In Space Manufacturing Servicing and Transportation Market Demand and Forecast

Posted by BIS RSRCH on November 10th, 2020

The space industry is in the process of constant evolution, with various technological developments that have enhanced the capabilities of space systems taking place in the industry. The industry has witnessed growth in satellite launches, particularly small satellites, and the availability of low-cost launch services due to the emergence of private players such as SpaceX and Rocket Lab over the past few years

The technological development and feasibility of on-orbit servicing, repair, inspection, and assembly have already been witnessed in the past decades ranging from Skylab’s launch, construction of the International Space Station (ISS), the Solar Maximum Mission, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Orbital Express, Hubble Space Telescope repairs and upgrade missions, and early satellite recoveries. However, the ability to use such technologies to substantiate a commercial satellite service model still remains a work in progress.

The key players in the in-space manufacturing, servicing, and transportation market, such as Astroscale, Airbus, Momentus Space, Northrop Grumman, and Made In Space, are all highly focused on developing on-orbit service capabilities. These companies are developing life extension vehicles such as the MEV-1 (developed by Northrop Grumman), robotic arms, and orbit transfer vehicles such as Vigoride by Momentus Space. Along with these commercial companies, national space agencies such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA) are also focusing on on-orbit service capabilities, through forming partnerships and contracts with emerging commercial space entities.

There are several factors that are contributing to the significant growth of in orbit manufacturing, servicing, and transportation market. Some of these factors include the focused efforts by emerging space companies to develop on-orbit space capabilities, the increasing efforts toward space debris removal, and increasing satellite launches. The on-orbit servicing of satellites has the potential to become a disruptive industry trend in the upcoming decades.

On-orbit satellite servicing is the technology that repairs, refurbish, and refuel satellite that has already been launched. The technology is a disrupting new avenue, wherein great technological transformation is expected to be witnessed in the space sector. The capability is an integral part to further space capabilities and the opportunity to an entirely new infrastructure for Earth observation, communications, space exploration, space travel, and habitats.

Most of the in-space manufacturing, servicing, and transportation providers have numerous tie-ups with various national space agencies and commercial space players. Innovation and development have been the key factors for large-scale growth in this market. To increase their overall global footprint, the in-space manufacturing, servicing, and transportation providers are expanding their businesses and are also entering strategic partnerships to increase their customer base.

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Along with significant growth, the space industry has successfully launched various satellites for various applications such as earth observation, remote sensing, broadband internet coverage, and surveillance. The industry to moving toward developing space capabilities for the servicing of the satellites that have reached their end of life, the transfer of satellites to the desired orbit, as well as the demonstration of capabilities of in space manufacturing using 3D printing and other technologies. 

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