NSR’s High-Altitude Platforms (HAPs) report, released today, highlights opportunities for growth via current and new airships, balloons, and pseudo-satellites will reach over $2B in cumulative revenue over the next decade. NSR’s industry-first HAPS report forecasts a 44% increase in HAPs units and an 85% increase in associated revenue over the coming ten years. Diverse applications such as communications, remote sensing, surveillance, navigation, scientific research, and technology testing, as well as new apps, such as adventure tourism, will emerge as key HAPs market drivers.
“With over 30 platforms in-service, in testing or under development around the world, the interest in using HAPs in different ways is reaching new heights, leading to steady industry growth,” states NSR Analyst and report author Laura Forczyk. “Over the past two decades, HAPs have been slow to reach maturation for many applications. Some areas even saw a decline due to confusing regulations. But the current momentum in funding and market demand looks to carry the HAPs industry forward,” Forczyk added.
HAPs, including balloons, airships, and pseudo-satellites, offer advantages over satellites and UAS at relatively lower cost. As such, new commercial players are investing in HAPs, notably for beaming Internet to under-served areas. Government funding, which has dipped in the past decade, is key for growth in these areas, in particular for technology development and smaller airships.. The recent renewed interest from the military, via scaled-back and more focused programs, could mean that a surge in investment is on the horizon helping the industry emerge stronger.
High-altitude airship programs have struggled from overpromising and underfunding, but interest in utilizing these platforms still endures in many markets, especially in the military; however, a wildcard exists in offering communications services for regional coverage. High-altitude balloons, the only truly operational HAPs market, have a large following in the scientific research community, and benefit from improved technology. Given its competitive price point, its revenue growth will be the strongest of all HAPs markets. As for pseudo-satellites, it is still an industry in its infancy and will compete with lower altitude UAVs if the technology can be matured and has the greatest opportunity for revenue growth compared to other HAPs.