History of NewSpace

The term NewSpace derived from a collaboration of a few Advocates of the Space Frontier Foundation.

In the late 1990’s ‘new space’ began to be used to describe the new generation of space development, notably commercial, which was then in its embryonic stage. Sometimes it was used with capital letters, but mostly not. Among others, Space Frontier Foundation’s then-President would use it in his discussions and talks, thus introducing the term to the public at-large.

As was common back then, combining words with a separating capital letter found itself into the space world. Other notable examples were: LunaCorp, MirCorp, and ProSpace.

Poster depicting a solar sail and the newly coined term ‘New Space’ (note the space between each of the words), displayed at Space Frontier Conference XI (SFC 11), Sept. 12, 2002

In late July 2004, a few members of the Foundation’s leadership had a series of long phone calls to discuss the need for the Foundation to re-brand itself and to update its strategic direction. They agreed to develop a new term that embodied the Foundation’s commitment to remain in the vanguard of the non-traditional space movement, particularly as it related to the developing commercial sector. During those calls, someone offered ‘New Space,’ which was influenced by a recent reading of the iconic book ‘The New, New Thing’ by Michael Lewis. Building off of this suggestion, someone else proposed to collapse it and make it ‘NewSpace.’ They all agreed on it and began promoting its use.

The first documented use of the new term was in an email sent in October 2004 that was sent to the SFF Board of Directors from the Board of Director’s Strategy Committee, recommending a change in strategic focus. By the time the Board retreat/meeting to discuss strategy took place in January 2005 (only 4 months later), the term had been institutionalized.

‘Advancing NewSpace’ logo, used by the Space Frontier Foundation from 2005-2011.

At that meeting, it was agreed upon that the Foundation’s entire near-term strategy would be built around promoting and advocating NewSpace. It was also agreed that the new SFF strategy would have the tag line ‘Advancing NewSpace,’ which was initially proposed as ‘NewSpace Advancing,’ and was modified later by the Foundation’s then-Executive Director to be ‘Advancing NewSpace.’ Also at that meeting, it was decided that SFF would change the name of the annual conference from “Space Frontier Conference X” to “NewSpace 20XX”.

As this history tells, as does the general history of the Space Frontier Foundation, the originating of the term ‘NewSpace’ resulted from the interplay of creative people and forces, all dedicated to opening up the space frontier to everyone.

An ultimate goal of the Space Frontier Foundation is to make the term ‘NewSpace’ irrelevant through changing the way we live and do business in space. We believe the term will eventually become synonymous with the rest of the terms used to describe the standard space industry at-large, once the rest of the industry adopts the model presented by today’s NewSpace companies.

The context of the NewSpace movement within the Foundation’s greater space settlement strategy can be found at Space Frontier Foundation History page, as well as the other NewSpace-related content provided by the Foundation:

Annual NewSpace Conference
NewSpace News
NewSpace Directory
Annual NewSpace Awards Gala
NewSpace Business Plan Competition