Global Medium and Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle Market 2021
The global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market is projected to reach $9.75 billion in 2032, growing at a rate of 3.90% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032. This growth can be attributed to the increased space budgets of countries worldwide. The top spenders in the global space sector include the governments of the U.S., Russia, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, South Korea, and India. In 2021, global government expenditure for space programs exceeded $92 billion, showing a year-on-year increase of 10.7% from 2020. The U.S. leads in space spending, followed by China. With the rise in space spending, investment in launch vehicle manufacturing is expected to increase.
A launch vehicle refers to a spacecraft that transports payloads such as satellites, cargo, and humans to the Earth’s orbit. Medium lift launch vehicles can carry payloads between 2,200 Kg and 20,000 Kg to the Earth’s orbit, while heavy lift launch vehicles can carry payloads between 20,000 Kg and 50,000 Kg. Super heavy lift launch vehicles are capable of carrying payloads exceeding 50,000 Kg. The growing demand for commercial satellite launches, especially for applications like communication and Earth observation, is a significant driver of the global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market. The increasing space budgets of key nations such as the U.S., China, Russia, France, India, and Japan further contribute to market growth. In 2021, global government expenditure on space programs reached a record high of over $92 billion, with the U.S. and China leading in spending. The upcoming moon and mars missions will utilize heavy lift launch vehicles, driving their development and manufacturing in countries such as the U.S., China, France, India, and Russia. Additionally, the small launch vehicle market is witnessing the emergence of numerous startups developing their own launch vehicles to cater to the small satellite launch market. The medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market is dominated by established players such as United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), ArianeGroup, Roscosmos, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Avio S.p.A.
|No. of Pages||
USD 6.5 billion in 2020
End User, Subsystem, Launch Vehicle Class, Payload, Region
|No. of Companies Mentioned||
The market demand for launch vehicles is expected to continue growing due to an increase in the number of proposed satellites. The demand is driven by various factors, including the formation of large constellations of communication satellites to provide broadband connectivity, commercial human spaceflight, position navigation and timing services, and increased space exploration and monitoring. The commercial satellite industry has a history of responsible operations and relies on a safe environment to conduct ongoing and future space activities. Ensuring the involvement and support of the commercial industry in adopting space safety practices is crucial to reducing the need for excessive regulations. Ongoing innovations in space debris tracking, fusion and analytics, space data collection, launch vehicle design, and space weather are expected to enhance the existing space safety regime and ensure comprehensive and accurate flight safety products. Market players, both established and new entrants, are focusing on reusable small launch vehicles (SLVs) to reduce costs. For example, SpaceX’s Falcon 9, a partially reusable medium-lift launch vehicle, has conducted numerous successful launches, including missions to the International Space Station (ISS).
The global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market is poised to meet the growing demand for satellite launches. Governments and commercial end users are awarding multi-year contracts to launch vehicle manufacturers and service providers, driving the demand for medium and heavy-lift launch vehicles. New upgraded launch vehicles are replacing older ones and securing launch contracts in advance. The project cost for Ariane 6, for instance, is estimated to be approximately $3.6 billion, with the launch costs for its variants ranging from $75 million to $115 million. North America is a key region for medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle manufacturing, with prominent manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers such as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Falcon Heavy by SpaceX and Delta IV Heavy by United Launch Alliance (ULA) are the top two heavy lift launch vehicles in the region and globally. ULA plans to retire the Delta IV Heavy in 2024. The demand for launch vehicles is expected to continue increasing, driven by factors like government spending on space capabilities, the growing number of satellite operators, the emergence of new market segments, the demand for dedicated launch services, and the spaceport-based business model. However, challenges such as long development timelines for new launch vehicles and limited access to launch infrastructure exist. Opportunities in the market include commercial space stations and deep space missions.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including end user, subsystem, launch vehicle class, payload, and region.
Segmentation by End User
Segmentation by Subsystem
Segmentation by Launch Vehicle Class
Medium Lift Launch Vehicle
Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle
Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle
Segmentation by Payload
Segmentation by Region
North America – U.S.
Europe – France, Russia, Italy, and Rest-of-Europe
Asia-Pacific – China, Japan, India, and Rest-of-Asia-Pacific
The government segment is projected to dominate the global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market based on end-user analysis. In 2021, this segment was valued at $4,165 million, and it is expected to reach $5,922 million by the end of 2032, growing at a CAGR of 3.51% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032. Government space agencies worldwide are continuously developing efficient and cost-effective satellites to fulfill their diverse applications, including Earth observation, communication, navigation, remote sensing, academic research, and space exploration. Consequently, these agencies require a launch system with increased launch frequency in a year to address satellite constellation system failures or supply-demand imbalances. Leading government space agencies like NASA, ISRO, and ESA are focused on developing, designing, and manufacturing medium and heavy-lift launch vehicles to meet the exponentially growing satellite market demand.
From a subsystem perspective, the propulsion segment dominates the global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market. In 2021, this segment was valued at $2,326 million, and it is expected to reach $3,557 million by the end of 2032, registering a CAGR of 3.99% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032. Propulsion materials and structures are primarily influenced by the loads and environments generated within the engine or motor itself, such as thrust chamber pressure. The propulsion subsystem includes components such as tanks, plumbing/tubing, flow control units, pumps, combustion chambers, nozzles, and thrust control mechanisms. The launch vehicle propulsion subsystem presents unique challenges distinct from those faced by the same subsystem on a spacecraft.
In terms of launch vehicle class, the medium lift launch vehicle segment dominates the global market. In 2021, the global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market was valued at $5,833 million, and it is expected to reach $7,824 million by the end of 2032, growing at a CAGR of 2.91% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032. A medium lift launch vehicle is capable of lifting payloads between 2,200 to 20,000 Kg into Earth’s orbit, positioning it between small lift and heavy lift launch vehicles. The commercial launch market for satellite transportation into orbit is driving the growth of the medium lift launch vehicle market due to increasing launch demands and a shortage of available launch vehicles. This segment facilitates dedicated access to space for future medium-sized spacecraft and missions, potentially transforming and revolutionizing the space sector. Competition in this segment is higher than in the heavy lift and super heavy lift launch vehicle market but lower than in the small lift launch vehicle market. Countries such as the U.S., China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Italy have operational medium lift launch vehicles.
In 2021, the Asia-Pacific region contributed $4,188 million to the global medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market. By the end of 2032, the market in this region is projected to reach $6,230 million. Market growth in the region is attributed to the presence of China, India, and Japan, along with their increasing need for satellite launches, re-supply missions, space exploration, and plans to establish their own space stations. The availability of cost-effective launch services also contributes to the region’s market growth. Moreover, the rising space budgets of China, India, and Japan further propel the Asia-Pacific medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market. The presence of key market players like CASC, ISRO, JAXA, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the Asia-Pacific region also contributes to the market’s revenue.
The selection of the profiled companies was based on inputs collected from primary experts, as well as an analysis of their coverage, product portfolio, and market penetration.
In 2021, the market was primarily dominated by established players offering medium and heavy-lift launch vehicles, accounting for 90% of the market presence. Additionally, there were emerging market participants consisting of startup entities, which made up approximately 10% of the market presence.
Key companies profiled in this report include ArianeGroup, Blue Origin, LLC, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Interorbital System, Indian Space Research Organization, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Rocket Lab USA, Inc., ROSCOSMOS, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, United Launch Alliance, LLC.
Recent Industry Developments
In September 2022, an agreement was reached between OneWeb and Arianespace following the suspension of launches. Both companies are committed to exploring future opportunities, particularly regarding the utilization of Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle for the second generation of the constellation.
In July 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract worth $255 million to undertake the launch of the next space telescope, which will focus on the study of dark energy and exoplanets. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, boasting a diameter of 2.4 meters, is scheduled for launch in October 2026.
In 2020, NASA granted contracts totaling $256.1 million to Eta Space, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance. These contracts aimed to collectively develop, test, and validate the in-orbit fuel collection, storage, and distribution capabilities of these companies.
In December 2021, NASA entered into agreements with three U.S. companies for the purpose of designing space stations and other commercial destinations in space. These agreements are part of NASA’s ongoing initiatives to foster a robust, U.S.-led commercial economy in the low Earth orbit (LEO). The total estimated value of all three funded Space Act Agreements is $415.6 million.
In September 2021, Arianespace, a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, signed a contract with Skyloom. As per the agreement, Arianespace will facilitate the launch of Skyloom’s inaugural geostationary lasercom relay node using the heavy-lift vehicle, Ariane 64.
Key Questions Answered
What are the emerging trends in the smart harvest market, and how is the market expected to evolve from 2022 to 2032?
What are the primary drivers and challenges faced by companies operating in the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market?
How is the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market projected to grow during the forecast period of 2022-2032?
What opportunities exist for companies to expand their businesses in the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market?
Which region is expected to dominate the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market by 2032?
Which launch vehicle subsystem is forecasted to lead the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market by 2032?
Which launch vehicle component is anticipated to be the primary driver in the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicle market by 2032?
What key strategies are being implemented by major players in order to sustain competitiveness in this market?
What is the current and future revenue outlook for the smart harvest market?