Small Launch Vehicle Market: Global Size, Share, Trends, Growth and Forecast 2022-2032
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Overview and Definition
The global small launch vehicle market is projected to reach USD 1.3 billion in 2021 to USD 4.5 billion by 2032, at a CAGR of 13.5% during the forecast period 2022-2032. Small-lift launch vehicles are rocket orbital launch vehicles that are capable of lifting up to 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) of payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The SLVs market is looking to gain significant global importance, owing to the rapidly growing number of satellite constellations for space related applications such as remote sensing, earth observation, communication, weather forecasting and of course, navigation and is set to grow at an enormous CAGR of 13.5% on the basis of value during the period 2020-2030.Other LVs except for SLVs have also been extensively developed in the recent times but have not completely superseded the small vehicles in that regard. Small vehicles can meet the requirements for various missions and can be less expensive than larger vehicles.
The small launch vehicle market has experienced rapid growth in recent years, driven by increasing demand for access to space for small satellites, particularly those in the nano and micro categories. Small launch vehicles offer a lower cost and more flexible alternative to traditional large rockets, making them an attractive option for startups, universities, and government agencies.
There are currently numerous companies working on developing small launch vehicles, with some already operational and others still in the testing phase. Some of the key players in the market include Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, Astra, Firefly Aerospace, and Relativity Space.
Rocket Lab is one of the most established players in the market, having launched over 100 satellites on its Electron rocket. Virgin Orbit has also made significant progress, successfully launching its LauncherOne rocket in January 2021. Astra is another company to watch, having made three launch attempts in 2020, with the third being a successful orbital launch.
The market is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, with increasing demand for small satellite launches. However, the small launch vehicle market is also highly competitive, and companies will need to demonstrate reliability and cost-effectiveness to succeed.
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Key Drivers
The small launch vehicle market is driven by several key factors, including:
Increasing demand for small satellites: With the growth of the satellite industry, there is a growing demand for launching small satellites. Small launch vehicles offer a lower cost and more flexible option for accessing space, making it easier and more affordable for organizations to launch their own small satellites.
Cost-effectiveness: Small launch vehicles can be developed and launched at a fraction of the cost of traditional large rockets, making them an attractive option for startups, universities, and government agencies that have limited budgets. This has also led to an increase in the number of private companies and startups entering the market.
Technology advancements: The development of new materials, propulsion systems, and manufacturing processes has made it easier and more affordable to design and build small launch vehicles. This has helped to drive innovation and competition in the market, with new companies emerging to challenge established players.
Regulatory environment: Governments around the world are beginning to create regulatory frameworks to encourage the development of the small launch vehicle industry. This has created a more favorable environment for companies to develop and launch their vehicles, helping to spur growth in the market.
Access to space: Small launch vehicles are capable of launching payloads into a variety of orbits, including low Earth orbit, sun-synchronous orbit, and geostationary orbit. This has opened up new opportunities for scientific research, remote sensing, telecommunications, and other applications.
The growth of this industry is attributed towards the growth of the commercial segment which has looked to dominate in the past two years and also is set to maintain its dominance throughout the coming decade. This is because access to space is pretty much the bottleneck of whole of the global space industry. Though launching new vehicles into the orbital space and beyond gives rise to natural initial failures, as seen throughout history, it is what makes success in this arena so special, inspiring and bountiful. This gives rise to the fact that there are far more small launch vehicles under development than even the most optimistic forecasts for demand can currently support.
Evidently, no space program is immune to the challenges that can come in this field. This is why different companies are looking to regularly innovate technologies that can better handle the harshest conditions which these vehicles are set to go through. With this comes the expensiveness in hand where even the most promising and pioneering organizations and the advanced technologies they come out with cannot compromise with the costs that endure it. But, with innovation comes efficiency, and with that comes cost reduction, which relatively amounts to lower costs required per launch mission.
Clearly, global interest in space-based capabilities is seen to be met with an all-time high rate of interest in the smallsats that have helped in accomplishing useful operations in the recent times. With reports of more than $2.5 Billion of investment in the past decade, the demand for small launch vehicles is set to rise at its peak.
Moreover, the economic recession that took place in 2008, which cannot be undermined, has since motivated the engineers and the accompanying authorities to focus on building cost-effective and economical systems that drive this sector.
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Challenges
The small launch vehicle market faces several challenges, including:
Technical challenges: Developing a small launch vehicle is a complex and challenging process that requires significant expertise in aerospace engineering, propulsion systems, and materials science. Many companies in the market are still in the testing and development phase, and there is a risk of technical failures during launch or in orbit.
Competition: The small launch vehicle market is becoming increasingly crowded, with many new companies entering the market. This has created a highly competitive environment, with many companies vying for a limited number of customers and contracts. This competition has driven down prices, making it difficult for companies to generate a profit.
Regulatory challenges: Launching a small launch vehicle requires compliance with a variety of national and international regulations, including those related to safety, environmental impact, and spectrum usage. Meeting these requirements can be time-consuming and costly, particularly for new companies that are still building their capabilities.
Market uncertainty: The market for small launch vehicles is still relatively new and uncertain, with limited historical data on customer demand and pricing. This makes it difficult for companies to forecast demand and plan their production and operations accordingly.
Dependence on government contracts: Many small launch vehicle companies rely on government contracts for their revenue. However, government budgets can be unpredictable, and there is a risk that a change in government policy or funding priorities could significantly impact the market.
Small Launch Vehicle Market : Report Scope
Base Year Market Size
Forecast Year Market Size
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Segmentation
(SLV) Market (by Payload Range)
(SLV) Market (by End User)
(SLV) Market (by Platform Type)
(SLV) Market (by Propellant Type)
(SLV) Market (by Region)
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Regional Synopsis
Asia-Pacific including the major countries such as China, India, and Japan, is the most prominent region for the SLV market and is expected to dominate the global SLV market with a share of 46.51% in 2020 with reports of China estimated to have acquired the major market share in 2019 due to the major deployment of SLV in different sectors in the country.
Europe accounted a significant rise in the satellite launch vehicle market overall in terms of revenue, resulting from a number of launches in France and Russia. Some advanced launchers that were witnessed were – Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega. But, the region could not see a considerable growth specifically in the SLVs market.
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Key Players
- IHI Corporation
- Lockheed Martin Corporation Ltd
- Northrop Grumman Corporation
- The Boeing Company
- Interorbital Systems
- Rocket Lab USA
- Space Exploration Technologies Corp and
- Spacefleet Ltd.
- China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
- Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd
Small Launch Vehicle Market: Recent Developments
In May 2020, Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne failed in its first launch attempt to reach the orbit.
In Oct 2020, ISRO was reported to launch its new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle on its first test flight before December this year. The SSLV (SLV) is a 34-metre three stage rocket powered entirely by solid fuel which can carry a 500-Kg payload to low-earth orbit.
In May 2020, Dhruva Space which recently won National Startup Awards announced its plans to set up new facility in Telangana.
In Oct 2020, Virgin Orbit reportedly started seeking $200 Million in private funding as it geared for a NASA launch of 10 small satellites.
In Sept 2020, Astra launched its Rocket 3.1 vehicle, but the flight ended during the small launch vehicle’s first-stage burn.