Three Predictions for Space in 2021
Dec 31 / 2020
Written By Karol SperczyƄski
With all the recent advances in spaceflight technology and the downstream space asset market, many new companies taking root, and breakthrough projects reshaping the space sector, the upcoming year looks no further than to continue this trend of growth of the space economy. Here are some of the highlights of what the Copernic Space team is expecting from the Space sector in 2021:
Three Predictions for Space in 2021
Uncovering the truths of space takes time, but we're continually getting better at it. With the landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars, February will probably be quite an exciting time for space exploration. Aboard the mission is Ingenuity, more commonly known as the Mars Helicopter - the very first powered-flight vehicle on a planet other than Earth. This means that it's the first instrument to utilize propellers for achieving lift in another planet's atmosphere, and that is a big step forward. It will help to prove powered flight in the unforgiving Martian atmosphere, demonstrating the genius behind non-Earth-intended, miniaturized flying technology. This, in conjunction with the Perseverance Rover aperture, will generate a lot of data, hopefully leading to many discoveries in the following years. This mission will also further prepare us for the human exploration of Mars, as the Perseverance rover is fitted with an experimental oxygen utilization device, known as MOXIE. Thanks to missions such as this we may see major technological breakthroughs that will allow us to safely fly astronauts to other planets and back in the coming decades. The Artemis program, the exploration of Mars, and all of the advances made by private space launch providers are getting us closer to making human interplanetary travel possible.
Increased commercialization of digital space assets
With the emergence of smallsat mega-constellations, like SpaceX's Starlink Constellation, and the market of smallsat providers constantly widening, we generate & process increasingly more data in orbit every year. We're seeing many new players in the industry launch their own Earth Observation satellites which allow for obtaining more accurate environmental data and crucial satellite imagery. These privately owned satellites, like the ones in Maxar's constellation, provide the necessary data for major undertakings, allowing for better urban planning, a more effective way to design and oversee building infrastructure, and monitor environmental changes. These satellite constellations supply more space data than ever before and push the boundaries of what's possible on Earth. We are concurrently seeing the emergence of Web 3.0 applications which aim to streamline the process of acquiring satellite data for both the space industry and the outside industry players. These include the appearance of new digital marketplaces, the process of utilizing NFTs to represent space assets, and the creation of automated contract managers with the use of SmartContracts. Looking at this trend, it's fair to assume that in 2021 and the coming years these solutions will not only become popularized among data resellers but will also have an important effect on the space economy as a whole, simplifying and scaling up the commercialization of digital space assets across the global economy, unlike anything we've seen before.
Addressing space debris and environmental sustainability
As outlined in our previous article, we must address the topic of littering space as soon as possible. The earlier we take care of space debris, the higher the chance we won't have to deal with its appalling consequences in the future. Fortunately, this is not just a topic of planning for our future actions, as we are at the stage of testing out the technology we have in practice. ClearSpaceSA was recently tagged to manage the $100m ESA initiative to address the issue, all the while in March of 2021 Astroscale plans to launch its space debris removal satellite to demonstrate the key technologies behind keeping space clean & accessible in the long run. This mission, named ELSA-d, will consist of two satellites - a "Chaser" satellite designed by Astroscale, and a "Target" satellite provided by SSTL. While in orbit, these spacecraft will carry out a series of capture & release maneuvers that will supply the teams with the necessary information for further testing. If all goes well, we will see more companies like Astroscale and Clearspace Today ramping up the development of this tech, guiding us towards creating a sustainable space environment.

Starting in 2021, the upcoming years will be a very eventful time for the global space economy. Every day we gather crucial data that changes the world around us and leads to further developments in the space sector, and therefore, builds the future of mankind. Newer technologies, the decentralization of the space economy, a widening of the space market - all of these changes await us yet this upcoming year. We have an opportunity to use all of these innovations to our advantage, and for the good of the space environment. Let's build the future of space effectively and responsibly.


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