Queensland's space industry facing large growth outlook

04 September 2019 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read
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Queensland appears to be riding the wave of space technology, which is sweeping across the Australian market and the global economy as a whole. By 2035, total revenue of Queensland’s space industry alone could potentially amount to more than $2.5 billion, if a high rate of growth is achieved.

Exploration aside, a substantial chunk of investment in the global space industry is deployed towards making life on earth easier. The gradual digitalisation of businesses across the globe has been accompanied by widespread recognition of the potential that space technology holds to enhance operations and solve problems.

This worldwide realisation is evident from the figures surrounding the global space industry, which currently stands at a value of nearly $350 billion. Morgan Stanley anticipates monumental growth in this sector over the next decade, predicting a value of more than $1 trillion by 2040.

Economic perspective of the space economy

Businesses across Australia are privy to the benefits of space technology as well. In September this year, Deloitte and Amazon are set to host a space technology challenge in Adelaide in collaboration with the South Australian government, indicating the involvement of the public and the private sectors in developing space technology capabilities.

Queensland's space industry

Queensland appears to be just as deeply immersed in the world of space technology, according to a new report from Deloitte. The report highlights that current revenues from Queensland’s space sector alone amount to as much as $760 million, while the sector adds value of $500 million to the economy.

The sector also employs approximately full time employees at present, indicating its overall economic value. To obtain a nuanced picture of the space technology sector and develop a detailed economic model, Deloitte has broken operations in the space sector down into five broad domains.

Space industry revenue by sub-sector

The first sub-sector is ‘satellite communications’, which includes satellite internet systems, satellite data, satellite imaging and other non-television satellite broadcasting. The second sub-sector is the ‘direct-to-home television’ (DTH TV) technology, which includes both the paid television segment and the free-to-air segment.

‘Earth observation and ground station infrastructure operation’ makes up the third sub-sector, encompassing base stations, ground stations, observatories and radars, in addition to a variety of other equipment that is required to “uplink, operate and track satellite systems,” states the report.

The fourth sub-sector created by Deloitte is ‘space technology manufacturing,’ which includes the development of high-technology materials, nanosatellites, nanosatellite components, satellite subsystems and “other space-related components and products.”

Lastly, Deloitte has clubbed activity such as space research, space launching facilities and ancillary space services into a fifth sub-sector labeled ‘other space-related services.’

Revenue projections for Queensland’s space industry

“The activities listed in each segment of the space industry are aligned to the Australian New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) 2006, where practical to do so. Shares to allocate national industry revenue are based on Queensland employment data by industry and place of work - 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Queensland’s share of national earth observation and ground station infrastructure operations revenue is based on research conducted by IBIS World. The share of revenue from ‘other activities’ is an average of other industry segments given the products and services produced by this segment (e.g. space related research),” reads the report.

The satellite communications sub-sector in Queenslad currently holds the highest value. The segment has a substantial indirect economic contribution as well, given its role in the growth of the navigation and mobility sector, among a number of others. Queenslands biggest direct contributions contribution to the national space economy, however, comes in the space technology manufacturing and the DTH TV domains at present. According to Deloitte, contributions across the board are only likely to increase in years to come.

At a high growth rate, the space economy in Queensland could be generating revenues in excess of $2.5 billion by 2035. At a medium growth rate, this figure would drop to $2 billion over the same period, while a conservative growth rate still foresees a revenue spike of more than $1.5 billion.