Two of the world’s major satellite launch businesses are stymied through no real fault of their own. International Launch Services (ILS) is stuck waiting for the official report into last month’s catastrophic Proton launch failure (which it had no control over), while France’s Arianespace rocket system is waiting while modifications are made to an Optus satellite, thereby leaving its giant Ariane rocket standing idly by.
However, California-based SpaceX says it is to ramp up its own rocket production to two a month by the end of this year. SpaceX has about 12 launches on its manifest for the rest of this year, and a contract backlog of 46 missions worth $4.2 billion
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, responding to criticism that the launch company has over-extended itself, said: “Can we fly the missions we say we can fly? I think we’ll prove that over the coming months.”
One of SpaceX’s problems is the lack of launch facilities in the USA. Currently SpaceX launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida nd Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The company is hoping to build an all-new facility near Brownsville, Texas, almost on the US-Mexico border.