Advanced Television

Demand for Geo-satellites drops

March 20, 2024

By Chris Forrester

The Satellite 2024 conference in Washington opened with its regular panel of satellite manufacturing executives. They admitted that demand for their geostationary craft had dropped.

Chris Johnson, CEO at Maxar Space, agreed that demand for geostationary satellites had certainly declined but was far from dead: “It is evolving,” he told delegates, and estimated that the historical demand for 20 to 25 commercial satellite orders per year had dropped to between 10 to 15.

His comments were echoed by Hervé Derrey, chief executive at Thales Alenia Space, who said: “There is an adjustment of that market. It is lower than it was five to seven years ago.”

Derrey said Thales Alenia still saw an overall demand for 10-15 satellites per year but explained that Thales was also evolving and changing its relationship with its traditional customers and embracing a more partnership type of approach.

Mike Greenley, CEO at MDA Space, who reminded delegates that his firm also enjoyed contracts in the non-Geo business (including orders from Telesat for its Lightspeed LEO fleet). “We absolutely believe in the sustainment of the Geo [division],” he added, saying it was important to have a strong and healthy Geostationary business.

Ryan Reid, president at Boeing’s satellite systems business, said GEO satellites would continue and in particular highlighted their role in multi-orbit solutions when used in combination with LEO constellations, commenting: “GEO is the best way to get the economics of bandwidth.”

Alain Faure, EVP/Space Systems at Airbus Defence & Space, agreed but stressed that the industry, and Airbus in particular, was taking the necessary steps to supply more flexible solutions for customers.

“Over the past year, we invested a lot to bring a new solution to a market, a larger satellite in GEO, with a flexible payload,” Faure stated. “Now it’s time to produce and deliver, to propose incremental steps to the market [and] prepare for the future.”

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