Life is still far from becoming the long-promised multi-planetary stage. But rest assured, it is slowly and surely going in that direction. The increase in population is taking a toll on Earth’s finite resources and experts and astronauts believe that humans must become a multi-planetary species and colonize other planets for long-term survival.
Thanks to the competitive market created by the rise of private players, the cost of space flight and access to space has decreased dramatically over the decades. The new space economy has resulted in startups competing in new segments such as space tourism and space mining to open up space access to humans. While space tourism is currently aimed at the elite wealthy due to its high price tag, it has the potential to be more accessible in the future when the costs decline.
Space travel and space launch startups are the most common, consisting mainly of somewhat mature companies, mostly in the growth stage. Space Stations is another segment of growth and early stage companies, although with a limited number of players.
Space debris management segment consists of a mix of somewhat established disruptors who are involved in debris tracking while disruptors that solely focus on debris removal are at seed or pre-seed stages. Space mining is a nascent segment, which is yet to be commercialised with several seed and pre-seed disruptors.
Leading aerospace and defense companies (such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing) have had an active involvement in space activities for over 50 years. More recently, aerospace and national security contractor Sierra Nevada, which engaged in space activities, spun off its space division in 2021 into a separate entity, Sierra Space, to reflect the growth potential it foresees for the space segment.
While a majority of incumbents are from the aerospace and defense industry, there have also been exceptions such as Obayashi Corporation, which is a Japanese construction giant that entered the next-gen space segment through the proposal of a space elevator, slated for completion in 2050.
Almost all major incumbents engage in in-house developments, while Thales Group engages in space activities through a strategic partnership (called Space Alliance) with Italian aerospace company Leonardo.