Often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 encapsulates the current trend of increased automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes aspects such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, cognitive computing and ‘cyber’ issues. In this article, the authors highlight the relative immaturity of the space industry in the field and argue for the adoption of Industry 4.0 standards.
Despite the momentum of NewSpace alongside other rapid changes in the space industry, some market segments are facing major challenges. Currently, most manufacturing processes in the space industry are time-consuming and costly. Moreover, they are based on manufacturing principles that are mostly unsuitable either for efficient single-unit production or serial production in particular.
Step by step, however, this rather conservative and one-of-a-kind agency-focused business is transforming into a commercial market. Many new companies with innovative products and services are entering the global space industry and associated markets. The number and variety of satellites of all sizes - from nanosatellites to large-scale or monolithic satellites - is increasing. However, the transition of the industry from single-item production to mass production faces several challenges.
NewSpace companies focus on the application of cross-sector standards for the space industry. Therefore, other industry sectors, and especially the manufacturing industry, play a central role. One of the current, main drivers in non-space industries is the extensive field of Industry 4.0 and, with it, the topic of ‘platform economics’.