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Forecast International Issues 'Launch Vehicles: Year in Review 2016'

Stage Set for Renewed Activity in 2017

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| Source: Forecast International, Inc.

NEWTOWN, CONN., Jan. 30, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Forecast International has released a report of all space launches in 2016. The report summarizes the number of launches and payloads carried, and breaks down the launch market by manufacturer and country.

Highlights in 2016 include the first launch of the Chinese Long March 5, a successful return of multiple Falcon 9 first stages, the return to flight of Orbital ATK's Antares and Pegasus rockets, and the emergence of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on the international commercial launch market.

According to the report, "Launch numbers in 2016, like those in 2015, were down from a high point in 2014." Only 85 rockets lifted off in 2016, compared to 87 in 2015 and 95 in 2014. However, the report's author, William Ostrove, notes that "while the number of launches declined, the success rate remained steady – holding at about 96 percent over the past five years."

In 2016, the number of payloads launched also declined. In the four previous years, the number of payloads carried had risen as a result of the proliferation of small satellites. However, the grounding of launch vehicles popular with small satellite operators reduced the number of payloads carried per launch from 3.0 in 2015 to 2.5 in 2016. But despite the drop in 2016, Ostrove said that the decline in payloads is not expected to last. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to carry over 100 payloads on a single launch, while Spaceflight Industries will carry 89 in another flight. The upcoming introduction of dedicated launch vehicles to carry small satellites, such as Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne and Rocket Lab's Electron, will provide additional slots for small satellite operators.

Russia's Soyuz was the most popular launch vehicle in 2016, as it has been for decades. Other popular launch vehicles identified in the report are the Falcon 9, a relative newcomer to the market; China's Long March 2; ULA's Atlas V; the Ariane 5; the Long March 3; and the PSLV. One launch vehicle that has declined in popularity in recent years is Russia's Proton. Ostrove says that "problems within the Russian launch industry have reduced the reliability of the rocket, and commercial customers have responded by switching to competitors like the Ariane 5 and Falcon 9."

China and the U.S. dominated the launch market in 2016, splitting 52 percent of all launches. Russia came in third, with launch numbers declining due to the industry problems mentioned above. The report indicates that in the U.S., multiple manufacturers compete for market share. However, the Chinese market is dominated by state-owned CAST.

The report wraps up with a brief look at what will happen in 2017. Forecast International expects a rise in the number of small payloads lifted into orbit, following the decline in 2016. The new year will also witness the continued development of reusable launch vehicles at SpaceX and Blue Origin. Finally, the U.S. and China are expected to continue to dominate the launch industry as China pushes ahead with its ambitious space exploration plans, and the rise of entrepreneurial companies continues in the U.S.

To access the report, visit http://blog.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/launch-vehicles-year-in-review-2016/#more-2336.

About Forecast International

Forecast International, Inc. is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. The firm maintains a high posture of situational awareness and geopolitical analysis. Based in Newtown, Conn., USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments used by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide. Forecast International's resources and extensive base of experience can also be readily adapted and efficiently focused to fulfill a broad spectrum of civil and military consulting and special research requirements.

Ray Peterson
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Forecast International 
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