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Start-ups join Google, SpaceX and OneWeb to bring new technologies to space

January 12, 2020 / Joel Dreyfuss
SHARESHARESHARE

For a long time, American space exploration was a closed circle: There was just one customer, the U.S. government (NASA) and a handful of giant defense contractors. Then in 2008 Elon Musk’s SpaceX put the first privately-financed rocket into orbit, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin promised private flights, and space was suddenly a lively market with companies vying to put satellites and humans into orbit.

A decade later hundreds of start-ups have flocked to the space sector, bringing sophisticated technologies that include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, phased array radar, space-based solar power, “tiny” satellites and services that could not be imagined just a few years ago.

Space Angels, an early stage investor that also tracks investments in the sector, reported that venture capitalists invested $5 billion into space technologies in the first three quarters of 2019, putting the year on track to be the biggest year yet, with B...