The space entrepreneur networking group NewSpace Chicago recently hosted a conversation with Pascal Rogiest, recently VP of Mergers and Acquisitions of SES, S.A. Pascal discussed current trends he sees in the communications satellite industry. He encounters three main types of customers, private commercial companies, governments from European and developed nations, and governments from developing nations. Typically, contracts with national governments have shorter periods than with commercial companies because of yearly budget cycles. Developing nations are an important sector because having a satellite program is frequently a matter of national prestige for them.
According to Pascal, SES has historically made about 70% of its revenues from video and 30% from broadband data. For competitor Intelsat, the break down has been reversed, with 70% of revenues coming from data. Changing usage patterns are a challenge for the satellite operators because of the widespread adoption of landline and wireless systems displacing satellite business. Providing broadband services to maritime users, e.g. cruise ships, is a rapidly growing market.
The accelerated pace of innovation in the space industry in recent years is shaking up the traditional satellite business. Pascal opined that initially the French did not expect SpaceX to succeed. SES has always been concerned with access to space. The traditional launch providers were ArianeSpace and Proton. They were nonetheless one of the first satellite operators to launch with SpaceX.
NewSpace Chicago is an open community of students, scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and others who are interested in or involved with the creation of new commercial space ventures in and around Chicago. The group seeks to promote Chicago as a center of excellence for new commercial space, space-related, or space-scalable ventures.