Historically, the space launch industry pursued increasingly larger levels of integration, aligning launch vehicle development with multi-ton spacecraft and the requirements of high-cost, risk-intolerant missions. However, this conservative philosophy is unable to keep up with the boom in small spacecraft technology that is pushing space utilization into a much wider market. The result is that prohibitive costs of space launches have become out of sync with the multitude of breakthroughs that have enabled the proliferation of knowledge and technical capacity. Space access has to expand. It has to evolve from capital-intensive multinational and large corporate efforts to entrepreneurial innovations to fully realize its potential in the broader economy. The only question left is how this will be done and when this day will come.
Large amounts of investment have been directed towards building ever-larger launchers, bringing down the cost per kilogram into orbit, and forging the space tourism industry. The strategy of building large does expand access by gradually lowering costs. Yet amidst this rush it abstracts potential customers from launch vehicle technology itself and reduces access points into space. The creation of large, expensive, multi-use machines prohibits the expansion of doorways and increases the threshold to these technologies. These are indeed viable commercial models. Yet if we are to set our eyes on creating a much larger market and making profound impacts on our ways of life, it is not enough.
The responsive launch movement, too, is gaining momentum, evident in the boom of private launch companies in recent years. These SmallSat launch vehicles have been conceived in the same tradition of conservative design under the backdrop of an industry used to high launch prices, and provide a low entry point for these enterprises which are trying to squeeze themselves into an increasingly crowded field. Fundamentally very little has changed in these vehicles besides their privatization and modernization.
The only path to materializing the vision of accessible space is to catalyze the proliferation of launchers. This means building more bridges across the gap that lies between us and the universe. This means making technology accessible, cheap, and plentiful. We cannot merely build the same launchers, and just build them smaller. The approach, the design choices, the business models have to fundamentally change.
Since our first ventures into space, our economy has seen revolutions in automation and mass manufacturing the drastically brought down the cost of sophisticated products and large mechanical systems. The automobile and aircraft industry has established large efficient supply chains that enable them to deliver products at extremely low costs. Aerospace components have the potential to reach the same level of maturity, yet we are missing a developed industry and the volume needed for such vertical integration. What has changed, however, is that even without this premise, modernized production techniques and additive manufacturing are able to effectively bridge this volume gap by enabling individual companies to produce parts at incredible tolerances with low costs. Launch vehicles are machines no more complex than a small car or truck, yet their small volumes, high engineering and verification costs, and complex manufacturing have kept the bar of entry high. We have set out to change this. We want to see them one day dominate the skies like any other mode of transportation.
Our founding coincides with the rise of the fastest-growing segment in the space sector. With a huge number of nanosatellites requiring a launch in the foreseeable future and the rideshare launch market being completely saturated, a large growing market for customers that require dedicated launch opportunities, nanosatellite constellations, and mission flexibility is left wide open. Our launch technology enables us to expand the mission capabilities of small spacecraft based on the premises of modern advancements in scaling and the cost-effective nature of mass-produced, small-sized vehicles. In a way, the nanolauncher aims to be the first personal computer ever produced: it is to bring space to the hands of individuals.