- Satellites are specialized communication devices that are launched up into the earth’s orbit.
- You can communicate around the world with between 3, 10, or 20 satellites depending on how far away from the earth they are.
- Iridium Communications is a US-based company that maintains a system of 66 active satellites that all work together for communication purposes.
Satellites are remarkable pieces of technology that utilize planetary gravitational fields to move around a planet or another location reliably over time. Thousands of satellites are currently orbiting the earth and we rely on them for communication, monitoring, data tracking, and much more.
Without satellites, we wouldn’t have advanced utilities like GPS devices and we would have serious communication issues with remote devices. This is why each of the largest satellite companies is important to modern society in some way.
A variety of specialized companies work to make up the satellite infrastructure available today, and these companies don’t provide services to everyone.
Getting familiar with some of the largest satellite companies and what they do will help you come to appreciate their services and the technologies they make possible for you and everyone else you know.
How Satellite Technology Works
Satellites are specialized communication devices that are launched up into the earth’s orbit at precise locations where they will continually move around the earth in a predictable manner. The satellites come equipped with solar panels and batteries for most of their power needs, as well as some reserve fuel for slight position adjustments as needed.
Once a satellite is launched up into the proper area of earth’s orbit it continually rotates around the earth where ground stations can send signals up to the satellite and it can beam them down to other stations. Satellites serve as data transmission tools, and they can be used for remote monitoring of the earth and of space.
Satellites transmit data through light beams for the fastest transmission times and they enable a huge range of different technologies to function properly. Without satellites, we wouldn’t have GPS, cell phone service in remote environments, reliable television broadcasting or effective weather prediction systems. Much of our most advanced data tracking and transmission technologies today rely on maintaining a cluster of satellites in orbit around the earth.
The Largest Satellite Companies Cover the Earth with Just a Few Satellites
It’s possible to communicate around the world with between 3, 10, or 20 satellites depending on how far away from the earth they are positioned. Three satellites located in geosynchronous orbit or GEO satellites can communicate everywhere in the world.
10 medium earth orbit satellites can communicate around the world and 20 low earth orbit satellites can communicate everywhere. Coverage ranges get smaller when satellites are closer, but transmission speeds increase. This is why many data companies are relying on low earth orbit satellites to provide the fastest data transfers.
#11: China Satellite Communications – $380M 2021 Revenue
This company is based in Beijing China and maintains 16 different geostationary satellites that supply communication to China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South Asia.
The company leases satellite data connections and makes it possible for government agencies, media companies, air traffic, aviation networking businesses and more to all get the data streams they need to function properly.
The company provides reliable data connections by maintaining satellite positions that remain largely unchanged and that stay with earth’s orbit over time. The company has more than 550 employees and is considered to be a private company that’s utilized by both private and public organizations.
#10: The SpaceX Starlink Satellite Network – $500M 2021 Revenue
SpaceX is launching a huge number of low-orbit satellites up into low Earth orbit to deliver internet to users around the world. The satellite service is known as Starlink, and it is currently made of approximately 3,055 satellites that number is expected to rise dramatically over the coming years.
Starlink is designed to deliver internet across the world where reliable connections aren’t currently available and are working with certain cell phone providers to help reduce dead spots for more reliable texting and calling.
#9: Korea Aerospace Research Institute – $583M 2021 Revenue
The KARI maintains a network of eight active satellites while striving to advance South Korea’s aeronautical and space technologies.
The company has been developing its own rockets since its start in 1989 and has crafted satellites, space vehicles, and more in its efforts to get on the Moon, achieve space exploration milestones and develop a network of regional satellites.
The company is also working to develop its own GPS service to be known as the KPS to help aid communication efforts within the country.
#8: Iridium Communications – $615M 2021 Revenue
Iridium Communications is a US-based company that maintains a system of 66 active satellites that all work together for communication purposes. This business also has 9 backup satellites for enhanced reliability.
The satellite network is made specifically to work with handheld satellite phones and other specialized transceivers. The network is essential for maintaining communication in different areas of the world. The company has since branched out to offer mobile WiFi hotspot services to customers and helps its customers share their location information with emergency service providers.
The company got its name from Iridium, the chemical element because it has the atomic number 77. That’s the number of satellites the company was originally going to send up.
#7: Kratos Defense and Security Solutions – $830M 2021 Revenue
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions is a U.S. defense engineering and development company that creates ground stations and ground software management systems. The company works to develop technologies used in drones, missiles, unmanned airplanes, and more.
Kratos contracts with the US military to develop new technologies, and meet the supply needs of the government. The organization works to push technology forward for the country. Kratos doesn’t specialize in satellite production but works to develop accessories, stations, and software that enables organizations to communicate with satellites effectively.
#6: China Spacesat Co – $1.01B 2021 Revenue
This company operates throughout North China, South China, and Northwest China. The company develops minisatellites and microsatellites. China Spacesat works to research and develops modern satellite technologies. The company is responsible for supplying many scientific institutes and research efforts with their satellites throughout China.
The company has helped develop, manufacture, and launch more than 114 small satellites so far. Its products are used for observing the earth, science experiments, space exploration, environmental monitoring, and more. The company is a strong resource for the scientific community and an asset for any scientist in need of satellite data for research.
#5: Boeing Satellite Systems – $1.23B 2021 Revenue
Boeing is a US-based company that’s responsible for the development of modern satellites that are used by internet service providers, government agencies, mobile companies, and more. The company works to provide satellite-based data to a wide variety of customers and is known for its Boeing 702 family of communication satellites.
The company has plans to release a satellite constellation network for wide-range data services to government and private organizations.
#4 Inmarsat: – The Largest Satellite Companies in Britain – $1.35B 2021 Revenue
Inmarsat is a British-based satellite communications company that works to deliver one of the most reliable satellite phone services to customers in most areas of the world.
The company leverages its modest network of 14 geostationary satellites to provide satellite data to most of the world. It accomplishes this by using a comprehensive network of mobile terminals that communicate with a series of ground stations that all talk with those 14 satellites.
The company designs its services specifically for supplying US Government officials with reliable satellite communication devices and is relied upon heavily by branches of the military as well as specific government agencies that work out in the field.
#3 SES: – Societe Europeenne des Satellites – $2.02B 2021 Revenue
SES or Societe Europeenne des Satellites is one of the largest satellite companies in the world. This business is based in Luxembourg and owns more than 70 satellites in geostationary orbit or medium Earth orbit.
The network of satellites owned by this company supplies thousands of television stations to users throughout the world. Millions of homes enjoy television reception in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the Asian Pacific because of SES.
The company also works with governments to supply secure data networks, and provides mobile internet services to aerospace and marine businesses around the world. The company is one of the largest satellite providers that impact consumers around the world.
#2: Safran – One of the Largest Satellite Companies – $18.345B 2021 Revenue
Safran is a tech company that specializes in space, defense technology, aerospace, and more. This Paris-France-based company is focused on improving air-travel sustainability. The company has more than 250 ground-tracking satellite stations deployed around the world and is a leader in tracking support. The company offers satellite tracking stations under four different brand names, including Vision, IRIS, Orion, and Legion.
The tri-band ground stations from Safran help companies around the world communicate with satellites effectively. Data from the ground stations gets transmitted to a variety of organizations that rely on the connection.
#1: Mitsubishi Electric – $37.9B 2021 Revenue
Mitsubishi Electric is a major organization in the satellite industry that manufactures satellites for companies around the world. The business is responsible for creating more than 600 satellites and works to create the hardware for satellite-based communication and observation. Mitsubishi is involved with the International Space Station and has worked on several projects producing and helping to manage Science Satellites.
Each of these satellite companies is a private organization and many of the companies work with the public sector to ensure government officials have reliable communication in harsh environments. Satellites enable impressive technologies, such as GPS tracking, reliable phone service in remote locations, and more. Without this technology, communication would be significantly impacted.
Fortunately, there are many providers working to give businesses and scientific organizations access to the satellites they need to conduct their research, communicate, and more.
While Safran and Mitsubishi Electric both came in with more impressive revenue figures than SES, it’s important to note that each of these companies offers products and services that are unrelated to the satellite industry as well, while SES strictly focuses on satellite-based technologies.
|Rank||2021 Revenue in USD|
|11||China Satellite Communications – $380M|
|10||SpaceX Starlink – $500M|
|9||Korea Aerospace Research Institute – $583M|
|8||Iridium Communications – $615M|
|7||Kratos Defense and Security Solutions – $830M|
|6||China Spacesat Co. – $1.01B|
|5||Inmarsat – $1.35B|
|4||Boeing Satellite Systems – $1.23B|
|3||SES – $2.02B|
|2||Safran – $18.345B|
|1||Mitsubishi Electric – $37.9B|
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