Home Aerospace And Defense Satellite Electric Propulsion Market Research Report by 2031

Satellite Electric Propulsion Market

Satellite Electric Propulsion Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Mass Class (Small Satellite (0-500 kg), Medium Satellite (501-2,200 kg), Large Satellite (Above 2,201 kg)), By Mission Type (Earth Observation, Communication, Navigation, Space Science, Surveillance, Technology Development), By Mission Application (Station Keeping, Orbit Raising), By Components (Control Units, Power Distribution Units, Pressure Regulators, Pointing Mechanism, Valves, Flow Controllers, Mass Flow Sensors, Pressure Transducers, Particle Filters, Tanks, Propulsion Chamber/Nozzle, Plumbing/Tuning) and By Region(North America, Europe, APAC, Middle East and Africa, LATAM) Forecasts, 2023-2031

Report Code: SRAD3709DR
Study Period 2019-2031 CAGR 4.10%
Historical Period 2019-2021 Forecast Period 2023-2031
Base Year 2022 Base Year Market Size USD 543.71 Million
Forecast Year 2031 Forecast Year Market Size USD 780.59 Million
Largest Market Europe Fastest Growing Market Asia Pacific
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Market Overview

The global satellite electric propulsion market size was valued at USD 543.71 million in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 780.59 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 4.10% during the forecast period (2023–2031). Factors such as increasing demand for large constellations for smaller telecom satellites in low earth orbit (LEO), rising research and development activities for building low-cost and efficient propulsion systems for satellites, significantly drives the satellite electric propulsion market demand by 2031.

Compared to other conventional forms of propulsion, electric propulsion is a high-exhaust-velocity thrust technology that reduces the amount of fuel needed for a particular space mission or activity. Any propulsion method that uses electricity to accelerate the fuel's exhaust velocity falls under this category. Satellites with electric propulsion provide crucial information for military or commercial use. Adopting and using new technology, such as satellites, will facilitate rapid communications, enable wide-area information exchange, and enable the production and distribution of high-resolution photos of specific sites of interest situated all over the globe. 

Market Dynamics

Market Drivers

Increasing Demand for Large Constellations for Smaller Telecom Satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

The low Earth orbit (LEO) is now attracting constellation companies and becoming crowded. Constellation operators are attracting investors in the space industry, creating the demand for various satellite components needed to operate these satellites in LEO efficiently. There are many reasons for placing small satellite constellations in LEO, as they are lighter and have low launch costs.

The satellite's electric propulsion systems provide the satellite with collision avoidance, station keeping, orbital maneuvering, and de-orbiting. The satellites are serially produced for the constellations and incorporate electric propulsion systems while reducing the mass and launch cost and increasing the mission duration. Satellite operators are slowly transitioning from chemical to electric propulsion, and satellite electric propulsion companies are advancing their technologies to be more efficient and reliable. The key participants in the satellite electric propulsion industry are SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon, and Boeing. These industries are in the race to provide space-based internet services through the LEO satellites constellation boosting the satellite electric propulsion market growth which substantially incer

Rising Research and Development Activities for Building Low-Cost and Efficient Propulsion Systems for Satellites

There is continuous research on electric propulsion (EP) system technology to make it more efficient and cost-saving while reducing the size of the thrusters. The expensive part of the satellite electric propulsion system is the fuel, and the most common propellant used is xenon gas because it has a high atomic mass and low ionization threshold. Xenon has plenty of benefits but is an expensive gas rare in the Earth’s environment. This has driven the need for research on alternative and more sustainable fuels for electric propulsion.

For instance, in November 2021, ThrustMe, a France-based deep tech company, developed and successfully demonstrated an iodine ion thruster that uses a solid form of iodine as a propellant. It is almost 50 percent more efficient, cheaper, and abundant than xenon. Electric propulsion is increasingly being deployed in the commercial satellite market, and there are many flight heritages for this propulsion technology. This shift in the industry from chemical to electric propulsion escalates the demand for efficient thrusters and initiates more advancements in EP technology, driving market growth.

Market Restraint

Integration of Electric Propulsion Results in a Growing Power Budget 

The power components are an essential part of satellite electric propulsion components. It comprises solar panels, batteries, and a power processing unit (PPU), and power electronics. The power components have many functions, such as stepping up and down the voltage to provide a wide voltage range and monitoring the power supply to the electric propulsion system.

The satellite operators are now interested in integrating electric propulsion systems into their satellites which automatically increases the need for more powerful components to run the propulsion systems onboard effectively and efficiently. This requirement for more powerful components comes with a high-cost tag attached to them and increases the power budget of the satellite operator. Due to the increasing power budget, more batteries and broader solar panels are integrated, resulting in a heavier satellite. In addition, expensive equipment adds to the manufacturing cost, and heavier/bulky satellite adds to the launch cost. This constraint will keep some small satellite operators from deploying electric propulsion systems on their satellites.

Market Opportunities

Scalability Advantage in All-Electric or Hybrid Propulsion

Satellite electric propulsion suppliers can target diverse customer groups when providing an all-electric satellite platform. There are generally three types of satellite configurations: chemical propulsion, all-electric propulsion, and hybrid (both chemical and electric propulsion). These configurations change for the different types of missions. As a result, when a satellite maker provides a platform that can be wholly electric, entirely chemical, or hybrid, it can serve a variety of satellite operators with varying mission needs.

The same satellite platform can do a lighter mission when reducing costs or a complex task when adding more payloads to the satellite. This creates an opportunity for the satellite manufacturers to achieve revenue by providing various satellite platform variants to the satellite operators' diverse mission requirements. 

Regional Analysis

By region, the global satellite electric propulsion market share is divided into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World.

Europe is the most significant shareholder in the global satellite electric propulsion market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.48% during the forecast period. The U.K., Russia, Germany, France, and Germany have many manufacturing, research, and development hubs to develop innovative solutions for market needs. The region is widely active in the in-space and deep-space missions with other countries. In February 2022, European Space Agency (ESA) awarded the contract to Airbus for the development of three more European Service Modules (ESM) for the Artemis mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The ESM will be developed in Germany, and the components of the ESM will be supplied across European countries. In addition, the countries in the Europe region have a large number of manufacturing and research and development plants to develop numerous innovative products and services. Companies like Thales Alenia Space, ArianeGroup, Sitael S.p.A, and Safran are key players developing various electric propulsion technologies in large numbers for commercial and government applications.

Asia-Pacific is estimated to grow at a staggering CAGR over the forecast period. The satellite electric propulsion market in this region is dominated by China in both product innovations and making strategic partnerships with market leaders. The domain of Asia-Pacific's space industry has been expanding in the global industry over the years, with new players and governments concurrently developing new space systems. 

The North American region is one of the critical regions for electric propulsion systems, with massive investments by the government, and higher revenue is expected to be generated from this region. There is an increase in demand for in-space propulsion for the constellations of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). The companies in the race for mega-constellations are Orbital Sidekick, HyperSat, Amazon, and other upcoming market players. These significant companies provide satellite internet services. In addition, the government has started prioritizing its military space segment and has increased spending on its military and civil missions, increasing the demand for satellites in orbit. The need for electric propulsion technology is expected to rise further in the coming years, and companies are already developing products and solutions to meet the satellite electric propulsion market demand.

The Rest-of-the-World (RoW) comprises two regions: South America and the Middle East and Africa. These regions have contributed the least to the number of missions planned but have started space mission planning for the next few years. The significant space industry growth in these regions is driven by increasing the number of space satellite missions through new space companies. 

Report Scope

Report Metric Details
By Mass Class
  1. Small Satellite (0-500 kg)
  2. Medium Satellite (501-2,200 kg)
  3. Large Satellite (Above 2,201 kg)
By Mission Type
  1. Earth Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Navigation
  4. Space Science
  5. Surveillance
  6. Technology Development
By Mission Application
  1. Station Keeping
  2. Orbit Raising
By Components
  1. Control Units
  2. Power Distribution Units
  3. Pressure Regulators
  4. Pointing Mechanism
  5. Valves
  6. Flow Controllers
  7. Mass Flow Sensors
  8. Pressure Transducers
  9. Particle Filters
  10. Tanks
  11. Propulsion Chamber/Nozzle
  12. Plumbing/Tuning
Company Profiles Accion Systems Airbus Aliena Pte Ltd. ArianeGroup Astra Busek Co. Inc. CU Aerospace ENPULSION GmbH Moog Inc. Neutron Star Systems Northrop Grumman Orbion Space Technology Phase Four Inc. Safran Sitael S.p.A Thales Alenia Space ThrustMe Bellatrix Aerospace
Geographies Covered
North America U.S. Canada
Europe U.K. Germany France Spain Italy Russia Nordic Benelux Rest of Europe
APAC China Korea Japan India Australia Taiwan South East Asia Rest of Asia-Pacific
Middle East and Africa UAE Turkey Saudi Arabia South Africa Egypt Nigeria Rest of MEA
LATAM Brazil Mexico Argentina Chile Colombia Rest of LATAM
Report Coverage Revenue Forecast, Competitive Landscape, Growth Factors, Environment & Regulatory Landscape and Trends
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Segmental Analysis

The global satellite electric propulsion market share is segmented by mass class, mission type, mission application, and component.

By mass class, the global market is divided into small satellites (0-500 kg), medium satellites (501-2,200 kg), and large satellites (above 2,201 kg). 

The large satellite (above 2,201 kg) segment is the highest contributor to the market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 0.14% over the forecast period. The satellites that weigh 2,201 kg and above are classified as large satellites. These are expected to gain significant growth in the satellite electric propulsion market over the coming years, driven by its increasing capability to provide communication applications with broader coverage. The applications of large-sized satellites include tracking and monitoring mobile terminals in real-time, and these satellites find extensive applications in the IoT, M2M, and broadband communication applications. Large satellites are placed in the geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), 22,300 miles above the Earth's surface.

The satellites whose mass weighs between 0 and 500 kg are classified as small satellites, including CubeSat, MicroSat, Mini Satellite, NanoSat, Suncube, and Pocketcube. The small satellites are further classified as minisatellites (101-500 kg), microsatellites (11-100 kg), nanosatellites (1-10 kg), and picosatellites (less than 10 kg). Companies such as SpaceX, GomSpace, Terran Orbital, OneWeb, Blue Canyon Technologies, and Dauria Aerospace are famous for manufacturing and launching small satellites. Though the size of the satellites is small, it helps the operator to launch a constellation of satellites into space and place it at their respective altitude.

By mission type, the global market is segmented into Earth observation, communication, navigation, space science, surveillance, and technology development. 

The communication segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.49% for the forecast period. Communication satellites are generally used for various applications such as telecommunication, internet, radio, disaster management, and military purposes. The propulsion system used in these large satellites in GEO determines the cost of the mission as it reduces about 40% of the satellite mass using electric propulsion systems. Electric propulsion requires a high specific impulse and less propellant than conventional chemical propulsion giving the satellite operators more room for payloads while reducing the overall mass of the satellite. 

Earth observation satellites are experiencing growth as there is an increased demand for the Earth's environment and surface data. Hence, more Earth observation satellites are deployed to cater to the increasing demand for geospatial information. Additionally, the technological advancement of microelectronics has emerged as a significant factor in reducing the size of satellites. As a result, the small satellites in the low Earth orbit (LEO) have become more popular for Earth observation using electric propulsion to offer high controllability, downward thrust, and drag compensation experienced in shallow Earth orbit (VLEO). 

In the geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), the Earth observation satellites have large optical payloads generally used for weather tracking. So, with heavy technical loads, the satellite operators use electric propulsion for orbit maintenance. The mission can be kept going for up to 15 years, the average life of a geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). Electric propulsion increases the orbital life of the satellites as it reduces the satellite mass, offers more burns, and can operate for a long time. 

By mission application, the global market is segmented into station keeping and orbit raising. 

The station-keeping segment is the highest contributor to the market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 3.81% over the forecast period. The space environment above the Earth's surface is highly dynamic. The conditions in each orbit will change with the rise in altitude, solar activities, and geomagnetic changes cause orbital energy to fluctuate in response to Earth's and outer space's activities. As a result, the satellites need their propulsion system to do regular burns for station keeping to offset these changes and maintain the stationary position in orbit. The electric propulsion system requires less space than the conventional chemical propulsion system, which needs more propellant, with bulky tanks taking up significant space in a satellite platform. 

The satellites in orbit need to do orbit raising to maintain their altitude and fight against the Earth's gravitational force to prevent re-entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, the low mass and cost of using electric propulsion systems provide the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite operators an opportunity to launch more satellites annually. It means more satellites are deploying in orbit and using electric propulsion for orbit raising and maneuvers during their lifetime.

By component, the global market is segmented into control units, power distribution units, pressure regulators, pointing mechanisms, valves, flow controllers, mass flow sensors, pressure transducers, particle filters, tanks, propulsion chamber/nozzle, and plumbing/tuning. 

The propulsion chamber/nozzle segment owns the highest market share and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 4.40% over the forecast period. Unlike the chemical propulsion systems, the electric propulsion segment's combustion chamber comprises the electrodes (accelerator) at the exit/nozzle (through which the ionized/inert gas flows out). The size and number of electrodes will depend on the overall configuration of the satellite's electric propulsion type. The estimation covered in this study covers one unit (a pair of positive/negative electrodes) for every thruster. This component of the electric propulsion system will cover the electrodes and associated electrical/electronic hardware connecting it with the power source and the rest of the thruster.

The power control unit (PCU) regulates the power from solar arrays to the batteries and its distribution among the different satellite loads in an electric propulsion (EP) system. In a hybrid or all-electric satellite, the power that comes to the electric propulsion systems from multiple power sources creates complexities, which requires a dedicated enhanced PCU. Currently, various satellite operators are incorporating electric propulsion into their small satellites on a large scale for low Earth orbit (LEO). As a result, deploying electric propulsion in satellites creates the need for more electric power. This needs for more electric power is coupled with multiple electric propulsion systems, which are integrated and drive the growth of the power budget of all satellites. It will also extend the overall electrical architecture of the satellite to connect all EP subsystems.

Market Size By Mass Class

Market Size By Mass Class
  • Small Satellite (0-500 kg)
  • Medium Satellite (501-2,200 kg)
  • Large Satellite (Above 2,201 kg)
  • Recent Developments

    • December 2022- Thales Alenia Space finished putting the MicroCarb satellite platform together, putting it all together, and testing it. It is ready to begin the integration of the dispersive spectrometer delivered to the UK, bringing this critical climate mission a step closer to its launch in early 2024.
    • December 2022- Thales Alenia Space, the prime contractor in the building of the MTG-I1 weather satellite, successfully launched the satellite today by an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) is a program that aims to improve weather forecasting in Europe and Africa. MTG-I1 is the first imaging satellite in the MTG program.

    Key Players

    Satellite Electric Propulsion Market Share of Key Players

    Satellite Electric Propulsion Market Share of Key Players
    Accion Systems Airbus Aliena Pte Ltd. ArianeGroup Astra Busek Co. Inc. CU Aerospace ENPULSION GmbH Moog Inc. Neutron Star Systems Northrop Grumman Orbion Space Technology Phase Four Inc. Safran Sitael S.p.A Thales Alenia Space ThrustMe Bellatrix Aerospace Others

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is the growth rate for the satellite electric propulsion market?
    The global satellite electric propulsion market is growing at a CAGR of 4.10% from (2023–2031).
    The key players in the global market for satellite electric propulsion include Accion Systems, Airbus, Aliena Pte Ltd., ArianeGroup, Astra, Busek Co. Inc., CU Aerospace, ENPULSION GmbH, Moog Inc
    Increasing research and development for building low-cost and efficient satellite propulsion systems are the key drivers for the growth of the market
    The advantage of scalability for electric and hybrid drive systems is one of the key opportunities in the market.
    Integration of Electric Propulsion Results in a Growing Power Budget hinders the market growth.

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