# The most advanced private space company of the present time

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#### bearnard66

##### Active Member
What do you think is the most advanced private space company ( except Space X ) at the present time? Nowadays, private space company really succeeded and manufactures pretty good technology and space vehicle

#### Funkworks

##### Well-Known Member
It could be interesting to discuss the private space companies, but “advanced” can mean different things. A few meanings come to mind.

#### Nytrunner

##### Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
Also, this should really be over in the Watering Hole and not in the Mid-Power hobby section

#### timbucktoo

##### Well-Known Member
Staff member
TRF Supporter
Global Mod
Also, this should really be over in the Watering Hole and not in the Mid-Power hobby section
done!

#### boatgeek

##### Well-Known Member
Private space company is an interesting designation. Arianespace, ULA, and (to a lesser degree) Northrup Grumman all launch for private companies, but their bread and butter seems to be national space or defense agencies. Do they count as private? I dunno, but let's say they don't. I think it's pretty reasonable to exclude Roscosmos and the China National Space Program for obvious reasons.

Once I've made those handwaves, I think you're really left with two main contenders: Blue Origin and Rocket Lab.

Blue Origin:
Pro: Has re-used boosters, has developed large engines
Con: hasn't gone to orbit, uses relatively standard structural and mechanical approaches

Rocket Lab:
Pro: Has gone to orbit, uses some nifty new technologies (carbon composite rocket structure, electric fuel/oxidizer feed pumps)
Con: Hasn't gotten to re-use yet, still relatively small

Which would I choose? I think I have to go with Rocket Lab because Blue Origin seems to be a lot more gradatim and a lot less ferociter than it was even a few years ago. I probably would have chosen Blue Origin of 5 years ago over Rocket Lab now.

#### Peartree

##### Cyborg Rocketeer
Staff member
Global Mod
It depends a lot on what you mean by "advanced." Just like people mean different things when they say that an athlete is "in shape." In shape for what? An Olympic class swimmer would likely be hopelessly behind in a 100 meter dash against a colege level sprinter. An Olympic sprinter likely wouldn't stand a chance against a good amateur marathoner in a 26 mile race even though all of those athletes are "in shape" what you train for makes a difference. Which company has the most advance technology? Which is most likely to be profitable? Which is producing technologies that will benefit the human race? All are very different questions.

#### dr wogz

##### Fly caster
Scaled composites & Virgin Galactic also come to mind.. (despite a few set backs..)

Can't beat them on sexy-ness!

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I would go with Rocket Labs. Only other private company actually launching paying customers into orbit.

#### bearnard66

##### Active Member
It could be interesting to discuss the private space companies, but “advanced” can mean different things. A few meanings come to mind.
I mean companies with interesting technology and space crafts. Ive recently found one spacecraft from a private space company and I want you to discuss it and maybe you will share something interesting with me

#### OverTheTop

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I vote for Rocket Lab. I agree with the reasons mentioned above. I also have to vote for our comrades across the ditch .

#### bearnard66

##### Active Member
I vote for Rocket Lab. I agree with the reasons mentioned above. I also have to vote for our comrades across the ditch .
The spacecraft by a private space company that impressed me the most was rocket XL The fact that impressed me the most about this spacecraft- is that it is intended for placing payloads into Sun- Synchronous Orbit.

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#### jqavins

TRF Supporter
What do you think is the most advanced private space company ( except Space X ) at the present time? Nowadays, private space company really succeeded and manufactures pretty good technology and space vehicle
Private space company is an interesting designation. Arianespace, ULA, and (to a lesser degree) Northrup Grumman all launch for private companies, but their bread and butter seems to be national space or defense agencies. Do they count as private?
That's been my response for a long time when people talk about SpaceX as the first private company to [name your favorite accomplishment]. But ULA (prior Lockheed Martin and Boeing launch services along with use of the Russian Proton rocket), Arianespace, and Northrum Grumman (including the former Orbital Sciences) are all private sector companies. They launch a lot of government payloads, but they do so on a contract basis, just as they do for their commercial customers. So how are they not "private space companies"? SpaceX today also does government launches. By "private" do you mean that they began in the space business with commercial contracts first and only took on government contracts later? In that case, Arianespace and Orbital Sciences would still count, if I've got my history right.
Which would I choose? I think I have to go with Rocket Lab because Blue Origin seems to be a lot more gradatim and a lot less ferociter than it was even a few years ago.
Ooh, learned two new words today. And I'm already already quibbling; having looked both up, I find that ferociter is an adverb, but you've employed it as an adjective. In Blue Origin's motto it modifies the (adjective) graditim.
I probably would have chosen Blue Origin of 5 years ago over Rocket Lab now.
That seems like a hard argument to make. If Blue Origin was more "advanced" five years ago than Rocket Labs is today, and Blue Origin has advanced since then, albeit gradually, how can they be the less advanced today?

I mean companies with interesting technology and space crafts. I've recently found one spacecraft from a private space company and I want you to discuss it and maybe you will share something interesting with me
Ah, but then there's still ambiguity. What's a "spacecraft"? In the satellite industry, the satellite is the spacecraft, and the rocket is just the "launch vehicle". So did you mean to include satellite manufacturers (possibly only those who had commercial customers before government ones)?

The thing about SpaceX and "The first private space company" is that it's actually just marketing hype. Hype that other startup companies have jumped on board with. While I respect what Musk has done, with Tesla as well as SpaceX, one of his greatest skills is self-promotion. In that respect, he's the Steve Jobs of those two industries.

#### boatgeek

##### Well-Known Member
Ah, but then there's still ambiguity. What's a "spacecraft"? In the satellite industry, the satellite is the spacecraft, and the rocket is just the "launch vehicle". So did you mean to include satellite manufacturers (possibly only those who had commercial customers before government ones)?
It's a funny thing, isn't it? I guess it comes down to perception. Five years ago, Blue Origin had just landed New Shepard, and it looked like they were racing ahead. At the time, I wouldn't have been surprised to see them put people in space within a couple of years, beating SpaceX to that punch as well. Since then, despite releasing a new large engine for production, it seems like they've stagnated. Maybe that's because we're used to either the flamboyance of Elon or the relatively open progress statements of a NASA project. Quiet and slow development is kind of weird.

I feel like an advanced company should be continuing to make advances, and I don't really get that feeling from Blue Origin. That's probably horribly unfair, but since this is all the feelings of Some Dude on the Internet, you'll just have to accept that unfairness.

(Also, I was never very good at Latin)

#### Funkworks

##### Well-Known Member
I mean companies with interesting technology and space crafts. Ive recently found one spacecraft from a private space company and I want you to discuss it and maybe you will share something interesting with me
I just learned about Blu Shift Aerospace today, so maybe I’d go with that. It’s advanced in the sense that they appear to be trying out a new fuel they claim has advantages.

#### Antares JS

##### Well-Known Member
Rocketlab, since they have actual orbital missions under their belt.
Astra coming up close behind them because of their recent nearly-perfect flight attempt.

Blue Origin is really an enigma at this point. There is definitely stuff going on with New Glenn development, but they are being really secretive about it. Regardless, All they have right now that we know about is a couple of suborbital flights a year and a launch pad and plant for New Glenn. ULA has no flight-capable BE-4 engines yet either, only pathfinders for testing.

I think the spirit of the question is excluding the Big Three (Boeing, LockMart, and NG).

#### Antares JS

##### Well-Known Member
To add a few more thoughts on the Big Three:

NG only makes solid rockets, and that only since they bought out Orbital ATK. Their only liquid system, Antares, is a frankenrocket that uses a Zenit first-stage core built in Ukraine and the RD-181 from Russia, with a solid second stage. Therefore, they don't make their own liquid systems. However, since they now include Orbital ATK and no one else really does it nearly as much, NG is probably THE place to go at this point for a (non-hobby) solid rocket.

LockMart has the heritage of the Atlas, but again, they don't make their own engines anymore now that the Atlas 5 uses the RD-180 from Russia. They are buying out Aerojet though so this may change, however no users have emerged for the Aerojet AR-1 engine, which is basically just an American-built RD-180, and NG's GEM boosters were chosen over Aerojet's boosters for the upcoming ULA Vulcan. However, the RL-10 engine isn't going anywhere with upcoming use on the SLS and continuing use on Centaur upper stages.

Boeing's last few years have been marred by a few colossal, public screwups with the 737-MAX debacle and the Starliner test flight. The rocket that they built which ULA inherited, the Delta 4, is being retired. SLS was slammed by the GAO as being over budget and behind schedule because of poor management (though whether this is more NASA's or Boeing's fault is not clear to me).

Also worth noting about all three, aside from NG's solids, none of them have as much "vertical integration," i.e. make as much stuff in-house, as SpaceX and RocketLab.

#### jqavins

TRF Supporter
And remember that the 737-MAX business really has nothing to do with their space businesses except that they all have the Boeing name on them (and the same stock holders). Apart from that, Boeing rockets, Boeing commercial jets, and Boeing military jets might as well be three completely separate companies.

#### manixFan

##### Not a rocket scientist
A distinction can be made between SpaceX and the other 'big ones' mentioned by jqavins in that SpaceX is privately held, while all the others are publicly traded. So by that definition SpaceX is a private company, which is a commonly used distinction in the business and investment world.

Much of what Musk does with SpaceX would not be tolerated at a publicly held company. And it's that freedom that has allowed SpaceX to thrive as an innovator in space transport.

Tony

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#### jqavins

TRF Supporter
I can't argue with that. Privately held and private sector are certainly not the same thing, and SpaceX is the only one of the biggies that's privately held, as you say.

I believe, however, that when people talk about "the first private space company to..." they're predominantly talking about private sector, erroneously conflating the others with NASA, ESA, etc.

#### TomJo

##### Member
I think the spaceflight industry is very different from other markets.
Yes, surely someone will be ahead of the planet. But this will not make the rest of the participants less in demand at the moment. Each country wants to join the space race and supports its own space companies and startups.