Introduction of Large Satellite Propulsion and AOCS Subsystem
The landscape of large satellites is undergoing a transformative shift driven by technological advancements, increased demand for satellite-based services, and a surge in private-sector space exploration initiatives. In this dynamic scenario, there is a notable trend toward the development and deployment of large satellites equipped with sophisticated payloads. These satellites are often characterized by their substantial size and advanced capabilities, which play a pivotal role in telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation, and scientific research. The propulsion subsystem of a spacecraft, especially in large satellites, is essential for precise navigation and maneuvering in space. This spacecraft subsystem encompasses engines for significant maneuvers such as entering orbit and small thrusters for delicate position adjustments. Another critical spacecraft subsystem is the Attitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS). This subsystem is fundamental to maintaining the spacecraft’s proper orientation in space, a key aspect for various operations like communication, data collection, and harnessing solar energy.

The growing number of mega-constellations, which consist of hundreds or even thousands of connected satellites, is changing the approach by which satellites are deployed. These constellations are made up of multiple satellites that work together and are intended to deliver global broadband connection, transforming telecommunications on an unprecedented scale. Its primary objective is to bridge the technological gap by providing low-latency, high-speed internet connection in remote and distant areas. Large satellite constellations have the distinct benefit of being able to construct a wide network of linked satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), considerably lowering signal travel time and increasing total communication speed. Companies at the forefront of this effort are utilizing modern technology, such as advanced signal processing and beamforming, to improve data transmission efficiency.

The scenario is further influenced by geopolitical considerations, with nations leveraging large satellites for strategic communication, surveillance, and national security. In November 2023, Maxar Space Systems announced that it had successfully handed over the operations of the large communication satellite JUPITER 3 to EchoStar. The satellite has 14 solar panels, allowing it to serve a wide range of high-bandwidth communications missions, including deep space missions such as NASA’s PPE program, which is part of Gateway.

Market Introduction
The large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market encapsulates a thorough analysis of the industry, which includes established giants such as Boeing, Moog Inc., Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and others. Key market players are investing in research and development to enhance propulsion efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, and implement autonomous control features. As the space industry continues to evolve, the large satellite propulsion and attitude and orbit control subsystem (AOCS) subsystem is positioned at the forefront, driving innovation and addressing the evolving needs of satellite operators and space agencies worldwide.

Additionally, many start-ups have emerged providing electric propulsion technologies that are primarily based on Hall-effect thruster (HET) and gridded-ion engine (GIE) propulsion technology. These start-ups are associated with many established commercial players and government agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Some start-ups, such as Phase Four, Inc., are developing alternative propellants for electric propulsion, such as iodine, which will be economical, readily available, and sustainable, further increasing the demand for electric propulsion.

The market is witnessing significant growth driven by an increasing demand for advanced satellite capabilities in communication, Earth observation, navigation, and defense applications. The propulsion systems enable satellites to reach their designated orbits, perform station-keeping maneuvers, and conduct orbital adjustments throughout their operational lifespan. Simultaneously, the AOCS ensures accurate orientation, stabilization, and pointing of the satellite’s instruments.

Industrial Impact
The industrial impact of advancements in large satellite propulsion and attitude and orbit control systems (AOCS) is profound, marking a significant evolution in space technology. These developments have extended the operational life of satellites due to the enhanced capabilities of propulsion systems that facilitate precise orbit placement and maintenance. This aspect is particularly crucial in sectors such as telecommunications and broadcasting, where consistent, long-term service is essential.

Furthermore, AOCS advancements have dramatically improved the precision and stability of satellites, ensuring accurate positioning and orientation. This precision is vital for critical applications such as earth observation, scientific research, and global navigation systems. The combination of advanced propulsion and AOCS technologies not only enhances the performance and reliability of satellites but also opens up new possibilities in space exploration and utilization, driving innovation across various industries.

Market Segmentation:

Segmentation 1: by Subsystem

  • Propulsion
    • Chemical Thruster
    • Electric Thruster
    • Cold Gas Thruster
    • Hybrid Thruster
  • Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem (AOCS)
    • Actuator
    • Sensor
    • Sun Sensor
    • Processor
    • Magnetometer
    • Reaction Wheel

Segmentation 2: by Region

  • North America - U.S. and Canada
  • Europe - U.K., Germany, France, Rest-of-Europe
  • Asia-Pacific - Japan, India, China, and Rest-of-Asia-Pacific
  • Rest-of-the-World – Middle East and Africa, and Latin America

North America region is expected to experience significant growth in the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market owing to key investments and global companies’ active presence in the market and due to rising investment activities in the research and development of novel space technologies. The large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market is currently experiencing significant demand in the U.S. and Canada, driven by notable developments in various end user applications and services. The region captured a significant market share of 43.0% in terms of value in 2022 and witnessed a growth rate of 6.26% over the forecast period.

Regional countries such as the U.S. and Canada are allocating significant funds to support space programs such as satellite launches for plant observation, exploration, communication, and defense applications. For instance, in March 2023, the U.S. Space Force announced its plan to invest a $30 billion budget for FY2024, where more than 60% of the total space budget would be allocated to support the research, development, testing, and evaluation of new technologies.

Recent Developments in the Global Large Satellite Propulsion and AOCS Subsystem Market

  • In August 2023, the AFRL awarded a two-year contract to Benchmark Space Systems valued at $2.8 million to develop and qualify thrusters utilizing the Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-Toxic (ASCENT) propellant to facilitate maneuvering and in-orbit mobility.
  • In July 2023, the engineering team from Aerojet Rocketdyne collaborated with NASA and began the qualification testing on the 12-kilowatt Advanced electric propulsion system (AEPS) thruster. Three AEPS thrusters would be used on the power and propulsion element (PPE) for the station, keeping the lunar Gateway in the planned 15-year mission duration.
  • In June 2023, Safran and Terran Orbital announced a partnership to manufacture electric propulsion systems using Safran’s PPSX00 plasma thruster. The PPSX00 is a Hall effect plasma thruster designed by Safran for the low Earth orbit satellite sector and is increasingly favored for satellite positioning, orbital transfer, and station keeping.

Demand – Drivers, Challenges, and Opportunities

Market Demand Drivers: Favorable Government Initiatives to Develop Secure Satellite Communication Infrastructure for Defense Sector

The increasing demand for secure satellite communication infrastructure for the defense sector is a key driver of growth for the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market. Governments around the world are investing heavily in developing secure satellite communication networks to support their national security needs. These networks rely on large satellites that require high-performance propulsion and attitude control systems (AOCS) to maintain their orbits and provide reliable communication links.

Market Challenges: Stringent Regulations to Control Space Pollution
As space exploration, AOCS satellite and satellite technology continue to advance, the issue of space pollution has become increasingly concerning. Space pollution refers to the accumulation of human-made debris in Earth’s orbit, which poses a significant threat to the safe operation of satellites and spacecraft. To address this issue, there is a growing need for stringent regulations to control space pollution. Currently, there are several international guidelines and treaties that address space pollution, including:

  • Outer Space Treaty: This treaty prohibits the placement of nuclear weapons in orbit and calls for the avoidance of harmful interference with other states’ peaceful exploration and use of outer space.
  • UN Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines: These guidelines provide recommendations for minimizing the creation of space debris during launch and satellite operations.
  • Kessler Effect: This concept highlights the potential for a chain reaction of collisions in orbit, leading to an exponential increase in debris and making it nearly impossible to operate satellites safely.

Market Opportunities: Innovation in Fuel Technologies
Advancements in satellite propulsion fuel technologies are driven by the need for more efficient, reliable, and environment-friendly propulsion systems. Traditional chemical propellants, such as hydrazine, are highly toxic and hazardous to handle, posing significant safety and environmental concerns. Advanced propulsion technologies, such as electric propulsion (EP) and hybrid propulsion (HP), offer promising alternatives to traditional chemical propellants, providing higher performance, longer lifespan, and reduced environmental impact.

How can this report add value to an organization?
Product/Innovation Strategy: The product segment helps the reader understand the different types of products available for deployment and their potential globally. Moreover, the study provides the reader with a detailed understanding of the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market by application on the basis of the end user (commercial, civil government, and defense) and product on the basis of subsystem (propulsion such as chemical thruster, electric thruster, cold gas thruster, and hybrid thruster and attitude and orbit control subsystem (AOCS)).

Growth/Marketing Strategy: The large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market has seen major development by key players operating in the market, such as business expansion, partnership, collaboration, and joint venture. The favored strategy for the companies has been merger and acquisition to strengthen their position in the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market. For instance, in March 2023, Benchmark Space Systems signed a contract with The Exploration Company, a European start-up focused on reusable orbital capsules, alongside U.K.-based in-space manufacturing start-up Space Forge, orbital refueling pioneer Orbit Fab, and in-space transportation provider Spaceflight Inc., to collectively facilitate a total of 12 metal plasma thrusters. These bookings primarily cater to larger satellite applications, with docking being a key utility for Benchmark’s hybrid thruster clientele.

Competitive Strategy: Key players in the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market analyzed and profiled in the study involve major satellite propulsion system manufacturers offering companies providing different thrusters for the purpose. Moreover, a detailed competitive benchmarking of the players operating in the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market has been done to help the reader understand how players stack against each other, presenting a clear market landscape. Additionally, comprehensive competitive strategies such as partnerships, agreements, and collaborations will aid the reader in understanding the untapped revenue pockets in the market.

Methodology: The research methodology design adopted for this specific study includes a mix of data collected from primary and secondary data sources. Both primary resources (key players, market leaders, and in-house experts) and secondary research (a host of paid and unpaid databases), along with analytical tools, are employed to build the predictive and forecast models.

Data and validation have been taken into consideration from both primary sources as well as secondary sources.

Key Considerations and Assumptions in Market Engineering and Validation

  • Detailed secondary research has been done to ensure maximum coverage of manufacturers/suppliers operational in a country.
  • Exact revenue information, up to a certain extent, will be extracted for each company from secondary sources and databases. Revenues specific to product/service/technology will then be estimated for each market player based on fact-based proxy indicators as well as primary inputs.
  • Based on the classification, the average selling price (ASP) is calculated using the weighted average method.
  • The currency conversion rate has been taken from the historical exchange rate of Oanda and/or other relevant websites.
  • Any economic downturn in the future has not been taken into consideration for the market estimation and forecast.
  • The base currency considered for the market analysis is US$. Currencies other than the US$ have been converted to the US$ for all statistical calculations, considering the average conversion rate for that particular year.
  • The term “product” in this document may refer to “service” or “technology” as and where relevant.
  • The term “manufacturers/suppliers” may refer to “service providers” or “technology providers” as and where relevant.

Primary Research
The primary sources involve industry experts from the satellite industry, including large satellite propulsion and AOCS technologies and their components, such as propellant tanks, pumps, manufacturers, and particle filter providers. Respondents such as CEOs, vice presidents, marketing directors, and technology and innovation directors have been interviewed to obtain and verify both qualitative and quantitative aspects of this research study.

Secondary Research
This study involves the usage of extensive secondary research, company websites, directories, and annual reports. It also makes use of databases, such as Businessweek and others, to collect effective and useful information for a market-oriented, technical, commercial, and extensive study of the global market. In addition to the data sources, the study has been undertaken with the help of other data sources and websites.

Secondary research was done to obtain critical information about the industry’s value chain, the market’s monetary chain, revenue models, the total pool of key players, and the current and potential use cases and applications.

Key Market Players and Competition Synopsis
The companies that are profiled have been selected based on thorough secondary research, which includes analyzing company coverage, product portfolio, market penetration, and insights gathered from primary experts.

The global large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market comprises key players who have established themselves thoroughly and have the proper understanding of the market, accompanied by start-ups who are looking forward to establishing themselves in this highly competitive market. In 2022, the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market was dominated by established players, accounting for 90% of the market share, whereas start-ups managed to capture 10% of the market. With the growing need for advanced defense capabilities and technological innovation, start-ups in the large satellite propulsion and AOCS subsystem market are expected to expand their presence and market share as they bring fresh perspectives and cutting-edge solutions to meet the demands of modern warfare.

Some prominent players established in this market are:

  • Busek Co. Inc.
  • Israel Aerospace Industries
  • L3Harris Technologies, Inc.
  • Moog Inc.
  • Northrop Grumman
  • OHB SE.
  • QinetiQ
  • Safran
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation

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