Report: Understanding the Space Economy (NASA/Oxford Analytica 2008)

This report is from 2008. It is relevant in the context of looking back at the perception of the space economy versus the current state of the space economy.


Here is a summary of the key points from the 2008 report Understanding the Space Economy:

  • The space economy encompasses the long value chain from R&D and manufacturing of space hardware to the end providers of space-enabled products and services. It is a growing part of the global economy, worth over $250 billion annually.
  • The space economy is a hybrid between public and private sectors. Governments play a crucial role in R&D, infrastructure development, and purchasing services. The private sector is increasing but still a minority presence.
  • The US remains the dominant player, accounting for over 80% of global space spending. However other countries like China, India, Japan, and Russia are steadily increasing their investments.
  • Telecommunications, especially direct-to-home broadcasting, is the largest space sector currently worth around $50 billion annually. Navigation and earth observation are also growing rapidly.
  • Public investment has been key to developing new space markets like telecom and earth observation. The government role as first customer helps attract private firms once the technology is proven.
  • International cooperation in space spreads costs but can also create friction over technology transfers and national roles. A blend of national and collaborative programs may be optimal.
  • Reducing launch costs would be a game-changer for the economics of space, potentially attracting much more private capital. But for now, governments must continue taking the lead.
  • The space environment makes commercial space difficult. Private firms are unlikely to build the infrastructure alone given the risks and large upfront costs involved.

In summary, the space economy is a growing but still emerging domain that relies heavily on public investment and leadership. However, the downstream benefits it provides makes it an attractive area for countries to develop their competitive position.

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