Wikipedia writes to say
...The Space Race sparked unprecedented increases in spending on education and pure research, which accelerated scientific advancements and led to beneficial spin-off technologies. ...
A few such technologies may be
- Remote Sensing
- Science Missions
Perhaps communications, and remote sensing Satellites form the bulk of any commercial launch payload.
In the early days few organizations/nations were capable of deploying to orbit. As of 2013 several nations may contract to deliver a payload to orbit ; USA, Russia, India, France, Japan to name a few. Similarly Lockheed, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Sea Launch form a small sample of private organizations headed into orbit - if not deep space, or transplanet.
With a virtual smörgåsbord of options to choose from, these few factors came to mind that may be relevant
- Track Record of the launcher
- Cost per kilogram to orbit
- Insurance/Liability in the event of failure to fulfil commitment
- Does cost to orbit make/break the sale for a satellite launch service?