What it is and how it fits into the balance of the global and national economy
Lately we hear more and more often about Space Economy. The media are increasingly spreading news regarding future interplanetary missions to return to the Moon and go to Mars.
This short article is an attempt to deepen what is happening on this issue in the world, in Italy and what the effects will be on Intecs. To do this, I drew material from some UN documents concerning their Space Economy Initiatives.
So let's start with the name "Space Economy", which defines the entire range of activities and use of resources that create value and benefits for human beings during exploration, research, understanding, management and use of space (OECD 2014).
Satellite TV, telecommunications, the production and launch of satellites, Earth observation, ground equipment are some fundamental elements of the space sector, but the space economy goes further.
The "Space economy" does not only cover these sectors but is a broader generic term that includes all sectors related to it. For example, it also includes services and products in other fields related to satellite technology such as:
protection of the environment
the management of natural resources
major infrastructural works
The Space Foundation in 2019 reported that global space activity was $ 414.8 billion in 2018 while the Satellite Industry Association report estimated it to be worth $ 366 billion in 2019.
There is still not a unique approach to measuring the value of the space economy, but the size of this sector has increased considerably in the last ten years to the point of defining access to space as the new "Gold Race".
The reasons why this is happening are related to two main factors:
the barriers to access to the space have diminished. Public-private partnerships and the entry into the space sector of private actors (i.e. E. Musk, J. Bezos, .r. Branson ..) were fundamental to achieve this.
access to new financing, thanks to which companies have given impetus to innovation and developed new technologies. Satellites became smaller and launch costs dropped considerably.
These are the elements that have been decisive for the growth of the sector.
Furthermore, the reduction in costs has allowed more countries to enter the space and develop their own
spatial economies. Globally, more than 80 countries have launched their satellite into orbit, compared to only 15 in the early 1980s. National space economies are different from each other, based on different strengths and priorities of each country, with a value that depends on the level of development of the sector and the degree of investment in the country.
For example, a research conducted by Thailand shows that the economic impact of space on the Country’s economy would be around $ 1 billion (USD). The Thai space industry is more oriented towards the “downstream” space economy (i.e., linked to products and services developed on data acquired in space) compared to an “upstream” economy that concerns the production of components to be launched into space such as launchers, satellites, orbital stations, etc.
It should be noted that the social impact in terms of employment is 189 million dollars (see figure 3)
In order to grow its space economy, the Thai government has focused its efforts on standards policies and definition, research and development and international collaborations. This strategy was complemented by a private sector emphasis that tends to cover aerospace manufacturing, aerospace applications such as EO and GNSS and development processes such as training and standardization. The public and private sectors of the space economy collaborate in order to carry on a dynamic and healthy space economy.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also stepped up efforts to become one of the most advanced countries in the space field. In 2019 they launched the National Space Strategy 2030, a space strategy that includes key components such as the UAE Space Agency, an astronaut program, three universities providing space education and specialized research centers and 52 entities working on the Space Economy. One of their objectives is to inspire exploration missions and, in 2020, the UAE launched their first historic mission to Mars.
Many other countries are focusing on growing their space economies and investing more in the space sector. PwC has identified some common elements to create a thriving space economy. First, a well-established national space strategy and a clear roadmap to support its long-term implementation. Second, a governance framework for policies, regulations and legislation suited to the purpose of supporting growth. This is usually reinforced by a strong and open relationship between government and industry. Subsequently, awareness and dissemination of the space economy and the value represented by a healthy space sector. Finally, it is crucial to strengthen the ability of involvement in the space economic activities through developing capacity and engaging stakeholders.
All these constituent elements are fundamental to creating efficient space economies. Social and economic impacts of the space sector are vast and far-reaching. Countries must carefully consider and invest resources in sustainable space activities to ensure they can fully enjoy the benefits that space sector brings to the wider socio-economic domain.
How is Italy positioned in this context?
It is basically in a good position since:
The recent PNRR plan has allocated resources of € 2.29 billion in space activities!
It has ASI, a space agency that is in the business for more than 30 years.
It has a modern legislation created specifically to foster collaboration between the government and the industry through a special body called COMINT.
It has excellent universities that prepare human resources to be employed in the sector (i.e. researchers, engineers etc.)
It has an industrial network made up of large Prime and many SMEs present in all sectors of the space economy (i.e. upstream, downstream etc.)
It He has international collaborations with many countries.
Given the historical moment, given the public and private investments and above all the skills and the positioning of the company in the European context, the opportunities to continue growing in the space sector are all gathered.
Let us remember that we have consolidated excellence and skills in many sectors such as:
User segments for satellite data exploitation
Systems for both on-board and ground telecommunications with a Software Defined Radio approach. In this regard, I would like to remind you that by 2021 we will launch our first payload, ICU, for the analysis of the electromagnetic spectrum from space.
Monitoring systems and signal analysis of satellite navigation systems such as GPS, Galileo, EGNOS, Glonass.
Specialist consultancy in the RAMS sector
Having said that, all that remains is to take action all of us to seize this favorable moment.