We saw SpaceX joining the commercial space race last year led by Elon Musk and the move threatened companies that were already running the race. Over the last year, we have seen SpaceX rumble the space industry and that rumbling has led two of the titans in space business to form an alliance; Airbus and French rocket maker Safran as they have recently declared a new partnership.
There was a time when the space industry, commercially speaking, was run by three groups of companies; The United Launch Alliance (Lockheed and Boeing), Arianespace (Airbus and French Government) and International Launch Services (Lockheed and two Russian companies; Khrunichev and Energia). Before SpaceX, all the space launches relied on these three. However, now SpaceX takes contracts for launching missions for NASA and these companies seem to be taking the heat.
The major advantage right now that Airbus and Safran have over SpaceX is the experience and the majority of Government contracts that they own. Although Musk’s firm is expanding rapidly and showing good promise for future, they are still new to the space business. Despite this; SpaceX has certain advantages over these companies as well; the firm’s operational cost is relatively cheaper with the company also making progress towards the use of reusable rockets. In the longer run, we do see SpaceX taking out these big guns unless they are willing to do something about the cost factor.
The newly formed alliance is aimed at creating new launch vehicles but as of yet, there is no plan regarding re-useable rockets and therefore, we have serious doubts about how this partnership will be able to compete with SpaceX. However, no matter who wins the race; the real winners will be the consumers who will benefit from this race in terms of less cost and more facilities being offered.