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Reaching for the stars: New report into global space activities launched

The U.S. plans to launch what is being described as ‘the most powerful space telescope ever’ in late 2021.

SpaceX to launch private, all-civilian crew into Earth orbit
Elon Musk's company is set to launch four people into space Wednesday, on a three-day mission that is the first to orbit the Earth with exclusively private citizens - Copyright AFP JOE KLAMAR
Elon Musk's company is set to launch four people into space Wednesday, on a three-day mission that is the first to orbit the Earth with exclusively private citizens - Copyright AFP JOE KLAMAR

SpaceTech Analytics (a global think-tank) has released an open-access 75-page analytical report titled “SpaceTech Government Activity 2021 / Q2 Landscape Overview”. The report is designed to provide tangible insights about international space industry development and trends on government agencies.

The project considers major industry trends and sector insights on some fifty government space agencies and another one hundred or so government-related entities. The report provides a broader picture of the international space industry from a state’s perspective.

Countries with the largest space budgets are analyzed within a comparison matrix. The analysis reflects the goals and capabilities of each country, helping to distinguish the major space nations together with the newly emerging space nations.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S., through NASA, the military, and successful commercial operators like SpaceX stands as the leading nation. The U.S. has a series of projects relating to the exploration of Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. In addition, the U.S. plans to launch what is being described as ‘the most powerful space telescope ever’ in late 2021. This is the James Webb Space Telescope (‘Webb’), an orbiting infrared observatory intended to complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The new telescope promises longer wavelength coverage and improved sensitivity, which will enable Webb to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies. In addition, the Webb will be used to explore inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems that are forming today.

Other leading players presented within the report are the Japanese JAXA and the European ESA, both of which are focused on “peaceful use of outer space”. This means the Japanese and European nations are focusing on making progress in technology and science through cooperation.

This is followed by the Arab and Indian programs which are  continuously working to become the significant players in the SpaceTech industry.

Lower down the league tables, the signs are that space is becoming relatively more accessible and affordable, with smaller countries launching satellites with less effort and with resources. Furthermore, technology has evolved that the proportion to satellite launches that are successful continues to grow. As examples, Kenya and Bahrain have joined the list of countries launching and operating satellites.

Commercial (that is non-governmental) space companies remain in their infancy, outside of the U.S. One exception is with New Zealand, which hosts the venture Rocket Lab. This company stands as a potential rival to SpaceX. Rocket Lab has developed a sub-orbital sounding rocket named Ātea. The company currently operates a lightweight orbital rocket termed Electron, which provides dedicated launches for small satellites and CubeSats (a type of miniaturized satellite for space research).

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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