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Satellite industry to reach $20 billion a year by 2016

The satellite industry doldrums are well and truly over if you believe an NSR report into Global Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Markets which came

By PETER WHITE

Published: 9 June, 2011

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The satellite industry doldrums are well and truly over if you believe an NSR report into Global Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Markets which came out this week. It reckons that across the world there will be 1,600 new satellites built worth $250 billion in the next 15 years. That puts the average launch at $156 million all told and that includes the uplink technologies as well.

Back in 2005 we remember Boeing saying that it could not see a satellite launch in the next five years. But as HD arrived and caught fire that prediction turned out to be hugely pessimistic, and now as HD continues and 3D and rural satellite broadband come of age, not to mention advanced Mobile Satellite Services, the satellite industry could not be in finer fettle.

“At an average of 110 satellites launched per year, we expect the industry to peak again around 2016 crossing $20 billion annually” according to the study’s author and NSR Senior Analyst, Prashant Butani. “This is a significant increase over the last 15 years, which saw a total of slightly over 1,500 satellites at an average of about 100+ satellites per year.”

The next big problem to overcome is the lack of launcher options available to operators, which NSR said would lead to some ‘unusual’ launch contracts being announced soon.

Despite the need for more satellites, the pressure on margins will not go away and customers are arguing that satellite operators need to share much of the risk, something they haven’t been doing of late says NSR.

NSR points to Sea Launch and SpaceX, a company which uses retrievable, reusable rockets, to help get out of the launch bottleneck. Sea Launch is due to return to operation shortly and in December SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.

“As the industry settles down after the recent spate of MSS capital expenditure, most providers will look to rely on Fixed Service and High Throughput satellites and Government satellites for the next decade. These will come, almost in equal measure, from international and domestic satellite operators,” said NSR.

North America and Western Europe will continue to account for over 50% of the market, with significant growth in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

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