A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an orbit around Earth with an altitude above Earth's surface of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi), and an orbital period between about 84 and 127 minutes. Objects below approximately 160 kilometers (99 mi) will experience very rapid orbital decay and altitude loss.
Thousands of smaller satellites (constellations) are launched into the low-earth-orbit to work together and operate effectively as one. Large constellations are required to achieve global coverage given their location relative to Earth. Since LEOs are closer to the Earth, they cover less territory because of the limited field of view from the antennas onboard each spacecraft.
Robust position, navigation, and timing services from low Earth orbit (LEO) are here today, providing augmentation to GPS where GPS isn’t available. The addition of navigation signals from LEO provides a number of benefits. The proximity of LEO satellites has the potential to provide much stronger signals than the distant GNSS core-constellations like GPS in medium-Earth orbit (MEO).
For the LEO Satellite manufacturing industry, the technology barrier is very high. Also, many companies has ambitious plans on developing LEO Satellite. SpaceX is one of those companies. In 2016, the company only has a share below 1% in the global LEO Satellite market. However, stepping into 2019, the LEO Satellite business of SpaceX is twisted and the revenue increased for about fifty times. In 2019, SpaceX successfully won the first place with the highest market share of 22.49%. And in 2020, the company’s revenue share expanded further and reached to more than 63%.
For another company, Thales Alenia Space is losing their share. In 2016, Thales Alenia Space accounted for 30% revenue share globally while it s shrinked to 8% in 2020.
The competition pattern of the industry varies largely each year due to the new entrants.
Global LEO Satellite Market- Key Players
SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, SSL (Space Systems Loral), Northrop Grumman, ISS-Reshetnev, Dynetics, AAC Clyde Space, are some of the key players in the global LEO Satellite market.
Global LEO Satellite Market: Type and Application Analysis
Segment by Type, the LEO Satellite can be split into <50 Kg, 50-500 Kg, >500 Kg, etc. Presently, weight ranges from 50-500 Kg is the most widely used one and owns more than 90% share.
Segment by Application, the LEO Satellite market can be sub-segmented into several major Application, like Offshore, Onshore, etc.
The maritime market opportunity that can be addressed by LEO is expected to be approximately US$ 446.57 million in 2020 and grow at 13.76% annually through 2026 to reach about US$1 billion. This market includes connectivity to merchant vessels, oil & gas sites, yachts and cruise ships.
Currently, GEO satellite operators provide maritime connectivity networks, but these systems suffer from low capacity, high latency and high cost and fail to deliver the connectivity experience desired by passengers and crew members at sea. Large cruise lines compete with terrestrial holiday options and greatly benefit from the ability to deliver an at-home-type connectivity experience to customers at sea.
Similarly, yacht owners want to enjoy the same high quality broadband experience that they have in their homes and offices. For the merchant shipping lines and large oil & gas offshore platform operators, quality and fully global connectivity are a key “ask” of the crew and influences the ability to attract and retain employees. Real-time ship-to-shore connectivity also enables important operational efficiencies (e.g., optimal sea routes reduce vessel fuel costs).
In the maritime segment, COVID-19 has primarily impacted demand for cruises. However, we expect demand for cruises to return to pre-pandemic levels on a time horizon.
Another growth driver for satellite services is expected to come from increased demand in the resource sector, largely driven by oil and gas exploration, the level of which has been driven principally by global economic growth. A number of energy projects have been scaled back or put on hold due to recent sectoral headwinds, but to the extent that levels of exploration and extraction recover, we expect it will drive demand for our satellite services. In addition, the current and increasing focus on safety concerns in the resource sector is leading to the implementation of diverse, redundant communications for monitoring and control of resource infrastructure (e.g., automated rigs and pipelines), including video, which may drive demand for low latency satellite services.
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