NSR report: In-orbit satellite services pave the way to manage space assets

NSR’s In-Orbit Servicing & Space Situational Awareness Markets, 3rd Edition report, has been released, forecasting over $3.1B in cumulative revenues generated by 2029 for applications such as satellite life extension, relocation, de-orbiting, salvage, robotics, and space situational awareness. NSR’s analysis shows progress of this much-anticipated technology and business as launches of satellite constellations continue, and there is growing concerns and opportunity to service in-orbit infrastructure to more accurately and efficiently manage orbital assets. The in-orbit servicing (IoS) market stands ready to develop quickly, as Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle launch in late 2019 kick-starts a flurry of life extension and space tugs in-orbit service technologies. Meanwhile, increasing partnerships between players and “future-proofing” of satellites, such as OneWeb’s recent announcement to install a grappling handle on its satellites to help with future de-orbiting, are aiding the commencement of services and their sustainability.

“GEO satellites were once isolated, but missions once ‘one and done’ are no longer the only available option,” notes Dallas Kasaboski, NSR Senior Analyst and report lead author. “Space as the ‘next frontier’ is increasingly becoming a service environment where demand for greater control of orbital infrastructure, from beginning through end of life, is a reality,” he adds. NSR’s analysis of the risks, challenges, players, and opportunity of IoS technology & services, finds that non-GEO satellites will drive 75% of demand. However, GEO will control over 66% of those cumulative revenues generated by 2029, due to higher complexity missions in higher orbits. Once in-orbit demonstration of life extension missions are successful, NSR notes that more complicated applications, such as robotic manipulation and salvage will follow. At the same time, Space Situational Awareness (SSA), newly represented and forecasted in NSR’s report, is becoming even more globally recognized and supported. “SSA will be vital for the future of the satellite industry. Tracking, monitoring, and predicting satellite and asset flight paths with more accuracy, precision, and timeliness will help ensure a safe and sustainable orbital environment,” notes Shagun Sachdeva, NSR Senior Analyst and report co-author. Yet, a disparate acknowledgment of the risks involved, competition among new entrants, freely available government programs, and outdated regulations will make the commercially offered SSA market just as challenging to navigate.

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