The small satellite market is an integral part of any economy for the development of infrastructure for commercial companies, government agencies, telecom, and space industry. It is an artificial object which is intentionally placed into the orbit. This object is called as artificial satellite and it acts as cell towers in the sky which transmits data from one point on the earth to another. They enhance missions which last for more than 15 years in the vacuum of the space at extreme temperature and radiations. Satellites vary based on their frequency, orbit, and missions. They are manufactured for different purposes such as telecommunication, navigation, military, space science, remote sensing, and others.

Small satellite market

The Small Satellite Market is Segmented by Type (Minisatellite, Microsatellite, Nanosatellite, and Others), Application (Earth Observation & Remote Sensing, Satellite Communication, Science & Exploration, Mapping & Navigation, Space Observation, and Others), and End User (Commercial, Academic, Government & Military, and Others). The report covers global opportunity analysis and industry forecasts from 2021 to 2030.

The global small satellite market size was valued at USD 3.2 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 13.7 Billion by 2030 growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.4%. Key drivers of the small satellite market include the rising demand for compact satellites due to their low launch, high computing capability, and lower development cycle.

Small satellite market

Further, the growing need for high-resolution imaging services around the globe and increasing demand for more satellite data is expected to provide lucrative opportunities for the growth of the small satellite market. On the other hand lack of dedicated launch vehicles and payload, accommodation is expected to hamper market growth but growing demand from the commercial sector will increase the growth of the market during the forecast period.

Rising Demand for Compact Satellites

Small satellites offer a range of benefits to manufacturers from lower development cycle, cost-effective, less weight, size, and the ability to do remote sensing, complex computing activities in communication, commercial, and space research. Moreover, microsatellites and nanosatellites are the types of small satellites that have low launch costs, can develop and deploy around an orbit in less than 8 months than a traditional satellite which takes 5 to 15 years to develop, and settle. Due to their cheaper development costs and advanced computing capabilities, the demand for small satellites is rising among manufacturers. Therefore increasing demand due to decreased cost and development time of small satellites will drive the growth of the small satellite market during the forecast period.

Need for high-resolution imaging services and rising demand for more satellite data

Companies are launching constellations of small satellites including nano and microsatellites for space exploration, defense, mapping, observation, and telecommunication services for high-speed space-based internet connectivity across the globe. These satellites have the capability to record high-definition video and images for monitoring forest cover, agriculture, marine industry, transportation, etc. In addition to it, the growing need for earth observation services for the detection of climate change, weather patterns, and proper management of land and water resources is also facilitating the need for high-resolution imagery.  Thus the need for high-resolution videos and images is only going to rise rapidly in the future further augmenting the growth of the small satellite market during the forecast period.

Lack of launch vehicle, payload accommodation, and growing demand from the commercial sector

Small satellites have their own set of restrictions as they lack proper dedicated launch vehicles of their own. Further, due to their small size and volume several key scientific types of equipment, additional propellant, and payload capacity is restrained. They also lack proper power generation due to a lack of propulsion systems for orbit maneuvering. These factors will restrict the market growth. On the other hand, owing to their low-cost feature small satellites have found widescale adoption in commercial organizations for broadband internet, satellite TV, and other services. As they are lightweight and made with reusable hardware components leading to immense processing power the adoption rate has been large scale in many organizations. Therefore the rapid deployment of small satellite services by commercial organizations is expected to fuel the growth of the satellite market during the forecast period.

Major Factors Driving the Growth of Small Satellite market are:

The primary driving factor supporting the growth of the small satellite market during the forecasted period is an increase in satellite manufacturers’ attention on the creation of compact satellites due to the decreased cost and development time of small satellites.

In addition to it, ride sharing launch programs have boosted the demand for small satellites. These programs provide more access to space exploration, have the ability to send multiple satellites into higher orbits and reduce launch costs. The time taken to deploy is also decreased as small satellites can easily fit into ride sharing payloads along with other objects. On the other hand the cost of manufacturing is reduced as the need for bulky and expensive propulsion systems are eliminated as the constellation of satellites can directly go to higher orbits. Moreover these satellites are made using reusable low cost hardware and technology.

Furthermore, small satellites allow for a wide range of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations to be carried out in orbit with relative ease. This in turn is expected to further drive the growth of the small satellite market. 

Trends Influencing The Growth Of Small Satellite Market:

An increase in demand for compact satellites is expected to drive the growth of the small satellite market. Small satellites manufactured save a lot of money. This helps to remove barriers to reaching and exploring space, resulting in a spike in tiny satellite popularity since their beginnings. Furthermore, depending on the requirements, a small satellite could be manufactured and launched into orbit for less money than regular satellite missions. Aside from the weight and size advantages, the main benefit of small satellites is the short time it takes to create them. A traditional or large satellite takes 5 to 15 years to create and install in orbit, whereas a CubeSat may discover a need in less than 8 months and position itself in the desired orbit.

An increase in demand for high-resolution imaging services globally is expected to further propel the growth of the small satellite market. High-resolution cameras capable of capturing video at a rate of 25 frames per second are built into small satellites. The video data and images from this satellite will be used to monitor forestry, agriculture, urban growth, and marine transport. Monitoring agricultural fields, detecting climatic changes, disaster mitigation, meteorology, and a variety of other services are all covered by Earth observation services. The US government is currently the largest buyer of satellite imagery. As a result, most smallsat companies, both domestic and international, see the US government as a reliable long-term customer with which to begin. 

Commercial organizations’ increased focus on the deployment of advanced satellite services presents an opportunity for the small satellite market to grow. Small satellites have been used to provide cutting-edge services such as broadband internet, satellite TV, and other services in commercial organizations thanks to satellite manufacturers’ intense focus on lowering the cost of small satellites. Small satellites can be constructed using reusable and low-cost hardware and technology. Small satellites do not require a specialized launch vehicle like regular satellites because they are compact and lightweight, lowering launch costs by up to 40%. Because of the miniaturization of components and software, established private companies and SMEs have begun to invest in small satellites.

Small Satellite Market Share Analysis: 

Based on region, North America held the largest market share during the forecast period. North America is followed by Asia-PacificEurope, and LAMEA. The growth of the small satellite market in North America has been aided by an increase in the adoption of launch services in telecommunications, defense, and space exploration, among other industries. In 2020, the United States dominated the small satellite market share, and it is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace during the forecast period.

However, Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit the highest CAGR of 17.2% during 2020-2027. 

Based on application, the earth observation & remote sensing segment held the largest market share in 2020 due to an increase in the use of small satellites by commercial and government space organizations for a variety of applications including urban planning, border mapping, infrastructure security, and homeland security. 

By application

Based on type, The minisatellite segment generated the most revenue in 2020, owing to an increase in global demand for high-speed internet connectivity and a rise in telecommunication companies’ deployment of satellites to extend their reach.

By type

Based on end-user, the commercial segment will provide lucrative opportunities for growth in the small satellite market share during the forecast period due to growing commercial usage for enemy surveillance, navigation, weather forecasting, and internet services.

Satellite market

Small Satellite Market Report Coverage

Report MetricDetails
Base Year:2020
Market Size in 2020:USD 3,251.9 Million
Forecast Period:2021 to 2030
Forecast Period 2021 to 2030 CAGR:16.4%
2030 Value Projection:USD 13711.7 Million
No. of Pages:335
Tables & Figures141
Segments covered:Type, Application, End-User Region

Covid-19 Impact Analysis

  • The Covid-19 Impact On The Small Satellite Market Is Unpredictable And The Growth Of The Market Is Expected To Remain Restricted Till The Second Quarter Of 2021. 
  • The Covid-19 Outbreak Forced Governments Across The Globe To Implement Strict Lockdowns And Made Social Distancing Mandatory To Contain The Spread Of The Virus. Consequently, Several Organizations Started Work From Home Programs As Safety Measures. This Led To A Sudden Decrease In Demand For Small Satellites Across The World. 
  • Moreover, Nationwide Lockdowns Disrupted The Supply-Chain As Several Manufacturing Facilities Across The Globe Had To Partially Or Fully Shut Down Their Operations.
  • The Adverse Impacts Of The Covid-19 Pandemic Resulted In Huge Supply-Demand Issues For The Small Satellite Industry Globally.

Key Benefits For Stakeholders

  • This Study Presents The Analytical Depiction Of The Global Small Satellite Market Analysis Along With The Current Trends And Future Estimations To Depict Imminent Investment Pockets.
  • The Overall Small Satellite Market Opportunity Is Determined By Understanding Profitable Trends To Gain A Stronger Foothold.
  • The Report Presents Information Related To The Key Drivers, Restraints, And Opportunities Of The Global Small Satellite Market With Detailed Impact Analysis.
  • The Current Small Satellite Market Is Quantitatively Analyzed From 2020 To 2030 To Benchmark Financial Competency.
  • Porter’s Five Forces Analysis Illustrates The Potency Of The Buyers And Suppliers In The Industry.

Key Market Segments

  • By Application
  • By Type
    • Minisatellite
    • Microsatellite
    • Nanosatellite
    • Others
  • By End User
    • Commercial
    • Academic
    • Government & Military
    • Others
  • By Region
    • North America
      • U.S.
      • Canada
      • Mexico
    • Europe
      • Germany
      • Uk
      • France
      • Russia
      • Italy
      • Spain
      • Rest Of Europe
    • Asia-Pacific
      • China
      • India
      • South Korea
      • Australia
      • Japan
      • Rest Of Asia-Pacific
    • Lamea
      • Latin America
      • Middle East
      • Africa

Major Market Players

  • Airbus S.A.S.
  • Gomspace
  • L3harris Technologies, Inc
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Planet Labs Inc.
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Thales Group
  • The Aerospace Corporation
  • The Boeing Company
  • Others
Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin on April 4 released the technical specifications of a docking adapter that could be used by manufacturers to make satellites interoperable and easier to update on orbit with new technology.

The technical data for the Mission Augmentation Port (MAP) can be used by designers to develop their own docking adapters, said Lockheed Martin.

The company used the MAP standard to design its own docking device, called Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN).

“With this technology, we’re able to upgrade operational spacecraft at the speed of technology,” said Paul Pelley, senior director of advanced programs at Lockheed Martin Space.

“Just like USB was designed to standardize computer connections, these documents are designed to standardize how spacecraft connect to each other on orbit,” he said.

On-orbit satellite servicing usually is associated with refueling. That is just one aspect of life extension, Pelley said. There is also a need to keep satellites technologically up to date, especially large geosynchronous spacecraft that stay in service for decades. A standard docking port interface could facilitate the insertion of new processors, data storage devices or sensors, and some satellite components could be replaced with new hardware.

“What Lockheed Martin is envisioning goes beyond ‘filling up the tank’ to extend mission life,” he said.

Eric Brown, senior director of military space mission strategy at Lockheed Martin, said the company has tested the ASPIN adapter in simulations and plans to fly it to space to get it qualified. “We have multiple partners, both commercial and government, that are interested in taking that next step,” said Brown

He said Lockheed Martin decided to develop the docking interface standard and release it to fill a need in the industry.

Many satellites that are in operation today have 20 or 30-year old technology and there is no means to update them in orbit, he said. One answer to that problem is to go to cheaper, smaller satellites that are more disposable and launched more frequently. But that solution doesn’t work for everybody, Brown said.

Some missions require large satellites that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, “and we still have to solve that technology refresh, these satellites are not disposable,” he said.

The vision that led to the MAP standard is that it could help create an aftermarket space industry that doesn’t exist today because satellites are not serviceable like airplanes, he said. In aerospace and defense, the aftermarket had created huge opportunities for a whole ecosystem of companies.

“Space has suffered from not really having an actionable aftermarket. And so by introducing the idea of satellite augmentation and enhancements we can also bring in the maintenance, repair and overhaul type of ecosystem that the air domain has enjoyed for years and years, and has introduced a lot of companies into aerospace and defense.” A space aftermarket “could be beneficial for Lockheed Martin but also beneficial for a variety of new companies that maybe aren’t in a position to build the next generation of GPS but may be able to go and fly sensors that can augment a GPS vehicle.”

High Throughput Satellites are entering a new era of accelerated and drastic transformation, wherein global HTS capacity supply is predicted to grow at a torrid pace over the next five years (45% CAGR) surpassing 60,000 Gbps (60 Tbps). This comes after helping reshape the satellite communications industry through their ever-improving capacity volumes and cost per bit.

Facilitating this growth are non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) broadband constellations, which are projected to account for nearly 90% of capacity supply in 2026, a marked contrast to the historically dominant market share of supply held by GEO-HTS systems.

Recent NGSO momentum has been underpinned by the aggressive launch campaign of SpaceX’s Starlink LEO constellation, which nearly single-handedly led to a 350% expansion of global HTS capacity supply in 2021 alone after entering initial operational status. While other NGSO constellations have faced a mixture of development and launch delays, OneWeb and SES (O3b mPOWER) are poised to enter initial service in 2022. The NGSO supply figures, despite being adjusted to reflect sellable capacity (as opposed to notional aggregate constellation capacity), must be treated with caution as not all projected capacity can be immediately exploited due to lagging national market access authorizations and gradual gateway deployments.

Faced with the on-going shift in capital towards NGSO broadband constellations, the GEO-HTS segment will continue its growth, albeit at a more moderate pace. In response to market uncertainty caused in part by NGSO and large-scale GEO-VHTS systems such as Viasat-3 and Eutelsat Konnect, GEO-HTS operators have responded by adopting software-defined satellite architectures to help reduce market risk and improve agility. Fully software-defined satellite platforms from manufacturers such as Airbus, Thales and new entrant Astranis have accounted for over 50% of GEO-HTS orders over the 2019-21 period and more than 80% of GEO-HTS orders in 2021 alone.

High throughput satellite technology has never been better positioned to assist bridge the rural digital divide through a combination of innovation and scale, notably through NGSO (non-geostationary) constellation architectures,” said Brent Prokosh, Senior Affiliate Consultant at Euroconsult. “This in turn will drive significant improvements in the value and performance of satellite broadband services”.

Overall, Euroconsult’s comprehensive analysis suggests that business is booming for High Throughput Satellites. Global capacity demand is projected to average 28% on a compound annual basis through 2030, with the consumer broadband segment poised to account for nearly 60% of net capacity growth globally.

Next-generation HTS technology is driving material improvements to the performance and value of satellite broadband offerings that will not only disrupt legacy satellite services, but expand the addressable market for HTS by improving competitiveness against rural terrestrial alternatives such as mobile hotspots and aging DSL infrastructure.

From a regional perspective, based on this analysis it’s expected that HTS demand growth will be spread more evenly rather than the more concentrated and localized historical expansion, notably due to the ubiquitous nature of NGSO constellations which serve all regions. For example, North America, which accounts for 50% of HTS capacity demand as of 2021, is projected to account for just 33% of global demand by 2030.

Interestingly, the report also highlights that because of falling capacity pricing, the entire HTS capacity revenue, while still significant, is projected to be lower than demand growth. Operators are therefore moving towards end user services as a means to combat expectations of intensifying pricing pressure in wholesale leasing markets.

“High Throughput Satellites: Vertical Market Analysis and Forecasts” provides both quantitative and qualitative assessments of the growing market and strategic landscape. It is an essential tool for satellite and telecommunications executives, companies competing in the HTS markets, as well as investors in both upstream and downstream services.

To keep pace with this evolving market, Euroconsult have for the first time introduced a quarterly update on NGSO constellations which tracks progress in the space segment, ground segment and commercial and market developments for each of the main operators, as part of its Premium subscription service. “This report comes at an opportune time as HTS platforms are poised to be by far the leading type of space infrastructure from the perspective of commercial growth potential over the next 10 years with wholesale capacity revenues projected to top $100 billion in aggregate from 2021-30”, said Prokosh.

Small satellites have opened exciting new ways to explore our planet and beyond

Small satellites have opened exciting new ways to explore our planet and beyond. This month, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft made the first fully-private, crewed flight to the International Space Station. The going price for a seat is US$55 million. The ticket comes with an eight-day stay on the space station, including room and board—and unrivaled views.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin offer cheaper alternatives, which will fly you to the edge of space for a mere US$250,000–500,000. But the flights only last between ten and 15 minutes, barely enough time to enjoy an in-flight snack.

But if you’re happy to keep your feet on the ground, things start to look more affordable. Over the past 20 years, advances in tiny satellite technology have brought Earth orbit within reach for small countries, private companies, university researchers, and even do-it-yourself hobbyists.

Science in space

We are scientists who study our planet and the universe beyond. Our research stretches to space in search of answers to fundamental questions about how our ocean is changing in a warming world, or to study the supermassive black holes beating in the hearts of distant galaxies.

The cost of all that research can be, well, astronomical. The James Webb Space Telescope, which launched in December 2021 and will search for the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe, had a final price tag of US$10 billion after many delays and cost overruns.

The price tag for the International Space Station, which has hosted almost 3,000 scientific experiments over 20 years, ran to US$150 billion, with another US$4 billion each year to keep the lights on.

Even weather satellites, which form the backbone of our space-based observing infrastructure and provide essential measurements for weather forecasting and natural disaster monitoring, cost up to US$400 million each to build and launch.

Budgets like these are only available to governments and national space agencies—or a very select club of space-loving billionaires.

Space for everyone

More affordable options are now democratizing access to space. So-called nanosatellites, with a payload of less than 10kg including fuel, can be launched individually or in “swarms.”

Since 1998, more than 3,400 nanosatellite missions have been launched and are beaming back data used for disaster response, maritime traffic, crop monitoring, educational applications and more.

A key innovation in the small satellite revolution is the standardization of their shape and size, so they can be launched in large numbers on a single rocket.

CubeSats are a widely used format, 10cm along each side, which can be built with commercial off-the-shelf electronic components. They were developed in 1999 by two professors in California, Jordi Puig-Suari and Bob Twiggs, who wanted graduate students to get experience designing, building and operating their own spacecraft.

Twiggs says the shape and size were inspired by Beanie Babies, a kind of collectable stuffed toy that came in a 10cm cubic display case.

Commercial launch providers like SpaceX in California and Rocket Lab in New Zealand offer “rideshare” missions to split the cost of launch across dozens of small satellites. You can now build, test, launch and receive data from your own CubeSat for less than US$200,000.

The universe in the palm of your hand

One project we are involved in uses CubeSats and machine learning techniques to monitor Antarctic sea ice from space. Sea ice is a crucial component of the climate system and improved measurements will help us better understand the impact of climate change in Antarctica.

Sponsored by the UK-Australia Space Bridge program, the project is a collaboration between universities and Antarctic research institutes in both countries. Naturally, we called the project IceCube.

Small satellites are starting to explore beyond our planet, too. In 2018, two nanosatellites accompanied the NASA Insight mission to Mars to provide real-time communication with the lander during its decent. In May 2022, Rocket Lab will launch the first CubeSat to the Moon as a precursor to NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon by 2024.

Tiny satellites are changing the way we explore our planet and beyond.

Tiny spacecraft have even been proposed for a voyage to another star. The Breakthrough Starshot project wants to launch a fleet of 1,000 spacecraft each centimeters in size to the Alpha Centauri star system, 4.37 light-years away. Propelled by ground-based lasers, the spacecraft would “sail” across interstellar space for 20 or 30 years and beam back images of the Earth-like exoplanet Proxima Centauri b.

Small but brilliant

With advances in miniaturization, satellites are getting ever smaller.

“Picosatellites,” the size of a can of soft drink, and “femtosatellites,” no bigger than a computer chip, are putting space within reach of keen amateurs. Some can be assembled and launched for as little as a few hundred dollars.

A Finnish company is experimenting with a more sustainably built CubeSat made of wood. And new, smart satellites, carrying computer chips capable of artificial intelligence, can decide what information to beam back to Earth instead of sending everything, which dramatically reduces the cost of phoning home. Getting to space doesn’t have to cost the Earth after all.