Space Economy Taxonomy – ESA and Dealroom

Source: ESA Commercialization Gateway

Space Economy Value Chain


The segment encompasses companies operating in space or developing products for space: developing and/or operating satellites, launch vehicles, developing spacecraft payloads and components, innovative materials for use in space, etc.

The segment also includes companies where space is not their core business. For example, 3D printing, advanced materials tech companies that target space among a number of other industries or those that have participated in space projects, or biotech companies that have sent experiments to space with the goal of exploring the potential use of their technology in space.


Downstream space sector encompasses technologies derived from space for use on Earth (e.g. materials and sensors originally developed for space but having found use in Earth-based applications) as well as technologies used in space with the main goal of serving Earth-based applications (mainly satellites: Earth observation, communication, navigation).

The segment also includes companies where space / space-derived tech is not their core tech. For example, companies that mention the use of satellite data among multiple other data sources.

Some companies belong to both Downstream and Upstream segments. For example, those operating their own satellites to deliver products / services on Earth (Earth observation satellite data for agritech, energy, etc.)

Value Chain Taxonomy


Satellite design, construction, manufacturing & operation

Earth observation

Designing, manufacturing, operating Earth observation / remote sensing satellites. The data they collect (satellite imagery and remote sensing data) is used across multiple sectors from surveillance, border control, natural disasters and critical infrastructure monitoring to insurance, agriculture and content (e.g. photography) apps.

Communication / connectivity

Designing, manufacturing, operating communication / connectivity satellites. These satellites are used for telecommunications ( telephone / wireless / mobile/ cellular networks), broadcasting (radio and television) and data communications (Internet and M2M IoT). Satellite communications serve multiple applications from natural disaster tracking, emergency response to industrial connectivity and B2C applications.


GNSS satellite systems (currently state owned), assistance in operation and maintenance of GNSS satellite systems, as well as designing, manufacturing, operating alternative PNT (positioning, navigation and timing) solutions using LEO satellites that augment heritage, government owned systems and/or work independently.

Ground infrastructure

Ground segment (incl. GSAAS – Ground Segment-as-a-Service), ground-based antennas, ground segment control software

Space transportation

Launch vehicles

Rocket-propelled vehicles to carry payload from Earth to space. The vehicles vary in size (heavy-lift, medium-, small- and microlaunchers) and by technology; can be crewed/uncrewed, reusable/non-reusable/partially reusable, etc.

In-space transportation spacecraft

Designing, manufacturing and operating orbital transfer and in-space logistics vehicles, satellite deployers, separation systems, as well as supporting systems and structures for orbital transportation, last-mile delivery and deployment of satellites.

Stratospheric balloons & platforms

High-altitude balloons, usually filled with hydrogen or helium, that are released into the stratosphere, generally attaining between 18 and 37 km above sea level. Typically used for space tourism as well as for uncrewed flights to carry payloads to space: satellites for testing, telescopes, antennas, etc.

Spaceplanes & hypersonic flight

Space planes incorporate features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, can carry crew and cargo. Hypersonic flight vehicles are space planes that can travel at extreme speeds, well over Mach 5. Hypersonics research is important both for aeronautics and space research to enable extremely fast travel on Earth as well as for future space exploration.

Space exploration

Space resource exploration

Rover platforms, robotic explorers, etc. for Lunar, planet and asteroid exploration and in-situ resource utilization (e.g. Lunar oxygen extraction, etc.)

Space utilities

In-space datacenters (on the Moon, on satellites, etc.) independent of the Internet, in-space power grids, lunar satellites, satellites for interplanetary communication/navigation, etc.

In-space manufacturing

Robotic assembly, additive manufacturing, etc. for in-space manufacturing, construction and assembly of spacecraft and spacecraft components, space habitats, large space structures like solar panels and aluminium beams, production of items/materials that can’t be produced on Earth, etc.

In-space human presence

Space habitats, space stations and tools to develop them on-site (robotics, additive manufacturing, etc.), in-space workstations and science labs, gardens & greenhouses for leisure/plant growth, in-space food manufacturing, on-site adaptive training tools for partial gravity, exercise equipment, spacesuits, radiation protection, space medicine, etc.

In-space operations, services & supporting software

Spacecraft servicing; space debris removal & recycling

Spacecraft servicing and life extension (in-space satellite inspection, relocation and orbit modification, de-orbiting, refuelling, etc.), space debris monitoring and removal

Mission planning & control

Mission analysis, planning and simulation tools for space applications (both hardware and software), tools enabling spacecraft autonomy, space traffic management and collision avoidance tools, ground station analysis tools, space surveillance, space weather, etc.

In-space research

Materials, health and biotech (3D printing of tissues and organs, research around aging, diseases, protein crystallization, stem cells, etc.), etc. research, equipment for in-space research (e.g. remotely controlled automated labs), in-space research mission simulation, planning and implementation services, etc.

Cybersecurity for space missions

Technologies enabling cybersecurity of space missions, ground segment, ground/space communication links, end-user applications and potentially also spacecraft design and development environments. Examples include encryption, authentication, etc. for spacecraft onboard operations, security for mission control software, simulation software for security testing, etc.

Parts, structures, payloads, components & materials

Spacecraft parts, structures & payloads

Main spacecraft parts and structures (e.g. satellite buses, actuators, etc.), as well as payloads – elements of the spacecraft dedicated to producing mission data and relaying that data back to Earth (antennas and optical communication terminals, spectrometers, radiometers, altimeters, telescopes, atomic clocks and oscillators, etc.)

Propulsion systems

Propulsion technologies (chemical/electric, solid/liquid/hybrid, using various propellants: water, iodine, xenon, argon, krypton, etc.; innovations like solar sails, etc.)

Chips & sensors

Design, development, production of semiconductors (chips, sensors, edge AI systems, etc.) tailored for space environment: resistant to radiation & extreme temperatures, able to operate in demanding mechanical environments, etc.


Development and manufacturing of advanced materials for space applications, including both Earth-based and in-space development of such materials.


Agriculture & food

Satellite communications for data transmission, Earth observation for monitoring of soil moisture & weather forecasts, satellite navigation for asset tracking, in-space research for studying plant growth & biology


Satellite tech for telemedicine & digital monitoring devices and for enabling the concept of One Health; research in microgravity (tissue engineering, cancer research, etc.) for health technology improvements


Satellite services for air traffic management, airline operational communications & passenger in-flight connectivity, airport management & meteorology; urban air mobility; reduction of environmental impact in aviation


Satellite technologies for maritime surveillance and safety/emergency response, transportation, all aspects of marine life and environment, aquatic-life monitoring, aquaculture & fisheries.

Culture & entertainment

Satellite technologies for content apps (e.g. location tracking in photo apps, earth observation data for content creation), gaming (e.g. enhancing AR/VR experiences), sports (acquiring 3D navigational data), etc.

Materials, mining & manufacturing

Satellite tech for site monitoring and connectivity at industrial plants and mining/construction sites; the use of advanced materials developed for space in Earth applications; in-space research leading to new achievements in industrial tech


Satellite connectivity enabling access to online education around the world, including rural areas and developing countries


Satellite navigation and connectivity for mobility and logistics and freight systems (e.g. for smart traffic management, goods tracking and connecting infrastructures)


Space-based data for mapping and measuring wind, wave, tidal and solar resources; satellite communications, navigation and Earth observation for the hydrocarbon and nuclear sectors; in-space research to study heat transfer processes

Security & safety

Space-based services and satellite technologies for maritime surveillance, border control, disaster preparedness, emergency response, critical infrastructure management, secure communications, humanitarian operations, etc.


Satellite technologies to monitor the essential climate variables, support in ocean conservation and restoration of land and forests, to assist companies in monitoring their environmental footprint & ESG compliance

Smart cities

Satellite connectivity for grid management (waste management, etc.), navigation for transport information & traffic modelling, Earth observation for urban planning & urban agriculture, etc.


Satellite data for investment evaluation, risk assessment, event impact assessment, real-time asset/portfolio monitoring, carbon offsets auditing, etc.


Satellite technologies for intelligent routing and smart guides, up-to-date maps and weather reports, high-resolution imagery for 3D views & digital panoramas for marketing, data on tourist flows

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