While many things seemed to be failing during the pandemic, space tech specialists didn't lose hope. In 2021, space travel and everything in between boomed. The advancement in the space tech industry has to do with venture capital funds that help small- to medium-sized enterprises with strong growth potential. Let's glance through some of the most notable space tech startups that soon may become an integral part of our lives.
Alén Space, a Spanish company founded in 2007, offers nanosatellites ready to launch. What makes their satellites unique is their weight and size. Typically, satellites are pretty large and need a lot of time, effort, and money to be placed in orbit. 12 years ago, Alen Space acknowledged this problem and since then provides nanosatellite solutions with a complete set of functions like mission control, aircraft surveillance, communication hardware, etc.
The satellite weight ranges from a minimum of 1 kg to a maximum of 10 kg. Since the space tech industry is rapidly developing these days, Alen Space offers small-sized satellite solutions at comparatively lower costs. The satellite's systems can be easily upgraded and connected into the constellations of nanosatellites to advance space communication technologies.
One of the leading out-of-the-box communication systems providers, CesiumAstro (a US-based space startup) provides satellites, launch vehicles, drones, and different space or airborne platforms with a comms system. This system requires only a single power cable and digital connection to make a high-speed communication link, enabling the government and military bodies to communicate with satellites, UAVs, etc. as well as deal with unpredictable “space” issues in a faster and more innovative way.
The company claims its systems are an order of magnitude cheaper than the competition. They can be integrated not only into satellites but uncrewed aerial vehicles and other platforms. CesiumAstro plans to launch a CubeSat mission by the end of the year.
Blue Origin is a private space company founded by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, founder of Amazon, and owner of Washington Post. The company's primary goal is to allow civilian space travel on its reusable suborbital rocket. Today the whole world held its breath to observe the launching of New Shepard, a reusable rocket-capsule duo.
Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, the 82-year-old commercial astronaut and aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen, who won the Blue Origin's auction and became the first paying customer to fly onboard, blasted into space on Tuesday, July 20 in the first crewed flight of New Shepard. The passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness and were able to unstrap from their seats to float around and enjoy the views of our planet far below. The spacecraft took off at 1:12 pm from a private launch pad near Van Horn, Texas. Eleven minutes later, they parachuted into the West Texas desert, beginning an era of commercial operations of the program.
The leading space tech and intelligence company that helps unlock the promise of space to help governments and businesses solve problems on Earth and beyond is Maxar Technologies. The company helps monitor, understand, and navigate our changing planet, deliver global broadband communications, explore and advance the use of space. From the time humans first began exploring the solar system, Maxar supported commercial and government missions with Space Infrastructure capabilities. On Earth, Maxar Technologies helps its customers map, detect and predict change across the globe.
Maxar Technologies provides 90% of the foundational geospatial intelligence used by the U.S Government for national security, keeping troops safe on the ground. The ability to observe Earth from space, combined with strategic partnership and cutting-edge technology, has demonstrated again that it is a critical tool for understanding, responding to, and addressing pressing issues on our planet.
It is impossible to talk about space tech companies and not mention Virgin Galactic. Most of us like traveling, and each of us has been in the role of tourist, but no one could imagine space tourism would arrive so fast. Virgin Galactic is a US-based vertically-integrated aerospace company founded in 2004 by Richard Branson, investor, author, and commercial astronaut. Virgin Galactic vehicles include WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. Both of these two have a unique feature which is a reusable SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system; they differ from other vehicles as they are reusable, winged spacecraft powered by a hybrid rocket motor, have more windows than other spacecraft, and can change their shape in space.
On July 11, 2021, Virgin Galactic launched a flight that we could call unthinkable, made real or the most extreme version of travel possible. The “Unity 22” mission is the rocket-powered test flight of the SpaceShipTwo, which took twenty-second flight, carrying an entire crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin, including the company's founder. The new era of space tourism has just begun, and two additional flights are planned before Virgin Galactic expects to commence commercial service in 2022.