RIYADH: Modern technology is revolutionizing aviation and space exploration at a remarkable pace as companies today are profiting from already solid infrastructure to move onto the next frontier covering space agriculture, manufacturing, and more.
Citigroup analysts recently predicted that by 2040, the space industry will amass an annual revenue of $1 trillion, alongside a 95 percent reduction in launch costs.
One of the fundamental drivers behind the projected surge in the space industry is the recognition that resources in space are not only beneficial but necessary to solve world problems.
Speaking at Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative forum, a number of side panels took place, that emphasized that space offers a solution to many Earthly problems by providing access to a plethora of valuable resources.
Barbara Belvisi, founder and CEO of Interstellar Lab, stressed that with the Earth’s population continuously growing and the challenges of climate change affecting traditional farming, space-based agriculture offers a promising solution.
By creating closed-loop ecosystems in space habitats, such as the O’Neill cylinder, Interstellar Labs aims to produce food efficiently and sustainably, reducing the pressure on Earth’s resources. The success of projects like these will not only secure our future food supply but also pave the way for a new era of sustainable living.
Space manufacturing is another significant component of the space industry’s growth. While it may appear to be a long-term investment, its potential impact is substantial, a notion emphasized by Emiliano Kargieman, CEO of Satellogic, and Nicolas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited.
Both agreed that in-space manufacturing has the capability to revolutionize industries on Earth and in space itself. With the reduced effects of gravity, it becomes possible to manufacture products with unprecedented precision, thereby opening doors to innovation in materials science and manufacturing processes.
For example, 3D printing in aerospace manufacturing is one of the most promising applications. Companies are now exploring the possibility of constructing entire spacecraft or components in space, which can significantly reduce costs and improve the performance of space missions.
Moreover, the infrastructure for space activities is becoming increasingly robust. Private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have made space travel more accessible by substantially lowering launch costs. These developments are not only spurring innovation but also creating a competitive market environment, which will drive the industry forward, a key component for space travel expansion and development Tim Ellis spoke of during the side session “FII in Space, part 1: Tech takes flight.”
However, the rapid expansion of the space industry also raises critical questions about regulations and governance. As more entities venture into space, it is essential to ensure responsible and sustainable practices.
The international community is working on developing space governance frameworks to address issues like space debris management, traffic control, and resource allocation.
In continuation of the first panel, “FII in Space, part II: Investing in the final frontier,” brought experts and heads of companies together that emphasized the necessity of making significant investments, cashing in on a robust infrastructure, and bearing witness and on an evolving regulatory landscape, they believe the space industry is primed for exponential growth.