Nothing exciting has happened in the space industry for the past fifty years. We even stopped dreaming of becoming astronauts, it all dragged on. But this year has become a landmark. If we focused solely on the positive news of 2020, then breakthroughs in the space sector would definitely top the ranking of the best events for all of humanity.
In a time of general uncertainty in the space industry, everything went more or less according to plan. Crew Dragon flew this year, and with it began commercial flights of SpaceX. At the end of last year, Virgin Galactic went public and announced plans to develop space tourism, but so far, due to the pandemic, it has decided to postpone test flights. One way or another, the five leaders of the IT industry - Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft - are leading their own space initiatives. Everyone is going into space, thanks to good news, it is already becoming mainstream, and it is in connection with space that the next big economic breakthrough may be made.
It is believed that the era of commercial space exploration really began in 2009 with the first delivery of commercial cargo by SpaceX into orbit. And in 2015, an important event happened - US President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act - a document that essentially allowed American companies to explore and use space resources. After that, private investment in the space industry began to skyrocket. The world was promised space tourism, constellations of satellites and inexpensive Internet available anywhere on Earth, faster travel from one place on the planet to another, the development of science, the colonization of Mars and other tempting and long-awaited opportunities for all mankind.
Having succeeded in delivering cargo for government agencies and commercial companies, SpaceX went further and in 2020 successfully sent a ship on its first commercial flight with two astronauts on board, and then with four. These two launches marked the beginning of regular commercial astronaut flights. In addition, the company is developing its subsidiary Starlink, which has already become the world's largest operator of communications satellites. In the fall, the company offered test access to satellite Internet capabilities to the first users in the United States, and the positive feedback from customers allows us to hope for further development of this segment.
This year alone, $ 17.5 billion was invested in space companies. The pandemic did not become a big obstacle to the implementation of the industry's plans
Recently, companies have been making a lot of efforts to speed up development. For example, in November, NASA announced 20 partnership agreements aimed at bringing "commercial space technologies to maturity." Selected companies that NASA will support with its human and technical resources include SpaceX, Blue Origin and Rocket Lab.
Someone will attribute the beginning of a new milestone in the world history of space to Elon Musk, someone will say that NASA made the right decision, deciding to switch from the main driver of space development in the United States to the side of consuming space services, and Donald Trump will stand on the fact that it is his merit.
The most significant event in recent years is that private capital has finally come into space, and this is a potentially huge investment even in comparison with the state. More money means more initiatives, research, progress. This year alone, $ 17.5 billion was invested in space companies. The pandemic did not become a big obstacle to the implementation of the industry's plans, largely, of course, because this is not a segment of individual consumption.
As expected, satellite launches have dropped in price (thanks in large part to SpaceX), which means space has become more accessible to small and start-up companies. The number of companies whose activities are related to space and the data obtained from there has increased, as well as the number of satellite launches. In addition, satellites have become much lighter and smaller, and rockets have become larger. This means that more of them can be put into orbit at a time than before.