I was recently commissioned to write an article on the European space tech industry. Through my research into this topic, I discovered a thriving scene with start-ups blossoming all over the continent. Welcome to the era of NewSpace. At the heart of NewSpace lies the notion of democratisation in access to space, as opposed to OldSpace, which has been dominated since 1957 by national agencies and huge conglomerates: NASA, ESA, CNSA, ISRO, JAXA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ULA, Northrop Grumman, Arianespace.
NewSpace is characterised by the miniaturisation of technology (i.e., CubeSats, smallsats, and nanosats), considerable injection of private capital (i.e., Bezos), and the continued reduction in the cost of launching things into space (i.e., Virgin Orbit). America seems to monopolise NewSpace if one only follows the news headlines (SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc.), yet Europe is no stranger to this field.
Supported by space tech accelerator programs and networking events, a flourishing NewSpace industry, referred to as Space 4.0 by the European Space Agency, is spawning all over the continent. Here are a few of them:
Based in Scotland, Skyrora, is building rockets and space vehicles to deliver satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from one of the UK's spaceports. The company has also developed an eco-friendly rocket fuel based on unrecycled waste plastic.
Spain's PLD Space, Italy's D-Orbit and France's ExoTrail, are also vying to conquer LEO, while Space Structures in Berlin will give you the parts you need to build a satellite and the software to go with it.
Pangea Aerospace calling from Toulouse and Barcelona has been working on the most efficient rocket propulsion system for over five years. Aqruimea from Madrid makes sensors to monitor gas in a spacesuit. Interstellar Lab based in Paris, designs biopods to grow food in space, while GateHouse SatCom from Denmark makes communication software for satellites.
With hundreds of NewSpace firms keen to make their mark, Europe is flowing with good ideas and investments to back them up. Check them out! We live in exciting times.