NASA’s new publication, “Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit,” consists of a series of papers that examines a number of important policy questions that will be of rising importance as NASA transitions human spaceflight in LEO to the private sector.
One of the papers, “Venture Capital Activity in the Low-Earth Orbit Sector,” has detailed information on what U.S. venture capitalists have invested in. Key excerpts from the paper follow. (more…)
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Tauri Group PR) – The year 2015 was a record-setting year for start-up space ventures with investment and debt financing of $2.7 billion (excluding debt financing, $2.3 billion). Nearly twice as much venture capital ($1.8 billion) was invested in space in 2015 than in the prior 15 years, combined. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most in any year during the 15-year study period (2000-2015).
EVRY, France, March 17, 2015 (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has signed a contract to launch a block of high resolution imaging satellites for Skybox Imaging aboard the Vega launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in 2016.
“We are extremely proud to play a part in deploying Skybox’s satellite imaging constellation.” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël. “The Vega launch system has already achieved four flawless flights for commercial and government customers. This new contract with Skybox marks our first U.S. customer of the Vega and adds to Vega’s order book of nine small satellites to be launched in the coming three years.”
Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 20 shareholders and the European Space Agency, the company offers an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. Arianespace is the only operator in the world capable of launching any mass to any orbit from the Guiana Space Center. As of March 17, 2015, 221 Ariane launches, 36 Soyuz launches (10 at the Guiana Space Centre and 26 at Baikonur with Starsem) and four Vega launches have been performed. The company’s headquarters is in Evry, near Paris, and has local offices in Washington DC (United States), Tokyo (Japan) and Singapore.
MENLO PARK, March 2, 2015 (BVP PR) — Bessemer Venture Partners announced today that it has recruited Scott Smith of Iridium Communications, Inc. as a part-time Operating Partner, where he will help identify and advise portfolio companies in what BVP calls the emerging “spacetech” sector.
Smith will continue to serve as Chief Operating Officer and a board director of Iridium, operator of the world’s largest commercial satellite constellation. He previously served in the same role at Digital Globe. In addition to his experience at aerospace industry leaders, Smith’s background includes space tech startups: in 1995 he co-founded Space Imaging, and he recently served on the board of Skybox until its acquisition by Google.
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.
2015 NET WORTH (BILLIONS)
SOURCE(S) OF WEALTH
Global satellite network
SpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
SpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
SpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
Kavitark Ram Shriram
Google, venture capital
H. Ross Perot, Jr.
Computer services, real estate
University of Phoenix
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.
Google invested $900 million of the approximately $1 billion in new funds raised by SpaceX last month, according a document the company filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday. This means that Fidelity Investments contributed the other $100 million.
In the filing, Google said it invested the funds “to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing.” The money is believed to be focused on a plan to launch 4,000 satellites to provide global broadband coverage.
Google is already experimenting with this technology in Project Loon, which uses high altitude balloons to delivery Internet to remote areas.
“Loon has helped students in Brazil and farmers in New Zealand experience the power of an internet connection for the first time,” the company said in its filing. “And as the program expands, we hope to bring this to more and more people — creating opportunities that simply did not exist before for millions of people, all around the world.”
Google also discussed its $478 million acquisition of Skybox Imaging.
“We expect the acquisition to keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery and, over time, improve internet access and disaster relief,” the company said. “Of the total purchase price of $478 million, $6 million was cash acquired, $69 million was attributed to intangible assets, $388 million was attributed to goodwill, and $15 million was attributed to net assets acquired. The goodwill of $388 million is primarily attributable to the synergies expected to arise after the acquisition. Goodwill is not expected to be deductible for tax purposes.”