A New Generation...A Multi-User Spaceport
As the spaceflight industry continues to evolve, Kennedy Space Center is promoting itself as a multi-user spaceport with unmatchable advantages. Its unique capabilities, advantageous geography, and ample supply of land and resources, KSC is well positioned in the spaceflight market. By focusing on NASA programmatic responsibilities alongside the sub-markets of space transportation and technologies, satellite systems and payloads, ground and operations support systems, adventure tourism, and clean energy, KSC is developing a solid base of interrelated economic activities. This maturation into a robust spaceport will strengthen KSC’s brand by featuring a wider variety of activities and bringing a whole new generation of explorers into space.
The commercial spaceflight market is complex and dynamic, with many unknowns relative to technology development and market demand. This plan for maximizing KSC’s competitive position is based on extensive spaceflight market research conducted as part of KSC’s Master Plan that examines KSC strengths, risks, competitors, and customers. It represents the beginning of KSC’s evolution to a multi-user spaceport and is expected to be refined as planning efforts continue, the market evolves, and unforeseen factors such as the amount of government funding and resources fluctuate over time.
KSC must maintain NASA-funded programs while also seeking a customer base that will maximize the use of its assets. In addition to leveraging its core competencies, a strategy of marketing low cost development opportunities along with specialized infrastructure and resources will add value to the services KSC provides to the commercial client and provide the structure needed to establish itself as the world’s premier multi-user spaceport.
In order to accurately assess the future launch market demand, The Master Plan established classifications and sources of launch types. Projections for launches to non-geosynchronous orbit (NGSO) come from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), geosynchronous orbit (GSO) from Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) and suborbital from the Tauri Group. These forecasts do not include government (civil, military) forecasts.
KSC can use its unique qualifications and strengths to differentiate itself from other spaceports, helping it become a viable low-cost provider. Based on the market movements identified, forecasts and benchmark data, the following is a list of actions that can help achieve success for KSC as well as other players in the spaceflight market.
Trends from market analysis show KSC’s initial analysis of the macro-level trends and movements of the spaceflight industry, specifically the commercial spaceflight market, shows that, after meeting its government launch services mission requirements, KSC is able to leverage its capabilities and capacity to capture a portion of these opportunities. KSC is playing an important role in fostering the integration of new technologies and support industries that bring about healthy growth in the space economy. These trends that demonstrate a rapid growth in alternative flight modes and a variety of other future markets can shape current and future business opportunities and a competitive position for KSC and our nation.
KSC’s vision is to be the “world’s preeminent launch complex for government and commercial space access, enabling the world to explore and work in space.” In order to achieve this vision and create the ideal spaceport, it is crucial to assess the future market dynamics and identify the dominant tendencies that will influence the market. The future market analysis groups these tendencies into market movements.
Alternative Flight Modes
Traditional launch vehicles support both human and cargo payloads through a vertical launch platform and are built specifically for each mission. Non-traditional or alternative flight modes involve horizontal capabilities for both orbital and suborbital reusable vehicles (SRV).
Reusability – In March 2017, the industry achieved a
milestone when SpaceX successfully launched the SES-10 satellite aboard a previously
flown first stage of a Falcon 9 booster. The concept of a reusability to reduce
the cost of access to space has long been discussed in the space industry.
One of the greatest lessons NASA learned from
the Space Shuttle Program is that the economic benefits of “reusability” can
only be reaped if routine flight-to-flight operation of the element returns it
functionally intact. That means that the element is designed so that it is not
required to be routinely taken apart -- that critical vehicle structures and
mechanisms do not require disassembly and re-assembly between routine flights;
that critical electrical and electronic connections need not be disconnected
and that fluid and gas hoses, tubes, and ducts need not be disconnected.
Space Tourism – For suborbital and orbital reusable vehicles, the space tourism market is a driving factor. There are also Department of Defense (DoD) applications for both orbital and suborbital horizontal launches that are not discussed in this commercial-focused analysis.
What It Means to Kennedy Space Center
KSC is encouraging collaboration across the space market in order to advance the technology toward fully reusable launch vehicles. Working with commercial partners to establish this capability will dramatically lower the cost of space access and help to create the levels of demand that participants have desired since the beginning of commercial space.
Development of the small satellite market is generating increasing demand, and the growing activity in this sub-market could be beneficial to pushing other aspects of the larger space market forward as well.
In-Orbit Activities – The in-orbit activities that hold the most market potential include research and development services, manufacturing, satellite refueling, and orbital debris monitoring and management. Most funding for in-orbit activities is dedicated to research and development and many prizes are offered to stimulate interest. These include NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), the Google Lunar X Prize, and NASA’s Innovative Lunar Demonstrations.
Space Debris –The International Space Station (ISS), which was assembled in orbit from 1998 to 2011, provides a unique learning platform, but also requires constant monitoring of space debris that could cause damage. Also, as Earth’s orbit becomes more congested with satellites and other spacecraft, space situational awareness continues its importance. To address this threat, the U.S., European Union, and Australia have programs in place to ensure monitoring and tracking of space debris.
Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) - The advantage of placing solar collectors in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), about 36,000 kilometers above Earth, is that energy from the sun can be collected constantly and without obstruction, unaffected by the Earth’s day/night cycle. Limits on SBSP are technology and cost. SBSP is not forecast to be a competitive market for at least 15 years.
Point-To-Point (PTP) Transportation - Fast Forward is a high speed global point-to-point transportation investigative group that proposes a national strategy for moving the PTP model forward. This includes the pairing of the suborbital reusable technology and market with them high-speed aviation technology and market. This pairing can be an important stepping stone to the development of a robust high speed global PTP industry and eventually to safe, reliable, and affordable (i.e. reusable) access to space. As with other facets of spaceflight, the lower cost of access will drive higher demand. This is the most forward looking of the future markets.
Ground–Based ‘Virtual’ Space Theme Park - A potential new market is the ground-based ‘virtual’ theme park. This market will provide for an integrated ground and space-based destination, including attractions with a space theme for the purpose of education and entertainment. This market could provide the capability to establish ground-based capability with a transition into a probable space-based entertainment center.
Future markets offer KSC the opportunity to establish a sustainability brand by promoting the management of space debris and solar power as capabilities that could promote a sustainable atmosphere and a renewable energy source. A long-term focus would be to encourage in-orbit maintenance activities to help promote the re-use of items in space versus consistently launching new items. This would be the beginning of the life cycle cost approach for the space market.
PTP travel has an incredibly high price point and is best suited for dense metropolitan areas such as London and Tokyo for potential customers. Based on its more remote location, KSC should not focus commercialization efforts on this future market.
A Ground–Based ‘Virtual’ Space Theme Park could fit well within the KSC Visitors Complex, a theme park tourist destination. This could provide a unique partnership opportunity between KSC and any of the Orlando theme parks. In addition to generating commercial opportunities for KSC, it could promote interest in the space market and stimulate student interest in STEM-related career paths.
Learn more about how we will realize our vision
Download a copy of the executive summary
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