The U.S. space industry has been booming for years, with many new companies seeking to emulate the success of organizations like SpaceX. Despite recent high-profile failures, including the demise of Virgin Orbit, interest in the sector remains robust, evidenced by the latest flood of entrants.

According to the Silicon Valley Defense Group (SVDG), which released a list in July of the top 100 venture capital-funded startups that work in national security, space companies comprised over one-third of the NatSec100 list, making it “the most dominant tech vertical” along with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“A closer look at the space industry reveals a nascent yet growing landscape of companies, serving both commercial and governmental customers, that has flourished due in large part to foundational investments from the Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA,” SVDG said.


Among the new space companies is Kent, WA-based Stoke Space, which is developing a fully reusable rocket that is designed to fly daily. Founded by veterans of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Stoke has raised $175 million from investors to fuel its growth and has named its first rocket “Nova”.

Stoke has ties to several government agencies. The U.S. Space Force, NASA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have partially funded its technology development, and the company intends to conduct launches from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

X-Bow Systems of Albuquerque, NM, is developing 3D-printed solid-propellant rocket motors (SRMs), saying its technology will speed up SRM development. DoD announced in September that it has awarded a $64 million contract to X-Bow (pronounced “Crossbow”) to expand manufacturing capacity and reduce the production cost of SRMs used in hypersonic weapons.

The DoD-backed “effort will provide an additional SRM source for the Navy-designed hypersonic All-Up-Round used in its Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) weapon system and the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) system,” the department said.


Another startup is True Anomaly of Centennial, CO, whose first spacecraft, the Jackal Autonomous Orbital Vehicle, is designed to perform rendezvous and proximity operations in space. The company said in April that it had raised $30 million from investors to date.

True Anomaly announced in September that it received a $17.4 million contract from the U.S. Space Force to provide space domain awareness (SDA) software. “The rapid global launch cadence has out-paced DoD’s ability to fuse SDA data,” company CEO Even Rogers said. “Our application suite directly addresses this gap.”

Nuview, which is based in Orlando, FL, plans to field a constellation of 20 satellites to create 3D maps of the planet’s land surface. Using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, the satellites will provide “unparalleled accuracy and detail for better decision-making and analysis in various applications,” including national security, the company said.

Nuview intends to begin launching its satellites in two to three years, according to co-founder and CEO Clint Graumann. The company’s funding includes a $2.75 million contract award from DoD.


SVDG, a nonprofit organization, said that further government support is needed to nurture space startups working in national security.

“The government must continue to serve as a reliable and consistent partner to commercial space companies, offering funding and guidance while keeping up with the pace of this industry’s innovation,” the group said.

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Marc Selinger is a journalist based in the Washington, D.C., area. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @marcselinger.