Some people call us space commerce cowboys…

There’s e-commerce and then there’s space commerce. While you thought e-commerce opened up the world to businesses, now space commerce potentially makes the universe our marketplace.

Space commerce is a real thing taking shape in our market landscape (or spacescape). The wick has been lit and it’s only a matter of time till it takes off full force.

We aren’t just talking about commercial space travel here—an out of this world notion in itself! Space commerce is bigger than that, impacting the areas of energy, medical, IT, advanced manufacturing and communications.

Did you know that in 2015 President Obama signed a pro-asteroid mining bill into law? This bill allows companies to extract, use and sell material obtained from space bodies such as asteroids, the Moon, Mars and other heavenly bodies, for commercial exploration and use. The part I find most fascinating is the sheer audacity of anyone laying claim to anything in outer space at all—but maybe that’s just me.

The law, known as the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, or HR 2262, allows asteroid mining companies to retain rights to the resources they have collected. Eric Anderson of Planetary Resources, Inc, said that “this legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space.”

This area of commerce is exploding like a supernova, fueled by such factors as:

  • Companies including Google and its company Planetary Resources, SpaceX (PayPal’s Elon Musk) and Virgin Galactic/Qualcomm/OneWeb pursuing worldwide internet access using light satellite technology.
  • The cost to launch payloads into orbit is reducing, now putting space access within reach for more companies.
  • A skyrocketing (forgive the pun) increase in international spaceports is redefining the global marketplace with new possibilities in travel, space tourism, point to point shipping, low gravity experimentation and orbital launch capabilities—currently nine counties on this planet have the capability for orbital flights. But it is now becoming more within reach globally.
  • NASA’s purchasing policies are evolving to bring about innovation and cost efficiencies.
  • Surging interest on the part of venture capitalists to invest in commercial space companies.

It is cool to think about the untapped treasure of the minerals found within asteroids—they are said to be rich in concentrated amounts of iron ore, and other precious metals. Dollar value in the trillions.

Another exciting aspect is the growth of satellite and space-based data services in the private sector, selling these capabilities as services to the government and other businesses. The new Obama space mining law opens our free-market culture far higher than we’ve ever dreamed possible. And it seems there’s nowhere to go but up. It’s exciting to be living in these times and see some of the things we only read about or imagined now becoming a reality in our lives.

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