• Article
  • 12 Mar 2024
Kirsty  WilliamsPhoto
Kirsty Williams

US Space Companies Demonstrating the Industry’s Innovation Potential

Thinkorbital + Listing Image

Image courtesy: Think Orbital

The space sector has always been at the cutting edge of technology. Thanks to its physical and logistical constraints, expanding our exploration and use of space has led to a range of novel technologies in the last 60 years.


This fact is no less true today, and our understanding of sustainable technologies and fuel sources has caused a boom in exciting new space companies. Below is a brief roundup of some of the most interesting companies currently highlighting the innovation potential of the space sector.


ThinkOrbital is based in Colorado, and its focus is on space infrastructure. The company’s goal is to develop a platform that allows for autonomous assembly in space using its novel construction toolkit.

In short, ThinkOrbital plans to combine existing space construction technologies so they can be used autonomously to build space stations or debris recycling facilities. This concept hinges on its ThinkPlatform habitat and robotic arm, which would allow it to build hubs, connect to space vehicles, and handle satellite processing.

Dawn Aerospace

Dawn Aerospace has set its sights on sustainable space propulsion, an area that’s lacking behind the wider aerospace industry. Of course, there are stricter requirements for space fuel, but Dawn has developed a novel thruster unit that takes advantage of greener fuel sources.

Specifically, its B20 thruster uses a propellant made from nitrous oxide and propylene, replacing the more common hydrazine. Currently, its B20 and B1 thrusters are being developed for satellites, although the company is also working on a suborbital spaceplane. It’ll likely utilise these greener thrusters in the future, but it’s currently running on standard jet engines.

Kayhan Space

Kayhan Space is another Colorado-based startup that’s working on automation and space safety. Currently, it’s developing a range of software tools for satellites, including Pathfinder, Eagle, and Gamut.

Perhaps the most interesting is Pathfinder, a subscription-based software tool that helps satellites assess and dodge space debris. It gives satellite operators a platform from which to monitor their fleets, which can provide trajectory screening, coordination, and collision avoidance. In late 2023, the company announced a $7 million round of funding, showing great potential for the industry.


AstroForge is probably one of the more self-explanatory space companies. Put simply, its goal is to develop and commercialise asteroid mining. In the distant future, it hopes to do so at a lower cost and with a smaller carbon footprint than terrestrial mining setups.

In April 2023, the company launched Brokkr-1, its refinery demonstration. The mission was designed to show the potential of an in-orbit refinery and test systems for use in deep space. During the initial integration, it discovered that its refinery released a magnetic field that affected the satellite’s orientation ability, meaning it would lose communication. While this is a notable setback, discovering issues like this is the point of a test mission.

Final Thoughts

These four companies illustrate wider trends in the space industry. As with other sectors, the main focus is on sustainability, and space debris is also an important area of interest. It’s through companies like these that we’ll hopefully see considerable progression towards greener, reusable space systems and cost-saving measures. The next 12 months promise to be interesting for the space sector and we’re excited to see it unfold.