Market Ripe for Commercial Space Exploration, SpaceX Founding Member Says

March 14, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

Growing demand and a supportive federal government have created a market ripe for commercial space exploration, according to Jim Cantrell, a founding member of SpaceX and the current CEO of Vector.

“Now we have a market where producing and flying hundreds of rockets a year is not insane,” Cantrell told Cheddar on Thursday.

Cantrell was a founding member and the first vice president of business development of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. He also founded several other companies, including Moon Express and StratSpace, as well as held positions at national space programs, such as NASA and the French Space Agency.

At Vector, Cantrell now aims to take advantage of the growing market to lower the cost of reaching space through mass production. Using Henry Ford’s strategy to scale up production of Model T cars, Vector can make space exploration more “affordable to a wider variety of institution, peoples, and companies,” Cantrell said.

The company also hopes to grow its business through public partnerships.

Earlier this week, the White House released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which requested $21 billion for NASA. The request was an increase of $283 million, or 1.4 percent, compared with the 2019 budget.

Cantrell said that the budget is not enough “if you think NASA should be building everything that goes into space.” It is enough, however, for NASA, the federal agency charged with aeronautics and aerospace research, to “extend into that mission by using more commercial services.”

In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine agreed, saying the “budget will build on our successes in low-Earth orbit to create a sustainable exploration campaign that combines NASA’s expertise with that of our commercial and international partners.”

“It may not be popular to say but Trump has been very pro-commercial space,” Cantrell said.

For full interview click here.