Orbital Payload Launch
From the launch of the Sputnik satellite on October 4, 1957, through the end of 2008, approximately ## orbital launches have occurred. These missions carried some ten thousand satellites, experiments, probes, landers, and other spacecraft on trajectories ranging from Earth orbit to missions beyond our solar system.
The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) prepare an annual forecast of global demand for commercial launch services. COMSTAC is a group of senior executives from space transportation, satellite, and government organizations.
China has announced plans to develop the Long March 5 heavy rocket.
Japan plans to replace the former M-V launch vehicle, which was active as recently as 2006, with an advanced solid rocket.
The European Space Agency is developing a small launch vehicle, Vega, which will be operated by Arianespace.
India is developing a heavy lift launch vehicle, the GSLV Mk-III, with a test flight planned in 2009 or 2010.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2008 U.S. Commercial Space Transportation Developments and Concepts: Vehicles, Technologies, and Spaceports report notes that a variety of orbital vehicles, shown in Exhibit 3f, are currently in development. Vehicles are classified by type either as expendable launch vehicles (ELV) or reusable launch vehicles (RLV). Please note that the FAA lists the Falcon 1 as developmental, even though it has been declared operational by its manufacturer. The vehicles in the upper portion of the exhibit have initial launch dates under contract.
“Despite the strong barriers to entry that prevail in the industry, some daring entrepreneurs are nevertheless attempting to challenge incumbents. The entry of low-cost launchers such as the Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX) Falcon-1 and Falcon-5, offered at USD 6 million and USD 12 million respectively, may…”
The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) prepare an annual forecast of international demand for commercial launch services. COMSTAC assesses demand for geosynchronous orbit (GEO) launches, and the FAA predicts demand for non-geosynchronous (NGSO) launches.