Different space agencies and companies that were in their blooming years a decade ago, today see their customer base and consequently, revenue dwindle as they are losing market share to a new competitor in the market.
The reason for this is the constantly growing and innovative space exploration company called SpaceX.
Under the leadership of Elon Musk, also the CEO of Tesla, Neuralink and the Boring Company, his team has managed to accomplish amazing technological achievements in a relatively short span of time.
They are the first private company to launch a rocket into orbit as well as return the first stage of their Falcon 9 for reuse.
Now they are working on their new rocket prototype called Starship.
Starship will be a fully reusable two-stage rocket capable to eventually lift 150 metric tons to low earth orbit while being fully reusable.
Elon Musk claims that a price of 10 million us dollars per launch could be achieved by the fact that they reuse 100% of the rocket.
They can just refuel it and fly it again in a matter of days.
Once SpaceX manages to successfully fly the three variants of Starship. Which are the crew, cargo, and tanker version, it is very likely that most other space companies will have a difficult time surviving as they will not be able to undercut the cheap launch prices SpaceX will offer.
Besides the price advantage, Starship it’s capabilities will also be far superior to launch system operated by competing space launch providers.
Starship cargo version is able to carry loads with up to 8 meters diameter and a length of 22 meters where one side is tapered to 3.6 meters.
This will enable the transportation of large space-based telescopes, orbital living modules or for the surface of the Moon or Mars. The possibilities are endless.
It is very unlikely that customers wishing to launch their payload to orbit are going to choose for a launch provider which is at least a dozen times more expensive than SpaceX will be with an operational Starship.
Some might throw the argument that SpaceX rockets will not be as reliable as ULA’s rockets, Ariana space or Roscosmos.
However, SpaceX is able to fly their Starship multiple times in a week, which will enable them to build up a larger safety record for Starship within months instead of the many years it would take with a conventional expendable rocket. So safety will not be an argument anyone can use against SpaceX once they have a good safety record with their Starship.
As of now (2020), some companies like Rocketlabs are trying to innovate as SpaceX has done by attempting to reuse the first stage of their rocket called Electron. But they are more focused on the smallsat market and not on the big game. Like SpaceX.
But even here Starship will encroach on the possible customer pool for the Electron rocket since Starship will be able to launch smallsats as well, with a dedicated payload adapter. Starship will cover a very wide range of use cases which will be hard to match with existing rockets or ones in development by other launch providers.
Big launch providers will probably still keep local government contracts, but their commercial ones might be snatched away by SpaceX as this has already happened with Falcon 9.
Attempts at reusing parts of the rocket are being made by some companies in China and Russia as well. The good thing about SpaceX being the first to reuse their first stage is that now many others will seek to do the same, which is good for the overall development of the space industry. It means that the global expertise in this field is evolving which will help contribute humanity to becoming a space fairing civilization.
We will most likely see countries that have well-funded space programs starting their own reusable space access programs.
They will most likely draw inspiration from SpaceX technological developments and try to model their designs in a similar way, as it is proved to work. If space agencies do not innovate as SpaceX has done, they will be left behind and it will be difficult to catch up.