In Part 2 of this series, we examined how government investment in pre-competitive aerospace technology development fueled America’s ascent to today’s aerospace capabilities within decadal, rather than century, time frames. We also suggested that the time may have come to transition newly competitive functions to the private sector with its access to the capital markets and global consumers.

In Parts 3-5, we explored how the tools of the broader business, education, and research communities can facilitate this transition for those of us steeped in the aerospace industry’s conventional government-as-customer, cost-plus-fixed-fee universe.

In Part 6, we suggested that the “Apollo Era” funding was a short, unique moment in the history of technology development – one for which we should feel profoundly grateful, but not entitled. And, rather than continuing the now 40-year-old game of blaming various parties for not continuing those levels of funding, we suggested that focusing on promoting space commercialization may be the most realistic and productive use of our time as space advocates.

So, the cup being half full, the good news for us space enthusiasts living in the second decade of the 21st Century is that we are already 60 years down the technology development road towards our dreams.

What’s more, we are not alone.

“Bringing Space Down to Earth”

The development of viable business ventures has been a major barrier to commercial investment in space technology and resource development. With few exceptions, the business and investment communities have not begun to assess its business potential, due to commonly-held, and many times mistaken, perceptions of high risk and low return on investment over time when compared with other opportunities. The technology exists, but what is missing is a deeper level of communication between the technical and business communities – one that would lead to a more accurate, mutual understanding of the risk and profit potential involved.

The 8th Continent Project is a campaign to bridge that communication gap.

At 8th Continent, we begin by distinguishing between “Space 2.0” from “Space 1.0.”

Space 1.0 is aerospace as everyday people know it: astronauts, rocket ships and billion-dollar government projects.  Space 2.0 is aerospace-derived technology and content delivering solutions for today’s needs — from energy to biomedical, photonics to nanotech, software to location/time-based/GPS.

Space 2.0 does not compete with Space 1.0. Rather, it stands on the shoulders of Space 1.0, helping to deliver the fullest return on the U.S. government’s half-a-century-plus investment in American space capabilities.

Designed and operated from this perspective, the non-profit 8th Continent Project is a comprehensive portal through which entrepreneurial aerospace interests organize and represent themselves collectively as a unified commercial sector.

8C provides stakeholders with visibility, quality contacts, and corporate credibility. It also delivers the social environment needed to create and sustain relationships vital to successful businesses, talented and productive employees, profitable investments, and prosperous communities.

8th Continent aspires to span it all – from Space 1.0 to Space 2.0 and all points in between – through its networks of aerospace technology creatives, serial entrepreneurs, investors and professional service firms to deliver the talent, experience, and capital needed to succeed in the maturing commercial space markets of the 21st Century.

The 8th Continent Aerospace Business Incubator brings start-up and early-stage aerospace-derived ventures to quality equity sources, quality debt resources, expert business advice, and discounted pricing on supplies and other operational infrastructure. Because the incubator is virtual, its services are delivered nationally and include business plan assistance, teaching and training, mentoring and pitch coaching, marketing assistance, financial management assistance, linkage to university R&D services, help securing student interns/employees, management team development, assistance obtaining angel/VC investment, assistance in winning government technology development funding (including SBIR/STTR) and government customer contracts, intellectual property assistance and other specialized legal expertise, product/technology development assistance, assistance in process related technologies, linkage to strategic partners, regulatory compliance assistance, international trade assistance, human resources management assistance, and access to specialized laboratory and machine shop facilities.

The 8th Continent Business Plan Competition is an annual prize-centered contest through which university students (a) create actual space-related businesses and jobs, (b) generate visibility in both the professional communities and the general public, and (c) obtain outstanding educational experiences.

Raise Your Star Over the 8th Continent

The 8th Continent Project is looking for both customers and sponsors.

Prospective Customers: We provide free and for-fee services to aerospace-related ventures in the seed, start-up or early growth stages. Each prospective customer is assessed to identify business opportunities that either employ existing space technology in products with near-term terrestrial market potential, or provide solutions for near-term terrestrial markets by employing technology which, when developed further, will lead to products with space applications.

Prospective Sponsors: We invite you to explore ways to give to the 8th Continent Project and the communities it serves. All philanthropic vehicles can be accommodated, including financial and in-kind support, annual gifts, charitable bequests, and gifts from corporations and charitable foundations. Restricted gifts are welcomed to support existing programs, as are unrestricted gifts for the creation and expansion of new programs. Since the 8th Continent Project is a program of the Colorado School of Mines, its official gift-receiving agency is Colorado School of Mines Foundation, Inc., a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entity founded in 1928 and incorporated in 1951.

For more information, we invite you to visit our web site at: 8cproject.com

With this post we conclude 8th Continent’s 7-part series “U.S. Space Industry at the Crossroads.” We hope you enjoyed it and choose to respond with the same commitment and creativity as that echoed in the words of another campaign of different era:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

President John F. Kennedy, Speech at Rice University (September 12, 1962)

 

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