Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) is offering a 100 percent space launch vehicle “refund or reflight” program, to protect customers in the event of a total launch vehicle malfunction. The firm claims this new guarantee is a first for the industry. The programme also provides partial refunds for partial malfunctions, and applies to all future LMCLS non-U.S. government contracts
Commercial launch of Atlas V launch vehicle carrying ICO spacecraft. Courtesy: Lockheed Martin
Comment by David Todd: The claim from Lockheed Martin that this reflight guarantee is a first for the industry is suspect – at least for the reflight aspect. In fact, Arianespace has been offering a free reflight guarantee for several years. They operate a “captive” insurance company which offloads this risk of having to pay for one of these replacement launches via reinsurance to the international insurance market.
The move by Lockheed Martin represents a bid to capture more of the commercial market. The firm’s Atlas V rockets are noted for their reliability but their cost has always been a deterrent to their use for commercial uses. This move reduces the insurance costs at least for the launch vehicle element of any flight for customers.