Space: May 17, 2001


Quality problems with satellites and launch boosters threatens to shut down the commercial (and much of the military) space launch industry. The problem is that a steadily-mounting failure rate is using up the available insurance pool, and without insurance many of the 20+ commercial and untold military launches will simply not happen. The space launch insurance industry has paid out over $900 million in each of the last five years, while taking in premiums of just over $1 billion. The available pool of insurance is steadily shrinking as companies lose money and drop out of the market. There was $1.2 billion of insurance written in 1999, but only $1.1 billion in 2000 and only about $1 billion will be written this year. The pool is expected to fall below $900 million by 2002.--Stephen V Cole


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