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August 6th, 2018

Euroconsult's Latest Executive Report — Prospects for the Small Satellite Market

According to Euroconsult’s latest report, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, a significant expansion is underway in the smallsat market, both in terms of demand and systems’ capabilities.

About 7,000 smallsats are due to be launched over the next ten years, i.e., a six-fold increase from the 1,200 units launched over the past decade. About 50 constellations, two of which are mega constellations, account for over 80 percent of the smallsat count.

Maxime Puteaux, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult and editor of the report, said that by 2022, an average of 580 smallsats will be launched every year as a result of initial constellation deployment. This compares to an annual average of 190 satellites launched over the past five years. The average will then jump to 850 satellites per year on subsequent years up to 2027 because of the deployment of one mega constellation

She added that smallsat demand for constellations is cyclical as it is driven by deployment in batches whereas demand for single satellite missions is more stable. Performance improvements and continuous miniaturization reshape the smallsat market as customers have the choice between lighter satellites with the same capabilities or larger but more capable satellites. In the heaviest mass category, smallsats are now able to perform missions that were only achievable in the past by satellites heavier than 500 kg.

Smallsats’ applications are multiple. In the past, “technology development” was the dominant application to test future technologies and payloads or for educational purposes. In future years, three applications will dominate the smallsat market:
  • Broadband Communication is by far the largest application with close to 3,500 satellites expected from 2018 to 2027 (of which 92 percent for two mega constellations);
  • Earth Observation will almost triple, from 540 satellites in the past to 1,400 anticipated from 2018 to 2027. Three constellations alone plan to launch more than 800 satellites during this period, of which two are cubesat-based;
  • Information for data collection and narrowband communications for AIS, ADS-B, Internet of Things, and Machine to Machine communication. It is a growing market with 850 satellites to be launched by 14 constellations that are currently raising funds or launching demonstrators.

The 7,000 smallsats that are due to be launched over 2018-2027 are valued at $38 billion for satellite manufacturing and launch, almost quintupling decade-to-decade. The smaller growth in market value relative to that in smallsats count reflects the growing penetration of low-cost smallsats for 1) cubesats and nanosats below 50 kg of launch mass and 2) for large scale constellations with satellite unit cost of $1 to $1.5 million. Cubesats alone represent a mere 4 percent of future total market value. A significant part of that market is already contracted or captive via domestic providers as vertical integration (i.e., in-house manufacturing and/or launch) is more common for smallsats than for larger satellites.

The launch services of smallsats are expected to generate $16 billion in the next ten years i.e. a strong growth over that of the past decade. Growth in launch revenues is stronger than that of satellite manufacturing with more diversity in launch services and various quality of services. Smallsat operators currently launch with medium to heavy launchers that are contracted directly or through launch brokers. Several dedicated smallsat launchers are in development, the most advanced being on the edge of performing maiden flights, in order to be more responsive to market needs (on time, on orbit) but at the expense of a premium in specific price (price per kg into orbit).

Highlights of the report

  • $38 billion is the market value for the manufacturing and launch of the approximately 7,000 smallsats due to be launched over the next ten years
  • 42 percent of the total market value corresponds to launch services, while the remaining 58 percent represent manufacturing
  • On average 580 smallsats will be launched every year by 2022, and 850 per year on subsequent years up to 2027
  • Broadband communications will be the main application for the new smallsats, with around 3,500 units for the period 2018 to 2027
  • Earth Observation smallsats will almost triple compared to the previous decade from 540 to 1,400 from 2018 to 2027
  • The nearly 50 constellations planned account for 80% of total units to be launched
  • SpaceX, Starllink and OneWeb's mega-constellation projects concentrate most satellites, mass, and market value
  • Strategic issues and forecasts
  • Major changes since the last edition
  • Trends in small satellite manufacturing & launch services
  • Smallsat market drivers
  • Standardization, constellations, investment trends, M&A, sustainability of the demand New
  • U.S. gov. policy, other gov. involvement, U.S. export control New
  • Value chain, vertical integration, Performance improvement, design evolution New
  • Hardware focus
  • Software focus


Smallsat demand

  • Mass categories
  • Operator by region, type, application
  • Focus on constellations (value proposition, targeted market, financing, competition, challenges)


Smallsat supply / manufacturing

  • Main small satellite integrators around the world New
  • Manufacturing market value by region and organization
  • To build in-house?
  • Satellite platform diversification
  • Cubesat platform providers
  • Main commercial smallsat integrators


Launch services

  • Launch rates and orbits
  • Launchers’ segmentation
  • Performance of main launch service suppliers
  • Distribution of demand and supply by region
  • Launch service market value
  • Price and capacity from various launch solutions
  • Upcoming smallsat dedicated launchers
  • Smallsat dedicated launchers & constellation demand
  • Launch brokering market



Six applications

-Earth Observation
-Science and exploration

Six types of orbits

-LEO - Low Earth Orbit up to 2,000 km
-SSO - Sun-Synchronous Orbit
-MEO - Medium Earth Orbit, 2,000-20,000 km
-GEO - Geostationary Earth Orbit 35,786 km
-HEO - Highly Elliptical Orbit
-ESC -Deep space, Lagrange points

Five types of launchers

-Micro: < 500 KG
-Small: 500 kg to 2 Tons
-Medium: 2 Tons to 6 Tons
-Heavy: 6 Tons to 30 Tons
-Super heavy: > 30 Tons

Five types of satellite manufacturers

-Large integrators: > 500 kg satellites
-Pure smallsat manufacturer: purely smallsat
-In-house: building their own satellite
-Academia: research or education


  • A dedicated database with all satellites between 1 and 500 kg of launch mass that have been launched between 2008 and 2017, and that are now in development or forecast to be launched between 2018 and 2027
  • A combination of primary and secondary research to characterize the changes that have occurred and that may occur in the industry