Number of Billionaires Investing in Space Projects Grows

Forbes has published its annual list of the planet’s billionaires. A small but growing number of them are either directly supporting major space projects or doing so through the companies that they run.

FORBES RANKNAMEAGE
2015 NET WORTH (BILLIONS)
SOURCE(S) OF WEALTH
SPACE INVESTMENT(S)
 15Jeff Bezos51 $34.8Amazon.comBlue Origin
16Mark Zuckerberg30
 $33.4FacebookGlobal satellite network
19Larry Page41$29.7 GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
20Sergey Brin 41 $29.2GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
43Charles Ergen62$19.8DISH NetworkDISH Network
51Paul Allen62 $17.5 Microsoft, investmentsStratolaunch Systems, SETI, Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne)
100Elon Musk43$12PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCitySpaceX
137Eric Schmidt59$9.1GoogleSpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
330Richard Branson
64$4.8Virgin GroupVirgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
1006Kavitark Ram Shriram58$1.9Google, venture capitalPlanetary Resources
1105H. Ross Perot, Jr.56$1.8 Computer services, real estatePlanetary Resources
1324Charles Simonyi 67$1.4MicrosoftPlanetary Resources
1415Peter Sperling55$1.3University of PhoenixEcliptic Enterprises

I’ve added Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to the list this year. His company is reportedly working on a global broadband network that would involve satellites, although details of the plan have not been made public.

I’ve left off Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte, who came in at number 1006 with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Although he once took a trip to the International Space Station, he is not known to be funding any major space projects at the moment.

Update: I’ve added Charles Ergen and Peter Sperling to the list. Big shout out to Rex Ridenoure over at Ecliptic Enterprises.

The Year in Commercial Space 2014 (Part II)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)
Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Second of 2 Stories

It was a busy year for a number of commercial space companies. While most of them made considerable progress, the news wasn’t all good.

A Dream Deferred

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) had a pretty rough year, losing out on two major contracts and laying off more than 100 employees.

On a Friday in May, just as everyone was preparing for the long Memorial Day weekend, Virgin Galactic announced it was dumping the hybrid rubber motor SNC developed for SpaceShipTwo in favor of a hybrid nylon one produced by Scaled Composites.

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Google Subsidiary Signs 60-Year Lease on Moffett Field

moffett_field_aerial
Deal Part of Agency Effort to Reduce Costs, Surplus Property

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In an effort to reduce costs and shed surplus property, NASA today signed a lease with Planetary Ventures, LLC to manage Moffett Federal Airfield (MFA), an agency facility located in Moffett Field, California, and rehabilitate its historic Hangar One. NASA estimates the lease will save the agency approximately $6.3 million annually in maintenance and operation costs and provide $1.16 billion in rent over the initial 60-year lease term.

MFA, currently maintained by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, includes approximately 1,000 acres of land located on South San Francisco Bay. The land includes Hangars One, Two and Three, an airfield flight operations building, two runways and a private golf course.

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So What’s Going on With Google’s Effort to Lease Moffett Field?

hangar_one_stripped
Over at Pando Daily, Dan Raile asks that musical question that’s been on everybody’s mind, “What ever happened to Google’s lease for a huge government airfield in Mountain View?”

In February, the General Services Administration announced that Planetary Ventures, a Google-backed company, had submitted the winning bid for a 20-year lease on Moffett Field, which is currently managed by NASA Ames. Negotiations were to be complete by July 1, but Raile reports discussions appear to be in limbo.

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NASA, GSA Select Google-Owned Planetary Ventures to Manage Moffett Field

moffett_field_aerial
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA/GSA PR) — The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA have selected Planetary Ventures LLC as the preferred lessee on a lease to rehabilitate historic Hangar One and to manage Moffett Federal Airfield, currently managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The lease will put Hangar One to new use and eliminate NASA’s management costs of the airfield.

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