May 8, 2017

From Elon Musk to Naveen Jain, the World's Billionaires are Now Racing to Space (Source: Economic Times)
Forget lavish villas and super yachts, space missions are the new ultimate status symbols for the tech elite. With the billionaires of the world battling it out for space in, well, space, here’s taking stock of their missions. Click here for their profiles. (5/8)

Betting On The Moon: The Most Active Space Tech Investors (Source: CB Insights)
With a regulatory embrace of private spaceflight (“new space”), spacecraft development costs falling, and better remote sensing and data analytics capabilities, funding to space tech companies has grown from almost nothing in 2012, to approximately $4B in combined funding over the past two years, buoyed especially by entrepreneur-celebrities Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

We used the CB Insights database to identify the most active private market investors in space tech and see how the emergence of unique investors in space tech has trended. We define space tech to include startups involved in the construction and launch of satellites or rocketry into outer space, as well as ancillary companies working to aggregate and analyze satellite data. For more on space tech categories and specific companies, see the space tech market map. Click here. (5/2)

Air Force Releases Final RFP for New Rideshare Capability on Space Launch Missions (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) released a final request for proposal for the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapters, or LDPE. The foundational technology for the LDPE is the EELV Secondary Payload Adapters, or ESPA, which is an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) initiative to host auxiliary payloads on primary spacecraft launch missions.

This SMC acquisition responds to the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) standard service policy that requires rideshare services on launch missions when feasible. The LDPE leverages propulsive ESPA technologies developed by AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate. The product of this procurement represents significant progress toward AFSPC objectives to provide secondary payload rideshare opportunities on Department of Defense launch missions. (5/7)

Air Force Secretary Nominee Gets Senate Confirmation Vote (Source: Space News)
The Senate is expected to vote Monday to confirm Heather Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force after a hold was lifted. The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced her nomination to the full Senate last month, but an unnamed senator placed a hold on the nomination, reportedly seeking information on a base in that senator's state. The senator removed the hold Wednesday, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on her nomination Monday. (5/5)

Chinese Space Executives Rise in Other Government Posts (Source: South China Morning Post)
Space executives have the right stuff to become government leaders in China. Four aerospace engineers have become provincial governors in the last four years, including former heads of the country's space program and managers of state-owned aerospace companies. Those engineers have developed a "cocktail of traits" that appeal to the leadership style of Xi Jinping, including willingness to provide accurate data. "We don't cook the books. The satellites and rockets won't work if we do," said one engineer. (5/5)

Made In Space Reveals the Archinaut, a Robot-Operated Factory in the Sky (Source: Tech Crunch)
Made In Space, Inc. is known as the company behind the 3D printers on board the International Space Station. Astronauts have used the startup’s AMF, or Additive Manufacturing Facility, on the ISS to churn out everything from finger splints to tools, sculptures and even other printer parts.

Now, the company is revealing a video rendering of its larger Archinaut system, a factory in the sky operated by autonomous robots. The Archinaut can produce and assemble large equipment, such as satellites or even entire spacecraft, while in orbit.

According to Made In Space CEO and president Andrew Rush, “It’s our ambition to develop the manufacturing technologies that will usher in the era of true commercial space utilization.” Literally, he is hoping to enable colonization of other planets, with millions of people living and working in beautiful, microgravity environments. (5/6)

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