The increasingly technical nature of society drives a greater need for STEM skills to support it, and dramatic growth in the number of STEM jobs reflects this trend. However, some reports suggest that STEM graduates—those degreed in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics—are not meeting this need. . .
The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is at the core of the space industry—from the mathematicians and astronomers who analyze space to the engineers who design and build the launch vehicles that get us there. This workforce is enabled . . .
Iran made another tentative foray into the global launch family during 2015. The country’s attempt gave it a ##% share of orbital SLVs launched globally. In 2015, ## Safir rocket was launched out of Semnan, Iran. ## lofted ## Earth observation satellite into orbit.
China’s most recent human mission to space was in June 2013, when three taikonauts docked a capsule with the Tiangong-1 space station. Since then, China has announced plans to launch a second space station, Tiangong-2, to replace Tiangong-1. The Chinese government continued assembling and testing Tiangong-2 in 2015, intending to launch it into orbit sometime in 2016. A subsequent crewed mission, Shenzhou-11, would be launched later in 2016. The crew will dock with the Tiangong-2 and may stay in the space station as long as a month.
In 2015, Russia continued to be the only nation flying humans into space since June 2013. The Russian Soyuz capsule was conceived, designed, and first launched nearly five decades prior to 2015. The Soyuz space launch vehicle that boosted the Soyuz capsule into space has an even longer heritage. The first of its family launched as the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, and a succeeding generation launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. Capsule and launch vehicle continued to be modified over the years, enabling them to remain in service.
Nearly five years have passed since the United States stepped back from launching humans with its own space vehicles, the last of which flew in July 2011. The country conducts human operations in space on the ISS, contracting the launch of U.S. astronauts through the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. In August 2015, NASA reserved six seats for 2018 from the Russians for $490 million. NASA’s leadership reported that the contract was necessary due to underfunding of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which reduced NASA’s ability to support private companies developing human space launch capabilities.
While multiple satellite radio companies have been started over the past decade, the only one currently operating is Sirius XM, based in the United States. Sirius XM had $## billion in revenue in 2015. The company has 29.6 million subscribers, and this is expected to grow, driven primarily by increasing sales of new cars. Three out of four new vehicles sold in the United States include a Sirius XM receiver and a free trial period, and ##% of those continue the service, becoming paying customers.
Satellites in geostationary orbit are capable of broadcasting signals over very large areas, making them ideal for distribution of television and radio signals around the world. Digital TV Research Limited, a market research firm, estimated that global satellite television revenues would overtake global cable television revenues in 2015. Satellite television is the largest contributor to the commercial space products and services category, making up ##% of this sector.
Independent Research and Development (IR&D) refers to a contractor’s own investment in research and development studies into promising technologies of potential interest to government or commercial customers. Companies can recover a portion of these costs as overhead on current government contracts. In 2015, IR&D spending was estimated to be $## million. Government entities, including Air Force Space Command, engage with industry to provide information about government needs and strategic goals and to learn about industry research. To ensure better alignment between government needs and industry IR&D activities, the Pentagon announced a rule in 2015 requiring companies to brief the DoD before and after an IR&D project, beginning in FY 2017.
Infrastructure support industries include activities that do not directly involve development or use of space assets, but are necessary to the smooth operation and advancement of the industry. This category includes space insurance and privately funded research and development. Space premiums in 2015 amounted to $## million, their lowest level since 2001. Seven events, including both launch failures and incidents involving satellites in orbit, led to market losses of $## million, resulting in $## million in profits. This is a significant decrease from the $## million in profits in 2014, but an increase from the $## million in losses in 2013.