Special Report

Companies With the Most Satellites in Orbit

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Iridium Communications, Inc.
> Active satellites in orbit as of Jan. 1 2022: 75
> Country of operator: United States
> Oldest operational satellite: Iridium Next 102 (launched 1/14/2017)
> Newest operational satellite (excl. 2022 launches): Iridium Next 167 (launched 1/11/2019)

McLean, Virginia-based Iridium provides global voice and data communications to and from satellite phones and other devices. The company recently announced a partnership with defense contractor General Dynamics to bid on a $1.8 billion project to operate and manage the U.S. Department of Defense’s low-Earth orbit constellation.

Source: Courtesy of SWARM via Facebook

5. Swarm Technologies
> Active satellites in orbit as of Jan. 1 2022: 119
> Country of operator: United States
> Oldest operational satellite: SpaceBEE-1 (launched 1/11/2018)
> Newest operational satellite (excl. 2022 launches): SpaceBEE-111 (launched 6/30/2021)

The private Palo Alto-based operator of low-Earth orbit satellites focuses on Internet of Things, or IoT, which allows “smart” objects from cars to health monitors to connect and communicate with other objects. Elon Musk’s SpaceX acquired Swarm as a wholly owned subsidiary last year. The deal brings additional technological capabilities to SpaceX, which provides different services through its Starlink broadband satellite network.

4. Spire Global Inc.
> Active satellites in orbit as of Jan. 1 2022: 120
> Country of operator: United States
> Oldest operational satellite: Lemur 1 (launched 6/19/2014)
> Newest operational satellite (excl. 2022 launches): Lemur 2 AC-Cubed (launched 6/30/2021)

San Francisco-based Spire Global specializes in delivering Earth monitoring satellite data like weather patterns, maritime/aviation activity, and terrestrial cloud networks. Spire Global recently partnered with Kepler Communications to use Kepler’s Ku-Band satellite communications technology.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. Planet Labs, Inc.
> Active satellites in orbit as of Jan. 1 2022: 188
> Country of operator: United States
> Oldest operational satellite: SkySat-1 (launched 11/21/2013)
> Newest operational satellite (excl. 2022 launches): Dove 4s-1 (0 Flock 4s-1 2436) (launched 1/24/2021)

Based in San Francisco, Planet Labs specializes in Earth imaging with the eventual goal of providing daily images of anywhere on the planet. This frequent imaging allows for near real-time mapping of changes on the planet’s surface. For example, the company provided images suggesting China has a new type of nuclear submarine at a shipyard in the north of the country.

Source: Thomas_Kelley / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

2. OneWeb Satellites
> Active satellites in orbit as of Jan. 1 2022: 394
> Country of operator: United Kingdom
> Oldest operational satellite: OneWeb-0006 (launched 2/27/2019)
> Newest operational satellite (excl. 2022 launches): OneWeb-0389 (launched 12/27/2021)

London-based OneWeb, a broadband internet provider striving for global connectivity, is second only to SpaceX based on the number of satellites it has in orbit. It exited bankruptcy in 2020, leaving the U.K. government with partial ownership. Russia’s state-owned space corporation Roscosmos refused to continue launching OneWeb satellites until it severed ties with the British government. OneWeb responded by reaching out to SpaceX to launch its satellites from the U.S.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.