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The Final Frontier: The History and Growth of Space

The Final Frontier: The History and Growth of Space

The exploration of space has long captivated many, representing the ultimate frontier of discovery and innovation. From the early days of the Space Race to the present era of commercial space ventures, the industry has undergone remarkable evolution. In this blog, we will remember the history of space exploration, how it has developed over time, and explore venture capital investments in the space.

The History of Space Exploration


The story of space exploration begins with the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, marking the dawn of the Space Age. This historic event ignited the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union[1], culminating in the iconic Apollo 11 mission, which saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to set foot on the moon in July 1969. This monumental achievement not only showcased the remarkable capabilities of human space exploration but also sparked a collective sense of wonder and possibility[2].


Following the conclusion of the Space Race, space exploration transitioned into a new era characterized by international collaboration and the emergence of commercial space endeavors. The establishment of NASA’s Space Shuttle program in the 1980s paved the way for routine space missions and scientific research in low Earth orbit[3]. Additionally, the International Space Station (ISS) stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of multiple countries in conducting long-term research in microgravity[4].


In recent years, private companies such as SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, have revolutionized the space industry by pioneering commercial space travel and developing reusable rocket technology, lowering the cost barriers to space travel[5]. This shift towards privatization has significantly altered the landscape of space exploration, opening up new opportunities for innovation and investment[6].

Growth in Investments

The SpaceTech industry has experienced an increase in investments recently, driven by the demand for satellite deployment, space tourism, and the exploration of celestial bodies. By the end of 2022, the sector had received approximately $272 billion in private equity investments[7].

Notably, venture capital funding for space-related startups has reached new levels, with $4.6B globally poured into space travel and satellite categories specifically[8]. This reflects the growing interest in the commercial viability of space ventures. The prospect of mining resources from asteroids, harnessing solar power in space, and establishing sustainable habitats on other planets is capturing the imagination of investors and entrepreneurs alike.

What Could Be Next

Looking ahead, the future of space exploration is poised to witness unprecedented advancements across various fronts. The prospect of establishing a human presence on Mars has garnered substantial attention, with SpaceX’s ambitious plans to colonize the red planet through its Starship spacecraft[9]. Furthermore, the development of advanced propulsion systems, such as ion drives and nuclear propulsion, could revolutionize interplanetary travel and enable expeditions to the outer reaches of the solar system[10].

Additionally, the burgeoning field of space manufacturing holds immense potential, with companies like ICON 3D collaborating with NASA to develop technologies for 3D printing on the moon. These innovations are poised to transform the way we approach space exploration by enabling the construction of infrastructure and habitats using locally sourced materials, thereby reducing the cost and complexity of future lunar missions[11].

Spotlight on Key Players

The following are MicroVentures portfolio companies that are helping to further the potential of space travel, exploration, and resource utilization  through innovative technologies.


As a leading force in the commercial space industry, SpaceX has achieved numerous milestones, including multiple successful launches and recoveries of Falcon 9 rockets[12], as well as the ongoing development of the Starship spacecraft[13]. Elon Musk’s vision of interplanetary colonization and the establishment of a sustainable human presence on Mars has redefined the possibilities of space exploration.


This pioneering company specializes in developing advanced manufacturing technologies for space applications, with a focus on in-situ resource utilization and the production of critical components for future lunar and Martian missions. Their innovative approach to space manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the way we build and sustain off-world infrastructure[14].


With a mission to provide low Earth orbit mapping and collision avoidance services, LeoLabs plays an important role in ensuring the safety and sustainability of space operations. Their advanced radar systems and data analytics capabilities allow for precise tracking of space debris and satellite movements, contributing to the responsible management of orbital environments[15].

Planet Watchers

Leveraging cutting-edge satellite imaging and data analytics, Planet Watchers offers actionable insights for various industries, including agriculture, environmental monitoring, and disaster response. Their advanced Earth observation capabilities have far-reaching implications for addressing global challenges and fostering sustainable development[16].


Collaborating with NASA, ICON 3D is at the forefront of developing additive manufacturing technologies for lunar construction and resource utilization. Their groundbreaking work in 3D printing on the moon holds great promise for establishing a sustainable human presence and infrastructure beyond Earth[17].

Final Thoughts

The SpaceTech industry may be standing at a pivotal juncture, poised to embark on a new era of exploration, innovation, and commercialization. From the original roots of space travel in the 1950s to the privatization and commercialization of the 2010s and 2020s, investors are starting to explore the wonders of space through investments in players aiming to further our understanding of the universe we live in and beyond. With increasing investments to the sector, it will be interesting to see how startups continue to innovate and the industry continues to grow.

Want to learn more about key industries to keep an eye on? Check out the following MicroVentures blogs to learn more:

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[1] https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/lw/103729.htm

[2] https://www.nasa.gov/mission/apollo-11/

[3] https://www.nasa.gov/space-shuttle/

[4] https://www.nasa.gov/international-space-station/

[5] https://nstxl.org/reducing-the-cost-of-space-travel-with-reusable-launch-vehicles

[6] https://hbr.org/2021/02/the-commercial-space-age-is-here

[7] https://www.crystalfunds.com/insights/space-innovation-rise-of-commerical-space-industry

[8] https://www.goingvc.com/post/space-the-final-frontier-of-vc-investing-in-the-new-space-race

[9] https://www.spacex.com/humanspaceflight/mars/

[10] https://www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/advpropulsion_td.pdf?emrc=c03335

[11] https://www.nasa.gov/centers-and-facilities/marshall/nasa-icon-advance-lunar-construction-technology-for-moon-missions/

[12] https://www.spacex.com/vehicles/falcon-9/

[13] https://www.spacex.com/vehicles/starship/

[14] https://www.astroforge.io/

[15] https://leolabs.space/

[16] https://www.planetwatchers.com/

[17] https://www.iconbuild.com/


The information presented here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed or used as, comprehensive offering documentation for any security, investment, tax or legal advice, a recommendation, or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, an interest, directly or indirectly, in any company. Investing in both early-stage and later-stage companies carries a high degree of risk. A loss of an investor’s entire investment is possible, and no profit may be realized. Investors should be aware that these types of investments are illiquid and should anticipate holding until an exit occurs.