The need for helium by the space and satellite industry is increasing and needs to account for a much larger slice of the helium market in North America in the years ahead. Right now, the space industry buys between 6% and 8% of helium produced on the continent, but it will likely require 10% of helium production within five years, even accounting for a projected growth in helium production.
This need for extra helium supply for space and satellites was outlined by Scott Messer, Commodities Programme Manager for United Launch Alliance (ULA), addressing delegates at gasworld’s Helium Super Summit 2023. ULA is a Colorado-headquartered aerospace manufacturer, defence contractor, and launch-service provider with more than 60 years of history of space launches from its founding businesses.
“The crucial need for helium by the space industry is as great as ever,” said Messer. “It is a molecule with a lot of qualities that are essential to developing and delivering safe rocket launches, and the industry is growing strongly on many fronts, particularly in what we might call the cislunar econosphere between low Earth orbit and the moon.”
ULA – and its predecessor businesses – has completed more than 150 successful launches since 1960. Messer said the need for helium for rocket launches has been consistent ever since. Helium’s qualities as an inert, safe, dry gas with a low freezing point and multiple applications within the technologies used for rocket launches make it as ideal today as it was 60 years ago, said Messer. The size and weight of the molecule means it is also effective for finding leaks within tanks and systems, and for much more.
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