Small satellites are utilized for applications such as weather forecasting, surveillance, Earth observation, navigation, communication, and meteorology. Additionally, human space exploration or the creation of new space stations, are areas that have recently created a requirement for a high frequency of launches. As a result, there is an increasing interest among academics and the scientific community in designing and developing small launch vehicles (SLVs) capable of many launches and putting tiny satellites into various orbits at a reasonable cost.
The main characteristics distinguishing SLVs from conventional heavy launch vehicles are vehicle performance, which is determined by how much payload the vehicle can carry to a certain orbit, and launching cost.
Currently, the cost of launching SLVs is greater than that of conventional launch vehicles due to a shortage of SLVs in the market, lack of specialized launch sites, and high ground operation expenses.
SLVs are generally launched from major commercial launch facilities, which have high safety criteria in line with heavy vehicle launches. However, big space-faring enterprises intend to build their launch site to give cost-effective alternatives to SLV makers.
According to BIS Research, the global small launch vehicle market is expected to reach $4,624.0 million by 2032, with a CAGR of 13.34% during the forecast period 2022-2032.
Get your free sample report here
The capacity of additive manufacturing (AM) technology to build hollow complex parts, which leads to a reduction in the overall weight of the components, is the key reason behind its adoption in the launch vehicle sector.
Although AM was confined to the manufacture of prototypes, with the improvement of technology, additive manufacturing is now utilized to create functional parts.
The aerospace and military industries are in desperate need of cutting-edge machinery to develop and manufacture designs that must be faultless. 3D printing technology using lighter materials such as thermoplastics, composites, and metal alloys offers several advantages. Benefits include high corrosive and wear resistance, component lightness, shorter production time, no requirement for additional tooling, and material savings, making it ideal for use in the space launch industry.
SLV manufacturers are using 3D printing to create durable and high-performing rocket parts that outperform traditional production methods. Engineers are already experimenting with 3D printing additives for engine components, which opens up a world of possibilities for SLV makers in various space applications. As a result, the market is likely to benefit from ongoing advancements in 3D printing technology for rocket components.
Evolution of Small Launch Vehicles
Identifying the most cost-effective space launch strategy and building the architecture for cost-effectiveness will accelerate the expansion of small launch vehicle space projects.
The demand for less expensive and smaller launch vehicles is disproportionally higher, encouraging established aerospace organizations, and other emerging manufacturers to enter the small launch vehicle sector.
Most small satellite makers now deploy their satellites by launching them on a large launch vehicle designed for a specific space mission. This results in long launch lines, delays, and disappointing outcomes for small satellite operators, eventually increasing the entire mission cost. The problem of limited launch site capacity has a great impact on small space missions.
The space industry has increased its development of small launch vehicles in response to launch vehicle manufacturers’ move toward building smaller spacecraft and an emphasis on offering cost-effective and dedicated launch systems.
To conclude, small launch vehicles are being developed for use in the future and are mostly made up of dependable technologies for launching various payloads into space. However, new technologies in small launch vehicles, like reusable first stages, are being introduced, inspired by customer desire for lower-cost launches and flexibility in space availability and payload range.
Do you want to discover more about emerging technologies? BIS Research provides the most recent market insights and analyses. To learn more, please contact us at [email protected].