Sometimes working for the federal government, whether in space or defense, can be…challenging.  While sitting in a room full of over-cautious managers, it’s easy to wonder exactly what you did to deserve the privilege of sitting on the side of the conference room listening to others going on about colors on a chart.  Working with leading edge technology and conducting space operations should be awesome, not sleep-inducing, right?

Good news!!  It may be time to take a job with an “innovation chaser.”  That’s right–try looking for a job with some of the more innovative space companies and get that conference Kool-Aid taste out of your mouth.  There are space companies out there working on some really interesting, and in some cases, historic projects.  There are growing opportunities and space businesses in the space business.  Those space businesses are working on projects  which might just be interesting enough for the review-fatigued job-seeker.  Erik Sofge’s list in a post of his is a pretty good start.

top commercial space companies

The list names the obvious companies, such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.  And rightfully so—both are working hard to build and innovate in traditional and new businesses.  SpaceX is building rockets that will eventually land back on the launch pad, for goodness sakes.  There are some others, such as Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada Corporation, XCOR Aerospace, Ad Astra Rocket Company, Made In Space, and Planetary Resources.  But, surprisingly, there are a few I would never have associated with innovation, such as Boeing and Airbus Defence & Space.  I say surprisingly not because those two companies haven’t been innovative in decades past, but because they are big companies in which innovation probably isn’t embraced as readily anymore, and because their sizes imply the inability to move quickly to new technologies in the field.

Here are a few other companies that are also trying something new.  These companies might be the perfect fit for the job-seeker of interesting and new space projects.

Bigelow Aerospace is attempting to build inflatable space habitats (think inflatable hamster-ball in space for humans, and you get the idea).  There’s also SkyBox Imaging, a company attempting to create 24/7 video streams from their smaller satellites in space of the activities occurring on the Earth below.  At least half of Urthecast’s space assets will also provide video of the Earth—but their video camera, and still camera, are mounted on the International Space Station.

Planet Labs’ goals are more ambitious and risky.  They want to build constellations of micro-satellites for whatever use can be imagined for them.  They’ve already released a few satellites into orbit.  Bristol Spaceplanes Limited is a UK company trying to crowdfund its building of a working spaceplane.  There just seems to be more and more of these companies out there.  And they might need more and more people familiar with space operations.

If space operations in government has lost its luster for you, these companies might be worth your while to check out.  There’s no guarantee they’ll hire you, though.  Need more motivation?  Think about the next review coming up—then give one of the companies on the list a try, even if you think you need the sleep.



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John Holst’s career path is as nonsensical and mad as the March Hare. In a series of what John thought were very trusting decisions, the United States Air Force let him babysit nuclear weapons, develop future officers, and then operate multi-billion dollar space systems. Then John re-enacted scenes from “Brazil” by joining the Missile Defense Agency, working as minutes-taker, configuration, project, mission, and test manager. When he’s not writing for, he is putting his journalism degree skills to use as The Mad Spaceball.