The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons, electric propulsion, in-orbit manufacturing, 3D printing, and power storage and efficiency. As modernization requirements continue to drive investment within both the civil and military aerospace sectors, widespread demand for satellite constellation controls has incentivized significant innovation within the field of space systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Space systems in defense: satellite constellation controls. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Satellite constellation controls is a key innovation area in space systems

Satellite constellation controls as a whole is the systems and devices used to operate  a group of satellites that work together to provide specific services. These controls ensure proper positioning, communication, and coordination among the satellites in a constellation so that they can collectively achieve their objectives.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 120+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of satellite constellation controls.

Key players in satellite constellation controls – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to satellite constellation controls

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Blue Origin 7 Unlock Company Profile
MBDA 8 Unlock Company Profile
OHB 7 Unlock Company Profile
Telesat Canada 43 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 198 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 94 Unlock Company Profile
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 15 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 40 Unlock Company Profile
United Launch Alliance 12 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma 51 Unlock Company Profile
SKY Perfect JSAT 7 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 108 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 8 Unlock Company Profile
M&T Bank 33 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 207 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 56 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 15 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 62 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 282 Unlock Company Profile
Maxar Technologies 74 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 317 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 37 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt 18 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 18 Unlock Company Profile
The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 10 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 8 Unlock Company Profile
D-Orbit 17 Unlock Company Profile
Planet labs 29 Unlock Company Profile
NovaWurks 13 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 11 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) 58 Unlock Company Profile
ArianeGroup 92 Unlock Company Profile
Bradford Engineering 19 Unlock Company Profile
Effective Space Solutions 7 Unlock Company Profile
AST & Science 7 Unlock Company Profile
Orbit Fab 13 Unlock Company Profile
Skycorp 6 Unlock Company Profile
Atomos Nuclear & Space 6 Unlock Company Profile
Swarm Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Skeyeon 11 Unlock Company Profile
Orbion Space Technology 15 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Aerospace Propulsion Technology 26 Unlock Company Profile
Voyager Space 6 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National Research Scientific 9 Unlock Company Profile
Bharti Global 35 Unlock Company Profile
Momentus 8 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus Oneweb Satellites Florida 13 Unlock Company Profile
Methera Global Communications 6 Unlock Company Profile
Urugus 7 Unlock Company Profile
Radian Aerospace 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Airbus is one of the leading patent filers in satellite constellation controls. The company, through one of its divisions Airbus Defence and Space, filed patent related to a coupling assembly for fluidly connecting first and second spacecraft and a kit of parts for a coupling. It also filed few more patents related to satellite constellation controls, such as reflective satellite and satellite assembly comprising such a satellite, ultra-low latency telecommunications system, telecommunications satellite architecture, system and method for a flying machine for receiving and managing satellite signals, hybrid online policy adaptation strategy for attitude pointing performance, method and system for acquiring images via a constellation of observation satellites, method for attitude control of satellite in survival mode without prior knowledge of local time of satellite's orbit and radiator with reduced irradiance, and guidance system for geostationary satellite.

Some other key patent filers in this space include Boeing, Thales, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, ArianeGroup, and Safran.

In terms of application diversity, Bradford Engineering, MBDA , Snecma , Methera Global Communication,s and Voyager Space are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include D-Orbit Swarm Technologies, Blue Origin, OHB, Radian Aerospace,  and Methera Global Communications.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Space Systems in Aerospace and Defense.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.