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UPLINK: The Stateside View...
by Hartley Lesser, Editorial Director

From content delivery to crabbing to radomes, to an ASR solution to help with development and maintenance costs, transponder trends as well as a targeted mix of subject-matter expertise, this issue of SatMagazine focuses on the U.S. satellite market.

The breadth or product and range of company focus, as well as the products that comprise this world-leading market segment, could fill several books and magazines. Given our somewhat limited space, we hope we have focused in on material of interest to our readers and our “discussions” lead to the generation of ideas and appreciation for the creativity, performance, and economic sturdiness of the industries’ craft.

Who Is On First....
According to Futron’s 2008 Space Competitive Index, which examines the underlying economic determinants of space competitiveness across 40 individual metrics, the U.S. is the current leader in space competitiveness, as well as the significant leader in each of the major categories, which include government, human capital, and industry.

One should note that many forecasts find double digit growth in FSS in world markets other than the U.S. — for example, Euroconsult’s World Satellite Communications & Broadcasting Markets Survey, Market Forecasts to 2017 report from September of last year finds fixed satellite sector growth in transponder demand (+8 percent) and overall revenues (+9.5 percent) — with double digit growth rates during 2007 in Russia & Central Asia (+20 percent), South Asia (+20 percent), Central Europe (+20 percent) and Sub Saharan Africa (+19 percent). The U.S. didn’t make the double digit growth cut! Increased global competition is going to cause U.S.-based firms to take a significant look at the way they manage their business, not only to gain significant growth, but also to remain as viable options for satellite systems and services.

In another Euroconsult report, Government Space Markets, World Prospects to 2017, planned satellite launches by world governments should see a 38 percent increase in launches over the next 10 years. During 2008, world government space program expenditures reached historical highs of more than $62 billion dollars. This was further analyzed by Euroconsult as follows:

  • Earth observation is the number one satellite-based application worldwide, with government spending $6.7 billion in 2008, i.e. 20 percent of government non-classified investment in space. Lower cost satellites and ability to address local issues has made EO the top priority application for a number of countries, particularly emerging space programs. Strong growth is expected to continue in civil programs, while expenditures for defense and security programs are likely to stabilize at current budget levels
  • Investments in satellite communications (Satcom) programs have been growing steadily reaching $6.6 billion spent in 2008 for both non-classified defense and civil programs. Overall, 128 satellites are planned for launch in the next decade driven by the defense sector as well as projects in developing countries
  • Satellite navigation (satnav), $2.6 billion in 2008, has been the fastest growing application in terms of public-sector investment (+21 percent per year over the past five years). In addition to GPS next-generation satellites developed in the United States, Europe, Russia, India, Japan, and China are investing in a new satellite navigation system that should boost the expenditures to $3 billion in 2010. 144 satellites should be launched for navigation applications between 2008 and 2017, i.e., over double that of the past decade
As Steve Bochinger, Director, Institutional Affairs at Euroconsult, said, “Government space programs are driven by long-term strategic national objectives which are typically less influenced by short-term economic downturns. On the other hand, the economic slowdown may induce governments to increase their investments on infrastructure-related programs to support their economies.”

What is clearly interesting is that 95 percent of civil space programs funding, which accounted for nearly $33 billion spent by 40 countires according to Euroconsult, is concentrated in the United States. Expect additional spending to make its way into satellite industry coffers as the government maintains curernt programs and examines new satellite channels.

Satellite-related applications are clearly driving growth in government programs worldwide, with a large number of countries committing to developing or acquiring satellite systems for their own use in specific programs. The question is, with new companies and products entering the market in the U.S., and overseas, and with acquisitions once again in vogue, will such offset budget decreases planned by major players? The answer won’t be known for several months.

Hartley Lesser, Editorial Director