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Space Watch

The View From Here

Measuring What We Are

The View From Here I was once told in a professional goal-setting session "you are what you measure." This was my boss's way of saying we weren't setting soft, warm, fuzzy performance management goals for me - we were setting hard, no-kidding metrics.

In a way, our industry has long suffered from a paucity of no-kidding numbers to report - a soft haziness of measurement - that limited our persuasiveness on Capitol Hill, and, as commercial space activity began increasingly outpacing government activity (circa 1996), also permitted folklore to maintain its stranglehold over reality in the financial markets.

Well, no more.

I normally do not talk about Space Foundation products and services in this column. I like to focus on the policies and events that shape our industry and community. But I'm going to stray a little this month, because our just-released The Space Report 2008 and our upcoming event Space Business Forum: New York are all about providing no-bull, hard-analyzed, peer-reviewed metrics to help our industry move forward, while we fulfill our mission: "To advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity."

The Space Report 2008: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity (TSR) has been years in the making. Released April 8 at the 24th National Space Symposium, it is the third annual TSR. At the top line it revealed 2007 global revenues for our industry were more than $251 billion, with 69 percent of that activity in commercial space and 31 percent in government budgets. There are other stunning numbers. Overall, our industry grew 11 percent in 2007, continuing a trend of outpacing the general economy and outperforming most financial indices. More than 300 satellites are forecast to be manufactured and/or launched in the next five years, portending continued strength in our industry that will be the envy of many others.

I'm not delving further into the data in this column. After all, TSR packs a walloping 120 data-intensive pages and nearly 400 links to additional data for those who really want to drill deep into the numbers. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Space Florida, every registrant at the 24th National Space Symposium was provided a copy of the report. An executive summary and additional detailed information are available for free online at www.TheSpaceReport.org. The print version, searchable e-book, and searchable CD-ROM versions are also available for purchase online.

TSR traces its roots to the 1997 publication, The State of the Space Industry, developed by SpaceVest to fill the data void on Wall Street. SpaceVest was raising venture capital funds and needed a way to explain to private banks, retirement funds, institutional, and individual investors just what in the heck this space industry was and why it made sense to invest in a space-focused venture capital fund. While bits and pieces of data were available, there was no unclassified, comprehensive model. The SpaceVest report was so unique that demand for copies continued for a half-dozen years, despite the aging of the data. Feeling that the report would carry more weight in policy and financial circles if issued by a non-partisan, non-political and financially independent nonprofit "think tank," SpaceVest donated the intellectual property behind its report to the Space Foundation.

Our first TSR was published in autumn 2006. We missed our spring publication goal because we underestimated how much work it would take to get it right. A major challenge was splitting the traditional sector measures (civil space, commercial space, and national security space) into a more sophisticated nine-sector economic model that tracks our industry the way others are tracked - by products, services, and end users. Along with the report, we created a Wall Street-style space market index, the Space Foundation Index, which tracks the financial performance of space companies in a weighted index similar to the NASDAQ or the S&P500.

Our goal had always been to publish TSR at the end of the first calendar quarter of each year, so up-to-the-minute, year-end data would characterize each report, ensuring a long and relevant shelf life. In 2007, we published a slim, e-book update while we accelerated the schedule for 2008. The Space Foundation Index, previously updated quarterly, also went "live" with daily updates on our Web site. With each iteration, the report gets better and more data intensive - this year, for example, including industry wage and jobs information for the first time. We've met our goal by publishing just a few days after the close of Q1. In the few weeks since its release, TSR has been quoted in hundreds of news stories around the globe - meeting a key goal of providing a common base of measures that has become the standard reference for those who report upon, act upon, or influence our industry. (See postscript.)

The next step is bringing our industry's success stories and impressive metrics directly to Wall Street. That is where our new one-day conference comes in. Space Business Forum: New York will be held June 18 at the Hilton New York Hotel in New York City. It is NOT another aerospace conference. The Space Foundation strongly agrees with our customers that there are just too many conferences in our industry. Space Business Forum: New York is a different animal for a different customer: the reporter, analyst, blogger, investment banker, venture capitalist, stock picker, portfolio adviser, investment sector manager, M&A specialist, and other financial leaders whose views on our industry are critical to financing the future.

We're shaping a powerhouse agenda for Space Business Forum: New York, including CEO-level presentations from North America (Lockheed Martin's Joanne Maguire) and Europe (Jean-Yves LeGall of Arianespace and François Auque of EADS-Astrium). We'll cover traditional aerospace and defense, direct-to-consumer and mobile satellite services, venture capital and M&A outlooks, space adventure tourism and personal spaceflight, and enjoy a stimulating luncheon presentation by The Honorable Newt Gingrich.

Again, Space Business Forum: New York isn't for our industry, it is about our industry, and thus fulfills a space community need and a Space Foundation mission requirement. Program information is, of course, on our Web site; but unless you're a CFO or investor relations manager, we really don't expect to see you there. You've got enough conferences to go to and enough work to do. Our job in New York is to redefine the relationship between our industry and Wall Street. We'll let you know how it goes.

The View From Here, as we hit our silver anniversary stride, is that the Space Foundation is growing outside our traditional industry box by providing the "non-space" world with the products and services it needs to measure and engage with our space community. The support of our more than 80 member companies has been crucial in creating a strong operating base for the Foundation, which allows us to embark on such endeavors. We appreciate all your support, and are committed to serving this great industry for centuries to come in ways we cannot yet imagine.

Elliot Holokauahi Pulham
Chief Executive Officer

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