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On December 21, Elon Musk’s Space X made its first successful landing of a reusable booster rocket during an orbital launch.
Mr Musk, the founder of the Tesla electric car company, called it a “revolutionary moment”.
Yahsat’s chief executive expects this milestone to represent a big step in efforts to bring down space related costs.
“A significant breakthrough is what happened …. This will help,” says Masood Mahmood.
“In conversations with them [Space X] they have told us their aim is to bring the cost of launch to a fraction of what it is today. I can say that the successful mission … is one step closer to that.”
“Today, for every launch the cost is on average, depending on size of the satellite, between US$70 million to $120m – every launch. You use it only once.
“In our discussions with Space X they used the analogy of flying a Boeing 777 to LA once and then discarding the plane and getting a new one. It doesn’t make any sense.
“So what they are saying is reusable launching capabilities should help bring efficiencies up and costs down such that it will not just be to the benefit of the satellite industry but space travel as well,” Mr Mahmood says.
“Definitely it will bring the costs down and push the industry towards innovation, so the industry is at the cusp.
“You have people like Greg Wyler leading a constellation called OneWeb. His objective is to bring the cost of manufacturing a satellite to a fraction of what it is today.
“He has devised a plan and he has involved the industry. He has signed up with Airbus, Hughes, a lot of backers to support his vision of making satellite connectivity so cheap that everyone can get it at ridiculously low prices. For that to happen he needs to invest in the innovation of production processes and the designs of these satellites.
“Now people are starting to pay attention to the satellite industry. Let’s shake it, let’s address the taboo questions that ‘oh, you cannot innovate to bring costs down to increase longevity’ and all that,” says Mr Mahmood.
“Really it is a different era for satellite and space – this is the most exciting it has been in this industry.”
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