Space Pioneers in 2013

Note: This post was first published on the blog.

What’s going on in space and why should we care? Let me begin with two images:


I think the first image is self-explanatory; there is enough energy in space as well as down here on earth. The second one depicts asteroids in the inner solar system. Those asteroids have enough material to hypothetically construct big, comfortable space stations that combined would provide 3,000 times the surface area of earth – all as living space for future generations. So are we all doomed because current technology and policy don’t allow sustainable living on earth? Of course not. But it will take bold pioneers to take on the next “giant leap for humankind.”


In last year’s space blog post, we heard about top billionaire pioneers who are investing in space. But billions are not always necessary to create something of value. The rising makers movement doesn’t stop at hard space tech. For instance, the development of nano-satellites is driven by the same mechanics that brought computers into every home – smaller, cheaper, built by entrepreneurial teams headquartered in a garage or dorm room:

Startups like GomSpaceSolar System Express, and Infinity Aerospace are catering to that audience with parts and kits to build satellites. The startup NanoSatisfi and the OPS-SAT mission of the European Space Agency are democratizing access to satellites by providing timeshare plans for experiments. On the software side, there are space related hackathons and competitions like Space Apps ChallengeESA App CampESA App Challenge, or the Austrian FFG Space Apps Competition blooming all over the world.


The 3D printing boom is also highly relevant to space. Getting parts delivered to the international space station is very costly. Supplying future Mars missions in the nick of time will be straight out impossible. Think about processing the resources from future space mining directly in space instead of transporting them back to earth. We will need completely new fabrication methods that work in zero gravity. 3D printing seems to be the best solution for all of these challenges. There is even a competition to 3D print rocket engines withDIYROCKETS.

But the ultimate DIY rocket maker project has to be Copenhagen Suborbitals. Those guys are building a complete suborbital rocket with solely their hands and outside donations. It will take them some time to really fly a human, but so far they have come further than anyone thought possible. Watch some DIY space capsule building here.

Rocket test flights

What’s new with the big guys? SpaceX has made great progress, delivering cargo to the International Space Station and earning well-paid contracts from NASA, military and private satellite companies. But the most exciting development is their attempt to create a fully reusable rocket to make space travel as efficient as air travel is today. Currently SpaceX is testing the vertical landing of their Falcon 9’s first stage called Grasshopper. Check out the video:

Another contender for the orbital transportation market is Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezo’s rocket company Blue Origin. It’s the most secretive of the lot, but at least we also have a vertical takeoff and landing video from them:

There is also fire behind Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo:

The engines are always the most difficult part of a rocket and The Space Ship Company (TSC, the company building Virgin Galactic’s air- and spacecraft) had to completely redevelop its engine with help of a more experienced contractor. Now it’s looking good for the first suborbital flight by the end of the year and passenger flights at least one year after that.

More space crafts

A new entry in the race to space is Swiss Space Systems. Their technical concept is similar to Virgin Galactic. The difference is that their spaceship will be mounted on top of an Airbus 300 instead of under the wing of a carrier plane:

Further down the development road is Sierra Nevada Corporation with their mini Space Shuttle-like Dream Chaser that will be boosted on top of a conventional rocket:

NASA and Bigelow

Even NASA is working on a new rocket, the SLS (Space Launch System). It will be built with components from the shuttle program and the strongest version will be able to haul 130 tons to low earth orbit. That’s 12 tons more than the Saturn rocket from the Apollo program. Such heavy lifting capabilities will enable new human exploration programs, like to asteroids, for example. Or it will be able to bring the biggest inflatable space station modules from Bigelow Aerospace into orbit. Here is an image of Bigelow’s medium-sized modules:

Bigelow Alpha Station

Bigelow just announced an agreement to place a smaller test module, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) onto the International Space Station. There are also plans to use the modules as shelter for a moon station.


Let’s move on from space stations to inter-world space travel. Mars One and Golden Spike are aiming to bring humans to Mars and Moon, respectively. Their business models couldn’t be more different at the moment. While Mars One wants to select their astronauts out of average citizens and finance the mission with a reality show, Golden Spike is looking for wealthy individuals to pay US$1.5 billion for a two-person Moon landing. Mars One has no immediate plans to bring their crew back, in contrast to a tourist round-trip package offered by Golden Spike.

Not a landing, but just a flyby around Mars is the goal of Denis Tito’s Inspiration Mars project. Denis Tito, the first space tourist, won’t be flying himself. He is looking for a married couple to make the trip. If it’s true that most relationships end during vacation, then this couple better have a very strong marriage to survive!

Space Mining

So there are quite a few fascinating space projects in the works, but maybe none will be as important for humankind than space-mining. We only have limited resources here on earth, and if we desire to settle in space and resupply earth, we will need to make use of the limitless wealth that space has to offer.

Planetary Resources is on its way to becoming the first space mining company, that is, if they are not beaten by their new contender Deep Space Industries. As with any other serious mining project, Planetary Resources begins with prospecting. Thus, their first generation of spacecraft will consist of telescopes designed to find, map, and categorize those hundreds of thousands of asteroids. One of those telescope satellites will display images from Kickstarter campaign funders, which will be photographed with a backdrop of earth, the moon or whatever they choose. Oh, and Richard Branson funded the Kickstarter campaign with 100k and also joined Planetary Resources’ core group of investors.

Let’s wrap up this long post with Deep Space Industries gorgeous introduction video. If you only want to watch one video from this post, this is the one:

Image courtesy of Flickr; Video courtesy of Youtube

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Contemporary Pioneers: Investing in Space, the new innovation race

Note: This post was first published on the Pioneers Festival blog.

What do Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Robert Bigelow, Ross Perot Jr, Paul Alan and Peter Thiel have in common? Well, first of course, they are billionaires. But secondly, they invest in space companies. When top billionaire entrepreneurs start to invest in something new, we may see the formation of a new trend. But why space, such a hard and long term endeavor, why not just simply betting on the next billion dollar app? It’s because of the question these people are asking: what are the biggest challenges humankind is facing? One of those challenges is increasing population vs. scarcity of resources. Continue reading

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My Notes From: The Breakthrough Experience

These are my notes from the book. There is a seminar with the same name, which is Dr. Demartini’s core program.

The Essence of Life

  • When you follow your inspirations and intuition, you grow in self-worth and potential, as well as toward you true capabilities
  • Gratitude is the key to growth and fulfillment.
  • If you are not grateful for what you’ve been given, then why would the universe want to give you more?
  • What exactly is gratitude? It’s what you feel when you’ve attained perfectly balanced perception.
  • Many people confuse gratitude with elation. They think that when they’re elated about something and say, “Oh, I’m so thankful for that!” they’re being grateful.
  • True gratitude is a quiet state of poise and inner calm where you’re truly thankful, where you sense the divine order and wouldn’t want anything to change.
  • Nothing has ever happened or can happen to you that is not a gift and a blessing, but it’s difficult to be thankful until you find the hidden benefit in what may seem at first to be a negative event.
  • There’s only two things that the world can’t take away from you: your love and your wisdom.
  • Love and wisdom are the essence of life.

Continue reading

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My Notes From: The Magic of Thinking Big

This are my notes from David J. Schwartz’s book The Magic of Thinking Big:

Believe You Can Succeed And You Will

  • When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.
  • Belief in success is the one basic, absolutely essential ingredient of successful people.
  • It is well to respect the leader. Learn from him. Observe him. Study him. But don’t worship him.

How to develop the power of belief:

  1. Think success, don’t think failure.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are.
  3. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by th size of your belief.

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The Ultimate Reason why Space is Important

In this new entry to my Favorite Speeches Robert Zubrin, author of The Case for Mars and founder of The Mars Society, explains the ultimate reason why colonizing space is important.

It’s not about surviving the next big asteroid that will hit earth or other events far in the future. It’s about the psychology and development of humankind in the immediate future!

Highly recommended!

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The Business Model Canvas

We have been using the poster version of the Business Model Canvas at STARTup Live events to drill down on our business models.

The poster is great to collaborate on one physical sheet of paper, but I needed a digital friendly version to save the results and work on it later. So here is my bullet point structured version of the business model canvas crated with WorkFlowy. It can be copied and pasted from the website into most word processing applications.

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Anthony Robbins tells the Rocky Story

This story is definitely one of my favorite speeches, it made me see Sylvester Stallone in a completely different light and serves as inspiration when I have to decide between money and “my way”:

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Marianne Williamson: Our Deepest Fear

The following passage from Marianne Williamson‘s book ‘A Return To Love‘ is commonly mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Address.

Non the less, it gives me goose bumps every time I hear or read it. This has to be one of the deepest truths about us humans:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson


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Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics

Brilliant stuff, got me totally clear on what I am (mechanic) and better ideas on how to leverage that to create value!

No notes so far, but Wikipedia has an overview of Wealth Dynamics

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My Notes From: The Secret

My notes from the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. There is also a film about the same topic.


  • Appreciate all the riches around you, including the riches of others. Look for wealth wherever you go, and appreciate it.
  • Be clear about the amount of money you want to receive. State it and intend it! Don’t think about how much you can earn, but how much you want to receive.
  • Love yourself and know that you are deserving and worthy of an abundance of money.
  • Do not speak or think of the lack of money for a single second.
  • Be grateful for the money you have. Appreciate it as you touch it.
  • Affirm to yourself every day that you have an abundance of money, and that it comes to you effortlessly.
  • Be certain that money is coming to you.

Continue reading

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