Space economy: growing investment opportunities in the aerospace sector

Marcello Mantelli
Avvocato in Milan and Turin

Astropeneurs”: this is the name of the new generation of entrepreneurs who in recent years have created the private space industry. Starting with the pioneers Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, the gradual opening of services – previously accessible only to institutions – to private entities has allowed the development of a sector that is currently worth 430 billion dollars and which aims, in the next ten years, to reach a value of one thousand billion.

Of this huge turnover, 80% comes from purely commercial companies. In this way, the so-called new space economy – consisting in the new way of developing the space sector through accessibility and digitization – will represent a new source for unprecedented commercial activities, with important opportunities also for the Italian industry (think of the aerospace activity already carried out by Altec company in Turin).

Our country, on closer inspection, can in fact play a leading role, not only due to the consolidated presence of various companies active in the sector, but above all due to the high technological expertise present in Italy, which makes the country the second pole of Europe and the sixth globally in the aerospace sector.

In this sense, there are two main fields of investment in aerospace: one “upstream”, which is the technology needed to go into space and produce services through space, and one “downstream”, or the services that can be provided on the ground, capturing data from space (think of Elon Musk’s ambitious Starlink project, a network of satellites that will offer telecommunications services around the world, including oceans and deserts).

However, taking into consideration the rapid and important progress in the aerospace sector, it should be borne in mind that there is currently a lack of clear and comprehensive regulation of space law.

Consequently, the growing possibility of investing in space is currently a major obstacle in the absence of a discipline relating to future space commercial contracts or possible litigation on legal space issues.

In fact, even for the industry and trade that will develop for space, it will be necessary to draft contents for customized and complete international space contracts, which will allow the main economic players to operate within a framework of certainty.

Only in this way, in fact, the opportunities offered to companies in the space supply chain will guarantee the development of a safe business pursuant the technological innovation.

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