Teal Group today announced publication of its new Near-term Outlook during the Satellite 2005 conference and exhibition taking place this week at the Washington, DC Convention Center. The study estimates there will be a total of 99 satellites/capsules launched to Earth orbit this year. The number would represent a 26% increase over 2004.

“We view our forecast of 99 satellites/capsules aboard 65 launch vehicles for 2005 as a fairly conservative one,” says Marco Caceres, the lead analyst for Teal Group’s World Space Systems Briefing, the 1,400-page, monthly-updated competitive intelligence service. (For more information on the service, call 703-573-5374, e-mail dcornell@tealgroup.com or fax 703-691-9591). By comparison, a total of 73 spacecraft were launched (or attempted to be launched) by 55 rockets in 2004.

According to the study, the last time the number of satellites/capsules launched showed this kind of annual growth was in 1997, when 155 spacecraft were launched by 86 rockets, versus 102 spacecraft launched aboard 76 rockets in 1996.

“Nothing in recent years has made such a sudden impact on the space launch market as those initial batches of Iridium and Orbcomm commercial mobile communications satellites in 1997,” says Caceres. However, he notes that return to flight of Europe’s Ariane 5ECA, Japan’s H-2A, and NASA’s Space Shuttle will provide a boost to the market. “The revival of these three launch vehicle programs alone should add 5-6 missions this year and get the market back up to more than 60 launches annually.”

Of the spacecraft projected to go up in 2005, 32.3% are classified as civil (government non-military), 27.3% as military, 24.2% as commercial, and 16.2% as university. In 2004, 38.4% of the spacecraft launched were civil, 31.5% military, 27.4% commercial, and 2.7% university.

The thrust of the study is the view that the launch market will rebound in 2005, but that it will be modest … that there is little to suggest that the market will change radically in the near-future. The study highlights Hughes’ Spaceway dedicated broadband satellite system and SpaceX’s Falcon partly-reusable rocket as two programs that could have noticeable impact on the market. The first Spaceway is expected to be launched by the end the year. Falcon is scheduled to launch its first two missions this year.

Teal Group Corp. is an aerospace and defense consulting firm which provides market intelligence to government and industry. It is based in Fairfax, Virginia.