At LuxExpo The Box

The first space factory, star of NewSpace Europe

Year after year, the space industry moves closer to a lasting human presence, if not on the moon, then at least in orbit. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Year after year, the space industry moves closer to a lasting human presence, if not on the moon, then at least in orbit. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Is NewSpace in an air pocket? At a time when Luxembourg’s space agency is bringing together more than 600 experts at LuxExpo on 27 and 28 October, Space Capital’s analysis deserves to be nuanced. For example, the CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited, Nicolas Gaume, will present the first space factory, a sign of a buzz.

His illustrious predecessors, Pierre Werner and Jacques Santer, had to endure a Luxembourgish adventure in the conquest of space ‘made in Europe,’ in the relative shelter of the Cold War, 40 years ago. The former minister for the economy, Etienne SchneiderEtienne Schneider (LSAP), learned this very quickly: you have to be able to sail for a long time against (violent) adverse winds to hope that one day the lazy prophets of doom will hold their tongues.

Five years later, the ‘minister for space’ has left the political scene, but the NewSpace conference will still bring together hundreds of experts on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 October, with the aim of bringing new space companies to Luxembourg. ‘New space’ to be more accurate. Hence, not launch companies, which in ten years have attracted $28bn of the $54.8bn of investment (of which 38% was for SpaceX alone), or even necessarily satellite operators ($23.7bn), although this is more questionable given the role of satellite, and especially nano-satellite, players in key sectors.

-44% investment in the third quarter

Morgan Stanley’s head of aerospace and defence equity research, Kristine Liwag, expects the global space industry to become a $1.1trn market by 2040, up from around $350bn in 2016. Others have started to sound the alarm since the start of the year: with 79 deals for $3.4bn, investment is down 44% compared to the same quarter in 2021 (and compared to -31% for all technology companies), says Space Capital, which has been aggregating data for the past ten years.

Companies that provide critical data, insights and services to businesses and governments will be better positioned for revenue growth in the medium term."

Chad AndersonPartner Space Capital

Director Chad Anderson said, “Companies with high capital expenditures, including the launch and emerging industries, are likely to be the most affected over the next few years. Companies that provide critical data, insights and services to businesses and governments will be better positioned for medium-term revenue growth and have a strong case for attracting investors in a more selective market.”

Space debris, housing, logistics, growth sectors

Emerging industries, according to his company, are to be found in extraterrestrial or space habitats (such as Vast), in transport or logistics (iSpace) or in space debris management (Astroscale). This last issue, already addressed in Luxembourg, was also at the heart of the European Space Forum in Brussels, where many voices were raised to call for international coordination and tools: from 770 satellites in orbit 20 years ago, the number has risen to 5,000 today and this figure could reach 100,000 in the years to come if all the megaconstellation projects are successful.

For its fifth edition, NewSpace Europe has chosen the theme “Connecting Earth and Space” to respond to these challenges. The minister for economic affairs, Franz FayotFranz Fayot (LSAP), will be there together with the Korean minister for science and ICT, Lee Jong-Ho. This will be a good opportunity to learn more about a Korean spin-off from Hanyang University, Space Map 42, safety management in the sky, or the Dutch company Ecosmic.

Another exciting area is microgravity and its opportunities on Earth, as illustrated by a McKinsey analysis note, with the presence, on the Luxembourgish scene, of Yuri's chief scientist, Daniela Bezdan, or the co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited, whose Petrus 2000 went into space and came back to Earth. The wine has already been rated 100/100 by Parker. A promise: its CEO, Nicolas Gaume, will not come to speak about wine, nor about the €2m he raised, which is “already ancient history,” nor even about the arrival of Charles Beigbeder in his company via his New Space fund. He will speak about REV1, the first space factory developed with Thales Alenia Space.

RedWire and its space cells

A futuristic project, the best sign of a buzz that stock market noises do not cover: according to CNBC, space companies that have passed through a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) are having a hard time refinancing themselves and only have three quarters at most left to finance their growth. In analysts’ sights are well-known projects in Luxembourg, such as Spire, which, according to Geospatial World, “reported a 113% increase in revenue in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. Spire said the growth was due to increased adoption by existing customers and recent new customer additions.”

Or like the American at the Luxembourg research centre RedWire, which first announced it was acquiring Belgium’s QinetiQ Space for $32m, a deal that benefits both companies, before celebrating the selection of its bioprinter for the NG-18 mission to the International Space Station. The aim is to show that human cells and tissues printed in the absence of gravity will mature and strengthen, an important step in regenerative medicine that could lead to effective ways of printing new tissues and organs in space for patients who need them on Earth.

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This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.