Chinese FT-1 – An assessment of the Chinese super-small solid-propellant FT-1 launch vehicle for commercial supply to the world launch services market
Launching small satellites of masses less than 1 ton, was, and continues to be one of the most in-demand areas of space business, with regard to launch services, although this area is neither the most profitable, nor even notable by annual numbers of launches. The moderate position for this specific segment of the global launch services market, can be explained by a range of interconnected reasons: thus, operation of these small satellites, cannot bring profits significantly less than profits from operation of geostationary communication satellites, whilst specific prices for launching these geostationary satellites, are comparable with those for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) small satellites. Indeed, a launch of a geostationary communication satellite, with a launch mass of 5 tons, into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), by a heavy launch vehicle, for a launch price of US$ 150 million, corresponds to a specific launch price of US$ 30,000 per kg of payload, whilst a launch of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) small satellite with a mass less than 1 ton (600-800 kg), by a small class launch vehicle, costs currently about US$ 25-30 million, which approximates the same level of specific launch price.
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