Space Report: Outlook positive, growth higher than expected

Filed under: Aerospace/Defense,Daily News |

The global space economy grew to $289.7 billion in 2011, according to the annual report from the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation.

The year was “remarkably robust,” the report said, with a single-year expansion of 12.2 percent and five-year growth plan of 41 percent in a suppressed global economy.

The Space Foundation annually publishes its Space Report and releases it to the general public during its annual symposium April 14-19.

The $289.7 billion total comprises worldwide commercial revenues and government budgets.

“the Space Foundation believes strongly that space is good business, with vast social and economic benefit,” said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. “These data, demonstrating vigorous year-over-year growth in products, services and economic activity –proves it.”

The primary growth engine for the space economy was the commercial segments. Space infrastructure and support industries increased nearly 22 percent and space products grew almost 9 percent. The biggest growth continued to be driven by global consumer demand for two space-derived products and services: GPS devices and chipsets and direct-to-home television.

Space companies’ stocks also out-performed the marketplace in 2011. As of December 2011, the Space Foundation Index, which is reported continuously on the Space Foundation website was 17.39 percent above its value at inception in June 2005.

Government spending

According to the report, overall governmental space spending grew by 6 percent globally. India, Russia and Brazil increased government space spending by 20 percent, while other nations, including ht United States and Japan, saw very little growth.

Other news from the report:

- in 2011, there were 84 launches, 14 percent more than the previous year. Russia led with 31, China had 19 and the U.S. 18. It’s the first time that Chinese launches exceeded those of the United States. The U.S. led in launch vehicle diversity, with eight types of orbital rockets launched throughout the year.

- At the end of 2011, there were an estimated 994 active satellites in orbit around the Earth.

- Only one of the top 25 fixed satellite service operators in the United States.

The U.S. space workforce decline for the fourth year in a row, dropping 3 percent .

The U.S. military space workforce grew in 2011, by 6 percent from 2009.

Average annual space industry salaries were 15 percent higher than the average salary for the ten science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers that employ the largest number of people in the United States. The average space industry salary was $96,706.

More than 70 percent of the NASA workforce is between 40 and 60 years old, with less than 12 percent under the age of 35.

40 percent of fourth graders and 35 percent of eight graders scored proficient or higher in math in 2011, an improvement of 34 percent and 30 percent in 2009.

According to the Space Foundation, the global outlook for space is positive.

“Partnerships are reducing costs, stimulating innovation and redistributing resources,” said Pulham. “In many respects, the promise of space exploration has never been greater.”

Trends in 2011 will affect space activity for years – things like budget austerity, changes in human space flight and increasingly prevalent and diverse partnership models.

“In the first 50 years of spaceflight, we developed foundational capabilities that support and enable societal and economic good,” he said. “In the next 50 years, space activities will continue to support humanity’s progress and perhaps enable its greatest discoveries.”