The small satellite market is estimated to register a CAGR of more than 17% during the forecast period.

  • Significant investments by the venture companies, the growing demand for low-cost miniaturized satellites, and increasing demand for Earth observation applications are some of the major driving factors propelling the growth of the small satellite market.
  • However, design limitations related to the fabrication of small satellites may generate barriers for market growth during the forecast period.
  • Nevertheless, technological advancements, in terms of miniaturization of electronic components, space 3D printing, advanced material technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are likely to assist the manufacturers to overcome some of the existing growth restraints and develop advanced small satellites with multi-mission capabilities in the future.

Key Market Trends

The Military Segment Held the Highest Market Share in 2019

In the current scenario, the market is dominated by the military end-user segment as the global armed forces are keenly focusing on enhancing their existing communications framework to obtain a tactical advantage over their adversaries. The companies are focusing on cost-effective approaches to produce these satellites on a large scale, to meet the growing demand. The approach involves the use of low-cost industrial-rated passives at the development and design validation stages.
Standardized satellite designs have enabled greater flexibility in choosing the launch systems, owing to the flexibility of various small satellites, which can be fitted into various launch systems, thereby, reducing the cost of the launch. Pertaining to the relatively lower cost of deployment, small satellites are being increasingly deployed for scientific research and other commercial applications.

Asia-Pacific is Expected to Grow with the Highest CAGR During the Forecast Period

North America is an avid user of small satellites and with several annual launches each year by the US-based companies and universities. The United States Commission has approved licenses for several commercial Earth Exploration Satellite Services (EESS) constellations, which operate small satellites based on the Cubesat concept. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also making use of small satellites for conducting advanced exploration, scientific research, and educational investigations, as well as for demonstrating newly emerging technologies.
However, 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 nano-satellite 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.

Competitive Landscape

Planet Labs Inc., Spire Global, Inc., Thales Alenia Space, 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 in the small satellite industry and may also encourage the formulation of global policies to regulate a rapidly growing market.

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