The usage of small and low-cost satellites are paving the way for asuccessful and cost-effective makeover of the domain of satellite systems. A number of companies such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Planet Labs, OneWeb, and SpaceX are primarily focusing on the launch of small and lightweight satellite systems, in order to reduce the costs associated with the satellite launch. As a result, in the recent years, a large number of small and low-cost satellites placed in the lower and higher orbits in the space. Many of the developing nations have also shown a keen interest in the utilization of satellites such as CubeSats (U-class spacecraft). These satellites use enhanced electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor systems to obtain images of Earth.
In the recent years, there have been some major developments of small and low-cost satellite systems, which drive the market growth. Some of them have been mentioned below:
In November 2016, Scotland-based Clyde Space signed a contract with Canada-based Kepler Communications, to manufacture two nanosatellites. These satellites would provide enhanced telecommunications network across Canada.
In September 2016, San Francisco-based Planet Labs, signed a contract worth $20 million with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), to provide small satellites for earth observation (EO) missions in the LEO.
The global low-cost satellite market has been segmented by satellite type, function, end-user, and region. On the basis of satellite type, the low-cost satellite market is divided into nano-, micro-, and others. In 2017, the micro satellite segment dominated the global market and it is expected that the nano satellite segment would witness the fastest market growth, during the forecast period. This is primarily because of the large number of micro satellites being launched in the recent years, by a number of countries. Similarly, in an attempt to reduce the satellite launch costs, extensive investments are being done on the nano satellite systems. On the basis of function, the low-cost satellite market is divided into communication, imaging, and others. In 2017, the communication segment dominated the global market and is also expected to witness the fastest growth, during the forecast period.
This is primarily due to the rapid advancements in high-speed communication technologies along with the introduction of the 5G technology. On the basis of end-user, the low-cost satellite market is divided into commercial and military. In 2017, the commercial segment dominated the global market and it is expected that the military segment would witness the fastest growth, during the forecast period. This is primarily due to the increasing commercial applications through the satellite services in the recent years such as earth observation, meteorology, scientific research & exploration, and mapping & navigation, among others.
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The key players in the global low-cost satellite market are Lockheed Martin Corporation (US), SpaceX (US), Planet Labs Inc. (US), OneWeb (US), Sierra Nevada Corporation (US), OHB AG (Germany), Spire Global Inc. (US), Geooptics Inc. (US), Axelspace Corporation (Japan), and Dauria Aerospace (Russia).