The role of space in driving sustainability, security, and development on Earth

 The role of space in driving sustainability, security, and development on Earth

A new report by McKinsey & Company reveals five actions that space leaders can take to contribute to economic development, advance global security and sustainability, and make space a safe and globally accessible domain.

Space Renaissance

The world is in a space renaissance. Expanding activity in space is beginning to outpace governance, technological progress is increasing accessibility, commercial funding is at an all-time high, and more nations and companies are clamouring to be part of the activity. Already space plays a role in advancing global sustainability and security priorities, but the potential is even greater. The future is in the balance, and all stakeholders have the capability to contribute to a more successful sector.

Advancements in space technology over the past decade have opened access to more players, unlocked new use cases, and positioned space to help address significant global priorities. Throughout, international and cross-sector collaboration has occurred in several areas.

However, the accelerating growth of the space sector and complex global dynamics pose a risk to continued international collaboration, the longevity of governance frameworks, and, thus, industrial progress in the ecosystem. To fully realize the benefits of space, the international community will likely need to quickly consider how to intentionally maintain space as an arena of collaboration.

Report co-written with World Economic Forum

This McKinsey report (download from here, free registration with McKinsey required)—a collaborative effort with the World Economic Forum, and informed by the views of approximately 100 industry leaders—describes potential scenarios for the future of space. It identifies five actions that could put the industry on the path to more positive outcomes, in which the full benefits of the space economy are realized.

We invite you to read the report to learn more on what industry leaders believe it will take to put each of these actions into practice—and why these are keys to unlocking the potential of the future space economy.

The future of space is in humankind’s hands. By taking the right actions today, there may be lasting benefits from a peaceful and vibrant space sector that creates economic value, and also enhances the sustainability, security, and accountability of actors on Earth.

Leaders suggest that the international community should prioritise the definition of ownership, access, and usage rights for conflict points in space (image: McKinsey & Company)

Five actions for the space sector

McKinsey Space Advisors Group member and ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher summarised the five actions that leaders can take to maximize the potential of the space sector and its benefits for humanity.

  1. Effective space governance: effective space governance is needed to maintain responsible behaviour and preserve space as an arena for all. We must define rights for space property while enforcing standards to protect infrastructure, human life, & the environment.
  2. Invest resources and effort in enabling technologies and capabilities: this is critical to the development of longer-horizon technologies and capabilities that can contribute to a sustainable space sector.
  3. Incentivize collaboration among nations, sectors, and industries: this is vital to accelerate technological development, increase inclusiveness and expand participation, and to promote peaceful practices. Space can continue to be an exemplar of international cooperation.
  4. Foster a self-sustaining industrial base: this is crucial for a healthy transition from start-up to self-sustaining business and in fostering the emergence of a private space industry in interested nations.
  5. Leverage the space sector more to advance sustainability and security: Space can play a central role in sustainability and security agendas, provided that the international community accelerates in relevant technologies and domains.

Read the full McKinsey report and more

In addition to the actual 46-page McKinsey report, please see this article on space sustainability, reporting from the sessions at Space Tech Expo Europe 2021.

Remco Timmermans

Related post