Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative

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Center Director Greg Autry and Virgin Galactic’s White Knight Two carrier plane.

Virgin Spacecraft are carried aloft launched from under this plane.

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Center Director Greg Autry and SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule.

First orbital commercial spacecraft launched by a commercial rocket.

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Sir Richard Branson at Mojave Air and Space Port in 2004.

Branson is announcing launch of his Virgin Galactic space tourism startup.

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Mike Melville stop Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipTwo in 2004.

Celebrating world’s first commercial human spaceflight at Mojave Air and Space Port.

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The mission of USC’s Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative (SCCSI) is to lead in the development and distribution of business research that supports the entrepreneurial space economy, ensuring a brighter future in space for our region, the nation and the world.

Southern California has been the center of leading edge air and spacecraft development since the days of Allan Lockheed, Jack Northrup and Chuck Yeager. America’s first “winged astronauts” made their suborbital flights to the edge of space over SoCal’s High Desert. Today, that “Right Stuff” spirit is undergoing an exciting and entrepreneurial rebirth in what is being called “New Space.”

While California is home to three NASA centers (Ames, Armstrong and JPL) two military space facilities (Edwards and Vandenberg AFBs) JPLthe space agency and DOD are no longer the only customers for space gear or services. Our traditional aerospace leaders and a crop of innovative startups are competing over incredible new business opportunities in commercializing space.  Some of the new firms are headed by famous billionaires and some of them are founded by twenty something USC graduates. The Space Foundation estimates the economic activity of the space economy was $329 billion in 2016. That’s approximately 5 times bigger than the mobile app market.

Visionary leaders in industry and government are anticipating an even bigger boom will take the space business into the $trillions over the next couple of decades. The Vice President has called theInside Space Ship One rise off the commercial space industry “meteoric.” ULA’s Tory Bruno believes this market will be roughly the size of Britain’s current GDP by 2045 and he foresees thousands of people living and working in space. Jeff Bezos wants that to be millions of people and he’s spending $1 billion a year of his own money to get us there. Elon Musk plans to colonize Mars and is building that spacecraft today. A USC New Space startup, Relativity Space, has raised over $35m to 3D print orbital rockets!

There is no more exciting and fertile ground for entrepreneurial research. USC’s Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative will research, report on and engage the entrepreneurial commercial space industry, with a focus on the important role that aerospace plays in the Southern California economy.