Mar 2, 2022
RAND was commissioned by the UK Space Agency to conduct a study exploring the variety of possible future uses of space out to 2050 and identifying potential 'game-changers' and the implications for the UK space sector. The research provided a description of how the way we use space will change, who the key space actors will be, and how well-placed the UK is to address these future trends in the space economy.
Does not include Technical Annex
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Recent years have witnessed major changes in how humans are utilising space. Access to and use of space has become essential to modern digital society and many aspects of everyday life. The number of space-related activities conducted by government, military and commercial actors around the world is increasing. This second 'space race', brings both threats and opportunities to the UK's economy, security, interests, values and way of life.
To help the UK navigate this landscape of threats and opportunities, RAND conducted a study for the UK Space Agency to explore the variety of possible future uses of space out to 2050, as well as to identify potential 'game-changers' and the implications for the UK space sector. The research explored how the way we use space will change, who the key space actors will be, and how well-placed the UK is to address these future trends in the space economy.
The research found that the development of new space markets and use cases out to 2050 may render the space sector increasingly inseparable from the wider economy. This is based on projections for the future of space that reflect the increasingly multi-stakeholder nature of the space economy and the growing integration of space-based and terrestrial activities. Significant change is expected both in the upstream segment—activities related to sending spacecraft and satellites into space—and downstream segment—activities using space data to offer products, services and ground segment applications—of the space economy.
We identified around 200 potential use cases and organised these into 15 clusters:
Mapping potential future uses of space
Future upstream markets and applications out to 2050
Future downstream markets and applications out to 2050
Enablers and barriers for future uses of space out to 2050
Conclusions and implications for the UK