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NewSpace—formerly; also "new space",[1] and entrepreneurial space—are umbrella terms for a movement and philosophy often affiliated with, but not synonymous with, an emergent private spaceflight industry. Specifically, the terms are used to refer to a community of relatively new aerospace companies working to develop low-cost access to space or spaceflight technologies and advocates of low-cost spaceflight technology and policy.


The term was first used in the early 1980s to describe companies that were making serious efforts to reach outer space without cooperation with NASA, other governmental agencies, or their contractors.[2] Near the end of the 1990s, a dramatic increase in companies engaging in this process led to the common usage of the phrase "new space companies";[3] "NewSpace" and "entrepreneurial space" are now the most commonly used terms,[4] though "" is still occasionally found.[5]


NewSpace is a term that has had some variation in meaning since "supplanting the geekier '' moniker" after about 2006.[5]

NewSpace is defined by as covering "approaches to space development that differ significantly from that taken by NASA and the mainstream aerospace industry".[6] Definitions of what exactly is and is not NewSpace vary but typically include several of the following criteria:

  • Development of launch systems principally with private funding, with only secondary or no involvement with government spaceflight programs and contractors. Private companies that conduct aeronautical efforts, such as Boeing, are generally not considered part of NewSpace due to their heavy reliance on NASA development funding as part of their business model. NewSpace companies need not universally avoid NASA, often participating in projects such as Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, but tend to focus primarily on consumers in the private sector.[citation needed]
  • Low cost approaches or budgeting plans. Due to the highly expensive nature of spaceflight and lack of government funding, many NewSpace companies consequently take a low-cost approach to constructing launch vehicles and other necessary components.[7] NewSpace companies commonly participate in, or are created to participate in, projects such as the Ansari X Prize and the Google Lunar X Prize.
  • Primary drive towards innovation. "A NewSpace company might use innovative new technologies that will lead to low cost, robust space systems. Or a company might simply combine currently available, "cheap-off-the-shelf" (COTS) technologies in an innovative manner that provides a new and highly capable system at lower costs."[7]
  • Incremental development that is profitable even at initial low-levels of space system complexity and capability. Many NewSpace development projects follow the "model of other technologies such as computer chips and LCD displays. Start with systems of limited capability but with markets that can provide a profit and thus pay for the development necessary to make the next step up in capability. Over time this can have a tremendous pay off as hardware improvements are compounded and markets expand."[7]
  • Aim to increase human presence in outer space.[7] Many NewSpace companies, such as Bigelow Aerospace and XCOR Aerospace, have publicly stated goals to send civilian humans into outer space on a mass scale and/or at low end-user costs.

Current usage[edit]

NewSpace has come to be used to describe a set of companies that are developing a lower-cost paradigm for the economic use of space including companies making plans for the utilization of in-space resources.[8] The Space Frontier Foundation holds an annual 'NewSpace' conference to discuss NewSpace-related issues and publishes a 'NewSpace News' periodical.[9]

Mojave, California has been described as "the Silicon Valley of NewSpace".[10] Mojave is home to Masten Space Systems, Scaled Composites, XCOR Aerospace, and the Mojave Spaceport, the world's first private space launch facility.[10]

Following the successful third flight of the Dragon spacecraft in May 2012 by private company SpaceX, some financial industry analysts are now handicapping NewSpace companies and the projected performance of infrastructure vs. application companies in the evolving industry.[11]

Industry Verticals[edit]

While several industry verticals[clarification needed][12] are being explored by private companies, only a few currently have an offering, and even less have started commercial services.

Among the verticals are:[citation needed]

A number of projects involving nanosatellites have been crowdfunded on platforms such as Kickstarter.[citation needed]


Much of the activity in the United States is now involved in government licensing activities and regulation development for proposed spaceflights, managed by the Federal Aviation Administration

NewSpace Organizations[edit]

The following are companies and organizations generally regarded as both and successfully active (or previously successfully active).[citation needed]

Active Companies[edit]

In hiatus or defunct[edit]




See also[edit]


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  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Foust, Jeff (2011-08-16). "The evolving ecosystem of NewSpace". The Space Review. Retrieved 2011-08-15. Since the term came into vogue about five years ago, supplanting the geekier “” moniker, it’s been most commonly associated with entrepreneurial ventures developing suborbital and orbital vehicles. ... While an exact, widely-accepted definition of NewSpace still eludes the space community, it’s increasingly clear that constraining the scope of NewSpace to vehicle developers is too limiting. ... SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, ... New companies are emerging that seek to develop technologies that can either enable or be enabled by low-cost access to space and thus can arguably be considered part of NewSpace. [Examples include] Altius Space Machines ... Masten Space Systems ... Innovative Space Propulsion Systems ... Celestial Circuits [and] Final Frontier Design. ... NewSpace ... is a way of doing business and NewSpace is an industry doing business in a new way. ... NewSpace is an industry that’s doing business for a purpose ... a NewSpace company is a company that is built, formed, operated by, funded by, or has as part of its business plan the opening of the space frontier, and making a profit while doing so ... It is the industrial engine that will power the movement towards a more fundamental goal of space settlement. 
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External links[edit]