Paris, France: The market for commercial earth observation (EO) data slowed significantly in 2011 with growth of 6 per cent to USD 1.4 billion following five years of strong growth of over 20 per cent from 2006 to 2010. The primary factor behind this slow growth was the stabilisation in US defence data procurement following the awards of the Enhanced View contracts by the NGA to DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, the latest research report by Euroconsult — Satellite-Based Earth Observation: Market Prospects to 2021 – has revealed.
The slowdown, however, disguises significant growth in further applications and regions. In particular, data sales to international defence continue to grow strongly, reaching a value of USD 400 million in 2011, the report shows. Sectors such as engineering, infrastructure and location-based services also continue to develop. The commercial data markets in South-East Asia, Latin America, Russia and CIS are all experiencing high growth rates. With these drivers supporting the industry, commercial data sales are forecasted to reach USD 3.9 billion by 2021.
Over the next 10 years, 288 satellites are expected to be launched for EO and meteorology purposes, compared to 149 satellites launched over the previous decade. This escalation would increase data supply and provide opportunities for satellite manufacturers, the report said. Government investment to support the majority of these satellites is greater than ever (despite a challenging economic environment) in order to support global objectives, such as climate change and environmental monitoring, or as in the case of emerging EO programmes to support local industry development and meet local demand for data. “Even though governments are facing tightening budgets, progress is still seen at each level of the value chain, incorporating manufacturing, launch, data and services,” said Adam Keith, Director of earth observation at Euroconsult. “Government investment in 2011 reached a record high of USD 6.7 billion, with mounting investment from emerging programmes,” he added.
Revenues generated through manufacturing EO (non-meteorology) satellites will total USD 24.3 billion from 2012-2021, representing a 34 per cent increase over the previous decade. Although the majority of these revenues are associated with leading government EO programmes with an established industry, an increasing number of units from emerging and commercial programs will provide export opportunities. This is salient with delays and budget concerns in key programmes in Europe and the US, potentially impacting the industrial base. American industry in particular could see a decline in EO manufacturing revenues over the next decade, with pressure rising to modify export control regulations.
In total, 30 per cent of EO satellites are scheduled to be launched from emerging and developing programs in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East over 2012 to 2021. A key to programme development in emerging regions is technology transfer or localisation with existing manufacturers as countries seek to establish and develop a space industry.