2020 has marked one of the most ambitious years to date for space exploration, showing serious participation from more countries than ever before. Yet, institutions must still manage budgets while pursuing these lofty goals. This leaves us to ask: how do companies balance the weight of a considerable launch cost, and what can nations expect in return from a mission to Mars or the moon?
Why Do Nations Invest In Space Exploration?
The established purpose of most space pursuits is to acquire scientific knowledge. However, investing in pursuits such as a mission to Mars can bring benefits far beyond just scientific discovery. One of these indirect advantages is the invention of new technologies. NASA alone is responsible for countless industry-shaping inventions ranging from LEDs to memory foam, which have contributed massively to domestic industry.
The indirect benefit of space exploration becomes even more essential as more countries like China and the UAE expand their research programs. The increasing number of participants in space exploration means that countries will have increasing incentives to stay competitive with advancing telecommunication and security-centered technology.
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What Is The ROI Of Space Missions?
Though space exploration presents many advantages, do these benefits actually exceed the hefty upfront costs? The situation looks promising for public institutions. A recent report from NASA (obviously not an impartial arbiter) nevertheless determined that the agency generated more than $64B in total economic output in 2019. This came at a considerable 200% return on NASA’s budget ($22B) and accounted for data such as technological innovation, job creation, and tax revenue.
The situation also appears reassuring for private enterprises. Even with a nascent market and sizable SpaceX launch cost, Elon Musk’s flagship Falcon 9 can generate a 24% ROI upon launch. As the industry grows, private companies will continue to search for even greater opportunities to expand margins and revenue. For some startups, like Spanish-based Zero 2 Infinity, this even means using helium balloons to begin sending humans into space.
Space exploration will continue growing in both size and scope in the coming years. The industry presents an array of technological benefits that can fuel domestic growth. While the ROI of a space mission isn’t certain, the industry holds promise for its revenue-generating capabilities. Whether it is through helium balloons or a mission to Mars, companies and countries alike should be ready as the space exploration industry takes flight!
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