U.S. Launch Companies Having Hard Time Going Commercial

Pricing Remains Hurdle for Commercial Delta, Atlas Sales
Space News

The two companies selling U.S. Delta and Atlas rockets to commercial customers said they could not justify a full re-entry into the market given the continued tough pricing environment for commercial launches.

Speaking March 25 here during the Satellite 2009 conference — the same day that major satellite fleet operators all but pleaded that Delta and Atlas managers reconnect with the commercial market — they said there was no real incentive for them to do so.

“We have just completed our 87th consecutive successful Delta 2 launch,” said Ken Heinly, director of launch product services at Boeing, which markets the Delta rocket. “People want it, but we’re having a hard time getting to where it’s priced right.”

David Markham, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, whose Atlas 5 rocket also has an enviable success history, said Atlas’ main customer, the U.S. Air Force, appears ambivalent about whether to facilitate the rocket’s commercial availability.

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