The Russian were ahead
Of the competition in the global launch industry. They had garnered about 50% of the market with their specially designed rockets. These rockets were designed to handle low orbit flights.
In fact, one of the leading Russian companies, Energia, had put a medium launch vehicle on in production fast lane. At the time it seemed like the Russians would hold on to their dominant presence in the space industry.
But then problems arose
As can happen when you do not take time to develop any product fully, problems can and did rise. These technical problems can cause a lot of difficulties when you are trying to gain the trust of wealthy business clients. They also undermine any sales pitch that can be made and show how unreliable a company has become.
If the problems cannot be fixed in the near future business can lose a lot of money. This is what has happened to the Russian companies. Their 50% stake has dwindled down significantly.
How big a cost
That is the question. Expert analysis has shown that these technical problems have hit the Russian companies quite hard. The market share only reaches around 5 ½ billion dollars. Since the Russian companies held a 50% stake in the market, their share before the technical problems were roughly 2 ½ billion dollars.
Now, after news of the technical problems reached the ears of the businesses involved, that revenue has dropped by $2,000,000,000. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, has downplayed the drop and stated that Russian companies are pursuing more lucrative space contracts.
There will always be competition
Even with Russia looking to target greater space revenue sources, the loss of $2 billion is a hard hit to overcome. Especially since the new market is highly competitive and only sees revenues in the rage of 14 to 15 billion dollars annually.
What seems to be happening by those comments is a pullout of the commercial launch market by Russian companies. They may be giving up because the technical problems have been too severe to overcome. It is also expensive for them to continue in that low revenue market.
They may have their eyes on other prizes not yet revealed to the public. It is hard to say, but it does look like the Russians have admitted defeat in the commercial launch market.