U.S. space companies to benefit from Russia pullback: Quilty Analytics

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 49 Starlink satellites toward orbit on February 3, 2022.


Russia is rapidly distancing itself from much of the global space industry in response to Western sanctions imposed by its invasion of Ukraine and enjoyed by American companies, according to an analyst report on Friday. profit, according to an analyst report on Friday.

“Russia and Ukraine have for decades contributed significantly to the global space industry. Both are
powerhouse of rocket and engine expertise, providing launch services and propulsion systems to customers worldwide,” said Quilty Analytics, a boutique research and investment firm focused on aerospace businesses. pillar, wrote in an industry press conference.

Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos, with its Soyuz rocket, has long been one of the industry’s leading suppliers of launchers – sending satellites, cargo and crew into orbit.

As Russia retaliates and withdraws its launch services to American and European institutions, Quilty sees American companies as net beneficiaries, with several satellites now seeking to be put into orbit. By Elon Musk The founder of the research firm, Chris Quilty, told CNBC that SpaceX is the “clear winner.”

Now, SpaceX’s Starlink competitor OneWeb announced on Monday that it will transfer its internet satellite launches to Musk’s company, following the termination of a launch contract with Russia’s Roscosmos. OneWeb says launches with SpaceX will begin later this year.

“Russian launch activity is being pulled from the market at the exact moment that launch rates are hitting a new historic record. Someone needs to absorb this demand, but Europe is not in a good position because their top-down market approach,” said Quilty.

In addition to SpaceX, other companies provide space station services and develop new orbital habitats – such as BoeingAxiom, Sierra Space, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Voyager – ready to benefit. Quilty also sees Iridium Communications potentially obtained from providing satellite communications to Ukrainian and NATO forces.

Russia’s retaliation in space

A Soyuz 2 rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites on March 25, 2020 from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia.


Immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine, they began to retaliate against sanctions through Roscosmos – with the discontinuation of OneWeb internet satellite launch earlier this month one of the country’s first acts.

Quilty outlines Russia’s space retaliation in four categories:

  1. Soyuz rockets withdrawn from the European launch market
  2. Stop selling rocket engines go to USA
  3. Threat of disbandment of International Space Station partnership
  4. A neutralized cyberattack Viasat broadband service in Ukraine and other parts of Europe

In satellite and spacecraft manufacturing, Russia-based EDB Fakel manufactures propulsion units and supplies electric propulsion to OneWeb, Quilty noted, as do “several” manufacturers large geosynchronous satellite production.

“EDB Fakel estimates they account for about 10% of the global spacecraft market, a share they are likely to lose due to actions by the Russian government,” Quilty wrote.

The impact of the withdrawal of the Soyuz rocket from much of the global launch market has also been devastating. Soyuz has long played an important role in the middle of the launch market, and is a key element of Roscosmos and the Russian space program.

Soyuz has also benefited significantly from Western launch demand, with international civilian customers accounting for 51 percent of Soyuz missions since 2000, Quilty said. In addition, Russia’s launch infrastructure, with its three main spaceports, has accounted for a quarter of global launch activity since 2010, the company said.

“Losing Western customers and sources of demand (like the ISS) would be economically damaging,” Quilty wrote.

US companies

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on August 10, 2021 carrying a Cygnus spacecraft with cargo for the International Space Station.

Terry Zaperach / NASA Wallops

The company says it will need other suppliers and eventually a new space station if Russia pulls out of the ISS partnership or at least doesn’t expand its role beyond 2024.

American space companies will benefit. Quilty sees many companies capable of filling that void in services — with SpaceX and Sierra Space for cargo, Boeing and SpaceX for crew deliveries, and Four private space stations are under development: Axiom’s, Northrop’s, Starlab and Orbital Reef.

Quilty also identified five satellite imaging companies – Maxar, PlanetICEYE, Capella, and Black sky – obtained from the same day intelligence needs on the Ukraine situation.

“Several companies have been at the forefront of providing optical, supermicro and SAR imaging during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but most (if not all) EO players will benefit from the exposure. unprecedented,” Quilty wrote.

In terms of satellite communications, Quilty believes that Iridium could see an increase in demand for its Certus broadband and boost its voice devices and services.

“Iridium often experiences spikes in demand for narrowband voice/data services at a time of global crisis, including earthquakes, weather-related events, and pulses,” writes Quilty. military breakthrough”.

But Quilty also warned that Iridium could “face some setbacks in Russia,” where the company provides services to “thousands of users, especially in the energy industry.”

While United Launch Alliance, Boeing and Lockheed’s rocket joint venture, uses Russian-made RD-180 engines to power its Atlas V rocket, ending the sale of the engines “doesn’t happen” must be a big loss to ULA” as the company had noted, Quilty noted, the incentives to get out of the Atlas V. However, ULA didn’t benefit from Soyuz’s stranded customers, Quilty noted. , as the company ‘s replacement Vulcan rocket series is yet to launch and the remaining Atlas V rockets are already on order .

On the other hand, Northrop Grumman still buys Russian-made RD-181 engines to power its Antares rocket. In addition, the main body of the missile is manufactured by the Yuzhmash State Enterprise of Ukraine, making Antares “highly dependent” and said to be the “most damaged” US missile series in the Russian war. . While Northrop Grumman says it has what it takes to conduct two more Antares launches, meeting missions through early 2023, the rocket’s future remains in doubt.

“Without a resolution to the war, it’s unclear how Antares will continue without a full redesign. NASA is Northrop Grumman’s sole customer for the rocket,” Quilty wrote.

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