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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Old Space Meets New Space – Welcome to the Age of ABL Space and Other Dreamers Looking to Make Money

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We all know about the old giants, NASA and the like, who’ve been around for decades. New startups such as ABL Space and old companies are coming together to explore new possibilities.

Today’s space industry is going through a dramatic expansion phase, predominantly fueled by startup companies like ABL Space that have been desperate to make their mark. And don’t forget humanity’s increasing desire for deep space exploration – it certainly keeps the ball rolling!

The new space area is now a $1 trillion market dominated by private companies. It is entering a renaissance period whereby interest is no longer dictated by military, political or ideological interests, but rather economic interests of both corporations and governments. The new “dreamers” are looking to make money, working alongside companies that pioneered the “Old Space” era. Let’s find out more.

Old vs New Space – allies or competitors?

The differences between “new” and “old” space companies don’t necessarily mean that the two can’t work together. The old ones are largely supported by government agencies such as CNSA, NASA, Roscosmos, ESA, and others. But today, they are pouring private capital into the space industry. Public interest is shifting from government agencies that have remained stagnant over the past decades towards privately-owned companies that are pushing the limits and boundaries of space exploration. Many of them have ambitious plans, such as increasing launches of payloads into space or making trips to Mars.

Both government agencies and startups are working together. As an example, agencies such as NASA have made enormous contributions towards startups, supporting them towards their goals. Of course, new space is on the up and up. Still, old space companies continue playing a significant role in the development of the industry, largely by supporting new space companies themselves.

New Space is not only about exploration but about money

As discussed, agencies such as NASA have contributed a lot to startups, and old space companies have found themselves losing profit. To gain their share of the market, some of these companies are looking towards setting up new startups themselves or creating multimillion-dollar partnerships. As an example, the ULA, a joint project of both Lockheed Martin and Boeing Defense, is working closely with NASA and the US Department of Defense. However, their rates are fairly high, even for the space industry.

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Not long ago, Lockheed Martin has continued to push the boundaries, making strategic investments in a cutting-edge startup, ABL Space. A deal was signed to buy up over 25 RS1 rockets by the year 2025, creating 32 additional launches by 2029. However, it’s not yet known what customers these particular launches will serve, bringing ambiguity into the equation.

A lot of money is on the table for research and development, and new ALB rockets are currently being developed. As of now, the company is developing RS1, a rocket with the ability to launch over 1.3 metric tons up into the low Earth orbit. It will be powered by nine different E2 engines, burning up both kerosene and liquid oxygen to deliver over 13,000 pounds of vertical thrust. But let’s not forget, the company has never launched a single rocket! Will the project be a success? Only time will tell.

The future of Old Space Companies

Old space has been seen as a problem by many because it is neither a business-orientated sphere nor a profit-making one. It has also been criticized for not being growth-orientated either. Funding largely comes from governments, taking money from taxes, or forgoing funding for other industries to keep their space sector moving. New space, in complete contrast, has strong potential. It can generate profits, delivering services to a wide range of people and organizations, not just governments.

We’ve seen that as the world is making way for the new space area, both profit and competition remain the main drivers of progress. Many think that there is no need for old space companies to exist in the current climate; however, they are certainly not useless or irrelevant. As new space grows and risky companies such as ABL Space are invested in, old space companies and organizations continue to play their part, even if they do so by creating young startups and feeding the desire for space exploration. The natural process of space evolution means that we are likely to see exciting leaps and developments with the current trends of combining both old and new.

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