Expendable launch vehicle market to be worth $53 billion through 2020, in production of 693 rockets

(Military & Aerospace Electronics) The global market for large rockets designed to launch satellites and humans into Earth orbit and beyond — known in the industry as expendable launch vehicles — will be worth $53 billion in the decade from 2011 to 2020, and will involve the production of 693 launch vehicles, predict analysts from market researcher Forecast International in Newtown, Conn.

The launch industry is recovering from a market downturn brought on by an overabundance of supply that depressed prices and made it difficult for providers to turn a profit, Forecast International analysts say in the company’s “The Market for Expendable Launch Vehicles” analysis.

Today the commercial rocket industry is now dominated by two companies — International Launch Services Inc. in Reston, Va., and Arianespace in Evry-Courcouronnes, France, which enables these remaining launch operators to increase prices to better cover costs, analysts say.

The analysis discusses the increased reliance on government contracts, and the lack of commercial customers, which has forced launch operator United Launch Alliance (ULA) to focus almost solely on government contracts. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and many Russian launch vehicle operators have followed suit.

Market obstacles include increased competition that will challenge the established players, and dwindling demand, Forecast International says. New companies such as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif., also are threatening the status quo by offering launch services at drastically lower prices than any of their competitors.

While competition is increasing, demand for launch services could drop in the future, as commercial satellite operators reach the end of their capital expenditure programs in the next few years.

Despite the increased competition and fluctuating demand, launch vehicle production will remain strong overall during the coming 10 years, analysts say.

Between 2011 and 2020, EADS Astrium SAS in Paris, which builds the Ariane 5, will top Forecast International’s list of prominent manufacturers. Other major players include the United Launch Alliance LLC (ULA) in Centennial, Colo., a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that produces and markets the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles; Soyuz spacecraft manufacturer TsSKB Progress in Samara, Russia; Khrunichev in Moscow, maker of the Proton; and China Great Wall Industries in Beijing, manufacturer of the Long March family of launch vehicles.

For more information contact forecast International online at www.forecastinternational.com.

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