SpaceX Has Nearly Monopolized Rocket Launches, But Competitor Rocket Lab is Stepping Up
When it comes to sending satellites, spacecraft and astronauts into space, Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has a near monopoly on the industry… and that’s becoming a concern for some.
- In the first six months of 2023, SpaceX managed 88% of American rocket flights, up from 66% in 2022.
- This year, they’ve launched 64 rockets into space, targeting 100+ for 2023 — while United Launch Alliance (a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing) has only sent two.
We have lift-off: In recent years, rocket launch demand has soared, driven by commercial satellite usage and renewed government interest. But during this week’s World Satellite Business Week conference, Lazard’s Managing Director Vikram Nidamaluri said it’s not healthy for SpaceX to dominate the rocket launch market (CNBC).
- SpaceX has a range of government and private customers, including NASA, which relies on them to send passengers to and from the International Space Station.
- But they also send their Starlink satellites into space — which has over 1.5M subscribers — and could become a concern for others worried about SpaceX prioritizing their own satellites.
The “mini SpaceX”
…Rocket Lab (NASDAQ:RKLB) is up 40% this year and has also benefited from rising demand in the industry. Per Barron’s, Rocket Lab is the only other private space company making significant sales — with 12-15 launches scheduled for 2023. That’s still far short of the launch goal of SpaceX, which was reportedly valued at a massive $150B this year with $1.5B in sales in the first quarter while churning out a profit.
Forward-looking: This year, private funding into the space industry dried up, which led to Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit filing for bankruptcy. But Space Capital’s Managing Partner Chad Anderson thinks the downturn could benefit the industry, expecting “less speculation will result in fewer competitors, and a larger talent pool that will make the next two years an attractive time to start and invest in space tech companies” (TC).