In 2017, Space X, the company created by Elon Musk in 2002, became the world's leading rocket operator. With 18 launches this year, it outperforms Arianespace, which has completed 11 missions, and United Launch Alliance, the alliance of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp.
This success for Space X should not obscure another, bigger one: Elon Musk managed to demonstrate that his idea of reusing launchers, and thus reducing costs, was perfectly viable. Unlike his competitors, his rockets do not disintegrate in space and return safely to make new rotations to the stars.
According to the newspaper The World...the hyperactive billionaire doesn't intend to stop there. He is said to have scheduled about ten more launches for this year in order to reach a cruising speed of 30 to 40 launches per year.
Another challenge: Space X intends to launch the world's most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, in January of this year. Propelled by 27 engines, it is twice as powerful as the most powerful of today's launchers. It will thus be able to easily put into orbit a weight equivalent to a Boeing 737, "loaded with all its passengers, crew, baggage and fuel", says the operator.
The irruption of Elon Musk in the race for launchers is a major concern for European society, the leader so far. Indeed, not only does Musk multiply the number of launches, but he also breaks the prices. Arianespace cannot go unanswered. This is what the company intends to do by launching Ariane 6, with costs 40 % lower than current costs and therefore competitive with Space X. But the first launch is not scheduled until 2020. Where will Elon Musk be by then?