A new space age is dawning, setting technological goals that would have seemed the stuff of Isaac Asimov in 1969. Constellations of satellites, fusion-powered spacecraft, technologies to mine asteroids and 3D printers to replace worn-out equipment in zero gravity.

Only this time around, the space race is being powered not just by government but by a new crop of startups and visionaries.

Although entrepreneurs, strategic partnerships and venture capital have been leading the charge on funding, the success of this nascent phase of the new space economy will require a self-sufficient ecosystem.

How it develops in the coming years — from funding to business models to full-fledged industry — may be a tale even more captivating then one written by Mr. Asimov.


Although the “space unicorns” have caught the eye of news media, hundreds of other new startups have formed in the past several years to explore opportunities in space infrastructure —  satellite manufacturing, launch capabilities, IT hardware — and adjacent areas, such as space tourism, satellite broadband, media and even asteroid mining.

Because success in space promises to be a multidecade endeavor — with returns on some lofty endeavors that could be many years away — this new economy requires patient investors. One sign of investors’ willingness to wait is the increasing reliance on permanent and long-term capital funds.


To succeed, the space industry will need practical business cases and realistic profit models — which means a self-sustaining ecosystem.

There are large launch companies But there’s also a lot of activity on the small launch side — companies who are focused on launching smaller, lower-cost satellites into orbit. And some of these launch companies are already profitable, as there is increasing demand to launch smallsats.

Indeed, the launch business is foundational to the space ecosystem — no launch, no space — and one of the biggest areas of funding. As launch becomes more refined — cheaper, easier, faster — it will allow for the rest of the ecosystem, from satellites to services, to grow into a broader marketplace


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