The re-use of rockets for launching commercial (and government) satellites is now “self-evident” says a report from Northern Sky Research (NSR), and benefitting both the launch company and the satellite industry.
NSR says that SpaceX is gaining a 50 per cent cost-reduction on its re-used (“flight proven”) rockets, and as demonstrated in April when satellite operator SES made use of a recovered SpaceX rocket to successfully launch its SES-10 satellite.
Additional to Elon Musk’s SpaceX there’s Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin rocket system and in particular its New Shepard rockets which has also been test-launched 5 times. Eutelsat has booked a satellite launch with Bezos and a New Glenn rocket variant probably in 2020.
NSR states: “As reliability metrics increase, reusable vehicles will be more and more appealing. SpaceX has already proven successful at winning market share, and price reductions from reusability will further pressure the competition particularly if they are able to increase launch availability and deliver on schedule. Commercial and government customers have indicated their willingness to launch on a reused vehicle following successful demonstrations, and insurance underwriters deem the practice of minimal additional risk to a mission. With a strong technical track record to date and this buy-in across the value chain, reusability will become a standard offering of the global launch market in the next decade.”