The market for small satellites is expanding its reign all over the globe as a number of companies are building large clusters of small satellites, primarily to facilitate earth observation and communication services for mobile connectivity and access to internet, such as, OneWeb is developing a constellation of approximately 648 satellites, aimed to provide global Internet broadband service. Another company, Spire Global, Inc. is also developing small satellite constellations for earth observation application, in order to provide images of high resolution along with frequent updates. Thus, the increasing demand for small and cost-effective satellite constellations for varied applications is expected to advance the growth of small satellites market in the coming years.
Small satellite facilitates reduced size and cost, along with less complexity and ease of testing. However, despite the tremendous potential offered by small satellites, their launching is subjected to strict rules, international laws, as well as regulatory requirements in national legislation. Demonstrating its prowess in placing multiple, micro and nano satellites of foreign origin in one go, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 12th January 2018, launched PSLV-C40 which carried 28 such satellites to the Sun-synchronous orbit. This launch was a part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the Commercial Arm of ISRO and the International customers. The satellites were from Canada, Finland, France, UK, Korea and the US.1 ISRO is also working on the design of small satellite launch vehicle, a compact launcher exclusively for small satellites. With this development, the cost of launching is expected to reduce significantly in the competitive space technology market.2
On January 11, 2018, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. a contract in November to build two satellites equipped with passive microwave imaging radiometers and Energetic Charged Particle sensors to send into low Earth orbit. The Air Force is planning to add Energetic Charged Particle sensors on all future satellites to enhance its space weather observations.3
According to a new market intelligence report by BIS Research, titled “Global Small Satellites Market - Analysis and Forecast: 2017 to 2021”, the global small satellites market reported a revenue of $2.53 billion in 2016. According to the analyst, “advancements in satellite miniaturization, increasing capability of electronic technology, ascending demand for small satellite constellations, and an increase in the deployment of small satellites for commercial end users are driving the growth of the market.” The government end user is expected to generate the highest revenue by 2021.
United News of India