Planet ‘needs’ another 1150 satellites

According to a study from Paris-based Euroconsult, around 115 new satellites will be launched annually over the next 10 years. Some of these will be for telephony, data and GPS-type systems. The others will expand the portfolio of direct broadcasting satellites for extra TV channels. Some satellites will replace craft which reach the end of their working life.

Euroconsult says 115 satellites will be launched on average each year worldwide over the next 10 years (2013-2022). As several commercial and government constellations will be launched into low earth orbit (LEO) in the coming years, up to 140 satellites per year are expected between 2015 and 2017, decelerating to 100 units afterwards.

Revenues from the manufacture and launch of these 1,150 satellites over the decade will be worth $236 billion, says the study,  up 26% from those generated by the 810 satellites launched in the past ten years (2003-2012). Revenue growth between the two decades is lower than the growth in number of satellites since many small satellites are being developed, requiring shorter development time and lower launch costs.

Governments worldwide will be responsible for two-thirds of the 1,150 satellites to be launched and for nearly three-quarters of the $236 billion expected in revenues. Over 90 per cent of the government market value will remain concentrated in the 15 countries with an established space industry. New satellite systems in 30 emerging space countries will also create a market of over $1 billion on average per year. According to Rachel Villain, Principal Advisor at Euroconsult, “More and more governments are acquiring operational telecommunications and Earth observation (EO) satellite systems to support socio-economic development in their country and to sell satellite services abroad.”

With 375 satellites to be launched in the next decade, EO is the largest satellite application for governments to support ranging policy objectives, such as in environment monitoring, defense, natural resources monitoring and meteorology. The satellite demand of civilian government agencies will be much stronger than that of military agencies with military space remaining concentrated in a limited number of countries.

In the commercial space sector, three-quarters of recent satellite orders will be launched to replace aged satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). Only four of the 65 commercial GEO comsats in construction today will be all electric. However, electric propulsion is likely to be a game changer for GEO satellites during the decade as it becomes more cost-effective because of more launch solutions, new thruster technology and more flight heritage.

The commercial satellite sector is made of 50 companies that procure and operate GEO satellite systems to retail satellite bandwidth for communications and broadcasting services. Despite consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, the sector has grown significantly in recent years with 12 government-backed operators acquiring their first satellite, becoming independent from third parties for satellite bandwidth, like Sri Lanka and the Congo. Commercial satellites outside the GEO orbit will triple over the past decade with 150 units to be launched into low and medium Earth orbits over the next 10 years, principally to replace two constellations of communications satellites rather than to launch new imagery satellites. According to Euroconsult, the market value to manufacture and launch these 150 satellites will be 16 per cent of that derived from commercial GEO satellites.

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