I am in San Francisco this week for the amazing Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference.  At yesterday’s keynote there were 10,000 people sitting in a single room watching a really impressive presentation.   But while that was going on, I  was actually glued to a video feed with updates on the birth of our nation’s newest industry.

Started by Elon Musk (paypal, tesla motors) SpaceX is the first “true” private space company to play a key role in the nation’s space program.  Better yet, the economics of the project, and the public/private partnership funding model make space look like a viable startup industry !

SpaceX has done a great job on vehicle design and launch management logistics.  But real secret to their success today, is their $1.6 billion contract with NASA to replace the retiring space shuttle as a primary transportation system tot he international space station.

What’s really unique and exciting here is that SpaceX and NASA are co-funding the project with SpaceX managing to achievement milestones. And SpaceX is truly a “business” . The company publishes a price list for their launch services, a user guide for their Falcon 9 spacecraft, and really presents themselves more like a progressive software company than a space industry contractor.

This is really worth watching ! Cheap accessible launch capacity from a company that has operating economics 1/100th of NASA with a large initial contract. This should really pave the way for a brand new innovative industry that can continue to exploit an emerging Public/Private funding model that should help attract more aggressive venture funding.


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