Until fairly recently, there was really no opportunity for public investors to invest in the companies that would typically be categorized as belonging to the “New Space” industry. Yes you could invest in Lockheed Martin, Boeing, or a number of other legacy space companies, but not the ones driving much of the most recent buzz in the sector. Thats changing in real time though as a number of these younger companies are hitting public markets, not through a traditional IPO process but instead through a vehicle popularized more recently, a SPAC.

Monthly global SPAC volume in billions of dollars. Source: Bloomberg

By the end of this year there may be…

With this post, we’re coming back to rockets and this time we’re looking at those in the medium lift launch vehicle category. This includes vehicles capable of lifting between 2,000kg and 20,000kg to Low Earth Orbit. It’s a particularly interesting segment because it’s a highly international cohort of vehicles. It provides a great way to explore the international/geopolitical nature of the space industry and to consider the reasons for why nations choose to sponsor their own space programs.

The post will start with a survey of all the vehicles. Then we’ll focus on some of the patterns we see and…

Up until a few decades ago, satellites were all big. Real big. School bus sized big.

Many satellites are still big. But also, some of them now are small. Real small. Toaster sized small.

The miniaturization of electronics that has down-sized the computers in our pockets has also affected how big our satellites need to be in order to accomplish their missions.

Similarly, decades ago rockets needed to be big because they were only carrying big things, such as large satellites, humans in capsules, planetary rovers, etc. …

Ever wonder how many satellites are in space? Or what it would look like if you could peer down on the Earth and see them all?

Well, here you go:

Source: LeoLabs

That image is from a live visualization by a company called LeoLabs. You can play around with it yourself here.

The green objects are active satellites (currently numbering at over 3,000) and the purple ones are debris (estimates are at about 34,000 greater than 10cm in size and potentially hundreds of thousands of smaller ones).

The visualization actually makes the region around Earth seem more crowded than it is. In…

Why start with rockets?

The launch industry is a fundamental part of the space ecosystem because it can be described as the critical infrastructure upon which the space economy is enabled. Most simply stated launch vehicles are a means of transportation, they get objects off the surface of the Earth and onto the next step of their journey in space.

The launch industry is most typically segmented by payload lift class, meaning the mass of the objects that the rockets can send into orbit. …

What does it mean to be an astronaut?

Is it defined by going to the International Space Station and performing a space walk? Does it mean that you travelled to the moon and planted a flag? By definition, an astronaut is someone who has crossed the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and the edge of space.

Where does that boundary exist? Well the atmosphere falls off gradually as you leave the planet’s surface so there isn’t an obvious line. However, there are two widely accepted benchmarks. The first, and most internationally recognized border, is the Karman line which exists 100 kilometers…

Ian Vorbach

Space investor and rocket engineer. MBA @ Wharton, MS Aeronautics and Astronautics @ Stanford, BS Physics @ Yale

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