- Steve Case, co-founder and venture capitalist of AOL, spent the Space Coast on Tuesday on his "Rise of the Rest" tour, highlighting startups and innovations beyond the usual tech hubs.
Flashback: A decade ago, the space coast was struck by a double economic blow – NASA's shuttle program was suspended and the nation was drowned in a devastating recession. The resulting double-digit unemployment rate led some workers to leave the state.
- The state-sponsored Space Florida Business Development Program, along with business development groups, has funded the aerospace industry around the Kennedy Space Center and the US Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral. The goal was to fill the gap in the shuttle program.
What happens: Today the space center sees frequent starts, partly thanks to SpaceX. Already this month, SpaceX plans to bring satellites into low Earth orbit to provide broadband services.
- OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture with Airbus, which has just received a $ 1.2 billion investment from Softbank. The company plans to build hundreds of low earth orbit satellites to broadcast broadband worldwide.
- Boeing, Embraer, Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman employ thousands of people. Many of the big companies have Venture Arms.
The Big Picture: The big companies have helped attract technical talents, and nearby colleges are making a steady stream of engineers. However, the private space ecosystem is still young and local authorities are trying to promote the young startup scene.
- The Problem: Sending rockets, satellites, moonshrouds and people to the moon and beyond is quite expensive and quite risky.
- Venture Capitalists with Stomachs Strong enough to write a check are more likely to be found in California, where more than half of the VC investment was lost last year. Florida, on the other hand, received only 1.3% of all US VC funds.
"That's shockingly low" said Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida. "But we are not singing the sacrificial song that we were after the shuttle program disappeared, now there is real growth."
What's next: NASA plans to return to the Moon in 5 years, but it can be & # 39; Doing so alone, said Kira Blackwell, who runs NASA's iTech program, which brings together new space tech companies with private investors. "The technology moves so fast that it makes more sense for us to work with contractors to put boots on the moon."
NASA has long understood that the private industry at the end of space plays a key shuttle program, notes Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer.
- The space agency is now turning to space companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to launch their astronauts in the coming years to the International Space Station (ISS), which requires NASA to rely on Russian rockets.
- But these partnerships are risky. NASA is now on hold as the two companies, after years of delays and budget shortages, are working to get the crew of their crew systems running.
Conclusion: If NASA is not funded with the support of both parties, it could stall on hold on the moon, even if the private space industry supports the mission.
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