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Smallsat launch services feel pricing pressure

12 Sep 2019, 06:56 UTC
Smallsat launch services feel pricing pressure
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PARIS — Companies that provide both dedicated and rideshare launch services for small satellites say that price remains a major factor for their customers, with pressure from growing competition to lower them.
Companies working on many of the dozens of small launch vehicles currently under development have argued that the flexibility they provide, including giving smallsat operators control over when to launch and to what orbit, is worth the higher price such vehicles have over rideshare services, where smallsats are secondary payloads on larger rockets.
“We are a key part of a business plan for our customers, and that’s really the way launch needs to be looked at,” said Dan Hart, president and chief executive of Virgin Orbit, during a panel at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week here Sept. 11. Virgin Orbit is developing an air-launched small rocket, LauncherOne, that Hart said should make its first orbital launch attempt in the middle of this fall.
Hart argued that the smallsat community has matured in recent years into businesses where price alone is not the only factor in selecting a launch provider. “The question is always, what is the capability and what is the total value of a launch in that ...

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