Artist's concept of Iridium Next satellite. Credit: Iridium

Huntsville, Ala.-based aerospace market research company Satellite Orbital Services said Jan. 30 that it is conducting an industry survey to assess the market potential for commercial hosted payloads in low Earth orbit. 

The company’s chief technologist, Chris Barker, said the survey is being conducted on behalf of a large satellite manufacturer, which he declined to name, and that some results would be made public via the website after the survey closes in mid-April.

“We would like you to consider a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that have no other purpose than to serve the hosted payload community. Each satellite would provide mass, volume, Earth viewing, power, cooling, telemetry, and communications for many hosted payloads,” Satellite Orbital Services explains in the introduction to the survey. “All payloads would utilize a standard interface for satellite resources thereby significantly reducing cost and complexity.  Each satellite’s capacity is subdivided into Hosted Payload Units that have access to all the host satellite resources.”

At least one company, Iridium Communications of McLean, Va., is offering a service in which satellites based on its forthcoming Iridium Next low-orbiting satellites, now under construction, would be offered as host platforms for other missions. The Iridium Prime satellites would operate alongside the 66-satellite Iridium Next constellation, slated to begin launching in 2015. 

The survey can be accessed at