On the technical side, the satellite industry has made the tools available for the government to ease into the new economic reality — there are alternatives to expensive government-exclusive space assets and programs. In August, Euroconsult produced a world market survey that showed an estimated 1,145 satellites being built for launch between 2011 and 2020. Approximately 70 percent of this total revenue will be attributed to demand in the government market, says Euroconsult space director and report editor Rachel Villain.
“The government market is worth more than double the commercial market, but is largely closed to non-domestic manufacturers. However, export opportunities for manufacturers exist with governments in countries with no space industry,” says Villain, who adds that the government sector demand will likely remain concentrated in a handful of countries.
Villain’s research shows that 777 satellites will be launched by government agencies from 50 countries, however, more than 80 percent of those satellites will come from the United States, Russia, the European countries, Japan, China and India. The primary reason for this concentration was the fact that established space countries are replacing systems that have already been operational, in addition to launching new satellites, while emerging space powers are only building and launching new systems that are not yet at the stage of replacing existing satellites.
“Defense budget constraints are leading to more public-private partnerships and government payloads hosted on commercial satellites. An even more limited number of countries will launch space surveillance and missile defense satellite systems to be used in combination with ground networks,” says Villain.
Cowen-Hirsch says that the conversation on how hosted payloads serve as the commercial industry’s prime example of what it can provide for the government’s current requirements set has taken place in a wide array of settings. “I just sat in on a panel of U.S. government representatives talking about acquisition and policy as well as the decision making process involving the Defense Space Council. I think that what we are seeing with hosted payloads is a great deal of interest in looking at these platforms as a complement to other aspects of architectures and as a way to roll in new commercial relationships,” Cowen-Hirsch says. “But, there is so much upheaval right now with the current military budget and oversight process, as well as with the program architecture. The discussion has been whether or not the government has the ability to disaggregate requirements and evaluate where hosted payloads fit into the overall solution set in a meaningful fashion — specifically how hosted payloads will differ or complement other relationships with commercial industry.”