We often imagine space travel as the illustrious final frontier – and for good reason.
From down here, the thought of testing those limits feels borderline impossible. However, that doesn’t change the reality of those aspirations for the companies working on making it a reality.
There are a host of complications stopping mankind from civilizing the Moon, Mars, or any other constellation.
While those are hindrances, they are not insurmountable. Of course, like any other venture being undertaken by startups, trial and error is inherent to the process.
So, the presence of partnerships in the space (no pun intended) only helps further the possibility of achieving those goals.
One such startup, Astrolabs, announced a partnership with industry leader SpaceX to carry its proprietary rovers to the Moon’s surface as soon as 2026.
“We want to be the UPS, FedEx, and the Uber of the Moon,” Astrolabs founder and CEO Jaret Matthews said in an interview with SpaceNews.
The company hopes it will allow for transportation to become an afterthought on different planets – though the fine details remain somewhat obscured.
That said, this announcement underscores the industry bubbling beneath the surface of space exploration – logistics.
If humans are ever going to reach the point of living on other planets, it will require infrastructure that not only is nonexistent currently, but the means of its implementation are similarly beyond our reach.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the sheer cost of space travel.
Today, to transport a single pound of payload into orbit, it costs thousands of dollars. This is because current techniques used to launch rockets require a lot of propellant to get there.
For example, to fly from North America to Europe, customers typically pay between $3-$6 per pound of their body. For space launches, the cost explodes to $10,000 per pound, illustrating the intense chasm that exists.
So, for Astrolabs, the ability to hitch a ride with SpaceX to deploy its technology is a surefire boon to the company’s prospects.
However, it also underscores the potential value for a startup that can devise a means of transportation that lowers the cost.
One startup devising just such a thing is Wave Motion, which we featured to A+E subscribers last year.
Given the aforementioned need for propellant, roughly 90% of a rocket’s payload is reserved for fuel. Ultimately, only 3-4% of its initial weight reaches the final destination.
One can imagine the complications this presents when discussing the prospect of infrastructure in space.
Well, Wave Motion’s patent-protected technology propels payloads at more than 1,000X the acceleration of fighter jets. As a result, it can send payloads to orbital velocity using an overwhelmingly smaller amount of propellent – thereby opening new doors in the world of space exploration.
For what it’s worth, Wave Motion is still accepting investment into its current Reg CF campaign.
And while so many are fixated on the concept of transporting humans to space, Astrolabs and Wave Motion serve as a reminder of the disparate opportunities that exist in the universe where we, well, leave this world.
We will certainly be watching this sector closely.