There has been a lot of business news about space lately.
IHI has developed an engine for a small artificial satellite at a third of its original price; Amazon is planning to launch 3,000 satellites; SpaceX is planning to launch more than 10,000 satellites, and so on. Major companies and venture capitalists from the United States, China, and other countries around the world have entered the space business and are investing heavily in it, making it more exciting than ever.
In this article, we will provide an easy-to-understand explanation of the current state of the global space industry and its various fields for those who are new to the industry. The article is also available in Japanese: 宇宙ビジネス業界の現状をわかりやすく解説！.
The Space Business Field
When you think of the space business, rockets are probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, the space business actually includes a wide range of fields other than rockets.
What is space business?
The business of launching and operating satellites and utilizing data for commercial purposes in space. The space business is a general term for businesses related to space, including companies that provide services such as satellite broadcasting, communications, and satellite data utilization for commercial purposes, as well as the space industry related to infrastructure, such as the manufacture of rockets and satellite equipment and facilities for the military, which is supported by government demand.
Reference：Kotobank / What is the Space Business?
In addition to rockets, the space business encompasses many other areas, including using satellite data to improve services on the ground. Also, the space business has been especially booming in recent years.
Next, I’d like to explain why this industry is now so active.
Why is the Space Business so popular right now?
On May 30 (local time), the spacecraft “Crew Dragon” of the U.S. SpaceX was successfully launched and docked to the space station on May 31.You can watch the whole process from launch to docking on YouTube and other sites, but watching the touch screen installed in the Crew Dragon’s cabin and the two astronauts changing from their spacesuits to polo shirts and chinos along the way, it seemed like the threshold for space travel had been lowered.
Compared to a few years ago, space has become more accessible, with private companies being able to successfully launch manned rockets into space.
With the announcement by the U.S. company Amazon plans to launch 3,000 satellites for communications services and SpaceX plans to launch more than 10,000 satellites for communications as well, companies from other countries are expected to join the rush of launches by these two major companies.
In addition to the growing demand for small satellites for sensing from space, the cost of launching small rockets, which have a shorter lifespan than conventional rockets, has decreased and the frequency of launches has increased, which is one of the major factors boosting the space business.
However, various problems have arisen in this business.
For example, how to collect Space Debris?(Garbage generated by used satellites and collisions between satellites)
Businesses related to space debris are also receiving a great deal of attention, with a number of leading ventures recently emerging to solve this problem.
In the next section, I would like to categorize the space business and explain each category in detail.
Classification of the Space Business
In this explanation, we have divided the space business industry into three categories.
I’d like to explain each of these with an industry map.
Manufacturing & Infrastructure
This field manufactures rockets, satellites and ground stations. The field of manufacturing of small rockets and small satellites has been attracting a lot of investment recently.
Space infrastructure, like terrestrial infrastructure, is the invisible backbone of services used by people around the world. Like terrestrial infrastructure, space infrastructure is an area that will become increasingly important in the future for convenience, services, and national security and defense.
The utilization of space can be divided into two categories: the use of satellites and the use of space.
Use of Satellites
The use of satellites refers to the use of satellites to study location information and climate change. In other words, satellites at this time are used to improve services on earth.
Use of Space
As the name implies, the use of space represents making things in an environment that does not exist on Earth. For example, it means storing energy in an environment that cannot exist on Earth, such as solar power, which is not affected by clouds or weather.
The goal of this field is to help humans enter space.
There are two main types of space exploration: manned space exploration, in which humans board rockets and other vehicles to explore space, and unmanned space exploration, in which only a spacecraft goes into space without a human presence.
Unlike manufacturing/infrastructure and space utilization, this is an area of space business where the goal is not to improve services on Earth, but to expand the scope of activities into space.
In this article, we have introduced the concept of the space business and its constituent fields. In the next article, we would like to give you detailed information about each field and introduce you to some representative companies in each area.
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