Launch Vehicle Flexibility Increasingly Important

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Proton launching ExoMars. Source: : ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2016

International Launch Services (ILS) recently announced that it will introduce a new Proton launch vehicle variant with a larger payload fairing – a clear sign that flexibility is now a key differentiator in the launch vehicle market.[i] Continue reading

PSLV Launch with 104 Payloads Opens New Opportunities for Small Satellites

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

PSLV-C37 with 104 payloads. Source: Indian Space Research Organisation

On the morning of February 15, 2017, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (designated PSLV-C37) launched the 714-kilogram Cartosat-2 Series Satellite and 103 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch – which marked the 38th consecutively successful PSLV mission out of 39 flights – was one for the record books.

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Cornyn, Culberson Restart Debate on Future of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Efforts

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Falcon 9 Launch. Source – SpaceX

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative John Culberson (TX-07) have introduced a bill in Congress to require NASA to develop plans for the future of U.S. human space exploration, with the goal of landing an astronaut on Mars. The plan is called the Mapping a New and Innovative Focus on our Exploration Strategy (MANIFEST) for Human Spaceflight Act. According to a statement released by Senator Cornyn’s office, the plan is based on recommendations of a 2014 National Academies report. Continue reading

Launch Vehicles: Year in Review 2016

Recent Decline Continued, but Stage Set for Renewed Activity in 2017

Atlas V Launch

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

The year 2016 saw 85 launches into Earth orbit  (this count excludes the Falcon 9 that exploded in September, since the explosion occurred during the pre-launch phase). Launches were carried out by nine countries, utilizing 22 different launch vehicle families, built by 13 different manufacturers or organizations. Continue reading

New ULA Website Marks New Era in Launch Industry Transparency and Competition

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

ula

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has announced a new website that enables customers to shop for launch services and sets standard price transparency. It also provides insight into reliability, schedule assurance, and performance of the Atlas V launch vehicle. Continue reading

SpaceX Files to Build Massive Satellite Network

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Falcon 9 Launch

Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX has officially filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build and operate a massive network of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. According to documents submitted to the FCC, the satellite constellation will consist of 4,425 operational satellites along with in-orbit spares. The satellites will operate in 83 orbital planes, at altitudes ranging from 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers. They will operate in Ku- and Ka-bands. Continue reading

ILS Plans to Revitalize Proton Sales

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

proton

Proton with ExoMars TGO

After dominating the commercial launch market for years – along with the Ariane 5 – the Proton is seeing a loss in appeal to commercial operators, along with a decline in sales. As a result, ILS has reduced staff and expenses to support only two to three launches per year, rather than its typical seven or eight. Continue reading

Forecast Roundtable – Discussion of Elon Musk’s Mars Colonization Plan

By Matthew Beres and Bill Ostrove, Forecast International.

forecast-roundtable-mars

Welcome to the Forecast Roundtable Podcast. Forecast Roundtable brings together expert analysts, industry professionals, and government officials to discuss the latest issues in the aerospace and defense markets. Produced at the Forecast International headquarters, Forecast Roundtable offers unique and in depth insight and discussion on any range of topics from geopolitics to aerospace and defense markets. Topic suggestions are welcome. Continue reading

Google’s Deep Pockets Benefit Terra Bella

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

SkySat-1. Source: SkyBox Imaging.

Terra Bella is part of a wave of new remote sensing satellite operators that hope to utilize new technologies and business models to break into the Earth imagery business.  SkySat satellites have a launch mass of between 100 and 120 kilograms, making them larger than those of some competitors, such as Planet Labs, which is building 6-kilogram satellites.  However, SkySats are still smaller than typical commercial remote sensing satellites, like DigitalGlobe’s 2,800-kilogram WorldView-2.  Terra Bella expects its satellites to offer a compromise between the two extremes, with better resolution and lifespan than extremely small satellites but higher revisit rates than networks with a few large satellites. Continue reading

Elon Musk Lays Out Ambitious, Challenging Plan to Colonize Mars

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Mars image taken by Hubble. Source: NASA

Mars image taken by Hubble. Source: NASA

Elon Musk has proposed an ambitious plan to make humans a multiplanet species. The announcement of the initiative was made at the International Astronautical Congress on September 27 in Guadalajara, Mexico, to much fanfare. Attendees of the event described the atmosphere as closer to a rock concert than a scientific or business presentation. Continue reading