Broadcast 3562 Patrick Host

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Guest:  Patrick Host; Topic:  Patrick's August 13, 2020 article in Jane's International Defense Review "Tough crowd: Small launch vehicles seek niche in ultra-competitive market."  This article has been uploaded to our blog for this program.

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We welcomed back to the program Patrick Host to discuss his Jane's article,  "Tough crowd: Small launch vehicles seek niche in ultra-competitive market."  Our program was a one segment, 84 minute discussion about the small launch vehicle market.  As I have done on other Space Show program summaries, I am repeating the Tags and Key Words here as they summarize most of the discussion topics.

Tags and Key Words:  Small launch vehicle niche market, ultra-competitive market, Jane's Group UK Limited, Rocket Lab, ride share, dedicated orbits, convenient launch dates, 3D printing, Relativity Space, New Zealand, SpaceX Falcon 9 small launch capability, Mid Atlantic Commercial Spaceport, Wallops, ocean launches, small launch pricing, Astra Aerospace, USAF and DOD interest in small launch capability, Space Force, BLEO launch destinations, small launcher payload capabilities and differences, air launch, Virgin Orbit, small launcher regulatory environment, small launcher expansion plans, Patrick's research article pitch, small launcher propulsion.

We received many email questions for this program.  There was a focus on 3D printing and Relativity Space and Rocket Labs getting ready to launch from the Mid-Atlantic Commercial Range but so far only from New Zealand. Astra Aerospace was also a large part of our discussion.  Note that toward the end of the program a listener asked why there had been no discussion regarding propulsion, fuel, or rocket engines for the small launchers.  Our guest said that was not part of his research for the article. Don't miss this commentary late in the program.

Launch pricing was a big part of the research and the article has a pricing chart in it.  Much later in the program our guest provided us with the price ranges for the various companies.  You definitely want to hear what he had to say as the prices ranged from about $2.5 million per launch to the larger vehicles coming in at $15 million and then even larger coming in between $40-$50 million.  This information can be found in his article.  When asked about the variation in prices, Pat said it was mostly about different payload capabilities.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 ride share for small payloads was discussed in some detail.  Listen to what Pat said was the SpaceX Falcon 9 capability for small payloads as compared to one of the dedicated small launchers.  Our guest had much to say about SpaceX efforts to undercut the small launch market.  What do you think?  Please share your thoughts with us on this and other parts of the small launch market by posting on our blog.  Regardless of your opinions, the ride share market is a significant competitor to the small launch capable companies.  By the way, Pat received multiple questions about small launcher expansion plans, going to BLEO destinations, even using reusability. 

Another area of focus was the interest of the USAF and DOD in small launcher capabilities, even to the extent of helping to fund some of the projects and missions.  Listener Jack asked about the Space Force and their interest.  As it turned out, Pat was actually using the USAF and the Space Force as one in the same since Dr. Will Roper serves both the AF and the Space Force with his work in the area of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. 

Pat was asked what it would take to make the small launcher market a successful commercial market.  Don't miss his reply.  Regulatory concern questions came up as did reusability as was mentioned earlier.  Company financing was a topic, Joe in Denver wanted to know if Pat found a trend or an interest in doing a merger or in being acquired given the market size and challenges for this industry.  Pat got a few questions about manufacturing processes and materials being used by the different small launch companies.  Once again you will want to hear all of what our guest had to say on this topic.  Additional late topics addressed possible human spaceflight in the future, company expansion plans, how economic growth was to be realized by the players.  Near the end of the program I asked our guest about his future articles in the works for Jane's.

Regarding future articles, Pat talked about a recent pitch to do an article on China and space along with how the US plans on competing with China, especially for military space.  I then asked our guest how he chose the headline for his small launcher article, i.e. "Tough crowd."  This proved to be an interesting story. Before ending the program, listener Belinda asked the question mentioned earlier re fuel and propulsion.  Prior to ending the program, I inquired about the Jane's Group UK and their publications and divisions.

Please post your comments/questions for our guest on our blog for this show.  You can reach Pat Host through me or through Jane's Group UK for the US office.

Show Files: 




Small launch vehicle industry analysis and report

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25 Aug 2020 Patrick Host
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