Report: Growth in satellite activity

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The Satellite Industry Association’s (SIA) 2021 State of the Satellite Industry Report (SSIR)  says – in essence – that the industry is in robust health. It notes that, despite the pandemic, a record number of satellites went into orbit in 2020 (triple the 2019 count) and that the sector is enjoying “double digit” growth in satellite broadband.

“The 2021 SSIR shows that for the third straight year a record number of satellites were launched into space during 2020, more than tripling the number launched in the previous year. By the end of last year, the total number of satellites circling the earth increased by 37 per cent, compared to 17 per cent in 2019, to a total of 3,371 satellites. Innovation piqued the interest level of the investment community in 2020 as special purpose acquisition companies or SPACs raised over six times the previous annual total in investment capital. The reports also shows that despite several record-breaking or key growth metrics, the global Covid-19 pandemic impacted users of satellite services throughout the year and therefore certain satellite industry revenues during 2020,” says the SIA.

Other takeaways from the new SIA Report include:

  •  During 2020, the overall global space economy generated revenue of $371 billion, an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to 2019.
  • The commercial satellite industry once again continued to be dominant, accounting for $271 billion or nearly 73 per cent of the world’s space business.
  • Technology innovations increased data capacity and helped increase subscribers as satellite broadband revenue grew by 10 per cent during 2020 to $2.8 billion.
  • Innovations in radio frequency (RF), carbon emission and other mapping capabilities helped increase satellite remote sensing revenues by 12 per cent compared with the previous 12 months to $2.6 billion.
  •  During 2020, revenues generated by commercial launch services increased by 9 per cent to $5.3 billion as the US solidified its market share leadership in launch services.
  • Global satellite ground equipment revenues maintained 4 per cent growth over the previous year to just over $135 billion, led by continued worldwide sales of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) terminals such as smartphones and tablets.

“Thanks to the resilience of the commercial satellite industry, it once again dominated the global space business which grew in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Tom Stoup, president of the SIA. “Increased demand for satellite broadband, remote sensing imagery and other services balanced declines in demand for services affected by the pandemic. Thanks to leaps in domestic innovation, costs to design, build and deploy satellites decreased while US market share in manufacturing and launch services increased. Nearly 1200 satellites were launched during 2020 and that trend continues as the industry has virtually matched that total in the first half of 2021.”

“As costs drop and innovation rises, the value proposition of many space ventures increases. This helped lead to record-breaking growth in investment in 2020 and several commercial space ventures announced plans to go public via SPAC mergers. So as we enter this new decade, we are reminded that only the satellite industry can deliver truly ubiquitous, high quality, reliable and often critical emergency space-based services that consumer, government and enterprise customers, demand and require both at home and around the world,” added the report.


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