Figures released by French space and telecommunications company Alcatel Alsthom predict a 25% growth in the global commercial space applications business between 1998 and 2000.

By far the fastest growing segment is in the forthcoming low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations catering for mobile telephones and Internet applications. Alcatel, which supplies the payload for the Globalstar constellation, says that growth in this area will be "between 30% and 40% a year", while the figure for geostationary satellites will remain at around 5%.

"Constellations will represent a business volume worth $27 billion up to 2000 and more than $39 billion between 2000 and 2002," says Alcatel president Serge Tchuruk.

The market for satellite operations is also booming, says Alcatel, growing at 20%a year, from $35 billion in 1997 to more than $61 billion by 2000, while that for the other major segment, infrastructure, will grow at 6% and be worth $60 billion. Most of this is accounted for by satellite production, growing at 14% a year, while launchers account for 6% and ground infrastructure 5.5%.

Tchuruk says that the "revolution" centres on increasing production efficiency, with the demand for LEO satellites resulting in "unheard of" output. Alcatel's Toulouse factory, for example, is turning out a Globalstar payload every week, while levels for the forthcoming Skybridge internet constellation are likely to be even higher.

Source: Flight International