NASA’s embrace of private spaceflight has paved the way for private sector investments, and funding to “new space” companies has rocketed as a result.

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Space tech is breaking barriers.

With rocket and satellite development costs falling, a regulatory embrace of private spaceflight (“new space”), and better remote sensing and data analytics capabilities, funding to space tech companies has rocketed from almost nothing in 2012, to approximately $4B in combined funding over the past two years. Space tech includes startups involved in the construction and launch of satellites or rocketry into outer space, as well as ancillary companies working to aggregate and analyze satellite data.

Deals to the sector have risen more than 400% between 2012-2015. In 2016, funding fell back to Earth a bit, with 40 deals across $1.5B in funding, down from 46 and $2.3B in 2015.

We used the CB Insights database to identify 57 space tech startups and organized them into three categories and eight subcategories, based on each company’s primary product, line of business, and/or current focus.

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Please note that companies often straddle multiple categories, especially in a sector as nascent as space tech.

Please click on the map to enlarge. The map is not meant to be exhaustive of companies in the space.

2017.04.04 Space Tech Market Map v5

Category Definitions

Exploration: Companies in this category are — literally and figuratively — aiming for the moon, and beyond.

  • Natural Resources: Asteroids and other planets contain valuable natural resources. Planetary Resources has received nearly $50M in assorted funding to develop robotic space exploration aimed at the eventual mining of asteroids.
  • Interplanetary: Google has promised its $30M Lunar XPRIZE to the first team to land a rover on the moon. Among those companies trying to land on the moon, Moon Express has received nearly $50M in assorted funding to build its natural resources- and data-collecting lunar robot, and has contracted with Rocket Labs as its launch provider. However, Rocket Labs lags behind its competition, having not yet launched a test rocket.
  • Consumer Tourism: Companies in this subcategory are making space tourism an immediate priority, focusing on space for the rest of us (who can pay for the pleasure). SpaceVR plans to launch micro-satellites into orbit to allow consumers to experience space via virtual reality.

Orbit: The majority of satellites and spacecraft orbiting Earth fall into two “layers” of space: Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO).

  • Research & Development: Companies in this subcategory are conducting scientific experiments in space, manufacturing items in-orbit, or working to better understand humanity’s effect on space — think space debris. NanoRacks helps researchers study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on test items.
  • Satellite Constellation Operation: With production costs falling steeply for micro-satellites, investors and founders are looking to launch satellite constellations that will be able to provide communications infrastructure and remote sensing data, among other use-cases. OneWeb is launching a satellite constellation to provide global mobile and internet connectivity, and Softbank is pushing for a merger between the company and Intelsat, another major satellite operator.

Launch & Downstream: A number of space tech companies are still in the rocket and launch testing phase, while other space tech companies offer satellite coordination services and/ or data analysis with feet firmly planted on the ground — or, downstream.

  • Communications & Tracking: Companies in this subcategory work to coordinate and track orbiting spacecraft, primarily satellites. A select few companies are combining IoT with space tech, and developing networks that will communicate via satellite. Kymeta is one such company, and has raised upwards of $200M to bring satellite connectivity to vehicles on Earth.
  • Data Analytics: Satellites generate tremendous amounts of data, and companies in this subcategory try to make sense of it all. It should be noted that these companies are typically industry generalists, with a focus on satellite data aggregation and analysis as opposed to specific industry use-cases. Orbital Insight analyzes satellite data to predict economic and environmental trends, among other use cases, and has raised nearly $30M in total funding.
  • Spacecraft Design & Launch Providers: Spacecraft designers are involved in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of rockets and satellites. Launch providers deliver payloads, such as micro-satellites, to outer space for clients. The two are grouped together because spacecraft designers like SpaceX or Blue Origin hope to use innovative and reusable rocket technology to deliver client payloads.

See the full company list below:

57 Space Tech Startups
Company Category Subcategory
Astrobotic Technology Exploration Interplanetary
Moon Express Exploration Interplanetary
Team Indus Exploration Interplanetary
Deep Space Industries Exploration Natural Resources
Planetary Resources Exploration Natural Resources
Cohu Experience Exploration Consumer Tourism
SpaceVR Exploration Consumer Tourism
Analytical Space Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Audacy Corp Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Goonhilly Earth Station Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Kymeta Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Leaf Space Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
RBC Signals Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Omnispace Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
LeoLabs Launch & Downstream Communications & Asset Tracking
Descartes Labs Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
OmniEarth Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
Orbital Insight Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
Rezatec Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
Skywatch Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
SpaceKnow Launch & Downstream Data Analytics
Rocket Lab Launch & Downstream Launch Providers
Spaceflight Industries Launch & Downstream Launch Providers
Vector Space Systems Launch & Downstream Launch Providers
World View Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
SpaceX Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
PLD Space Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Accion Systems Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Blue Origin Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
D-Orbit Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Isotropic Systems Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
KubOS Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Masten Space Systems Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Phase Four Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Relativity Space Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Xcor Aerospace Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Astroscale Launch & Downstream Spacecraft Design
Made In Space Orbit Research & Development
NanoRacks Orbit Research & Development
CubeRider Orbit Research & Development
Space Tango Orbit Research & Development
SpacePharma Orbit Research & Development
Iceye Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Axelspace Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Astro Digital Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
GeoOptics Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Hera Systems Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Kacific Broadband Satellites Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Kepler Communications Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Planet Labs Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
PlanetIQ Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Satellogic Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
SpaceBelt Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Spire Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Fleet Space Technologies Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
Magnitude Space Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation
OneWeb Orbit Satellite Constellation Operation

 

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  • Techno13

    May the entire population of planet Earth
    benefit from the economic drive into the final frontier.