The space sector is often perceived to be an industry of its own, with little impact on day-to-day life on the planet Earth. But nothing could be further from the truth. Today, as in the past decades, the space sector plays a big role in our everyday life and also influences the economy of the world.
Everyday Objects, Developed for Space Purposes
First, it is important to note that many of the modern inventions were originally developed for space uses. Artificial limbs, the computer mouse, the laptop, memory foam, LED, and camera phones are based upon inventions developed for specific space needs that were later adapted for the wider public. From the food to the medical industry, the impact of the space sector and assets later adapted for general use cannot be underestimated.
The process of adapting inventions for general use is on-going. The space sector tends to be at the forefront of innovation and technology and has access to large research budgets and top-notch specialists. This helps develop novel solutions for specific problems that can easily be applied to other uses.
Applications Across Fields
The space sector contributes to many areas that are of global interest. The first among these is disaster management, which uses Earth observation, Satcom, and satnav to quickly address natural events. In agriculture, the space sector has contributed to monitoring, site-specific management, and the use of satellites for tracking vehicles. Precision farming is an emerging sector that relies strongly on space assets. Environments monitoring uses not only Earth observation, but also low-data rate communications for collecting environment variables, for instance, climate change, which is a highly relevant topic for governments across the world. The space sector provides a path towards implementing broadband internet connectivity, something that is sorely needed in remote and rural communities and that has the potential of contributing to economics as well. In addition to these sectors, the space sector contributes to transportation, healthcare, education, logistics, and many other fields.
This impact can be translated into specific numbers. In disaster management, for example, just the satellite communications-based COSPAS-SARSAT system has helped save over 32 thousand lives across the world.
Investments, Infrastructure, and More
The space sector contributes significantly to the global economy. The biggest international players, like ESA and NASA, invest billions into the industry, research, manufacturing, science, and academia, not only for sectors or companies closely related to space but to a wide variety of companies. The space sector has been growing continuously over the past few years in financial terms, which has been associated with several factors. First, it is a sector that produces consistent results, maintains a solid reputation, and has great infrastructure. Secondly, the 2000s have been characterized by the rise of a private, commercial space industry that contributes more and more to the global economy and attracts more and more investors. The space sector has been growing at twice the average rate since 2007, showing its socio-economic importance.
In addition to this, space usually provides reliable returns on investments. For example, estimates for the European space sector suggest that the investments of $7 billion are likely to produce returns of about $14 billion, and that is considered a conservative estimate.
An Ongoing Change
The space sector is growing and developing, accounting for bigger budgets and a bigger share of the economy in the past years. The space sector can provide things that are currently in demand, in particular, more and better digital products as digitalization becomes a universal trend. The sector is facing a high degree of competition, as new private agents get in the game, which is not something that has been faced before. Now, space development is not just a matter of government efforts, but also a race between private companies, which can stimulate the sector through a faster pace of tech development and more investments. Commercial enterprises can disrupt and change traditionally “captive” markets, leading to shifts within policies and economics.
Today, the space sector has a lot of potential for providing new avenues to innovation, improving society through technological development, and creating further economic growth.
If anyone looks around their home, they will find dozens, if not hundreds of objects that were originally developed for the space sector. Innovation that is created within this field quickly flows to others.
Beyond concrete assets, the space sector provides a significant contribution to the economy through investments and returns. Additionally, it is very significant for different fields, from agriculture to disaster management, where it can make unique contributions.
The space sector has been growing for the past years and the emergence of more private companies is a game-changer that is likely to lead to a variety of possibilities and also contribute to the socio-economic impact of the space sector in ways that public institutions cannot.