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Article09 May 2022

SPACE

The Dawn of a New Age
Today’s generation is at the forefront of a new space era — one that will be far-reaching, inclusive, and potentially more disruptive. We have finally come to a stage where the dreams around space from childhood are turning into reality. Space tourism could really become more accessible to the average person. Mining on the Moon or on an asteroid is seriously being considered. And powering the Earth with solar power collected from satellites is on the horizon.

So what suddenly changed to make space more accessible? Two things: the private sector entered the industry and launch costs declined. Until recently, the space industry had been dominated by government-sponsored programs, which focused more on military capability, and creating revenue and jobs. As more private companies enter the industry, they are prioritizing operational efficiency.

Today’s launch costs of $1,500 per kilogram ($1,500/kg) are about 30x less than the launch cost of NASA’s Space Shuttle in 1981. Reusable rockets and launch vehicles, new materials and fuels, more cost-efficient production methods, and advancements in robotics and electronics systems are combining to drive these costs even lower. The authors of this report believe launch costs could to fall to $100/kg by 2040, and in a bullish scenario, to as low as $33/kg.

With lower launch costs, the authors expect the space economy to generate over $1 trillion in annual sales by 2040, up from around $370 billion in 2020. The satellite market, which currently makes up over 70% of the current space industry, will continue to dominate but is expected to undergo a paradigm shift in demand. Traditional applications such as video broadcasting will cede to newer applications such as consumer broadband and space-as-a-service. Satellite imagery and better analysis tools for large amounts of data could be crucial in helping nations and companies address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and biodiversity.

But the fastest growth is expected to come from new space applications and industries, such as space-based solar power, space logistics, and Moon/asteroid mining, among others. These areas could generate ~$100 billion in annual sales by 2040.

 

We view more affordable launch costs as the primary enabler in making space accessible to a wider variety of applications. Launch costs are already 40x lower than they were in the 1980s. We expect them to fall an additional ~95% to around $100 per kilogram by 2040 driven by reusability, scale, lower input costs, and cost-efficient production methods.
We expect the overall space industry to reach $1 trillion by 2040 — delivering 5% compound annual growth starting from 2020. Revenue from manufacturing, launch services, and ground equipment will make up the majority of the revenue growth in the satellite sector. However, the fastest growth rate is expected to come from new space applications and industries, with revenue forecast to rise from zero to $101 billion over the period.
In the satellite sector, we see the strongest contrast among various end-markets over the next 20 years within the satellite services business. Advancements in smaller satellite launches, better tools to analyze large amounts of data, and a growing range of applications, including using satellite imagery to tackle a host of environmental issues, are expected to drive growth in new industries such as Earth Observation and broadband.
As lower launch costs and technology advancements drive widespread accessibility, new applications are set to emerge and could generate $100 billion annually by 2040. Investment is also supportive as flows shift from being dominated by government agencies and the wealthiest nations, towards more private funding.

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