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SpaceX set to ‘swallow up’ Russia’s share on global space launch market

In 2018, SpaceX expects to capture 65% of the commercial space launch market and Europe will get 30% while Russia’s share will drop to less than 10%

MOSCOW, July 14. /TASS/. The US private company SpaceX plans to capture over 60% of the commercial launch market in 2018, leaving Russia with less than 10%, SpaceX Senior Vice-President Tim Hughes said on Friday.

The SpaceX senior vice-president spoke before the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Technology of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology.

The schedule presented by Hughes in his report and based on the company’s forecast suggests that this year SpaceX will capture about 45% of the commercial launch market, the European operator Arianspace will get 40% while Russia’s share will equal 15%

In 2018, SpaceX expects to capture 65% of the commercial space launch market and Europe will get 30% while Russia’s share will drop to less than 10%.

According to Hughes, SpaceX is currently taking efforts to conduct a launch every two weeks, "with an even higher rate planned for 2018."

"Currently, SpaceX has approximately 70 missions on manifest, representing more than $10 billion in signed contracts for a diverse and growing set of customers, including NASA, the Department of Defense, commercial satellite operators, and allied international governments," the report says.

"Prior to SpaceX entering the commercial space launch market with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the U.S. had effectively ceded this market to France [Arianspace] and to Russia, and no U.S. company had launched a single commercial mission to GTO [Geostationary Transfer Orbit] since 2009. SpaceX has brought this multi-billion dollar market back to the United States," Hughes stressed.

The US Federal Administration’s commercial space transportation department said earlier in its 2016 report that the United States received nine times more revenues from commercial space launches than Russia last year. Thus, the US carried out 11 commercial launches, Europe eight and Russia two, getting $1.185 billion, $1.152 billion and $130 million, respectively.

According to the document, the US providers have started to cut off the share of commercial launches held by their Russian counterparts, beginning from 2014.

As the document explains, this can be attributed to a number of factors, including the emergence of the US private firm SpaceX on the market of launch services with a low cost of a Falcon rocket launch and the problems with control of the quality of products made by the Russian space industry, which resulted in accidents that prompted customers to start looking for an alternative offered by SpaceX.

As was reported earlier, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos is taking measures to retain its positions on the global space launch market. The Khrunichev Space Center has offered customers the shortened and cheaper version of the Proton carrier rocket - the Proton Medium. Instead of the Zenit launcher assembled in Ukraine, Russia plans to develop a Soyuz-5 new medium-class launcher.

Russian launch operators have set up Glavkosmos Launch Services to pull their efforts. The new company will deal with the launches of Russian rockets Soyuz and Dnepr (the converted version of the SS-18 ICBM) from Russian cosmodromes.