SpaceX is announcing today that they will be building the next larger vehicle after the Falcon 9, a Falcon Heavy with a lift of about 32 metric tons to low orbit and the ability to put most commercial communications sats into geosynchronous orbit. This puts them into the lift capacity range of the current top end Delta, Atlas and Ariane vehicles and at a price of $96M will have a rather significant impact on the current marketplace.
I have heard unsubstantiated rumors (I have not had time to dig further yet) that SpaceX may already have a customer signed up. We will all know shortly as the official press conference will be streamed live at 11:20am Eastern Time.
This comes hot on the heels of one of the most incompetent reports (from Aerospace Corp) to hit the aerospace sector in a long time. The report claims that private commercial space will be more expensive than government programs and does so by using a model that is so divorced from reality that one wonders what they were smoking and where you can buy some.
Note: The Aerospace report is demolished here if you are interested.
ED: The Aerospace document seems to have been pulled. If anyone can find it again, the title is: “The Financial Feasibility and a Reliability Based Acquisition Approach for Commercial Crew – Presentation to Administrator Bolden”, John Skratt, The Aerospace Corporation. Perhaps it became too much of an embarrassment…
ED: I have a copy of the Aerospace document for you now.