Demand for commercial geosynchronous-orbit (GSO) satellites has fallen, but the market for non-geosynchronous-orbit (NGSO) spacecraft is showing signs of recovery, according to forecasts from the US Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (Comstac).

The committee forecasts demand for 211 GSO satellites between 2004 and 2013, a drop of 9% over last year's 10-year projection, but predicts a need for 106 NGSO spacecraft over the same period - up 32% from last year, but still well below its 2001 10-year projection of 151 satellites.

GSO demand will grow from around 20 this year to 24 a year by the end of the 10-year period, says Comstac. Including dual-satellite launches, it projects a 2004-2013 demand for 183 launches, increasing from 19 this year to 21 a year by the end of the period.

Noting that 15 commercial GSO satellites were launched last year compared with the 22 forecast, the committee expects 12-17 satellites (of a forecast 20) to be launched this year, 16-20 (of 22) in 2005, and 12-14 (of 16) in 2006.

Comstac expects satellite weight and transponder capacity to grow, driven by direct-to-home applications, and forecasts that demand for large geosynchronous spacecraft weighing more than 5,400kg will begin recovering in 2007.

International science satellites are expected to continue making up most of the NGSO market, with sales of commercial NGSO satellites forecast to rise from six this year (up from four in 2003) to 24 in 2006, falling to eight by the end of the 10 years. Scientific satellites make up 55% of forecast demand, telecommunications 30% and commercial remote sensing 15%.


Source: Flight International