한때 우주는 정부가 독점하던 분야였습니다. 하지만 이제는 비전과 모험심을 갖춘 민간 기업들의 새로운 시대를 열어가기 위한 장으로 급부상하고 있습니다. 바야흐로 "뉴 스페이스(New Space)"의 시대가 도래한 것입니다.
업계 관계자들이 "뉴 스페이스"라 칭하는 상업 우주 산업은 지난 10년간 70%이상 성장했습니다. 전 세계 우주 산업을 지지하는 미국의 비영리 단체인 우주 재단(Space Foundation)은 우주 산업의 현재 가치를 4,250억 달러 이상으로 추산하고 있습니다. Morgan Stanley의 최근 연구 조사에 따르면 2040년이면 1조 5천억 달러에 육박할 것이라고 합니다.
여기 "뉴 스페이스"의 급격한 성장세를 보여주는 한 가지 지표가 있습니다. 2020년 초에 수십 개의 기업이 대형 주방 냉장고 크기의 "소형 위성(SmallSats)"을 제작하고 수 백 개의 스타트업이 우주라는 다차원 영역에서 기회를 찾기 시작했다는 것입니다.
Morgan Stanley의 자동차 및 공유 모빌리티 글로벌 책임자인 Adam Jones는 "기업가, 전략적 파트너십 및 벤처 캐피털이 자금 투자를 이끌어 오기는 했지만, 우주 경제의 장기적 성공을 위해서는 자적 에코시스템이 필요합니다."라고 강조했습니다.
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The Earth and moon as seen from space. While such views traditionally have been captured by government-run space exploration programs, a host of 21st-century private businesses are now focusing on commercial ventures in space. It’s a trend known in the industry as New Space. (Image © Mark Garlick / Science Photo Library)
SpaceX is launching a constellation of low-Earth Starlink satellites to deliver broadband internet to consumers worldwide – just one example of how private firms are commercializing space. Initial plans call for 12,000 Starlink satellites, but SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said that number could grow to 42,000 over the new few decades – 15 times the number of operational satellites already in orbit. Image © SpaceX)
New Space has two distinct sectors: one focused on satellites, and a second focused on space exploration, interplanetary travel, cargo transport and colonization of the moon and Mars. The Space X Starship prototype, shown here, falls into the latter category. “Until five to 10 years ago, no one could have imagined a private-sector company taking on such challenges,” said Sinéad O’Sullivan, a space economist and entrepreneurial fellow at Harvard Business School. (Image © SpaceX)
New Zealand-based Rocket Lab focuses on launching satellites with just a 4-month wait, via its augmented Electron smallsat launch vehicle service. The company also manufactures satellites; its Photon can carry payloads as heavy as 375 pounds (170 kilograms). To deal with the challenge of “space junk,” Rocket Lab also has demonstrated a “drag sail” technology for moving out-of-service satellites into Earth’s atmosphere, where friction incinerates them. (Image © Rocket Lab)
As the New Space industry grows, experts predict technician shortfalls will number in the hundreds of thousands. Alleviating the shortages will require stepped-up public/ private partnerships to develop accelerated training programs, plus efforts to attract Millennial and Gen Z workers. “The passion of these two generations is what’s going to keep interest in space going over the next several decades,” said Ashley MacNeill, co-head of Morgan Stanley’s technology equity capital markets. Shown here, technicians in the main control room at the German Aerospace Center in Wessling, Germany, follow a launch to the International Space Station. (Image © Matthias Balk / picture alliance via Getty Images)
The New Space model begins with launching payloads, like this liftoff of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket on a mission for NASA. “No launch, no space,” said Phillip Ingle, a managing director in investment banking at Morgan Stanley. “Companies are trying to continually lower launch costs until [rockets] can be thought of as another form of transportation – the bus that gets you there.” Lower costs facilitate the New Space ecosystem’s virtuous cycle: Launch companies depend on satellites to earn revenues, and satellite companies need launch companies to put their customers’ payloads into orbit. (Image © Trevor Mahlmann)
Commercial satellites account for nearly 75% of New Space business. Driven by lower costs for satellite manufacturing and launch, plus booming demand for internet connectivity and Earth imagery, 2020 saw a record 955 satellites launched, eclipsing the 2019 record of 385. Microsoft’s Azure Global, for example, has teamed with SpaceX Starlink to focus on space-based cloud computing. Shown here: An artist’s rendering of a spacecraft bus deploying a SpaceX Starlink satellite, which will then propel itself into an orbital plane. (Image © SpaceX)
Lowering the cost of putting satellites into orbit democratizes space development, and Zero 2 Infinity has patented and is implementing a low-cost method that also eliminates most of the pollution caused by rocket launches. The Barcelona-based business uses a balloon (partially visible on left edge of image) to lift a Bloostar pod to the upper edge of the Earth’s atmosphere; Bloostar's low-cost 3D-printed rockets complete the journey. Then Bloostar opens and releases the satellite into its proper orbit. Zero 2 Infinity's process eliminates the need for complex launch vehicles and expensive launch sites, allowing for small satellite launches with lower environmental impacts and greater economic efficiency. (Image © Zero 2 Infinity)
The prospect of space tourism fires the imagination, and privately funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflightservices company Axiom Space plans a 10-day excursion to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2021. In 2024, Axiom plans a series of missions to assemble a new, commercial space station. Initially attached to ISS, the station is designed break away from and replace the aging facility in the 2028-2030 time frame. “We believe building a platform attached to ISS … is critically important to the success of growing an economy in low-Earth orbit,” Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said. (Image © Axiom Space)
Startup Interstellar Lab designs what it calls “experimental bioregenerative stations” or EBIOS – self-contained and self-sustaining closed-loop habitats. Beginning with installations on Earth, EBIOS environments provide a testing ground for more sustainable methods of water recycling, food production and waste management. The ability to renew, restore and revitalize resources represents a vital step toward protecting the future of life on Earth and, one day, building settlements on Mars. (Image © Interstellar Lab)
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