Table of Contents

  • The OECD publication The Space Economy in Figures: How Space Contributes to the Global Economy provides an original overview of the global space sector.

  • Space activities are expanding globally, with a record number of countries and commercial firms investing in space programmes. Ever more down-to-earth activities are derived from satellite signals and data, contributing to new economic activities often far removed from initial investments in space infrastructure. Digitalisation is transforming space manufacturing activities, downstream space applications and even space exploration.

  • This chapter provides an introduction to the ongoing transformation of the global space sector. It first provides a review of institutional and private investments, which are generally on the rise around the world. Governments remain today the main investors in space activities, via procurement and grant mechanisms, but long-term civil space research and development budgets show signs of slowing in some countries. The chapter examines the evolution of the space economy, confronting current hype and market realities. Focussing then on space innovation (using proxies such as bibliometrics and patents), a new landscape of innovative space activities is slowly appearing, demonstrating the ongoing globalisation of the sector. Finally, two policy approaches to better assess and support a transformed space sector are proposed.

  • The chapter presents three different approaches on how space investments can be associated with socio-economic impacts. An assessment of the types of benefits derived from space programmes are first provided, based on an original international literature review. In addition, new OECD indicators on the growing role of space applications in official development assistance projects (ODA) are presented for the first time. Finally, the growing relevance of space technology transfers and commercialisation for the wider economy is highlighted.

  • This chapter provides a brief overview of employment in the space sector. It also presents one of the first exercises at the international level to produce indicators to evaluate the space sector from a gender perspective. It provides exploratory indicators on government space agencies, higher education institutions and the private sector as well as female tertiary education enrolment and graduation statistics in space-related fields.

  • This chapter examines how digitalisation is affecting the space sector, with a focus on key developments in manufacturing and production in space systems, particularly satellites and space launchers. The chapter reviews some of the new production processes and changes in supply chains; it also introduces current developments in the space launcher and satellite markets particularly the rise of small satellites; and examines possible emerging activities (space tourism, in-orbit servicing, space mining and resources extraction).

  • This chapter reviews recent developments in space exploration and space sciences, the progress made in human spaceflight missions, as well as the growing challenges posed by space debris. It presents some of the main missions planned in the next decade and highlights specific trends, such as the rise of citizen science and crowdsourcing.

  • The chapter briefly reviews the state of play in satellite communications, which is undergoing significant transformation. For decades, satellite communications have been the fastest growing commercial space market, driving innovation and growth along the space sector’s value chains. New technologies, business models and consumer behaviours are disrupting markets (e.g. television, broadband and the Internet of Things), with impacts throughout the space sector’s value chains.

  • This chapter examines the growing volume and variety of satellite data and signals, and how they affect downstream applications such as weather and climate monitoring, earth observation and satellite positioning, navigation and timing. Trends in big data and digitalisation are also creating new opportunities. Building on advances in analytics and machine learning, innovative ecosystems of start-ups are using satellite data and signals in original ways and developing brand new products and services.