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Spacefaring nations sup­port their domestic launch sector to guarantee inde­pendent access to space. In an increasingly competitive global market, spacefaring nations need to adapt the economic model of their launcher industry in order to remain competitive.

Strategic assets for spacefaring nations

Independent access to space not only depends on being autonomous in terms of technology and infrastructure (i.e., the industrial base and spaceports). With new market entrants increasing competition on launch costs, independent access to space is now also dependent on the economic sustainability of the launch sector.

New industrial setups and practices, as well as modularity or innovative technologies, such as micro-launchers and reusable rockets, will drive the competitiveness of the launch sector.

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Growing competition on the open launch market

Competition in the launch sector has traditionally been between fully or partially state-owned industries. As the delivery of certain payloads is important to the national security of launching countries, a significant part of launch services is not open to private companies. On the open market, newly created private companies and non-historical spacefaring nations have been disrupting the established norms. As a result of the increasing competition, spacefaring nations have promoted their domestic launch systems through dedicated policies and measures, and also pushed their national companies to improve or develop new launch vehicles.

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Innovation as a strategic advantage

Launcher integrators and launch service providers are aiming at expanding their scope of activities through innovation and vertical and horizontal integration. Technological innovations, such as partial or full launcher reusability, methane propulsion or additive layer manufacturing, are expected to bring a strategic advantage on the launch market. In addition, business model innovations, such as sharing the risks of satellite launches with operators, are also being reviewed by launch companies.

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Launch companies need to increase their customer base

Despite being subsidised by governments due to its strategic importance, the launch sector is expected to face stable or declining government financing for flagship space programmes. As a consequence, launch companies will have to evolve and examine new markets. Historical launcher manufacturers and their associated service providers are considering new kinds of services, such as using micro-launchers for the flexible delivery of small satellites deployed as part of large satellite constellation programmes.

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Our specialised service offering


  • Revenue projections of global competitors
  • Customer surveys on LSP selection factors
  • Analysis of the market potential of micro-launchers
  • Analysis of diversification strategies for launch vehicle manufacturers

Socio-economic impact assessments

  • Impact assessments of new satellites players on the launch services market
  • Scenario analyses of the market impact of reusable launchers

Governance & Operations

  • Analysis of the governance between public and private actors to maximize competitiveness of launcher operations
  • Definition of levers to foster collaboration between scientific and industrial communities
  • Analyses of investor satisfaction in scientific and human spaceflight programmes
  • Elaboration of an integrated supply chain interfacing with external suppliers
  • Deployment support for «digital twin» approaches to provide real-time monitoring of production assets and launch infrastructure

Selected credentials

Benchmarking of the major space nations’ launch capabilities and policies

PwC was mandated by the European Commission to perform benchmarking on the policies of major spacefaring nations and their impact on their launch capabilities, their industrial landscape, and national and global launch markets. The analysis included an assessment of the launch market and a high-level forecast using identified trends and their impact on supply and demand. An analysis of the governance and cost structures of global launch systems was also performed. Using our results, we were able to provide the European Commission with strategic recommendations for the definition of the European launcher space strategy. Those recommendations were later assessed through a socio-economic impact assessment.

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Socio-economic impact assessment of Ariane5 and Vega programmes

PwC assessed the GDP impact of European Space Agency investments in Ariane5 and Vega launch activities. Social and non-quantifiable benefits associated with the programmes were extrapolated using in-depth analyses of the launcher supply chains, and the European launch operation capabilities.

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Market adjacency strategy for leading US launch system manufacturers and launch providers

PwC Strategy& has supported the full value chain of the launch industry, from inorganic strategies in rocket components to strategic positioning for propulsion and cost takeout for launch services.

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Global launch market forecast for European rocket propellant provider and space hardware manufacturer

Our team assisted a large rocket propellant provider in identifying emerging markets and opportunities for the development of their business worldwide including launch sand test sites. PwC also identified potential opportunities for the development of launch vehicle sub systems.

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Photo: NASA | ESA | CNES | SpaceX | Blue Origin | RocketLab | Maxar Technologies

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Luigi Scatteia

Luigi Scatteia

Associé Consulting - Responsable activité spatiale, PwC France et Maghreb

Tel: +33 1 56 57 58 46