In-Space ManufacturingCommercializing Microgravity

Introduction to space economy (in-space manufacturing) and related fields such as microgravity services, space resources and in-space transport services.

Overview of commercial microgravity applications. Introducing all the companies active in the upcoming space economy field and potential business opportunities to make profitable materials and products in space.

Motivation

We need new economic drivers for spaceflight. Something completely new and potentially bigger than any existing field like telecommunications, remote sensing and research.

In-space manufacturing would be enabler for numerous asteroid mining and utility companies in space. If asteroid mining will be a $1 trillion business then space manufacturing will be a $10 trillion business due to all the materials made into products with extra value.

If we can establish a Mars colony, we can almost certainly colonize the whole Solar System, because we'll have created a strong economic forcing function for the improvement of space travel. Once we have that forcing function, and an Earth-to-Mars economy, we'll cover the whole Solar System. But the key is that we have to make the Mars thing work. If we're going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilization. That's the next step.

Elon Musk interview with Ross Andersen, Aeon, 30 September 2014

To those of us who feel that space manufacturing offers great potential for human benefit, such a delay seems nearly criminal, but on the time-scale of human existence a mere fifteen years is hardly the blink of an eye.

O'Neill, Gerard.The High Frontier: Human Colonies In Space

Most important, in a practical sense, would be the construction of factories that could make use of the special properties of space — high and low temperatures, hard radiation. Unlimited vacuum, zero gravity — to manufacture objects that could be difficult or impossible to manufacture on Earth, so that the world's technology might be totally transformed. In fact, projects might even be on the planning boards in 2019 to shift industries into orbit in a wholesale manner. Space, you see, is far more voluminous than Earth's surface is and it is therefore a far more useful repository for the waste that is inseparable from industry. Nor are there living things in space to suffer from the influx of waste. And the waste would not even remain in Earth's vicinity, but would be swept outward far beyond the asteroid belt by the solar wind. Earth will then be in a position to rid itself of the side-effects of industrialization, and yet without actually getting rid of its needed advantages. The factories will be gone, but not far, only a few thousand miles straight up.

Isaac Asimov predictions for 2019 in 1983 in The Stare

Commercial Microgravity Applications

Destinations
Earth
Make stuff in orbit and bring back to Earth.
Space
Make stuff in space and consume or utilize in space.
Benefits
Earth
Things that can not be done.
Space
No requirement to survive launch loads.
Size not limited by launcher fairing.

Global Trends Space manufacturing is coming. What are the supporting macro trends?

  • Decreasing Launch Costs (10x-100x)
  • Commercialization of space & LEO
  • Private Space Stations & Transportation
  • Asteroid Mining & Space Resources
  • Pollution on Earth & Emerging Technologies