Oxford Smart Space: pathways to space

Talk of space as a new ‘market’ understates what’s going on, says expert panel.

Representing around $700 billion in revenue today, growth of 9% year on year, and an expectation that by 2035 the sector will be worth $1.8 trillion, it is no wonder that the space economy is an exciting prospect for governments, established companies and ventures at all stages. But as this panel discussion shows, it is much more than a new market - encompassing at least three distinct areas of activity:

  • position, navigation and timing (GPS and similar services)
  • earth observation (for use in agriculture, water etc)
  • telecommunications

Hosted by Michele Scataglini, Associate Fellow at Oxford Saïd, our featured speakers explore their different perspectives on space as a commercial opportunity and ask how the public and private sectors, incumbents and new ventures will work together to shape this rapidly developing ecosystem.

Dr Saoud Humid Salim Al Shoaili, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, Sultanate of Oman, provides fascinating insights into the mindset and decisions of a government that has embraced space as part of the strategic plan for the country. He explains how, having recognised space as a standalone sector only in 2020, Oman was deliberate about how it should position itself. With established ground stations and a good geographical location, it decided that its space strategy would be based on maximising value through collaboration and partnerships, leaving the door open for external investors.

Yasrine Ibnyahya, Inmarsat, part of Viasat, describes their rapid evolution as the market has evolved. Originally designed to serve maritime aviation, Viasat quickly moved into passenger connectivity and cockpit communication. Now they are seeing increasing demand for satellite services to complement and enable drones – and in the future, they will be vital to the safety, resilience and reliability of flying taxis. There is even the potential to use it in managing normal car traffic.

Manny Shar, Orbit Fab, takes a broad view, observing that ‘space is increasingly contested and congested’ and that there is a continuing need for coordination. It is an unbalanced ecosystem too: the individual billionaires interested in space operate according to different rules.

Watch the event.

Pathways to space

Linked to our latest Oxford Smart Space series we have a new Oxford Answers series on the space economy.

In our first piece, Marc Ventresca and Michele Scataglini outline how incumbent firms, ventures and other agencies are (re)engaging with the space economy and they have five early lessons and observations from the project.