There has never been a more exciting time to work or be involved in the space industry, with new technologies emerging and new trends gaining traction.
From space traffic management that promises to facilitate space exploration and aid new discoveries to smaller satellites that can go where larger ones can’t, there are so many new innovations in the space sector to get excited about.
Whether you love everything about space and like to keep up with the latest advancements or work directly in the sector, the below eight latest developments in space technology promise to blow your mind and transform the way you look at space exploration.
Plus, find out where you can discover where you can find out more about the space industry and the latest technologies as and when they occur.
Advanced space manufacturing
To the uninitiated, space manufacturing is the process of adopting innovative technologies to improve existing space products and services.
Most recently, space manufacturing has embraced new technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, and light-based manufacturing to create superior products capable of so much more.
For example, larger space structures, reusable launch vehicles, space shuttles, and satellite sensors have all emerged due to advanced space manufacturing techniques.
Furthermore, automation has become increasingly important in space manufacturing, particularly for start-ups and space entrepreneurs who may not have the resources to launch new products and services.
Remember, automation isn’t here to take away jobs; it’s here to free up time for other, more important tasks that need to be done and could save start-ups a lot of money.
One of the top space industry trends for 2024, small satellites have become increasingly popular in the last few years due to their affordability and their ability to carry out missions that larger satellites cannot.
Not only are miniaturized satellites cheaper to make, meaning they can be easily mass-produced, but they can also provide more secure communications.
Small satellites are more suitable for proprietary wireless communications networks, gathering data and monitoring the Earth via GPS.
Space traffic management
Space junk is a big problem for the space industry, with the vast amount of debris hindering the future of space travel and exploration.
In particular, rocket thrusters, derelict satellites, and small fragments of debris from collisions and explosions are proving to be problematic.
To tackle this growing problem, start-ups have begun to develop solutions such as debris retrieval and space traffic management.
ClearSpace, for example, has developed technologies that remove unresponsive and derelict satellites. These small satellite solutions are due to remove the first pieces of debris from space in 2025.
Space activity management
Another emerging space trend that is gaining traction is space activity management, which involves the management of movement and activity in space.
These activities include tourism, industrial missions, food production, satellite servicing, and the improvement of space stations.
The most notable benefit of space activity management is that it allows the scientific community to study how living things behave in space.
Leviathan Space Industries, a US-based start-up, is developing a new space station network that uses artificial gravity to advance space travel, space trade, and tourism.
Meanwhile, Canadian start-up Obruta Space Solutions has developed a new product that enables new satellites to be serviced while in orbit.
Although collating space data is nothing new, new advances in space technology are allowing for a much greater scope of data, proving invaluable to the space sector.
Specifically, LEO satellites and multi-satellite constellations are used in space communications, spying, and monitoring of the Earth and other imaging applications.
Due to this large amount of data, start-ups have started to create solutions to help the space sector process, treat, analyze, and manage all this information quickly and effectively.
For example, Kleos, a Luxembourg-based start-up, uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to deliver data products that are tailored to each client’s bespoke requirements.
One of the biggest problems the space industry faces is the cost of leaving the Earth’s atmosphere to explore space, which means that many exciting space initiatives are currently unable to be launched due to budget restraints.
However, this is all set to change with the emergence of reusable rockets and reusable launch systems for orbital vehicles. These new technologies will also make routine space missions, such as launching satellites, a lot more economical.
Most notably, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin reusable rocket New Glenn is set to launch next year and is designed to be used up to 25 times. This mega-rocket will eventually be able to take humans to space as well as cargo.
Climate change initiatives
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in creating space technologies that help to combat climate change.
In fact, space technology has been recognized as one of the key industries in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2023 that the United Nations set.
One of the most effective examples of this is the reflective materials that were originally developed to conserve heat in space crafts are now being used to insulate buildings on Earth.
Due to this growing awareness of the correlation between space technology and climate change, world governments are choosing to invest in space innovations with the goal of tackling challenges on Earth that are caused by climate change.
An example of this is an initiative by MethaneSat which is designed to identify and track sources of methane emissions on Earth.
This highly important initiative is thought that as much as half of the rise in global temperatures is caused by methane emissions.
Travel to the moon
Although this has been put on the back burner for many years, there has recently been a renewed interest in traveling to the moon within the space industry.
NASA revealed its intent to return to the moon with both commercial and international partners as part of their overall agency Exploration Campaign.
This is set to commence with robotic missions on the lunar surface, the purchase of new small lunar payload delivery services, and the development of lunar landers.
One of the main reasons for this return to exploring the moon is to test technologies with the hope that they can be used to explore Mars.
Where can I find out more about space technology?
If you want to be the first to know about the latest technological developments in the space sector, then you need to visit https://www.thespacereport.org/about-memberships/.
The only place you need to go to find out about the global space ecosystem, the Space Report helps you understand beyond the numbers and find out what the latest trends mean for the industry and the world.
In particular, this report includes the latest information on:
- Government, military, and commercial space spending
- Launch and payload activity
- Emerging research and program development
- Public and private investment and market activity
- International workforce development and hiring
- International space policy
- The future of space exploration
As you can see, the last few years have been groundbreaking for space technology and the space industry itself, with vast advancements in innovations and solutions for the sector.
From traveling to the moon to preventing climate change, is there anything that today’s experts and entrepreneurs can’t do?
With an ever-expanding global space economy and the continued advances in commercial space travel, the future for the space industry is beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.
Whether you are hoping to one day visit space for yourself or you want to launch a career as a space entrepreneur, there has never been a better time to be involved in the space sector.