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The global small satellite market size was valued at USD 3.23 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 3.46 billion in 2023 to USD 5.88 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.9% during the forecast period.
Small satellite is a miniaturized satellite that weighs less than 1000 kg and is relatively smaller in size compared to conventional satellites. It can also be built by a smaller number of human resources in a short duration, which further enhances the feasibility. These satellites are utilized for various applications such as communication, surveillance, earth observation, in-orbit inspection, and others.
Recent developments in the private space economy have further catalyzed the global small satellite market share. Notable projects of private entities such as Starlink, OneWeb, and Kuiper are propelling the demand for these satellites globally. Furthermore, the enhanced capability of miniaturized parts such as receivers, propulsion systems, processors, and so on is expected to drive the global market size during 2023 to 2030.
COVID-19 Pandemic Significantly Plummeted the Global Space Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the small satellite market growth. Major space economies, such as the U.S., China, Russia, India, Japan, and France, faced a significant delay in their space missions. For example, in April 2020, the U.S. registered a delay in the launch of its three spy satellites, which were launched by Rocket Lab. Besides mission delay, major space agencies had faced budget reduction during FY 2020-21. For example, the Indian Space Research Organization witnessed a decline of approximately 26% in its space budget compared to the previous year. The overall market was back on track during the year 2021 with a rising number of space launch initiatives and small satellite services.
Advancements in 3D Printing Technology to Boost the Market Expansion
Recent developments in 3D printing made it possible to manufacture a tiny component with tight tolerance limits. Additive manufacturing allows selection from a wider range of composite materials such as composites or alloys of titanium, aluminum, and plastics. It leads to enhanced component level strength at a much lower weight. In May 2022, Mitsubishi Electric demonstrated a new method of 3D printing which can manufacture a lighter and thinner antenna in space itself. This patented satellite technology technique eliminates the need for installing large size antennas before the actual launch.
Furthermore, in January 2023, SWISSto12 announced to receive a contract worth USD 32.5 million to build a 3D printed satellite Intelsat 45 for the European Space Agency (ESA). Majority of the components, such as waveguide filters, diplexers, Ka-band feedchain, antenna array, and so on, will be produced by 3D printing only. Due to advantages such as reduced production time, higher flexibility, and mass production capability, the increasing deployment of 3D printing technology is set to propel the global market growth.
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Rising Development of Small Launch Vehicles to Drive Market Growth
Small Launch Vehicles (SLVs) refer to the launch vehicles that can carry payloads up to 2,000 kg to lower earth orbit. The shorter production time and lower cost of SLVs are the two key benefits driving the industry expansion. Rising investment from private entities across the globe has proliferated the development of SLVs.
Many small satellite start-ups, such as Rocket Lab, Skyroot, Agnikul, Firefly, Vector, and Orbex, among others, are developing SLVs for the commercial space launch service of small payloads. Electron, Launcher One, Jielong 1, Long March 11, and SSLV are a few active SLVs serving the small satellite launch services market. The involvement of private space start-ups will eliminate the need for heavy launch vehicles and reduce the per kg launch cost of these satellites. Such factors are driving the global market growth.
Mass Production of Satellites to Propel the Market Expansion
Rising focus toward cost reduction and relay satellites led to the emergence of mass production in the space industry. Many public and private companies across the globe have started satellite mass production or assembly lines. For example, in January 2021, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation announced to produce nearly 240 satellites every year through its intelligent production line. In February 2023, Russian space agency, Roscosmos, announced to build satellite production lines for telecommunication and remote sensing applications. The fleet of small satellites for space-based broadband connectivity, such as Starlink and OneWeb, is also mass produced through faster and economic production lines Hence, mass production paved the way for cost effective small satellite constellations.
Short Lifespan of Small Satellites to Hamper the Market Growth
Due to the limitations of weight and size of these satellites, components such as propulsion and power systems consist of a limited amount of fuels and other backups. Furthermore, with limited resources, operators can perform limited number of station keeping operations. Hence, the overall lifespan of these satellites reduces drastically compared to conventional satellites.
The lifespan varies from one month to five years whereas conventional satellites can be operational for 15 years or more. Under the Starlink initiative, SpaceX launched nearly 3,500 smallsats, which have an estimated life span of five years. Therefore, to maintain broadband connectivity, the retired satellites need to be replaced with new ones. This leads to the increased overall cost of such projects and may hamper the market growth.
Propulsion System Segment to Grow Significantly Due to Numerous Applications
Based on component, the market is segmented into telemetry, tracking, and command; power system; propulsion system; command & data handling; and others. The propulsion system segment is estimated to be the fastest growing segment during the forecast period. This is due to the higher component cost and wider applications. Key focus toward longer duration propulsion systems, especially electric propulsion systems, will drive the segmental growth. The command & data handling and power system segments are anticipated to grow significantly due to the requirements of higher data transmission capacity and better operation.
Minisatellite to Dominate the Market Due to Technological Features and Applications
Based on weight, the market is segmented into minisatellite, microsatellite, nanosatellite, and picosatellite. Minisatellites are the ones which weigh between 1000 to 100 kg. Minisatellite is estimated to be the dominating segment due to its technological advantages over others. Minisatellite can stay operational for longer duration of life and can include almost every aspect of a standard satellite. Microsatellites weigh between 10 to 100 kg and the segment is anticipated to be the fastest growing segment due to its applications in surveillance, tracking, earth observation, and so on. nanosatellite and picosatellite segments are also expected to grow moderately due to their applications in research and data collection.
Military Segment to Dominate the Market Due to Rising Satellite Constellation
Based on end-use, the market is segmented into civil, military, and commercial. Military segment is estimated to dominate the market due to increased fleet size and cost associated with military satellites. The commercial segment is anticipated to be the fastest growing segment due to the emergence of private players to provide space based services. Starlink and OneWeb are the two major ongoing projects for the commercial applications of smallsats. The civil segment will grow moderately during the forecast period due to applications in disaster management, town planning, and others.
Earth Observation Segment to Dominate the Market Due to Increased Investments
Based on application, the market is categorized into communication, navigation, earth observation, and others. The earth observation segment dominates the market due to increased number of launch initiatives across the globe. The navigation segment is estimated to be the fastest growing on account of rising investment toward navigation satellite constellations from the U.S., China, India, Japan, and several European countries. The communication segment will also grow significantly due to rising demand for satellite broadband connectivity.
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The market has been analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.
North America Small Satellite Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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North America holds a significant share in the smallsat market and is expected to grow steadily due to various ongoing and upcoming projects. The market is dominated by Starlink, which has launched nearly 3,500 smallsats till date. Starlink plans to launch 12,000 satellites to provide global broadband connectivity. Recently, the U.S. government has also approved satellite constellations for the project Kuiper. These factors pave the way for the regional market.
Europe holds the second largest market share and is anticipated to grow moderately during the forecast period. The U.K. based joint venture, OneWeb, launched more than 450 smallsats for satellite-based broadband connectivity. Many governmental space missions have also launched smallsats for military and earth observation applications.
Asia Pacific holds the highest market share and is anticipated to be the fastest growing region on account of increased investments from governments and private players. China has emerged as a potential market for smallsats and is also planning to launch more than 12,000 such satellites for communication and navigation applications. India, Japan, and Australia have also heavily invested in their space programs and encouraged private entities for the development of the space economy.
In the rest of the world, countries such as the UAE, Israel, and Brazil are committed toward space-based investments and have already launched several small satellites for governmental applications. Such factors drive the market growth of the Middle East and Africa & South America regions.
Companies Focus on Joint Ventures to Gain Competitive Edge
Various regional and international small satellite players are collaborating for competitive advantage. For example, OneWeb is a joint venture of Bharti Airtel, Eutelsat, Softbank, and many others. Key players of the market include Airbus S.A.S., Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Group.
An Infographic Representation of Small Satellite Market
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The research report provides a detailed market analysis and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product/service types, and leading applications of the product. Besides, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors above, the report encompasses several factors that contributed to the growth of the market in recent years.
CAGR of 7.9% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
As per a study conducted by Fortune Business Insights, the market size was USD 3.23 billion in 2022.
The market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% over the forecast period (2023-2030).
The propulsion segment is expected to lead the market due to the development of electric propulsion systems across the globe.
The market size in North America stood at USD 1.59 billion in 2022.
Key developments in smallsat launch vehicle and additive manufacturing are the key factors driving the market.
Some of the top players in the market are Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and SpaceX.
The U.S. dominated the market in 2022.
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