Making Money in Space

Last year NASA issued a Request for Information, or RFI, for Commercial Lunar Communications & Navigation. The intent was “to gauge interest and solicit ideas from private companies in providing communications and navigation services that would support the development of exploration, scientific and commercial capabilities on the moon over the next 25 years.” It is a potential next phase of the agency’s emphasis to encourage commercial space as it is doing with the COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation System) program in the Commercial Crew & Cargo program office

As I reflected on potentially using a commercial satellite provider to enable the astronauts to “phone home” from the moon, I was curious as to what else has been going on in the world of space commerce. In the process I stumbled across this blog entry by Dr. Peter Diamandis, SUCCESS!!! Using Economic Engines to open the space frontier. In it he reflects on how the public flight of the Rocket Racing League “X-Racer” and the rollout of White Knight 2 were so critical. What caught my attention was his reflection on the X-Racer and how it “is tapping into the multi-billion dollar entertainment marketplace” and it is “a company which is exciting the public about space and driving the development of low-cost and reliable engines.” Of course he states his personal reasons for his enthusiasm about the X-Racer but it made me wonder what else could NASA do to encourage, foster, sponsor space commerce. What role should NASA play in enabling space commerce? For me, the benefit for NASA would be greater infrastructure that NASA could leverage as it explores beyond LEO.

If you haven’t had a chance to place your votes with the recent set of twitter polls focused on NASA’s future focus (NASA poll, Outside of NASA poll) I would encourage you to submit your vote.  You will find an interesting trend on the external poll.  It points to NASA having a greater focus on helping to develop commercial space.  The missing data is what should we do to fulfill this focus?

Let me know what you think our role should be as it relates to commercial space and what other efforts could be taken to spur on space commerce?

Sharing the Vision,
Steven Gonzalez, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office

178 thoughts on “Making Money in Space”

  1. Isn’t it so that the pharmaceutical industry wants to get going in manufacturing drugs in zero-g? Maybe that initiative could provide a ‘backbone’ for getting commercial space underway in low Earth orbit?

  2. Steven,
    Thanks for linking to the two polls! There was a resulting discussion over here:
    http://www.opennasa.com/2009/01/08/future-nasa-projects/
    where we discussed the reasons for the two polls and some of the details.
    As far as a discussion about how to fulfill that focus, most in the industry think it has to do with being a good commercial customer, infrastructure, and basic space engineering & research.

    Being a good commercial customer means doing more things like COTS (COTS-D, please?) and the Commercial Lunar Communications and Navigation RFI. Could we see the science side of NASA get into pure data purchase agreements instead of doing spacecraft design in-house?

    For the infrastructure discussion two friends of mine wrote two short whitepapers for the Obama NASA Transition Team that sums up most of it very well:

    Proposals for an Integrated US Space Policy
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/1/13/205852/776

    Recommendations for Space Technology Investment
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/1/14/205851/891/632/682802

    A renewed focus on basic space engineering and research means returning to NASA’s roots in NACA. Many commercial space companies are depending heavily on NASA and the DoD’s existing research into thermal protection systems. Providing the basic materials science, hypersonics research, and cryogenic plumbing/storage research helps the industry by doing those things that no single company has the luxury of being able to afford right now.

    Another way to look at fulfilling that focus is by looking at NASA’s roll in the following timeline:

    http://www.hobbyspace.com/AAdmin/archive/SpecialTopics/toSpaceTimeLine.html

    This timeline shows how human activity in space could be dominated by commercial interests by 2015 or so. NASA could help foster that timeline with very little effort. That commercial human activity could help NASA do things it could never afford to do on its own.

  3. Looking at the poll, it looks like most people are interested in establishing a colony on the moon followed by having one on Mars. Assuming that this was possible, I guess I have to ask why?

    Personally, I'm much more interested in knowing what's beyond our small solar system. I realize that I won't find the answer in my lifetime, nor will my children or grandchildren in theirs, but the idea of one day knowing if the universe has an end will give more light into the truth about life.

    As for commercializing space, I think most people, if given the chance, would love to experience what looking at Earth from the outside would be like. Make that under $10,000 and I'm there! After that, turn it into to advancem space exploration even further.

  4. Wow, it’s too interesting to know the guys come up with this awesome idea. But I’m wondering what would be the great impact of contribution if the space commerce would come into the reality or just throwing a lot of budget for nothing because of curiosity.

    But if the guys could present us the great advantages to the present society, then I could possibly support on this idea.

    Cathy

  5. Good Read. It is going to be interesting to see how the moon makes up part of our travels in the next 20 years.

  6. Think your role should be to help the companies do all they can in exploring space and what's out there… One does have visions of companies claiming naming rights to newly discovered planets, moons, stars, etc, etc… But nevertheless, these are exciting times and I can't help but feel the benefits outweigh the costs with this one as I'm all for discovering new things and increasing our knowledge Steven.

    All the very best,

    Sam,

  7. Interesting reading. I really feel that commercial space will definitely happen, so many people are interested in it. It's just HOW this will happen that interests me most.

    Jo from

  8. I ever wonder about NASA and new projects. I am willing to visit NASA's station. If i get a chance then definitely i will visit.
    Regards, Ram Gunjal CEO –

  9. Space is already a commercial product. You will agree with me that satellites business was a large entry in this commercial tube.
    X racer is the beginning. It is clear that law regulations will be needed to avoid any abuse and to guarantee users, consumers and so on, similar or the same rights they have on earth.

  10. Isn't it so that the pharmaceutical industry wants to get going in manufacturing drugs in zero-g? Maybe that initiative could provide a 'backbone' for getting commercial space underway in low Earth orbit?

  11. I think commersialising space is a great way for Nasa to add to the billions and billions of dollars it needs for space exploration. I watch all the discovery science channels and am amazed at how much we know about space and the universe. I think it was in the programe “Race To Mars” they talked about having hotels on the moon to house the Astraunauts before there journy to Mars. Do you think that could ever be the case and if so do you think it could happen in the next 50 years?

  12. This is really a very interesting article.I enjoyed reading it.The way the countries are sending satellites in the space in another 10 year the space will become busy
    Regards
    Nancy

  13. NASA really need to look at ways of generating some cash, as the cost of space exploration is massive and can't be supported by taxes alone. Space exploration will probably end up being paid for by large corporations looking to take control of new resources out there in the void.

  14. There's many ways to make money off space besides tourism. Custom research. Custom entertainment. Rented space for research. So many ideas. Tom

  15. I like the idea, it seems with this whole “2012” phenomenon going on, more and more people are becoming interesting in space. If NASA could monetize this interest, they could really get a huge

  16. Other then space tourism, NASA can make money by selling some of their technologies they have created. So many things has spawned because of the space program that has created brand new industries, food packages, and new useful technologies. Maybe NASA could get like a licensing fee or a Revenue share.

    | | |

  17. Well explained about the topics conveying detailed information, nice blog. offers exciting measures for anybody.

  18. I watch all the discovery science channels and am amazed at how much we know about space and the universe. I think it was in the programe “Race To Mars” they talked about having hotels on the moon to house the Astraunauts before there journy to Mars. Do you think that could ever be the case and if so do you think it could happen in the next 50 years?

  19. There might be a huge market for commercializing space. Maybe NASA can assist companies who are trying to build small aircraft that could temporary reach the weightlessness of space.

    | |

  20. A very interesting post, but what I found most interesting are the results to the polls! There's a big difference between the 2, and I thought the 2 main areas of interest would be moon colonisation and studying climate change – but they're not! For anyone hasn't looked yet, use the links in the post to check it out.

  21. This is a very interesting project. I, for one, am a huge fan of NASA and grew up with Science books and pictures of outer space. Space commerce may sound quite far-fetched yet but I believe it can be quite profitable industry indeed. Steph,

  22. I am definitely supporting the commercial space idea, it so fascinating. I cant wait when it really gets going, the space travel for people and exploring of new planets etc. It would be so unbelievable to go for a holiday on the Moon(ok it would be ever so expensive, but the opportunity is great) I enjoy when science makes major breakthroughs(the next huge thing will be the extensive use of solar power I guess) Lets wait and see what happens(and lets watch the discovery science channels 🙂
    David Sims – Promoting Renewable Energy Solutions –

  23. great post for nasa blog, i hope you continue to write about this, it very informative i like your post
    regrads

  24. well for me Space exploration will probably end up being paid for by large corporations looking to take control of new resources out there in the void.

    Thanks and Regards

  25. Interesting polls… the amount of people who want to see colonies established on either mars or the moon were almost equal.

    | | |

  26. Oh wow, this sounds more and more real and less science fiction each passing day. I wonder how those people who bought pieces of the lunar planet will be handled. Will they actually get to own that piece of land they bought? 😀
    |

  27. Space is already a commercial product. You will agree with me that satellites business was a large entry in this commercial tube.
    X racer is the beginning. It is clear that law regulations will be needed to avoid any abuse and to guarantee users, consumers and so on, similar or the same rights they have on earth.

  28. Excellent post.I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.
    Joanna

  29. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this! You are bookmarked!
    Thx







  30. Yeah, the world is certainly improving fast – whats the limit of human capabilities – I dont there is any. Landing on the Moon – before – no way – now, easy. Mobile phones, computers – impossible – now, easy 🙂 I just cant imagine what the new decade will bring to us – I am eagerly waiting!
    |

  31. Sir,

    from my childhood space, sky, stars had always fascinated me. Unfortunately my career went with web-engineering. Whenever I read some wonderful articles regarding space and the associated wonders my hidden dreams are popping out.

    It's pleasure for me to vote on twitter polls. ( I doubt whether the time is over though ;))

    Thanks for the article and the great information.
    Flek,
    NewGenre

  32. Other then space tourism, NASA can make money by selling some of their technologies they have created. So many things has spawned because of the space program that has created brand new industries, food packages, and new useful technologies. Maybe NASA could get like a licensing fee or a Revenue share.

    Stunning stuff..I was on the lookout for this for many days now.

  33. I can't help but these really shows the benefit.NASA doing the right thing.But most of people think that mars and moon are equal.

  34. Hi,
    Really nice work! Your article is unique, informative, interesting and is captivating attention of the readers. You have emphasized on a good point.

  35. I think large nationally funded agencies like NASA are the only viable entity funded and equipped enough to even make a dent in the potential of our future in space. I don't see how it can ever be profitable enough for any private company, at least not for several life-times from now. |

  36. Thank you for such a great article. I really learned a lot from reading this. Your information in this article can help in doing my for my class. Good job! Thanks!

  37. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog. It was really interesting. I enjoyed reading it.

  38. I do wonderwhat the commercial side of business can hold in space – obviouly it wil be massive, but it's hard to visualise it since I/we won't see it in our lifetime.

    Once it is up and running however, I think it's important to take values and lessons we have gained from Earth, and ensure we care for the planet from the start.

    I'm sure business demand will sky rocket thanks to all the new ventures in space.

  39. I think that NASA’s role here should be one that fosters the innovation that comes from opening up space to private enterprise. They could be the governing body so-to-speak regarding the commercialization of space so that rules are followed. One thing they could also do is to help private companies launch more satellites so that they can be used to provide so that parents can breathe easier when their children leave the house.

  40. I just took the poll. Thanks for reaching out and giving the public some say so in the future of space explorations and technologies.

  41. Richard Branson is not a man to waste money it will be interesting to see how he gets on using the Burts Rutan ship for space tourism. I suppose if he covers his costs the publicity he will get in addition is bunce. Taking calculated risks seems to be part of the virgin brand.

  42. I do wonderwhat the bartering ancillary of business can authority in amplitude – obviouly it wil be massive, but it's harder to visualise it back I/we will not see it in our lifetime.

    Once it is up and active however, I anticipate it's important to yield ethics and acquaint we accept acquired from Earth, and ensure we affliction for the planet from the start.

  43. Juts look at Virgin and their 'space travel' product. Their at the forefront and I believe a lot more companies will take their lead and invest in such schemes.

    Space is still very mysterious and so demand from people to experience some of this is high, I think it'll be a while until we see the 'Jetsons' style world where space is just a part of daily life – but with the way science is advancing it isn't an impossibility.

  44. It’s great, Can anybody tell me what is the cost of this tour????
    And thanks for such a nice blog.

  45. Great and really wonderful. i found this site really awesome. I wish to walk on the moon someday in the future.

    Robert

  46. Is there a possibility to make a visit of NASA within a working day ? I would love to talk with the moon warriors…Do you teach Judo or other kinds of martial arts for the NASA staff ?

  47. Well NASA can encourage space commerce by inviting candidates from the general public to take part during the space exploration process. You can conduct a draw in order to select a pool of candidates from the public. And after conducting a slew of tests on these selected candidates you can select the best candidate who can withstand the pressures of space exploration. You can take this lucky person along with the other astronauts in the space flight.

  48. Not a big fan of pitch correction on tracks although it is fun to play around with. It does seem to be used very frequently on tracks that really I cant see any benefit from.

  49. Everything is about money now. It doesn't matter if it is the noble pursuit of knowledge in space or selling , if there is no money involved, people are way less likely to do it. Good old capitalism.

  50. I think this is a great idea. NASA are certainly taking the right approach and should spur on space commerce. I think that in the future at least, there is a potential for this market to grow further and that can only be a good thing 😀

    David,

  51. An expandable market would defiantly be of interest. As well as helping to further our knowledge of space. Great post!

  52. Hello.. 1st time I'm hear about making money in space.. seriously it look like interesting.. Thanks for sharing this information.. I'm just waiting for another great post here..

    Regards,

  53. Its always been my dream to travel to space -I’m way too old for the program – but please hurry up and commercialise it so I can at least pay for my trip!

  54. I don't know if it's NASA's role to get into the business of commercial space. It would seem like a conflict as it is a government agency.

    -MarkJ

    &

  55. Subject matter sounds very good “Making money in space” Definitely all governments around the world is making money in the space directly/indirectly via space tourist and some other programs. But we have to think how does it help the country to push ahead of technologies/profitability ? Though making money sounds
    sometimes, eventually it is the fact. Indeed this is a good start for all the governments in the world.

    Rajj

  56. I think this is so amazing to do. We should be investing more money in nasa then we do. I would love to see this.

  57. There are of options in space for making money and people should try their luck in space business.

  58. Great article. I think NASA should definitely take the lead when it comes to SPACE commerce. No other agency has done what NASA has done! I think this is a fantastic idea.

  59. When I was a kid I often wondered if there was ever going to be a way for me to travel into space.

  60. Interesting difference between the two polls. Private sector development of space is certainly an interesting concept but my choice was establish a colony on the moon. I mean, how cool would that be?

  61. Thanks for this post. I think that with Virgin coming up to soon producing commercial flight NASA need something revolutionary

  62. Great post. Even better post title!..after all what could inspire and expand the horizons for the future of the entire world more than monetizing space! It's really got me thinking.

  63. I think this is a great idea NASA can encourage space commerce by inviting candidates from the general public to take part during the space exploration process. .

  64. Space is still very mysterious and so demand from people to experience some of this is high, I think it'll be a while until we see the 'Jetsons' style world where space is just a part of daily life – but with the way science is advancing it isn't an impossibility.

    space commerce .

  65. I will say, a trip to the moon would be an adrenaline experience 100% however I am not a fan of the cold. Would powdered shrimp cocktail and margaritas be served? I might brave the cold for that.

    Aaron Siegel
    TopSavings.Net

  66. Excellent article on making money in space. I think Nasa should lead these efforts in the world as NASA has always been the pioneer when it comes to space exploration. No one has even come close to what NASA has done. Great Job, and I think it's a great idea!

  67. Great article,that's a 1st time and new for me.I think that is a nice idea if making money in space.NASA must explore more for that.

  68. This is my first time to know this. Seriously this is very interesting post. I'm waiting for your next great update.

    Regadrs,

  69. Nice blog, its great article informative post, thanks for sharing it. Thanks for the information!

  70. Space commerce sounds like a great idea. Make money for the space program and heighten awareness and interest in space exploration.

  71. Interesting difference between the two polls. Yes, in deed. I know that when Virgin launches I'll save every penny I can do go into orbit.

    – Thomas
    writer for the prolific blog. Including plethora of and the two thousand plus .

  72. NASA is really forward thinking! I have been reading a lot on here and have picked up some great ideas. Thanks a lot!

  73. “Investment in space”. I think it's interesting topic.
    This was a very interesting post, thanks for it. I work in a clinic and my main hoppy is astronomy.

  74. This is a great project that win-win together. Many people need to travel outside the Earth and can pay for the great experience. I ever heart Virgin can bring the man outside the Earth and do business. NASA has a higher technology so can do as well.

  75. Of course he states his personal reasons for his enthusiasm about the X-Racer but it made me wonder what else could NASA do to encourage, foster, sponsor space commerce. What role should NASA play in enabling space commerce? For me, the benefit for NASA would be greater infrastructure that NASA could leverage as it explores beyond LEO!

  76. This sounds more and more real and less science fiction each passing day. I wonder how those people who bought pieces of the lunar planet will be handled.

    |

  77. I witnessed the first x-racer demonstration at Oshkosh Wis. a couple years ago. thrilling. Nice article you have here.

    homebuilt aircraft commissioned artwork

  78. Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated. | | | | | | | | | |

  79. A commercial satellite provider seems like the most logical and feasible option. However, I think other options should also be explored.

  80. I genuinely liked reading through your post!. Quality material. I might advise you to come up with blogposts even more often. By doing this, having this kind of a worthy website I think you will probably rank higher in the search engines

  81. I think it is the smartest thing NASA could ever do in asking for input from the private sector. Government is very good at spending money and making things as complicated as possible. Free business enterprise on the other hand will create things that are more affordable, get them done quicker and more efficiently because they are not encumbered by bureaucratic red tape. I take my hat off to NASA for such a move.

    Frank with

  82. I hope NASA will keep on continuing its presents and support our young generations to achieve their dreams.

    Bryan
    |

  83. Interesting difference between the two polls. Yes, in deed. I know that when Virgin launches I'll save every penny I can do go into orbit.

    ===========

    Cooking recipes: |
    Health questions: |
    Answers: |
    Kitchens:

  84. Is it not the case, the pharmaceutical industry to get going and manufacturing of dangerous drugs in the zero-g? This initiative may be able to provide a low-Earth orbit in order to obtain the backbone of commercial space?

    AND

  85. This is a really excellent read for me. Must admit that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw. Thanks for posting this useful article.

  86. I like NASA very much and like the way they give information to the world in digested form to understand. thanks very much.

    Ryan,

  87. Personally, I'm much more interested in knowing what's beyond our small solar system. I realize that I won't find the answer in my lifetime, nor will my children or grandchildren in theirs, but the idea of one day knowing if the universe has an end will give more light into the truth about life. and and and and

  88. I think that NASA synergistically brainstorming with the greatest minds in business and engineering today can only propel the US forward in the space exploration race

    Jim with

  89. That would be a really cool development. It's crazy how far technology has taken us – that type of thing wouldn't have been even remotely possible ten years ago.

  90. Really interesting. There's no way any of this would have been on anyone's radar ten years ago – I wonder where we'll be with all of this in 2020?

  91. This is a very cool development after seeing what Richard Branson is doing in the space (pun intended). I’d like to see it developed and like any other technology as more investment goes into the cost of going into space becomes viable for regular people.

  92. Hi.. I’m first here.. and first time I’m hear about making money in space. But, I think it very interesting.. thanks for sharing..

    Regards

  93. I absolutely love NASA. I am a huge supporter in everything they do and is exciting to see what they are up to.

  94. I ever wonder about NASA and new projects. I am willing to visit NASA's station. If i get a chance then definitely i will visit. This initiative may be able to provide a low-Earth orbit in order to obtain the backbone of commercial space?
    ______________________________________________________________________

  95. Quite amazing what can be done these days. I always enjoy reading about what Nasa is up to (Maybe because I wanted to be an astronaught when I was a kid!) but this is really cool reading indeed.

    Scott From

  96. I'm curious to see what happens with the commercialization of space travel. Could cause with NASA I'd imagine.

  97. Really interesting. There's no way any of this would have been on anyone's radar ten years ago – I wonder where we'll be with all of this in 2020?

  98. I think it is now important to take values and lessons we have gained from Earth, and ensure we will care for the planet from the start.

  99. This is a nice article. Quite informative. NASA is a dream place for me. I really want to visit NASA once. Its my childhood dream and it would be forever. A hearty congrats from team.

  100. I like the idea, it seems with this whole “2012” phenomenon going on, more and more people are becoming interesting in space. If NASA could monetize this interest, they could really get a huge.

  101. What a great ideas! As a I am happy to see ideas of Space commercialization and I'll like to support it!

  102. Well that would be real stunning I guess..If it means giving more job opportunities to people it has my vote. Maybe it will even lead to see some space also. The next step is inviting outer space civilizations race along!

  103. Makin money in space sounds hilarious to me, but if it's possible then why not, trying new things is always cool.
    Nicole

  104. Subject matter sounds very good “Making money in space” Definitely all governments around the world is making money in the space directly/indirectly via space tourist and some other programs.

  105. Your post got some great ideas to share and discuss. Hope you still have more informative and interesting to share with us.. thanks

  106. Needless to say, the development of space has not lived up to this ambitious plan. The International Space Station, if it is ever completed, will hold only seven crew members and generate negligible income, certainly not enough to cover its $40-billion construction cost. NASA still hopes to strike partnerships with companies interested in manufacturing in zero gravity; the agency is trying to sell research modules on the space station to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and electronics companies. But even NASA officials admit that commercial interest has been cool. So far the only space industry that has proved to be a rousing success is the satellite communications business. Driven by the strong demand for cellular telephone service, companies such as Motorola and Loral Space and Communications are investing billions of dollars in new networks of satellites flying in low-Earth orbit.

    Brent Stewart

  107. I am very interested in space and travels through space I’m in that New Zealand living here in New Zealand agog like to know possibly more about what space is really like. But I and a beneficiary living on the benefit here in New Zealand I wish I could live in more.
    I am a person with slow lending but still interested to learn more about space could you please help me with it.
    This is a message on a person with learning disabilities using voice recognition on the computer.

  108. Thank you for posting such a useful website. Your weblog happens to be not just informative but also very stimulating too. There are a limited number of people who are capable of write technical articles that creatively. we are on the lookout for information regarding this topic. We ourselves went through several websites to find knowledge with regard to this.I will keep coming back !!
    john,[http://zolpo.com/auto-insurance/ auto insurance quotes] webmaster.

  109. without doubt the more innovative the communications are the better chances to faster and effectively explore the space. please, keep updating…it's interesting to know whether private companies have solid ideas

    thanks

  110. The area is still very mysterious and therefore the demand of people with experience of a number of them are high, I think we take some time until the “world Jetsons' style show which is just an empty part of everyday life — but the way science is advancing it is not an impossibility.

  111. Reading this blog shows you how important NASA is to our society. I still can believe that our “President” wants to close it and privatise the entire operation. That will be the downfall of the US Space Program.

    What a shame – Best of contiued success

    Dr Ron Marek
    http://MartialArtsPhD.com

  112. The post on this site is the best I have ever seen! Your post is nice and also knowledgeable for the newbie. I like it, thanks, as you submitted here your good experienced knowledge.

  113. Great post and now I know what to do, thank you! Site has been added to my RSS feed for later browsing.

Comments are closed.