Spacelift Washington: EELV Debut Key to U.S. Launch Recovery in 2002

By frank_sietzen
January 7, 2002
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Spacelift Washington

Spacelift Washington Archive

WASHINGTON – Jan. 7 – The long-awaited dawn of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) era holds the key to a marginal recovery of market share by U.S. launch service providers, as shown by a review of the scheduled commercial launches in the 2002 Fiscal Year.

According to FAA data, nine commercially licensed launches valued at $694 million are planned for the fiscal year that began last October 1st. This is nearly double the $385 million value of the six U.S. licensed launches during the 2001 fiscal year. The difference, according to the Associate Administrator of Commercial Space Transportation, are contracts for Atlas V and Delta IV launches.

This recovery of sorts comes at a critical time for the U.S. Commercial Space Transportation industry. From a high of $1.183 billion in launches conducted during FY99, the FY2001 totals were the lowest in nearly a decade.

The value of the six were broken down as follows:

  • Two launches of commercial payloads on U.S. commercial boosters valued at $116.5 million
  • One launch of a U.S. government payload on a U.S. commercial booster valued at $13.5 million
  • Three launches by Sea Launch of commercial payloads, valued at $255 million

This record is a 50 percent decrease from the 2000 fiscal year which saw 12 licensed launches; and a 66 percent drop from 1999 fiscal year with 18 launches.

Globally, the situation shows U.S. providers with about 11 percent of the annual commercial launch events, with Europe at 45 percent, Russia 33 percent, and 11 percent multinational (Sea Launch). Europe continues to dominate commercial spacelift with a mix of Ariane 4 and 5 vehicles flying from Spaceport Kourou in French Guiana.
Enter the EELV.

The first EELV variant, an Atlas V AV-001 remains targeted for a late spring launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida, with the inaugural Delta IV launch still penciled in the calendar for summer. Additional EELV launches in the fall are also scheduled. Lockheed Martin has also scheduled Atlas IIIB launches for 2002. That vehicle uses several systems, such as the RD-180 engine, in common with the Atlas V EELV. U.S. Delta II civil and military U.S. government launches are also manifested, as are ILS Proton flights. There are no Delta III launches planned for the fiscal year.

In all during the 2001 fiscal year FAA logged 27 commercial launches worldwide, down from an average of 36 per fiscal year during the previous five-year period.

While the U.S. share of actual annual launches conducted is far behind Europe, U.S. providers have won just under half of the new launch contracts signed in 2001. Arianespace signed 13 of 25 worldwide contracts for Geostationary satellite launches inked during the year just ended, with 12 contracts signed by U.S. Delta Launch Services, ILS, or Sea Launch service providers.

There have been no new commercial launch contracts for Chinese Long March, Japanese H-IIA, or Indian GSLV vehicles announced in late 2001.

Starsem, the international consortium that offers Russian Soyuz variants for sale, plans 10 launches for 2002; a mix of Russian government missions including piloted and cargo flights to the International Space Station. One of these launches, in April 2002, may carry the second space tourist.


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