SpaceX is cementing its position as the gatekeeper to space even as ULA launches a spaceflight

SpaceX is cementing its position as the gatekeeper to space even as ULA launches a spaceflight

SpaceX is an amazing company by many metrics: valuation, reusable rockets, transporting astronauts, Wi-Fi in Ukraine. One metric that may fly under the radar is capacity. No one can match SpaceX’s ability to carry payloads into orbit. It’s a huge feature that Elon Musk’s space company is building on.

On Sunday, United Launch Alliance, or ULA, a 50/50 space launch joint venture between Boeing (ticker: BA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT), sent an Atlas V rocket into orbit carrying the rocket. Silent Parker mission. This is a joint mission of the National Reconnaissance Office and the US Space Force “to improve space domain awareness.”

The third time was a charm. The second attempt was canceled on Saturday after a problem was found during a “pre-launch ordnance circuit continuity check.” The first attempt was wiped out by the weather. Difficult to launch in Tropical storm.

The re-launch can be watched here.

Launches are cleaned up. This is no surprise. Space requires incredible precision and caution. However, ULA has now flown twice in 2023 after flying eight times in 2022.

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SpaceX has flown more than 60 times so far in 2023 after flying more than 60 times in 2022.

SpaceX has a great lead though and the ULA is no slouch. It has launched more than 150 missions and calls itself “the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider.”

And it may have to concede the title of “most experienced” to SpaceX, which has launched more than 260 times. Excluding missions flown for itself to put Starlink satellites into orbit, SpaceX has also completed approximately 150 to 160 missions for third-party customers, including transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station in a reusable space capsule.

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Boeing and ULA also have a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the space station, but Boeing’s Starliner space capsule has not yet received full certification. Boeing and SpaceX were awarded the initial crew transport contract at the same time in 2014.

Starlink satellites and those missions are certainly important to SpaceX. Almost there 4000 Starlink satellites It orbits Earth and provides satellite Wi-Fi at prices starting at about $120 per month. ULA is also in the space Wi-Fi game. It launches satellites for

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(AMZN) A competing Wi-Fi company called Project Kuiper. ULA is scheduled to launch a “first flight” of Kuiper later in September.

Capacity will eventually be an issue for Kuiper even as it tries to catch up with Starlink. Three space launch providers have been contracted to deliver the satellites: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which has yet to make an orbital flight, ULA, and European company Arianespace.

Ariane is a joint venture between Safran (SAF.France) and Airbus (AIR.France). The contract for 18 Kuiper launches signed in 2022 was Arianespace’s largest ever. SpaceX has launched 18 missions in the past 48 days.

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ULA says Baron It is expanding its capacity to meet the needs of its customers. However, it will have to go a long way before it, or any combination of providers, can match SpaceX’s massive launch capacity.

Elon Musk’s rocket company will remain the main guardian of space for a long time.

Write to Al Root at [email protected]

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