The World’s Longest OSC Story

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

oco taurus xlOK, the linked article below isn’t quite a press release; it’s more of a long-form summary of what Orbital Sciences Corp has going on, some of it not-so-good:

Glory mission: fail

Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission: fail

The Taurus XL has been less-than-stellar, especially with its consecutive failures, but it only has one mission left (the OCO re-flight scheduled for 2013).  Outside of that, the OSC picture brightens quite a bit.

Waiving off a few launch failures, what’s caused OSC’s corporate success?  Part of it is catering to a category of satellites that doesn’t require a behemoth launch vehicle; part of it is space diversity (launch vehicles, services, satellite building, launch locations, MDA work); part of it is likely regulatory capture with much of OSC’s work done in Arizona; part of it is recognizing changing market conditions like this:

Orbital purchased 20 percent of the hosted-payload space on Iridium’s [new] satellites and has about 10 customers identified. Some might want to buy space on one satellite, some of them might want to buy it on 10 and some of them potentially would want to buy space on all satellites.

“Some” in the above paragraph is likely a euphemism for the U.S. government.

While OSC links much future business (for example, Landsat 8) to an emphasis on space-based environmental science said to be favored by the current administration, the fact of the matter is the OCO and Glory missions funded across the Bush administration.  The bigger point is hanging your business model on a particular administration is an imprudent thing to do.

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