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The U.S. reusable launch vehicle market size stood at USD 482.4 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,634.9 million by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 14.77% during the forecast period.
A reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is a type of vehicle that can launch a satellite (payload) into space multiple times. RLV includes the recovery of some or all of the component stages. The primary role of RLV is to reduce the total launch cost. Presently, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is actively involved in the designing and development of reusable launch vehicles to deploy its Starlink internet satellites and other earth observation, navigation, and communication satellites. Similarly, Blue Origin LLC is involved in designing and developing heavy-lift reusable launch vehicles. The rockets will be commercialized by the end of 2022. It comprises two-stage and three-stage reusable launch vehicles.
COVID-19 Pandemic to Impact Space Industry by Cancelling Satellite Launching Programs
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the dynamics of the market. The impact of this pandemic is being felt in the U.S. and will significantly affect the market in 2020 and 2021. Various rocket launches are postponed to 2021. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, around 92% of space-based firms with research and development as a primary business capability were small businesses.
Moreover, due to lockdown in the U.S., there was a huge impact on the space industry which would further result in the suspension or postponement of the satellite launches. Major companies such as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Rocket Lab, and Blue Origin have redesigned the production structure of launch vehicles and satellites. Presently, Rocket Labs has suspended its launches.
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Adoption of Advanced Propellant Engine to Enhance Operation Capabilities of Rocket is a Vital Trend
The propulsion system based on propellant technologies plays a crucial role in space ships, as they can make the space vehicles fuel-efficient, optimize the operational process, and secure launch. For the exploration of space, end-users prefer the usage of launcher vehicles that are safe and efficient in operation. Thus, to enhance operational capabilities, multiple reusable space launch vehicle manufacturers are focusing on the integration of liquid rocket propulsion systems as they have a higher specific impulse than solid rockets. The liquid rocket propulsion system is capable of being throttled, shut down, and restarted. This would be helpful in saving fuel consumption.
Rising Modernization Programs for Launch Systems and Components to Boost Growth
Recently, there has been a rise in the number of contracts associated with modernization between the National Aeronautics, Space Administration (NASA), and other key companies that are aimed at upgrading their launch vehicles and equipment. This includes the modernization of 3D printed rocket engines and launch vehicles.
Other than the U.S., some of the rapidly growing markets for space reusable launch vehicles are China, Russia, and India. Several companies in these countries are planning to develop their technologies to create a lightweight and cost-effective launch vehicle. After the successful launch of the polar satellite launch vehicle and geosynchronous launch vehicle, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is in the process of developing reusable satellite launch vehicle technologies to achieve low-cost access to space. Lowering the cost of access is the primary aim of the space program. The current launch cost is USD 20,000 per kg of payload, which has to be cut down by half through low-cost access to space. Thus, the increasing modernization of space programs will propel the growth of the market.
Increasing Usage of Low Earth Orbit for Internet Connectivity to Propel Growth
Recently, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the license to deploy up to one million user terminals throughout the U.S. for SpaceX’s Starlink Internet program. This will change the dynamics of the market. In the Starlink Internet program, in the first half of 2020, in a single launch, SpaceX has deployed 60 satellites in low earth orbit. The company is aiming to deploy 1,594 satellites by the end of 2020.
Further, it is planning to initiate the internet service by late 2021 or 2022. The firm is focusing on private beta service and will provide service in the U.S. and Canada. To deploy these satellites in low earth orbit (LEO), the company has four Falcon 9 reusable launch vehicles in its inventory. By the end of 2020, it is planning to manufacture additional ten reusable launch vehicles, which, in turn, will propel the growth of the U.S. reusable vehicle launch market during the forecast period.
Issues Related to Weight, Heat, and Vertical Landing of Reusable Launch Vehicle to Hamper Growth
The complexity in the design and development of the 1st stage of reusable launch vehicles is a primary restraining factor. Companies such as SpaceX, NASA, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Blue Origin LLC are focusing on research and development activities to create cost-effective and lightweight propulsion systems for the launch vehicle.
The heavyweight of reusable launch vehicles would lead to problems related to landing on the earth's surface. Heavyweight creates more friction and thus leads to high heat generation during vertical landing from the earth's atmosphere to the earth's surface. The use of lightweight material such as 3D printed components is considered for their designs. Companies are looking forward to developing various methods for landing the vehicle on the earth's surface. Recently, Rocket Labs developed a method to pick/collect the reusable launch vehicle with the help of helicopters before landing on the earth's surface.
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Fully Reusable Segment to Grow at a Faster Pace during 2020-2027
Based on type, the partially reusable segment accounted for a share of 75.04% in 2019 owing to the high demand for the partially reusable vehicle launch with high payload capacity suitable for the majority of satellite applications. The U.S. governmental norms in favor of reusable launch vehicle manufacturers would propel the growth of the market. The segment is expected to be a faster-growing segment during the forecast period due to the rising development of a fully reusable launch vehicle by SpaceX and Blue Origin LLC.
Single Stage Segment Dominated the Market in 2019 Owing to Rising Deployment of Small Satellites
Based on the stage, the market is segmented into single-stage and multi-stage. The single-stage segment accounted for a larger market share in 2019 owing to the rising deployment of small satellites in the low earth orbit. The single-stage reusable launch vehicle is generally used to deploy satellites such as earth observation satellites, navigation satellites (GPS), and telecommunication satellites in low earth orbit. The multi-stage segment is expected to be a faster-growing segment due to an increase in space exploration activities and huge investment by the U.S. government.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Segment Dominated the Market in 2019
Based on the orbit type, the market is segmented into low earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). In 2019, the LEO segment accounted for a larger share of 62.33% in the market and is also anticipated to be a rapidly growing segment during the forecast period due to the rising deployment of small satellite and earth observation satellites in orbit. SpaceX Starlink is expected to launch 12,000 internet satellites in LEO in the next five years.
The market size in the U.S. is estimated at USD 482.4 million in 2019. The dominance of this country is attributable to the presence of major players and the rising demand for small satellites for commercial applications in the U.S. This, along with the presence of favorable government policies and availability of the required infrastructure facilities in the U.S., is responsible for its dominance in the market.
A leading company named SpaceX is highly involved in the study and development of reusable rockets. It provides Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy under its innovative reusable product family. In March 2020, SpaceX received a license of 15 years from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy up to one million user terminals throughout the U.S. for its Starlink program. The company is focusing on launching a large number of Starlink internet satellites with the help of Falcon 9 reusable launch vehicles.
Key Player Focus on Developing Cost-effective & Reusable Launch Vehicle Systems
Key players are involved in designing and developing advanced, cost-effective, and reusable launch vehicle systems. Numerous OEMs are looking forward to developing technologically advanced software and hardware systems to simplify this process. Moreover, companies are persistently striving to establish a strong partnership with prominent firms of developed and emerging countries.
An Infographic Representation of US Reusable Launch Vehicle Market
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The U.S. reusable vehicle launch market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market. It focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, types, and leading applications of the market. Besides this, it offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. Moreover, it encompasses various key factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.
Value (USD Million)
By Orbit Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the U.S. market size was USD 482.4 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,634.9 million by 2027.
Registering a CAGR of 14.77%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).
The fully reusable launch vehicle segment is expected to lead the market during the forecast period.
The rising modernization programs for launch systems & components and the increasing usage of low earth orbit for internet connectivity are set to drive growth.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Blue Origin, LLC are the major players in this market.
Prominent companies are focusing on restructuring their supply chain management to streamline the operational process and resume their scheduled launches. They are also investing in research and development activities to create cost-effective reusable vehicles with higher payload capacities.
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