A very small number of geostationary satellites have been ordered this year so far because the industry is devising strategies to meet an upcoming surge in demand for connectivity, launch service provider Arianespace says.

“A mere two or three commercial geostationary satellites, depending on the way you reckon, have been ordered since the beginning of the year,” Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël pointed out during a press conference at the Paris Air Show. The market is usually more active in the second half, but Israel believes satellite manufacturers are essentially busy making plans. “The demand for connectivity will boom, meeting needs for telecommunications in remote areas, for the internet of things, including self-driving cars, and for airline passengers,” he says. “Satellites will be increasingly effective to meet this demand.”

Arianespace has captured two of these geostationary satellites with its Ariane 5 heavy launcher. Eutelsat will operate one satellite, and the other one that will be jointly operated by SKY Perfect JSAT and Intelsat. Arianespace has also signed an agreement with OHB Italia, on behalf of Italian space agency ASI, for the Prisma Earth observation satellite, to be launched by a Vega light launcher. Meanwhile, Airbus Defence and Space has inked a deal for two launches on the improved Vega C to orbit four earth observation satellites. Airbus will be the first commercial customer for Vega C, which is slated to make its first flight in mid-2019.

Arianespace’s backlog stands at 53 launches – 18 with Ariane 5, 25 with the Soyuz medium launcher and 10 with Vega and Vega C.

This year, Arianespace is sticking to its goal of 12 launches, “as long as satellites are available as planned,” Israel says. Arianespace has managed to catch up delays after a one-month general strike in French Guiana this spring. Three launches took place in four weeks and the next one, the seventh since January 1, is scheduled for June 28.