Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Report: 2,147 spacecraft to be launched this decade
Posted: April 5, 2000

A previous EchoStar satellite prior to launch. Photo: Lockheed Martin
Teal Group has announced publication of its new Worldwide Mission Model: 2000-2009 at the U.S. Space Foundation's 16th Annual National Space Symposium. The study counts a total of 2,147 payloads proposed for launch to Earth orbit during the next 10 years, up slightly from last year's total of 2,123 payloads for 1999-2008.

The Model breaks outs the data by customer region; payload type, mass and orbit; prime contractor, and launch vehicle. It provides a framework from which to make projections about the future of space based on the relatively "hard information" available on a wide range of payloads, including satellites, microgravity experiments capsules, and manned missions. It is a snapshot of what has been proposed for construction and launch as of this writing.

"The first time we did our Model back in 1992, we counted 656 proposed payloads for the 1993-2002 timeframe," says Marco Caceres, lead analyst for Teal Group's World Space Systems Briefing, the 1,400-page, monthly-updated competitive intelligence service in which the Model is published (for more information on the service, call 703-573-5374 or fax 703-573-0559). "Now, eight years later we observe that the number of payloads has more than tripled."

More than 50 percent of the payloads are of US origin. Of those, roughly 75 percent belong to commercial ventures and 25 percent to government agencies. Approximately 65 percent of the payloads are commercial communications satellites. For the payloads which have a designated mass, some 57 percent of them can be classified as small satellites or smaller, weighing between 1 kilogram and 1,000 kilograms, while 60 percent of them are destined for low Earth orbit (LEO) -- the vast majority to altitudes of between 1,000 kilometers and 1,500 kilometers.

The Model identifies more than 70 different prime contractors. According to the study, the top 20 primes account for 62 percent of the total payloads. The top five primes-Hughes Space and Communications, Space Systems/Loral, Alcatel Space Industries, Motorola Space and Systems Technology, and Orbital Sciences- alone account for 33 percent. The Model also identifies more than 30 launch vehicle programs. Of the total payloads, only about 46 percent have a designated launcher. The top five launch vehicle programs -- Arianespace's Ariane, Boeing's Delta, International Launch Services' Proton, NASA's Space Shuttle, and Eurockot Launch Services' Rockot -- account for 64 percent of the assigned payloads.

"I think the best thing that can be said about the number 2,147 is that it is a reference point," says Caceres. "When people in the space industry want to know how many satellites will be built and launched during the next 10 years, they can at least say with some degree of comfort, 'Well, it's probably going to be more than 1,000 and less than 5,000', although I must say that something drastic would have to occur within the industry for us to see anywhere near 5,000 payloads through 2009." Caceres notes, "The only factor that could create such a market would be an exponential drop in launch service costs, and we do not foresee this happening anytime soon, certainly not until reusable launch vehicle companies start to become serious players."

Teal Group Corp. is an aerospace and defense consulting firm which provides market intelligence to government and industry. It is based in Fairfax, Virginia.

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