- Space tech is a booming sector of the market for private funding with companies tackling some of the most pressing issues on this world and beyond.
- The market for space related enterprises is currently worth around $350 billion and could be as much as $1 trillion by 2040,according to Morgan Stanley.
- Since 2009, $22 billion has been spent in VC funding on some 476 space tech and space-related companies, according to Space Angels Network data.
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Space companies are taking off.
From re-usable rockets to advanced imaging, space tech encompasses a variety of incredible new use cases for businesses. Since 2009, $22 billion has been spent in VC funding on some 476 space tech and space-related companies in a rapidly expanding market, according to Space Angels Network data.
Space is now being taken seriously as a sector. The market for space related enterprises is currently worth around $350 billion and could be as much as $1 trillion by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley.
The applications vary from solving climate change and improving weather data to enabling cheaper rocket launches, greater mapping of space debris, as well as longer-term projects like space colonization and off-world heavy industry.
Business Insider spoke to key space investors who named these seven companies (in no particular order) as ones to watch.
Oxford Space Systems
Oxford Space Systems is an Oxford, UK-based company which specializes in deployable antennas and other structures for the global satellite industry.
Founded in 2013 by Mike Lawton, the company has raised $11.4 million to date with funding primarily coming from Space Angels Network alongside a syndicate of smaller UK-based VCs.
The company was cited by Chad Anderson of Space Angels Network as one of the hottest European space tech stories with expertise in developing new areas of space innovation.
Founded by three students from three different companies in a cafe in Strasbourg, France, Spire uses nanosatellites to improve earth imaging data.
Nanosatellites are, understandably, smaller than conventional earth orbiters and weigh between one and 10 kilograms, and tend to stick within the earth’s orbit.
The company was cited by Mark Boggett of Seraphim Capital as one to watch this year. Spire opened its first office in San Francisco and has since opened locations in three other cities.
Cofounders Jeroen Cappaert, Peter Platzer, and Joel Spark have raised $140.5 million since Spire’s launch in 2012.
“We did the research and saw that nanosatellites was a business that would grow exponentially,” Platzer told Business Insider in an interview. “We saw something different to the rest of the world and now the world has dramatically changed.”
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada-based Skywatch has raised $4.2 million since the company’s foundation in 2014.
The company uses a cloud-based system to store data on the stratosphere and the earth’s atmosphere to improve observations of earth for a variety of purposes. Skywatch’s EarthCache is formed of satellite data from a number of the largest providers available.
Probably the least surprising selection in this list, SpaceX nonetheless has been cited as a genuine pioneer in the space tech field and a company from which many other businesses have spun out of.
Owned by one of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, Elon Musk, SpaceX has changed the eco-system for rocket launching and has pushed on with its plans to be able to re-use its rockets as it further reduces the cost of sending objects to space.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 with more than $3 billion raised via a variety of channels, including from the leveraged loan market.
VCs such as Steve Jurvetson of Future Ventures and Chad Anderson of Space Angels Network said that SpaceX would continue to make huge strides in the race for space.
LeoLabs is a Silicon Valley satellite tracking company which has generated plenty of hype since its founding in 2015. The company can track objects in space to within two metres for a fraction of the cost of larger incumbents in the sector and has raised $17 million in VC funding to date.
LeoLabs can track the tens of thousands of objects which populate the earth’s low level orbit and help ensure that space junk doesn’t damage satellites and other installations in space. Founded by Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs recently announced that it would provide its services for the New Zealand Space Agency,according to Space News.
Astrobotic is a Pittsburgh based company that has raised $12.5 million for its business, which sends hardware into space for contractors.
The company was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics unit in 2008 and has received funding from Space Angels Network and NASA.
Space Angels’ Anderson cites the company as one to watch. Astrobotic recently won a $5.6 contract from NASA to build a rover to help explore hard to reach and polar parts of the moon, according to SpaceRef.
Relativity Space is a rocket company led two former SpaceX employees in the form of 26-year-old CEO Tim Ellis, and his cofounder Jordan Noone.
The company is building 3D printed rockets at a fraction of their traditional cost with more than 90% of each build coming from its massive Stargate 3D printer in California.
Relativity has brought in veterans from across the space industry to help continue its growth — having raised $45.7 million in VC funding since the company’s founding in 2016.
SEE ALSO:A VC on Elon Musk's SpaceX board says founders who can't answer this question might miss out on millions in funding
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