[SatNews] NSR’s latest report, Nano and Microsatellite Markets, 2nd Edition, forecasts the launch of over 2,500 sub-100 kg. satellites during the next decade.
Experienced and new space sector players alike are flocking to leverage low cost satellites for Earth Observation, Science, Situational Awareness, and more. Activity in this segment will generate cumulative revenues that exceed $4.7 billion in manufacturing and $1.2 billion in launch services by 2024.
More than half of launches will be fueled by constellation deployment and replenishment, with North American companies leading the way. “The rise of Big Data has triggered new demand for frequent revisit and high volume measurements, as well as global coverage for remote connectivity and comprehensive tracking. While not all of the currently announced constellations will be fully realized, the many in development and low deployment costs will enable several to become operational,” said Carolyn Belle, NSR Analyst and report lead author. “Known players will gain a first-mover advantage that will be difficult to compete with, but new endeavors will continue to emerge and rely on new technology to target untapped end-user markets.”
Beyond constellations, operators from universities and start-up companies to small government agencies and military forces are looking to nano and microsatellites as an opportunity to achieve more space based objectives with limited time, expertise, and financial investments. NSR Analyst and report co-author Prateep Basu said, “Operators in Europe and Asia are quickly catching up to North America and will generate nearly half of non-constellation activity. Latin America and the Middle East & Africa are also developing an interest in these low-cost platforms, primarily as a means of developing local space capabilities and expertise that will serve both strategic and economic objectives.”
Nano and microsatellites are a developing market yet to find an operational niche or identify best practices. The past year saw a nearly doubled launch rate compared to 2013, and a tripling of the number of unique operators compared to five years ago. To meet heightened demand, manufacturers and launch service providers have begun to tailor existing offerings and introduce new capabilities. Yet without affordable dedicated launch vehicles or more efficient rideshares, insufficient access to launch slots and limited orbital diversity will remain a key market restraint. Support from national agencies and continuing investment from non-traditional sources, such as venture capital, will be critical for such launch capabilities to mature and for operators to make first steps into capitalizing on the potential of nano and microsatellites.