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SpaceX founding member: Musk's success made space a safer investment

Grete Suarez

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo showing the first 60 satellites his company will be launching this week in an effort to provide internet worldwide.

Musk warned that the launch could go wrong and that this batch of satellites is only a start.

But, the move is the next in a series of rocket launches that, whether successful or not, have blazed a trail for other space entrepreneurs to follow, said Vector co-founder and CEO Jim Cantrell on YFi PM. Cantrell is also a founding member of SpaceX.

“Space has the promise of being the next economic frontier worldwide,” Cantrell said.

A new economic frontier

To visualize the economic possibilities in space, Cantrell draws a comparison to what the internet was in its infancy.

“Space right now looks to be like the early internet, where we couldn’t imagine how people will actually turn it into a viable economy,” he said. “[People] creating value on it other than porn and personal promotion.”

Cantrell said it was SpaceX that led the transition of privatizing space innovation.

“The big thing that changed was when SpaceX was successful, and that means space is safer to invest in,” Cantrell said. “As time has gone on, we figured out how to make space access cheaper. So the investor and the venture capital can come into this and actually take risks. And that draws in more innovations.”

Space gold rush

SpaceX’s ambitious plan is to launch nearly 12,000 satellites, according to Federal Communications Commission filings from March and November 2018.

But Musk is not the only player in the space game. Jeff Bezos’ Amazon is also looking to fill the skies with 3,236-satellites to provide broadband access.

“The gold rush is on. It’s in its very early days. What we’ve seen is that technology is fueling it. Satellites are getting smaller and more numerous,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell’s own company, Vector, is also among those looking to fill out the space industry.

“What companies like Vector are trying to do is to step in behind them, and put the space infrastructure in place so the innovators can start creating value like they did on the internet,” Cantrell said.

Vector Launch is a U.S. homegrown small satellite rocket launch company. They aim to launch on-demand micro-satellites into low earth orbit at substantially lower costs. They plan to launch test missions this year and satellites early next year.

“We all owe Elon a lot of gratitude for making this whole road possible,” he said.

Grete Suarez is a producer at Yahoo Finance.

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