Certainly, one may have many bold ideas which are future space markets in space, e.g. low Earth orbit (LEO), the Moon and beyond and surely how space will continue to impact many industries on Earth into the so called downstream markets, but it is difficult to predict exactly how the new space economy will look in 2050. As a wide range of factors, including breakthrough technological advancements, geopolitical strategic collaborations, and market-oriented government policies will define different paths for space fairing nations. However, based on current trends and developments, one can ascertain the global new space economy will continue to grow in the next decades and, according to a recent research from Rand Corporation, a consulting company, there will be technological enablers and constraints (e.g., advances in materials, propulsion, communications, new sensors, AI & ML,…), and also non-technological enablers and constraints (e.g., capital, skills, regulations, networks and culture,…) that will contribute to this growth.

Currently, at Nova School of Business and Economics we envisage a flourishing New Space economy where business education will be fundamental to develop the next generation of leaders working in this industry. The global new space economy addresses many non-space industries that need space for a more digital and sustainable future. Several sectors are using and developing their business operations and market proposition based on space data and intelligence such as: Agriculture, Natural resources management, Transportation, Energy, Insurance, Environmental monitoring, Disaster management, Media and entertainment, health-medicine-pharmaceuticals, financial services, and Government and defense. Further, the funding available for the new space ecosystem is not negligible, and according to McKinsey & Company, if we look at 2021, public and private markets put $10 billion of fresh capital to work in space companies and these investments fueled a new wave of dynamism and innovation.

An integrated strategy towards the New Space economy is being designed where advanced education, business case analyses, research at doctoral level and entrepreneurial activities and initiatives with New Space stakeholders are starting to flourish so that in this decade, until 2030, one is well prepared to tackle the business challenges ahead up to 2050. It is difficult to predict exactly how the global New space economy will look in 2050, but certainly there will be an increase in commercial activity with breakthrough innovations in space, e.g. space-based solar power and space-based manufacturing, the increase of human presence in low-earth orbit (LEO) and the moon, for Earth, the increase use of space data by non-space industries, boosting international collaboration for a more standardized space governance, and regulations. Further beyond LEO and the Moon, space mining will become more efficient, potentially providing new sources of valuable supplies such as water, rare metals, and helium-3, essential for commercial activities and deep space missions.

For sure, the global space economy in 2050 will continue to be a “high-risk, high-reward” industry, but with knowledgeable leaders in business and technology rewards will certainly compensate the risks. For companies in mature sectors, space technologies may provide data that may be a source of competitive advantage, as well as of a more sustainable use of resources. The business, management, and innovation ecosystem at business schools offers companies a path to “dream” together with passionate and curious minds that envision space as an exploration platform for the sustainability of our planet, helping the economy to thrive through new space-informed business models and opportunities, turning Europe into a platform for the exploration of new ideas and resources, prosperity, and sustainability, through the combination of technology, management, and economics, that leads to a vision of a sustainable future.

This article was written by:

Miguel Pina e Cunha - Professor and Academic Director at Nova SBE Executive Education

Emir Sirage - Space for Business Program Director

Pedro Penedos - Space for Business Program Manager

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