not "eternal" if not to delay the deregulation of the industry, you can still find their niche in the international market. "New satellites are relatively affordable and easy to manufacture components can be freely purchased abroad, he said. – If you remove the artificial barriers, is possible within several years develop we have a commercial office on the type of Planet Labs. Not to say that we have lagged behind. We have not yet started the movement, stand at zero".

Riding on the Falcon

Another segment of the space market – transport services – looks modest in absolute terms, but recent trends can determine the fate of the entire industry in the coming years and decades.

How many launches of rockets into space? The answer depends on the methodology of calculation. FAA reports 86 launches in 2015 – 22 commercial and non-commercial 64. SIA – 65 satellite launches, of which 33 cases were on Board the commercial cargo. The financial information in the two sources also differ: the FAA indicates that the total commercial launches worth $2.15 billion, but SIA has evaluated all flying with the satellites on Board at $5.4 billion. however, both organizations agree that the dynamics of this segment volatile – SIA he is the only part of the satellite industry, which shows the annual growth, alternating years of rise and fall in the range from -10 to +20% (though at a distance in some years a small increase is present).

As for the leading players, it is a long time in the total number of launches Russia was in the lead, but many of them are either carried out in the interests of their own space, or ensured the delivery of American astronauts to the ISS under contract with NASA. The market for commercial satellite launches were divided Russian (international provider International Launch Services) and European (Arianespace) missiles equally. Strong position in Russia, not least due to the forced conversion of former Soviet ballistic missiles during the program of demilitarization or at the expiration of their combat duty (for example, Russian-Ukrainian rocket "Dnepr" – a former nuclear RS-20 "Satan"). But the degree of profitability of space "business" has caused questions of experts (in 2013, the chamber even reported that 21 launch of "Proton-M" for the previous three years brought the total losses). Anyway, in recent years, Russia's position deteriorated (see table): reduced the number of contracts for the delivery of satellites (in 2014 for the first time were not won any international tender), revenues fell (in 2015, according to the FAA, the Russian provider earned $289 million versus $617 million from US and $1.1 billion from Europe).

And in the foreseeable future, competition in the domestic missiles will be added: recent years have witnessed a notable expansion in the market from the "newcomers" – India and China (in 2015, they once again increased their share, according to the SIA). Particularly "dangerous" China, which made its first commercial launch in 2007, and in the first half of 2012 already surpassed the number of launches Russia and the United States.

If to speak about global trends, the limiting factor of the sector of transport services in particular, and the space market in General has always played the high cost of launches. This is because the "nuclear" missiles in the past: at the design stage, the increase in weight of the warhead and the speed of delivery was more important goal than economic efficiency. The result for many years the cost of European and American rockets remained disproportionately high, and the pricing policy of the providers did not detect much flexibility (the most expensive launches in the history of the famous American "Shuttle" – $500-700 million). Against this background, the Russian proposal looked attractive: in terms of the weight unit operating cost of "Proton-M", different models of "Soyuz" and "Dnepr" were on average 10-20% lower than that of foreign analogues.

The situation began to change with the market launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX: according to statements of different years, the cost of one launch of "Falcon" is in the range of $49-62 million In March 2015 was a record: Falcon 9 flight lifted into geostationary orbit two satellites, that is, each "passage" at a cost of only 30 million, the new level of prices allowed the customers to breach the price of the bastions of the "veterans" of the market, reaching almost to blackmail.

So, in April 2014, seven telecommunication companies of Europe called Arianespace "to immediately find ways to reduce the price" on Ariane 5, and in August, Eutelsat said it plans to save over the next three years 100 million euros due to the depreciation of the runs. In Arianespace immediately announced the creation of the joint venture Airbus and Safran (engine manufacturer) with the aim of reducing costs, and in 2015 on the upcoming optimization of its structures announced by the European space Agency (ESA). As a result of various measures, the cost of Ariane 5 to the beginning of 2016 has been reduced, according to SpaceNews, almost twice – up to 90-100 million euros. In addition, Airbus has stepped up the development of new, cheaper rocket Ariane 6.

The reaction followed and the provider is the American missiles Atlas V United Launch Alliance (ULA; a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin): in October 2014 the company announced the work on reducing the cost of launches to 50%, and by December 2015 as part of the optimization conducted extensive cuts, dismissing of Directors of 12 units.

This is a real challenge from SpaceX, obviously, is still ahead. In 2011 the company began work on a system of vertical landing first stage called Grasshopper, the year began flight tests. "I think we now have all the pieces of the puzzle to return the rocket back," wrote Elon Musk on Twitter in 2013. the First private company that has managed to land spacecraft, SpaceX officially began in December of 2015 ("noting", thus, attracting $1 billion investment from Google and Fidelity, after which the company's capitalization reached $12 billion). To date, three SpaceX put the Falcon 9 on the floating platform and once at the spaceport, where he was a launch. How can reduce the cost of rocket launches with the return of the first stage? According to estimates by investment Bank Jefferies by 40%, according to forecasts of the company, which leads SpaceNews, by as much as 90%, to $5-7 million.

Today these numbers seem fantastic, but SpaceX at least gave a signal to the market. Without waiting for further successes reusable Falcon, competitors began to develop their projects. ULA spoke about the concept of the rocket, the first stage of which will fall in a chain hanging from a large helicopter. Airbus presented the sketches Adeline – rocket, which will sit on the airfield with wings. Another return the missile plans to create French space Agency (CNES). As for Russia, the relatively defined can only be considered plans for reusable spacecraft "Federation" (which grew out of the achievements of the Soviet project "Energy-Buran" and so the rest of the paper spaceship "clipper" of the early 2000-ies), flight tests of which are expected in the first half of 2020-ies. Last summer it was announced the collection in GKNPTs im. Khrunichev team of experts working on the "Buran", to build the return of a winged first stage. However, in the PCF for 2016-2025, the cost of such development is not provided, and therefore, if the project gets to the "iron", it will happen over the planning horizon.

Фото: SpaceX⁄Flickr3
Financial and technical assistance from NASA has made the Californian company SpaceX giant in the space industry (photo – landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on the marine platform)Photo: SpaceX⁄Flickr3

Finding ways to reduce the cost of delivery of goods is in other areas. So, in the coming years there may be a whole class mini-missiles designed to transport satellites (mass of payload on Board up to 500 kg). At least 17 such devices are being developed independently from each other by several companies. Among them, Firefly Space Systems (rocket Alpha), Rocket Lab (Electron), Virgin Galactic (LauncherOne), XCOR Aerospace (Lynx Mark III) and Swiss Space Systems (SOAR). The first launch of those models is scheduled for 2017-2018.

Additional impetus to the industry can give the beginning of an era of private spaceports. Until recently, to launch private rockets could only with public launch sites, but now everything has changed: the US government gave SpaceX a permit for the construction of its spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, and New Zealand allowed the Rocket Lab equip site on the Peninsula Mahia in the North of the country (according to August and its construction is nearing completion).

However, experts "Profile" on the motley variety of the announced projects are skeptical. "Always something is drawn on paper, a very ordinary process, – said Ivan Moiseev. – There is SpaceX with its landing – all at once began to draw different pictures, think about how you can apply to your own technique. To say that some of the projects implemented, yet. The fact that Falcon 9 was originally designed as a return. To alter some of the existing missiles, so that she landed not succeed. But when designing future rockets need to take this into consideration. It's an innovative idea, early designers did not think about it. It was easier to throw out the rocket and make a new one, recovering the investment by the series. SpaceX is the first clearly formulated the possibility of reusable rockets, changed the approach."


Before the era of cheap rocketry is still far away, and in the short term, significantly reducing the cost of launches can be expected, says Andrei Ionin. "For me, it is doubtful that the return rocket will be cheaper. First, to plant, you need to change the design to include landing legs, fuel for the return journey. In the result, the inferred mass is reduced by 20-30%. Secondly, Musk has never used re-treads, which managed to land. The earliest this will happen in December. There he will wait for the real test, because the plant is one thing, but to guarantee the safety when re-using equipment is another. Reliable – the main characteristic of the rocket and to provide for her, you need to almost to death to touch the first step. The experience of previous projects is not only cheaper, but, conversely, to make the missile more expensive. In particular, it is therefore out such expensive flights of "shuttles". But even if the cost was lowered, the Mask never put this incredible price tag of $7 million If the "proton-M" is worth $80 million, the Falcon 9 will cost, relatively speaking, $70 million, just leave yourself a large margin. And do not think that the head of SpaceX are very interested in the market of commercial launches. More priority long-term contracts with the Pentagon and NASA – that's where the really serious money."

According to ionina, the idea of vertical planting to reduce spending at all is strange – it would be cheaper using the earth's atmosphere, to put a missile with wings or a parachute. In fact, Musk is testing the fit in the airless environment, rehearsing for an expedition to Mars, the expert assumes. According to the latest information, the SpaceX mission to Mars called the "Red dragon" will begin no later than 2018, and will likely Musk will be the first of a new constellation "space" of the capitalists, who travel beyond near-earth space. But that's another story.

Tags: Russia , science , space

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