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The competition heats up: According to a new report, venture capitalists invested twice as much money last year in commercial space startups than they had in the previous fifteen years combined.
From 2000 through 2015, space startups reeled in $13.3 billion in investment cash, including $2.9 billion in venture capital. A full $1.8 billion—or roughly two-thirds—of that venture capital was invested last year alone. The influx of all that VC cash suggests a shifting perception among investors, Christensen says.
Investment in space-related startups was once largely dominated by “advocacy investors” passionate about space travel (think Elon Musk) and corporations with strategic interests in Earth orbit (telecoms, satellite TV providers, etc.). Now, thanks to a handful of very visible successes from companies like SpaceX, a broader base of investors are looking at space startups as more traditional tech investments—the kind that rapidly bring a product to market and generate revenue in the relatively near term. Those products and revenues generally have less to do with space and more to do with information, Christensen says.
Combine this with the much less significant story yesterday about how NASA received a record 18,000 applicants for a mere 14 astronaut positions and it sure appears that western society is becoming increasingly space happy.