Executive Director, Space Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
September 06, 2023
We have witnessed several epic moments in space this past year, from the successful Artemis 1 mission to India becoming the fourth country to successfully land on the Moon to historic international collaboration on display in achieving the ambitious DART mission.
2023 continued the transition from the government to the private sector in driving activity in space. According to the most recent Space Foundation Report, commercial industry accounts for 78% of the economic activity in the space domain that is generating over $540 billion. There is tremendous demand to manufacture and deploy satellites into orbit, explore the lunar surface, and put infrastructure in place to enable operations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and cislunar space that will lay the foundation for further commercial activity.
To realize a $1 trillion space economy by 2040, we must continue to unleash private enterprise and rely on government experience to provide the demand signals, the frameworks, and the security that incentivize market action.
As we consider the vast economic potential of space, it is critical to understand how products and services already derived from space impact our lives today. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which has wholly transformed a range of products and industries, from smartphone technology to healthcare and logistics, and generated an estimated economic benefit of nearly $2 trillion in the United States alone.
The proliferation of satellites in orbit has great potential to close the digital divide for all countries, and along with earth observation capabilities, has enhanced society’s ability to understand climate, natural disasters, and even armed conflict, enabling more informed decision-making, response, and recovery. A range of industries, including banking, defense, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, all rely on space to innovate and enhance their products and services. Many of these activities go unnoticed on Earth, but as the private sector’s presence in space grows, this domain will become more intertwined with our daily lives.
Many outstanding issues must be resolved to develop a sustainable space economy. The U.S. currently lacks the capacity to support the demand for launches, and under existing tax codes, spaceports cannot access the same capital and economic funds that airports and seaports can utilize. There is no designated agency in the U.S. government to regulate operational activity in space. Providing certainty to the space industry by developing a transparent, predictable process for authorizing operations in space is necessary for realizing the potential many see in Low-Earth Orbit and cislunar space.
Fortunately, most of the legal, commercial, and diplomatic norms and frameworks that govern life on Earth need to be extended into the space domain. The Chamber encourages the Biden Administration to focus on specific policy initiatives that will create the foundation for thriving space commerce.
Now is a pivotal time to be part of the space industry. The transition to a private sector-led space ecosystem has caused transformational change on Earth, which has the potential to allow all nations to benefit from technological advancement, job creation, and discovery — bringing forward a new generation of prosperity. Now is the time for governments to create the conditions to incentivize more private sector investment and activity in space. The economic impact of the space sector is too important to life on Earth.