International Launch Services (ILS) has experience dating back to 1995 when it was a partnership between Lockheed Martin and several Russian firms. In 2006, Lockheed Martin transferred its interest to Space Transport, Inc. ILS uses the Proton heavy-lift rocket with a history back to 1965 and a record of 360 launches and a 95 percent reliability record. ILS and the Russian government launch about 12 flights a year, the most active in the industry for a single-launcher system. It launches both government and commercial payloads.
Arianespace SA is a French company founded in 1980 and composed of the French space agency CNES and 20 European companies with varying shares of capital stock. Its launcher family is composed of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz, and the lightweight Vega. All launches are conducted from its spaceport in French Guiana. Soyuz is the world’s longest-operated launcher and joined Arianespace in 2011. Soyuz is used for medium-weight telecommunications, scientific, and earth observation missions. As of 2012, there had been 61 launches of Ariane 5, with 47 consecutive successful launches. It launches both government and commercial payloads.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company. ULA uses the successful Atlas and Delta rocket programs (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles) to provide launch services to the United States government, including the Department of Defense, NASA, and the National Reconnaissance Office. ULA primarily uses the Atlas V (100 percent mission success rate) and Delta IV (used in five configurations from medium to heavy). ULA launches are conducted from Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. It launches mostly government payloads (commercial customers have comprised less than 20 percent since 2006).
Sea Launch Co. LLC was established in 1995 as a combination of companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States, managed by the Boeing Company. It uses a mobile sea platform to allow equatorial launches of commercial satellites on Zenit 3SL rockets. The equatorial launch capability allows for optimum earth positioning for increased payload capacity and reduced costs. Sea Launch reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, emerging successfully in October 2010. A Russian company, Energia Overseas Limited, is the majority stockholder after reorganization.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation—Space X, was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, a successful entrepreneur in completely unrelated technologies, and has successfully developed two launch vehicles, Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 Heavy Lift, both of which are developed with a goal of being reusable (RLVs). Space X has also developed a space capsule called the Dragon Spacecraft to be used in association with the Falcon rockets.
Space X is a Silicon Valley-style corporation, building most of its components in-house with a paltry 1,800 employees when compared to a competitor like Boeing, with 170,000 employees in 70 countries. Space X is moving ahead under a stiff headwind of resistance from some industry and government officials who had ridiculed the notion that a startup without contacts with proven aerospace firms could compete in this very small and specialized market.
Space X first made history in December 2010 when it became the first private company to send a spacecraft into earth orbit and retrieve it successfully. Again, on May 25, 2012, Space X became the first privately held company to successfully send a cargo payload to the International Space Station. It used its Falcon 9 launcher and its Dragon Spacecraft. Space X is expected to begin making regular runs to supply the ISS. This is a breakthrough into government business, which has been basically controlled by United Launch Alliance. It is also in competition with Boeing’s private space capsule in development called the CST-100, said to be launchable on the Atlas 5 rocket. Space X has NASA contracts in the $1.6 billion range.
The Dragon Spacecraft is also being reconfigured to carry up to seven astronauts into orbit. It will be equipped with the NASA Docking System for manned flights.
In addition to its government efforts, it has dozens of commercial contracts worth more than $4 billion to launch satellites for various countries and telecommunications companies.
Orbital Sciences Corporation was founded in 1982 and has heavy experience in the missile defense realm and in the manufacturing and launch of satellites for both commercial and military customers. It has successfully completed milestones in the NASA-run COTS program with its Cygnus Spacecraft and Antares-Taurus II rocket and has NASA contracts in the $ 1.9 billion range. It plans launches using these launch and space vehicles from Wallops Island, Virginia in 2013.
U. S. Spaceports
By June 2012, the following spaceports were approved or active.
U. S. Federal Launch Sites
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Vandenberg Air Force Base
List of active Launch Service Providers
• Earth20rbit (E20) http://www. earth2orbit. com/ (PSL V/GSL V)
• Antrix Corporation (PSL V/GSL V)
• Arianespace (Ariane 5/Vega)
• COSMOS International (Kosmos-3M)
• Eurockot (Rockot)
• Great Wall Industial Corporation (Long March)
• International Launch Services (Proton-M)
• ISC Kosmotras (Dnepr)
• Land Launch (Zenit-2SLB/Zenit-3SLB)
• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (H-IIA)
• Orbital Sciences Corporation (Minotaur/ pegasus/Taurus)
• Sea Launch (Zenit-3SL)
• SpaceX (Falcon 1/Falcon 9)
• Starsem (Soyuz-FG/Soyuz-2)
• United Launch Alliance (Atlas V/Delta IV)
• Alcantara Cyclone Space (Tsyklon-4)
FIGURE 41-7 Full list of launch service providers.
Edwards Air Force Base Wallops Flight Facility White Sands Missile Range Reagan Test Site
Non-Federal FAA-Licensed Launch Sites
Spaceport Florida-Cape Canaveral Cecil Field Spaceport-Florida Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport-Virginia Oklahoma Spaceport Mojave Spaceport-Edwards AFB Spaceport America-White Sands California Spaceport-Vandenberg AFB Kodiak Launch Complex-Alaska Poker Flat Research Range-Alaska Geophysical Institute
Sea Launch Platform-California-Equatorial Pacific Ocean
U. S. commercial launches to GSO are made from either Cape Canaveral Air Force Base or from the platform operated by Sea Launch in the Pacific. Launches to NGSO can occur from any U. S. launch site. The legislatures of the states of Florida and Virginia have passed legislation granting certain tax exemptions for investment in space assets and activities within those states.
Spacecraft Systems and Suborbital Launch Systems
Boeing is in the process of developing a spacecraft known as the CTS-100 (Commercial Crew Transportation System) for use with the Atlas V rocket. Boeing says that the spacecraft will be operational by 2015 as a part of a complete transportation system, consisting of spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations, mission operations, and recovery. It will utilize the Apollo-proven parachute landing system after reentry.
Sierra Nevada is an electronics systems and integration company involved with telemedicine, navigation and guidance systems, space, and other
cutting edge technologies. Its Dream Chaser concept of reusable spacecraft is being designed to be launched on the Atlas V rocket for low earth orbit access. It is a lifting body design that will carry up to seven passengers or cargo, can be crewed or autonomous, will feature low gravity reentry (1.5 G) pressures, and will have quick turnaround. The craft is in the aerodynamic testing phase in 2012.
Blue Origin is a startup private aerospace company that has received some funding from NASA under the Commercial Crew Development Program. The company was formed originally to develop means to provide suborbital tourist spaceflights, but has also indicated that it is in development of an orbital space vehicle that can be launched on an Atlas V rocket. It has also contracted with NASA for developmental work on a launch escape system.
Bigelow Aerospace was founded in 1998 for the production of expandable space modules to house space travelers in earth orbit. Due to the cancellation of the Space Shuttle and the lack of any reliable, affordable technology to replace it, the company instituted drastic cutbacks of staff and operations in 2011. It claims technology that
is superior to metallic capsules that will withstand micrometeor impacts safely.