NSR’s High Altitude Platforms, 3rd Edition (HAPs3) report, published today, forecasts $2.6 B in cumulative revenues over the next decade for airships, balloons, and pseudo-satellite platforms. Amongst the three, the balloon market is expected to be the main driver of units and revenues. While North America and Europe lead by taking up nearly 83% of the global market opportunity with equipment revenues, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and Asia will generate service revenues across multiple applications, particularly for communications and remote sensing.
“There is commercial interest in bringing Internet connectivity to remote and underserved regions for the unconnected billions; alongside significant military interest from governments and defense establishments for ISR applications. Both using high altitude platforms,” states Shivaprakash Muruganandham, NSR Analyst and lead report author. “While there have been previous cycles of interest in HAPs that did not materialize on the economic side, programs are now much better equipped to reach required TRL levels,” Muruganandham added. On the other hand, despite the market for scientific research and technology testing being well established, commercial viability of HAPs for communications and remote sensing, amongst other applications, is yet to be determined.
Presently, there are more than 40 HAPs programs at various stages of development globally. These programs target a variety of different applications, in many cases designing one platform for multiple applications. These vary from communications, remote sensing and launch services to marketing and tourism. HAPs offer a complementary and, in some cases, unique value proposition, as compared to the satellite and UAS sectors. Balloons are the most mature market for HAPs, while airships and pseudo-satellites are still primarily in the preliminary stages of development. While progress is slow, interest and investments in HAPs from industry giants is indicative of a growing interest in these markets as an alternate solution across applications.