Global small satellites market was valued at US$87.9 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach at a market value of US$360.5 billion by 2030. North America market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.7% during the forecast period 2020-2030. The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 13.5% in the first half period 2020-2025 and is projected to grow at CAGR of 13.9% in the other half period 2025-2030.
Small satellites (smallsats) are an emerging class of spacecraft that incorporates recent software and hardware improvements, most notably ones derived from the IT and electronics industries, and benefits from the resulting high capability feasible in small packages. There is no universally accepted definition of a smallsat; various groups and reports have classified smallsats according to their mass, volume, cost, capabilities, or some combination thereof. In this report, smallsats are defined as satellites with masses lower than 200 kg (with some exceptions). Small satellites include CubeSats, special types of cuboid-shaped smallsats that weigh between 1–10 kg and are created in units of a 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm cube. Compared with traditional satellites, smallsats typically have shorter development cycles, smaller development teams, and, consequently, lower cost, both for the development and for the launch of the satellites.
Market Driving Factors
Low-Cost Manufacturing and Assembly Techniques/Greater Availability of High-Performance and High-Reliability COTS Components
Typical communications satellites may cost on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars to develop today. In contrast, OneWeb is expecting to bring the price to build one of its satellites below $500,000.118 Other companies (e.g., Berlin Space Technologies, Germany) are aiming to bring the price of their (smaller) smallsats as low as $250,000. These companies’ estimates are credible as they are leveraging advances in low-cost manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing, increasing the use of automation and robotics for satellite integration, and using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. Use of these approaches could lead to three favourable outcomes affecting the success of large constellations and smallsats in general.
Demand for LEO-Based Services Broadband
Demand for low-cost, high-speed broadband with increased capacity for enterprise data (retail, banking), energy sector (oil, gas, mining), and government in industrialized countries is growing, as is demand for low-cost broadband among individual consumers in less developed countries and rural areas who may not have access to the internet. These market expectations are driving investment in smallsat-based LEO constellations. Estimates for broadband demand vary, and some experts predict that satellite broadband capacity demand would grow at a compound annual growth rate of 29% through 2024. OneWeb (UK), Boeing (U.S.) and SpaceX(U.S.) have announced their intentions to fly broadband constellations.
Increasing Demand for Imagery and Analytics
Because smallsats offer imagery at lower cost than traditional large satellites, disproportionate growth in the demand for satellite imagery is expected to come from non-governmental actors that would use images and image-based analytics for agriculture, economic forecasting, resource management, urban planning, disaster monitoring, retail, maritime, and other applications.
- Asia and Europe are strong players in the small satellite field, noted by stakeholders as having important markets and significant technological development
- Asia in particular is noted as a growing region in the field, with new start-ups and increasing availability of launch.
- Government is the primary source of funding in most emerging countries; although there is limited foreign private (venture capital) funding, such funding has not proliferated into the new space industry as widely as has occurred within the United States.
- Countries with a longer space heritage, such as Russia, China, and potentially India, are often perceived as having not fully leveraged their satellite experience for small satellites, with government space programs having placed more emphasis on large satellites. However, this attitude is changing, particularly in China.
- South American countries have demonstrated interest in small satellites given a growing number of governments sponsored small satellite missions; Academic institutions are key in developing technologies. SpaceRef