THE OTHER GUYS
Despite Rocketlab’s blue-chip backers, the commercial space race is stacked with well-heeled players, including:
Airbus – The European consortium is responsible for many satellite launches, plus it recently revealed plans for a recoverable first-stage containing 80% of the rocket’s economic value: the engine, avionics and propulsion bay;
SpaceX – Founded by Tesla’s Elon Musk, SpaceX’s rockets have already docked with the international space station and they’ve put many satellites into orbit. The company claims to be working on a recoverable rocket too;
Virgin Galactic – Richard Branson’s glamorous rocket-plane system (pictured) promises to launch small satellites into low-Earth orbit with a fully recoverable launcher. Beck regards Virgin Galactic as the nearest competitor.