Vector, on the additional hand, wants to use its little rockets to tap a fresh equatorial LEO market by launching dozens of little satellites. The company’s Vector-R rocket, which will be nearing its first orbital launch in July, will be about one-sixth the size of the often-watched SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. At less than $3 million per launch, Vector wants to use its rocket to tap into the rapidly-growing microsatellite industry.
Traditionally, equatorial LEO has been a minuscule portion of the satellite market. little satellites are usually destined for orbits running over the Earth’s poles. Reaching those polar orbits means “an equatorial launch site isn’t an advantage,” McDowell said.
Vector CEO Jim Cantrell thinks the demand for equatorial LEO will be already here. Last month, Cantrell expressed even more enthusiasm than Boeing as well as Lockheed Martin when he told CNBC his company “will be very interested inside the opportunity” due to the fuel efficiency advantage.
“by a satellite launch perspective, there are many who want to launch into equatorial LEO,” Cantrell said, in a follow-up interview. “We have seven customers at present that will are looking because of This specific. as well as [launching aboard a little rocket] will be one of those services no one seems able to provide, as these customers are definitely not able to find a rideshare opportunity.”
These are “American as well as European customers” for Vector, Cantrell said, as well as include both start-ups as well as established customers. Of those looking to launch with Vector, communications satellites “are probably 75 percent of the demand,” while remote sensing as well as imaging satellites are the remaining 25 percent, Cantrell said. The Vector-R rocket can lift about 80 kilograms into equatorial LEO, the rocketeer noted.
The Guiana Space Centre will be another launch complex inside the region, located to the north in French Guiana, a French territory. The complex will be positioned around 345 miles north of the equator, providing similar launch advantages as Alcantara. Operational for nearly half a century, the Guiana Space Centre will be owned by the European Space Agency as well as operated by the French national space agency.
“[The launch complex in] French Guiana has been a reason why [European rocket company] Arianespace has gotten so much of the commercial GEO market since the item commenced inside the 1980s,” McDowell said.