China gears up to compete in the lucrative global space launch market with its new generation of commercial carrier rockets, which can carry up to 1.5 tonne payload.
The new Long rocket series comprises a cluster of solid-fueled rockets code-named the Smart Dragon (SD) family. This comes in competition to India's small rockets of not more than 100 tons that can send a 500 kg satellite into a 500 km orbit. The ISRO's Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is conceptualised to tap into the potential market as 8,600 small satellites are expected to be launched by different countries over the next decade, with a market value of around $42.8 billion in the coming decade from 2019-2028 (Euroconsult report 2019).
The current report of Euroconsult says Smallsat industry is highly diverse, with demand from a variety of operators, start-ups, universities, and countries.
Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses Ajey Lele said: "The market for commercial satellite is good, it is increasing only. Just few days ago, there were reports that Space X is now aiming to send at least 30,000 satellites into orbit for high speed internet.”
“So small and medium satellites have an increasing market, this is the reason ISRO is also developing small satellite launch vehicle," he added.
With the 28-meter long rocket, whether the China's reusable carrier rocket will replace India in the market of commercial satellites or not, Lele said: "India has launched smaller satellites using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which China can also do. China has just entered the market and India already has a lot of customers.”
“The rights for India's upcoming launch vehicle have already been sold. So, for the India's first launch from small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV), commercial organisations have already paid for launching their satellites. India has established itself but has not done many launches yet because PSLV cannot be primary for payload. But India will have a good future in this," he added.
He also said there could be competition between India. But India has got a good track record and it is also slightly democratic, which attracts a lot of countries. There could be competition between both the countries and they can co-exist in the competition.
Expected to be launched in 2021, Tenglong liquid rocket could peg the launch cost for each kilogram of payload around $5,000. The launch cost of the two countries could be comparable, Lele said.