WASHINGTON — Space startups are becoming more acquainted with the U.S. government as a customer and an investor, though the pathways to both remain difficult, a panel of experts said Jan. 14.
“2019 was the year of government,” Carissa Christensen, CEO of analyst firm Bryce Space & Technology, said at a Washington Space Business Roundtable event here. “We saw many firms overtly or less overtly turn towards government as a potential customer.”
Christensen said there are several reasons for the stronger interest in U.S. government contracts among startups. The creation of the Space Force and an increase in study contracts from the National Reconnaissance Office and other agencies is making government business more interesting to startups, she said. Some startups could also be facing slow development of their target commercial market, she said.
“To me, the government as a customer is pretty important and an increasingly critical element of the potential success of venture-funded space startups,” Christensen said.
Ryan Lewis, senior vice president at In Q-Tel, said that over the past five to six years the U.S. government has started to move beyond “exploratory” contracts with startups. But traditional government contracts remain cumbersome for startups, he said. ...