Many consider it to be the next frontier for investment – space. But while in the past, the industry’s been dominated by governments and large corporations, a new breed of startups and venture capitalists are joining forces to set a new flight path.
CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.
Sci-fi enthusiasts around the world treasure Star Trek’s most famous line: “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”
And at the Space Technology and Investment Forum in San Francisco, that same enterprising spirit is catching on.
Former hedge fund manager Elliot Carol is now a CFO for the startup Ripple, which is developing a vehicle that can be launched semi-submerged from the ocean and carry payloads potentially to the moon or even mars.
“Right now, the launch industry as well as the space sector is constrained due to lack of financing,” said Elliot Carol, CFO of Ripple Aerospace. “So there needs to be a large push for space companies to hire hi-quality financial talent in order to really make this market efficient.”
RBC signals is applying the Airbnb concept to satellites by allowing customers to rent time on idle dishes around the world,
“A satellite dish may only be in use for a few minutes of a day,” said Christopher Richins, Co-Founder & CEO of RBC Signals. “So a lot of these dishes, the vast majority of the time is available for resale.”
Startups have been taking an increasing role in aerospace, led by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has already successfully launched and landed nine rockets this year.
Silicon Valley giant Facebook is also looking upward by experimenting with aircraft and satellites to beam the internet into regions of the world that don’t have access.
“This is exciting for us — satellite and high-altitude long-endurance aircraft,” says Janna Lewis, Strategic Innovation Partnerships at Facebook. “We see them as viable options for reaching and serving those underserved populations.”
“People are taking advantage of lower-cost hardware, lower-cost launch services and the increasing accessibility of space that anyone can practically build a satellite in their garage and then get it launched,” said Micah Walter-Range, the Director of Research for Space Foundation.
Space Foundation’s director of research gives some examples as to why space innovation is worth the investment. Think about how much fuel is saved on the road thanks to GPS. And he says miniaturized versions of space shuttle engine pumps are actually used in artificial hearts.
“I think the space market will continue to become less defined as its own isolated thing and it’ll just continue adding value to the global economy as a whole,” said Walter-Range.
The Space foundation says the U.S. and China led the globe with the most rocket launches into orbit last year – 22 each.
It’s also the very first time China has topped the rankings.
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