Timophey Zabaluev It is enough to address statistics to estimate objectively the space services market. In 2001, 60 orbital missile launches, in 2002 – 63 launches, in 2003 – 64 launches were made over the world. The similar picture was only observed in the beginning of 60s, in a heyday of the spacecraft industry. Let’s look and consider, average annual number of launcher starts (LV) was rarely lower than 80 in the early 90s, and it has reached 82 in second half of 90s, but in the beginning of XXI century the market ‘sunk’ was almost 25% and no improving of its condition may be foreseen in the nearest years.

Competition in the market of commercial launches is high. Ariane, Proton and Soyuz launchers are putting the payload into orbit once in two months in average. Cosmos, Atlas, Delta, Changzheng – one time in 3-4 months. About half from all active launch programs is made ones twice per year. It is involve Molnia, Zenit, Pegasus XL and H-2A. The launches are made even rarely for such programs, as Athena, and Shavit. And if one launch for 3–4 years for Shavit is the subject of national pride of Israel, start of Athena launcher with the same periodicity is the sign of other directions of work priority for Lockheed Martin.


In 1995, the Russian Federation, having wide possibilities for a satellites launching with weight from several hundreds kilograms to 20 tons, entered the commercial launches market of space vehicles (SV). During the period from 1996 to 2001, 42 launches with payloads of different companies have been carried out.

From 1992 to 2002 works were made in terms of the Federal space program, international and commercial projects, which expanded considerably a range of application of LV. The updating of base Soyuz and Proton launchers has allowed to increase payload weight, being put to low-attitude earth orbit by Soyuz-FG launch vehicle, from 6,8 to 7,1 tons, and by Proton – M launcher from 20 to 21,6 tons. Conversion is also promoted to the space commercialisation. In 1999-2001, the first successful launches of space-purpose LV based on intercontinental ballistic missiles, namely: RS-12M – Start-1, RS-18-Rokot and RS-20-Dniepr were carried out. The works have been started on development of Angara family launch vehicles, based on unified rocket modulus with non-toxic fuel components. The long-term development program of launch facilities is aimed to provide guaranteed and independent access into space for Russia to decide tasks of national space policy and further strengthening of the Russian Federation positions in the world market of launching services.


Ukraine can now display three types of LV made at Uzhmashzavod, as: Zenit 2 environmental friendly launcher of a heavy class about $45 million and two middle class launchers: Dniepr-1 with the value of $10 million, and Cyclone 3 about $20-23 million cost on the commercial launches market. If all above launchers had been developing for and in accordance with the military programs of the Soviet Union, the light Tsiklon 4 LV of new generation is developing with consideration of its commercial use prospects. The new missile will have improved power performances of the engines, modern control system and increased volume main fairing for payload installation. Cyclone 4 will allow to put space vehicles with weight up to 5,5 tons into equatorial orbit with altitude of 500 km, and weight up to 1,8 tons into transfer to geo-stationary orbit. The current Federal (National) space program of Ukraine for 2003-2007 provides increasing of Cyclone LV service life (Cyclone project), updating of Zenit launcher (Zenit project) and Dnepr LV (Dnepr project).


РН ArianThe most successful Ariane 5 European project is suffering to severe financial difficulties. Arianespace company has lost $183 million in 2001, from which the one-third was spent for recapturing of the confidence to Ariane 5 after it launch failure in July, 2001. The following unsuccessful launch in December 2002 even more intensified the problem. Only completion of Vulcan 2 main engine has required more than $1 billion of financial investments. As it was said, Ariane 5 EC-A with new engine having 20% more thrust, may put into orbit two large commercial satellites instead of one already in this summer, which should improve economic attractiveness of the project. For effective work of this project not less than one launch per month is required. In 2002, orders for only five launches were received by Arianespace and, though in 2003 EADS Space Transportation signed the contract for 25 commercial launches of updated Ariane 5 EC-A, situation remains uncertain. Actually, Arianespace is now ‘a black hole’ for the European states, which support financially this enterprise. However, the aiming to return the invested funds, and the European persistence, will apparently give a positive result in one or two year.


The first successful start of Lockheed Martin – Atlas 5 launcher was made in August, 2003 after successful launches of Atlas 3A and Atlas 3B in May, 2000 and in February, 2002 accordingly. Atlas 5 has been developed under before defined schedule and without special problems. Having created well-adjusted management and technical training system, the developers understood in full what kind of launcher they would like to receive. It is especially important with over-saturation of market of space services, when the buyers have a wide selection. The companies have not time to investigate the reasons of launch failed and time to remove it, as the payloads can be simply transferred to the competitors launchers, so, no right to mistake exists.

Lockheed Martin with its Atlas 5 has already played to a forestall in its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) project, when the company succeed to win over 16 launches of 29, leaving the ‘rests’ to Boeing with its Delta 4 project. Business-portfolio of Atlas 5 – project, in which about $1 billion was invested, has initially been estimated in 19 launches for year. It seemed unreal even in late 90s, when the real boom was observed in the market of commercial launches. Apparently, Lockheed Martin did not account severe competitors presence, having already backlogs or carrying out developments of the middle and heavy launchers. Atlas 5 market is currently including 5–6 launches annually; half from it is the orders of the USA government.

The first start of Boeing Company Delta 4 launcher was made in November, 2002. A lot had been staked, and the main was Boeing reputation as provider in the space launch market. The reputation remained not stained, though has grown dull a bit after one failed launches of three of Delta 3 launcher within the period between 1998 and 2000. However, Delta 3 was considered by Boeing only as an intermediate model, therefore one of launches failure has not strongly reflected on its follower. In fact, Delta 4 is principally new and more powerful launcher, which cheaper in its production and service. The Boeing representatives have stated that more than 18 companies ordered Delta 4 for 2004 and about 50 are showing its concern. With such stated activity the program vitality is estimated in 5 years minimally. It should be mentioned that only 6 orders are commercial from the total option, the rest is coming from the USA government, namely from the military structures.


In last years the Chinese is more and more actively act in the space market. Like Indian, they nurturing ambitious plans on the Earth surrounding by communication and reconnaissance satellites, almost all of its are delivered to an orbit by the own launchers. The basic launchers are presented by Changzheng liquid-fuel missile family («Great campaign») and solid-fuel Kaitouzhe («Pacemaker»). The Chinese spend up to $2 billion for one year for their space program, which allowed them become the third power in the world, who put into orbit its own manned spacecraft in 2003.


The Indian space program is more moderate than Chinese, but it is stable developing since 1995. The country is annually spending about $450 million for the space studies, more than half of the sum directed on development of launchers and satellites. The domestic PSLV and GSLV launchers will take step-by-step a share of the Indian market, which belongs now to the European and Russian launchers. India plans to launch a probe to moon, considerable expansion of civil and military reconnaissance satellites program show that demand in own launchers will be only increased.


Japanese, having entered into a number of countries which can to put space objects into orbit using own H-2 launcher, were horrified at first, after they calculate and conclude, that cost of commercial launches exceeded $180 million. However next H-2A updating has already allowed decrease cost parameters to $70-80 million, which are close to launch cost of Ariane and Delta.


The commercial prospects of Ariane 5, Atlas 5 and Delta 4 launchers are misty. The Ariane 5 project is patronised by the governments of European states, and Arianespace can not still exist without financial and political support of the European Union. Of course, the USA air force in the case of difficulties with payload of Atlas 5 and Delta 4 launches would not be staying aloof and will help Lockheed Martin and Boeing, since they consider both launchers as basic ones for quick orbiting of military loads. Actually, all three projects suffer because of its expensiveness. Directed to heavy payloads (1–4 satellites), the projects require $70-90 million for a launch, whereas there is demand in the market for putting into orbit 6-9 satellites at once with no more than $10-20 million cost.

The practice shows that these figures are quite real. So, the Eurockot Launch Services company with its Rockot LV offers put into low geo-stationary orbit of six and more satellites with $15 million. Value of the contracts for Proton decreased in 2,5 times and has actually reached the missile cost price. The manufacturing costs of Proton-K and launch costs are made about $23 million. The launch of space vehicles by Proton-M is estimated as a bit more expensive and is $40-50 million.

To decrease the launch cost the space industry giants are seeking co-operation and forwarding of the most successful launchers at the market. Lockheed Martin has established International Launch Service joint venture with Khrunitchev and Energia for Proton missile “advert”, Boeing established Sea Launch Company with Ukrainian’s Uzhnoye and Russian’s Energia on forwarding Zenit-3SL launcher. In 1998, RD-AMROSS joint venture (Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Company) started its activity. The RD-180 – Atlas project provides equipping of the Atlas 3 and Atlas American launchers by Russian RD-180 engines during realisations of space launches. Co-operation between Russian rocket industry enterprises and the European Union on development of launchers to be started from the Kuru equatorial launch site. Of course, the national commercial programmes of China, India and Japan will be after some time more closely involved into the integration processes.

Only the international co-operation is the key of revival on the commercial space launches market, since it allows distribute efforts on development and forwarding of launcher with optimal technical and cost performances most rationally.