Space Economics and Benefits

Space Economics and Benefits

Stella Tkatchova (Interstellar, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-105-8.ch008
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There are so many benefits to be derived from space exploration and exploitation; why not take what seems to me the only chance of escaping what is otherwise the sure destruction of all that humanity has struggled to achieve for 50,000 years?

Isaac Asimov


2. Space Economics

Climate change and environmental disasters will become the biggest threat to national economies. Monitoring environmental changes and analysing real time data for future climate change models is becoming of crucial importance in understanding climate change. Navigation and telecom satellites have become an inevitable part of our day to day lives. Today they are widely used navigation satellites for location based services, air traffic management, oil and rack positioning, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and precision agriculture.

Earth Observation satellites role has also become important with climate changes and environment problems, as satellites provide real-time data for monitoring disaster management and climate change. Furthermore, research on board the ISS can also contribute to the development of closed life support systems, osteoporosis medicines and therapies prevention, and contribute to launching projects reducing water pollution through improved water purification processes.

Alternative energy sources are becoming important, as energy supplies are diminishing and countries are becoming reliant on a smaller number of energy providers. Therefore, technological solutions for solar satellite power generation (see Chapter 9) in LEO may become important to national economies.

Furthermore, with the development of telecommunications and navigation systems, market forces such as demand and supply became visible in an industry that is historically developed and dominated by governmental space agencies. For example the development of telecommunications has influenced the growth of other space segments, such as commercial launchers and commercial satellite operator services (see Chapter4) and making major contributions to national economies.

Economics is broadly divided into “macro-economics” and “micro-economics”. Macroeconomics deals with the human behaviour and choices related to the entire economy (Arnold, 1996, 3rd edition), such as measuring national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), unemployment and economic growth. While, microeconomics studies the individuals’ firms decisions and behaviour.

Furthermore, future development of industrial projects using space-based technology from the interplanetary programmes may even result in the successful development of a sub branch of economics, referred to as “space economics” which could even evolve into “interplanetary economics”.

At present, the only definition that could be easily found of “space economy” is one defined by the OECD (OECD, 2007) and it states:

All public and private actors involved in developing and providing space-enabled products and services. It comprises a long value-added chain, starting with research and development actors and manufacturers of space hardware (e.g. launch vehicles, satellites, ground stations) and ending with the providers of space-enabled products (e.g. navigation equipment, satellite phones) and services (e.g. Satellite-based meteorological services or direct-to-home video services) to final users.

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