The pre-eminent race for space first began in the 20th century between the USA and USSR which was an extension of the cold war between those countries. Both wanted to project their superiority onto the world and conquering space was a means to do so. The evolution of human civilization was just a pretext for the same.
For reference, NASA’s budget peaked in 1965 at almost $60 billion during the race against the Soviet Union. The race was expensive, with the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects costing $25 billion at the time and more than $110 billion when adjusted for inflation. While the estimated budget for ISRO in 2023 is $1.6 Billion. The difference is just jaw-dropping.
After the Cold War the interest in space in the public domain waned as the world started focusing on other concerns. But the interest now has resurfaced, and the pioneers are no longer the government space agencies, rather it’s the private sector carrying the helm and the motivation behind the sector’s uprising is economic and social prosperity.
The following table lists the leading space-based companies:
But it’s not just the big companies who are leading the way, there have been numerous start-ups around the world that are making their presence felt.
However a popular misconception exists within people that when we talk about space-based companies, it’s related to rocket launch and satellites. But these companies often develop application that utilise the existing network of satellites to develop solutions for various sectors. These application ranges from Energy and Mining to Finance. Multiple aspects within the domain of this industry mingle with each other to formulate a strategy of cohesive growth.
After knowing about the possibilities that the space-based industry holds, containing the excitement and hype is not possible. Even in India the momentum behind space-based activities is huge, with the success of Chandrayaan-3’s Moon landing, it is pertinent to acknowledge that many homegrown spacetech startups have emerged as silent knights.
Just until a few years ago, the amount of space missions were insignificant, and the private sector was effectively non-existent but 2022 witnessed the historic first private rocket launch by Skyroot and multiple other satellite launches, grabbing eyeballs the world over.
This has been made possible by the government’s push and support for the private sector in spacetech. In July, the GST Council set the launchpad for spacetech startups with a 0% GST regime. During the 50th meeting of the Council, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted that the initiative was aimed at fostering emerging startups in the rapidly growing spacetech sector.
Another report by IN-SPACE-e, an autonomous body under the Department of Space, suggests that India’s space sector has the potential to grow from $8.4 billion currently to $44 billion in the next decade.
Potential for Growth
According to a study published by IBEF in December 2022, India accounted for 2.1% of the global space economy in 2020, with a market share of $9.6 Bn, comprising 0.4% of the country’s total GDP. However, India’s space economy has the potential to grow significantly in the coming years. Plenty evidence suggest that India’s space economy could potentially touch $100 billion by 2040.