Loft Orbital

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Loft Orbital is a spacetech startup with the ambitious goal of enabling any organization, company, government or group to access space simply, reliability, and affordably.  They do this by offering a turnkey service and interface for leasing space on satellites and getting a customer's desired sensor systems onboard.  Loft Orbital takes care of purchasing the satellite, operations, launch logistics, licensing, and everything else involved in getting a sensor suite into space and maintaining it.  The analogy here is a rideshare company such as Lyft where the customer just wants to quickly and easily get from point A to point B and not have to worry about buying a car, maintenance, navigation, getting a license, etc.  In the same vein as a rideshare organization, Loft Orbital also provides a cloud based software solutions so customers can operate their satellite sensor suites.

Previously space was restricted to large governments and corporations but Loft Orbital aims to provide space as a service to groups that previously have not had access. This includes smaller emerging space nations, startups or smaller companies (there is strong interest from data analytics firms), and R & D centers including research labs and universities. 

In terms of business model customers are charged a yearly fee while their sensors are in orbit for a pre-agreed number of years.  Loft Orbital itself owns the satellites.

The team is currently about 10 people and based in San Francisco, California.

Why I like Them

Bold.  Loft Orbital is extremely bold in pioneering a new business model.  With the recent success of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch, space travel and access is about to become a whole lot cheaper (estimates currently say around 10x cheaper) and more accessible.  The big breakthrough here is that SpaceX's launch vehicles are reusable bringing down the cost and even more importantly drastically reducing the time between launches.  Currently it takes 1 - 2.5 years booking in advance to launch a payload into space and this timeline often gets extended due to unexpected delays.  Organizations are required to pay millions of dollars in advance with no certainty on when they will get their payload into orbit.   Loft Orbital is perfectly poised with a strong offering to take advantage in the new, emerging space race that I expect to become mainstream in the next decade.

They also have no direct competition at this point in time and will be on the cusp of new business offerings around space giving them room to pivot to faster growing space industries in the coming years (one area likely being space tourism).

Disclosure:  I have spoken to members of the team.