A small launch vehicle (SLV) refers to a launch vehicle (rocket) that can carry a payload of a maximum of 2,200 Kg to low Earth orbit (LEO) in a single mission, either dedicated or rideshare. Since the middle of the 1950s, small-lift launch vehicles have been in development and operation across the globe. After 2014, the SLV market witnessed exponential growth due to an increase in the number of SLV manufacturers and launch service providers. The increasing number of satellite constellations for applications such as communication, technology development, Earth observation, and remote sensing is expected to be the major driving factor for SLV market growth. As of February 2022, there were 17 operational small-lift launch vehicles and 99 small launch vehicles under development.
The global small launch vehicle market is expected to reach $4,624.0 million by 2032, with a CAGR of 13.34% during the forecast period 2022-2032. The use of small satellites for several applications such as Earth observation, communication, and space exploration is expected to drive the growth of the SLV market. Several programs such as Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) are organized for developing an affordable method for launching small satellites. In addition, with rigorous testing of new technologies and research and development work, ALASA is expected to introduce small launch systems to provide more reasonable, routine, and reliable access to space in less than $1 million per launch.
Some key players in the global small launch vehicle (SLV) market include: Arianespace, Astra Space, Inc., Northrop Grumman, Rocket Lab USA, Inc., ABL Space Systems, Blue Origin, Firefly Aerospace Inc., China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and Interorbital Systems among others.
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