Two years ago, Forecast International published a blog post about a trend toward decreasing launch mass in commercial communications satellites. Since that post has remained popular, we think our readers will be interested in an updated look at trends in launch mass and the commercial satellite industry. Continue reading →
The ion Electrospray Propulsion System (iEPS) for CubeSats is shown here next to a US quarter for scale
Accion Systems is developing an electric propulsion system for small satellites. As the number of small satellites built and launched increases each year, Accion sees a growing opportunity for propulsion systems to guide those spacecraft once they reach orbit around Earth.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has announced a new website that enables customers to shop for launch services and sets standard price transparency. It also provides insight into reliability, schedule assurance, and performance of the Atlas V launch vehicle. Continue reading →
SpaceX has officially filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build and operate a massive network of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. According to documents submitted to the FCC, the satellite constellation will consist of 4,425 operational satellites along with in-orbit spares. The satellites will operate in 83 orbital planes, at altitudes ranging from 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers. They will operate in Ku- and Ka-bands. Continue reading →
While at the 2016 Farnborough Air Show, I had the opportunity to speak with Robin Sampson, a sales manager at Clyde Space, a Scottish satellite equipment manufacturer. The conversation revealed interesting information about Clyde Space as well as some of the major trends within the growing small satellite market. Continue reading →
2015 was another record year for Arianespace, with the launch consortium posting revenues of EUR1.44 billion. During the year, the company signed orders for 33 launches worth EUR2.5 billion, which increased its order backlog to EUR5.3 billion.
Two Planet Labs Satellites Being Deployed from the ISS – Source: NASA
Small satellites are the next exciting technology in the space industry. Once the domain of universities, spacecraft under 100 kilograms have caught on in the commercial sector. At least eight private companies have announced plans to build huge networks of SmallSats to provide remote-sensing imagery data to customers.
Over the next 10 years, the top-five military satellite manufacturers will be Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi Electric, Boeing, ISS Reshetnev, and Airbus. The companies are ranked based on the forecast value of production of their satellite products between 2015 and 2024. Although other companies act as subcontractors, this list is determined by estimating the revenues of the prime contractors in the military satellite industry. Continue reading →
While small satellites and CubeSats are becoming increasingly popular, large geosynchronous Earth-orbiting (GEO) communications satellites maintain an important role in the space industry. Illustrating that importance was the announcement on September 5 that Eutelsat Communications and Facebook will partner on a new initiative to deliver Internet access across Africa.
The average size, or launch mass, of commercial communications satellites is declining. After the average launch mass reached a peak of 4,424 kilograms in 2012, it declined to 3,578 kilograms in 2013 and 2,755 kilograms in 2014. Even the launch mass of geosynchronous satellites, which are typically heavier than LEO spacecraft, declined in 2014. The launch mass of GEO satellites peaked in 2013, when it reached 5,288 kilograms. The average launch mass of geosynchronous satellites declined to 4,276 kilograms in 2014. Continue reading →