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Space accounting

Hank C. Alewine (Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 5 May 2020

Issue publication date: 10 July 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The emerging and rapidly growing space economy warrants initial analysis from an accounting lens. This article explores accounting's role in entity transactions involving outer space activities by addressing two questions: (1) What accounting challenges exist within a developing space economy? (2) What accounting research opportunities exist to address these challenges?

Design/methodology/approach

Background context introduces accounting scholars to the modern space economy and its economic infrastructure, providing insight on entity transactions involving activities in outer space. Detailed discussion and analysis of space accounting challenges and research opportunities reveal potential for a robust, interdisciplinary field in the accounting domain relevant for both practitioner and academic spheres. The article concludes with a summary investigation of the future exploration of accounting for space commerce.

Findings

Many accounting challenges and opportunities exist now and in the near future for accounting practitioners and scholars to contribute towards humanity's ambitious plans to achieve a sustained presence on the moon sometime during the 2020s and on Mars in the 2030s. All of accounting's traditional subject-matter domain, as well as sustainability accounting matters, will be relied upon in these efforts. Interdisciplinary inquiries and problem solving will be critical for success, with particular collaboration needs existing between accounting and operations management scholars.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to explore accounting for the burgeoning space economy, and to offer insight and guidance on the development of an emerging accounting subfield: space accounting.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thank you to two anonymous referees for their constructive comments, as well as participants of the 2017 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, NM, and the 2017 Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville, AL, for beneficial conversations and insight that informed this paper.

Citation

Alewine, H.C. (2020), "Space accounting", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 991-1018. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-06-2019-4040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited