Over the last few years, no company has garnered more industry headlines and commentary than SpaceX. The launch provider, which promises to reinvent a critical part of the satellite market and lower the cost of access to space, has been one of the companies leading change in our industry. It has been an incredible force of energy and drive that has made the satellite industry attractive to young professionals at a time when the industry desperately needs to attract new blood.
However, SpaceX perhaps faces its toughest challenge yet after the spectacular launch failure earlier this month involving the Amos 6 satellite. While launch failures are not uncommon, and continue to plague the industry, this one made news far beyond the confines of the space community. The fact that Facebook was looking to use capacity on Amos 6 for its African broadband initiatives only heightened the interest. It will be interesting to see how SpaceX bounces back from this. While it has had other bumps in the road, this one is definitely the most serious yet.
Satellite operators place a great deal of emphasis on reliability. Satellites still take years to make and cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this, given how enthusiastic many operators have embraced SpaceX.
It also shows that, despite advances in rocket technology, launching satellites remains a difficult business. SpaceX has bought many good things to our industry, and the industry needs innovation across all sectors to remain relevant and prosper going forward. Certainly, lower cost access to space would bring huge benefits to operators looking to attack new markets with satellite capacity, but reliability will remain key when operators look to choose how they place their assets in space. We wish all the companies impacted by this launch failure well and hope they can bounce back from this. VS