What does a company (or government organization) do when a launch fails and the satellite they purchased to be put into orbit is lost? For the sake of the discussion, assume they have launch insurance.

It seems like they have three possibilities.

  1. They could rebuild the exact same satellite and launch that one a few months/years later.
  2. They could make incremental updates to the design to take advantage of more recent technology and launch an improved satellite.
  3. They could choose to do nothing and move on with other endeavors, absorbing the costs of development/launch.

Which of these possibilities is the most common, or does it depend heavily on the satellite itself?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ At first they should find the reason of failure. Was it a failure of the rocket or a failure of the satellite. Did the company pay for a launch insurance? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 7, 2018 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ Assume a rocket failure (e.g. the satellite would have been fine). I'd be interested in both with and without launch insurance. $\endgroup$
    – Dominic A.
    May 7, 2018 at 17:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you talking about the purchaser of the satellite or the developer/manufacturer of the satellite? $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    May 7, 2018 at 19:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For various reasons they may already have a second identical backup satellite produced at the same time as the primary one. If so, they can launch that one. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2018 at 1:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That previous comment needs an IIRC, because I do not and have never worked on satellites. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2018 at 1:50

1 Answer 1


Most common:
Commercial satellites are usually insured, and they're built in series. The series are not so large you can just order a new one for delivery tomorrow, but a commercial operator will generally choose to replace their loss with an identical satellite.

For one-off scientific projects, there have been cases where the project is abandoned (e.g. Beagle, Phobos-Grunt). In other cases the mission is attempted again with either an identical copy or an updated design.


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