Four years ago, the annually published Space Report did not have a section on spaceports. The Space Report is published by the Space Foundation. It truly is an authoritative guide to global space activity. It is a well respected compilation covering the major topics in the industry. Space Infrastructure, a big topic in the industry did not even have a sub-category covering spaceports four years ago. In the 2011 Space Report, they are the largest category in the section. How come? The tide is turning. More companies believe there will be commercially viable alternatives to government launch sites, and they will have customers besides the government. The Space Report breaks spaceports into two categories, orbital launch sites, and sub-orbital launch sites. Globally, there are 23 orbital launch sites, four are in the United States, one is in Kwajalein, and one is in Kodiak, Alaska. The rest are spread across the globe. There are eight sub-orbital launch sites, five are in the United States.
I remember the first time I read this report and did not see anything on spaceports. There were spaceports across the globe, but the space industry was not quite ready to acknowledge the growing trend toward commercial launch sites. I called the company doing the research for the 2008 book. By then I had been doing the space conference here for three years, and I had many of the spaceport directors here as speakers. I suggested they consider investigating the spaceports more thoroughly. The coverage of the spaceports is now robust. The publishers realized people in the industry are interested in our business, and they also realized they will buy the report. It isn’t cheap.
For two years now, Spaceport America has gotten great coverage, and they even mentioned the Runway Dedication we did here in October of 2010. Another milestone that occurred in 2010, Kennedy Space Complex, which received $1.9 billion to re-furbish the launch site given the end of the Shuttle Program, will consider renting launch sites to commercial companies. I believe Florida knows New Mexico’s launch site is a possible competitor. Good. We need competition in this industry. The space industry is mature enough to handle competition. It will create jobs. People working in the space sector of our economy, make twice what people in other sectors of the economy make.
I also wanted to tell you about a couple of cool things I learned about reading the report. I promised myself I would read it cover to cover so I could understand what is going on outside our wonderful community. It’s only one hundred and fifty pages long, so that’s just a month’s evening reading.
First, the Space Foundation has compiled a Space Index and compares the companies in the index to the Standard and Poors 500, and the NASDAQ Composite. The companies in the space index grew from 10 to 43%. The flow of capital into the industry increased, indicating investors are interested in the space industry. The Space Index outpaced the S&P 500 and NASDAQ starting in March 09 through to December 2010. Generally, as the economy slowly recovered starting in the first quarter of 2009, the space industry recovered more quickly and has continued to outpace other sectors of the economy.
I think it’s great that I can rent a GPS unit when I rent a car. Granted the maps need constant updating since our highway systems seems to be going through constant improvements. That’s ok, seriously, roads are safer across the country these days. Cruise lines are now able to offer tourists maps of the cities in ports of call, updated daily via satellite. One of my favorites is clothing developed by the Japanese Space Agency. The fabric absorbs moisture and odors. Some of this clothing was sent down to the 31 miners trapped in Chile. NASA even provided a supplement to the miners on their ascent that has proven useful in preventing nausea.
There is an online video auto racing game being developed by a company called iOpener. The game allow you to follow an actual auto race then the game uses actual tracking data to enable players to test their driving skills against the real race drivers. I think this one is bound for glory. Finally, my personal favorite was developed by Farouk Systems. It is a hair styling flat iron. The flat iron contains a composite nanoceramic material developed by NASA for fighting cancer. Researchers realized that at low temperatures, this material emitted ions that help smooth and soften hair. God bless NASA.