This story is from the 2015 Access 25. Explore more from this issue

The New Space Race

It’s getting crowded at the top.

January 2015

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In 1957, the Soviet Union made headlines by launching Sputnik, a beach ball-sized orb that was the first satellite to orbit the earth. Nearly 60 years later, a growing number of players are racing to take advantage of the final frontier’s commercial viability. Over the past year, a handful of companies have launched microsites — some weighing less than 3 lbs. — into low-earth orbit to shoot images and collect atmospheric data. Both Boeing and SpaceX, the commercial space transportation startup founded by Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, have inked deals to provide “space taxis” to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk has also revealed that SpaceX plans to deploy a fleet of satellites to provide global Internet access. And we’re still early in the game. Analysts predict the market will continue to expand at warp speed.

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