The commercial satellite market segment is growing—with help, in part, from governments around the globe. Government services remain an important market for satellite services, according to Forecast International’s latest report: “The Market for Commercial Communications Satellites.”
“Because governments cannot meet their communications needs entirely with their own satellite fleets, they must turn to commercial satellite operators for additional capacity. The reduction in government spending, as governments around the world attempt to balance budgets, will continue this reliance on commercial satellites,” explains Bill Ostrove, Forecast International aerospace systems analyst and author of the report.
The satellite market is strong, but it is not without its challenges, Ostrove cautions. For starters, some satellite operators’ major capital expenditure programs are nearing an end. It is unknown whether the culmination of these programs will result in reduced demand for new satellites; growing consumer and government/military demand for satellite services could offset such potential losses.
Among the top manufacturers in the commercial communications satellite industry are Space Systems/Loral, Thales Alenia Space, EADS Astrium, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. In fact, Lockheed Martin officials revealed this month that they have submitted a competitive proposal for the U.S. Air Force’s Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) initiative, which is targeted at leveraging commercial satellites for government missions.
The HoPS program will enable the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and other U.S. government organizations with “a capability for hosting government payloads on commercial spacecraft to meet mission objectives,” according to a spokesperson. The goal of the HoPS initiative is to procure a fully functioning on-orbit hosted payload system and integrated ground system equipment that deliver payload data to the government or military end user.
The more of these high tech commercial satellites that are launched should drive down cost to purchase services from these providers. That leads this geek to think about how many satellites we will see in our future skies. According to NASA there are approximately 3,000 satellites currently orbiting Earth.