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Thread: The Emerging Space Economy

  1. #31
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    space industry at a turning point?

    US billionaires vie to make space the next business frontier

    https://www.theguardian.com/business...iness-frontier

    The total space industry could grow by $1tn in the next decade, according to Ron Epstein, aerospace analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He sees a turning point as technology improvements and capital combine, making space tourism and in-space manufacturing – of space stations, or even pharmaceuticals – increasingly viable. Deep-pocketed investors were playing a role similar to that of predecessors who had helped aerospace grow into a global industry, he said.
    Maybe not a lot that hasn't already been covered in Cosmoquest. But interesting to see how it is being reported in financial sections of broadsheet newspapers so reaching a wider audience...

  2. #32
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    Space industry investment continues to grow. Nearly a year after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic raised fears of a slowdown in commercial space investment, experts say the industry is, in fact, doing better than ever. During a panel discussion at the 2021 SmallSat Symposium Feb. 8, analysts, investors and executives said that after a “lot of fear” in the spring of 2020, funding in the space industry, including smallsat constellation companies and small launch vehicle developers, surged in the latter half of the year. “This year was just a terrific year for many for many of the larger companies in the space sector,” said Mike Collett, founder and managing partner of Promus Ventures. “We are all surprised where we stand with the amount of capital and space sector funding.”

    https://spacenews.com/space-industry...inues-to-grow/
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  3. #33
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    Of course. After 2020, everyone wants to get off this frikkin' planet!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  4. #34
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    Industry still sees strong demand for smallsat launch services.

    https://spacenews.com/industry-still...unch-services/
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    Cloud computing services changing the calculus for space startups. The cloud computing industry is developing new products and services that will help space companies monetize data without having to invest in infrastructure, executives said Feb. 8 at the SmallSat Symposium.

    https://spacenews.com/cloud-computin...pace-startups/
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    Money will continue flowing into the space industry from government agencies, private equity firms and public markets, according to panelists at the 2021 SmallSat Symposium. “It has never been a better time to raise money for ventures in and around space,” said James Murray, a partner at investment bank PJT Partners.

    https://spacenews.com/investment-climate-smallsat-2021/
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Money will continue flowing into the space industry from government agencies, private equity firms and public markets, according to panelists at the 2021 SmallSat Symposium. “It has never been a better time to raise money for ventures in and around space,” said James Murray, a partner at investment bank PJT Partners.

    https://spacenews.com/investment-climate-smallsat-2021/
    You know you're seeing a real change when spaceflight is being discussed on the business pages instead of the technology pages.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
    You know you're seeing a real change when spaceflight is being discussed on the business pages instead of the technology pages.
    More so when a charity promotion space launch, Crew Dragon Inspiration4, is promoted in a Super Bowl ad. Monies go to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

    https://youtu.be/LghbqFe07yU
    Last edited by docmordrid; 2021-Feb-10 at 11:34 PM.

  9. #39
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    Op-ed | Don’t call it a bubble, more investment in space launch is a good thing. America works best when the government encourages small business creation and growth, instead of strengthening monopolies. Market winners ought to be decided by market consumers, and not government committees.

    https://spacenews.com/op-ed-dont-cal...-a-good-thing/
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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Op-ed | Don’t call it a bubble, more investment in space launch is a good thing. America works best when the government encourages small business creation and growth, instead of strengthening monopolies. Market winners ought to be decided by market consumers, and not government committees.

    https://spacenews.com/op-ed-dont-cal...-a-good-thing/
    All

    Be careful. This is an Op-ed piece that is expressing ideas about economic policy outside of just the space industry, and I'm not sure our exception to the "no politics" rule (quote below) extends that far. Make sure your comments (if any) are firmly within that exception.

    However, the following exceptions apply:

    A) Political impact upon space programs, exploration, and science.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  11. 2021-Feb-11, 08:19 PM

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    Space Adventure Tourism

    The discussion above on space tourism has gone quiet, so I thought I would test the appetite for more discussion by exploring further.

    7cscb:
    I think space tourism will drive the near future in space
    Noclevername:
    …Tourism will eventually play a role, but IMO it won't be soon.
    Van Rijn:
    "if Starship does work out, we might be surprised at the drop in price for a week stay at an orbital hotel…"
    The range of views on this thread on timing etc suggests uncertainty - any actual space tourist activity is still not on the immediate horizon. But how far off is it?

    A lot depends on demand, and price. As there is zero current activity, any attempt to build a basic price-quantity downward sloping demand curve is difficult. It will have to rely on less reliable stated preferences.

    The absence of activity suggests the supply curve does not (yet) meet the demand curve even at the high cost end - but the supply curve is likely to be uncertain, fluid and dynamic. Probably downward sloping (ie economies of scale) but also likely to move downwards due to more experience and technology improvements.

    I'm sure businesses will have done market research (and be understandably reluctant to share it with us and competitors).

    This article from the Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) gives a good flavour of the kind of demand markets we are talking about:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/techn...ple-ready-fly/

    Very high net worth customers attracted to a unique experience which they can tell to their friends and (other high net worth) contacts maybe. Yet the article gives evidence that the demand is there even at high prices. As more experience drives prices down the demand could increase substantially. It would be such a special experience.

    As see it there are 3 key related markets, with important demand overlaps:
    1 Sub-orbital short lived space experiences delivered by Virgin Galactic, potentially Blue Origin on the New Shepherd and others.
    2 Long distance rapid passenger travel around earth from place to place. This service would be on a two stage rocket and give around 40 minutes experience of zero gravity and views of earth from space. It would probably involve travelling several km to the space launch site by helicopter, seaplane or boat and a very loud take off. It could cut 12 hour plus flight times to less than an hour (plus transfers).
    3 Space accommodation - eventually in dedicated space hotels. In the short-term maybe a few could be accommodated on the ISS.

    Robert Zubrins's 'The case for space' makes a strong case for 2 being the biggest demand driver of space launches, with more growth potential than satellite launches.
    The P2P market attracts not only people wanting a space experience but, more importantly, others willing to pay to get a long way fast, competing with first class long haul plane flights. Even a few regular weekly flights per week between carefully selected long haul locations could massively increase the demand for space launches.

    The market for 1 and 3 is closely linked, with people wanting the short experience also potentially tempted to spend a few nights in space. But progress on P2P capability could be the key to making space hotels viable.

    So how quickly could these markets evolve?

    1 Sub-orbital flights could take off within the next year or two with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both putting resources in.
    2 P2P has potential to open up new markets but will take longer. All eyes are on SpaceX, but Blue Origin could provide some competition eventually. Five years maybe? It’s an exciting prospect.
    3 Space hotels? The Axiom tie up with ISS looks interesting. But a sustainable business model will take longer. 8-12 years?

    There is a lot of uncertainty. Space is hard. Yet the thought of all three taking off within a decade or so is an exciting prospect.

    Well interest in space tourism on Cosmoquest (more posts on the subject and maybe a dedicated thread at some point) could be one test of progress.
    Last edited by DavidLondon; 2021-Feb-13 at 04:51 PM. Reason: minor corrections

  13. #42
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    A call in this weeks, The Space Review, for the USA to lead and invest in cislunar space and beyond. "Reflecting core American values in the competition for the final economic frontier".

    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4124/1

    One motif of space futurism, from some of the earliest examples in the 1860s to the modern day, is the expected timeline for the developments and blossoming space culture that is envisioned. Virtually every one of those predictions has been, in retrospect, too aggressive and unrealized. Bruce Cahan and Dr. Mir Sadat, in “U.S. Space Policy for the New Space Age: Competing on the Final Frontier”, address the missing element that threw those predictions off: economics. While we may have the technology to do most, if not all, of the things described, it is the economic impetus drives civilizations to act and achieve.
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  14. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    A call in this weeks, The Space Review, for the USA to lead and invest in cislunar space and beyond. "Reflecting core American values in the competition for the final economic frontier".

    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4124/1
    Thanks selvaarchi Interesting article and paper.

    Maybe the following quote from Carlson's article summarises the main policy output from the Cahan and Sadat article on which it is based.

    First, that the United States must have economic policies that will help it win in space. Second, that it must be an interagency and whole-of-government approach. Third, that space must be considered “critical infrastructure.” Fourth, that there must be a sense of urgency as the 2020s will prove pivotal in the Second Space Race.
    I found the Cahan and Sadat article rather hard work. Sentences like the following sound impressive:
    "US long-range economic policy making must ensure all stakeholders transparency, clarity and coordination co-operation resulting in optimal market function and robust private sector capital investment".

    But what does it actually mean?! I sort of think I know what they are getting at…. Quite a lot of the paper is written like that.

    What I take from the paper is firstly, a similar conclusion to that from my post 29 above in response to the article about the United Launch Alliance. Strategic and defence related demand could play an important part in how the space economy develops alongside other non-military drivers like space tourism.
    Secondly, the emerging non-military drivers are likely to throw up new security challenges as individual nations seek to gain strategic advantage from a range of activity. So from a strategic perspective the security implications of the new activity need to be actively considered and addressed. Hence the interagency and whole-of-government approach and other policy proposals outlined in the quote above.

    But is it unreasonable to hope that a lot of (most?) future space activity will be in non-threatening sectors where there is potential for global co-operation? For example, putting a low frequency radio telescope on the far side of the moon. Or even space tourism / P2P space travel.

    Perhaps this is a bit naïve though. In the event that humans in space from the 'US and its allies' may be considered a threat and so at risk from other nations or interested parties then protecting them sounds like it should be a priority.

    The OECD document linked in post 24 above stresses that, while the space economy is only a very small proportion of global economic activity overall, it does have an impact on some significant and strategically important sectors of the economy, such as finance and telecommunications. So from that perspective it may make sense to understand space activity as 'critical infrastructure'.

    Quite how 'urgent' all this is I am not quite so sure. That feels like straying outside the focus of this thread though….

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    The Economics of Space Junk

    Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay had an Astronomy Cast you Tube programme on Space Junk a few months ago, which set me wondering about the economics of tackling the problem.

    Astronomy Cast Episode 591: Space Junk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ1-vulMiUM&t=1952s

    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...hat-Space-Junk

    The problem
    The basic problem is that there could be as many as 1m pieces of debris over 1cm in size currently on orbit - more than 20,000 of which are being actively tracked. Some satellites are put into parking orbits at the end of their life, high up beyond Geosynchronous orbit where they are safe. Others are close to the top of the atmosphere where they are likely to slow down and burn up, out of harms way.

    It’s the ones in the middle which are the problem. Fraser suggests in the 800-1200 km range where they can stay for extended periods of time. If two satellites collide they can spread debris chaotically in every direction. The worst scenario is where a satellite collision debris could cause a chain reaction, the Kessler syndrome, where an entire band of orbit is affected. And it has been suggested that the last few years have seen a doubling of the number of times bits of junk have almost hit operating satellites.

    I have found a few relevant articles on the economic issues.

    The Economist magazine had an article in Mid January on Removing Space junk. This is a bit less dystopian than Fraser’s view of the problem, suggesting that there is time to find solutions. However they also stress the risks of higher insurance premiums, more spending on tracking and collision-avoidance and increasing risks as more satellites are launched.

    https://www.economist.com/science-an...ing-space-junk
    (Behind a paywall)

    But The Economist does suggest a chain reaction can be avoided by shifting a dozen or less of the larger derelicts out of harms way. It is still not clear how to go about removing debris (Fraser and Pamela discuss some possible technical solutions). But there are demonstration projects in the pipeline, including an Astroscale End of Life Service (ELSA) demonstrator due to launch in the next few months and an ESA funded contract awarded to ClearSpace due to launch in 2025.

    Policy Solutions - Economics and the Tragedy of the Commons.
    The space junk challenge is considered in economics as an example of the tragedy of the commons - due to the rivalrous but non-excludable nature of the problem (a bit like over fishing).

    Solutions will need a degree of international co-operation so all agents sending material to space accept the action needed to solve the problem.

    A few different approaches have been suggested. Possible solutions from the Economist article include:
    - A launch tax with proceeds hypothecated to pay for clean up operations.
    - A bottle deposit scheme with launchers paying a deposit which could be recouped if they deorbit the satellite at the end of the mission. If not the deposit would be paid for somebody else to do it for them.
    - An annual rent payable for all commercial satellites in orbit.

    Below are a few other sources worth mentioning. Please do look out for any further published work.

    OECD Report on Space Sustainability: The Economics of space debris in perspective.
    https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/scien...de43-en#page27
    Suggests the operators in geostationary orbit have estimated protective and mitigation costs (shielding, manoeuvres and moving to graveyard orbits) at some 5%-10% of mission costs which range into hundreds of millions dollars. LEO costs 'are much higher' (National Research Council 2011.

    Orbital use fee.
    https://eandt.theiet.org/content/art...omists-advise/
    https://scitechdaily.com/orbital-use...-junk-problem/
    Includes a proposed annual 'orbital use' fee increasing 14% each year up to $235,000 per satellite pa by 2040. Either straight up fees or tradeable permits. Similar approaches to carbon taxes and fisheries management.

    Cost estimates for removal of orbital debris.
    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19900030959
    While there are currently no active measures for the removal of non functional satellites or spent rocket stages from earth orbit, it has been deemed prudent to begin to identify and economically evaluate potential approaches for such orbital decluttering. The methods presently considered encompass retrieval with an Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle, forcible deorbiting via attached propulsive devices, and deorbiting via passive, drag-augmentation devices; the increases in payload-delivery costs they represent are respectively $15-20 million/object, $7.8 million/vehicle, and $5.5-15.5 million/unit. OMV removal appears the least economically feasible method.

    There are other sources behind a paywall which I haven't mentioned.

    If anybody comes across other sources on costs or policy solutions please do post them.

  16. #45
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    This week's The Space Review carries the following article "The promise of return on investment does not disappear in cislunar space and beyond"

    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4127/1

    In a recent essay, Josh Carlson discusses the importance of the United States taking a leadership role in commercial space activities (see “Reflecting core American values in the competition for the final economic frontier”, The Space Review, February 15, 2021). The premise of the article that “the economic impetus drives civilizations to act and achieve” can be debated, but political imperatives cannot motivate sustainable space development. Sustainable presence in outer space demands that the large investments required generate returns that are competitive with other investments and that promote further growth.
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  17. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    This week's The Space Review carries the following article "The promise of return on investment does not disappear in cislunar space and beyond"

    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4127/1
    Thanks salvaarchi - another interesting article.
    It helpfully focuses on the costs / benefits involved in space exploration, and the differences between public sector v commercial approaches to developing business cases which shape drivers of demand.

    I sense that there is also mileage in focusing on earth-moon space in terms of aligning incentives with commercial financing pressures rather than the more visionary (or 'romantic' depending on your view) notions of early colonising of mars and the belt.

    The comments below the article are also worth reading. They illustrate that there are still very different views in where demand for new space activity is going to emerge and when.

    The article is right to focus on issues around discount rates/ internal rates of return/ or 'the tragedy of the time horizon' as the author calls it. But there is nothing new here. There have bene intense debates about the discount rates which are appropriate for assessing public investment in climate change mitigation - with some arguing there is an ethical dimension regarding how we assess the interests of future generations relative to current generations. The higher the discount rate the more the impact on future generations is ignored. An alternative view, articulated in a post below the article, is that government could help drive more innovation, including in tackling climate change, through maintaining a robust discount rate, comparable to that for government long-term investment in other sectors (eg early years education).

    Like a few of the posts, I am also less convinced that government funding and commercial investment can be separated as easily as the article assumes. The article suggests that where industrial lunar development depends on 'government subsidy' then, because 'politics can change.. there goes the future'. It is a rather optimistic vision that somehow commercial activity can, simply through applying low discount rates to 'get rid of the time horizon', be freed from all government influences. There is much more to aligning commercial incentives with long-term space exploration challenges than that.

    So I am not confident that commercial activity in lunar industrial development can be unlocked quite as easily as suggested. Is there really so much potential for big commercial profits on the moon? Space is hard. And commercial IRR requirements are very demanding - even for venture capital.
    I suspect instead that an ongoing partnership between government and commercial investment will be needed for some time for lunar activity to grow. Much can be learned from the NASA commercial Cargo and Crew programmes.

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    2a - Drivers of Demand

    2a - Drivers of Demand - current

    I said I would unpack each theme from post 1 in more detail in future posts. This is the second of these follow up posts.

    The first post '1a - Supply - The game changer' - post 23 - focused on reusable rockets.
    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...30#post2528730

    This post is the first of three to unpack the second point - Drivers of Demand. It will look at actual demand for space activity now. Sources of demand with future potential will be explored in two subsequent posts.

    The distinction matters, because demand delivered and paid for now (eg satellites), is clearly firmer and more concrete than potential demand for activity will become available in the not too distant future (eg space adventure tourism), which in turn is less speculative and uncertain than guestimates of what demand may emerge for an activity which could be supplied well into the future (eg funded opportunities to add value in an established settlement on Mars).

    So what demand drives space activity now?
    Despite challenges in estimating the size of the space economy, studies suggest it is worth around $300bn-£450bn. One recent study estimates it at $366bn in 2019 of which $271bn (74%) is the satellite sector. This sector process gets divided into satellite manufacturing, launch, services and end users.

    Satellite Breakdown $271bn (100%)
    - Manufacturing: $12.5bn (5%) of which over 60% of revenues are in the United States. Of 386 satellites launched, 45% were commercial communications, 27% remote sensing and 17% research and development, 11% other (civil/military comms, navigation, scientific and satellite servicing etc).
    - Launch: £4.9bn (2%) of which US revenues $1.7bn and non-US $3.2bn. 102 launches in 2019 of which 78 were commercially procured.
    - Satellite Services $123bn (45%) including services for TV/Radio ($98bn), Fixed ($18bn), Broadband ($3bn), Mobile ($2bn) and remote sensing ($2bn).
    - Ground Equipment: $130bn (48%) is on ground equipment associated with satellites. $97bn on GNSS equipment e(g GPS), $18bn on consumer equipment eg satellite dishes, and $15bn on network equipment (eg vsats, gateways).

    The sector is both benefiting from productivity improvements bringing costs down and contributing to global productivity as the sector supports a range of key strategic sectors of the world economy, from financial services and e-commerce to health, food and water sectors. While some uses could be reaching maturity with slower growth, there is emerging future potential from constellations of satellites and small sats.

    Non-satellite activity $95bn (26%)
    - $95bn on non-satellite activity including government space budgets and commercial human spaceflight.

    Source: State of the Satellite Industry Report 2020. https://brycetech.com/reports

    More info can be found from some of the sources listed in post 24:
    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...41#post2529141

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    Hi DavidLondon,

    It is interesting how Satellite Manufacturing and Launch are such a small part of the pie. For the guys making the big decisions in the Services sector, actual launch cost is possibly less a concern than most of us geeks on a space forum perceive.

    It seems impossible that the equipment sector is larger than the service sector. As you point out, $97B of $130B, or 75% goes to GNSS. Is this funded by taxes? Am I missing something?

    Measuring economic activity is extremely difficult at best. Good job and thanks. I look forward to your future posts.

    Cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Hi DavidLondon,

    It seems impossible that the equipment sector is larger than the service sector. As you point out, $97B of $130B, or 75% goes to GNSS. Is this funded by taxes? Am I missing something?

    Measuring economic activity is extremely difficult at best. .
    Thanks 7cscb

    I'm not sufficiently informed about the evolution of the satellite sector to give an authoritative answer to the question. Others more familiar with sector may be able to give their views.

    But what I have learned has been based on the sources above, especially the OECD documents in post 24.

    The OECD article linked below is especially worth a read.
    https://www.oecd.org/innovation/inno...ace-sector.pdf

    It outlines how the early dominance in the sector of a small number of governments has grown with involvement from a much wider range of governments in recent years (see Figure 1).

    Remarks by the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs last Autumn are also worth a look:
    https://www.unoosa.org/documents/pdf...emarks_web.pdf

    The following quote suggests that governments remain heavily involved in the sector, especially the operation of the space and ground segments, with growth overwhelmingly in the downstream markets. The comment in the speech that around 10% of global GDP depends on the use of satellites underlines the strategic importance of the sector to governments.

    Historically EO has been dominated by institutional programmes, with large expensive satellites that required years of development and was owned by governments or space agencies. Development of new technologies for smaller satellites, coupled with a strong demand for satellite imagery and lower cost of launchers, motivated vigorous growth in the sector in the last 15 years.

    The economic growth is overwhelmingly in the downstream markets, to offer tailored services developed from satellite imagery. The satellites provide tremendous amounts of data that need to be further processed: for instance, the European Unions’ Copernicus satellites provide 12 terabytes of data per day, every day. In this context, the use of Artificial Intelligence in satellite imagery is the latest trend in the market bring the power of space into more decision making processes around the world.

    Satellite navigation has remained an economic model where governments fund the development and operation of space and ground segment, while the technical characteristics of the signals are made openly available, and this enables the development of a “downstream market” with user receivers developed by private companies

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    Sometimes I wonder if Musk is serious or making trolling / joking

    The whole blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are a real thing, many didnt not believe in them at the start but they have made money. Sometimes countries which have seen their national currency collapse in recessions then start to use electronic-coins, examples such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lite,-Coin, Monero. Bitcoin fell from its highs amid Turkey's bannings of Bitcoin crypto-payments. The banks perhaps may one day also issue their own cryptocurrencies, I guess in a ways they are like fiat currency but what if a Moon or Mars currency was backed up by productions or space-minerals?

    The whole 'Dogecoin' talk exploded on social media these past days, it looks like a joke currency with a kind of internet 'meme' picture of a Japanese Dog with a smile.

    I'm not sure if he's joking or not but Musk seems to talk about Dogecoin as a top solar system wide, galactic, planetary global cryptocurrency, as if its going to be real.

    Musk posted a tweet that reads, "Doge Barking at the moon." He included a photo in the tweet of a painting by Spanish artist Joan Miró titled "Dog Barking at the Moon."

    These type of "currency" is not really stable, it is a virtual electronic coin whose value zooms up (and down) with astronomical speed depending on some social media trend of the day.

    Galactic Stock Exchange?
    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-b1802319.html

    Elon Musk has said he will buy out major Dogecoin holders in order to help make the fringe cryptocurrency the “currency of the internet”.

    The SpaceX and Tesla CEO, who overtook Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person last month, posted several tweets criticising the so-called crypto whales who hoard large stockpiles of Dogecoin.
    These large holders are the only thing standing in the way of Dogecoin from becoming a mainstream currency, according to Mr Musk, who has previously suggested that the “people’s crypto” could become the official currency on Mars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Launch window View Post
    Sometimes I wonder if Musk is serious or making trolling / joking

    The whole blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are a real thing, many didnt not believe in them at the start but they have made money. Sometimes countries which have seen their national currency collapse in recessions then start to use electronic-coins, examples such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lite,-Coin, Monero. Bitcoin fell from its highs amid Turkey's bannings of Bitcoin crypto-payments. The banks perhaps may one day also issue their own cryptocurrencies, I guess in a ways they are like fiat currency but what if a Moon or Mars currency was backed up by productions or space-minerals?

    The whole 'Dogecoin' talk exploded on social media these past days, it looks like a joke currency with a kind of internet 'meme' picture of a Japanese Dog with a smile.

    I'm not sure if he's joking or not but Musk seems to talk about Dogecoin as a top solar system wide, galactic, planetary global cryptocurrency, as if its going to be real.

    Musk posted a tweet that reads, "Doge Barking at the moon." He included a photo in the tweet of a painting by Spanish artist Joan Miró titled "Dog Barking at the Moon."

    These type of "currency" is not really stable, it is a virtual electronic coin whose value zooms up (and down) with astronomical speed depending on some social media trend of the day.

    Galactic Stock Exchange?
    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-b1802319.html



    These large holders are the only thing standing in the way of Dogecoin from becoming a mainstream currency, according to Mr Musk, who has previously suggested that the “people’s crypto” could become the official currency on Mars.
    Note that while virtual the energy requirement is all too real. In a few years of more growth, the bitcoin computers, if rated as a country, will be twelfth in the world. Surely there must be a better way to make money safe? But then Musk coinvented Paypal, so he should know what he is doing.....?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  23. #52
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    2b - drivers of demand - out to 2030

    This is the third in a series following up the key points of the first post. 1a Supply- the game changer (post 23), looked at reusable rockets, and 2a drivers of demand - current (post 47), gave a snap shot of space activity demand now (mostly the satellite sector).

    So if the satellite sector dominates the space economy now, what will drive demand growth for space activity out to 2030?

    Answer: The satellite sector!

    The sector may lack novelty or headlines, compared with saying sending people back to the moon - but that's what people/governments/companies will be willing to spend their money on.

    Morgan Stanley's analysis of the space economy brings this out clearly. They stress that while demand for data is growing exponentially, the cost of access to data from space is falling by orders of magnitude. Overall, the space economy growth chart in the article below suggests, there will be an increase (nominal?) of around 70% in the size of the space economy by 2030 compared with 2019. The following is a quote from Adam Jones of Morgan Stanley in the article.

    Investing in space - Morgan Stanley

    “We believe the largest opportunity comes from providing Internet access to under- and unserved parts of the world, but there also is going to be increased demand for bandwidth from autonomous cars, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and video."
    Also noticeable from their growth chart is that currently important demand drivers like consumer satellite TV are unlikely to grow very much, probably in the face of competition from earth based technology.

    One caveat not mentioned is that action to tackle space junk will become increasingly important if we are to achieve sustained growth in the sector. So a market in servicing satellites and removing space debris will need to emerge (see my post 44 for more detail).

    Also clear is that demand for non-satellite activity is unlikely to grow significantly out to 2030 either. And they are probably right.

    Demand for non-satellite space activity out to 2030?

    This does not mean that demand potential for other sectors is unimportant, although my hunch is that the main focus will be on the supply side (improving technology, bringing costs down etc).

    Robert Zubrin (The Case for Space) points out that, even a trebling of the satellite sector launches from ~ 100 pa at the moment to serve a growing potential satellite market with small sats and constellations etc, will not be sufficient on its own to transform the potential from lower supply side costs. It will eventually be overtaken by other on orbit emerging demand drivers. Ultimately I think he is right. But not in the 2020s.

    Let's start with space stations/habitats.

    NASA is already promoting efforts to stimulate demand for the low earth orbit economy as part of its NextStep public-private partnership initiative.

    Its focus includes "understanding the transportation-driven price elasticity of demand for existing and potential LEO commercial markets."

    The aim is to transition the ISS so it can encourage commercial and 'private' astronaut uses and eventually spin offs.

    Orbital research labs have potential to respond to demand for niche research activity in the near vacuum conditions on orbit in a range of different sectors. NASA in the link above specifically mentions "areas of in-space manufacturing and regenerative medicine/bioengineering."

    Zubrin and others have proposed the potential to advance from research to some high value orbital manufacturing and even the development of business parks. China is investing huge resources into its space station at the moment - and it launched the first module this week.

    A flavour of what this could look like is given in an article in 'Popular Mechanics' presenting a vision of space stations out to 2030. It's well worth a read. Thanks to Selvaarchi who posted it in the thread 'Post-International Space Station' a while back. See Post 94:

    The article suggests the kinds of commercial research which could take off in space.

    As part of a vision for 2025, "…the research done in space is having an impact back home. There are manufacturing innovations being invented here that couldn’t be discovered on Earth: perfect microscopic spheres (courtesy of a lack of surface tension) for encapsulating drugs, fiber optic glass with unprecedented smoothness and speed of transmission, and ultra-thin sheets of gallium arsenide that can be used in semiconductors". Alongside this could be a 3d printer for early in situ manufacturing of solar panels.

    By 2030, perhaps five different free-flying self-sufficient private space stations could be spun off before the ISS ends its life, with a growing number of government agencies renting rides and space for their own research priorities. The author is sceptical - arguably too sceptical - about space tourism taking off. Instead he suggests this commercially driven research market will be more significant.

    The author also points to potential for opening markets for commercial lunar activity on the moon as NASA builds on experience with Artemis and focuses on preparations for humans travelling to Mars. However, these themes are more for a future post looking at potential drivers of demand beyond 2030.

    I explore current work in progress on space habitats in more detail in the 'Post-International Space Station' thread (post 112).
    To be honest I am rather underwhelmed by the available detail of projects in the pipeline, given the potential. Maybe I am missing something. Or maybe people/organisations are waiting for further progress on the supply side game changer before firming up and revealing their plans.

    Beyond space stations, Government non-satellite budgets will continue to drive demand for a range of space science research and security activity.

    Amongst the most likely other early demand drivers are space adventure tourism and Point to point (P2P) travel.

    These were explored at length in my post 41.

    The post covers short duration sub orbital adventure flights, P2P travel involving a longer space experience and the emergence of space hotels.

    Zubrin focuses on the successful emergence of reusable orbital class transport potential which could deliver passengers or goods P2P anywhere on the surface of earth in less than an hour, so competing with long haul first and business class services.

    Even if the market potential over the next few decades does not reach the tens of thousands of launches suggested by Zubrin, a regular market of say 1000 flights per annum (ie 2 per week on 10 different routes) could accelerate learning from experience and bring prices down further, thus leading expanding demand for P2P and other services - maybe generating a market worth around $10bn pa?

    There are number of challenges to making this happen, not least around safety. Space is hard and the risks of setbacks are real. But there is a real possibility that a combination of sub orbital short duration space flights and some pioneering P2P services could emerge during the 2020s. The establishment of P2P travel could boost the demand potential for other activities, including a range of space hotels and revolving habitats during the 2030s.

    History shows how innovation can trigger a sudden growth spurt in a sector, often after a lag while infrastructure (eg network externalities) is put in place, inertia is overcome and experience drives down costs. This is likely to happen at some point in space. So why not in the late 2020s?
    Maybe, but on balance I think it is more likely beyond 2030.

    I suspect that neither space tourism/P2P nor on orbit research/manufacturing are likely to challenge the satellite market in size over the next decade. However, these beginnings could lay a foundation for future growth.

    The potential for strong, innovation driven, demand growth in the longer-term is the reason why this post has only gone out to 2030. Most other research highlighted on this thread, including Morgan Stanley above, goes out to the 2040s.

    In my view there is far too much radical uncertainty (unknown unknowns etc) to give anything like as detailed an estimate for the space economy post -2030. Even my thoughts above are indicative estimates rather than a forecast.

    So I will take a different, scenario based approach, to reflect uncertainty in my next post on this series: 2c - Drivers of Demand - beyond 2030, which I will work on over the next few weeks.

    The final word is a quote from the 'Popular Mechanics' article mentioned above:

    Of course, predicting the future of spaceflight has been a fool’s errand and invites future readers to laugh with well-earned derision, but let’s hit fast forward to imagine the future…
    Any thoughts appreciated.

  24. #53
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    Fifty years after Apollo, space is about to transform our life on Earth beyond recognition

    Interesting view on opportunities opening up from a UK perspective by an Observer economist, Will Hutton.
    nearing-giant-leap-for-mankind-space-possibilities-are-transformational

    Space is at an inflection point, about to join electricity, the computer and the railway as a great general purpose technology that will transform economies and societies. To those who dare, whose capitalism and governments have the right alchemy of entrepreneurial zest and public purpose, and who possess the sheer chutzpah to see the possibilities, will fall great prizes. Britain could be among them.
    It raises an interesting prospect of other countries outside of the US and China (eg ESA countries, Japan, UAE, Russia) seeking to promote niche roles for themselves in the emerging space economy.

    On ESA, there was an interesting article in the Financial Times this week on ESA's new Director-General, Josef Aschbacher (behind a paywall but worth reading in full).
    Europe's new space chief is on a mission to reinvigorate the agency

    “At the moment we are not competitive,” Aschbacher says. “The situation is not getting better, it is getting worse. The prices at which Chinese commercial launchers will go on market will be shocking, even to Elon Musk. We have to adapt to this reality. We have no choice.”

  25. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    [B]

    It raises an interesting prospect of other countries outside of the US and China (eg ESA countries, Japan, UAE, Russia) seeking to promote niche roles for themselves in the emerging space economy.
    I can see the price game changing significantly in the coming years. This might lead to monopolies or democratization, depending on who sells what to whom.

    BTW, thanks David, for the research and thought you put into these posts. A very interesting binge read.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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