Beyond SpaceX: 5 Space Technology Startups to Watch in 2023

5 Space Technology Startups to Watch in 2023

These space technology startups are set to blast off and achieve everything beyond one’s wildest dreams.

As we venture further into the galaxy, the sky isn’t the limit anymore when it comes to innovation in the world of space technology. From satellites that are as small as a lunchbox to rockets that could potentially colonize Mars, companies are truly pushing the envelope in this ever-expanding field.

There’s no denying that SpaceX has been hogging the limelight in the world of space technology. Elon Musk’s brainchild has brought us jaw-dropping innovations and has us dreaming about life on Mars. But while SpaceX is shooting for the stars, there’s a whole universe of up-and-coming space technology startups that are making waves in their own right.

So, grab your telescopes and buckle up for an astronomical ride as we unveil five space technology startups that are set to make a galactic splash in 2023.

AstroScale

Space isn’t just the final frontier; it’s also the dumping ground for a whole lot of junk. With over 6,000 satellites working tirelessly to fuel our everyday lives from space, the debris from defunct satellites and other discarded “junk” cast off by spacecraft has made space junk a hot-button issue that’s now hitting close to home. In fact, NASA estimates that 500,000 objects ranging from 1 to 10 centimeters in diameter are zipping around our planet in orbit.

Born with the ambition to clear Earth’s orbital mess, AstroScale provides satellite operators and launchers with active debris removal (ADR) services to protect the physical space environment, all the while making it cleaner.

Besides ADR, AstroScale has made a name for itself as the one-stop-shop for all in-orbit service needs, as it also takes care of the following:

  • End-of-life (EOL)—a spacecraft retrieval service for satellites that have run their course.
  • Life extension (LEX)—repairing and upgrading satellites that are still in the game to save money for building new ones and cut down on space junk.
  • Space situational awareness (SSA)—giving people a better handle on the space environment to make space missions safer and keeping collisions between space objects at bay.

AstroScale’s cutting-edge solutions are unquestionably turning the tables on the space junk conundrum while ensuring the sustainability of space expeditions and satellite undertakings. However, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. Staying true to its mission of safeguarding our celestial neighborhood, we can bet our bottom dollar that we’ll witness more groundbreaking endeavors taking flight from AstroScale in the not-so-distant future.

Axiom Space

As the International Space Station (ISS) inches toward its golden years and is set to close in 2031, NASA has struck deals with three space technology companies—Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman Systems—in a bid to develop designs for space stations and other commercial destinations in space.

While the said companies are shaking things up in the industry, Axiom Space has managed to one-up its rivals by teaming up with NASA. The two have inked a deal for the third private astronaut station mission to the ISS, aiming to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as early as November this year.

Axiom Space’s plan is to piece out a commercial module that will be attached to the ISS. In time, the module will detach and morph into a standalone free-floating commercial station, where astronauts, researchers and even space tourists can hang their hats and call it their “second home”. Boasting living essentials and accommodation for four people, the first ISS module is slated to attach to the ISS in late 2025, whereas the second module will be delivered later to make room for four more people.

Helios

While oxygen is essential for humans and plants alike, this colorless, odorless and tasteless gas is also a driving force when it comes to rocket propulsion. As the oxidizer, oxygen takes center stage in combustion processes, facilitating the burning of fuels. Though omnipresent on Earth, oxygen turns out to be heavy, costly and scarce in the far reaches of outer space. This makes the transportation of items from Earth to the moon costly and challenging because launching rockets with cargo requires fuel. The heavier the cargo, the more fuel is needed.

With the above in mind, Israeli space technology startup Helios put together an electrochemical reactor capable of extracting oxygen from lunar regolith (a mixture of soil, powdery dust and crumbled rock found on the moon’s surface). Such a venture paves the way for lunar settlers to “make themselves at home” by tapping into local resources, instead of lugging every last ounce of fuel and supply all the way from Earth.

Skyroot Aerospace

Reaching for the stars doesn’t come at a bargain, but Skyroot Aerospace is pulling out all the stops to make the venture easier on the pocketbook. Ever since Skyroot Aerospace hit the scene in 2018, the company has been going the extra mile to craft reusable and cost-effective space launch vehicles.

Having successfully test-fired its in-house rocket engine in 2020, Skyroot Aerospace sent Vikram-S, India’s first homegrown space rocket, soaring into the cosmos in November last year.

In under half a year, Skyroot Aerospace has achieved yet another milestone. In April this year, it successfully fired the Dhawan-II, an advanced fully 3D printed cryogenic engine that will power the company’s Vikram-II rocket, for an impressive duration of 200 seconds. With the engine at the ready, we can expect Skyroot Aerospace to paint the sky with more of its grand displays and propel space exploration to new heights.

Space Perspective

Gazing upon our blue planet from the vast expanse of outer space is a dream shared by many. If you’re one of those dreamers, you won’t want to miss what Space Perspective has to bring to the table. Founded in 2019, U.S.-based space technology startup Space Perspective is on a mission to serve ordinary people a slice of the astronaut life. However, breaking away from the pack, Space Perspective ditches rockets in favor of its in-house balloon, known as Spaceship Neptune, to float passengers skyward.

With a size rivaling that of a football stadium, the mega-balloon has got room for up to eight passengers (excluding the pilot) to embark on an epic six-hour voyage. The pressurized and spacious cabin, decked out with reclining seats, guarantees a snug and smooth ride for every traveler aboard. To top it off, passengers are treated to breakfast, drinks, a bathroom, livestream-capable WiFi and anti-glare windows to capture those breathtaking, sky-high memories throughout the journey of a lifetime.

The projects brewing in the space technology field are indeed light-years ahead of anything we’ve seen before. As more bright minds hop on board, it’s evident that the sky’s no longer the limit but the destination for discovery, adventure, or even our future address. What else?

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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