Over the past eight months, the pandemic has revealed a number of challenges affecting communities across the country. From the digital divide to housing insecurity, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are busy developing innovative solutions to help better address these problems in the post-pandemic world.
Ari Stiegler, a venture capitalist and managing partner at Flux Capital, believes that, when it comes to solving twenty-first-century challenges, outer space offers significant opportunity.
“As we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to view space as a a new frontier at our disposal to develop the products, technologies, and software that will offer solutions to the public and returns to investors,” said Stiegler. “Space technology, particularly as it relates to transportation and communication, is a largely underleveraged sector in which investments could very well help solve difficult dilemmas here on Earth.”
Of course, Stiegler said, many still see space technology and exploration as mere science fiction. However, harnessing space as a resource to improve life on Earth is far closer to being a reality than ever before.
Stiegler, for example, pointed to SpaceX. Founded by Elon Musk in 2002, SpaceX is one of the industry’s most recognizable names and one of the worlds most recognizable impact companies. Another big one that came to life in the 2000’s was popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Currently, the Los Angeles-based company is developing an innovative new product called Starlink, a powerful network of satellites that it claims will outperform the traditional satellite internet system, which is bounded by ground infrastructure limitations.
“Starlink is a prime example of the ways we can invest in space as a vehicle to drive innovation,” Stiegler said. “This service would be a significant advancement considering that events like blackouts and natural disasters weaken our ability to access potentially life-saving information. Starlink can help foster more efficient and robust connections in communities across the country.”
Starlink aims to address these restraints by powering high-speed, broadband quality, internet to locations where access has typically been unreliable, expensive or completely unavailable. To ensure this network functions smoothly, Starlink leverages advanced technologies such as ion propulsion systems to avoid in-orbit debris, a tracking system to autonomously avoid collisions with other spacecraft, a flat-panel design to decrease volume at launch, and solar panels for increased efficiency, according to SpaceX’s website. Not to mention, specially designed antennas will increase the amount of throughput that can be placed and redirected in a short time, lowering costs considerably.
After a recent interview Stiegler projected that such a system could make an immediate impact in communities struggling with the pandemic’s long-term effects.
“We’ve seen the need for services like Starlink over the last few months,” said Stiegler. “With millions of Americans working and studying from home, limited internet access in rural communities has hampered productivity and learning for many. A reliable, novel system like Starlink could help provide this service more effectively.”
Momentus Space is another company that Stiegler said is developing the infrastructure needed to make space more accessible and cost-effective. Momentus provides more efficient and less expensive ways to transport cargo and satellites in space, offering what is commonly referred to as a “last mile delivery solution”.
“Considering that space is the largest total addressable market, or TAM, we should expect to see significant growth within this sector in the coming years,” said Stiegler. “Space is the wave of the future, and shrewd investors should look to back the firms.
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