Over the next decades, our relationship with space will change dramatically. It will increasingly become a place where business and industry thrive. Tourists will go into orbit, taken there by private companies; new launch vehicles will take off, different in design but sharing the challenge of slashing the cost of space access. Energy and data will rain down from orbiting satellites, some owned by governments, others by private organizations, and many networked together to create a giant Internet. Entire industries will spring up to create an off-Earth economy.
Space access costs are being reduced dramatically. Nowadays, space launches cost 11 times less than in 2010 and satellites cost 100 times less. The global launch market was of $9 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2021.
In-space manufacturing provides a unique class of products highly valuable to the communications, materials and biomedical industries on Earth. Space manufacturing is a rapidly growing market and it is estimated to reach $5.5 billion by 2027.
Space tourism is expected to become a new industry. The space tourism market could generate up to $60 billion annually by 2030. As price drops, suborbital space travel will happen, and estimates forecast 15,000 pax a year by 2025.
Demand for energy and resources will double from 2016 to 2030. Space mining will be a reality. There are 1 million tons of He3 on the Moon, enough to power Earth for a 1,000 years; a 30m asteroid may hold $60 billion worth of platinum.
Demand for geospatial data is increasing exponentially. Smartphones penetration grows at a rate of 20% per year, and the use of sensors at 30%. The geospatial data market is expected to grow to $75 billion by 2021 ($30 billion in 2016).
Space exploration is poised to bring historic discoveries. Robotic missions have found evidence of water, but if life exists beyond Earth still remains a mystery. Finding extraterrestrial life will be the greatest discovery of all time.