Efforts to develop small-scale rockets are soaring, but only a few get off the ground


News Brief: The latest “State of the Industry” report for small orbital-class launch vehicles tracks 101 reported efforts to create such rockets, compared with a mere 31 in 2015. But many of those efforts are defunct or in limbo, Northrop Grumman’s Carlos Niederstrasser said today at the SmallSat Conference in Logan, Utah. “We’re definitely starting to see attrition” in the industry, he said. Niederstrasser said only four small launch vehicles have entered service since 2015: three Chinese rockets and Rocket Lab’s Electron. He also noted that the per-kilogram price for putting a payload in orbit can go as high as $50,000. “These small launch vehicles are not going to be the cheapest way to get into the orbit,” Niederstrasser said. “Their main selling point is convenience. … If you really want the cheapest access to space, you’re still pretty much left with the rideshare domain.” Check out the full report.