The commercialisation of space is a key driver in the contemporary space systems market, with technological advances not only improving the capabilities of satellites but also by reducing costs throughout the supply chain.


Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the space systems theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1957 – The USSR successfully launches Sputnik 1, the first Earth-orbiting satellite in history.

1958 – The US launch SCORE, the world’s first communications satellite.

1959 – The USSR launches Luna 3 and succeeds in their mission of sending an object into orbit around the Moon and photographing the far side of the Moon.

1961 – Yuri Gagarin makes a single orbit around the Earth and becomes the first man to reach space.

1962 – The world’s first active communications satellite, Telstar I, launched by the US.

1964 – The world’s first geostationary satellite, Syncom 3, launched by the US.

1965 – The US satellite, Mariner 4, performs the first successful voyage to the planet Mars, returning the first close-up images of the Martian surface.

1969 – Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become the first men to walk on the Moon.

1970 – First Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong (“The East is Red”), launched.

1971 – The USSR launches the first space station.

1976 – First launch of the Multiple Satellite Dispenser (MSD), an upper stage for the Atlas F booster, which carried multiple satellites into precise orbits.

1983 – Launch of Living Plume Shield II (LIPS II) to demonstrate direct downlink of tactical data from a low Earth orbiting spacecraft.

1990 – China launches the Asiasat-1 communications satellite, completing its first commercial contract.

1994 – The DoD-NASA Clementine satellite launched to test lightweight miniature sensors and advanced spacecraft components.

1994 – The first Milstar secure communications satellite launches.

2002 – SpaceX is founded.

2006 – United Launch Alliance is founded.

2007 – China destroys Fengyun-1C with a ground-launched missile, joining Russia and the United States as the only nations to have successfully tested anti-satellite weapons.

2015 – SpaceX first achieved a successful landing and recovery of a first stage in December 2015

2020 – Launch of the High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) programme aiming at a Mach 5+ missile entering service in the mid-2020s

2025 – Earliest estimates of maturation of space-based quantum computing.

2030 – Earliest estimates of maturation of Terahertz sensors.

This is an edited extract from the Space Systems in Aerospace and Defense – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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