Global Sub-Orbital Testing Services Market 2021
The global sub-orbital testing services market is projected to reach $178.1 million in 2032, growing at a CAGR of 3.82% from $122.4 million in 2022. This growth can be attributed to the increasing demand from government agencies, research institutions, and the expanding commercial industry.
Sub-orbital platforms are providing access to near-space environments for various end users, including government agencies, research institutions, and commercial players. These platforms have successfully conducted sub-orbital launches to test payloads in high-quality microgravity conditions. Service providers in the sub-orbital testing industry focus on achieving high mission frequency and low costs. Companies are developing reusable sub-orbital platforms like reusable launch vehicles and fixed-wing parabolic platforms to enable multiple operations. As more service providers enter the market with cost-effective solutions, the cost of sub-orbital missions is expected to decrease in the forecast period.
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USD 178.1 Mn incremental growth between 2021 and 2026
Payload Capacity, Application, End User, Region
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The sub-orbital testing services market is driven by applications such as Earth observation, scientific/technology demonstration, and education. Government and defense agencies, for example, utilize high-altitude balloons for remote sensing and surveillance purposes. Space agencies are increasingly involved in this market by funding research institutions and startups. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for instance, supports research institutions and colleges through its Flight Opportunities programs, allowing testing of experiments in the sub-orbital region. This support fosters the development of advanced technologies for future missions.
The global satellite market, which is growing due to applications like Earth observation, satellite-based internet, communications, and navigation, will also contribute to the growth of the sub-orbital testing services market. Major companies like SpaceX, OneWeb, and other key players are deploying satellite constellations that require testing of components and subsystems under microgravity conditions. Consequently, sub-orbital testing service providers will benefit from the expansion of the satellite market.
While the demand for sub-orbital testing services is rising across various end users, the expensive nature of sub-orbital launches and time-consuming testing processes present challenges. These factors limit the number of customers utilizing sub-orbital services. Reusability of sub-orbital platforms has the potential to reduce costs; however, only a few key companies currently offer reusable platforms, leading to pricing power favoring service providers due to limited competition.
In the coming years, more companies are expected to enter the sub-orbital market, resulting in reduced launch costs for testing services. Additionally, the increasing deployment of small satellites, particularly those weighing between 1-50 kg, will drive the demand for sub-orbital testing services. These smaller satellites often utilize Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) subsystems and components that are not space qualified. As a result, sub-orbital testing service providers are likely to experience higher demand in the forecast period from 2022 to 2032.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including payload capacity, application, end user, and region.
Segmentation by Payload Capacity
501 Kg and Above
Segmentation by Application
Segmentation by End User
Segmentation by Region
North America – U.S. and Canada
Europe – France, Germany, Russia, U.K., and Rest-of-Europe
Asia-Pacific – China, India, Japan, and Rest-of-Asia-Pacific
Rest-of-the-World – Middle East and Africa and Latin America
The segment with a payload capacity of 501 kg and above is projected to experience the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.82% during the forecast period. This can be attributed to the larger payload capacity offered by companies that are developing larger sub-orbital launch platforms. Additionally, this segment is expected to have the highest number of sub-orbital test flights during the forecast period due to the full reusability capability of sub-orbital platforms, such as parabolic flights with a horizontal launch system that can accommodate multiple flights. Moreover, the total sub-orbital test payload capacity is also highest in this segment, as these platforms primarily offer human-rated capabilities but can also support uncrewed missions. Therefore, sub-orbital platforms utilizing parabolic flights are capable of delivering maximum payload capacity, and market dominators like Virgin Galactic with their large capacity and reusability features can have a significant advantage in this segment.
The automated application segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 4.01% during the forecast period. This growth is primarily driven by the increasing number of sub-orbital platforms that will be specifically designed for uncrewed missions. As uncrewed flights require automated payload systems, sub-orbital testing service providers have long been offering uncrewed sub-orbital missions. Additionally, a majority of the sub-orbital platforms available in the market are designed for uncrewed missions. Therefore, the payloads developed for these platforms need to be autonomous in order to conduct various in-flight experiments independently. Furthermore, most of the platform providers in this market are small or medium-sized companies focused on developing successful launch platforms for uncrewed missions. Due to limited funds and expertise in launch vehicle technology, it is more feasible and less complicated for these new start-ups to develop sub-orbital platforms for uncrewed missions rather than crew carrying launch vehicles. As a result, the market for automated payloads is currently leading and expected to continue growing in the future.
The research institutions segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 4.02% during the forecast period. This growth is mainly driven by the support provided by government agencies to various research institutions and universities. Research institutions and universities are the primary end-users of sub-orbital testing services. Government agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fund numerous research institutions through programs like the Flight Opportunities program to conduct technology testing or research missions on sub-orbital platforms. Sub-orbital testing offers high-quality testing capabilities that cannot be achieved through terrestrial-based techniques. These institutions conduct various types of microgravity experiments to advance scientific knowledge in Earth and space technologies, which will contribute to future orbital, cis-lunar, and deep space missions.
In terms of regional market dominance, North America is expected to lead throughout the forecast period from 2022 to 2032. This is primarily due to the high presence of key companies actively involved in developing and demonstrating sub-orbital testing services capabilities. Additionally, new companies such as Evolution Space and SpinLaunch are emerging in the region, offering cost-effective sub-orbital solutions and catering to the growing demand in the sub-orbital testing services market. In 2022, North America accounted for a significant market share of 68.7% in terms of value and is projected to witness a CAGR of 2.71% over the forecast period. The North American sub-orbital testing services market includes the regional markets of the U.S. and Canada. The market for sub-orbital testing services has been receiving significant attention from the space industry, driven by major players like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic within the region, as well as increasing government investments and programs for sub-orbital missions. However, due to the dominance of a few established sub-orbital platform providers, it can be challenging for new players to survive and thrive in the market.
The competitive environment within the sub-orbital testing services market is characterized by the implementation of various organic and inorganic strategies by key industry players, aimed at augmenting their market share. These strategies encompass product innovations, contractual agreements, strategic partnerships, acquisitions, and business expansions, among others.
The market is predominantly dominated by well-established entities offering sub-orbital testing services, collectively holding a market presence of around 69%. Additionally, there are also emerging start-up organizations that contribute to approximately 31% of the market presence.
Key companies profiled in this report include Aerostar, Blue Origin, bluShift Aerospace, Inc., Dawn Aerospace, Equatorial Space Inc., Exos Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc., Interstellar Technologies Inc., Near Space Corporation, PD AeroSpace, LTD, PLD Space, Skyrora Limited, SpinLaunch, UP Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, World View Enterprises, Inc.
Recent Industry Developments
In November 2022, Virgin Galactic entered into an agreement with Axiom Space, a commercial space company, to offer microgravity research and training services. As per the agreement, Virgin Galactic will facilitate sub-orbital trips for Axiom’s astronauts, enabling them to undergo training for future long-duration space missions.
Under a collaborative effort with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), World View Enterprises, Inc. has been selected to provide high-altitude balloon services to the winner of NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge. This partnership entails carrying scientific and technological experiments conducted by students to the edge of space using World View’s stratospheric balloon platform.
In July 2022, Virgin Galactic forged a contract with Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing, to jointly develop new motherships for the company. Aurora Flight Sciences will be responsible for constructing two motherships designed to conduct up to 200 launches annually, carrying Virgin’s Spaceship to an altitude of 50,000 feet before releasing it.
Key Questions Answered
What are the prevailing trends in the sub-orbital testing services market, and what changes can be anticipated in the market during the forecast period of 2022-2032?
What are the primary drivers and challenges confronted by companies engaged in the manufacturing of sub-orbital testing platforms within the sub-orbital testing services market?
How is the sub-orbital testing services market projected to grow throughout the forecast period of 2022-2032?
What opportunities are available for companies to expand their operations within the sub-orbital testing services market?
Which region is expected to lead the sub-orbital testing services market by the year 2032?
What key developmental strategies are being implemented by major players to sustain their presence in this highly competitive market?
What is the current and future revenue outlook for the sub-orbital testing services market?