The commercialization of space and space market has transformed the industry from one that was under the control of the government to something that is quite self-sufficient. It has directly affected the future of space. Although still in its youth, the space market is growing, and it is growing steadily.
The government has given way for private enterprises to enter the space market as it aims for increasingly difficult and riskier space missions. One such private company Bigelow Aerospace, which was under contract with NASA to send its Expandable Activity Module to the International Space Station. This module would attach itself to the ISS and test the viability of similar structures in space for use as hotels or laboratories.
Moreover, Virgin Galactic has chartered many flights of its spacecraft to NASA to carry out research in space and has more than 500 people in its waiting list for suborbital spaceflights. This means that the governments of different countries are now contracting services from private enterprises rather hiring companies for space missions.
The last two or three decades have seen a huge change in the commercial space market with numerous companies entering the market and making their mark. But, this commercialization of the space market is essential for the growth of the space economy along with achieving all the goals that we set out to achieve.
For this commercialization to be the most effective, the space market has to face a lot of challenges. The energy, distance as well as the condition to operate in space requires huge capital expenditures in addition to long lead times. Currently, the only purely commercial sector of space is communications, most of which consists of satellites in the earth?s geosynchronous orbit with a market of around 20-something satellites each year.
Sometime in the next five or ten years, we would require to develop a commercial economy in the low orbits of the planet, which will be dominated by commercial space stations rather than the International Space Station controlled by the government.
The use of an efficient technology and increased commercial operating practices will reduce the cost of human presence in Low Earth Orbits, and allow more countries to participate. This demand will initiate a cycle, thereby lowering launch costs, allowing a greater number of customers, lowering extra costs and so on.
Additionally, by developing a space-sourced propellant for missions from the asteroids or the moon, the cost of all other space activities beyond the low orbit of the earth will be reduced significantly. But, to develop such a thing, there will be an immense need for commercial resources and finances, which is only possible by the commercialisation of the space market.
The main purpose of the exploration of space and different space missions is the advancement of scientific research, uniting different countries, as well as making sure that humanity survives as long as possible.
Today, more than 70 government space organisations around the world and numerous private companies are engaged in activities that are related to space research.
Following are some of the world?s top space organisations, both government-controlled and privately owned, mentioned in a descending order:
11. Canadian Space Agency
Formed in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency is known to have contributed its research, expertise and technology towards efforts made for space, while working with NASA and ESA. It has also delivered a Mobile Servicing System which is worth $1.3 billion to the International Space Station, along with Dextre, Canadarm 2 and other multiple robotic workstations. The agency relies on countries like India, the U.S., and Russia to launch its satellites into orbit and does not have its own rocket launching capability beyond the upper atmosphere.
10. National Centre for Space Studies (France)
Formed in 1961, the French Space Agency has its focus on five major areas, namely the security and defence, access to space, sustainable development, civil applications of space along with space and technology research. They are in collaboration with the German and other governments to create a methane powered reusable launch vehicle.
They also collaborated with ISRO to deploy the Megha-Tropiques satellite into the earth?s orbit to analyse the water cycle in regards to climate change.
9. Italian Space Agency (ASI)
Formed in 1988, the Italian Space Agency launched its first big satellite mission called Beppo SAX in1996 and used X-ray to examine the universe.
It has been involved in many human spaceflight activities and has developed its Shuttle Multipurpose Logistics Module Cargo containers which are used for storing and transferring instruments and other things to the International Space Station.
8. German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Formed in 1969, the German Aerospace Centre mostly has its focus on aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security. It implements different space programmes on behalf of the federal government of Germany.
Some of the important projects of DLR include the Mars Express, Galileo as well as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.
7. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Formed in 1993, JAXA was initially established as a core performance agency which would support the Japanese government?s aerospace development. It also conducts integrate operations, like research, development and implementation.
Some of its collaborative projects with NASA include the Aqua Earth Observation Satellite, Global Precipitation Measurement Core satellite, and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.
Formed in 2002, this private agency has become one of the most successful space companies in the market with achievements that are mentioned below:
- Falcon 9 was the first successful reuse of any orbital rocket
- Falcon 9 had the first propulsive landing recorded by any orbital rocket
- SpaceX owned Dragon was the first private company which sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station
Today, SpaceX is one of the most successful private American aerospace manufacturers and space transportation services enterprise.
5. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Formed in 1969, ISRO uses space technology to pursue the planet?s exploration along with conducting space science research. It has a series of Multipurpose Geostationary Satellites and Remote Sensing Satellites that are used to fulfil the country?s increasing demands for telecommunications and earth observation.
It has also developed application-specific satellite tools and products which can be used to aid weather forecasts, navigation, geographic information systems, along with search and rescue operations.
In 2014, they were successful in sending a spacecraft to the Martian orbit in their very first attempt. The total expenditure incurred for this mission was around $75 million, which was also the most affordable and cost-efficient Mars mission ever.
4. Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)
Formed in 1992, Roscosmos is a hub which coordinates all the types of space activities in Russia. It carries on a variety of civilian activities such as astronaut projects, and takes care of military launches in collaboration with the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation.
It is currently working on its ExoMars mission, a mission to find evidence of life on Mars.
3. European Space Agency (ESA)
Formed in 1975, the European Space Agency is an international organisation having 22 member states. This agency is capable of managing all activities and programmes that no other European nation can manage single-handedly.
ESA is also one of the major contributors to the ISS. It has been actively involved in unmanned exploration missions to the Moon as well as other planets.
2. China National Space Administration (CNSA)
Formed in 1993, the CNSA plans and implements all the space missions of the country on a national level, in addition to signing government agreements which are specifically about space research.
CNSA is not involved with the ISS and has its own small space station, which helps it to carry out regular launches without any help.
In 2014, CNSA gained success and fame when it made the first soft landing on the moon using its robotic lunar lander and rover, known as Chang?e 3. It also successfully carried out an anti-satellite test on its own machines in 2007.
1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Formed in 1958, NASA is, by far, the most famous organisation in the space market. It has led peaceful space explorations, made numerous discoveries about our planet along with other planets, solar systems, galaxies and the universe as a whole. It is an independent organisation which reports directly to the President of the United States.
Since the very beginning, a majority of space exploration efforts in the United States have been led by NASA, with more than 200 successful manned space flights, along with another 70 or so missions underway.
Some of the greatest missions of NASA include the Apollo, Hubble Space Telescope and the Viking 1 probe which made a touchdown on Mars in 1976. Also, it is famous for the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Cassini-Huygens that successfully reached Saturn in 2004. More so, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are also famous for making numerous important discoveries about planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and for reaching interstellar space.
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