|One Chart Shows How Much SpaceX Has Come to Dominate Rocket Launches|
The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation is starting to take the lion's share of global launches.
By Jay Bennett
Jul 13, 2017
Ever since SpaceX first launched a Falcon 9 rocket in June 2010, the spaceflight corporation has been slowly but surely clawing its way up the launch vehicle food chain. Recent contracts for high priority defense launches, including a spy satellite launch for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the upcoming August launch of the Air Force's X-37B unmanned spaceplane, are indications that the government has begun to trust SpaceX as a reliable launch provider for national security payloads.
The relatively inexpensive cost of a Falcon 9 launch, staring at around $62 million, has also lead the Department of Defense to move away from their old go-to, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
But a new chart reveals just how well Elon Musk's spaceflight company is doing. In a testimony today before the House Subcommittee on Space, Science and Technology, SpaceX senior vice president Tim Hughes discussed the possibilities for future cooperation between SpaceX and government space interests to achieve human exploration of deep space. As part of his comments, Hughes presented a chart of the global market share for commercial launches, and SpaceX is climbing faster than a Falcon 9 off the pad.
Chart presented to the House Subcommittee on Space, Science and Technology by SpaceX vice president Tim Hughes.
According to the chart, SpaceX first achieved significant market share in 2013 with over 5 percent, back when Russia still dominated the launch market. SpaceX continued to grow and now the company projects 45 percent of global market share in 2017. Next year, SpaceX projects that it will be raking in an insane 60 percent or more of global market share for commercial launches.
"Prior to SpaceX entering the commercial space launch market with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the U.S. had effectively ceded this market to France and to Russia, and no U.S. company had launched a single commercial mission to GTO since 2009," Hughes said in his testimony. "SpaceX has brought this multi-billion dollar market back to the United States."
Indeed, back in 1998, the U.S. dominated global launches with 66 satellites launched that year. That number fell to zero by 2011. SpaceX was a massive part of bringing the U.S. back to launching satellites just a couple years later.
Now that SpaceX is reliably landing and relaunching its rockets, with 13 successful landings and counting, costs could drop even more, and the company has attracted attention from satellite companies and space agencies all over the world looking for reliable and affordable rocket launches. SpaceX has already launched 10 Falcon 9 rockets in 2017, they have three launches planned for August, and the company is on track to launch as many as 18 rockets this year—including a possible launch of the Falcon Heavy with three core stage boosters.
One thing is certain, that ol' Falcon 9 sure can fly—and nobody seems to be able to catch it.