Private Satellite Operators Seek U.S. Help

Led by former Sen. John Warner, the Coalition for Competitive Launches wants feds to foster worldwide competition in the provision of commercial satellite launches.

Four operators of commercial communications satellites-EchoStar, Intelsat, SES and Telesat-are calling on the U.S. government to encourage private sector competition for space launches. Currently, the United Launch Alliance, which makes Atlas and Delta rockets, dedicates virtually all of its capacity to launching U.S.-owned satellites.
The new Coalition for Competitive Launches, led by former U.S. Sen. John Warner, said the commercial launch business is currently dominated by Russian and French companies.
"This coalition is focused on providing greater, and more cost-effective, access to space. It seeks to increase launch vehicle options that could ultimately lower costs for users of communications satellites, while addressing the concerns of the U.S. government regarding the potential transfer of sensitive satellite technology," Warner said in a statement.
The four members of the coalition all provide a broad range of commercial satellite services in the United States, including direct-to-home television, video distribution, broadband and government services by satellite.
In addition to ULA's limited launch availability for commercial satellites, the coalition said one of the world's most reliable launchers is manufactured in China and has effectively been treated as off-limits to U.S. satellite companies for more than a decade.
"We call on the Defense Department, the State Department and other national security arms of our Executive Branch to take a new look at our country's launch vehicle capabilities and relevant export control policies," Warner said. "Current U.S. policies can and should be reformed to encourage competition and diversification for satellite operators, consistent with U.S. national security considerations."