Friday, July 24, 2015

Space Economy Now $330Bln US Annually, Says Report

          By Glen Strom

After years of steady, respectable growth hovering around 7% per annum, the global space industry appears to be on the cusp of a new era of rapid expansion in both capabilities and customers. At least those are the conclusions embedded within The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.

The eighty five page report, prepared by the Colorado Springs, CO based Space Foundation (a nonprofit organization that advocates for the global space industry) with input from the not-for-profit European trade association Eurospace, was released earlier this month.

According to the report, in 2014, the global space economy grew slightly more than 9%, reaching a total of $330Bln USD ($430.5Bln CDN). 

Commercial space activities such as telecommunications and Earth imaging made up approximately 76% of the total. 

From 2005 - 2014, the industry as a whole demonstrated a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%, nearly doubling in size over the course of the decade.

One of the more interesting items in the annual Space Report is the ability to compare the budgets of the national space agencies. For example, according to this chart, on page 22 of the 2015 Space Report, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funding grew by 11.8% between 2013 and 2014 which compares quite well with other space agencies and puts the CSA in fourth place behind the United Kingdom (with a 31.4% budget increase during that same period), South Korea (a 29.9% increase) and Japan (an 18.8% increase). But a second chart on page 26 of the report indicated that CSA funding for 2015 will be expected to drop back to  $410.3Mln CDN in 2015 and $360.3Mln CDN in 2016. The source for the second chart is the Canadian Space Agency 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities. Graphic c/o Space Foundation.

The report noted that the global space industry was attracting new customers just learning to make use of space assets like satellite imagery to enhance their businesses. Some of these industries provide communication and lifestyle products and services that a rapidly growing number of people use in their day-to-day lives.

The report even went into detail concerning the benefits of using space assets to deliver products and services to government organizations, private commercial companies, industry, law enforcement and public education organizations. Given that the report was compiled by two space advocacy organizations, this seems like a perfectly reasonable addendum to the main report.

The international space industry is a $330Bln per annum behemoth which receives slightly less than one quarter of its revenue from national governments through agencies like the CSA, the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Source Space Foundation.

Other highlights of the report include:
  • Satellite launches during 2014 increased 38% over 2013, with cube satellites accounting for a large part of the increase. The sector lost 13.6% of its value, though, due to the reduction of high-value military launches.
  • Almost 80% of satellites launched were placed in low Earth orbit (LEO).
  • Ground stations and equipment made up 94% of the commercial infrastructure and support sector within the space industry.
  • Broadcasting is a major part of the growth of the space industry with direct-to-home television accounting for US$95Bln USD ($124Bln CDN), or 77% of the market’s estimated revenues in 2014.
  • In the United States, the space industry workforce continued to shrink by about 6,000 people. It also grew older, with the average age at about 46 years old.
  • Although NASA is shrinking, Europe's space workforce has grown by 7,600 employees since 2005. The growth in Europe is not spread evenly, though. France, Germany and Spain saw growth—the other countries saw a decrease
  • Support industries like insurance, data analysis and basic research and development activities are joining more traditional areas such as launch vehicles and satellite design, manufacturing and testing as significant generators of revenue and new jobs. 
Glen Strom.
Although the data is skewed toward the United States, The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity offers a good overview of the world’s growing space economy.

The report, and the additional data available by subscription, can be a useful addition to an organization’s short and long-term planning.
Glen Strom is a freelance writer and editor with a background in business and technical writing. He's also the editor of The Gazette Weekly, the newsletter of the Canadian Space Society.

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