This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In the spirit of such a momentous event we thought we’d take a look at space, not as the final frontier, but as a business model arena. Space has become a rapidly expanding, accessible economy - so if you wanted to be an astro-preneur, what components of the arena would you need to consider before launching your space business?
Image courtesy of the Hubble Telescope.
The Business Model Design Space card deck is a supporting tool we use with teams to reach a deeper understanding of the operating environment of a business model.
We examine these external forces to determine the adaptability of a business idea and the forces outside of your control as an entrepreneur. While innovation requires significant focus on your business model and your customers, you can’t neglect to consider external forces that could hamper or augment your success. You can’t control these forces, but you certainly need to be aware of them.
So how can we assess Space as a Business Model Arena and what external factors do we need to consider?
Here we can analyze our supply chain — the ISS. Not only will other governments be able to take a ride, but anyone with the budget and a business plan, could launch a business from the ISS. Other considerations:
Governmental Organizations such as NASA, ESA, and more than 9 countries have orbital launch capabilities.
Private Companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, Stratolaunch, Rocket Lab, and Planetary Resources to name a few.
NASA recently announced that the International Space Station will be open for commercial business for an approximate cost of $52M. Starting in 2020, Astro-preneurs with deep pockets can use the ISS for off-earth manufacturing, research or tourism.
Space has truly become democratized. The cost of space travel has dropped dramatically — sending up a satellite is almost as cost effective as buying a personal computer. What customers might be interested in our space venture?
The space economy is expected to grow from $385BN in 2017 to over $1.5TN by 2040.
Space customers range as widely as the industry sectors involved - from travelers, to miners to manufacturers to climate change activists.
Needs & Demands:
How fast will science and technology match our needs for exploration or exploitation? What are the secondary business models - space clean up, alien communication, time travel, space law enforcement, governance?
MACRO ECONOMIC FORCES
We are entering a new phase dubbed Space 3.0 — the first phase was governments investing in space exploration, phase 2.0 was billionaires investing in literal moonshots, and now phase 3.0 the commercial viability of space.
Global Market Conditions:
Space is not only expensive, but it is dangerous. Most space entrepreneurs are either billionaires in their own right (Bezos, Musk and Branson) or have partnered with governments to launch their businesses. Does science take precedence over commerce?
Between 2012-2017, venture capitalists invested over $10.2BN in the sector. Getting to space is expensive, and governments have led the way. Most private companies are funded by billionaires, venture capital or government grants.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty was signed by 129 countries but it makes no mention of commercial space activities. We have a lot of unanswered questions. What new trends could disrupt/destroy the needs for our space venture?
Technological advancements have allowed for greater data collection, faster and farther travel, reusable rockets and a vast number of increasing satellites and orbital devices. Will the technology focus on using space for earth’s benefit? For another home for mankind? Or for developing extraterrestrial technology for use on earth and beyond?
Who can mine an asteroid? Who can colonize the moon? Who can advertise in space? Who owns the light waves? Who manages conflict? SpaceX’s recent launch of 60 Starlink satellites may have broadened global internet coverage, but it interferes with scientific data collection (light pollution).
Are we exploring space as a means of escaping Earth to avoid a climate catastrophe? Will space become the next overcrowded thrill like Everest? What are the human rights associated with aliens, travelers, humans born off-Earth?
Will space become the wild west like the early days of the internet?
If you are about to embark on a space venture yourself, make sure to download your Strategyzer Business Model Design Space Card Deck and get ready for the G-Force!