2019 Could Be A Boring Year For Space Enthusiasts

SpaceX only has about 19 launches on its manifest in 2019, significantly fewer than in 2018, as most satellite concerns will have recently replaced their satellites in orbit. This was forecast, as there was a lack of new satellite orders for manufacturing in 2015, and build-to-launch is a 2-year cycle.

During 2019, SpaceX will not be ready to launch their own Starlink network, and will probably not be ready to do test launches of the first or second stages of their new, larger rocket. There will probably be some test flights of Dragon 2.

Gee, maybe the satellite market is as inelastic as some people forecast, at least until prices fall even more.

In 2019 we might start to see Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and Stratolaunch might fly. ULA might fly a new version of the same old expendable rocket. ULA’s “Smart Reuse” – a scheme to eject and recover the engines while expending the rest of the rocket – is years away if it ever happens, and seems unambitious.  SpaceX is already at the point of a rocket that can re-fly 10 times without significant refurbishment, while Smart Reuse would have ULA rebuild the rocket for each launch.

Ariane’s CEO whines about SpaceX’s low costs and proposes nothing new. The Chinese and Russians are still far from reuse. India makes baby steps into a space program.

Hoping for some exciting news for 2019.