ETtechSpace is no longer the sole domain of governments and defence and aerospace companies. According to a report published by McKinsey Quarterly, startups that work around space tech may stand to gain the first-mover advantage.
The space economy was valued at $469 billion in 2021, up 9% from 2020, the highest recorded growth since 2014, the report said, citing the Space Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation.
US Space agency NASA’s Moon to Mars activities, investments in climate change research and technology, and other work generated more than $71.2 billion in total economic output during the fiscal year 2021.
The costs for heavy launches in low-Earth orbit (LEO) fell from $65,000 per kg to $1,500 per kg in 2021—a more than 95% decrease.
According to the report, private investment in space technology topped $10 billion in 2021, an all-time high and a 10-fold increase over the past 10 years.
Innovations in technology, such as 3D printing and computer-aided designs of machine parts, have been helpful in streamlining the manufacturing process of rockets, thus reducing costs.
Another reason for the decrease in the cost of space exploration is better efficiency. The development of reusable rocket parts by SpaceX has aided the drop in costs and increased the frequency of launches.
Government satellites, usually deployed in an orbit far from the earth and costing upwards of $1 billion, are now being replaced by constellations of low-earth orbit satellites that cost about $100,00 each.