Satellite Manufacturing Faces Changes, Uncertainty in Coming Years

[Excerpt] Commercial satellite operators are experiencing significant changes that are part of a shift from a legacy Geostationary (GEO) communications satellite broadcasting business to more data-centric use cases.

The commercial GEO communications satellite industry declined sharply in 2017 with a record low of only seven satellite orders. The previous industry low was seven units 15 years ago when the industry was in crisis in the early 2000s. With ten commercial orders, 2019 showed early signs of recovery but also a growing diversity of GEO comsat. Within the 10 GEO comsat orders, three ordered by Inmarsat from Airbus Defence and Space are OneSat, a new type of satellite with fully reconfigurable payloads. This concept enables satellite operators to modify their beam and type of service depending or market’s evolution standardization. These new all digital and electric small satellites improve both flexibility and CapEx efficiency. This type of satellite is now marketed by several satellite manufacturers like Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire, Maxar’s SSL-500 and Boeing’s 702X but have yet to secure customers.

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