Space Propulsion and Space Transportation Systems Market
The space propulsion and space transportation systems market is divided into several segments, such as in-space propulsion, sub-orbital propulsion, earth-to-orbit and sub-orbital propulsion, and propellant management. Each segment is also subdivided into chemical and non-chemical. Some of the major players in this market are Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., Safran, IHI Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, SpaceX, and others.
Propulsion systems are used to accelerate and propel artificial satellites. Various methods can be applied to the propulsion process, depending on the specific requirements of the vehicle. Among the various types of propulsion techniques, the chemical system is widely utilized by space vehicles. This type includes solid propellants, hydrazine based systems, and other mono- or bipropellant systems. Typically, the total impulse capability required by the propulsion system is sufficient for in-space maneuvering.
Despite its use, the chemical system is nearing its physical limits. As a result, new efficient and flexible propulsion systems are necessary. New advances in this field include the development of lighter materials, less-dangerous ion drives, and improved engines.
There are two basic types of space vehicles. Larger satellites are typically positioned in geostationary transfer orbits and sun-synchronous orbits. Often, they are accompanied by smaller satellites. In this context, it is important to understand that the Earth is situated fairly deep in a gravity well. Therefore, most of the spacecraft launched from Earth have simple, reliable chemical rockets.
However, the demand for small spacecraft with higher performance, lower costs, and reusable systems is rising. This is why the growth of the non-chemical propulsion and thrusters segment is expected to outpace the overall market. Also, the space industry is witnessing a rise in the number of missions for military and government agencies. Moreover, the increased budget for space exploration is driving the space propulsion market.
For in-space applications, the optimum design of the propulsion systems is determined by the need for high-thrust, low-mass, and short-term acceleration. Spacecraft can be accelerated by increasing the power output of the thrusters or by using a gravitational slingshot. It is important to remember that the law of conservation of momentum states that a space vehicle’s acceleration must be greater than its weight. Depending on the type of engine, this is either the case or it is not.
Another option is to use beam-powered propulsion. Beam-powered propulsion involves the creation of sails by beams of light, magnetic fields, or particle beams. Although it has proven to be a reliable and effective system, the potential for further advances lies in the use of lighter materials and more efficient engines.
One example is the development of the Epsilon S launch vehicle, which was envisioned in a Basic Agreement. This agreement describes the development of the Epsilon S, and the implementation of the launch service business. This vehicle will carry commercial and military space mission, and it will be developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and IHI Corporation.
Regardless of the type of space propulsion and space transportation systems, it is important to keep in mind that the cost of space is falling as the sector becomes more commercialized. As new technologies are developed and the market for space services expands, the price will continue to fall.