Two items stand out as primary examples of astronomers’ concerns: the SpaceX Starlink constellation due to its number of satellites and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite due to its size — 693 square feet6 — which ranks as the largest commercial communications array in space.
The number of U.S. launch at- tempts climbed from 87 in 2022 to 116 last year. The number of U.S. launches has more than doubled since 2021, which saw 51 launch attempts.
But every technological leap in clock accuracy can’t overcome the wobbly planet’s ability to throw off timing standards. Using leap seconds, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures has changed clocks to match the astronomical time on Earth 27 times.
Universities across the globe are building an increasingly large presence in space by attaching student satellite projects to launches. Since the advent of nanosatellites and CubeSats, the barrier to space entry has never been lower for students.
The PwC study showed the lunar economy could be worth as much as $100 billion by 2040.
The most significant human spaceflight trend in recent years has been a shift to focus on diversification.
Operating in the space sector involves risks. Space launch is complex and launch failures are possible, even for well-established vehicles. New vehicles typically carry even greater risk. Once spacecraft successfully reach orbit, issues may arise due to factors such as space weather, space debris and a crowded orbital environment. To deal with these risks, many companies in the space sector invest in space insurance. As of 2023, there were about 25 direct space insurance companies worldwide.
Orbital launch attempts have more than tripled since a lull in activity in the early 2000s bottomed out at 55 attempts in 2004. Part of the rapid growth in the past few years is due to a sharp increase in launch vehicle operators after a long period with an average just shy of 10 distinct operators per year.
Two of the top three launch operators — CNSA and SpaceX — have contributed to overall launch activity growth by exponentially increasing their pace, while the third — Roscosmos — decreased its annual launches by 42% from 2000 to 2022.
“Space education, research, and workforce development in the public and private sectors are core components of the U.S. national interest, with the potential to drive exploration and scientific discovery, to find new solutions for pressing challenges, including climate change, to strengthen American national security, and to provide good-paying jobs for Americans,” the roadmap document states.