How is the market for small satellites developing?
Previously, the satellite market was driven by large satellite production being launched into the GEO orbit. These satellites are highly capable with sophisticated technology yet are costly and time consuming to manufacture.
The result is a limited launch of just a few satellites per year.
What does this mean for the aerospace industry?
Small satellite production has disrupted the space industry significantly. Small satellites being launched into the LEO orbit can be produced at a considerably lower cost compared to traditional larger satellites. With this lower cost comes opportunity for increased production rates, resulting in more new launches per year.
Growth is so strong that strategy consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan expects a total of 20,425 satellites to be launched between 2019 and 2033, taking the small satellite launch market beyond US $28 billion by 2030.
With this growth comes incredible aerospace innovation.
Aerospace trends and the introduction of new players to the market
New players are entering the small satellite market at an ever-increasing rate, driving competition and technological development. To stay competitive, aerospace companies are reducing development, manufacturing and operational costs. In Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Main trends and challenges in the space sector report, the authors noted that already-declining launch costs are projected to decline by a further 40%.
These lower costs have opened the door for private companies to enter the satellite market, a space previously occupied by large companies.
According to the Small Satellite Market Intelligence Report, by the end of 2020 commercial companies captured 97% of the small satellite share, compared to academic and government entities, which held 2% and 1%, respectively. This continues the trend of the past decade, with commercial organizations playing a key role in the majority of small satellite launches.