It was hard to miss the exciting SpaceX launch on Saturday. For the first time in nine years, astronauts blasted off of US soil up to the International Space Station. And for the first time ever, astronauts were chauffeured there in a private spacecraft. Does this historic SpaceX flight mark the beginning of a revolution in space tourism?
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chad Anderson, CEO and Managing Partner at Space Capital, the world’s oldest (2012!) and preeminent venture capital fund focused exclusively on the Space industry.
We discussed a large orbit of topics (see what I did there?) ranging from the partnership between SpaceX and NASA, to ways in which the early days of space tourism resemble those of airplane travel. Will space travel become affordable in the same way that airplane travel evolved from expensive flights to budget airlines? How soon can we fly to the moon as tourists? Will it happen within the next few years?
No surprise, there is roughly $400 billion being invested in Space-related startups.
As a fun fact, Chad committed to the CEO role at Space Capital while still in business school at Oxford – he had deep conviction that this was the industry to pursue for a lifetime. Looks like he made a great choice!
Chad Anderson is Managing Partner of Space Capital and CEO of Space Angels, together the world's leading source of capital for early-stage space companies. He also serves on several boards including the UK Space Catapult where he supports the national strategy to grow the space sector in the country. Prior to his current roles, Anderson enjoyed a successful career at JP Morgan Chase where he managed a $50 billion real estate portfolio through the Great Recession. Anderson holds an MBA from the University of Oxford with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Human space flight as a fundamental human goal
Apollo 11 crew like Beatles to this day
Not just for the “chosen few” – there’s increased participation nowadays and more competition
Leading to more innovation
SpaceX and Boeing will take humans to space
New contracting model where NASA is now a customer not owning the supply and demand sides
Other sectors that are popping up in the Space “space”
Infrastructure to launching satellites
Space renaissance over the past ten years
SpaceX brought down costs to get to orbit and published their pricing – brings transparency to market – launching satellites and so on.
Gone from basically $0.00 to 24Bn of equity investments
Gov’t another $125Bn
Human space flight market is obviously one of the new markets
Servicing satellites in orbit
Running 3D printers in space station
Print antennas in space and 3D printing entire structures
How Chad’s fund looks at vetting startups before investing and time horizon for exits
His Space Capital fund is a 10-year fund; looking for 5-7 years for exits
Seed and Series A primarily
Chad’s Space Angels fund focused pre-Seed
More art than science when vetting some deals where there are fewer metrics available
Space Capital is the longest-standing fund and they see all the deals and have built a core competency in sourcing the best opportunities.
Tracking traditional Venture Capital funds investments in the industry
“Space is a horizontal that touches every industry. Like investing in “technology” in the 90’s.”
Cost-effectiveness of flying people to moon and what they do when they get there
Goal is to live off land on Moon and take those learnings for going Mars
Humans scared to go there in next 3-4 years to get some tourist to stay for a short period of time
“Coach” class flights will get there
Can we get to reusable and rapid rockets? That will drive getting tourists to moon
“$10-20,000 per ton is where they need to get in terms of costs to fly tourists to moon.”
“NASA provided the money and SpaceX delivered the goods.”
NASA doing a good job on branding front
Jim Bridenstine has been a fantastic administrator of NASA
What does it look like when we bring communities and traditions to space?
Analogy is like pioneers moving out west
Learn to work the land
Who goes first?
Will need more than SpaceX to make it a reality
Need other companies to participate
Elon Musk will go to Mars after they have a way to get back – need to get there and back
Chad’s contrarian view since business school is that there is something real and significant going on in the Space industry; that is now proving out
Chad’s sources of information in his industry:
Super Cluster – take incredible photos of launches, videos on what it means to get to orbit
CNBC “Sheetz Tweets” on Space; Morgan Brennan on Squawk Alley
The full video footage of the SpaceX + NASA launch on Saturday, May 30, 2020)
Chad on Twitter
SuperCluster – Chad's go-to news source on the industry
Sheetz Tweets – Michael Sheetz, space reporter at CNBC
Morgan Brennan, Squawk Alley Co-Anchor, CNBC
Jim. Bridenstine, NASA Administrator