Issue #4(18) 2018 Opinion

Is the NewSpace bubble about to burst?

Tim Farrar Menlo Park, California, USA

Readers of ROOM will be well versed in the phenomenon known as NewSpace, the ‘new way of doing space’ typified by commercial companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, and many will be convinced that this will one day become the norm. But is NewSpace just another ‘bubble’, inflated by engaging personalities and the hype that surrounds them? In this article, Tim Farrar poses some pertinent questions and sounds a warning for investors.

Michael Lewis’ book The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story was published in October 1999, by coincidence the same week I moved to Silicon Valley. It provided a great tour of the landscape at the high point of the dot-com bubble, just as his semi-autobiographical Liar’s Poker was a signature story of the 1980s Wall Street boom.

Unfortunately, we don’t have anything quite the same about NewSpace, although there have been several attempts to capture the current zeitgeist in laudatory biographies of Elon Musk and other space billionaires. However, just as it was obvious back in 1999 quite how untethered Silicon Valley had become from real world business models, the new NewSpace industry currently seems intent on demonstrating the same about the space sector.

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