Today’s space industry is at an all-time record for growth and technology expansion, as the creative minds of the global space community are literally bringing the once impossible dreams of science fiction into tangible reality. It should not be a surprise that every life, infrastructure, and country depends on space-related technologies. But now, we are also increasingly dependent on businesses to create and produce the next great innovations and breakthroughs of space technology.
This year, the global space economy crossed the $400 billion mark for the first time with revenues of $414.75 billion. Commercial space activity fueled much of that growth, with the largest single-sector gain coming from value-added services, which posted a single-year 20.5percentincrease in revenues.
From farming, transportation, and, finance, to supply chain operations, national security operations, telecommunications, and more, space technology is all around us and expanding exponentially every day. The original inventors of many of these breakthroughs— the government and military services, are now joined by a far nimbler and more creative partner: the private sector and its entrepreneurs, who are all vested in pioneering new approaches for products, services, and operations, while driving down costs and expanding the customer pool, and workforce opportunities. The demand for space technology innovation that transfers to the betterment of life on earth knows no end.
With the barriers to entry for this once limited and elusive marketplace coming down, private investors are able to enter and expand on space opportunities like never before. In the Space Foundation’s recently issued, The Space Report 2019 Quarter Three, it details how the global commercial space activity reached $328.86 billion in 2018. As attractive as the private investments in these space technologies and applications might be, this growing marketplace is not without its challenges or threats.
Without a skilled, available, and adaptable workforce that can develop, commercialize, and apply space innovations to industries across the planet, the ongoing technological and economic promise will fall dramatically short. The warning signs are already flashing, especially as you look at the workforce shortage, skills deficit and innovation gap. Open jobs are exceeding the number of unemployed workers; an aging workforce is not easily replaced with today’s youth, and literally, hundreds of space technology patents sit idle waiting to be commercialized.
Beyond the traditional astronauts and rocket scientists that we think of when we speak about the space community, a limitless range of new opportunities have emerged. For STEM experts, this includes other in-demand positions that analyze data, develop software and code, manufacture sensors, and deploy and maintain satellites, and other terrestrial and orbital hardware.