While there are still tons of economic problems around the globe, the commercial space industry seems to be avoiding at least some of those bumps as a new study shows the total investment in that industry has risen by 20% since January 2008, reaching a total of $1.46 billion.
While that number may be modest considering some of the billions this country has tossed into bailing out banks and fighting two wars, the commercial space race is quietly warming up.
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The study, done by researchers at the Tauri Group and commissioned by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation said revenues and deposits for commercial human spaceflight services, hardware, and support services has also grown, reaching a total of $261 million for the year 2008.
The Federation says that when you combine NASA, other government agencies, and commercial customers, the commercial orbital spaceflight industry is planning over 40 flights to orbit between now and 2014.
The study was based on a survey of 22 companies engaged in commercial human spaceflight activities, including Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Scaled Composites, Space Adventures and Space X.
A few choice findings from the study:
There have been other indicators that the commercial space arena could be on the upswing. Last week the Federal Aviation Administration said it would streamline the environmental review part of permit applications for the launch and/or reentry of reusable suborbital rockets to help bolster a fledgling commercial space market.
NASA recently said it would partner with the US Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a technology roadmap for use of reusable commercial spaceships. The study of reusable launch vehicle or RLVs will focus on identifying technologies and assessing their potential use to accelerate the development of commercial reusable launch vehicles that have improved reliability, availability, launch turn-time, robustness and significantly lower costs than current launch systems, NASA stated. The study results will provide roadmaps with recommended government technology tasks and milestones for different vehicle categories.
NASA also recently said it would offer $50 million in stimulus money to further develop private commercial spacecraft. NASA said its Commercial Crew and Cargo Program looks to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective capabilities to transport cargo and eventually crew to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.
Meanwhile the aerospace consultancy Futron recently said that as much as $1.5 billion may be up for grabs for commercial space operation in the next ten years.
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