Student Business Plan Competition

2013 Project Managers: Michael Zwach (SFF), Joesph Moellers (SEDS) 

The Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition seeks out proposals for space industry or space-scalable businesses from students who would like to pitch their idea to NewSpace investors and business leaders. This competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students from any university or college and more than one team is allowed from each university.

It is highly encouraged that engineers and scientists work with business students to fulfill both the product development and proposal writing portions of the competition.

The 2013 student competition will take place at SpaceVision 2013 in Tempe, AZ on Friday, November 8th. First place, Second Place and Third Place will be awarded cash prizes and virtual incubation packages:

Grand Prize:

• One year of virtual incubation through the California Space Enterprise Center and Green 2 Gold facilities in Santa Barbara, CA with opportunities to present to investors, legal assistance, patent searches, and free business counseling and licensing (Estimated Value $5000)

• One year of membership in Space Entrepreneur, Inventor and Innovator Program of the Space Enterprise Center with access to incubation workshops, entrepreneurs, and investors and free counseling (Estimated Value $350)

• $1000 cash, sponsored by Zveznet Industries.

• First place trophy includes a meteorite sample from Aerolite Meteorites, LLC, selected by Geoffrey Notkin from Meteorite Men and sponsored by Standard Propellant.

Second Prize:

• One year of membership in Space Entrepreneur, Inventor and Innovator Program of the Space Enterprise Center with access to incubation workshops, entrepreneurs, and investors and free counseling (Estimated Value $350)

• $250 cash, sponsored by Zveznet Industries.

Third Prize:

• One year of membership to Green 2 Gold with access to free counseling, incubation workshops, entrepreneurs, and investors (Estimated Value $150)

• $100 cash, sponsored by Zveznet Industries.


The 2013 Competition Official Rules are posted here: 2013 NewSpace Student Business Plan Competition Rules


If you have any questions please contact:

Michael Zwach:

Joe Moellers:

The first step is to fill out the Letter of Intent form by October 6th, 2013.





The 2012 student competition took place at SpaceVision 2012 in Buffalo, NY on Friday, October 28th. First place prize was $1,000 and automatic entry to the NewSpace 2012 Business Plan Competition, Second place was $500, and third place was $250.

2012 Competition Official Rules can be found here.

2012 Contest Winners:

2012 Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition Winner

2012 Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition Winner

1st Place: Iowa State Space Society

Leader: Joseph Moellers

Abstract: Interplanetary Reactions

Interplanetary Reactions is a pre-start-up company that will research high-efficiency chemical cycles for applications in energy generation and water purification. We hope to reduce the risk of entry in to the space industry by focusing on the development of technologies which have both Earth-based and space-based applications. Once our company starts generating revenue we will begin translating our work into space-based, microgravity capable systems for processing raw or waste materials into intermediate (carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons) and final products (hydrogen, oxygen, and potable water) for the production of fuel cell reagents and life support consumables. Our mission is to accelerate the opening of the space frontier through developing solutions for the key problems which hinder spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit.

2nd Place: University at Buffalo SEDS

Leaders: Enzo Benfanti, Joseph Pace, and

Abstract: iSpi

This company strives to make space accessible to the general public and inspire interest in the universe and space technologies for generations to come. We will deploy multiple semi-open-source small satellites with imaging capabilities in low-earth orbit for general public use. Each satellite will have a gimbaled camera and low-power telescope which can be manipulated remotely from the ground station. We will sell camera and telescope usage to the general public. Customers will be able to buy time slots of camera and telescope manipulation and will be able to directly alter the pointing directions of the camera and telescope. Our customers will be able to come to our headquarters to have full access to the satellite controls, or will be able to control the satellites from user-friendly software from their personal computers or smartphones. The user-friendly software will integrate GPS information with satellite position to enable customers to point the satellite’s camera and sensors to a desired location – essentially the customers will see the satellite’s location on live 3-D map and be able to select any viewing location within the satellite’s immediate range of view. Our satellites will be used by anyone in the general public – including schools, students, and space enthusiasts, increasing the accessibility of space and promoting space exploration.



The 2011 student competition took place at SpaceVision 2011 in Boulder, CO on Friday, October 28th. First place prize was $1,000 and automatic entry to the NewSpace 2012 Business Plan Competition, Second place was $500, and third place was $250.

2011 Competition Official Rules can be found here.

2011 Contest Winners:

1st Place, $1,000: Illinois State University

Leader: Wahab Alshahin

Abstract: This is a business proposal for the development of a launch service for small-scale payloads (< 50kg) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Although this concept has been proposed several times within the space industry and the government, it has never come to fruition. In 2001 the United States Air Force outlined a Mission Need Statement (MNS) for a Responsive Access, Small Cargo, and Affordable Launch (RASCAL) demonstration to place small satellites into LEO with a launch efficiency of less than $20,000/kg. However, the program was halted in 2005 due to unexpected cost risks associated with the preliminary design phase proposal. Nearly seven years later, there have been various launch systems developed capable of launching payloads on the order of 500-750 kg, but there is yet to be developed a dedicated and cost-effective launch system capable of putting 50-75 kg into LEO. Today more than ever, a system of this type could revolutionize the ability to launch small payloads into space and meet a huge consumer demand for this service. The solution is an air-to-launch service of a small scale rocket mounted under a re-serviced aircraft. This is not only a more cost effective solution but offers great launch flexibility and responsiveness. The system would operate much like the current Pegasus launch vehicle, so there is history of success with this type of system. The notion of offering a scaled down service for smaller payloads is a novel idea that again reiterates the consumer demand and competitive edge that is gained by being the first company to develop this small scale payload launch system.

2nd Place, $500: University of Arizona

Leaders: John Kidd, Nathan Mogk, Joel Mueting, Eric Sahr and Danny Pagano

Abstract: Development and operation of a growing constellation of satellites which will target and remove space debris. Targets will be chosen by national space agencies which will subcontract the task of debris collection to this entity, funded by the entity responsible for the original device which created the debris. Satellites will be designed to minimize operational costs. Infrastructure will be investigated which will allow satellite consumables (fuel) to be restocked and debris to be collected centrally. Debris will either be destroyed or recycled, depending upon further trade studies.

3rd Place, $250: University at Buffalo SEDS

Leaders: Andrew Dianetti, Nikita Butakov, Thaddeus Low, Michael D’Angelo

Abstract: Samples of lunar material are very rare on Earth. Only a very limited supply – less than 400 kg – was returned by Apollo and Russian Luna missions. These samples are considered priceless, and other than the few grams returned by Russian missions and those distributed to museums and heads of state, all are property of the US government. Our company endeavors to bring lunar samples back to earth from different geographic areas of the moon, and to make these available commercially. We strive to lower the cost of lunar material and make it more widely available. For a human settlement on the moon to be successful, mankind will need to learn to use materials available on the moon in as many ways as possible. Numerous concepts and proposals exist for the use of moon materials to sustain a human settlement, but these are only in the conceptual phase. By increasing the availability of lunar samples on earth, groundbreaking research and development can be done in these areas, enabling future human settlement.