The Washington State Space Economy

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We live in an exciting time when it comes to space exploration. We use our phones to get directions, watch TV anywhere in the world, and even look at Earth from above, activities which all rely on satellites in orbit. In the near future, activities like space tourism, asteroid and comet mining, and Mars exploration are looking less like science fiction and more like fact.

Washington state has a history of supporting space exploration with research and engineering. The Lunar Rover was a product of thinking from the the Kent Space Center. More recently, companies such as Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Stratolaunch have set up research and development operations in the Puget Sound area.

With the rise of "NewSpace" companies, what role can space-related activities play in our region’s future economy, especially given our history in commercial aerospace?

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) wanted an answer to inform its broader aerospace strategy. BERK assisted with this effort, assessing local activities to evaluate what role Washington state plays in the space sector, and how trends may influence its future role.

Our research determined that the regional space economy could be boosted through extending state aerospace tax credits and providing space-related startups with access to capital. Expanding relationships with suppliers in the region can also enhance the benefits across the state economy. The future health of the space economy in Washington state depends on our regional labor market in STEM fields, so addressing long-term workforce training as the population ages is important.

See the PSRC Washington State Space Economy Study here:

https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/psrc-space-economy-study-sep-2018.pdf

Highlights of the report are located here:

https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/overview-spacestudy.pdf