Twenty-six commercial satellites open to competitive bidding and intended for geostationary orbit were ordered in 2014, up from 23 the previous year. Satellite manufacturers say 2015 is likely to be about as busy, with the possibility of one or more contracts for lower-orbit satellite constellations entering the mix.
Space Systems/Loral (SSL), the only major satellite builder without substantial government business, again led the pack in picking up commercial geostationary satellite orders, booking nine satellites in its second full year of operating under the ownership of MDA Corp. of Canada.
The year’s contract count includes several orders for Earth imaging satellites in lower orbits — two hyperspectral missions booked by Boeing for its new, smaller satellite platform, Airbus’ win of a Peruvian optical reconnaissance satellite and SSL’s win of a contract to build 13 low-orbiting satellites for SkyBox Imaging.
Planned or ongoing competitions for optical reconnaissance satellites in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia are likely to make Earth observation a durable feature in measuring a satellite builder’s competitive strength.