Smallsat Market Value to Reach $30 Billion in Coming Decade

PARIS, WASHINGTON D.C., MONTREAL, YOKOHAMA, July 13, 2017 (Euroconsult PR) – According to Euroconsult’s latest report, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, significant expansion in terms of capabilities and demand is underway in the smallsat market. Over 6,200 smallsats are expected to be launched over the next ten years, a substantial augmentation over that of the previous decade (several mega constellations are now included within the scope of this report). The smallsat market from 2017-2026 will be driven by the roll-out of multiple constellations accounting for more than 70% of this total, mainly for commercial operators.

“The total market value of these smallsats could reach $30.1 billion in the next ten years, up from $8.9 billion over the previous decade,” said Maxime Puteaux, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult and editor of the report. “The smallsat market has quickly expanded over the last five years and will experience a sustained expansion in the future. Constellations’ demand is more cyclical with strong variations driven by deployment in batches whereas demand for single satellite missions is more stable. Improvements in performance also change the shape of the satellite; miniaturization is a continuous process which gives customers the choice between lighter satellites with the same capabilities or heavier, more powerful satellites. In the heaviest mass category, smallsats are now able to perform missions that in the past were only achievable by satellites heavier than 500kg.”

Credit: Euroconsult

NGSO-HTS demand, anchored by O3b today, is projected to grow at an average pace of over 40% per year as at least one LEO-HTS constellation is anticipated to be built and launched within the forecast period. Total HTS capacity lease revenues are forecasted to reach more than $6 billion by 2025, generating over $36 billion in aggregate revenues over the period. As a sign of strong underlying and elastic demand, this impressive revenue growth is expected to be achieved despite the confluence of factors combining to drive capacity prices substantially lower, including growing supply, long-term bulk contracts and an increasingly commoditized market for telecom network services.

Smallsats cover a range of applications. In the last decade, the most predominant application area was “technology,” defined as a satellite designed to test future technologies and payloads or for educational purposes. In the future, this application area will be overtaken by the growth in EO and satcom units.

  • Earth observation will increase significantly; over 1,100 satellites are anticipated through 2026. Four companies plan to launch more than 970 satellites during this period alone: Planet, DigitalGlobe’s Legion and Scout, Spire and BlackSky.
  • Satellite communications broadband is expected to exhibit the strongest growth in terms of units launched, with nearly 3,100 from 2017 to 2026 (including OneWeb, SpaceX, and the Telesat Ka / V constellations). There are six constellations foreseen, however OneWeb and SpaceX make up the bulk of these units.

Of the total $16.5 billion manufacturing market value from 2017 to 2026, $3.7 billion is absorbed internally by in-house manufacturing; the remaining $12.8 billion is considered part of the open market. Over the period of the study (from 2007 to 2026), there is a clear divide in the typology of manufacturers of smallsats: In-house company and academia manufacturing rests in the realm of less than 50kg, while dedicated integrating companies comprise the realm of 50kg and higher. Considering the number of satellites that are being manufactured in-house (either through companies in-house, academia or space agencies) or are captive to domestic manufacturers where tenders are not open to foreign bidders, the market potential for third-party industry does not comprise the entire market value.

In the next decade, launch services are expected to generate $14.5 billion, a 76% increase over the previous decade. Launch revenues are increasing faster than manufacturing in relation to more satellite launches and reflect growing competition in a market which is not yet mature, with more diversified options for access to space to be available soon. Heavy and medium launchers remain attractive for constellations as a cost-effective deployment or for piggy-back missions. New small or dedicated launchers will offer a premium ride but be a more costly alternative.

Download an extract of the report

About the Report

Prospects for the Small Satellite Market is a global supply and demand analysis of government and commercial satellites up to 500kg, presenting the various factors that will drive/inhibit growth in demand for small satellites over the next ten years. This report considers satellites by four mass categories, six regions, six satellite applications and multiple manufacturer typologies. The report contains thousands of data points and the expert interpretation and analysis found with all Euroconsult research.


  • Björn Larsson

    620 smallsats a year sounds low if cubesats are included, thinking 10 years forward. SpaceX is already on track to launch more rockets and tonnage than the entire rest of the world and they won’t stop growing. Every other launch could bring a bunch of smallsats. And there are dedicated smallsat launchers under development, some of which might become a success in its niche.

  • JamesG

    At least until either people (and government regulators) come to their senses and realize what they are doing. Or, the orbital debris cascade occurs and harsh reality does it for them.

  • Björn Larsson

    SpaceX plans to put all their comsats at an altitude where there are hardly any satellites today, at the innermost part of the van Allen Belt. And with them all being in the same constellation and having the same operator, collisions should be avoidable. There are several other considerations too, but maybe they are already taking great care of the debris problem.

    And it is a nice piece of real estate SpaceX will occupy up there. Once you operate thousands of satellites at a certain altitude, you might get to have a say about how others must behave there. US politicians and maybe courts would probably listen to that argument. The biggest “land” grab ever!

  • duheagle

    If the orbital debris cascade starts it is far more likely to be initiated by some sub-trackable piece of debris than by any intact spacecraft, even a cubesat, even a dead one. Orbital debris certainly has to be on the top three suspects list in the recent loss of SES-9, for example. The other two suspects are an internal explosion or a micrometeorite strike.

    Sub-trackable debris is controllable on an on-going basis via use of laser sweeping. Industrial lasers based on CO2 and Nd-YAG lasing media have been available in multi-killowatt versions for many years. Both types lase in the IR frequency range.

    A laser sweeper could be built around a space-rated version of such a laser attached to a bus which also supports the solar arrays needed to power it, the radiators needed to deal with excess heat and the raster-scan optics that would sweep, retrograde, through a given slice of orbital space not in-line with any trackable active objects.

    Such a sweeper would provide a significant counter-orbital jolt of photonic momentum transfer to any solid object encountered out to a distance of 100 Km or more. Within some lesser distance, thermal sublimation of an object’s surface would provide a counter-orbital puff of “reaction mass” as well as imparting counter-orbital photonic momentum.

    Continuous operation of a number of such systems at various orbital altitudes and inclinations could quickly clear orbital space of really tiny sub-trackable objects and make a good start on incrementally de-orbiting larger ones up to the several centimeter cross-section range. Over a fairly short period of time sub-trackable debris, both legacy and recently added, could be rendered an arbitrarily minor problem.

    My recommendation for some time has been for the U.S. to simply announce that it is going to do this and then proceed under the auspices of a new Coast Guard-like entity I prefer be named the U.S. High Guard. Like its Earthside counterpart it’s major on-going mission would be removing hazards to navigation.