PARIS — With the size and growth of commercial markets uncertain, launch companies are looking to government agencies to varying degrees for stability and funding for the development of new vehicles.
That range of interest in government support became clear during a panel discussion at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference here Sept. 10, when executives with three American launch companies — Blue Origin, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance — discussed what would happen if they didn’t win a major U.S. Air Force launch competition.
The three companies, as well as Northrop Grumman, are all competing for the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement, having submitted bids a month ago. The Air Force is expected to select two companies in 2020 to share up to 34 national security launches from 2022 through 2026, while cutting off any development funding the losing companies received in Phase 1 of the program.
Asked what their “Plan B” was should they lose the competition, the executives offered a range of responses. At one end of the spectrum, John Elbon, chief operating officer of ULA, acknowledged losing the competition would be a “significant impact” to the company.
“Government business is a significant ...