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Categories: 2016, Launch

Effects of Changing Economics on Space Architecture and Engineering

Driven by favorable economics and evolving technologies, the pace of change in the global space industry is due to increase even beyond recent developments.  For example, only a few of the new Earth-imaging constellations have begun to operate and none are close to full deployment.  Many more imaging satellites will be deployed in the next few years.  The market response to those that are already operating suggests vigorous market support for these images and many more. The new imaging satellites and other smallsats have created a large and growing demand for small, affordable launch vehicles.  Over 20 new launch vehicles are being developed to serve this demand.  At the other end of the size spectrum, the Falcon Heavy is poised to offer low-cost, super-heavy launches.  However, none of these new launch vehicles have yet had their first test flight.  Many opportunities enabled by these new launch vehicles have not been identified. The joint effects of all these changes will expand the trade space for aerospace systems engineering. The scale of the changes will call engineers to question not only their traditional spacecraft designs but also their overall architectures and even their lines of business.  Large rewards await those who adapt most effectively to new opportunities.  Driven by favorable economics and evolving technologies, the pace of change in the global space industry is due to increase even beyond recent developments.  For example, only a few of the new Earth-imaging constellations have begun to operate and none are close to full deployment.  Many more imaging satellites will be deployed in the next few years.  The market response to those that are already operating suggests vigorous market support for these images and many more. The new imaging satellites and other smallsats have created a large and growing demand for small, affordable launch vehicles.  Over 20 new launch vehicles are being developed to serve this demand.  At the other end of the size spectrum, the Falcon Heavy is poised to offer low-cost, super-heavy launches.  However, none of these new launch vehicles have yet had their first test flight.  Many opportunities enabled by these new launch vehicles have not been identified. The joint effects of all these changes will expand the trade space for aerospace systems engineering. The scale of the changes will call engineers to question not only their traditional spacecraft designs but also their overall architectures and even their lines of business.  Large rewards await those who adapt most effectively to new opportunities.

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Author: Gary Oleson
Topic: Launch