Visualized: The Race to Invest in the Space Economy

Humans have long viewed outer space as the final frontier.

Our thirst for exploration has brought whole nations together to create more advanced technologies─all in the pursuit of discovering the outer reaches of the universe.

Today’s infographic from ProcureAM highlights the exciting journey humans have taken into outer space, and the economic boom across industries as a result of this quest for discovery.

With an ever-expanding universe, how far have we gone?

Our Connection with Outer Space

Humans have been fascinated with space for millennia, using the planets and stars to navigate, keep time, and discover scientific facts about the universe.

Since the 1960s, humans have also been traveling into space and pushing the limits of our technological and physical boundaries with each excursion.

A Brief History: Humans in Space

  • 1957 ─ First satellite launched: Sputnik1
  • 1961 ─ First human in space: Yuri Gagarin
  • 1965 ─ First human spacewalk: Aleksei Leonov
  • 1969 ─ First human on the Moon: Neil Armstrong
  • 1984 ─ First untethered spacewalk: Bruce McCandless
  • 1998 ─ First modules launch to begin construction of the International Space Station

Nations around the world have used these trips and technological milestones to drastically improve life.

Reusable rockets and advanced satellite technology enable greater innovation on Earth through higher-quality broadband internet, 5G cellular networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.

The Space Economy is Ready for Lift-off

Three major sectors are dominating the global space economy today:

  • Products and Services
    This sector drives the majority of commercial activity in the space industry. These products and services meet specific needs in telecommunications, location-based services, and monitoring and observation.
  • Infrastructure
    Production of space vehicles such as rockets and rovers, ground and space stations, and receivers such as satellites, receivers, and terminals for internet and TV are also booming. As the global population grows, our need to stay connected to each other evolves.
  • Government
    Most modern government space agencies are actively monitoring and tracking space to offer better resources and services for their citizens, including geopolitical monitoring and missile tracking.

Can lower costs, new technology, and increased commercial activity make space the next trillion-dollar industry?

The Next Frontier: Investing in Space

Investments in space-related industries have shot up in recent years, rising from US$1.1 billion in 2000-2005 up to $10.2 billion between 2012-2018.

This meteoric growth is due to fewer barriers in the space industry, which was previously restricted to governments or the ultra-wealthy. Private sector companies are responsible for much of the growth. Since 2000, Goldman Sachs estimates that $13.3 billion has been invested into newly launched space startups.

These companies, backed by titans such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, are pledging to support innovations from the practical to the fantastical, to boldly go where none have gone before:

  • SpaceX ─ powerful satellite Internet service
  • Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources ─ first commercial mines in space
  • DoubleTree Hilton ─ first company to bake cookies in space
  • Blue Origin ─ deep-space exploration

And with recent technological advancements, these goals are edging closer to reality.

For example, take space tourism. While costs are still astronomical, Blue Origin and Virgin Atlantic are banking on the idea of the first space vacations taking place as early as 2020─and growing in popularity from there.

  • Dennis Tito paid $20 million to become the first space tourist in 2001
  • Prepaid tickets for 90-min suborbital flights in 2020 with Virgin Galactic are going for $250,000

The Future of the Space Economy

Advances in satellite and rocket technology mean that costs are declining across the entire commercial space economy.

Because of this, the global space industry may jump light years ahead in the next few decades.

For the first time since our journey to the stars began, the final frontier is well within our grasp.