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(9 December 2020 – Euroconsult) In its latest analysis of satellite manufacturing and launch services, “Satellites to be Built and Launched by 2029″, Euroconsult anticipates almost a quintupling in satellite demand in the next decade with an average of 1,250 satellites to be launched on a yearly basis.

In comparison to the 260 yearly satellites launched in the previous decade, this skyrocketing number cements the structural changes occurring in the market and the industry, not only in the number of satellites but also in terms of satellite missions and operators, both governmental and commercial.

“The satellite industry will indeed experience a quick and radical transformation when it comes to satellite numbers. However, despite this spike in satellite demand, we are looking at half of the market concentrated around a handful of mega constellations. In addition, some being vertically integrated means that their procurement will not be done on an open competition basis. Nevertheless, GEO comsat remains the leading segment pulling 1/3 of the market revenues, but here too we anticipate -20% drop in operational assets by 2029.” argued Maxime Puteaux, Editor-in-Chief of this research product and Principal advisor at Euroconsult. Several key market trends are catalysing the satellite industry’s structural changes:

  • For the first time in a single year more than 1000 satellites were launched, of which 70% from Starlink alone. This symbolic threshold will become a new standard for the next ten years with significant annual variations mainly driven by the replacement of the commercial constellations.
  • The orders of GEO comsat have been exceptionally high in 2020 at 18 units, of which 13 for the accelerated C-band clearance plan of the FCC in the USA. In addition, proof of a structural slowdown of that market in satellite numbers, GEO comsat replacement is also challenged by fleet rationalization approaches, in-orbit life extension and transitioning of some of the traffic to upcoming NGSO constellations. Manufacturers’ GEO comsat product portfolios are diversifying, ranging from a few hundred kilograms to 6 Tons VHTS. Digital payloads become the rule for a data-centric market (rather than a broadcasting market).
  • Beyond the “commercial space” momentum, governments will remain the first customers with 80% satellite manufacturing and launch revenues for the period. Investments by defence operators is driven by security applications and a growing endorsement of smallsats, COTS and constellations while civil agencies focus on large Earth observation systems.
  • Access to the space industry is diversifying with a few smallsat-dedicated launchers now operational and more expected to perform maiden flights in 2021. A new generation of GTO-capable launchers is expected to enter the market within the next two years with a design-to-cost approach. Meanwhile, SpaceX masters reusability and executes Starlink’s launches at marginal cost, with Falcon 9 recovery and reuse becoming a standard endorsed by customer.

(courtesy: Euroconsult)

About this research

The 23rd edition of “Satellites to be Built & Launched by 2029” provides an in-depth analysis of the status and future trends of the global demand and supply distribution for satellites over the next 10 years, whilst detailing market drivers and technology evolution. In its analysis, Euroconsult reviews strategic issues and trends by type of satellite operator, orbits, region of the world and application. It provides a quantitative analysis of satellite numbers, mass, and cost with forecasts based on qualitative top-down and bottom-up assessments. With separate sections for both the manufacturing and launch industries, the research covers strategic issues, industry structure, financial performance, innovation and includes detailed profiles of seventeen top satellite manufacturers and launch service providers.

“The 2020 edition will help our clients navigate this fast-changing environment. With this new edition of our flagship research, we have looked beyond number forecasts to provide insights into the GEO comsat replacement cycle and deliver constellation maturity and credibility assessments. We also monitor new government programs, M&As and venture capital investments and technology evolution, whilst refining our price and CAPEX modelling for a more accurate predictive analysis.” Maxime added.

About Euroconsult

The Euroconsult Group is a leading international consulting and research firm specialized in high technology industries, with expertise in the space industry, satellite-based applications, aero connectivity, information and data services. Privately owned and fully independent, we have over thirty years of experience developing comprehensive research programs and working with private companies and government entities, providing end-to-end consulting services, from project strategy definition to implementation, bringing data-led perspectives on the most critical issues. The Euroconsult Group is trusted by 600 clients in over 50 countries. The Group is headquartered in France, with offices in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Singapore.

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NASA CubeSat to demonstrate water-fueled moves in space

NASA CubeSat to demonstrate water fueled moves in space

(19 January 2021 – NASA Ames) A NASA CubeSat will launch into low-Earth orbit to demonstrate a new type of propulsion system.

Carrying a pint of liquid water as fuel, the system will split the water into hydrogen and oxygen in space and burn them in a tiny rocket engine for thrust.

NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator, or PTD, series of missions demonstrates novel CubeSat technologies in low-Earth orbit, providing significant enhancements to the performance of these small and effective spacecraft. The first mission of the series, PTD-1, is slated to launch this month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the Transporter-1 mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Illustration of Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator-1 spacecraft, demonstrating a water-based propulsion system in low-Earth orbit. (courtesy: NASA)

nasa 7

This Hydros hardware unit is a water-based propulsion system, sized for CubeSats. The system uses electricity to produce gas propellants – hydrogen and oxygen – from liquid water and burns these gases in a rocket nozzle to generate thrust. This technology will be demonstrated in space during NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator-1 mission. Hydros was developed by Tethers Unlimited, Inc., in Bothell, Washington. (courtesy: Tethers Unlimited Inc./Mason Freedman)

“We have a driving need for small spacecraft propulsion systems,” said David Mayer, PTD-1 project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “The need is for many reasons: to reach a destination, maintain orbit, maneuver around other objects in space, or hasten de-orbit, helping spacecraft at end-of-life, to be good stewards of an increasingly cluttered space environment.”

This addresses a major concern, as spacecraft can become orbital debris at the end of their missions. The longer defunct spacecraft stay in orbit, the greater chance of spacecraft-to-spacecraft collision, creating more debris.

Water as Fuel

The choice of fuel used in spacecraft propulsion systems can come with serious safety precautions. Traditional, high-performance fuels pose risks, including toxicity, flammability, and volatility. The use of such rocket fuels for in-space propulsion systems require extensive safety measures, and this drives up mission cost.

“To make these propulsion systems feasible for CubeSats, good propulsive performance needs to be balanced by safety,” said Mayer. “PTD-1 will meet this need with the first demonstration of a water-based electrolysis spacecraft propulsion system in space.”

PTD-1’s propulsion system will produce gas propellants – a mix of hydrogen and oxygen – from water, only when activated in orbit. The system applies an electric current through water to chemically separate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gases, in a process called electrolysis. The CubeSat’s solar arrays harness energy from the Sun to supply the electric power needed to operate the miniature electrolysis system.

These gases are more energetic fuels than water; burning hydrogen and oxygen gas in a rocket nozzle generates more thrust than using “unsplit” liquid water as propellant. This strikes a better balance between performance and safety for spacecraft propulsion, meaning CubeSats will get more bang for the buck.

“What’s new is that this system uses water as the fuel in an energetic way, with an inherently safe system,” said Mayer. “This mission will show that we can use water electrolysis in a rocket engine in space – that’s pretty cool.”

Water is an inexpensive “green” resource for propulsion, non-toxic and stable. Green propellants like water are easier to handle, cheaper to obtain, and safer to integrate into spacecraft.

“We are disallowed from using high-performance propulsion systems in CubeSats because of the nature of how we launch these missions, namely by being attached to other spacecraft,” said Mayer.

Most CubeSats and other small spacecraft launch to space as secondary payloads, often riding to space alongside larger and more expensive payloads. The use of traditional “high-performance” rocket fuels for CubeSat propulsion systems are avoided because the onboard presence of such fuels would increase mission risk to other payloads and the launch vehicle. The inability to use these fuels limits performance for small spacecraft propulsion systems.

“Water is the safest rocket fuel I know of,” said Mayer.

A Low-Cost, Effective Propulsion System

The PTD-1 spacecraft is a 6-unit CubeSat, comparable in size to a shoebox. Its flight demonstration, lasting four to six months, will verify propulsion performance through programmed changes in spacecraft velocity and altitude executed by the water-fueled thrusters. The mission will show that this safe, low-cost, high-performance propulsion system works in space and will pave the way for operational small spacecraft missions.

Flight qualification and demonstration of this technology increases small spacecraft mobility and capability for use in future science and exploration missions. This technology could be applied in future deep-space missions using water resources found off Earth such as from comets or the Moon and Mars.

The propulsion system, named Hydros, was developed by Tethers Unlimited, Inc., in Bothell, Washington. This technology was initially developed under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research contract and then matured under a NASA Tipping Point partnership. The PTD spacecraft bus was developed by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc., in Irvine, California. Tyvak is also performing payload integration and operations for the PTD-1 mission.

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the PTD series. NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland collaborates as the payload lead on the PTD-1 mission. The mission launches as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 35, funded by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division of Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The PTD mission is managed and funded by the Small Spacecraft Technology program within the NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

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Orbsat launches SolarTrack, solar-powered GPS satellite tracking solution

Orbsat launches SolarTrack solar powered GPS satellite tracking solution

(19 January 2021 – Orbsat) Orbsat Corp, a global provider of communication solutions for connectivity to the world through next-generation satellite technology, today announced the launch of its solar powered satellite tracking device, the SolarTrack.

SolarTrack (courtesy: Orbsat)

SolarTrack is a compact, rugged, solar-powered GPS tracker designed for a wide array of Internet of Things (IoT) applications including tracking vehicles and the remote monitoring of assets and livestock such as horses and cattle in “off grid” areas. Powered by the sun, SolarTrack can provide constant communication with the Globalstar Low Earth Orbit satellite network, delivering near global tracking capabilities through a transmit only messaging function. SolarTrack is available for pre-orders now and will be available for shipment to customers in March 2021 with competitively priced hardware and unlimited messaging plans including mapping software.

SolarTrack features include:

  • Compact, ruggedized design measuring just 2.2in x 1.3 in (5.7cm x 3.2cm) and weighing only 1.4oz (40g)
  • Internal satellite, GPS, and Bluetooth antennas
  • Easy to install or mount on any asset
  • View location and movements online and stay informed with live alerts
  • Power-efficient, one-way, transmit only messaging function

“Advances in satellite-enabled technology combined with the expanded capabilities of existing constellations has unlocked new opportunities to provide remote monitoring and tracking solutions to customers around the globe. In response to market demand for reliable and cost-effective tracking solutions, we are pleased to introduce SolarTrack, our first Orbsat-branded tracker, combining a novel solar-powered charging system with a rugged, compact design,” said David Phipps, Chief Executive Officer of Orbsat. “We look forward to offering SolarTrack to our global customer base as an ideal new solution for many remote IoT and asset tracking applications where access to cellular networks is impractical or non-existent.”

About Orbsat

Orbsat provides services and solutions to fulfill the rapidly growing global demand for satellite-based voice, high-speed data, tracking and IoT connectivity services. Building upon its long-term experience providing government, commercial, military and individual consumers with Mobile Satellite Services, Orbsat is positioned to capitalize on the significant opportunities being created by global investments in new and upgraded satellite networks. Orbsat’s US and European based subsidiaries, Orbital Satcom and Global Telesat Communications, have provided global satellite connectivity solutions to more than 35,000 customers located in over 160 countries across the world.

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FAA issues commercial space Reentry Site Operator License to Space Florida

FAA issues commercial space Reentry Site Operator License to Space

(19 January 2021 – FAA) After completing an assessment of potential environmental impacts, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Space Florida’s application for a commercial space Reentry Site Operator License (RSOL) at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) in Titusville, Fla.

(courtesy: Space Florida)

The FAA determined that no significant environmental impacts would result from operations at the site. The license, which was issued after the company met all safety and risk requirements, is valid for five years.

Space Florida is expanding the capabilities of the SLF to allow commercial space operators to horizontally land reentry vehicles. It anticipates up to one reentry in 2021, and increasing to up to six reentries annually by 2025. Each commercial space operator applying to reenter at the SLF will develop a separate environmental document to support its specific vehicle requirements. These documents will be subject to FAA approval and will be tiered from the recently completed environmental assessment.

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