Small launch firms feeling the impact of the pandemic amidst government intervention

Stakeholders in the small launch vehicle firms reiterate that the economic impact of the pandemic and developing desire by the US for these vehicles will alter the industry’s appearance. 

The webinar held by SpaceNews of the yearly Small Satellite Conference discussed the future of the space industry. The CEO of Virgin Orbit, Dan Hart, stated that the pandemic might speed the industry changes so that companies start developing space vehicles. 

Hart retorts that the pandemic is exposing the vulnerabilities of the space industry market. He adds that several companies are thriving while others are withdrawing due to the dynamics of the market. 

Hart explains that the industry is expanding in terms of technology for the small satellites. Nonetheless, he says that there will be drastic changes so that there can be few but complex small satellite launches. 

Virgin Orbit conducted its test flights for the LauncherOne spacecraft. The test involved the launch from Boeing 747, and the primary engine worked for some seconds before the propellant line failed to force an abrupt termination. 

Hart explains that the technicians and engineers are working to solve this problem so that the vehicle can launch for space before next year. Expectations are that the vehicle will host 11 cubesats for NASA since the company is collaborating with the agency to actualize the Venture Class Launch Services mission. 

The CEO of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, is confident that the space industry will witness the vast production of space vehicles creating demand for launch providers. He worries that the launch vehicles will overwhelm the launch pads if operations go online. 

Additionally, there are rideshare programs for those companies that are unable to develop their spacecraft. This concept implies that companies can create their payloads and hire launch vehicles to transport them to space. Beck is, however, unresponsive to rideshare services advising companies to consider reliability rather than prices. 

The chief revenue officer of Firefly Aerospace, Brad Schneider, states that he is yet to witness a major pandemic upheaval in the company’s business. He says that the market shareholders are observing new entrants and their strategies before taking tenable measures. 

Firefly is designing the Alpha launch spacecraft, which can host a payload of up to one metric tonne. Other Firefly projects include its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The firm hopes that this pad will be ready for launches by October to deploy six payloads for its customers. 

Finally, Schneider hopes to have a positive report during the launch of their six payloads on their new launchpad. Firefly is keen to attract commercial and government contracts just like other small satellite launch companies.