SpaceX wins Sentinel 6B radar satellite launch contract

SpaceX has won an agreement to send off the joint US-European Sentinel 6B radar satellite as soon as November 2025. Five years ago, NASA also selected SpaceX to launch Sentinel 6A, the first of two similar satellites to be launched into the global orbit. The radar altimeter was designed to be used to determine the sea more accurately than ever before.

In October 2017, half a year after SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 rocket booster was reused and before cost savings, NASA asked SpaceX to launch a 1.1-ton (~2500 lb) relatively small 1300-ton rocket. $94 million prize. kilometer (~810 mi) orbit.

Five years and after two months, NASA has granted SpaceX $97 million to send off an almost indistinguishable satellite into a similar circle, from a similar platform, with a similar rocket. SpaceX is far from the same company it was in 2017 and the half-decade since it has effectively mastered Falcon booster and payload fairing reuse.

Starting in March 2017, SpaceX has reused Bird of prey supporters on 130 send-offs, including touchy US military missions and even NASA space traveler dispatches. SpaceX has sent off almost 70 inward Starlink missions (conveying in excess of 3600 SpaceX-assembled satellites) without bankrupting the organization. CEO Elon Musk has said the modest cost of a Falcon 9 launch is just $15 million while another executive once estimated the total cost of a Falcon 9 launch with flight-proven hardware at $28 million.

Maybe most fundamentally, SpaceX won an agreement in 2019 to send off NASA’s little IXPE X-beam telescope on a Hawk 9 for just $50 million. SpaceX finished the mission in December 2021 by sending off the 330 kg (~730 lb) shuttle into an around 600 km (~370 mi) circle. IXPE was at first expected to send off on Aerojet Rocketdyne’s disturbed air-send off Pegasus XL rocket, which sent off a little NASA space apparatus for about $55 million.

By and large, this may be the best explanation for why both SpaceX and its executives have continually reiterated that the company aims to radically reduce the cost of orbital launches, turning those costs into major price cuts. No pressure felt. Basically, in spite of the way that SpaceX has transparently examined its expectations for over 10 years, there is no rocket on Earth that can beat the Hawk 9’s mix of execution rhythm, unwavering quality, and reasonableness.

In return for an indication of cutthroat tension from the remainder of the business, especially for contracts restricted to US industry, SpaceX has concluded it can legitimize those activities however much the benefit it can produce. Surprisingly actually even grayer than a portion of the restricted numbers.

SpaceX has repeatedly lowered prices and become more flexible for Smallsat rideshare customers over the past three years. Furthermore, representing five years of expansion, SpaceX’s $94 million Sentinel 6A agreement would be worth about $114 million today, implying that its $97 million Sentinel 6B send off agreement in fact addresses an unobtrusive 15% markdown. does.

It is also likely that SpaceX’s main rivals, ULA and Arianespace, will charge hundreds of millions of dollars more to launch Sentinel 6A or 6B on their current or next-generation rockets. In any case, their current rockets have no extra limit with regards to new agreements and their new Vulcan and Ariane 6 rockets still can’t seem to fly, leaving SpaceX with practically no genuine contest.

For better or worse, it appears that Falcon 9 rideshare customers and SpaceX’s own Starlink group are the major beneficiaries of the Falcon 9’s extraordinary new capability. With potential competitors entering the market like Rocket Lab’s Neutron, Relativity’s Terran-R, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and ULA’s semi-reusable Vulcan version, that’s not likely to change in the mid to late 2020s. Is. While SpaceX’s pricing is unlikely to revolutionize others’ access to space, the Falcon 9 will remain an exceptionally affordable and available option for all launch customers, including NASA and ESA.

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