Space Policy

The Space Report 2013: Space for Trade and Diplomacy

Written by: developer

As noted in this month’s Second View, one of the reasons for the success of this year’s Space Symposium was the increased international participation in the form of government and trade delegations. This presence opens opportunities for companies to generate new business and for governments to engage with each other and with industry.

The use of space for trade and diplomacy is one of the many trends noted in The Space Report 2013, the Space Foundation’s annual report on the global space economy released in April shortly before the Space Symposium.

Many nations, including emerging countries, are more directly leveraging their growing space sector as an active part of international trade and export development policies. As global space markets mature, nations are using government-backed investment banks to help their domestic space industries capture foreign revenue. Export banks provide financing or loan guarantees with the goal of attracting satellite operators to place orders with domestic space industries. In addition, government-backed agencies enable relatively risky space ventures to achieve funding that would not be available via commercial markets alone.

Report Outlines Deals

Critics believe that the activities of export banks equate to a form of market manipulation that could lead to industry instability, which may cause traditional creditors to avoid investment in satellite service companies. However, investment banks can also stimulate development of new types of space services by providing capital and lowering financial risk to companies. A list of nearly 30 such deals in recent years is included in The Space Report 2013.

Many countries are broadening the role of space export promotion activities. The U.S. Export-Import Bank is estimated to have invested a total of $1.4 billion in satellite projects on behalf of U.S. satellite and launch services providers during 2012. The activity is similar in scope to France’s Coface export-credit agency, which has actively supported French satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing industries. In the United Kingdom, the 2012 Civil Space Strategy links export opportunities to an overall U.K. policy goal of growing the country’s share of the global space market to 10 percent.

In November 2012, Roscosmos and the Russian Agency for Export Credit created a partnership focused on increasing space-related exports from Russia. In China, the government is broadening its space-related export promotion to place more emphasis on Earth observation satellites. In Canada, a government-chartered review of the aerospace industry has recommended that the Canadian government consider what actions it could take to enhance the Canadian space industry’s competitiveness in international trade. Canada’s experience shows how investments in space technology can also be used to drive activity in other industry sectors.

The industry team responsible for the Canadarm robot on the ISS has worked in collaboration with university-based medical researchers to develop a robot that can be used to assist in neurosurgery. The joint team is currently working to commercialize the robot in the global medical equipment market. Canadarm robotic technology was a finalist nomination for the Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2013.

Order The Space Report Now

Companies and governments benefit from understanding the opportunities available to them to engage with international partners. For a comprehensive overview of space activity in 2012, visit to purchase a copy of The Space Report 2013 and learn about the events and trends shaping the space industry today.

Pictured: The Canadarm robotic technology used aboard the Space Shuttle fleet was further developed for use in space aboard the International Space Station as the Canadarm2, shown here with an astronaut. The technology is also used on Earth as the NeuroArm, designed for precision neurosurgery.

This article is part of Space Watch: May 2013 (Volume: 12, Issue: 5).