Spacelift Washington: The Future of Space: Part three: Commercial Space cooling trend continues

Spacelift Washington
Spacelift Washingon Archive

WASHINGTON - February 16 - A review of commercial space transportation in 2000 by the FAA space office showed a 41 percent decline from the previous year, according to documents released last week. The FAA Office of the Associate Administrator for Space Transportation tracked 10 U.S.-licensed commercial launches during the recently-completed year. According to the FAA, this compares with 17 licensed launches in 1999 and 22 licensed launches in 1998. Decline from 1998 was 55 percent. This marked the second consecutive year of decline from the year before.

The value of the 10 launches during 2000 to U.S. launch service providers and rocket makers was $625 million. The FAA reported this included:

  • Four launches for commercial customers worth $343 million
  • Two launches for the U.S. government valued at $27 million
  • Three launches of the new Sea Launch Zenit booster valued at $255 million
  • A test flight of the Boeing Delta III which produced no revenue for Boeing

Overall, the FAA records showed that 35 commercial launches worldwide occurred during the year 2000, just under an average of 35.4 launches/yr. for the period 1996 to 2000. Russian commercial rocket flights were on the rise, from two launches in 1996 to 13 in 1999. The increase was helped by the entrance of a commercial version of the Soyuz launcher. Arianespace business grew from eight launches in 1996 to 12 in 2000.

The forecast for 2001 predicts 27 launches during the first quarter of the year (January through March), with the U.S. launching 11, Russia 7, and Europe 4. China, India, and multinational partnerships account for the balance. Of these 27, nine are expected to be commercial launches. Predictions for the second quarter (April through June) indicate 21 launches expected, with six being commercial flights. The U.S. is expected to fly 11 missions, two of which are to be commercial. Total commercial space launch revenue for the previous 12-month period was projected at $2.729 billion. The 2001 launch projections are expected to rise slightly due to an end to restrictions on Russian launch quotas that occurred at the end of 2000, and the resumption of licensing of Chinese commercial Long March launch vehicles. The agreement allows for up to 20 Chinese launch licenses through the end of 2001.

Overall, however, the FAA projections indicate a decrease in the planned number of space launch events projected for the next decade, due to a reduction in demand for wireless satellite constellation development during the period, and to an continuation of a trend in larger commercial communication satellites lasting longer on their on-orbit stay times. A complete FAA forecast is expected during the May COMSTAC meeting.

To better understand the value of commercial space launch, the FAA and the Satellite Industry Association released a major study of the industry last week.

More on that in the last column in this series, coming Tuesday.

Related Links:

The Economic Impact of Commercial Space Transportation on the U.S. Economy (Adobe Acrobat), FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation
2001 Quarterly Launch Report - Q1 2001 (Adobe Acrobat), FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation
2000 Year in Review (Adobe Acrobat), FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation
2000 Reusable Launch Vehicles - Programs and Concepts (Adobe Acrobat), FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation

Articles in the Spacelift Washington "The Future of Space" series:

Part One: Air Force Space Leaders Prepare for Weapons in Space
Part Two: The Future of Space: President's Space Advisory Board to be staffed with outside experts
Part Three: Commercial Space cooling trend continues
Part Four: A Thriving Commercial Space Now Key to All Sectors


SPACELIFT WASHINGTON 2001 by Aerospace FYI Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed with permission. The information contained herein are the authors own and are not affiliated with any other society, organization, or institution. Publication does not constitute endorsement of either editorial content or sponsoring web site. Have information about space transportation? Email the editor at sietzen@erols.com


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