Teal Survey Counts 600-610 Active Satellites Currently in Orbit

Press Release From: Teal Group
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2001

The Teal Group announced today completion of a new survey identifying between 600-610 satellites in Earth orbit or in deep space trajectories, during the IAF 52nd International Astronautical Congress taking place here this week.

Teal analysts conducted the new study as part of the World Space Systems Briefing service, the 1,400-page, monthly-updated competitive intelligence service (For more info on this Teal service, contact the sales reps at ).

The survey factored in all the satellites that have been launched worldwide since 1980 and, through a combined process of elimination and ``bean counting,'' arrived at a total estimate of the number of in-orbit satellites that remain active.

``What we've done is simply take a snapshot of all the spacecraft that we believe are currently operational, by methodically looking at everything we know is up there,'' said Marco Caceres, Teal Group's senior space analyst.

``Tracking what is launched is not difficult,'' he said, ``and we certainly have a good idea of both the design and probable lifetime of spacecraft -- even ones built by the Russians, the Chinese, and the US military.''

Since Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, approximately 5,070 satellites have been orbited successfully. Half of these satellites were launched during 1957-1979. The other half were launched from 1980 through September 2001.

Some 30 satellites have been launched in the past nine months, including 12 large commercial communications satellites. There have also been 10 civil and eight military satellite launches in the same period.

Two-thirds of the satellites that have gone up this year have been manufactured by US companies. The rest have been produced by European, Indian, Russian and Ukrainian firms or agencies.

``In terms of who built most of the satellites that have been launched this year, there's no doubt that the Americans continue to dominate the market,'' said Caceres.

``European companies such as Alcatel Space Industries and Astrium may be catching up a bit with regard to new contract awards, but most of the birds going up lately have been built by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Loral, and TRW in California and Orbital Sciences in Virginia.''

The Teal Group is an aerospace and defense consulting firm based in Fairfax, Virginia. It provides competitive market intelligence to industry and government.

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