Space, the final frontier — once the exclusive domain of Trekkies, science fiction writers and super powers. Now entrepreneurs are the new space leaders, going boldly where no entrepreneur has gone before, to borrow from William Shatner’s memorable declaration in the 1960s Star Trek series.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk is arguably the most recognisable of this new breed of entrepreneurs. Last year, SpaceX launched more rockets than any national government, underlining the commercial revolution transforming the business of space, with far-reaching economic, technological and strategic implications. Yet few Australians are aware of how central space is to our prosperity, lifestyles and security.
The global space industry is now worth about $420 billion. It’s expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2030 and more than $3.5 trillion by 2047, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Satellites are instrumental in connecting us through our mobile phones and a host of other smart digital devices. They also enable the “internet of things”, where machines interact with each other, as well as humans, in ways once barely imaginable.
From communications, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to agribusiness, mining, transport, mapping, navigation, emergency services and remote asset management, an expanding space ecosystem is already integral to our lives. And it’s destined to become even more important in the years ahead.