The global space business grew to $261.6 billion in 2009, expanding 7 percent from 2008 and 40 percent over the past five years at a time when other industries were slammed by recession, according to a report released Monday by the nonprofit Space Foundation.
The industry continued expanding in early 2010, reflecting greater demand for a wide range of space-related products and services -- including low-cost GPS hardware embedded in cars and phones, communications services, and control of a growing number of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Recent increases in space spending by the U.S. government and its use of more commercial services bodes well for the industry at large, according to the report, which was released at the annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
As the second half century of the space age gets under way, the future of global space activities looks as diverse as it does bright, the report said. This generation of space activity will solidify the role of commercial space while expanding the global reach of the industry.
The companies in the Space Foundation Index shared in the general stock market recovery in 2009, returning by mid-March 2010 to their levels of June 2005. The Index tracks the stock market performance of companies that derive a large amount of revenue from space-related assets and activities.
Companies in the index include Alliant Techsystems Inc
The report pointed to a growing role for the private sector through increased public-private partnerships, greater reliance on commercial services, and continued space technology spin-offs into non-space industries.
Research on board the International Space Station (ISS), and increasing government space activity around the world were two burgeoning sectors with near-term commercial potential.
USING SPACE TO FIND CHEAP GAS ON EARTH
The variety and number of activities will likely grow, as space products and services are integrated deeply into consumer electronics and daily necessities, the report said.
Consumers were already using space-enabled services to find the nearest -- and cheapest -- gas station, or pre-order lunch from a nearby restaurant, and more such applications were likely to emerge in coming years.
Growing use of unmanned vehicles, which rely on space-enabled communications and positioning links, would also offer new opportunities for the space industry, it said.
Commercial satellite services increased 8 percent to $90.58 billion in 2009, representing about 35 percent of the global space economy; while global government spending on space increased 16 percent in 2009 to $86.17 billion, accounting for 33 percent of the space economy, according to the report.
U.S. government space spending increased 11 percent to $64.42 billion in 2009, boosted in part by $1.23 billion in stimulus spending directed toward space activities.
The report included for the first time data on government space budgets for the European Union, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Nigeria and South Africa, reflecting the continued growth of the space economy outside of the United States.
Spending on space infrastructure, including launch services, spacecraft manufacturing and ground equipment totaled $83.63 billion in 2009, or about 32 percent of the overall market.
Launch rates increased 42 percent from 2005 to 2009, with Russia leading with 37 percent of the 78 launches reported, followed by 31 percent for the United States, 9 percent for Europe, 8 percent for China and 5 percent for a consortium that comprises U.S., Russian, Ukrainian and Norwegian interests.
Japan, India, North Korea and South Korea each had less than 4 percent of the launches, the report said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa. editing by Maureen Bavdek)