10 Most Innovative Space-Tech Startups

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Space-Tech Startups ready to Disrupt Space Industry

Get inspired by these Disruptive Space-Tech Innovations!

While Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history by sending two astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station in a privately funded spacecraft, there are many space-technology based startups that are making great leaps in the space sector.

Let’s look at a few of the space-tech startups that are creating & delivering value in the space industry with their unique solutions.

1. Pixxel

Co-Founders of Pixxel;
co-founders of Pixxel; one of the most innovative space-tech startups

Founders
Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal

County and Year of Origin
This space-tech startup was founded in 2018 by the undergraduate students of BITS Pilani, Rajasthan, India

What do they offer?
They are making satellite imagery useful by providing real-time and affordable remotes sensing data through a constellation of nano-satellites. An AI (artificial intelligence) powered technology will be used to analyze the data from these satellites for solving problems in agriculture, climate, defense monitoring, mining, etc.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
They are working to build a constellation of 24 numbers of world’s most advanced imaging nano-satellites to send a high-resolution imagery down to earth and provide inexpensive and accessible information about every location on Earth.

2. Momentus

Water Plasma Propulsion Technology

Founder
Mikhail Kokorich

County and Year of Origin
It was founded in the United States in the year 2017

What do they offer?
They take satellites of their clients to custom destinations where most rockets don’t fly. Clients can use big rockets to fly to a common orbit and then use the ‘in-space’ transfer vehicle of Momentus to get their satellite to any custom orbit at a price which is 10 times lower than what has ever been possible.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
Momentus’s transfer vehicles work on the technology of ‘Water Plasma Propulsion’ providing considerably higher specific impulse as compared to chemical propulsion resulting in 3 times reduction in the propellant requirement for delivering payloads to their target orbits. Abundance, versatility, and safety associated with water make their solution very effective and attractive to customers.

3. Leo Aerospace

Modular Orbital Launch System

Chief Executive Officer
Dane Rudy

County and Year of Origin
It was founded in the United States in 2017


What do they offer?
They plan to offer a dedicated satellite launch service from a high altitude for launching small satellites weighing 25 kg to a 550 km sun-synchronous orbit.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
The system of Leo Aerospace is highly modular in design. They use a high altitude orbital launch platform, Regulus, equipped with multiple bipropellant thrusters capable of controlling the roll and yaw axis of the entire platform. An autonomous flight control provides flight capabilities in a range of weather and mission envelopes. A rocket is launched from this platform.

A fully reusable and autonomous aerostat carries the rocket and the orbital launch platform to 60,000 feet in altitude before launch.  Launching at this altitude reduces the aerodynamic and gravitational losses for the rocket resulting in a 10% reduction in energy requirements to orbit and a more than 50% reduction in the overall size of the rocket.

The entire orbital launch system fits within 40 foot ISO containers which are used for launching the inflated aerostat from the ground with all the components including the orbital launch platform and the rocket.

4. Phase Four

Maxwell Propulsion System

Founder
J. P. Sheehan, Simon Halpern

Country and year of origin
It was founded in the year 2015 in United States

What do they offer?
They are providing a low cost and reliable satellite propulsion system through a simple design that avoids high voltage electronics and eliminates components that are tough mass produce. Radiofrequency based thrusters help to achieve a 75% reduction in lead time and materials cost compared to leading Hall thrusters for satellite propulsion.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
The unique propulsion systems rely on their proprietary RF plasma thruster technology, which is designed with simplicity and mass-manufacturability in mind. 

5. Gateway Galactic

Founders
Justin Myers & Floyd Richardson III

Country and year of origin
It was founded in the year 2014 in the United States

What do they offer?
They are developing an orbital propellant depot, Antaios for refueling launch vehicles in the orbit itself. This gives the launch vehicles the ability to perform space operations beyond low earth orbit at a reduced cost while simultaneously enhancing the payload options for customers.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
Antaios has a unique design that allows it to handle the large quantities of fuel for launch vehicles while occupying relatively less space.

6. Gold Orbit

Founders
Jace Johnson is the CTO & Co-Founder.

Country and year of origin
It was founded in the year 2018 in United States

What do they offer?
They offer modular armor for satellites and small spacecraft for protection against radiation and space debris.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
They have a proprietary technology and a modular design for protecting satellites.

7. EXOS Aerospace

Founders
David Mitchell, John Quinn, Russell Blink and Phil Eaton are the co-founders

Country and year of origin
It was founded in the year 2018 in United States

What do they offer?
They provide affordable and reliable commercial spaceflight with their reusable rockets. Their most efficient payload integration method allows them to launch the payloads of their customers and get prompt data during the microgravity time. They offer their customers an immediate launch service without any waiting time. Also, their retrieval system allows customers to access their payload in minutes as the rockets are brought back to the launch-point.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
Their environmentally responsible rocket engines and reusable launch vehicles along with their super-efficient payload integration method are the things that make them unique.

8. Relativity Space

3D Printing Factory of Relativity Space

Founders
Tim Ellis & Jordan Noone

Country and year of origin
It was founded in the year 2016 in the United States

What do they offer?
Relativity Space is building a launch vehicle, Terran 1 with groundbreaking and unique architecture to accommodate the evolving needs of satellite customers, and provide affordable and agile launch service to their customers.

100 times reduction in part-count across the structure and engines of Terran 1 is achieved through 3-D printing enabling a significant reduction in lead times and increment in overall system reliability.
Their technology allows for streamlined launch procurement, rapid iteration, and greater flexibility to generate customized solutions that are mission-specific.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
They are using data-driven learning to improve every aspect of rocket manufacturing.
It is the first and only company to automate aerospace manufacturing by integrating intelligent robotics, software, and proprietary metal 3D printing technology.

9. Bellatrix aerospace

Bellatrix Electric Propulsion System

Founders
Rohan M Ganapathy & Yashas Karanam

Country and year of origin
It was founded in India in the year 2015

What do they offer?
Bellatrix offers to reduce satellite mission cost for its customers using its patented electric propulsion technology. It offers its customers high reliability, short wait periods, and competitive costs.

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
They have developed a revolutionary thruster technology for propelling nano and microsatellites. The unique ability of theses thrusters is their low power requirement.

Their patented Microwave Electro-thermal Thrusters (MET), an advanced form of electric propulsion for satellites, has a unique advantage of being able to efficiently work on several propellants such as Nitrogen, Argon, Ammonia, Xenon, and also Water Vapour. It is an electrodeless (zero erosion) system that is stabilized with vortex and produces a high-temperature exhaust for in-space propulsion using propellant that is heated with microwaves.

10. Astrome

Founders
Neha Satak & Prasad H L Bhat

What do they offer?
They are striving to make the internet more accessible to everyone in the developing world by launching a constellation of 198 satellites into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). 

Country and year of origin
It was founded in India in the year 2015

Their Unique Idea/ Technology
They are pioneers in developing millimeter-wave wireless technology for satellite communications. They are developing ultra-high capacity transponders that operate in the millimeter-wave frequency range having better spectral efficiency and a large amount of unused bandwidth.

Their advanced high throughput satellites (HTS) form thousands of spot beams as against state-of-the-art HTS that only form just a few beams per transponder. These beams concentrate a lot of data throughput over relatively smaller regions resulting in better connectivity for the end-users.

Due to the shorter wavelength of millimeter waves, their SpaceNet transponders carry tiny antennas ensuring compact size. Also, the innovative arrangement of these antennas results in very high capacities as compared to the state-of-the-art Ku-/Ka-band satellites.

To Wrap Up

With the decreasing costs of spacecraft development and enhanced capabilities in data analytics, space exploration, and investment by private space companies are seeing a surge.
In 2018 alone, $3.25 billion were invested in space-tech startups. Commercial space is a rapidly growing market projected to be worth trillions of dollars over the next decade. Increasing awareness about the opportunities in the space industry is attracting both investors and new startups in the landscape paving a way for technological disruption.


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