NewSpaceVision – Fresh out the box: Updates about NewSpace in Europe #1

Dear NewSpaceVisionaries,

a lot is going on in the NewSpace sector nowadays and there are many opportunities in front of us. That is why we are planning to publish this content fortnightly in which we highlight a few NewSpace topics with a focus on the European Sector. This time we are going to focus on funding.
Feel free to share this new product! 🚀

NewSpace in Europe

Rocket launches are getting cheaper and cheaper. Orbex, a European space launch company based in UK, developed an innovative fuel tank architecture. The new technology could reduce the dry mass by 30% compared to traditional technologies. In July 2017 Orbex won the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award.

Orbital Access brings objects into space in a different way. They will use a fully re-usable horizontal take-off launch system with maximum payloads of 500kg. They recently got a 200.000€ contract with ESA as part of its Two-Stage-To-Orbit (TSTO) technology program. Furthermore Orbital Access announced that they will open a headquarter in Malta in a few weeks. From a geographically perspective a wise decision.

ThrustMe is developing an electric propulsion that is more efficient than still existing ones. They claim to be able to double the thrust of a regular miniaturized electric propulsion system at only 40 percent the size. ThrustMe raised 1.7million€ from Kima Ventures and a collection of U.S. and European angel investors.

Current and NewSpace Business Fields
Source: BMWI

Around the Globe

A good message from Africa, especially considering a space topic. It makes me smile when I read that Ghanasat-1 was released from the ISS at the 7th July 2017. „It has opened the door for us to do a lot of activities from space,“ the product coordinator Dr Richard Damoah said. Hopefully there is still a lot to come.

Sometimes satellites collide, get lost or get destroyed. The debris could cause huge damage on other objects and some people are thinking about to pick up the particles. Astroscale, a Singapore based satellite services company got a €21.8mil injection. The company aims to make its efforts to clean up space debris into a commercial business in 2020.

Have you heard that Australia commissioned a review to develop a long-term plan to grow the Australian space industry sector? Here you will find an article discussing why Australia perhaps needs his own space agency.


You are new into this big NewSpace topic? You need something that gives you an overview about the involved bigger companies? Bloomberg writes about the NewSpace Revolution and gives an insight look into Planet (Labs).

Every now and then we organize events. The next one is going to be the biggest one of them. On September 3rd from 10am to 5pm you will be able to meet i.a. the group behind Hybrid Airplane and you will see their h-aero flying.
We can’t tell you more yet. Details will follow soon.

On September 15th – 17th you should visit the INNOSpace Weekend. With Advisory from experts, Front End Developer and Marketing experts on site you can turn your idea into reality. To save 10% for the INNOSpace Weekend in Cologne go to and use our promotional code „NewSpaceVision„.

To start inspired into the new week I would like to end this article with an awesome piece of art: Wanderers by Erik Wernquist.
Lean back, turn up the volume and switch to full screen.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do :).

Tell us what you think about our new product. We would love to hear your feedback! If you want to receive this content automatically once in two weeks sign up for our newsletter.

Your NewSpaceVisionary
Albrecht Köhler

NSV#9: Space industry insights and advisory from David Ward, Sonaca Space.

Dear NewSpaceVisionaries,

NSV#9: „From Lookheed Martin to Sonaca Space“ was a deep space industry event. David Ward shared his experience he gained through working for a lot of space companies all around the globe. He was involved into more than 20 different projects that launched into space and worked at the spaceports Baikonur, Cape Canaveral, Guiana, and Vandenberg Airforce Base. With this article we want to share a few of David’s funny stories and helpful advisory for working in the space industry.


Planning, Planning, Planning:

Space projects are huge and complicated. So, you need to plan everything in detail for a perfect execution. So many different people and companies are involved into projects in the space industry and the processes need to be coordinated perfectly. But beside all the technological challenges sometimes trivial events cause serious problems.

Two small planning fails David told us:

Imagine you must transport a million Euro satellite with a truck to another destination. Everything is planned perfectly and it is running smooth until the satellite reaches the destination. You just need to get the satellite out of the truck to finish the day. Does this require a lot of planning? Well, yes it does. David told us that they could get the satellite into the truck, but not out of the truck because the satellite was to heavy for the fork-lift truck. Loosing preparation time before a launch is very critical. Thanks to another company nearby they could solve the problem with additional hardware and hours.


Another planning fail was this story David told us. He was on a flight with his team to Baikonur to work four weeks until the launch of a satellite. Baikonur is far away from the next big city and you want to have good food for the next four weeks. One of David’s team members was responsible for the food transport. In the payload cabin was a satellite and a food container full of ice. That is a perfect plan for an efficient satellite and food transport to Baikonur until the ice melts and the water level in the cabin reaches ten centimeters. Result: Satellite survived fortunately, four weeks with colleagues who really miss their steak. You don´t want to be responsible for this.

„Take pictures, it is so easy and perfect for documentation.“

Documentation is another key to successful missions. Even when it is boring or time demanding. You need a good documentation for e.g. failure analysis or problem solving.

„Never underestimate the value of fit checks and dry runs.“

„Scheduling and procedures are another key to a successful mission within the space industry.“

One of the hardest space fails was the damage of the NOAA satellite. A 290 million dollar satellite on the shop floor. Six years delay, just because the team did not check the bolts again as specified in the procedure. „Two days before moving the satellite bolts where there“ does not mean they are there!

„Know what you are doing.“

If something went wrong, do not continue and try an unknown procedure. Stop the process and analyze. Think before you act. In the space industry, there is no room for unnecessary risks.


Space is a tough business.

„Rocket science is about things that want to explode.“

5 percent of all launches fail. This means every twentieth launch may destroy the hundreds of million-Euro work of more than a decade. Take your time to imagine that: You work more than ten years on a satellite, everything went perfect, you got three promotions within this project. As the climax, you want to see it launching into space, a dream and then…BOOM…the rocket explodes. Maybe next time. See you in ten years. A lot of space projects enjoy their long under water life after rocket failures. Remember, you need a lot of resilience in the space industry.

That is not tough enough? David was involved into hydrazine fueling for launches. He told us how he got into this suit looking like an astronaut and then starting the fueling process. Imagine you have all this toxic hydrazine around you and you know that if there is a leak in your suit, you are dead. You can say that he as an engineer got a little bit astronaut feeling in his career.


Main attitude of different work cultures in the space industry:

USA: Working overtime, all the time.

France: Great expertise but after 7,5 hours you won´t find anyone at work.

Russia: Pragmatism solves every problem!

Germany: Put all the above into a mixer and you have the German work culture in the space industry.


Tip from David for all New Space actors:

Do not reinvent the wheel! All the big agencies and companies had the brightest minds working on space problems for more than 50 years. You can find NASA patents on the internet. Take the old knowledge and optimize, minimize or use them to build something more complex.

A side notice from NSV: We can see a lot of successful New Space projects that took old plans from promising programs that were canceled by Governments. A good example is project BEAM, the expandable habitat on the international space station. US Congress cut the program’s funding in 2000 and Entrepreneur and space enthusiast Robert T. Bigelow purchased the rights to the NASA patents. Now it is a promising „New Space“ project of a private company.


Sven and I want to thank David again for all the space industry insights he shared with us. It was a perfect mix of tough space engineering advisory, anecdotes and humor. We loved the discussion and Q&A session with all participants of NSV#9. Hope to see you all at our next event NSV#10 with Hybrid Airplane and their UAV H-Aero which someday may fly on Mars (Date announcement soon).


Daniel and Sven


NewSpaceVision #9 – Sonaca Space [Active Space Technologies GmbH]

When: 20.06.2017, 18:30 
Where: Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at TU Berlin, Marchstraße 12-14, 10587 Berlin 

Dear NewSpaceVisionaries,

On the 20th of June we will welcome David Ward from Sonaca Space!

Sonaca Space (previously Active Space Technologies GmbH) is a Berlin based space company with competences in thermal and mechanical engineering, AIT (Assembly, Integration and Tests) and qualification of space systems. Prior to working for this very company David Ward worked for space giants like Lockheed Martin and the Orbital Science Corporation. With his work experiences in various positions within the space sector he will talk about Program Management, AI&T, Mission Assurance, Launch Operations, and Procurement and Supply Chain along with some stories of what he has encountered over the years. He will also talk about the main differences between big companies and SME in the space industry.

You can support us by buying a ticket on Eventbrite or donating on PayPal.

If you want to help us with your time, we will be super happy to hear from you!   🙂

We would like to invite you to read articles about events, the NewSpace sector and more. Just check out our different sections on to get all of our content. We will release our first podcast with Interstellar Ventures soon. We are also working on bigger projects, but to bring these to life we need your help! Contact us to become a team member of NewSpaceVision.


See you at the event!


Sven & Daniel

The NewSpace Sector in Germany / Status of the German New Space Economy

An article by Sven Przywarra

The global space sector is going through profound changes. Ventures with innovative concepts are entering the market, backed by venture capital and often with a focus on the generation of data or vertical integration. A popular term for this development is NewSpace which was accelerated among other things by progress in miniaturisation, standardisation and activities from well-known billionaires and NASA.

What is the status of the German NewSpace Sector?

Where are companies which follow such an approach? The short answer is: The German NewSpace Sector is small and still in its infancy. You can count the few companies which are “NewSpace PurePlayers” on the fingers of one hand with “Components & Hardware” and “Earth Observation” as the two biggest groups. Within the first category protagonists are still following mostly relatively conservative business models but are more and more offering their products and services “off-the shelf” and to a fixed price, Berlin Space Technologies is a notable exception and an interesting example. OHB and Airbus are still trying to figure out how to incorporate the start-up idea into their companies. Within “Earth Observation” most of the companies analyse public satellite image libraries. Interestingly one of the most important acquisitions of the US American company Planet was a German-based company founded as RapidEye which now is the German branch of the NewSpace giant. (Thus, we see them as a part of the German NewSpace Ecosystem.)

Other smaller groups within the sector are “Navigation & Communication” which faces big international competition (e.g. OneWeb) and “Science & Ex-Orbit” with PTScientists as an endeavour backed by sponsors.

NewSpace Germany / New Space Germany

What is the reason for this situation?

Germany, with its excellent network of Universities and research institutes, has a perfect base for successful high-tech companies in this field but a lack in culture of starting up and difficulties in finding funding for such ambitious and risky business hinder the development of a strong sector.

There are signs and efforts for a change of the status quo. Numerous VC firms expressed their interest in investing in NewSpace companies, some of them made deals abroad. OHB as well as Airbus founded their own venture arms but notably investments in German Space StartUps are not known to us. It seems like the institutional site also wants to stimulate movements in this sector: StartUp Nights at the Federal Ministry for Economic Effairs and Energy and competitions for early stage projects on a national (InnoSpaceMasters) and European level (Copernicus Masters / Gallileo Masters) show small successes.

From our understanding at NewSpaceVision the lack in culture must be tackled at an even earlier stage: People must be educated about the grown opportunities and applications of space technology in the upstream (hardware) and downstream (software) market and individuals from different industries and backgrounds need to be connected and brought together over this topic to catalyse a free discussion and finally develop new use cases and businesses. With our events and the conference, we are trying to pursue that goal.

Actions need to be taken now to avoid the space market (after the internet) to be dominated by American companies only. For the benefit of a well flourishing market the last frontier should also be tackled by more NewSpaceVisionaries from Europe and Germany.


[This article was prepared and written by me in my personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are my own. I would be happy to receive your feedback! Feel free to contact me via direct message or via e-mail.]