Defining the Australian space sector

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Definition of the Australian Space Sector

The Australian space sector is defined as a set of space-related activities along the space value chain and is part of the broader space economy.

All actors (private, public and academic) participating in production, operation, supply and enablement activities that form the space value chain are part of the space sector. Space value chain segments broadly include: Manufacturing and core inputs (Ground and Space segment manufacturing and services); space operations; space applications; and enablers (such as regulation and essential service delivery, infrastructure and capabilities, research, development and engineering, and specialised support services).

While the space sector captures the provision of space related goods, services and applications to broader industries, it does not include subsequent non-space (value adding) activities that are enabled by space activities (such as food grown using precision agriculture techniques). These flow-on activities are captured by the broader space economy.

This definition of the Australian space sector has drawn on the current Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) definition for the space economy (Figure 1). The OECD definition has also been used by New Zealand[1] , Canada[2] and the United Kingdom[3]. This definition allows for:

  • Comparability and consistency with other international space sectors.
  • Consistency for what is included while the Australian space sector continues to grow and change.

It is a wide-ranging definition which provides the foundation for defining the activities that occur within the space sector (as outlined in Section 2.0).

Figure 1 | OECD definition of the space economy

Definition of the Space Economy

The Space Economy is the full range of activities and the use of resources that create and provide value and benefits to human beings in the course of exploring, understanding, managing and utilising space. Hence, it includes all public and private actors involved in developing, providing and using space-related products and services, ranging from research and development, the manufacture and use of space infrastructure ([such as] ground stations, launch vehicles and satellites) to space-enabled applications ([such as] navigation equipment, satellite phones, meteorological services etc.) and the scientific knowledge generated by such activities. It follows that the space economy goes well beyond the space sector itself, since it also comprises the increasingly pervasive and continually changing impacts (both quantitative and qualitative) of space-derived products, services and knowledge on economy and society.[4]

As implied by the OECD definition of the space economy, the space sector is a subset of the space economy. The space economy extends into the broader Australian economy ‘through the increasingly pervasive and continually changing impact of space-derived products, services and knowledge’. Therefore, to measure the value of the Australian space sector means to only consider the space-related activity that is contributing to the broader space economy; and not all the benefits in other industries due to space-related activity.

This definition is used by the Australian Space Agency to measure and monitor the Australian space sector’s performance against the targets set out in the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-28.


  1. OECD Space Forum, OECD Handbook on Measuring the Space Economy, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, 2012, p. 20.
  2. Deloitte Access Economics, New Zealand Space Economy: Its value, scope and structure, New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Wellington, 2019.
  3. Economic Analysis and Research Team, Policy Branch of the Canadian Space Agency, State of the Canadian Space Sector Report 2018, Canadian Space Agency, Quebec, 2018.
  4. London Economics, Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2018, UK Space Agency, London, 2019.