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Report: Space traffic data volumes to grow 14x

December 6, 2021

The Space Traffic Study from satellite and space sector research firm NSR finds that the amount of data to/from space will reach more than 500 exabytes of information from 2020 to 2030. Driven by the increasing needs for satellite-based connectivity and earth observation, data either generated in space or traveling through space will be roughly the equivalent of 3.9 billion average capacity smartphones over the next ten years. While still a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared to terrestrial networks, space data volumes are expected to increase 14x over the next ten years.

“Space is playing an increasingly important role in improving life here on earth – and the volume of data moving to/from space shows that,” states report author Brad Grady. “Everything from providing rural broadband connectivity or connecting seafarers traveling the oceans far from families to monitoring climate change or providing precision navigation services to improve farming – all of these applications depend on data traveling through space.”

Satellite communications is far and above the largest source of data volume, growing at 27 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2020 to 2030, but emerging applications such as space tourism, in-orbit servicing, and increasing requirements for earth observation all drive data volumes.

The commercialisation of LEO – be it for human spaceflight and tourism or satellite connectivity – is driving growth. In satellite connectivity GEO markets will still remain the core ‘location’ where data will go when it heads to/from space, however, Non-GEO will go from roughly 5 per cent to over 30 per cent by 2030 of all satellite connectivity traffic.

On the human spaceflight side, data volumes will grow 10x from 2020 to 2030 – supporting use cases as diverse as bleeding edge scientific research to social media postings for the growing space tourism market.

Overall, the largest take-away from NSR’s Space Traffic Study is that space still remains focused as a geographic location used for the benefit of life on earth – be it posting on social media from far-off locations to supporting rural connectivity programmes across the globe.

According to NSR, at over 8,900 petabytes of data in 2020, growing to more than 125,000 petabytes of data by 2030 there is one thing clear – space traffic will continue to be more, not less important to life on earth.




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