Small satellites are basically miniaturized, low-cost satellites that are designed for commercial, communication, and space research purposes. According to NASA, small satellites are classified according to their mass in kilograms (kg). The launch mass of a small satellite can be considered below 500 kg. These satellites are used for Earth observation & remote sensing, communication, mapping & navigation, surveillance & security, meteorology, scientific research & exploration, space observation, and various other applications by the defense, civil, commercial, and government verticals .
The small satellite market is projected to grow from USD 3.1 billion in 2021 to USD 7.4 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 19.4 %.Small satellite systems hold a huge potential for small satellite data service providers, small sat service providers, remote sensing service providers, technical service providers, and investors. The market is one of the most lucrative verticals of the space industry. Factors such as versatility, low cost, advanced mechanics, ease of assembly and launch, mass production, and short lifecycles have driven investments in the small satellite market. The amount of satellite data and the range of applications for that data will continue to grow in the future as new technologies develop and more satellites come online.
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The demand for low-cost small satellites with increased capacity for enterprise data (retail, banking), energy sector (oil, gas, mining), and governments in industrialized countries is growing. Thus, there is a rise in demand for low-cost broadband among individual consumers in less developed countries and rural areas, which may not have access to the internet. These market expectations are driving investments in smallsat-based LEO constellations. There is a high demand for low-cost, high-speed broadband in industrialized countries. If all planned GEO HTS satellites and LEO constellations succeed, the supply could be much higher than the expected demand, which would drive the price per megabit down. This is one of the major factor driving the small satellite market.
The focus of global growth has shifted as the western economic dominance is declining with an increased focus on emerging economies, and the developments that are witnessed are essentially rebalancing the global economy. Satellite antenna manufacturers will need to adapt to the changing needs of the market with the increase in defense expenditure by emerging economies. Globally, the growing demand for precise satellite communication solutions and the rising adoption of satellite antennas in new platforms, as well as the upgradation of existing SATCOM platforms, are expected to fuel the growth of the small satellite market.
Major manufacturers in this market are based in North America and Europe. L3Harris Technologies (US), Honeywell International Inc.(US), Airbus (Germany), Lockheed Martin (US), Northrop Grumman (US), Viasat, Inc. (US) are among a few leading players operating in the small satellite market. Major focus was given to the development of new hardware due to the changing requirements of satellite communication and earth observation service customers across the world. These players have adopted various growth strategies to strengthen their position in the market. These include product launches, contracts, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and new product development activities further to expand their presence in the small satellite market.
L3Harris Technologies, Inc. is the global leader in providing satellite broadband solutions and services and a leading provider of managed network services and applications. The company operates through three segments—communication systems, space & intelligence systems, and electronic systems. With the highest resolution commercial imagery and broad spectral range, L3Harris is leading the market in smallsat imaging with technological innovations. It is listed on the New York Stock exchange, with the ticker symbol LHX.
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.
Honeywell International Inc. invents and commercializes technologies that cater to some of the world’s most critical challenges in energy, security, global urbanization, and manufacturing. The company is one of the leading manufacturers and service providers of small satellite products. Honeywell’s space portfolio is made up of highly innovative products that span human space missions, launch vehicles, microelectronics and satellite payload and bus technology. Honeywell products are helping to support future space missions by performing functions in spacecraft docking, such as securing spacecraft together during docking, connecting data and power between spacecraft and safely undocking spacecraft.
Thales (France) is a holding company engaged in the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of electronic equipment and systems for the aeronautics, naval, and defense sectors. Thales Alenia Space has supplied military telecommunications systems as prime contractor for more than 30 years now. We are the exclusive domestic supplier in France, with four generations of Syracuse satellites, as well as providing two Sicral first-generation satellites plus the second-generation Sicral 2 for the Italian defense ministry, Athena-Fidus for military and dual (civil-military) telecommunications for France and Italy, and two Satcom BW satellites for Germany.
Lockheed Martin Corporation is a company that specializes in research, design, development, manufacturing, and integration of advanced technology systems and related products and services in the aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technologies sectors. The Lockheed Martin In-space Upgrade Satellite System (LINUSS) mission, which comprises a pair of LM 50 12U Cube satellites, each the size of a large toaster, has a small but mighty role in space’s future. By demonstrating how CubeSats can upgrade spacecraft in orbit, LINUSS is paving the way for future in-space servicing missions and greater mission capability and flexibility.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a designer, developer, and manufacturer of security and technology products and solutions. It also designs and develops solutions for electronics and information systems and aerospace industries. The company offers a portfolio of capabilities and technologies that enables it to deliver products, systems, and solutions for applications that range from undersea to outer space and into cyberspace. Northrop Grumman Space Systems is an industry-leading provider of end to end space and launch systems and capabilities serving national security, civil and commercial customers.
Small Satellite Market by Satellite Mass (Small satellite, CubeSat), Application (Communication, Earth Observation & Remote Sensing, Scientific, Technology), Subsystem, Orbit, End User, Frequency and Region - Forecast to 2026
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