With the world at a "pivotal point for space", the global space industry is expected to be worth US$600 billion by 2030, and Australia’s 14,000 strong space workforce has been growing at 10.9 per cent annually over the past five years.
The report contains interviews with 30 industry leaders about the changes and opportunities presented by space.
Experts who contributed to the report include Dr Megan Clark, head of the Australian Space Agency; James Morhard, the deputy administrator of NASA; Dr Jan Wörner, the director general of the European Space Agency.
They are joined by space industry executives and entrepreneurs, and specialists in areas as diverse as space medicine and space agriculture.
By 2030, the report predicts, manufacturing in space will be real and viable and there will be assets such as mines operated remotely on the moon.
Rather than space programs being purely government-led, there will be more and more partnerships between the public and private sectors, with government as a customer of civil space business.
Mike Kalms, partner in charge, space and defence industry, KPMG Australia, explained, “Today’s 'small space start-ups' will be the sector leaders in 2030.
“Already many multi-national businesses are investing in the space sector and understanding how it can add value to their business on Earth. By 2030 we expect many businesses across all industries to have dedicated space teams and resources. The majority of space companies will be valued in the billions of dollars and operate across multiple countries. Global levels of co-operation will help enhance economic and political ties between nation states.”
While people won’t be living on the moon quite like the Jetsons, with space travel remaining costly, there will be an increased human presence in space.
This will enable more research, such as medical research in zero gravity. The report also predicts that the human genome may be altered to further support humanity’s sustained exploration of space.
At the same time, there will be challenges in terms of sustainability: a moratorium on space debris and a recognition of the importance of the ecology of space for future generations.
A central international governing body will also need to be established to manage space data, which will increase in volume and value.
Kalms added, “Businesses are already putting sustainability at the forefront of what they do on Earth. We anticipate the same will be applied to space activities in the years ahead. Debris in space has long been an area of concern, which will only escalate. We will need international agreements, and ways to recover and recycle decommissioned satellites. Legislation and treaties will need to evolve as space becomes its own legal jurisdiction.”
Much of the data collected will be analysed by leading-edge analytics in-orbit to reduce the volume of data that needs to be transmitted to Earth and stored.
AI will also be used in deep space missions to overcome communications delays due to distance and help pre-empt and correct problems.
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