The new space race is truly underway following Richard Branson's monumental first passenger trip to space, beating Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin passenger flight by more than a week. The Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spacecraft did not pass the so-called Karman line, but Bezos' flight did. Branson's did, however, reach the edge of space, according to NASA's definition. After 17 years, what an amazing accomplishment of vision, tenacity, and innovation.
There is even more to space innovation than the fledgling space tourism sector. Somewhat out of the public eye, there is a fast-growing space tech industry. Space tech is more important to modern business than perhaps most people realize. It is one of many other emerging technology changes happening quietly, off the radar of many clients. The concept of space-as-a-service has shifted from real estate into orbit as software-as-a-service models take the space sector by storm. Space has the potential to be the cloud beyond the clouds, with entrepreneurs large and small creating a global space tech ecosystem covering data and artificial intelligence systems, aerial imagery, remote sensing and more. Space tech importantly also promises full high-speed, low-latency global internet access no matter how remote you are.
Morgan Stanley's Space Team estimates that the roughly $350 billion global space industry could surge to over $1 trillion by 2040. But there have been many hurdles to date, with more barriers to overcome, mostly to do with cost, complexity and concerns over space debris.
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