Antonio Abad, Technical Director and Operating Officer for Hispasat in Spain described satellite communications as a very dynamic and competitive global marketplace with worldwide competition.
"Geostationary orbit (GEO) will continue to be one of the most efficient means for providing global communications services and there is a constant growth in capacity," he stated.
"The natural trend in this market is to go to larger platforms carrying more and more capacity.
Cost reductions have led to the development of larger satellites but there are some market segments where smaller-sized satellites are better."
said that the strong trend towards larger satellites showed little sign of diminishing in coming years but added that there was still room for small and medium-sized satellites.
stated that in many situations these could be very attractive because they offered quicker access to market, potentially lower launch costs, compatibility with a greater range of launch vehicles and faster manufacturing times.
They are also an ideal test bed for new technologies and can help with risk mitigation and flexibility in satellite fleet management, as well as offering an on-going reduction in mission complexity.
Another key issue is that small satellites offer an affordable way for many countries with limited budgets to access space both from an EO
and communications perspective.
suggested that small to medium-sized satellites could also facilitate a step-by-step introduction to space communications services in regional markets, are a cost-efficient way to provide backup and increase fleet flexibility, and allow operators to enter new markets where transponder utilisation is perhaps still uncertain.
In looking at some of the key drivers to increase the market, Antonio Abad
included a reduction in manufacturing time and the introduction of electric propulsion, both for station-keeping and the propulsion phase from low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit.
"The point is not about reducing mass, it is about reducing costs to orbit," he
reiterated the push for electric propulsion and said that it would ultimately need to have higher thrust than was presently offered.
suggested that industry should respond to the challenge by increasing the thrust options available in the future.
Technical Director and Operating Officer
Hispasat S.A., Spain