Until 1982, all the civil and commercial payloads were being launched by the U.S. government into their orbits. However, over the recent years, the utilization of space has also become prominent for civil applications besides the military ones. In particular, the commercial space sector is observing an increase in the number of satellite start-ups, which are frequently developing disruptive technologies for the space industry, such as small satellites (micro, nano, pico, and femto). Moreover, increased capability of these satellites to compliment the conventional satellites along with the low manufacturing and launching cost associated with them are some of the major factor driving the adoption of small satellites. During the forecast period, 2019-2030, increasing number of satellite constellations are expected to drive the significant growth in the market.
During the initial years of the development of space technologies, the primary focus of companies had been on developing heavy and large-sized satellites. However, over recent times, the space industry has witnessed a number of technological advancements which have created substantial demand for small-size satellites as well as cost-effective launch solutions. With the increase in the capabilities of small satellites, the space industry is increasing its strategic utility, thus motivating various stakeholders including government, space agencies, and private companies to develop dedicated and next-generation small satellite constellations. Presently, small satellites are being increasingly used for applications such as weather forecast, surveillance, earth observation, navigation, communication, meteorology, and other purposes. Of late, there has been an increased demand for efficient small satellite constellations for providing better connectivity for smart devices, Internet of Things (IoT), increased data analytics, and migration to streaming broadband.
Over the past years, the number of small satellite launches has increased tremendously, owing to the low cost associated with their development and launch. The small satellite industry is rapidly adopting small and lightweight swarm of satellites with equal power and higher agility as compared to the ones currently being used. The next big trend in the market is autonomous small satellites which are capable of undertaking fault corrections independently and to avoid any mishap in the orbit. For the same, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to drive autonomy in small satellites.
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Recent evolutions pertaining to the miniaturization of space components have led to the efficacious integration of small platforms, along with short production cycles and reduced launch costs for satellites. These advances provide an affordable and fast access to space. Over the last few years, a large number of companies such as Sky and Space Global, Spire Global, Astrocast, Hiber, and Fleet Space has entered the satellite industry, motivated by the significant technology miniaturization which allows the development of low-cost and small-sized solutions.
The satellite industry is constantly developing with sophistication in electronic technologies being deployed in the subsystems such as power system, telecommunication system, propulsion system, payloads. New global information networks and electronic information management systems are improving the efficiency of satellites along with reducing their cost and size. For example, scalable propellant tanks, integrated thrusters and feeding systems, and micro nozzles, among others are enabled with a compact design in a satellite due to the miniaturization of the components. Accordingly, companies such as Accion Systems, Phase Four, Bellatrix Aerospace, Tesseract Space Inc., Deep Space Industries (DSI) (U.S.), Enpulsion, and Neumann Space are developing micro propulsion systems that can effectively increase the capability of small satellites.