Satellite makers and launchers ready for rough ride

An NSR report has found that the satellite manufacturing and launch markets are facing both softening demand and increasing competition until 2016. However, in the second half of the next decade the manufacturing market will be back on an upward track, while the launch services market will see more years of stagnant growth.

Driven by intense competition and soft demand in the GEO launch services segment, the greater launch services market is expected to exhibit a lowering cost per kilogram to orbit, amplifying the downward demand trend. Revenue levels from 2012 and 2013 are not expected again for at least 5-6 years.

After a few difficult years, the manufacturing market is projected to be back on its feet by 2016 thanks to increasing demand across every application. The manufacturing sector will see consequent design changes with smaller, highly-performing satellites and bigger, more powerful systems that could weigh as much as 12 tons.

“The satellite manufacturing market, led by the Commercial GEO Communications vertical, will stabilize and start to grow again soon after the current replacement cycle is over thanks to solid and diverse demand”, according to Stéphane Gounari, NSR Analyst and author of the report. “Game-changing design changes are also coming for Earth Observation satellites, with commoditization making sub-meter resolution small satellites widely accessible.”

Overall, NSR forecasts more than 950 satellites will be ordered between 2012 and 2021, creating $145 billion of revenues for manufacturers. At an average rate of 108 satellites launched every year over the same period, these will bring more than $52 billion to launch services providers and represent a total of 2,200 tons to lift into orbit.

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