SINGAPORE (Aug 6): When Lynette Tan was growing up, working in the space industry was a crazy proposition — the closest thing would likely have been to look through the telescopes on sale at the Singapore Science Centre. But she went on to found Singapore’s first non-government space association that helped shape the local industry today.

“The Asian space trajectory [now] is very different from the legacy period during the Cold War,” says Tan, executive director of Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA). In the 1960s, the space race between the US and what was then the Soviet Union centred on who would get to the moon first. “In Asia, it is very pragmatic,” Tan explains. “Pride is not the main driver. It is about how you can send massive amounts of data through space technology. It is about economic development.”

China has laid out plans to be a superpower in space by 2030, while India has launched more than 200 satellites into space. Commercial entities are also leading a charge into the space industry — thanks to the falling price of satellites. In 2015, about 75% of global space activities involved commercial products and services such as telecommunications, broadcasting and remote monitoring. The industry is expected to grow eight times to US$2.7 trillion ($3.67 trillion) in 30 years, from US$350 billion in 2017, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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