There is a serious and frequently interrogation about space “Is it really important to make a dangerous and expensive mission into space at a time when so considerably needs doing on Earth?” There are numerous answers of this question but today we will try to answer why we make investments in space technology and analyze how this question will not be relevant further for some people.
By the means of benefits of space investments, it is usually better to be in the line of long term benefits for space technology. Increasing of commercial activities, efficiency, sustainability, trustworthiness of products and resource saving can be given as examples for long term benefits.
In the case of countries that have a developing space technology, Turkish space sector roadmap may be a good example for analyzing to answer why we make investment in space technology. According to the government roadmap for military and civilian satellites, Turkey plans to send into orbit a total of 16 satellites by 2020. Also, the subsystems of satellites are mostly ready to use; however, in order to gain a high fidelity and sustainability for manufacturing, it is important to prove these systems in orbit. Most of big companies will not interest to prove their subsystems into space due to extra manpower and expenses. As an example could be given in here, small satellite technology in Turkey is generally adopted by SMEs and universities. Existing SME’s infrastructure can be used space technology industry at the phase of development and it leads a positive impact on the domestic economy. Also, universities can get involved in that process to improve their practical education. One of the benefits of small satellite, they may provide testing in orbit with low cost. Moreover, satellite development and production time may be minimized. Finally, rapid solutions for space technology can be achieved. Turkey has allocated approximately $200 million budget for R&D and infrastructure development in the last 5 years. Aerospace (aviation and space) sector covers only 3% of total R&D budget. Automotive industry has 30% of R&D and defense industry holds around 8%. According to the 2023 Turkey Export Strategy and Action Plan, 2% of total $2 trillion of GNP will be allocated for R&D budget. Under these circumstances, it can be estimated as at least 1% of total R&D budget means approximately $400 million for the year of 2023. The returns of total R&D investment can be expected by within the range of $2.8 to $9.4 billion, according to a research by Kara and Kilic in 2015. These values are calculated by the base investment multiplier examples which are stated by The Space Economy at a Glance 2011 for different countries. For instance, every $1 investment for Denmark in space technology returns as $3.7, the other examples are United Kingdom $1.9, Belgium $1.4 and USA $4.9. That is why space technology investment should be important.
Unfortunately, there are still problems should be solved for students who desire to pursue an academic degree in space technology. Parents usually enforce their children to apply a ‘proper’ job rather than to encourage them to move on in the field of space technology in underdeveloped and developing countries. In addition, governments and industry do not provide them more independent projects and students could not find sufficient funds to keep alive their projects as explained in Kara`s presentation at International Astronautical Congress in 2015 . To be able to solve this problem, relation between industry and universities are needed to be tied strongly. In this way, families will see the space sector is a profitable area instead of seeing that is not only an idealist way. Correspondingly, proportion of local content, human resource and development of technological infrastructure can be increased. In order to create sustainable and competitive industry, technology should spread to the bottom layers. The main sectoral development should be performed in the process of development in order to achieve the level of the-state-of-art. Starting human resource training programs, establishment of thematic satellite centers, enhancing specialized SMEs in the field of space technology and finally increasing initiatives to start interdisciplinary studies with other sectors by using develop technology can be exemplars as a starting point.
Aerospace Engineer, MSc
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