Analysis: Current structures of the European space manufacturing industry

What are the current structures of the European space manufacturing industry? Who are the largest employment providers? Where are they located in Europe? What are the relative importance of large groups, midcaps, SMEs, newspace start-ups?

The answers to all these questions, and much more, are to be found in the latest analysis of our Research Director Pierre Lionnet, available here.


Today the Eurospace space sector is organised with only a handful of prime contractors. The largest of them are located in the major European aerospace groups, and are at the helm of a large verticalised supply chain that makes them also the largest equipment and subsystem suppliers in Europe. Not all primes are located in large groups: three important midcaps are also prominent prime contractors, respectively for satellite, launcher and ground systems. The rest of the supply chain is rich of a few hundred subcontractors of varied sizes, including space divisions of large (and very large) groups, midcaps and SMEs – most of them are micro enterprises or very small business units. A budding prospective market for very small satellites and launchers (the ‘newspace’) is supporting the emergence of a new industrial segment, composed mainly by independent small and very small companies.

The geographical distribution of the European industry is a direct consequence of decades of localised/domestic procurement for space institutional programmes in Europe, with the French leading the financial effort by far, resulting in the French industry now contributing to more than 35% of the total industrial employment. Other space nations of significance in Europe are Germany, Italy and the UK, and, to a lesser extent, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. Together these 7 countries contribute 85% of European industrial capabilities, and the most of institutional budgets.