The Deep Tech of Space Exploration

19 Oct 2023

Space Exploration

From the early ages, humanity has been fascinated with space and celestial bodies such as the Moon, Sun, and Stars. Curiosity in the enigmatic cosmos has driven significant themes of space exploration across literature, art, and science.

Space exploration is defined as “the investigation of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere, by means of crewed and uncrewed space missions, to leverage the cosmic information for humanity.” In the words of Neil Armstrong, an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969, space exploration is “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Space exploration includes space observation and discovery, comprehending scientific principles, and utilizing cosmic knowledge to fulfill human objectives.

Space exploration activities majorly involve satellite deployment for communication, navigation, weather forecasting, and scientific research. Deep space missions, such as planetary exploration, study the composition, geology, and potential resources of planets, Moons, asteroids, and comets. Moreover, the development of advanced technologies, such as advanced propulsion systems, life support systems, and advanced space materials, is covered under the wide expanse of space exploration.

This article covers a comprehensive overview of space exploration, emerging technologies, challenges, and opportunities in space exploration.

History of Space Exploration

Science fiction writers such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Arthur C. Clarke inspired space exploration theories and applications. Scientists such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Robert Goddard were also inspired, subsequently leading to the documentation of rocketry theory in the early 20th century.

The Cold War between the two superpowers, i.e., the U.S. and the Soviet Union, resulted in a space race as space exploration technology began to develop at a rapid pace. The launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 by the Soviet Union marked the beginning of the space age. Moreover, later in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, and shortly after, Alan Shepard followed as the first American in space.

Furthermore, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) created history with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, as Neil Armstrong and Edwin Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon. Six more Apollo missions followed, making lunar exploration a reality.

In 1975, the space race ended with the joint efforts of the U.S. and the Soviet Union on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

The Space Shuttle program, between 1981 and 2011, initiated by NASA, allowed reusable spacecraft to transport astronauts and cargo to and from low Earth orbit (LEO). It facilitated numerous scientific missions, satellite deployments, and assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).

The International Space Station (ISS) is a collaborative effort involving multiple space agencies such as the U.S.' NASA, Russia's Roscosmos, Japan's JAXA, Europe's ESA, and Canada's CSA. It has enabled human presence in space since November 2000, allowing experiments and space survival research to advance human capabilities in space.

The dawn of the 21st century saw the rise of private space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. The penetration of private companies led to the commercialization of space exploration. For instance, SpaceX's development of the Falcon and Dragon spacecraft led to commercial satellite launches, resupply missions to the ISS, as well as strategies for Mars exploration.

Owing to current advancements in technologies, Mars exploration has become a focal point for space tech organizations, private and public. Robotic missions such as the Mars rovers (Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance) have been launched to study the Red Planet's geology, climate, and potential habitability. The search for signs of past or present life on Mars continues.

Moreover, efforts have been made to reach beyond planetary exploration. Concepts such as crewed missions to asteroids and the development of deep-space habitats are being explored as humankind looks to expand its presence in the cosmos.

In 2020, in the queue of setting global standards, NASA updated its space exploration roadmap, providing an overview of space exploration objectives and future targets.

Technologies in Deep Space Exploration

Advanced Rockets

Rockets are space vehicles to aid the launch of spacecrafts, crewed or uncrewed. It helps in space cargo transportation to the International Space Station or beyond Earth’s lower orbit for exploration. Space agencies are developing advanced rockets to transport crewed missions to deep space. For instance, under NASA’s Artemis program, a deep space exploration program, a heavy lift vehicle called the Space Launch System (SLS) is being developed.

Furthermore, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has also developed rockets such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which have launched satellites into LEO, sun-synchronous polar orbit (SSPO), geosynchronous orbit (GSO), and geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

Private players have also joined the competitive market environment. Space agencies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are developing advanced rockets.

In the quest to develop advanced rocket technologies, in July 2023, NASA collaborated with Lockheed Martin and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on a project to develop a nuclear-powered rocket for space exploration. This technology could significantly shorten the duration of a manned mission to Mars, reducing it from the current seven-month minimum to as little as 45 days. The rocket will be powered by a nuclear fission reactor, offering up to three times the efficiency of conventional chemical rockets. This project aims to revitalize 70-year-old nuclear thermal technology research.

Moreover, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, is strategizing to nuke Martian poles. In his opinion, it will make the Red Planet more livable. The nuclear explosions will warm the planet by vaporizing the ice caps. This will liberate water vapor and carbon dioxide, triggering the greenhouse effect.

Methane-based rockets are also being developed. They are in high demand, with capabilities such as increased efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and reduced environmental impact. For instance, on 12 July 2023, the Chinese Space Agency, LandSpace, successfully launched an all-methane rocket named Zhuque-2 into low Earth orbit.

Robotic Landers

Landers are spacecrafts purposed to land on the surface of a celestial body such as the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. They collect research resources and carry space rovers. With advancements in Space Tech, agencies are developing robotic lander capabilities for planetary exploration.

As an example, NASA's Lander Technology Project is facilitating the development of American industry-led robotic lunar landers. These landers are intended to assist both NASA and private companies in exploring the lunar surface. To achieve this goal, NASA is working in partnership with U.S. firms such as Astrobotic Technology, Masten Space Systems, and Moon Express.

Moreover, in August 2023, India’s Space organization, ISRO, created history with the Chandrayaan-3 mission. It is the first spacecraft to successfully land on the lunar south pole.

The Vikram lander is responsible for the soft landing on the Moon. It has been equipped with various instruments, including altimeters, velocimeters, laser gyros, navigation and guidance control systems, hazard detection and avoidance systems, as well as a landing leg mechanism. The soft landing process was completely autonomous. Vikram lander autonomously calculated fuel requirements for fire engines at the correct times and scanned the surface for anomalies before landing.

With this achievement, the lunar south pole has become a target for exploration due to its potential resource wealth, such as ice, attracting interest from various nations and private ventures. The ability to mine and process lunar ice can completely transform spaceflight by establishing the Moon as a refueling stop for deep space missions.

Space Robots

Space robots include rovers and robotic arms used for planetary exploration. They study the atmosphere and collect samples. For instance, NASA is currently developing and simulating a humanoid robot, Valkyrie, for a Martian mission. It will navigate Mars's environment in preparation for potential human habitats on the planet.

Moreover, NASA employed the autonomous Voyager rover in its Voyager 2 mission to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

In August 2023, ISRO started preparing to send a female-like humanoid robot, Vyommitra, into space as part of its Gaganyaan mission, marking its inaugural human spaceflight endeavor. The Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities by sending a three-person crew on a three-day mission to an orbit 248 miles above Earth before safely returning them to the Indian sea waters. Trials for this mission are scheduled to commence in October.

In September 2023, Japanese startup Gitai secured $15 million in funding to advance its lunar robotics initiatives. Its robotic solutions aim to offer safe and cost-effective labor in space. The space robots include a versatile Lunar Inchworm arm and an autonomous Lunar Rover, both of which underwent testing in a simulated lunar environment.

Moreover, the company plans to demonstrate its 5-foot autonomous dual robotic arm system aboard the International Space Station. It will have applications in on-orbit servicing and lunar exploration.


Satellites are used for communication, navigation, and tracking purposes and are mostly placed in the Earth’s orbit. However, the space sector is currently looking toward deploying satellites for deep space explorations. For instance, in 2018, two CubeSats were launched during the InSight Mars Lander mission. The objective of launching these CubeSats is part of a technology demonstration mission, Mars Cube One (MarCO).

In August 2023, the United States Space Force (USSF) granted Orbital Composites a Direct-to-Phase-II SBIR contract, emphasizing the development of advanced radiation-shielded imaging CubeSats specialized for geostationary (GEO) and cislunar applications.

The company leverages its proprietary additive manufacturing compression molding (AMCM) manufacturing process to create complex shielding structures customized for the radiation environment and spacecraft payload. By the end of 2024, Orbital aims to demonstrate a complete shielded CubeSat platform capable of operating in both LEO and GEO environments, featuring radiation shields made from exotic polymers, AMCM-printed satellite chassis, and commercial off-the-shelf electronics.

In August 2023, NASA concluded its Artemis 1 Moon mission ride-along CubeSat, LunaH-Map, which ceased operations in May due to a stuck valve in its propulsion system. Although it missed mapping the Moon's south pole, the CubeSat achieved one of its main mission objectives by detecting water and ice at the lunar surface using its neutron spectrometer. The data gathered will inform future missions, and a version of the spectrometer will be part of NASA's Lunar-VISE mission under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.


Orbiters are space probes that orbit an intended celestial body. They consist of payloads such as cameras and sounders for capturing images of the planets and detecting any subsurface water.

In 2019, China used NASA’s Juno probe signals to demonstrate the capabilities of China’s ground stations crucial to its deep space missions. The experiments were carried out to support plans for China’s first independent interplanetary missions, which include the Mars mission in 2020 and launching a probe to Jupiter around 2030.

In November 2022, NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft had four reaction wheels installed at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is set for a 2024 launch to Jupiter's moon Europa. These wheels will help the spacecraft rotate, allowing its antennas and science instruments to stay oriented while in deep space and in orbit around Jupiter.

Moreover, Europa Clipper's primary objective is to study Europa's atmosphere, surface, and interior to gather information about its subsurface ocean and potential plumes venting water into space, contributing to the field of astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth.

Other Advanced Technologies for Space Exploration

Artificial Intelligence: Space agencies are advancing with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) for cloud computing. The use of AI for intelligent data transmission on Mars or Lunar rovers eliminates human scheduling errors, resulting in collecting valuable data and extracting meaningful information.

As an example, the Artificial Intelligence Data Analysis (AIDA) project was launched in 2018 and is funded by the European Union as part of the European Horizons 2020 Framework. AIDA’s total cost is $1.8 million and encompasses researchers from universities and companies in six countries, namely, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Greece, and the U.S. This collaboration is focused on developing AI, which can be applied to the analysis of space data.

Moreover, NASA has collaborated with Google for the Kepler mission to use AI for detecting signals of other exoplanets. With the use of AI, this mission has allowed for the discovery of two new exoplanets. In December 2019, the German Aerospace Centre launched a modified version of its AI assistant Crew Interactive Mobile Companion-2 (CIMON-2) to assist its astronauts in their daily tasks onboard the ISS.

Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP): NASA is working on the solar electric propulsion (SEP) project. Advanced electric propulsion technologies, such as SEP, provide cost savings, safety, and enhanced propulsive power to support numerous next-generation missions in deep space. The technologies being developed under the SEP project include advanced solar arrays, high-voltage power management and distribution, power processing units, high-power hall thrusters, and spaceflight diagnostics for measuring system performance.

Station Explorer for X-Ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT): In 2018, NASA developed an autonomous space navigation, Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT). This technology uses pulsars as guide stars to navigate spacecrafts. It is similar to a GPS receiver and receives signals from at least three GPS satellites, which are equipped with atomic clocks. It is a critical technology that will assist in human spaceflight missions.

What is being achieved through deep space exploration?

A roadmap published by NASA demonstrates what is to be achieved through deep space exploration. It aims to demonstrate technological advancements, study celestial bodies, and search for potential habitable environments.

Moon Exploration

Moon, being the closest celestial target, is explored for research and clues of life-supporting environment.  There have been numerous Moon missions conducted by various space agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), and Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA).

Moon exploration has provided a wealth of data on the geology, geochemistry, and geophysics of the Moon. This data has been collected through a variety of methods, including crewed and uncrewed spacecraft missions, remote sensing, and analysis of lunar samples returned to Earth.

Some of the key discoveries from Moon exploration include:

  • the confirmation of the Moon's ancient volcanic activity
  • the discovery of water ice in permanently shadowed craters
  • the identification of the Moon's internal structure and composition

This data has helped scientists to better understand the Moon's origin and evolution, as well as its potential as a resource for future exploration and colonization.

Although the data about the Moon is made more accessible and achievable through evolving deep space technologies, there are multiple challenges being faced in Moon exploration that include:

  • high cost and logistics of launching spacecraft and equipment to the Moon
  • the harsh lunar environment that may degrade technical components
  • the lack of resources such as water and fuel on the lunar surface
  • adverse effects of long-term space travel and lunar radiation on the human body

Deep space technologies, such as advanced space propulsion systems, deep space transponders, star trackers and inertial measurement units, and remote sensing systems such as cameras, spectrometers, and radar systems, have been used to study the lunar surface and subsurface from orbit. Robotics technology has been integrated with artificial intelligence to construct and operate rovers and landers on the lunar surface.

Many deep space technologies and materials are being researched and developed for Moon exploration, such as:

  • Robust and durable spacecraft and rovers that can withstand the rough lunar terrain
  • Advanced thermal control systems to keep equipment and spacecraft from overheating or freezing
  • Radiation-hardened electronics and sensors to protect against the intense radiation on the lunar surface
  • New materials for constructing habitats and other structures on the lunar surface, such as regolith (Moon soil) bricks
  • Advanced life support systems and radiation shielding to protect astronauts from the harsh lunar environment
  • In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technologies, such as 3D printing that allow for the use of lunar resources to manufacture equipment and sustain life on the lunar surface

Numerous missions have been commissioned and launched to explore the Moon:

  • NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) launched Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission on 22 December 2022. This mission aimed to explore the Vallis Schroteri region of the Moon and launched a Nova-C lander in the region.
  • On 16 November 2022, Artemis 1, a test mission for NASA’s deep space exploration systems, was launched that aimed to collect data on the performance and effectiveness of the Orion Thermal Protection System (TPS).
  • On 23 August 2023, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 lander module successfully achieved a soft landing on the Moon’s south pole, making India the first country to do so. The RAMBHA scientific payload will study the near-surface plasma density of the Moon and its dynamic nature. The ChaSTE experiment will analyze and evaluate the thermal properties of the surface. The ILSA will measure seismic activity near the landing site. Moreover, the APXS will observe and evaluate the elements of lunar soil.

Mars Exploration

Data received through Mars exploration includes information on the planet's geology, atmosphere, and potential for past or present life. This data is collected by a variety of instruments on Mars, including rovers, landers, and orbiters sent by NASA and other space agencies such as ESA and CNSA.

Examples of data include images and data on the composition of rocks and soil, measurements of the planet's weather and atmosphere, and data on the planet's magnetic field and potential subsurface water. This information helps scientists understand the environment and search for the availability of oxygen and other potential resources on Mars that can provide a habitat for some form of life. 

Deep space technologies are facing multiple challenges in Mars exploration that pose obstacles to further research and development. Some of the challenges are as follows:

  • It takes longer periods of time for spacecraft and signals to travel between Earth and Mars, which makes communication and control of missions more difficult and time-consuming.
  • Mars has a thin atmosphere, extreme temperatures, and high levels of radiation, which makes it challenging to design spacecraft, rovers, and habitats that can survive and operate in the Martian environment.
  • Mars' rugged terrain can make mobility difficult for rovers and other vehicles.

The following three missions touched down on the surface of Mars in 2021:

  • On 14 May 2021, a Chinese mission named Tianwen-1 landed a rover and an orbiter on Mars.
  • On 9 February 2021, the U.A.E. crewed mission Hope arrived at Mars that aimed to study the atmosphere and was equipped with a camera, ultraviolet spectrometer, and infrared spectrometer.
  • On 18 February 2021, the Perseverance rover landed on the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater, which carried a drill designed to collect core samples that could be taken to Earth for analysis.

Asteroid Exploration

Deep space technologies can provide important data on asteroids, such as detailed imaging of surface and geology, measurements of size, shape and orbital positions, spectral data of asteroid surface materials, magnetic and gravity fields, and potential availability of metals and minerals.  Asteroid exploration missions are launched to find and study the traces of cosmic dust that led to the formation of organic matter on Earth.

Asteroid data can also be used to study the early solar system, planetary formation, and potential hazards that asteroids might pose to Earth.  Extensive knowledge of asteroids could provide insights into the past Earth impacts, with the possibility of reducing future impacts or threats to Earth.

With multiple applications of deep space technologies in asteroid exploration come its challenges that include:

  • Difficulty in locating, launching, and intercepting missions on asteroids as they move at differentiating speeds 
  • Difficult to land on or attach a spacecraft on small or irregularly shaped asteroids
  • Surface properties of asteroids vary widely, hindering mobility and making it difficult to design landers or rovers according to the planet’s terrain

The following instances show the highlights of the asteroid exploration missions:

  • NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) successfully impacted the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos on 27 September 2022. This mission aims to investigate and demonstrate the process of deflecting asteroids by altering their kinetic motion in space.
  • NASA OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft carried out its Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event on 20 October 2020. The asteroid sample was delivered to Earth on 24 September 2023.
  • In May 2023, the U.A.E. announced an asteroid exploration mission to explore the unique asteroid belt beyond Mars. It is named the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA). The spacecraft, MBR Explorer, is set to launch in March 2028 and will conduct close flybys of seven main belt asteroids over seven years. The mission aims to gain insights into the composition and origins of these asteroids and will deploy a lander on the asteroid (269) Justitia. EMA's instruments will help understand water-rich asteroids, assess resource potential, and contribute to future asteroid resource utilization.

Sun Exploration

Space agencies are launching deep space exploration missions to closely study the Sun. Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory propose the integration of CubeSats (small satellites) with solar sails to enhance solar system exploration.

Solar sails, propelled by radiation pressure from reflected sunlight, offer an affordable and efficient means to navigate space. Recent successes, such as the crowdfunded LightSail 2 and NASA's NEA Scout, highlight their potential. The Sundiver concept combines CubeSats and solar sails to significantly reduce travel times within the solar system, enabling access to remote regions and hard-to-reach trajectories. This approach promises cost savings and rapid maneuverability, potentially increasing space exploration by delivering valuable science while minimizing expenses.

Moreover, in September 2023, India successfully launched its first observation mission to study the Sun, known as Aditya-L1. The mission aims to reach Lagrange point 1 (L1), a point between the Sun and Earth where gravitational forces cancel out, allowing the spacecraft to "hover" and orbit the Sun at the same rate as Earth with minimal fuel consumption.

Aditya-L1 carries seven scientific instruments to observe and study the solar corona, photosphere, and chromosphere, providing valuable insights into solar activity, solar wind, solar flares, and their impact on Earth and space weather. Furthermore, it will help scientists better understand and predict space weather, which can affect satellites and power grids.

Outer Space Exploration

Space agencies are currently doing research and development to advance outer space exploration. For instance, scientists from China and NASA have proposed next-generation spacecraft for interstellar exploration.

China’s proposed mission, Interstellar Express, aims to send two spacecraft to the edge of the solar system, focusing on studying space dominated by the Sun's solar wind. They plan to travel 100 astronomical units (AU) from Earth by 2049. Meanwhile, NASA is considering an "Interstellar Probe" that could reach 1,000 AU in 150 years, exceeding the accomplishments of the Voyager probes.

Challenges in Space Exploration

Deep space exploration also faces severe challenges, leading to mission failures and loss of technological infrastructure.

1.Insufficient Power Backup Systems for Deep Space Missions

Deep space missions require spacecraft to travel lightyears. This requires a large amount of energy, as well as a power backup system. This system should have sufficient storage for return missions.

Often, insufficient power backup systems can create communication delays between the spacecraft and Earth. Employment of solar power technology can be a major challenge. The dependence of the power system on solar cells limits the capability of deep space exploration beyond the heliosphere and also during solar eclipses.

Manufacturing efficient batteries and innovative technologies, such as in-orbit refuelling and ultracapacitors, can be a possible solution for power backup system challenges. Moreover, scientists might consider it crucial to adopt miniature and intricate versions of space power technology such as fuel cells and rubber-tied gantry (RTG) being employed in Earth-based technologies such as lithium polymer batteries.

2.Lack of Efficient Space Propulsion Systems

The lack of efficient space propulsion systems is a significant challenge for deep space exploration missions. Currently, the most used propulsion systems for spacecraft are chemical rockets, which have a limited amount of energy stored, making them relatively inefficient.

Chemical rockets require large amounts of fuel to accelerate a spacecraft to high speeds, which makes them bulky and heavy, and once the fuel is expended, the spacecraft is slowed and has no means of propulsion. This inefficiency may pose a threat to deep space exploration missions.

Alternative space propulsion systems, such as ion propulsion, hall effect thrusters, solar sail propulsion, antimatter propulsion, and nuclear thermal propulsion, are being held in research and development and experimented for the success of deep space missions.

3.Unreliability of Autonomous System Technologies for Deep Space Exploration

Autonomous system technologies offer space exploration beyond LEO, which includes lunar missions, Mars exploration, and asteroid exploration. Although autonomous system technologies enable independent operation in long-term missions and unpredictable environments, there is little reliability of these systems.

Autonomous systems making decisions on their own, in complex circumstances, without any human expert overview, may also lead to mission failure. The lack of any navigation infrastructure beyond LEO, locating a destination, and the limited knowledge of deep space, these space exploration missions will be challenging for autonomous spacecrafts.

Autonomous spacecraft must rely on their own onboard systems to determine their location and trajectory, which can be a challenging task in the absence of a clear and stable reference frame. Moreover, controlling a spacecraft remotely from Earth can be difficult due to communication delays and the limited ability to directly observe and interact with the spacecraft.

For the success of autonomous system-based deep space exploration missions, an efficient and reliable autonomous system technology with a reliable onboard navigation system, strong communication components, and remote connection with Earth-based controllers is required.

 4. High Cost Associated with Deep Space Technology

Developing and launching deep space missions is extremely expensive, with the costs of designing, building, and launching a spacecraft, as well as the cost of maintaining and operating it over long periods of time. This can make it difficult for companies and organizations to secure funding for deep space missions and compete in the market.

The components of deep space technology are manufactured with great difficulty, passing through numerous levels of research, evaluation, testing, reviews, and documentation. This procedure of manufacturing deep space technology components is expensive and time-consuming.

Deep space technologies require integrated hardware, software, and human-machine interfaces that may become dysfunctional with time. These components do not operate when affected by radiation in deep space. The repairing or replacing of such components adds up to the overall costs.

 5. Limited Commercial Opportunities with Complex Regulations of Government

Currently, most of the funding for deep space missions comes from government agencies and large aerospace companies, which are primarily focused on scientific research and exploration rather than commercial applications. There are limited commercial opportunities for companies in the deep space technology market as such.

Strict national and international regulations govern the ethical use of space technology, such as those related to intellectual property, liability, and environmental protection. Due to this, it becomes time-consuming and expensive to comply with all the regulations specified, which can also become a barrier for new entrants in the market.

Although government agencies and private organizations are investing in the deep space exploration mission as a combined force, evolving deep space technologies are facing critical challenges, which are causing limitations in commercial activities.

As per the report by BIS Research, the evolving deep space technologies market will transform drastically in the forecast period of 2021-2032, which has also alerted several private and government agencies to level up their game.

Opportunities in the Market

The current market is expanding as countries are expanding their space tech budgets. BIS Research report evaluated global deep space exploration and technology market size in 2020. North America is expected to dominate the market with an estimated share of 62.45% in 2020. Its total market size is estimated to be $18.34 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $33.90 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 6.33% during the forecast period 2020-2030.

This is mainly because the maximum number of companies are situated in North America, along with the large contribution of the government toward the space budget, which helps in developing and enhancing the region’s space sector in terms of deep space explorations.

Opportunities in this market are vast as space exploration technology is advancing on a global level. 

  • Rising Demand for Small Satellites

The cluster of small satellites will gradually replace large satellites in a single orbital location. As compared to conventional satellite systems, small satellite constellation systems can perform better and cost less to launch. These satellites can be customized using AI for remote sensing. This will pave the way for low-cost and advanced deep space exploration.

  • Emergence of New Space Agencies

Growing space activities globally, such as the development of space exploration technologies and mission launches, have resulted in increased funding. This has given rise to new space agencies. For instance, in 2018, five new space agencies were established in Luxembourg, Australia, Zimbabwe, Greece, and Portugal.

One of the major benefits of the entry of private players into the industry is cost-effectiveness. For instance, commercial launches are significantly affected by the cost of sending satellites into space, and with private companies in the picture, the pre-launch cost dropped from $4 billion to less than $50 million. 

  • Increasing Funding from Private Space Agencies

Various public space agencies such as NASA, European Space Agency, and JAXA, as well as private space companies, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, are focusing on investing in deep space explorations.

SpaceX and NASA have been in a contract worth $1.6 billion to enable colonization and space travel to Mars. In October 2019, Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper Laboratory to develop a Moon Lander for NASA.

Virgin Galactic is developing a fleet of rockets to take tourists to suborbital space at a price of $250,000. NASA has seen an investment of $46 billion in the past 15 years and may exceed $50 billion by 2020. Out of this budget, a sum of $16 billion has been spent on the Orion spacecraft and $14 billion on the Space Launch System (SLS).

  • Upcoming technology: Space Drones

Drone technology is the next generation of deep space exploration. Drones are being tested for interplanetary space operations. For instance, in June 2019, NASA announced that it would launch a rotorcraft, Dragonfly, toward Saturn’s moon, Titan, in 2026. 


The future of space exploration appears bright with significant combined efforts of space agencies and private companies. New movers or industry entrants will further advance the market with potential funding and innovative technologies.

Ambitious missions to asteroids, the Moon, Mars, and even the interstellar medium are in the works, promising to reveal the cosmos. Current findings from ongoing space missions will lead to proper resource utilization, even paving the first steps toward a sustainable human presence in space.

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