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BlackStar Orbital's Competitive Edge in the Reusable Smallsat and Earth Return Vehicle Market


The reusable smallsat and Earth return vehicle market has experienced significant growth due to technological advancements, reduced launch costs, and increased investments in the space sector. BlackStar Orbital Technologies Corporation's BlackStar LEO reusable spaceplane offers unique advantages in this market. This analysis examines BlackStar Orbital's competitive positioning and provides a detailed economic breakdown of the benefits of their reusable spaceplane compared to competitors in the reusable smallsat and Earth return vehicle market.

Market Overview

The smallsat market has been growing rapidly over the past few years, driven by factors such as lower launch costs, increased investments, and technological advancements. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global smallsat market is projected to reach around $15.69 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 20.1% from 2021 to 2028 (MarketsandMarkets, 2021). The increasing demand for smallsats for Earth observation, communication, and other applications will continue to drive the market's growth.

Furthermore, the reusable satellite market has the potential to disrupt the traditional satellite market by offering more sustainable and cost-effective solutions. The adoption of reusable satellites can significantly reduce the environmental impact of satellite launches and contribute to space sustainability (Siegle, 2015).

Competitive Analysis

1. Outpost Space:

Outpost Space's Ferry satellite, backed by a $1.7M DoD contract, lacks the versatility and customizability of BlackStar Orbital's BlackStar LEO spaceplane.

BlackStar LEO's reusability allows for a more cost-effective operation, translating to lower costs for clients, which gives it an economic advantage over Outpost Space's single-use Ferry satellite. The Ferry satellite primarily focuses on bringing payloads safely back to Earth without burning up in the atmosphere (Payload Space, 2022).

2. Plasmos:

Plasmos' Space Truck lacks reusability and the ability to replace traditional satellites. It is designed to accommodate payloads of varying sizes, depending on the configuration (SpaceNews, 2021). BlackStar LEO's reusability reduces operational costs and provides a more sustainable solution, giving it a competitive edge over Plasmos' Space Truck.

3. Varda:

Varda focuses on microgravity manufacturing, utilizing the unique environment of space to produce specialized products. BlackStar Orbital directly competes with Varda in this regard, as BlackStar LEO's versatility supports microgravity manufacturing efforts by providing customizable solutions for transporting and delivering payloads. Additionally, BlackStar Orbital has entered into an agreement with High Frontier Mining Corporation to transport specialty products mined from near-Earth asteroids and lunar materials for in-space and Earth-based customers. This partnership further strengthens BlackStar Orbital's competitive edge in the market. (TechCrunch, 2021)

4. True Anomaly:

True Anomaly's Jackal orbital pursuit spacecraft emphasizes onboard software for reactive and autonomous systems. BlackStar LEO's edge computing and autonomous flight capabilities make it a superior option for next-generation defense applications, outpacing True Anomaly's offerings. The ability to tailor BlackStar LEO with advanced software systems enables it to serve as a versatile and robust solution for defense and intelligence missions (DefenseNews, 2021).

Economic Breakdown

BlackStar Orbital's competitive edge lies in its ability to provide more affordable satellite services through the BlackStar LEO spaceplane's reusability and versatility. The reusable spaceplane reduces manufacturing and operational costs, which in turn lowers the price for clients, allowing them to access satellite services more affordably.

When analyzing the reusable smallsat market, it is crucial to consider the cost of manufacturing, operational costs, and potential revenue. Based on the information provided, BlackStar Orbital's manufacturing costs and payload capacities for each of its vehicles are as follows:

BlackStar-C: $1,250,000 (200 kg payload)

BlackStar-LEO and BlackStar-M: $5,000,000 (500 lbs payload)

BlackStar-X: $7,000,000 (10,000 lbs payload)

Using these figures, we can calculate the potential revenue generated by each vehicle over a projected 30 year lifespan:

BlackStar-C: $5,000,000 - $25,000,000

BlackStar-LEO: $35,000,000 to $50,000,000

BlackStar-M: $50,000,000 to $100,000,000

BlackStar-X: $100,000,000 to $200,000,000

With the expected production of 10-100 vehicles per year, BlackStar Orbital's annual revenue projection ranges between $400 million and $650 million by the end of the decade. This revenue potential, coupled with the company's innovative technology, makes it an attractive investment opportunity.

The cost structure of BlackStar Orbital's satellites ranges from $500,000 for the bare-bones cubesat carrier to upwards of $5 million for more advanced packages. This cost structure enables the company to offer competitive pricing in the market while still maintaining profitability. By providing financing terms with flexible payment options, BlackStar Orbital makes its technology more accessible to a wider range of customers.

BlackStar Orbital's reusability and edge computing capabilities allow it to compete effectively against other companies in the smallsat market. The reusability factor not only reduces costs for clients but also contributes to space sustainability by limiting the environmental impact of satellite launches. Additionally, edge computing allows for high-speed data processing, which is vital for defense and intelligence applications.

By forging strategic partnerships with the US Space Force, NASA, and industry leaders, BlackStar Orbital maintains its competitive edge through rapid innovation and research and development. This strategy ensures that the company stays ahead of its competitors, leveraging its first-mover advantage.


BlackStar Orbital Technologies Corporation's reusable BlackStar LEO spaceplane positions the company as a strong competitor in the reusable smallsat and Earth return vehicle market. With its focus on innovation, technology development, and customized solutions, BlackStar Orbital is poised to capture a significant share of the growing smallsat market.

The company's economic advantages, such as lower manufacturing and operational costs and flexible payment options, make it an attractive investment opportunity. By addressing the needs of the smallsat market and providing superior defense capabilities, BlackStar Orbital establishes itself as a leader in the industry.

In summary, BlackStar Orbital Technologies Corporation's BlackStar LEO spaceplane offers a unique value proposition in the reusable smallsat and Earth return vehicle market. The economic advantages of the company's technology, coupled with its focus on innovation, strategic partnerships, and superior defense capabilities, position BlackStar Orbital as a strong competitor in the growing smallsat market. By addressing the specific needs of this market segment and providing cost-effective, versatile, and sustainable solutions, BlackStar Orbital is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the industry.


DefenseNews. (2023). The future of defense in space. Retrieved from

Siegle, L. (2015). The quest for sustainable satellites. The Guardian. Retrieved from

MarketsandMarkets. (2021). Small Satellite Market by Mass, Application, Subsystem, Orbit, End User, Frequency and Region - Global Forecast to 2026. Retrieved from

TechCrunch. (2021). Varda Space Industries closes $42M Series A for off-planet manufacturing. Retrieved from

Images Courtesy of: Varda Space Industries

True Anomaly LLC

Plasmos Inc.


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