2022 was big. 2023 will be even bigger. • businessupdates.org

by Ana Lopez

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. I hope everyone had a peaceful holiday season and a festive New Year. Thanks again to all Max Q readers, whether you’ve been with me for many issues or are a recent subscriber. I am glad you are here.

I will deviate from my usual newsletter format. Instead, at the risk of having all egg on my face at the end of 2023, I want to make some predictions for the year ahead and what I think it has in store for the aerospace industry.

2022 may have been the space’s most blockbuster year in recent memory – at least since 1969. The historic cadence of SpaceX, the launch of Space Launch System and the return of the Orion capsule, major engineering demonstrations, ispace’s completely private lunar mission… it was a memorable year.

There is a lot to look forward to – so much, that next year could even surpass this year as the biggest for the aerospace industry yet. But many questions remain, especially about the nearer-term economic outlook, the ongoing geopolitical instability, and (ahem) some announced timelines that may or may not materialize. Here are two predictions – click the link above to read the rest.

1. More pressure at launch

It seems clear that there will be increasing pressure on the launch market as even more next-generation vehicles come online. We’re looking forward not only to the heavy-lift rockets – like SpaceX’s Starship and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan – but to a whole range of smaller and medium-lift launchers that aim for low cost and high cadence. These include Relativity’s Terran 1, Astra’s Rocket 4, ABL Space Systems’ RS1, Rocket Factory Augsburg’s One launcher, and Orbex’s Prime microlauncher. As we mentioned above, space industry timelines are notoriously tricky (and this caveat applies to the entire message), but it’s likely that a handful of new rockets will fly for the first time next year.

SpaceX Spaceship Booster 7

Image Credits: SpaceX

Evidence that new vehicles are driving down prices and increasing inventory means more launches and dates are available for private and public companies – and established players will have to work hard to maintain the lead they’ve built.

2. Major developments from the UK, China and India

The international space scene will continue to grow. While there is a lot to look forward to from Europe, we have our eyes on the UK, China and India. From the UK, we are expecting the country’s first-ever space launch with Virgin Orbit’s “Start Me Up” mission from Spaceport Cornwall. We also expect a lot of activity from the Indian Space Research Organization, as well as the launch startup Skyroot there. China had a big year 2022 – including completing its own orbiting space station and sending multiple crews of taikonauts – and we predict there will be no delay next year as the country tries to keep pace with US industrial growth.

Exactly how the decentralization of private space beyond a handful of major launch providers and locations will impact the industry is hard to say, but it will certainly help diversify the projects and stakeholders entering orbit.

virgin orbit horizontal rocket launch

Image Credits: Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson

Read more of our predictions here.

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