Science Strikes Back: Space Tech
August 28, 2020 | Abree Murch
Our “Science Strikes Back” series introduces some of the most exciting, forward-leaning venture investment sectors in deep tech. Our Deep Tech Fund co-invests alongside established deep tech venture firms in companies taking on the toughest and potentially most lucrative technological challenges. Our point of view is that the need has never been higher for scientific thought and innovations tackling hard problems. The fund is now open! Click below to learn more.
Deep Tech Focus #7 – Space Tech
Investing in Space
Space tech is the development, manufacturing, and support of technical products, services, or objects that can be launched into space or used to explore it.
Since the early days of NASA, commercial players in the space sector have been major contributors. NASA and its partners have generated an amazing list of inventions (2000+), including lightweight insulation, cordless power tools, flame-resistant gear, and near-instantaneous ad bidding that occurs on web pages.
Today, private companies are leading the space race. The space market is now big business around the world, with ~$415B in global activity in 2018 — nearly 80% of that commercial revenue. Innovations span a range of sectors, including energy and environment, transportation, consumer goods, information technology, health and medicine, and more.
Innovations in space tech are being accelerated by leveraging other developments in deep tech, including AI, machine learning, blockchain, robots, and advanced materials. But one key limit on space activity is the cost of launching to low Earth orbit (LEO). Private space companies are tackling the challenge through reusable launch vehicle tech. Their goal is to move the cost from the historical average of $10,000 per kilogram of launched mass past the SpaceX low cost of $1,665 and down to $100 per kilogram. Once that barrier is crossed, the sky’s the limit.
Applications and Benefits
Advancements in space tech present a number of benefits:
- More efficient communication
- Faster Earth transportation
- Better navigating and positioning
- More accurate predictive monitoring
- Smarter resource observation and management
- Greener energy production
- Greater and cheaper access to high-value materials
Innovations in the Wings
- Webs of networked satellites (megaconstellations) will radically increase the speed and coverage of communications.
- Taking advantage of microgravity, advanced materials such as special fiber optics will be manufactured in space.
- Suborbital transport, possibly relying on hydrogen/oxygen fuel generated from water, could offer a greener and much quicker means of travel on planet Earth.
- Look for mining in outer space, with meteorites and even other planets tapped for highly valuable materials, such as water, iron, platinum, gold, helium, and more.
- Energy-consuming data centers could be placed in outer space, where they would absorb solar energy and reduce carbon emissions and electricity demands on Earth.
In Our Portfolio
AVG Portfolio Companies in the Space Tech Sector
These are just a few of our portfolio companies advancing the tech of genomics:
- Analytical Space: A satellite network of in-orbit relays that use laser communication to increase the speed and amount of data transmitted.
- Capella Space: Cost-effective SAR satellites able to see through clouds, at night, and even underground. Traditional imaging satellites use natural light optical where the range of visibility and detail are typically limited.
- PhaseFour: Develops plasma propulsion technology for satellites, megaconstellations, and launch vehicles to achieve previously unattainable orbits at a tenth the cost.