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Oct 15 2015

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EXCELLENT analysis by Northern Sky Research

NSR’s Analysts Answer Questions Regarding Small (Sexy) Satellite Constellations…Why Now? This is so chockfull of great nuggets of insight that it’s hard to know where to start! This is definitely a must-read article.

The questions their analysts attempt to answer are “The investments flowing into LEO constellations today are in the $B (billions). Why is that, and what is attracting investors?”

Here are the primary reasons that they postulate are the cause:

  1. The insatiable appetite for bandwidth and the need to connect the world with lower latency than in GEO.
  2. The low interest rate environment after the 2008 financial crisis, pushing investors to seek higher returns
  3. GEO-HTS, particularly with Ka-band now proven technically and with maturing business models and the O3b Networks MEO constellation showing HTS Ka-band does not need to be confined to GEO
  4. Developments in electronically-steered antennas pointing to less complex customer premise equipment (CPE)
  5. the threats to the Net neutrality principle prompting giant Internet players like Google and Facebook to eye satellites for transport independence/hedging.

They also note that launch technology and technology advances have made space more accessible, smaller payloads being able to tackle more problems, than ever before.

And why is this LEO investment push likely going to be sustained whereas the rush to LEO in the ’90s petered out (besides launch costs and technology advances)?

  • The market for broadband is much higher now than in the 90s
  • Technology has also advanced antenna design, making it much easier for a customer terminal to track LEO satellites
  • SATCOM no longer competes with terrestrial fiber connectivity, but compliments it.

They also identify some technology drivers for LEO SATCOM:

  • Flat panel antenna
  • Increased use of consumer-market electronics for payloads
  • Volume of smallsat launchers
  • Volume of smallsat manufacturers, and a potential shift from dedicated space component manufacturers to mainstream COTS suppliers

Much, MUCH more at the link.

Bravo Zulu, Northern Sky!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/10/15/excellent-analysis-by-northern-sky-research/

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