The McKinsey Technology Trends Outlook 2023 report discusses various technology trends, including those related to space technologies. Here's a summary of the key points related to space:
Significant Developments in the Space Industry:
- The most significant development has been the reduction in technology costs, making new capabilities and applications more accessible.
- Decreases in the size, weight, power, and cost of satellites and launch vehicles have led to a shift from large geosynchronous-equatorial-orbit (GEO) satellites to smaller, distributed low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites.
- There's increasing interest in space technologies from traditional non-space companies.
- The space market could exceed $1 trillion by 2030, encompassing activities like in-orbit manufacturing, power generation, space mining, and scalable human spaceflight.
Current State of Space Technologies:
- The momentum in space technology remains subdued but shows steady growth across various dimensions since 2018.
- Key industries affected include aerospace and defense, telecommunications, and more.
- The labor market for space technology has seen significant growth, with job postings more than doubling in the past ten years.
Recent Developments and Examples:
- Private sector leading lunar activity with companies like ispace and Astrobotic Technology racing to launch lunar landers.
- Upcoming debuts of new launch vehicles like SpaceX's Starship, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, and Blue Origin's New Glenn.
- Increased interest in space from various sectors for applications like satellite vegetation management and using satellite data in insurance and financial sectors.
- Investment in direct-to-device satellite coverage, such as Apple's emergency satellite coverage for iPhone 14 and Amazon and T-Mobile's plans for satellite coverage.
- Small satellites using CubeSat architectures for various missions.
- Remote sensing for observing Earth's features.
- Advancements in size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) of satellites and launch vehicles.
- Launch technology advancements and promising new technologies like laser communications and nuclear propulsion.
Key Uncertainties and Future Considerations:
- Cost-effectiveness and scalability of space technologies.
- Governance mechanisms for spectrum and orbit usage rights.
- Cyber risks due to the proliferation of commercial players in space.
- Questions about spectrum allocation, orbital-debris management, ownership, and access rights, and management of space debris and traffic.
This report underscores the growing importance and potential of space technologies, with advancements making space more accessible and opening new possibilities for various applications.