Case Study: Water

Water: The First Commodity to be Extensively Traded in Space

In space, water is a vital resource and provides air and spacecraft propellant. Delivering water as a commodity to on-orbit facilities will be an important driver for sustainable human and commercial presence in space. A centralized commodity market for space resources; water, propellant, volatiles, and other valuable metals and minerals, will be a key component of a growing space economy and will expand the range of commercial opportunities in space.

A market stimulates private demand for space commodities and sets a price that space agencies and commercial companies can use to plan for future spaceflight activities.

Suppliers who can deliver a commodity below market price will have a ready market, expanding to more cost-effective delivery of commodities from other locations, such as water mined from the south Lunar pole and metals extracted from near Earth asteroids.

Buyers who can lock in a known price for a commodity and take delivery at a specified location will be able to externalize their supply chain logistics and simplify their business operations.

The need for a space commodities market is evident, needs to be planned (this phase), and can be built-out over a 10 year period.

Demand of Water

According to Northern Sky Research the In-Orbit Servicing Market is a nascent industry with future potential; providing applications for different customers and addressing market demand.

The following chart is based on 2017-2027 case studies of commercial GEO satellites and the demand for In-Orbit Servicing. SCX believes water will play an important role.

In-orbit Servicing by Addressable Market by Type of Service

Source: Northern Sky Research

Source of Water

Water can be lifted into orbit from the Earth, extracted from the Moon’s South Pole, and in the future extracted from Near Earth Objects and Asteroids.

Uses of Water

On Earth

LEO Satellites

  • Re-Fueling / Propulsion for mega constellations
  • Vital for manned operations, e.g. space stations / space tourism

Distributed Launch

  • Re-Fueling from space (water pre-sourced from Earth, the Moon or asteroids) enables long-distance missions


GEO Satellites

  • Re-Fueling for Propulsion

Deep Space Operations

  • For Propulsion
  • For maintaining life

On the Moon

Lunar operations

  • Propulsion for operations
  • For maintaining life

For Near Earth Objects / Asteroids

Space Resources & Asteroid Mining

  • Propulsion for operations
  • For maintaining life

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