30 Companies To Watch In The Space Industry

In the last two posts, I have blogged on the emerging space industry, which is in the early stages of being commercialized.  While governmental organizations will still take the lead on space exploration, I believe private companies are now taking the lead in the commercialization of space. 

Based on the research I have done these past two days, I have assembled a list of 30 companies below that I feel are the ones to watch.  These are the companies that I feel will be leaders in the research, development, and implementation of space related commerce that will happen over the next 2-3 decades..  The list is presented in alphabetical order and links to the company websites provided. 

  1. Andrews Space.  The company mission statement says "Andrews will be a catalyst in the development, exploration, and commercialization of emerging space markets by providing innovative, entrepreneurial aerospace solutions to our commercial, civil, and military customers."  Andrews’ technical competencies include product/system development, space system design, rapid prototyping, propulsion system design, systems engineering, and business analysis.  Andrews Space has already has received an Air Force contract to flesh out its Hybrid Launch Vehicle concept.  http://www.andrews-space.com/ 
  2. Armadillo Aerospace: Armadillo Aerospace is an aerospace startup company based in Mesquite, Texas.  Its initial goal is to build a manned suborbital Ansari X-Prize-class spacecraft in order to grab some of the suborbital tourism market.   It’s plan is to use computer-controlled liquid-oxygen rockets to launch people 300,000 above the Earth. http://www.armadilloaerospace.com 
  3. Bigelow Aerospace: This start-up company is pioneering work on expandable space station modules that have a flexible outer shell.  The shell is contractible for launch.  Once in orbit, the module is inflated, allowing greater work, play, and living area for astronauts.  http://www.bigelowaerospace.com 
  4. Blue Origin: Blue Origin is a privately-funded company, founded in 2000 and owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos .  Blue Origin has begun construction on a spaceport in West Texas and is at work on a reusable space launch vehicle.  http://www.blueorigin.com/ 
  5. Boeing:  Boeing’s  Space Exploration division, headquartered in Houston, is a leading global supplier of reusable and human space systems and services.  Boeing has designed, developed, built, and operated human and robotic space vehicles as well as supporting hardware.  Projects included Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS).   Check out their website at http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/space_exploration/index.html 
  6. CubeSat. The CubeSat program strives to provide practical, reliable, and cost-effective launch opportunities for small satellites and their payloads.  Check out the community website at http://www.cubesat.info/    CubeSat projects are popping up at universities everywhere.  Cubesat kits are provided by http://www.cubesatkit.com/ 
  7. Energia Space: Russian-based Energia has been successfully carrying out the most daring rocket and space projects requiring revolutionary engineering solutions for many years.  As a large organization, they are involved in almost all areas of space technology, transportation, and exploration.  Energia   http://www.energia.ru/english/index.html 
  8. European Space Agency: The European Space Agency (ESA) is an inter-governmental organization  with 17 member states. Headquartered in Paris ESA has a staff of about 1,900.  The agency has a full line-up of projects and is involved in almost all aspects of space exploration, transportation, and business.  http://www.esa.int 
  9. Interorbital Systems: Interorbital Systesm is a small company that makes spacecraft components:  Interorbital is attempting to launch the first spacecraft that can carry six passengers into orbit for seven days. The $30 million Neptune Spaceliner, which could take flight in 2008, is funded by sales of rocket designs and guidance systems. Additional funds will come from selling payload space on the company’s Sea Star microsatellite launcher, due to blast off in 2007.  http://www.interorbital.com/ 
  10. Japanese Space Agency:   On October 1, 2003 three independent organizations (ISAS, NAL and NASDA) were merged into one independent administrative institution: the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  The agency, like the European Space Agency (ESA), is focused on many important projects for furture space transportation, but on a smaller scale than NASA or ESA.  Check out their vision for 2025 at the following URL  http://www.jaxa.jp/2025/index_e.html 
  11. Kayser-Threde:  Founded in 1967, Kayser-Threde is a leading systems house providing high-technology solutions for the industrial, aerospace and scientific sectors.   These include applications and solutions in manned and unmanned space missions, data measurement and management, telematics, optics and process control.  http://www.kayser-threde.com/ 
  12. LiftPort:  LiftPort, Inc. was established in 2003 with the goal of building a space elevator.  The company’s mission is simple: to build a complete space transportation infrastructure based around the space elevator concept.  This is an ambitious goal and one the company hopes to acheive before 2020.  Check out the company website at http://www.liftport.com 
  13. Lockheed Martin.  Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company is a recognized leader in the design, production and integration of launch vehicles and systems, spacecraft for telecommunications, remote sensing and space science.  Lockheed’s Orion Crew Vehicle will provide a state-of-the-art human space flight system capable of safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low earth orbit (LEO).   Read more on the Orion Crew Vehicle at http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/Orion/index.html
  14. NASA.  NASA needs little explanation…and there is not doubt it needs to be on this list!  Go to their website at http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/nasa_gen/index.html 
  15. Orbital Sciences: Orbital Sciences develops launch systems.  Orbital is a publicly traded company with revenues of around $700 million and a main office in Virginia.  Its Mojave facility is focused on the deployment of its Pegasus rocket system, which is designed to be drop-launched from an aircraft flying at 40,000 feet. That makes it possible to place satellites in low orbit for $31 million, a fraction of the cost of vertical launches. Pegasus has already flown 36 times.  http://www.orbital.com/ 
  16. Rocketplane Kistler. This company has developed the Kistler K-1 reusable launch vehicle. The K-1 is a fully reusable aerospace vehicle, designed to deliver payloads to orbit and provide a low-cost alternative to single-use launch vehicles. The company intends the K-1 to become the reliable, low-cost provider of launch services for commercial, civil, and military payloads destined for Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), as well as for cargo resupply and recovery flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS).   Read more at http://www.kistleraerospace.com/ 
  17. Scaled Composites:  Scaled Composites develops suborbital spacecraft.  Famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan is developing SpaceShipTwo, a seven-passenger suborbital flier  and he’s planning a world-class manufacturing facility in Mojave to churn out the ships.  The first five ships–which are rumored to be as plush as Gulfstream jets–will be flown exclusively by Branson’s Virgin Galactic out of Mojave in 2008, although he does eventually expect to sell his ships to other operators. Branson says each ticket for a few minutes of weightlessness will initially cost about $200,000 and that more than 100 passengers have already signed up.  http://www.scaled.com/ 
  18. Space Adventures.  Founded in 1998, Space Adventures Ltd. is all about pace tourism.  The company offers it’s customers Orbital Flights, Suborbital Flights, Spaceflight Training, and Space-related Flight Adventures.  Want to go on a flight?  Read more at  http://www.spaceadventures.com/ 
  19. SpaceDev: SpaceDev produces micro and nano satellites, hybrid rocket-based orbital Maneuvering and orbital Transfer Vehicles (MoTVs) as well as safe sub-orbital and orbital hybrid rocket-based propulsion systems.  SpaceDev has begun designing a reusable, piloted, sub-orbital space ship of their own that could be scaled up to safely and economically transport passengers to and from low earth orbit, including the International Space Station. The name of the vehicle is the “SpaceDev Dream Chaser".   Check out their website at http://www.spacedev.com 
  20. Space Exploration Technologies. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is a private company.  It develops launch vehicles and provides launch services.  Their mission is to revolutionize the commercial space industry.  The company was founded by Elon Musk, whose previous businesses (PayPal and Zip2 Corp.) gave him the wherewithal to get into the space-for-hire market.  SpaceX is developing the Falcon launch vehicle family, which is being designed to provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, flight environment and time to launch.  http://www.spacex.com/ 
  21. Space Island Group: The Space Island Group mission is to develop a stand-alone, commercial space infrastructure supporting the broadest possible range of manned business activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the 21st century and beyond.   SIG will build large, commercial space stations to be leased to a wide range of tenants as factories, hotels and entertainment complexes.  SIG also has plans to will also build large, commercial space stations to house their solar satellite assembly and maintenance crews. Some stations, resembling the one depicted in the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, will be leased to a wide range of tenants as factories, hotels and entertainment complexes.  SIG’s target is to supply half the world’s electricity generation and distribution, currently a $2 trillion annual market.  http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html 
  22. Spacehab:  Spacehab provides commercial and government space services with three primary business units.  Spacehab has built research modules for the space shuttle and is also offering its Apex line of spacecraft.   Apex is designed to execute a wide range of missions, including delivering experiments or supplies to the International Space Station, providing a platform for on-orbit research, or supporting orbital operations,  Read more at  http://www.spacehab.com/ 
  23. Space Services: Space Services is a 30 year old company that has developed a reliable and consistent launch program for cremated remains.  They offer a number of different space flights, including earth orbit, lunar flight, and deep space.   The company is not just about memorial flights, as they have done work for the government on next generation micro satellite and propulsion technologies (e.g. including solar sails).  Read more at  http://www.spaceservicesinc.com/ 
  24. Surrey Satellite Technology. SSTL, was founded over 20 years ago and was the first professional organization to offer low-cost small satellites.  The company’s stated mission is to lead the small satellite industry Today, SSTL employs over 200 staff and is considered the most experienced small satellite supplier in the world.   http://www.sstl.co.uk/ 
  25. The Planetary Society:  The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by futurists Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman.  The stated focus is to inspire humans to explore space.  Dedicated to exploring the solar system and seeking life beyond Earth, The Planetary Society is non-governmental and nonprofit and is funded by the support of its members.  Not just an education body, the Planetary Societary develops cutting-edge space technology and promotes private ventures in space.  Read more at http://www.planetary.org 
  26. Trans Lunar Research: Trans Lunar Research is working on moon habitation related projects with a small group of volunteers.  This nonprofit foundation, run out of Interorbital’s office, has an ambitious goal: to establish a civilian station on the surface of the Moon that will become a base for lunar mining, energy extraction, and exploration. Funded by private donations,  Trans Lunar plans to issue grants to support the development of propulsion systems, habitation technology, and oxygen extraction equipment.  http://www.translunar.org/ 
  27. t/Space: Transformational Space Corporation is developing a piloted spacecraft to take people and cargo to and from space for NASA, other government agencies, and private customers.  t/Space is currently working on designs for an air-launched four-person capsule termed the Crew Transfer Vehicle, or CXV.    http://www.transformspace.com/ 
  28. Universal Space Lines: This company was formed in 1996.  The company vision is enabling low-cost access to space and therefore it has focused on the development of reusable launch vehicles as the only viable, long-term solution for reducing the cost of access to space.   http://www.spacelines.com 
  29. Virgin Galactic: Virgin Galactic, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights and later orbital spaceflights to the paying public.   Virgin Galactic plans to fly 500 passengers a year at about US$200,000 each, to an altitude of over 100 km, with a total weightless time of 7 minutes.  The website provides more information at http://www.virgingalactic.com/ 
  30. Xcor Aerospace:  Xcor Aerospace is a small company that makes rocket engines.  Xcor’s EZRocket is a reusable engine powered by liquid oxygen and rubbing alcohol that has already been flight-tested. Applications range from propelling airplanes in the Rocket Racing League (which gets under way in September) to powering the Xerus, a suborbital spaceliner being developed with funding from private investors and the government.  http://www.xcor.com/

These last three posts I have blogged about space business.  I’ve brought it to our attention because I truly believe that "the train has left the station"….meaning that the commercialization of space is happening right now.   .

2 thoughts on “30 Companies To Watch In The Space Industry

  1. This is an ambitious goal and one the company hopes to acheive before 2020.
    Actually we reviewed and updated our timetable in the summer of 2006. In a nutshell we realized that in order to field a flight ready system we required much more testing that we had anticipated. On paper it’s possible to just ‘make it happen’ without a rigorous suite of testing but in reality this would not be exercising fiduciary responsibility, nor does it take into account Murphy’s law.
    So it’s been pushed back to 2031.
    Since Summer 06 we’ve also suffered a setup back with the state of Washington SEC imposing a fine and our CEO, Michael Laine, loosing the lease on his office building. The revenue from the building was providing the majority of our daily operations fund so we’re at a bit of a stand still at the moment; still in the game but not as ‘peppy’ as we were a few months ago.
    Brian Dunbar
    LiftPort

  2. @Brian. Thanks for stopping by. Sorry, I was not aware of the recent setback at Liftport. There is no doubt that Liftport’s goal is ambitious. But rest assured that there are many people hoping to see a successful system in operation. Keep pushing forward…even though you might have to take a step back every now and then!!

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