Growing the Space Economy

The opportunities starting to become available beyond Earth.

Jason Crusan is from a small startup you may have heard of… called NASA. He’s the director of their Advanced Exploration Systems division, which is itself part of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. He came to speak at StartCon to update you all on changes in the space industry – and the huge opportunities ahead within that sector.

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A Sputnik moment

In Jason’s opinion, the space industry is approaching a new Sputnik moment – a moment that will change everything. But this time, everyone is fully aware of it and working together to create a space economy. Countries all over the world are contributing. “We don’t see borders in space,” Jason says, displaying video of the Earth taken from the International Space Station.

More and more commercial opportunities are arising, from launching satellites to supplying the International Space Station and working with NASA to push beyond humanity’s historic boundaries.

Industry is taking over

If you look at the spend on space exploration in the USA, it’s held pretty steady in absolute terms. But if you look at the proportion the government spends on space exploration, it has less and less purchasing power. The government opened up these opportunities, but now it’s time for industry to play its part. “NASA is not going to the moon,” Jason explains. “US industry is going to the moon.”

All sorts of exciting opportunities are becoming commercial, from satellites for telecoms to Earth observation for military and civilian projects, to providing services for the International Space Station. One recent contract was for a device that, using power, thermal control and CO2, would create water in Earth orbit – on the same terms as a telephone line. If it works, NASA will pay; if it doesn’t, they don’t.

What does this mean for you?

It means there’s a whole wealth of new opportunities you couldn’t have considered just a few years ago. It’s not just space exploration – there are now opportunities to send experiments into space to be carried out on the ISS. Jason mentioned just one which showed that the virulence of certain pathogens increases in the absence of gravity. You can test sensors on the outside of the ISS, or launch small satellites of your own which go up with deliveries to the ISS.

And there’s all kinds of ways in which NASA are encouraging industry to get involved with preparing for further space exploration. Bigelow, for example, are working on expandable activity modules. There’s so much room for innovation and new ideas – and startups are just the place where this kind of new dynamic can be explored. It doesn’t just have to be US industry going to the moon. Humans are going to make a whole economy out there beyond Earth.

Key takeaways

·       The space industry is changing. It’s not just NASA anymore. There are opportunities for everyone, internationally.

·       There are all kinds of new opportunities for testing and deploying things in space. Need an experiment run in zero gravity? That’s possible now.

·       Industry is going to the moon. And beyond.

Actionable Growth Tactics for 2017

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Speakers include: 

  • Andrew Chen, Rider-Side Growth, UBER 
  • Jason Crusan, Director of Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA  
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  • Nate Moch, VP Product Teams & Growth, Zillow
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  • Chandini Ammineni, Distribution Partner, 500 Startups
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