There are many products important to life on Earth that would be better made in space, as well as products that can only be produced in space.
For example, without gravity here on Earth, the atmosphere would disappear, the Earth would stop rotating, other bad stuff would happen, and we’d cease to exist. But in space, the lack of gravitational pull seems to be doing wonders for the research community, production of pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and some pretty wild stuff you might never have thought possible.
And what is even cooler about moving industry to space is that in addition to being able to produce new and better products, we would be saving our planet at the same time.
The ultimate playground
Here on earth, we are limited by the laws of nature and physics, gravity, and physical space but think about what could be possible without those constructs. Things like vaccine development, 3D-printed organs, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and fiber optics are among the many products better developed in space.
Benefits to manufacturing in space
- Microgravity, powerful radiation, temperature changes and an almost absolute vacuum state could not only yield better products with unique properties and structures but would allow for the testing and creation of new materials and products that can’t be made on Earth.
- An increase in global production without impactful climate-changing pollutants.
There is also more literal space, and so according to Philip Metzger, a planetary physicist who recently retired from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, our solar system can support a billion times greater industry than we have on Earth. “When you go to vastly larger scales of civilization, beyond the scale that a planet can support, then the types of things that civilization can do are incomprehensible to us.”
It’s hard to comprehend what moving beyond our scale of civilization actually even means or that when we push beyond, there is more to explore. But with help from Congress, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), other organizations, and super-rich CEOs, we’re starting to see what is possible.
Innovation at work
The in-space economy has allowed for new fields to emerge. McKinsey reported the number of patents with “microgravity” in the title or abstract went from 21 in 2000 to 155 in 2020, and Citigroup analysts say that the space industry should reach $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040.
“Revenue from manufacturing, launch services and ground equipment will make up the majority of the revenue growth in the satellite sector,” Citi said. “However, the fastest growth rate is expected to come from new space applications and industries, with revenue forecast to rise from zero to $101 billion over the period.”
We are starting to see products made in space brought back to Earth led by a number of groundbreaking companies like…
- 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a biotechnology research laboratory founded by INVITRO 3D printing live organic tissue and organ constructs using a bioprinter. The Global 3D Bioprinting Market was valued at $586.13M in 2019 and is expected to reach nearly $2B by 2025.
- Made In Space has been at the forefront of space manufacturing since 2014, when it 3D-printed a wrench onboard the ISS. Made in Space was acquired by Redwire Corp, whose current market cap is $174.58M.
- Space manufacturing startup Varda focuses on creating products in space for terrestrial applications and is scheduled to send its first spacecraft to orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2023. Varda has raised a total of $51M in funding over 5 rounds.
- Aleph Farms who produced the first cultivated meat in space and are using its technology platform to bring systemic change to our food systems. Aleph Farms has raised a total of $119.4M in funding over 4 rounds.
Many companies believe space can help them discover new products, enhance their current offerings, or decrease development timelines McKinsey wrote in their report on whether companies should move their R&D and manufacturing into the ether.
And many companies have already made great headway as space funding has increased dramatically over the last two years — according to a Bryce Tech report, there were 241 deals made in 2021, up 48% from the previous year. Even businesses in collaboration with space companies are on track to make billions, with pharmaceuticals leading the charge at an anticipated 2.8B-4.2B within the short to medium term.
All that being said, while any complete scope of commercial space opportunities is still difficult to estimate fully, space definitely seems like the new metaverse for investors.
Got any ideas? 💡