Global Commercial Satellite Imaging Market Size and Share Analysis 2023-2028
Commercial satellite imaging pertains to the capturing of Earth images through satellites, also known as earth observation, for various applications. These satellite images are utilized in environmental monitoring, energy resource security, border surveillance, construction project mapping, and other commercial purposes.
The Commercial Satellite Imaging Market is estimated to be valued at USD 4.4 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach USD 7.7 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.84% during the forecast period (2023-2028).
USD 4 billion in 2021
Technology, Application, Region
|No. of Companies Mentioned||
Satellite images, also referred to as satellite photos, earth observation imagery, or spaceborne photography, are captured by imaging satellites operated by governments and companies worldwide. These images find applications in fields such as meteorology, oceanography, fisheries, agriculture, biodiversity protection, forestry, geology, cartography, education, intelligence, and warfare.
The imaging process involves obtaining raw image data from optically equipped satellites. Aeronautical imaging offers higher image resolution than satellite imaging due to its proximity to the object. Terrestrial imaging provides the most economical and highest image resolution, but it has geographic limitations. Satellites are preferred for their rapid image data supply and wide coverage. Once in orbit, imaging services become cost-effective, contributing to industry growth over time.
One key driver for the commercial satellite market is the increasing need for efficient monitoring of extensive land areas. Satellite imagery and data offer detailed and accurate information on land use, vegetation, and other features, which find applications in agriculture, urban planning, natural resource management, and environmental monitoring.
The growth of smart city initiatives also fuels the commercial satellite market. Smart cities utilize technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and satellite imagery to collect and analyze data, improving citizens’ quality of life and reducing the environmental impact of urban areas. Satellite imagery plays a crucial role in smart city initiatives by providing precise information on the built environment, including the condition and location of buildings, roads, and infrastructure. This information enhances urban planning, transportation, and public services.
On the other hand, the commercial satellite imaging market may face challenges due to the availability of open-source data for various countries. Open-source data comprises freely accessible satellite imagery and other data provided by government agencies or organizations.
In the post-COVID-19 market, businesses and government organizations are preparing for an innovation shift as restrictions are lifted, aiming to swiftly assess and modify their supply chains. For example, in May 2022, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) joined forces to utilize their earth-observing satellites’ combined scientific capabilities to document global changes in the environment and human society.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including technology, application, and region.
Segmentation by Technology
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Segmentation by Application
Climate and Environment Services
Disaster and Emergency Management
Defense Related Applications
Segmentation by Region
Middle East and Africa
The Optical segment dominated the market in 2022, capturing a market share of 74.91%. It is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.29% during the forecast period (2023-2028). Optical imaging, also known as Optoelectronics, utilizes sunlight to create images of the Earth’s surface. Unlike active signal transmission, this technology passively captures images, making it an affordable and energy-efficient option. The affordability of data obtained from optical satellite imaging drives market growth by facilitating the commercialization of satellite information. Moreover, optical imaging is easily accessible to individuals and organizations without prior experience in interpreting satellite imagery, as the images produced are easier to understand. With resolution ranging from 0.3m to 30m, optical satellites provide clear and detailed images that find utility in military intelligence, allowing personnel to identify vehicles, aircraft, and warships.
In contrast, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) actively illuminates the ground using radio waves to generate images. SAR operates at longer wavelengths compared to visible light, enabling it to penetrate ground and cloud cover effectively. SAR finds applications in various industries, including change detection, flood mapping, pipeline monitoring, intelligence gathering, and military surveillance. Its ability to operate in all lighting conditions, including at night, makes it a valuable all-weather technology. For instance, SAR technology was used in January 2023 to measure and track displacements in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, revealing rapid sinking. SAR provides superior image quality and is particularly useful in search and rescue missions when visibility is impaired by poor weather or smoke.
The Defense Related Applications segment commanded a market share of 24.18% in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.58% during the forecast period. Military and defense applications represent the largest end-user segment for commercial satellite imagery. Security and surveillance are critical functions within defense organizations, leading to increased demand for satellite imaging. Due to restrictions on international airspace, nations often rely on commercially available geographic information from other countries. Governments can regulate the quality and clarity of images accessible to the public, but military agencies often have backup plans. The commercial satellite imagery market caters to diverse customer demands, encompassing both security and intelligence needs. Increased attention to military capabilities and global terrorism threats drives the demand for commercial satellite imagery in defense and national security contexts.
North America held the largest market share of 39.43% in 2022 and is expected to maintain its dominance with a CAGR of 11.41% during the forecast period. The region stands out due to its significant investments in ongoing research studies, well-developed infrastructure for space programs, and rapid adoption of commercial satellite imaging across various industries. Government support through grants to academic institutions and businesses for advanced satellite imaging systems further propels market growth. Notably, several federal civilian departments and agencies in the United States, including NASA, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and Interior, reported active contracts for commercial satellite imaging. Furthermore, partnerships with the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) provide access to commercial satellite imagery for government departments and agencies. Although detailed information on the Department of Defense (DOD) and Intelligence Community’s (IC) use of commercial satellite images remains classified, GAO’s report from July 2022 covers their methods and analytical services leveraging remote sensing data.
The Asia-Pacific market is poised to experience significant growth throughout the forecast period. This can be attributed to the increasing government initiatives aimed at attracting global and domestic firms to invest in satellite imaging. The commercial satellite business in the ASEAN countries is also contributing to the growth of the global commercial satellite imaging industry.
The expansion of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) technology is opening up new possibilities and capabilities in various verticals across the Asia-Pacific region. An example of this is the successful launch of China Siwei’s SuperView Neo-1 01 and 02 imaging satellites in May 2022. These satellites enhanced the resolution of China Siwei’s existing SuperView-1 constellation, offering clients 30 cm images for applications requiring extremely high-resolution imaging.
The adoption of new technologies by end-user verticals in the region is driving the growth of the commercial satellite imaging market. Governments in the Asia-Pacific region are also investing in advanced technologies that are expected to shape the future of imaging satellites.
For instance, the Indian Space Research Organization launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-53 (PSLV C-53) from the Sriharikota spaceport in India. This launch included three Singaporean commercial satellites, one of which was the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM DS-EO). The POEM DS-EO features an electro-optic, multi-spectral payload designed to meet the demands of humanitarian aid and disaster relief. This payload provides full-color images for land categorization. Overall, the Asia-Pacific market is expected to register the fastest growth in the commercial satellite imaging industry, driven by government initiatives and advancements in satellite technology.
The commercial satellite imaging market exhibits a high degree of fragmentation, with prominent players including DigitalGlobe Inc., Galileo Group Inc., Planet Labs Inc., SpaceKnow Inc., and Skylab Analytics, among others. These market participants are implementing various strategies, such as forming partnerships, engaging in mergers, driving innovations, making investments, and pursuing acquisitions, in order to improve their product portfolios and establish a sustainable competitive edge.
Key Companies Profiled in this report include DigitalGlobe Inc., Galileo Group Inc., Planet Labs Inc., SpaceKnow Inc., Skylab Analytics, L3Harris Corporation Inc., BlackSky Global LLC, ImageSat International NV, European Space Imaging (EUSI) GmbH, UrtheCast Corp.
Recent Industry Developments
In December 2022, Maxar Technologies announced the successful performance of Intelsat’s Galaxy 35 and Galaxy 36 satellites after their launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace’s launch facility in French Guiana. These geostationary (GEO) satellites enable Intelsat, the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network operator and a leading provider of in-flight connectivity, to seamlessly transition its services. This transition is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to reallocate portions of the C-band spectrum for 5G terrestrial wireless services.
Also in December 2022, Accenture and Planet Labs collaborated to develop AI-powered geospatial-intelligence tools for sustainability, traceable supply chain management, and climate risk solutions. Through its Accenture Ventures Project Spotlight initiative, Accenture entered into a collaboration agreement with Planet Labs. This collaboration aims to enhance decision-making capabilities for organizations across various industries, including forestry, consumer packaged goods, agriculture, energy, and government. The collaboration aligns with Accenture Ventures’ Project Spotlight, which connects emerging technology startups with Global 2000 companies to address strategic innovation needs.
In November 2022, GeoOptics was awarded a contract to provide NASA with high-quality data from its radio occultation satellites. NASA will evaluate the suitability of this data for advancing its science and application goals, particularly in areas such as climate change, weather research, space weather analysis, and other related applications. This contract enables NASA researchers to access valuable information for their studies and initiatives.
Key Questions Answered
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