Definition of the Australian space sector

Date published:
1 June 2020

The space sector provides essential data and services for every day activities, from banking and internet access to knowing where you are.

Space also provides critical data that supports emergency management, planning, and weather forecasting, and inspires young people to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) domains.

The Australian Space Agency has produced a definition of the space sector that includes:

  • manufacturing
  • space operations
  • space applications
  • space enablers.

Defining the Australian Space Sector

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
  • 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. 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

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.

Activities included in the 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.

The Australian space sector value chain broadly includes four segments of activities. All actors (private, public and academic) participating in any activities which sit within these segments are part of the space sector.

Manufacturing and core inputs

Ground segment manufacturing and services:

  • The building and integration of ground-based facilities and equipment that perform space-related activities. Associated services, such as maintenance, are included within this category. For example, manufacturing a satellite dish and control facility that will receive data from, and transmit to, a satellite.

Space segment manufacturing and services:

  • The building and integration of items to go into space, including spacecraft, satellites, payloads and products to be used in space. For example, manufacturing a satellite that will perform earth observation.

Space operations

Launch activities, the management of objects in space, and activities associated with using and managing satellites in space. It also includes operations and remote operations conducted in space. For example, launching the satellite into space, monitoring space debris, or providing instructions to a satellite for earth observation images to capture.

Space applications

The use of space-derived resources to create usable and useful products and services, including software, hardware and publications, and services provided across the economy. Further, the application of space technologies and data to improve other areas of the economy. For example, producing the hardware and software to process earth observation imagery or direct to home television (DTH TV).

Enablers

Regulation and essential service delivery:

  • Policy and regulatory enablers of the space sector as a whole. For example, regulating launch safety.

Infrastructure and capabilities:

  • Infrastructure, both physical and intangible, that supports the space sector as a whole. It also includes the development of capabilities that are relevant to, and support, the development of the space sector. For example, roads and utilities that service a remote launch facility or education in engineering disciplines required to operate satellites.

Research, development and engineering:

  • Research, development and engineering that supports the activities of the space sector, including experimental and exploratory activities, and activities which test and refine technologies. For example, research into new extreme temperature resistant technologies or new data transfer processes.

Specialised support services:

  • The range of professional support services which directly contribute to, and enable, the activities that comprise the space sector. For example, a law firm that specialises in space law to help a launch operator manage their space-related activity and legal compliance.

Together these four segments of activities comprise the space sector value chain (Figure 2).

Value chain of the space sector

Figure 2

Space sector activities and examples

Manufacturing and core inputs (ground segment manufacturing and services):

  • building of facilities and equipment on Earth for satellite and space craft operations (for example, control centres, telemetry and antennae)
  • integration of facilities and equipment on Earth for satellite and space craft operations (for example, control centres, telemetry and antennae)
  • building of launch vehicles and subsystems, scientific instruments, ground segment systems and equipment
  • integration of launch vehicles and subsystems, scientific instruments, ground segment systems and equipment
  • services associated with ground segments (for example, day-to-day professional and technical operations of ground segment systems).

Manufacturing and core inputs (space segment manufacturing and services):

  • building of spacecraft, and any components thereof including propulsion systems, rockets, space craft and satellites
  • integration of spacecraft, and any components thereof including propulsion systems, rockets, space craft and satellites
  • building of payloads and their components, including but not limited to satellites, subsystems, and scientific instruments
  • integration of payloads and their components, including but not limited to satellites, subsystems, and scientific instruments
  • manufacturing of products for use in-space (for example, space suits and flight suits)
  • services associated with space segment manufacturing (for example, day-to-day professional and technical operations of space segment systems).

Space operations:

  • launch activities and launch services (for example, launch of a rocket from within Australia)
  • space object tracking and mission planning, including day-to-day management of satellites and spacecraft once they are in space (for example, telemetry, tracking and control, satellite passes), and space situational awareness (for example, monitoring, recovery operations and collision avoidance)
  • lease or sale of satellite capacity
  • uplinks and downlinks for signal processing to reception facility
  • operations and remote operations in space (for example, robotics in orbit and on the surface of the Moon or other celestial bodies, experiments conducted in space relating to biology, effects of microgravity on the human body, microgravity manufacturing in space).

Space applications:

  • satellite communications and broadband products and services (for example, mobile satellite communications, satellite internet systems, satellite data, satellite imaging and all other non-television satellite broadcasting, Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) transponder leasing, FSS managed services, direct to node communications)
  • direct to home television products and services
  • earth observation and associated communication and data products and services for use in other areas of the economy (for example, in weather, surveillance, agriculture, transportation and mining)
  • global positioning, navigation and timing products and services, GNSS services
  • advanced manufacturing and/or development of hardware that enables the transformation of space-derived resources into a usable/useful format (for example, network ground equipment and antennae such as antennae for satellite direct to home television, earth observation equipment, laser communications, chipsets and applications, cyber security and secure communication hardware)
  • development of software that enables the transformation of space-derived resources into a usable/useful format (for example, Earth observation software, cyber security and secure communication software, artificial intelligence for on-board satellite data processing)
  • internet of Things services for sensors and sensor networks using satellites
  • functional publications, such as atlases and maps, that use space-based data.

Regulation and essential service delivery:

  • establishing and enforcing legislation, regulations and standards, both domestically and as part of international agreements
  • domestic and international policymaking relating to space-related activities
  • facilitation of domestic and international connections between actors in the global space economy.

Infrastructure and capabilities:

  • construction and maintenance of common facilities and communications infrastructure
  • infrastructure needed to support the Internet of Things
  • education and training in space-related disciplines, including outreach and science communication (for example, education programs such as ‘space camp’, and production of educational space history books)
  • coordination and services which enable space sector actors throughout the value chain.

Research, development and engineering:

  • R&D related to non-commercial or pre-commercial activities (for example, research activities carried out at universities with a view to advancing space technologies)
  • planetary science, astronomy, astrophysics, advanced materials for space, atmospheric science, and astrobiology
  • space medicine
  • design of spacecraft, satellites and payloads or components thereof (for example, design of cubesats, launch vehicle cargo capacity, sensors, spacecraft propulsion systems)
  • testing of spacecraft, satellites and payloads or components thereof (for example, scientific testing facilities, testing of light launch vehicles and propulsion technologies, heat treatment for space segments, space simulation services to test vacuum and thermal conditions of space)
  • design of ground segment equipment, hardware and components (for example, improvements to antenna design)
  • testing of ground segment equipment, hardware and components (for example, testing of dish antennae, mobile satellite terminals, satellite radios)
  • design of software necessary for space applications (for example, software design for a satellite phone)
  • testing of software necessary for space applications (for example, testing of software for a satellite phone).

Specialised support services:

  • launch and satellite insurance (including brokerage) services
  • specialised space-related financial and legal services
  • development of software and IT services that directly support space-related activity
  • specialised space-related market research and consultancy services (for example, space-related brokerage services)
  • business incubation and development that directly supports space sector activity
  • specialised communication, media and outreach services for space and space science
  • health services associated with astronauts’ health on space missions and provision of space specific medical services.

Footnotes

  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.