Space: Cheap, Reliable and without Competition


July 1, 2023: On June 17th, SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) launched another of its Falcon 9 SLV (Satellite Launch Vehicle) to carry a 4.6 ton French SATRIA communications satellite into a HEO (High Earth Orbit) over Indonesia. The HEO means the satellite will always be in the same position over Indonesia, where it will provide Internet service to poorly served areas of the country. The first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to earth and landed near Cape Canaveral spaceport, where the SLV was launched. This first stage is reusable and this one will be refurbished for the 13th time, at a cost of less than half a million dollars. This cuts the cost of SLV launches considerably and gives SpaceX a major advantage against the competition. The less expensive SpaceX SLV launches have made it possible to put a lot more of these communications satellites in orbit over areas with little or no affordable communications services, including broadcast video as well as Internet service. The SpaceX SLV operations cut SLV use costs by more than half and have forced American and foreign launch providers to try and come up with something that can compete. SpaceX has been using its reusable first stage tech successfully for ten years and that track record has caused most SLV providers to lose business. Several foreign nations, including China, are trying to emulate SpaceX, but so far have not been successful.


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