Space Products and Services
Individuals, companies, and nations continue to create many other space-related products and services. Governments, which benefit directly and indirectly from new space products and services, often play an important supporting role in their development.
Products and services from space permeate daily life in a number of ways, many of which are not obvious. Fleets of satellites monitor the Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere, helping us improve our quality of life in a sustainable manner. Communications satellites provide greater connectivity, allowing humans to interact with each other and a wide array of technological systems.
Space products and services have become integrated into the global economy, and their significance continues to increase. Some of the ways in which space products and services support various sectors of the greater economy are highlighted in Exhibit 1c.
Use of satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing services such as GPS continues to grow worldwide. GPS is operated by the United States as a global utility in which U.S. taxpayers fund development and operations. Although GPS was developed and is maintained by the military, it is now offered free of charge to users around the globe.
While space remains remote and mysterious in many ways, it has also become a part of everyday life. A fleet of nearly 1,000 satellites orbiting high above provides a connection between space and life on Earth. These spacecraft explore the Solar System and the cosmos, collect information on the Earth’s climate and geography, link distant people and organizations, and relay information to and from the Earth.
Remote sensing satellites provide data to assess the scope and impact of disasters that have occurred. The information also enables planning for the mitigation of events that may occur. The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters provides a means for relief agencies to request satellite imagery of an area affected by a disaster.
Exhibit 2d contains a list of Space Foundation Space Technology Hall of Fame® Inductees for 2008.
Space-based capabilities are being fused to create useful capabilities. One new capability is described by the term “geoinformatics,” which involves the convergence of PNT, remote sensing, and position information of known objects to enable dynamic location-based content.
The primary industries using space-based products and services involve Earth-orbiting satellites used for communication; remote sensing and Earth observation; and position, navigation, and timing. An emerging sector of inspace products and services now includes personal spaceflight and private space research. Companies in this sector also support defense and civil government in-space programs.
Space products and services and their related space technology spinoffs have become part of the fabric of daily life in ways that people increasingly take for granted, and often in ways that do not even bring space to mind. The products and services that depend upon space platforms drive innovation and discovery while providing economic and environmental benefits in such spheres as communications, Earth observation, global positioning, and navigation.