NSR Press Releases

LEO-HTS Constellations Present Great Promise but Challenging Business Cases

NSR’s New Report Finds Despite High CAPEX, Technical and Regulatory Challenges, Constellations Set to Generate 12% of Satcom Revenue by 2027


Cambridge, MA – May 2, 2018 – NSR’s industry-first Satellite Constellations: A Critical Analysis report, released today, forecasts a mixed outcome for large HTS constellations.  NSR predicts two, out of the five Non-GEO HTS constellations analyzed, do not have a viable business case and will not be sustainable, if launched. The remaining three will generate 12% of overall satcom market revenues over the next decade.  Costly systems and replenishment cycles, matched against funding challenges, demand questions, and extraordinary technical and regulatory complexity, will separate contenders from pretenders in the high stakes constellations market.

“Satellite constellations are not a new concept and, historically, they have not been an entirely successful venture. The associated CAPEX, including replenishment costs, is one the biggest hurdles to HTS, EO, and IoT constellation business plans,” noted Shagun Sachdeva, report author  “The reduced launch and manufacturing costs are indeed enabling trends; however, there are still many challenges, like those associated with ground infrastructure costs and acquisition of landing rights, that must be overcome to build a feasible business model. The benefits from economies of scale, which mega-constellations rely upon, are generally not enough to counter these other challenges,” Sachdeva stated.

Vertical integration trends – such as in-house manufacturing and, in the case of SpaceX, incorporating that with its own launch services – aimed at lowering costs further actually add another layer of complexity that is greatly underestimated.  Supply chain management is a momentous challenge, even for industries that are conceived on a mass production model with years of experience, such as the automotive industry.   Various other production and assembly processes need to be redesigned, and testing and safety standards need to be re-evaluated for the specific cases of mass producing satellites.

There is a compelling level of optimism towards Non-GEO constellations, as evidenced by the huge amount of funding being poured into them. The availability of low latency Internet service across the globe offers tremendous socio-economic benefits. However, financial success for LEO constellations depends on their ability to bring pricing down to a level competitive with terrestrial networks and make the services affordable to target markets. With advancement in Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of Flat Panel Antennas, Inter Satellite Link (ISL) technology and manufacturing trends such as 3D printing, the overall CAPEX for LEO constellations is expected to be reduced in the coming years, which will aid in the realization of their envisioned business models.


About the Report

NSR’s Satellite Constellations: A Critical Analysis report provides a competitive assessment of satellite constellations within three markets: Communication HTS, IoT and EO. It analyses various aspect of the business case including launcher strategy, ground infrastructure costs, manufacturing and replenishment plan as well as financing status for each constellation to assess their viability. The financial ‘bottom line’ for each is scrutinized and compared against a qualitative assessment to evaluate the future of these constellations.  NSR further evaluates the growth trends of NGEO constellations within each market under study over a 10-year period.

For additional information on this report, including a full table of contents, list of exhibits and executive summary, please visit www.nsr.com or call NSR at +1-617-674-7743.


About NSR

NSR is the leading global market research and consulting firm focused on the satellite and space sectors. NSR’s global team, unparalleled coverage and anticipation of trends with a higher degree of confidence and precision than the competition is the cornerstone of all NSR offerings. First to market coverage and a transparent, dependable approach sets NSR apart as the key provider of critical insight to the satellite and space industries. Contact us at info@nsr.com to discuss how we can assist your business.