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The global electric propulsion satellite market size was valued at USD 13.59 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 14.72 billion in 2023 to USD 24.59 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.61% during the forecast period.
Electric propulsion satellite is a satellite powered by either hybrid or fully electric propulsion system. It is a type of space propulsion, which utilizes the electrical power to accelerate or ignite a propellant combustion by various electrical or electromagnetic methods. Some of the types of propulsion utilized in satellites are electrothermal propulsion, electrostatic propulsion, and electromagnetic propulsion. Depending on the utilities, it can be applied for various space-based applications, such as, earth observation, navigational & telecommunication, astronomy, space exploration, environmental studies, and others.
For instance, in February 2023, Starfish Space made an announcement that its electric propulsion-powered Otter Pup satellite will be launched in the mid-2023 and anticipated to perform docking with another satellite late 2023. This development is anticipated to lead to high performance, low-thrust electric propulsion commercial satellite docking in low earth orbit. High adoption of small satellites is driven by the demand for satellite constellations, threats of cyber-attacks, commercialization of the space industry, and emphasis of new market players on small satellites due to commercially available off-the-shelf spare parts.
Recurring Demand for Next-Gen and Small Electric Propulsion Satellites Fostered Steady Market Growth During Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the space industry, resulting in the suspension or postponement of contracts related to satellites and other critical components & subsystems.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many medium & small enterprises which held a large share in the space industry, had been heavily impacted.
Due to high entry barriers in the market, the outbreak had led the space industry toward market concentration, eliminating small companies and start-ups, which play a critical role in promoting innovation, employment, and economic growth.
Threats of Aerial Attacks during Russia-Ukraine War Accelerated the Electric Propulsion Satellite Market Growth
Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, the market was exposed to several vulnerabilities and threats, such as illegal usage of data by third parties, vulnerable space infrastructure to orbital threats, ground-based malicious acts, and fragile & concentrated supply chain network with over-reliance on small market players and highly specialized subsystems & spare parts.
However, the war also had a positive influence on the space industry as the satellites facilitated transmission of crucial military intelligence data and internet network over the Ukrainian airspace. For instance, in August 2022, Planet Labs provided images of the attacks on Crimea-based Russian military bases to assess battlefield damage. Since the initial days of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Ukrainian Government has requested satellite-based data from private satellite companies across the world to improve their military planning. These efforts are expected to fuel the global market growth.
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Recurring Demand for Small Satellites and their Constellations for Military and Commercial Applications to Drive Market Growth
Since the commercialization of the space industry, the reliance on small satellites and their constellations has increased significantly over the last decade for various military and commercial applications. New entrants in the space sector are focusing on small satellites owing to affordability of the programs and high availability of commercial-off-the-shelf spare parts. Other factors, such as threats of cyber-attacks and anti-satellite missile systems are compelling the government and military agencies to adopt small satellite constellations, which are more cost-effective than medium or heavy satellites.
There has been an increase of approximately 1,000 small satellites by 2022 as compared to 2020. More than 1,700 small satellites have been launched into orbit during the 2012-2022 period. By 2025, around 1,000 small satellites will be launched every year.
Rising Number of Space Launches for Defense & Commercial Applications to Bolster Market Growth
The recurring demand for satellites for defense and commercial applications, such as ISR activities, command & control operations, energy industry, and government operations, is driving the market growth. Moreover, defense applications, such as communication, navigation, intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance, are utilized by the armed forces across the world.
Electric propulsion satellites are being increasingly deployed in a wide range of sectors due to their high efficiency and performance, which will drive the market progress. The all-electric small satellites are being increasingly utilized owing to their low cost and commercial availability of off-the-shelf systems & spare parts for satellite assembly. They are also being deployed in different industries, such as banking, aviation, retail, energy & power, oil & gas, mining, telecommunication, and others, further expanding the market size.
Increased Emphasis on and Investments in Space-based Activities to Propel Market Growth
High demand for electric propulsion satellites due to their high thrust and efficiency and commercialization of space-based services are attracting investments from key market players, such as Thales Group, OHB SE, the Boeing Company, and others. For instance, in February 2023, Thales Alenia Space was awarded a contract by Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to supply its electric propulsion system to be assembled onboard GEOKOMPSAT-3 satellites, which will be launched by 2027.
In November 2022, OHB Sweden, a subsidiary of OHB SE and Spain-based Satlantis inked a contract to manufacture two earth observation micro-satellites, which will be launched by 2024. Satlantis will be providing four optical channels. These satellites will be specifically used for applications such as detection of methane emissions and various uses of 80 cm multi-spectral resolution.
High Cost of RDT&E to Develop Electric Propulsion System for Satellites to Restrain Market Growth
According to a European Commission report – electric propulsion & related industry, the process of developing electric propulsion and satellites is a technical challenge which requires long-term, high-risk capital investments. These investments cannot be borne by a private entity alone, prompting them to work with governmental agencies. RDT&E costs rise due to the stringent Product and Quality Assurance norms, which are compulsory for all satellites. These factors are causing a negative impact on the market growth due to the high entry barrier for new entrants.
High Adoption of All Electric Satellites to Accelerate Satellite Manufacturing will Drive the Market Growth
Based on satellite type, the market is divided into hybrid and all-electric.
The all-electric segment was the largest and fastest-growing in 2022. Increasing applications of space-based services in commercial and military domains are projected to surge the demand for all-electric propulsion satellites during 2022-2029. These satellites are lightweight and incur low launch cost/kg due to the absence of conventional propellant storage systems.
The hybrid segment is estimated to hold the second-largest market share during the forecast period. The growing adoption of laser designation technology for airborne platforms is anticipated to drive the market growth during the forecast timeframe. Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) systems are being used to eliminate friendly fire occurrences and increase accuracy in all weather conditions, further improving the deployment of these satellites.
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High Adoption of Small Satellites for Satellite Constellation for Commercial and Military Sectors to Drive Market Growth
Based on satellite size, the market is classified into small satellites, medium satellites, and heavy satellites. Heavy satellites segment is estimated to be the largest segment with market share in 2022. The segment is projected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period owing to the considerable heavy satellite demand worldwide by various governments and armed forces.
The medium satellites segment was estimated to be the second-largest segment by market share in 2022. The growth is attributed to the high requirement of satellites for applications, such as earth observation, military intelligence, satellite imaging, and precision agriculture across the globe. The rise in network-centric military warfare techniques for special covert operations and burgeoning incidence of electronic warfare are propelling the deployment of next-generation medium-sized electric propulsion satellites to fulfill the military sector’s operational requirements.
The small satellites segment is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. There is a notable rise in R&D investments in small-, micro-, and nano-satellites-based constellations by various countries as they will be used in armed forces, environmental research, in-flight communication, and satellite-based internet. Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, Starlink provided critical satellite-based support to the Ukrainian armed forces for military intelligence. Rise in the usage of commercial Low Earth Orbit (LEO) small satellite networks for military applications is anticipated to drive the installation of small-sized electric propulsion satellites during the forecast period.
High Demand for Electrothermal Propulsion of Satellites to Aid Segmental Growth
By propulsion, the market is classified into electrothermal propulsion, electrostatic propulsion, and electromagnetic propulsion. Electrothermal propulsion segment is considered the largest segment, with the highest market share in 2022 and is expected to maintain its dominance during the forecast period. Key players worldwide have invested in R&D of electrothermal propulsion for satellites, owing to high demand for electrothermal propulsion of satellites.
The electrostatic propulsion segment is anticipated to be the second-largest and fastest-growing during the forecast period. Rising requirement for various ion thruster engines for satellite manufacturing is bolstering the market development. Government investment in electrostatic propulsion systems on satellite platforms is anticipated to drive the market growth during the forecast period.
Increased Investment in Propulsion Systems to Bolster Market Growth
Based on subsystem, the market is divided into structure & mechanisms, Thermal Control System (TCS), Electric Power System (EPS), Altitude Control System (ACS), telemetry tracking & command, flight software, propulsion system, and others. The propulsion system segment was considered the largest segment in the market in 2022 and is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. Space agencies and key market players across the globe have been investing in and adopting next-generation propulsion systems through their federal budget allocation for space propulsion amid high demand for satellite services for various applications.
The Electric Power System (EPS) segment is also estimated to register a significant CAGR during the analysis timeline. The rising adoption of subsystems onboard satellite buses under government modernization programs will propel the market progress during the forecast period. Government investment in military, civilian, and commercial platforms against various threats is anticipated to drive the market growth in the coming years.
Development of Next-Generation Earth Observation Satellites to Drive Market Growth
In terms of application, the market is segmented into earth observation & sciences, navigation, telecommunication, astronomy, interplanetary & space exploration, and others. The earth observation & sciences segment was expected to account for the largest industry share in 2022. Space agencies are developing cutting-edge earth observation & environmental sciences satellites for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) systems. This development is anticipated to boost the market outlook.
The telecommunication segment is also estimated to be the fastest-growing during the analysis timeframe. The high usage of satellite-based telecommunication, in-flight communication & entertainment, and other telecommunication services will improve the market growth. Government investment in military and commercial telecommunication infrastructure is also anticipated to expand the electric propulsion satellite market share during the forecast period.
North America Electric Propulsion Satellite Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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Based on region, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.
North America held a dominant position in the market in 2022 and is projected to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast timeframe. High federal budget allocation for new-generation military, civilian, and commercial satellite launches due to growing need for satellite-based services will boost the regional market development. Since the commercialization of the space industry in 2008, many new entrants have flourished in the North America space sector. Also, increased number of small satellite launches is anticipated to bolster the market growth during the forecast period.
The Europe market is expected to be the second-largest region during the forecast period. The European Union member states have planned to invest in the European Space Agency (ESA) to make next-generation satellites for electric propulsion systems to reduce the launch mass and cost. This factor will propel the market growth over the coming years.
The Asia Pacific market is also anticipated to record the highest growth rate during the projection period. This growth is attributed to increased R&D investment in indigenous electric propulsion capabilities by regional space agencies and market players. These systems are also being widely used in defense and homeland security operations. The rise in budgetary allocation has driven the development of electric propulsion satellites.
The rest of the world is expected to hold significant market share, but will record lower-than-average CAGR during the forecast period due to lack of financial support from the governments and demand for space programs.
The market is highly concentrated with various regional players. The top five players in the industry are Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company, Thales Group, Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., Airbus S.A.S., and Northrop Grumman Corporation.
An Infographic Representation of Electric Propulsion Satellite Market
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The research report analyzes various aspects such as key players, product offerings, and end-users of electric propulsion satellites. The report also offers market insights into advanced technologies, trends, competitive landscape, and product pricing and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, it encompasses several direct and indirect factors that have contributed to the market growth in recent years.
Value (USD Billion)
CAGR of 7.61% from 2023 to 2030
By Satellite Type, Satellite Size, Propulsion, Subsystem, Application, and Region
By Satellite Type
By Satellite Size
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 13.59 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 24.59 billion by 2030.
Registering a CAGR of 7.61%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period of 2023-2030.
Based on satellite size, the small satellite segment is expected to be the leading segment in the market during the forecast period.
Lockheed Martin Space, Thales Group, The Boeing Company, Airbus S.A.S., OHB S.E., Aerojet Rocketdynem, Northrop Grumman Corporation are the leading players in the global market.
North America held a dominant market share in 2021.
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