Blast Off!!

By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication February 23, 2022

Space has captivated the imagination of humankind since history began. Early societies tracked planetary movement and oriented buildings accordingly, navigators relied on the stars to make their way across oceans, and myths were written around constellations.

In the past, the federal government supported virtually all research and development and operations related to space. However, this cluster has reached a point where it is now feasible for private firms to be more fully involved in the entire spectrum of space-related operations. The race has changed, with public-private partnerships and an expanded range of possibilities generating massive investments and new developments.

The Space Economy spans elements of many industrial sectors, with major components including the manufacture of space vehicles, propulsion systems, satellites, communication systems, navigation and guidance equipment, and associated parts. It further includes satellite communication, the transportation of people and cargo, and extensive research and development. The Space Economy in the United States currently supports almost 350,000 direct jobs, and we estimate that when multiplier effects are considered, the annual impact on business activity includes over $204.0 billion in annual gross product and 1.7 million jobs.

Texas has long had a presence in space-related industries. For more than 60 years, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center has been engaged in key missions for NASA. Private-sector firms including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and many others are also expanding space operations, with a significant presence in Texas. Texas has two airports which been issued commercial spaceport licenses by the Federal Aviation Administration (in Midland and Houston).

We estimate that Texas is presently home to about 6.75% of Space Economy jobs (slightly lower than its 8.5% share of total jobs). The state's importance in this arena has been expanding markedly of late, with both high-profile activities and underlying investments. The current impact of the Space Economy on Texas includes an estimated $11.7 billion in annual gross product and over 102,000 jobs (including multiplier effects).

Space-related industries are expected to see substantial growth, driven by their ability to enhance security, communications, and other aspects of the economy and society. We estimate that the Texas Space Economy will expand about 120% faster than in the nation, raising its share to almost 15% by 2040. We project that space-related industries and related spillover effects will generate between about 175,300 and 202,700 jobs in 2030, with 2040 impacts of up to 433,500 Texas jobs (including multiplier effects).

The Space Economy is an increasing source of business activity. It is also essential to solving major world problems, such as climate change and resource limitations. In addition, the research and development it involves generates new discoveries which enhance daily life and wellbeing. It is, after all, "The Final Frontier." Stay safe!!