Remote Sensing Industry Expanding Commercial Opportunities

April 12, 2016

Wellesley, Mass., April 12, 2016 – The remote sensing community has expanded beyond national space agencies and handful of private companies to include scores of small businesses that specialize in creating customized imagery from free and low-cost government-acquired data.  BCC Research reveals in its new report that the while the cost of creating remote sensing products will fall from tens of dollars to as little as pennies, expanded global demand will increase the value of the global business at a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

In the remote sensing industry, a global network of instruments capture infinitesimally small amounts of energy reflected from targets at distances from feet to miles away, and transform it into products and services that provide information for applications from predicting harvests to protecting wildlife and preventing pandemics.

The global market for remote sensing products should reach nearly $8.9 billion and $13.8 billion in 2016 and 2021, respectively, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 9.3%. Space-based-conventional platforms as a segment should reach $3.3 billion in 2016 and $4.3 billion in 2021, demonstrating a five-year CAGR of 5.3%. Airborne-unmanned platforms as a segment should reach $503 million in 2016 and $2.3 billion in 2021, a CAGR of 36.1%.

Since BCC Research last analyzed the remote sensing industry in 2013, the global enterprise has experienced a series of profound changes. The changes, which have been primarily technology driven, are in the process of converting the business of providing earth observation imagery and data into a free public utility, akin to weather forecasts and GPS signals. This shift has occurred at the same time as the release of powerful new free data analysis tools permitting sophisticated processing software to run on low-cost computer systems.

The industry has experienced an increase of free software programs for integrating data across different types of platforms and merging it with archival records from multiple private and government sources. This change is shifting the economic center of gravity of the remote sensing industry away from its pioneers rooted in the defense and intelligence segments of the aerospace industry and toward small entrepreneurially driven enterprises.  At the same time, the traditional lines separating data suppliers have vanished. Space imaging companies now sell aerial photos, aerial photo companies now sell satellite images, and both draw heavily on government archives for customized projects.

“In 2015, a handful of government space, maritime and weather forecasting agencies, along with several private companies with roots in the national defense and intelligence communities, dominated the remote sensing industry,” says BCC Research analyst James Wilson. “By 2021 the commercial portion of the enterprise is anticipated to have broken into hundreds of small, entrepreneurially driven enterprises. A growing free data and free software movement is strongly supported by space agencies in theUnited StatesandEurope.“

Remote Sensing Technologies and Global Markets (IAS022E) examines remote sensing technologies, including major remote sensing platforms, key remote sensing instruments, and applications accounting for the bulk of the industry. Analyses of global market drivers and trends, with data from 2015, estimates for 2016, and projections of CAGRs through 2021 also are provided.

Editors and reporters who wish to speak with the analyst should contact Steven Cumming at

Remote Sensing Technologies and Global Markets( IAS022E )
Publish Date: Mar 2016    

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