Bryce Releases Smallsats Report for 202225th Aug 2023
On 22nd August, Bryce Tech released their annual Smallsats By The Numbers report for 2023. This report focuses on the predominant category of satellites launched these days, and offers a variety of breakdowns to give a detailed view of this important segment of the industry. This smallsats report is graphics heavy, which makes for a quick intake despite the loads of information.
What are smallsats?
Smallsats are satellites that weigh under 600 kg. They include:
- minisatellites (100-600 kg),
- microsatellites (10-100 kg),
- nanosatellites (1-10 kg),
- picosatellites (0.1-1 kg),
- CubeSats, consisting of 1-12 units with a weight of 0.1-1 kg,
- femto satellites (under 0.1 kg)
According to Bryce, smallsats made up 96% of launched satellites (by number of satellites, not by upmass) in 2022. That’s up from 94% in 2021. By upmass, they accounted for 55% of the total, compared to 43% in 2021.
Small satellite launch leaders
In 2022, the US and US-based companies accounted for 84% of smallsat launches, up from 76% in 2021. China replaced France as the second-most launch country, and launched 7% of the satellites (up from 3% in 2021).
Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the majority of smallsats in 2022, at 70%. That includes 10% of the overall total being for Starlink and OneWeb telecoms satellites. Russia’s Soyuz 2.1 a/b launched 10% of the total, with 3% for OneWeb, but that total was affected by Russia’s broad scale invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022, and the West’s subsequent imposition of a ban on launching via Roscosmos.
Communication satellites made up 81% of launched satellites in 2022. Of the total, 5% were not launched for Starlink or OneWeb. This includes the bulk of OneWeb’s first generation satellite network – Gen 2 is only starting to be rolled out in 2022.
Earth Observing and meteorological satellites
The second largest group is Earth Observing satellites. Remote sensing smallsats made up 10% of those launched. This includes SAR, meteorological, and other satellites collecting information about our planet. This is up from 9% of launched smallsats in 2021.