SpaceX is Getting Some Competition!

By Cje95 | Texas Living | 17 Mar 2021

Rocket Labs: Entering the Big League of Launches

After initially focusing on small satellites weighing less than 300kg Rocket Labs has debut the Neutron rocket which has the goal to be able to launch payloads up to 8 tons!! Currently, Rocket Labs can launch a payload into low-earth orbit up to 300kg so this is a rather large jump by the company. The Neutron Rocket will be in direct competition with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and like Falcon 9 will be able to carry humans into space! 


Why does a company that specialized in small satellites move over to these much bigger and much more expensive launches you might wonder? It boils down to the market that Rockets Labs projects for future launches. In the future, they believe 80% of satellites will be going up as part of a satellite constellation so the smallsat launch services will not be a large enough market to be viable. Furthermore, it is estimated that current payloads in rockets average 4.5 tons which is why they decided to create an 8-ton payload rocket to be able to compete in the foreseeable future. 


Rocket Labs is also supposed to go public later this year through a SPAC which has been all the rage recently. This will allow them to raise further capital to be able to spend creating, designing, and testing this rocket!



Relativity Space: Scooping Up a DoD (Department of Defense) Launch Contract 

While SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Rocket Labs are pretty "common" in the space launching world Relativity Space is a rather interesting one. All of these companies have a goal of being cheap reliable launch companies and Relativity is no different however the way that they are going about accomplishing this. Relativity Space is a 3-D printing rocket company! They want to do this to be able to tailor each and every rocket to the cargo it will launch. 


The DoD contract that Relativity Space was with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) which is an interesting part of the DoD. What the DIU does is investigate innovative American companies to see which ones could serve a purpose for the DoD. When these companies are found and are seen as legitimate projects they serve as a "stamp of approval" for future DoD contracts. There still is an actual mission that is contracted out though to launch a satellite into low-Earth orbit which has not been disclosed yet. It will be interesting to see this company continue to develop and mature and see how far they can take the idea of 3-D printing a rocket. 

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Graduated from Texas A&M in May of 2020 had dabbled in crypto since 2017 but dove in at the end of 2019. December of 2020 packed up and moved to D.C.! Huge sports fan, space nerd, and international newsreader! Follow me on Twitter @Cje95_

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