7,000 smaller satellites planned for next 10 years

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A study from Paris-based Euroconsult says there is a significant expansion underway in the ‘smallsat’ market, both in terms of demand and systems’ capabilities. About 7,000 smallsats are due to be launched over the next ten years, i.e. a six-fold increase from the 1,200 units launched over the past decade. About 50 constellations, two of which are mega constellations, account for over 80 per cent of the smallsat count.

Many of these satellites will directly benefit broadband connectivity by satellite, and provide capacity for the predicted growth in Internet of Things and related services.

“By 2022, an average of 580 smallsats will be launched every year as a result of initial constellation deployment. This compares to an annual average of 190 satellites launched over the past five years. The average will then jump to 850 satellites per year on subsequent years up to 2027 because of the deployment of one mega constellation,” said Maxime Puteaux, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult and editor of the report. “Smallsat demand for constellations is cyclical as it is driven by deployment in batches whereas demand for single satellite missions is more stable. Performance improvements and continuous miniaturization reshape the smallsat market as customers have the choice between lighter satellites with the same capabilities or larger but more capable satellites. In the heaviest mass category, smallsats are now able to perform missions that were only achievable in the past by satellites heavier that 500 kg.”

Euroconsult says that three applications will dominate this significant growth:

• Broadband Communication is by far the largest application with close to 3,500 satellites expected from 2018 to 2027 (of which 92 pr cent for two mega constellations);

• Earth Observation will almost triple, from 540 satellites in the past to 1,400 anticipated from 2018 to 2027. Three constellations alone plan to launch more than 800 satellites during this period, of which two are cubesat-based;

• Information for data collection and narrowband communications for AIS, ADS-B, Internet of Things, and Machine to Machine communication. It is a growing market with 850 satellites to be launched by 14 constellations that are currently raising funds or launching demonstrators.


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