The year 2015 was a record-setting year for start-up space ventures with investment and debt financing of $2.7 billion (excluding debt financing, $2.3 billion). Nearly twice as much venture capital ($1.8 billion) was invested in space in 2015 than in the prior 15 years, combined. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most in any year during the 15-year study period (2000-2015).
Start-up space ventures–companies that began as angel- and venture-backed startups–have attracted over $13.3 billion of multiple types of investment since 2000, including seed ($1.3 billion), venture capital ($2.9 billion), private equity ($1.8 billion), acquisition ($2.2 billion), public offering ($23 million), and debt financing ($5.1 billion). Investment activity has soared in recent years. Looking at investment only (excluding debt financing), nearly two-thirds of investment in space ventures since 2000 has been in the last five years. Over 110 venture capital firms have invested in early stage space companies since 2000, and over 80 angel- and venture-backed space companies have been founded since 2000. Eight of these companies have been acquired, at a total value of $2.2 billion.

“Sophisticated senior investors believe that significant returns from space ventures are possible and are willing to accept the risk for those transformative results,” says Carissa Christensen, managing partner of The Tauri Group and advisor to several start-ups. Angel and VC investors–many involved in the largest deals in 2015–talked to The Tauri Group about their outlook and motivations. Interviewees attributed the increase in venture investment in space to more attractive opportunities and to successful exits (that is, situations in which early investors have seen returns on their investments). One investor sums up expectations succinctly, “You can now make money with space investment, which wasn’t largely a true statement before.”

Start-Up Space examines investment in the 21st century and provides analysis of space industry investment trends, focusing on investors in new companies that have attracted private financing. This report reveals several key findings on long-term trends and recent investment activity, based on data from 2000 through 2015 about angel- and venture-backed companies that have received seed, venture capital, or private equity investment.

The Tauri Group identified over 250 investors that have provided funding to angel- and venture-backed space companies. The names of all investors are not always disclosed, so the actual number of investors is even higher.

Investors in space companies are primarily based in the United States, representing 66 percent of the total: California is home to half of these investors. The non-U.S. investors, representing 34 percent, are based in 25 countries.

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are well known “space billionaires.” Twenty-one people on Forbes’ Billionaires List have an affiliation to a space enterprise.

A handful of VCs have repeatedly invested in common with others, notably Bessemer, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, First Round Capital, Founders Fund, Khosla, and RRE Ventures. At least two of them have invested in each of these firms: Accion Systems, Planet Labs, Rocket Lab, Skybox Imaging, SpaceX, Spire Global, and The Climate Corporation.

Acquisitions total $2.2 billion with 74 percent ($1.7 billion) in the last 5 years. Monsanto acquired the Climate Corporation for $930 million in 2013, Google acquired Skybox Imaging for $478 million in 2014, ViaSat acquired WildBlue for $568 million in 2009, and Uber acquired deCarta in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

The report and the project on which Start-Up Space is based were funded in part through a research grant from the Emerging Space Office located at NASA Ames Research Center in support of the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters.

A copy of the Start-Up Space report can be downloaded from the this link. For more information regarding Start-Up Space, please contact Kirsten Armstrong, Principal Investigator, The Tauri Group at or via telephone at 703.647.2743.

Download the report.

About the Tauri Group

The Tauri Group Space and Technology Practice applies deep knowledge in the global space and satellite sectors to the needs of government and commercial clients. Many of the existing, authoritative data sets characterizing the space industry and sub-segments were originated by The Tauri Group or by Tauri analysts. The Tauri Group provides official launch industry data to the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation; assesses technology investments for NASA; delivers industry analysis and acquisition support for the Department of Defense; and provides market, investment, strategic, and technology analysis for leading aerospace organizations around the world. For more information, visit