The Small Satellite Market is expected to grow from USD 4,063.99 million in 2021 to USD 7,245.02 million in 2026, witnessing a CAGR of 14.62% during the forecast period (2021 - 2026).
The operating framework of the space industry renders it uniquely vulnerable to economic shocks. The recent growth in the space sector generated unprecedented levels of entrepreneurship and start-up activity. Certain industry segments, such as space exploration and science, or even satellite manufacturing, are characterized by low production volumes and high levels of specialization, with a limited number of suppliers. These segments tend to be populated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, the COVID-19 crisis has heightened the risk of industry concentration, eliminating smaller and younger firms, several of which are dependent on contracts from larger firms and are marred with slow product deliveries and mission deployments due to social distancing measures and supply-chain delays.
With the advent of technology, the nature of battles has changed drastically. For various military requirements, including communication, the defense agencies across the globe require space capability to meet the demand for more operationally responsive forces. Nano and microsatellites can provide high visibility against the tactical enemy operations. Rapid access to near-real-time information and imagery can be helpful for aerial reconnaissance augmentation process. The nano and microsatellites can also be readily deployed in times of crisis to fill the missing gap for military operations. Furthermore, the demand for satellite networks and services for commercial applications has increased. Satellite communications is envisioned to be an essential part of the 5G infrastructure. To provide seamless connectivity between terrestrial and satellite, satellite transport conduit is being integrated into the overall communication map. This will result in new opportunities for extending satellite services in urban and rural areas aimed to cover the existing white zones and ensure a seamless connectivity plan for a variety of users including the emergency services. Such developments foster the growth of the market.
However, attitude control and pointing stability are more challenging with smaller satellites than larger ones due to the lack of inertia of the platforms. Hence, they are more susceptible to rotational disturbances or torques caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, magnetic field, and solar radiation. Furthermore, satellites are vulnerable to certain cybersecurity threats. Most active satellites run on older version of the operating systems such as Windows XP, which opens a technological gap that can be utilized by malicious parties to disrupt the services provided by the concerned satellite. Since maritime and military satellite systems could be affected by compromising navigation systems and by recording their GPS coordinates, an attack could usher chaos and devastation at a global level. Such disruptive threats endanger the growth of the market in focus during the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
Military End-user Segment to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
Military satellites are used for two specific mission profiles- surveillance and reconnaissance. Military satellites can provide continuous coverage of an area and can be used for early warning in case the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile is detected. The sensors mounted on these satellites can also automatically sense nuclear explosions and determine the location of the detonation, while further conveying the essential information required for a strategic strike assessment. Besides surveillance, military satellites are also capable of performing both strategic and tactical operations. Besides observing enemy weapons development, the satellites can also verify international compliance to the arms limitation treaties and aid in strategic targeting by predetermining the deployments of military assets at strategic vantage points in case of an armed conflict.
The military small satellite manufacturers are focusing on cost-effective approaches to mass produce small satellites to meet the increasing demand. The approach involves the use of low-cost industrial-rated passives at the development and design validation stages. The implementation of standardized satellite designs has enabled greater flexibility in choosing the launch systems, owing to the flexibility of various small satellites, which can be fitted into multiple launch systems thereby reducing the launch cost. Since small military satellites can also be launched as a secondary payload, the adoption is increasing on account of increasing use of satellites in tactical warfare. Many new programs are in pipeline for the production and launch of small satellites for defense purposes. In October 2018, Raytheon announced that it had completed the delivery of the first Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) satellite, to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The increase in C4ISR requirements of the global defense forces is envisioned to drive the demand for military satellites during the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific to Witness the Highest Growth During the Forecast Period
Though North America is the largest market due to the extensive space programs originating in the region and the presence of established institutions such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the market for small satellites is largely shifting from North America to the Asia-Pacific region, where significant investments are being routed for augmenting the region's space-based capabilities by countries such as China, India, and Japan. China has developed a sustainable environment for accelerating the space economy. In 2018, China conducted around 39 launch missions and accounted for over 33% of the total launches globally. As per the China National Space Administration, the country intends to launch about 100 satellites by 2025. Since 2015, several new startups have emerged that are focused on reinventing the small satellite market in India. For instance, in December 2018, Exseed Space launched a nanosatellite named ExseedSAT 1 to provide vital communication for radio amateurs. By 2021, Astrome Technologies is planning to launch a constellation of 200 minisatellites weighing 175kg each, to provide high-speed internet with 100 gigabytes per second capacity through its patented millimeter (MM) wave technology. Considering the increase in space related activities in the region, satellite manufacturers are enhancing their satellite production capabilities to tap the rapidly emerging market potentials. On this note, in April 2017, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Mitsubishi Electric) invested USD 100 million towards constructing a new satellite production facility in Japan.
Though the global satellite manufacturing and launch market is characterized by the presence of several players, the market is dominated by only a few players owing to their huge product offering. Planet Labs Inc., Spire Global Inc., Thales Alenia Space, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., GomSpace Group AB, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd are some of the prominent players in the market. The market is fragmented, and several new players are anticipated to enter the market to capitalize on the developing space economy. Also, numerous new scientific research missions are forecasted to be undertaken by several schools and universities located across the globe. Furthermore, the indigenous development of satellite-based technologies, such as the design of advanced electric propulsion thrusters on small satellites by new market entrants, such as Bellatrix Aerospace, is expected to enhance the trust of investors to venture into the small satellite industry and may also encourage the formulation of global policies to regulate a rapidly growing market.
Since traditional satellite manufacturers are not the sole investors of the market in focus, a radical change in the market dynamics is anticipated to emerge. Hence, to retain their competitive edge, some satellite ventures have plans to manufacture space systems, payloads, or subsystems and components inhouse. For instance, in April 2019, OneWeb Satellites, a JV startup formed via the technological support from Airbus, announced its plans to build most of its 900 satellites inhouse at a new facility in Florida, the US.
Reasons to Purchase this report:
- The market estimate (ME) sheet in Excel format
- 3 months of analyst support