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Debriefing. Why SpaceX beat Russia in the sphere of commercial rocket launches
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 17-03-2017

The change of administration of the President of the United States coincided with the formation of a new market of commercial space services. The main expectations are associated with American companies, SpaceX, Blue Origin, ULA (United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing), and, to a lesser extent, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada. They offer new vehicles and ships, and the competition promises to significantly reduce the cost as the launching of satellites and space tourism. The EU and Japan intensively exchanging technology with the US, China and India are trying to go the way of the Soviet and American space exploration, and Russia is losing technology and saves on space. About what plans to make SpaceX — in the material "Tape.ru".

SpaceX claim that a package of contracts to start in the next few years more than 70 missions. Their total amount is estimated at ten billion dollars — own as the head of the company Elon musk is about the same. It is primarily commercial launches, but also orders NASA and the Pentagon. Although SpaceX did not name specific sums to determine the company's revenues, based on open sources, is not difficult.

First, orders NASA under the CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) to send to the International space station (ISS) trucks Dragon. In the first phase of the program, SpaceX earned, without regard to additional missions, $ 1.6 billion. In 2016, NASA announced the winners of the second stage of the CRS, the implementation of which is scheduled for 2019-2024 years (until completion of the service ISS). In addition to SpaceX, in a prolonged program involves Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada, NASA will pay $ 14 billion.

Second, the Mask company together with Boeing in 2014, won the tender NASA for the delivery of astronauts to the ISS. The contract is worth $ 2.6 billion. It was envisaged that by 2017, U.S. astronauts will be sent to the ISS exclusively from the United States without the help of the Russian side. While the test launch of the Dragon V2 spacecraft has been rescheduled for November 2017 and the first manned launch — for may 2018. It is possible that SpaceX will not stand and these terms, however, the fact that manned flight of Dragon V2 will take place in the next two years, doubts almost does not matter.

Thirdly, the company Mask stole big money from aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing. In 2014 SpaceX has challenged in court the ULA monopoly on military launches. The court agreed with the arguments Mask, and in April 2016, SpaceX signed a contract worth 82,7 million dollars for the launch in 2018 of a military GPS satellite 3. Then it became clear that under the current pricing advantages ULA before SpaceX is far from obvious. Thus, the cost of the commercial launch of the Falcon 9 is estimated at $ 60 million, and Atlas V rockets (the first stage of which also installed the Russian RD-180 engine) — at least 164 million.


The Dragon V2 spacecraft in orbit (an artist's concept of). Image: SpaceX / ZUMA Press / Globallookpress.com

Despite the difference in to orbit mass at launch the Falcon 9 and Atlas V, the cost of SpaceX is more than two times lower than that of ULA. This forced Lockheed Martin and Boeing to adjust prices and to make SpaceX a direct competitor. Every year, the U.S. Department of defense allocated ULA about $ 800 million only in the form of a contract for "run" and to "maintain capacity". Senator John McCain called this money "to do nothing". Now, it is likely that SpaceX will get a piece of that pie.

In March 2017 the company managed to Mask a second time to conclude a contract for the launch of the GPS satellite 3. If in April 2016 ULA did not participate in the tender of the Pentagon, now SpaceX was competing with a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The contract amounts to 96,5 million dollars, a satellite launch GEO 3 systems detect launches of ballistic missiles SBIRS (Space-Based Infrared System) shall be held not later than April 2019.

And yet (this is fourth), the main income is commercial launches. From 2012 to 2015, the company has completed 20 successful launches. In 2016, were going to spend 20 starts, but was prevented by the accident, and it was only eight. The part of the starts was postponed to 2017, which is scheduled for 27 starts. In 2018 Musk wants to increase this figure to 44.


Start Falcon 9 with satellites Iridium-1. Joe Skipper / Reuters

Who orders runs? One of the customers SpaceX, Iridium, the largest operator of satellite telephony. Ten machines Iridium-1, which went into space on January 14, marked the beginning of modernization of the orbital group of companies, now numbering 72 satellite. For a complete upgrade of the group SpaceX will receive $ 492 million, the modernization should be completed in 2018. In addition to Iridium, are among the main partners SpaceX operators Eutelsat and Inmarsat, whose devices are repeatedly launched on a Russian rocket.

SpaceX is actively poach customers from competitors. In early March it became known that the Spanish operator Hisdesat was abandoned in favor of SpaceX from the Russian-Ukrainian-Kazakh company "Kosmotras", ensuring the launches of Russian-Ukrainian conversion rocket "Dnepr". Now Hisdesat through the international arbitration court in Paris requires "Kosmotras" damages from the repeated postponement of launches of "Dnepr" in the amount of $ 16 million.

At SpaceX, there are other commercial projects. In addition to flying over a pair of tourists to the moon in 2018, Musk intends to 2020 to begin implementing an ambitious program to ensure the planet's satellite high-speed Internet. It is expected to launch 4425 units, three times more than the number of current satellites. The mass of each machine is 386 pounds, USA only need about 800 of these satellites. It is expected that the bandwidth of the communication channel will be one Gigabit per second per user. In the project one billion dollars invested by Google and Fidelity Investments. It's hard to say how all this is possible. Similar ideas have today OneWeb, however, this project 1990-ies the company Teledesic was too costly.


Elon Musk. Photo: Rebecca Cook / Reuters

According to the data provided by the Department of commercial space transportation Federal aviation administration United States, total revenue from the commercial launch services in 2016 amounted to $ 2.5 billion, which is 300 million more than in 2015. The US has conducted 11 commercial launches, the EU — eight, Russia — just two. Most earned USA (1,185 billion) and Europe (1,152 billion). Russia in the past year, commercial launches brought in just $ 130 million. SpaceX got six commercial launches, which the company earned three times more than the Russian space Agency. Given that in 2017 it is expected the launch of Falcon Heavy, and by 2020 — New media Glenn company, Blue Origin, already having contracts for six launches, competition between carriers promises to only worsen.

Andrei Borisov


Source: https://lenta.ru/articles/2017/03/16/spacex/

Tags: space


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