MDA Tops List of Commercial Communications Satellite Manufacturers

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Over the next 10 years, the top five commercial communications satellite manufacturers will be MDA, Airbus Defence and Space, Boeing, Thales, and Lockheed Martin. The companies are ranked based on forecast value of production of their satellite products between 2015 and 2024. Although it is recognized that other companies act as subcontractors, this list is determined by estimating revenues of the prime contractors in the commercial communications satellite industry.

The top five manufacturers, in order, are:


MDA vaulted to the top of Forecast International’s ranking of communications satellite producers with its purchase of Space Systems/Loral (SSL) from Loral Space & Communications. SSL’s primary offering in the communications satellite market is the 1300 satellite bus. A number of satellite operators have selected the 1300 for future production, including EchoStar, Intelsat, and SES SA. The 1300 has been competitive in the large satellite market. New applications, such as broadband Internet, require large satellite platforms that can support large payloads.

Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus’ place in this ranking is based on the solid sales of its Eurostar 3000 satellite bus. The Eurostar continues to generate sales, and will be delivered to satellite operators such as Eutelsat in France, DirecTV in the U.S., and the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) in Russia.


Boeing has placed renewed emphasis on commercial satellite manufacturing in recent years. This is due to an expected downturn in military satellite contracts as the U.S. government reduces spending. Boeing has been successful in its goal of increasing commercial sales, which has resulted in its rising place on Forecast International’s list of manufacturers. Over the next 10 years, Boeing will deliver satellites to Asia Broadcast Satellite, Inmarsat, and Intelsat.


Thales is listed as the prime contractor to build satellites for a number of major operators, including Eutelsat and Globalstar. The company has also recorded sales for regional, nationally owned satellite operators, such as in Turkmenistan. As communications satellites get larger, demand for Thales Alenia’s Spacebus 4000 platform will increase.

Thales is also the prime contractor for the Iridium NEXT program. Iridium NEXT satellites will be delivered in high numbers over the next three years, driving Thales’ expected deliveries to 103 over the next 10 years.

Lockheed Martin

Like Boeing, Lockheed Martin has begun to place more focus on the commercial market due to declining military sales; however, Lockheed Martin has not turned to the commercial market with the same drive as Boeing, and it has not recorded quite as many sales as its competitor. Lockheed Martin’s A2100 satellite bus will be used for programs such as NewSat’s Jabiru-1.

For more information, please see Forecast International’s Market for Commercial Communications Satellites analysis and Defense and Aerospace Companies Volume I  and Volume II.

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