The “space economy” is heating up.

While the U.S. has long dominated the vast expanse beyond the Earth’s surface, the promise of geopolitical and monetary gains is prompting many more countries and companies to join the new space age.

China, which has declared success in space a national priority, is making some of the biggest moves with its own station in orbit and plans to put people on the Moon – which may contain vast mineral riches. Meanwhile, an Indian lunar lander is expected to touch down on the Moon sometime next week, which would make the country only the third to reach the lunar surface. NASA intends to return to the Moon but is also collaborating with private space companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, which are pursuing their own commercial ventures.

But how do you quantify the economic output of all this activity? For the most part, little research has been done on the space economy, but the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released some numbers aimed at tracking how the U.S. space economy has evolved in recent years. Jay Zagorsky, an economist at Boston University, analyzed the data and was surprised by what he learned.

Mary Magnuson

Assistant Science Editor, The Conversation U.S.

New data reveal US space economy’s output is shrinking – an economist explains in 3 charts

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

With commercial space tourism on the rise and NASA planning to return to the Moon, you might think the US space economy is booming – but the data paints a more complex picture.

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