Satellites are the source of much of the data consumed on a daily basis, whether it is on a: phone; camera; laptop; or any other device. With the revolutionising of how space is accessed and satellites used, data is becoming easier and more efficient to collect.

Previously, it was about big satellites costing half a billion US dollars each orbiting around the equator in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO, 36,000km from Earth’s surface).  However, companies around the world are now planning and launching constellations of small satellites orbiting at less than 400km from Earth’s surface, in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which are costing less than half a million US dollars each.  

Geostationary and Low Earth Orbit

Due to technological advancements these small satellites can do many of the tasks bigger satellites have historically performed, as well as many new capabilities such as supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) and global 5G internet from space.  At least half of these small satellites will go into orbit around the North and South Poles (Polar Orbit), instead of around the equator.

The market to launch the estimated 6,200 small satellites needed between 2017-2026 is US $30.1 billion, and has spawned the creation of over seventy-nine companies worldwide that are developing new, micro- and small-lift rockets.  With half the market going into large and small rockets respectively, the market Southern Launch can address is therefore approximately US $15.05 billion.

With the small satellites being far cheaper to manufacture and launch into orbit, the market driver is the time it takes from manufacture to deployment in orbit, not the price per kilogram to orbit as was the case historically. This has spawned what is called Just-In-Time (JIT) space access, where a dedicated micro- or small-lift rocket is used to take small satellites into orbit. It is these micro- and small-lift rockets that will be operating from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, saving a small satellite company approximately US $950,000.