NSR’s Smallsat Launch Vehicle Markets, 2nd Edition report, released today, concludes the dedicated commercial small satellite launch market will see a rapid ramp-up period resulting in over $2.2B in revenue over the next 10 years, overcoming supply chain constraints, new technology risks, and solidifying its place in the market as a proven competitor.
While funding and enthusiasm continues to steadily increase, with twelve new dedicated smallsat launchers anticipating their first orbital launches by the end of 2020, the additional competition and market constraints will cause consolidation by no later than the mid-2020s. “NSR expects to see consolidation in the market in the form of M&As, or companies pivoting to other services or exclusive markets such as Military and Defense, or face shutdown,” writes Leena Pivovarova, NSR Analyst and report author.
Shifting mindsets also impact how the industry perceives small launch vehicle utility. Although, the larger mass category of dedicated smallsat launchers is ideal for smallsats being developed for mega-constellations, most of these satellites will not be launched on dedicated small launchers. For large scale mega-constellation deployments, heavier rockets with bigger payload capabilities will be utilized.
However, with rising popularity and success garnered by companies like Rocket Lab, emerging small launchers will continue to demand the spotlight. These small dedicated rockets will be utilized for mega-constellation replenishments in smaller increments, cubesat constellation deployments (or deployments of smaller class of satellite constellations), as well as technology developments, science, Earth Observation and other verticals.
This market’s challenge and opportunity still remains focused on schedule. As the industry trend towards rapid and more flexible launch capabilities gains momentum, all actors must respond in their own unique ways to remain competitive in the market. “With more players maturing and offering competitive value-added services and incentives to distinguish themselves from their competition, launch prices will increase,” says Pivovarova.