Investing in Space: Here are the rockets chasing to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Investing in Space: Here are the rockets chasing to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Credit Cards





Credit Monitoring

Personal Finance

Small Business


Help for Low Credit Scores



All Credit Cards

Find the Credit Card for You

Best Credit Cards

Best Rewards Credit Cards

Best Travel Credit Cards

Best 0% APR Credit Cards

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Best Credit Card Welcome Bonuses

Best Credit Cards to Build Credit


All Loans

Find the Best Personal Loan for You

Best Personal Loans

Best Debt Consolidation Loans

Best Loans to Refinance Credit Card Debt

Best Loans with Fast Funding

Best Small Personal Loans

Best Large Personal Loans

Best Personal Loans to Apply Online

Best Student Loan Refinance


All Banking

Find the Savings Account for You

Best High Yield Savings Accounts

Best Big Bank Savings Accounts

Best Big Bank Checking Accounts

Best No Fee Checking Accounts

No Overdraft Fee Checking Accounts

Best Checking Account Bonuses

Best Money Market Accounts

Best CDs

Best Credit Unions


All Mortgages

Best Mortgages

Best Mortgages for Small Down Payment

Best Mortgages for No Down Payment

Best Mortgages with No Origination Fee

Best Mortgages for Average Credit Score

Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Affording a Mortgage


All Insurance

Best Life Insurance

Best Homeowners Insurance

Best Renters Insurance

Best Car Insurance

Travel Insurance


All Credit Monitoring

Best Credit Monitoring Services

Best Identity Theft Protection

How to Boost Your Credit Score

Credit Repair Services


All Personal Finance

Best Budgeting Apps

Best Expense Tracker Apps

Best Money Transfer Apps

Best Resale Apps and Sites

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Apps

Best Debt Relief


All Small Business

Best Small Business Savings Accounts

Best Small Business Checking Accounts

Best Credit Cards for Small Business

Best Small Business Loans

Best Tax Software for Small Business


All Taxes

Best Tax Software

Best Tax Software for Small Businesses

Tax Refunds


All Help for Low Credit Scores

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Best Personal Loans for Bad Credit

Best Debt Consolidation Loans for Bad Credit

Personal Loans if You Don't Have Credit

Best Credit Cards for Building Credit

Personal Loans for 580 Credit Score or Lower

Personal Loans for 670 Credit Score or Lower

Best Mortgages for Bad Credit

Best Hardship Loans

How to Boost Your Credit Score


All Investing

Best IRA Accounts

Best Roth IRA Accounts

Best Investing Apps

Best Free Stock Trading Platforms

Best Robo-Advisors

Index Funds

Mutual Funds



CNBC's Investing in Space newsletter offers a view into the business of space exploration and privatization, delivered straight to your inbox. CNBC's Michael Sheetz reports and curates the latest news, investor updates and exclusive interviews on the most important companies reaching new heights. Sign up to receive future editions.

No rocket has been better-described as a workhorse than SpaceX's Falcon 9. Historically a term reserved for the likes of ULA's Delta II (now retired) or Russia's Soyuz (now unavailable) or China's Long March (also unavailable), the blistering pace of Falcon 9 missions has seen the company blow past 200 launches to date, and become the staple of the Western market.

Even taking out Starlink missions, which make up roughly half of this year's 36 Falcon 9 launches, the rocket has cemented itself as a regular, reliable ride to orbit for anyone who doesn't – or can't – fly with China or Russia. And, as the Falcon 9 fleet continues its streak of booster landings, approaching 200 soon, SpaceX's launch cadence is made possible by its ability to reuse rockets in under a month.

Falcon is going up so much that you forget it's going up – it's almost boring, which is kind of what you want, ironically, BryceTech senior space analyst Phil Smith told me.

Concerns of SpaceX monopolizing the launch market through Falcon 9 have bubbled up more than a few times in the industry over the past year. For some context, BryceTech has a helpful graphic that breaks down the rocket market into classes, from Micro (e.g., Astra's Rocket 3.3) up to Super Heavy (e.g., SpaceX's Starship).

The launch market sweet spot for leading new entrant rockets – ULA's Vulcan, Rocket Lab's Neutron, Relativity's Terran R, Firefly's MLV – is in that heavy class. Aside from Blue Origin's New Glenn, the early theme is rockets that are close to the capability of Falcon 9 and less expensive. We've recently learned that Rocket Lab is targeting a price tag of about $50 million per launch for Neutron, while Relativity has been selling Terran R for about $45 million. Falcon 9 is advertised for $67 million per launch.

Notably, that market sweet spot shifted in recent years. Smith and I discussed how several of these companies were going after the small to medium side of the market, before deciding to bet on the heavy class instead.

What was underestimated was the enthusiasm among investors and startups to put together constellations [of satellites] that were huge, Smith said.

There was this thinking – and I still think to a certain degree it's true – that you need the small vehicles to get your [spacecraft] up there to do tech demos, and you're willing to pay a premium to get that done. And then you get the bigger vehicles to launch your bulk stuff, Smith said. But then the problem was SpaceX undercut that with the rideshare [missions] and killed it.

While Smith sees there being plenty of room to play in the heavy market for new rockets, the danger is how much of the pie is everybody going to get in that class. But he's confident that the workhorse — not sexy — doing the hauling of the mail type rockets will continue to be in demand from customers.

And even with Starship looming large, Smith doesn't expect the heavy-class to be made obsolete.

There will always be a need for a certain family of vehicles to pick from. I don't think Starship will be the panacea or silver bullet for all launch needs, and I think that Falcon 9 will be very hard to stop for SpaceX because the customer base will really want it, Smith said.

Got a confidential news tip? We want to hear from you.

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox

Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services.

© 2023 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBCUniversal

Data is a real-time snapshot *Data is delayed at least 15 minutes. Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis.

Data also provided by