SINEAD O'sullivan &
Learn and understand how the modern space economy functions and its challenges and opportunities
Taught by the global leader in space economics at Harvard Business School
All live sessions - personalized to cohort background and ambitions
Join a cohort and lifelong network of space business leaders
research fellow at hbs
8 x 2 hr sessions
Dates: 4PM (PDT); November 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 29, 30
Price: $950 per seat
Spaceflight project management at
Research Fellow at
Guest speakers and cohort members from companies including:
Entrepreneurs focused on starting or scaling space businesses face unique challenges
What founders will learn:
Understanding the Space economy and value creation mechanisms in each sector
Fundraising and competing in high-cost, long-development schedule environments
Generating and scaling revenue with public and private sector customers
Investors, from angel through to institutional, need to understand what differentiates space sector investment.
What investors will learn:
Space thematics and space fund strategies
How to evaluate potential space venture and public market investments
Success metrics and signaling mechanisms at seed through IPO stages
Those in engineering, marketing or operational roles who want a career in space-related startup or enterprise.
What career seekers will learn:
Overview of the entire industry and prominent actors
Dynamics and future growth prospects of specific sectors
Where your skillset will create the most impact in the space industry
Sinead is a global expert in space economics and early-stage space businesses. Currently at Harvard Business School, she works with governmental space agencies, CEOs and investors to understand space market dynamics, identify sector opportunities, create strategies for growth and execute in challenging environments within the aerospace & defense sector
Beginning her career as an aerospace engineer, she project-managed human spaceflight missions at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, designed a satellite constellation with the Brazilian Space Agency and worked on astronaut training for long-duration missions at the European Space Agency.
Now working in the business and economics of space, she works with emerging national space agencies to develop local space economies within the private, startup sectors. She sits on the Board and Advisory Board of over $1 billion of early-stage space investment funds. She advises and invests in several startups from the earliest pre-seed stage right through to IPO. She is in space-specific leadership positions within prestigious organizations such as Sainsbury Management Fellows, Royal Aeronautical Society, the International Astronautical Federation, the US Center for Climate and Security and the Harvard Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.
This course will explore in detail the fast-growing Space economy- the good, the bad and the ugly. In doing so as a cohort, we will explore things such as how the business model for space launch differs to that of robotic exploration, and consider how to bridge the gap between scalable venture models designed for digital platform startups versus the physical deep technology infrastructure needed for space.
After the course, you will be able to answer questions such as:
Why is SpaceX able to develop faster and cheaper than NASA, and can this be replicated again?
Why do VCs invest in some space companies and not others?
How do you scale a business that traditionally only has one customer, globally?
How do you value a business today that won’t generate revenue for another fifteen or more years?
Join famous space historians, lawyers, investors, CEOs, economists and astronauts to understand what is driving the industry, in which direction, and what opportunities exist for future industry (and interplanetary) exploration!
Session 1 - History of Space and the Contemporary Space Agency
This session looks at the roots of early space technology development through the Cold War and how geopolitical competition subsequently shaped the industry for a decade. With the introduction of the Space Shuttle to service the International Space Station, we will look at how NASA’s innovation in global cooperation and private-sector procurement has created the modern space industry as we know it today. In doing so, we will answer the question: “What is the space economy?”
Session 2 - Private Sector Space
This session will look at the supply-side of the space economy: the private sector. We will look at how private sector business models have evolved with NASA over time and why starting a business ten years ago would be very different to starting a business today. We will look at the difference between space and non-space business models as an indicator of where the industry is heading.
Session 3 - Space Financing
This session covers financing basics, from pre-seed through to IPO and SPACs. We will look at who is active in each of these areas, why some parts of the space economy are invested in more than others, and how the investment strategies of top investors are performing relative to non-space investments. We will look at why “space” is a challenging investment thesis, and how new innovations in funding mechanisms can transform the industry.
Session 4 - Deep Dive: Launch and Satellites
The first of our sector deep dives will cover the launch and satellite markets in detail. From unit economics in launch costs through to creating secondary markets to sell space in space, this session will explain the entire value chain behind using Google Maps or watching Netflix, and will uncover why SpaceX and Amazon are in a dogfight over Low Earth Orbit.
Session 5 - Deep Dive: Tourism and Exploration
The second of our sector deep dives will cover the space tourism and space exploration markets. Should VCs care about sending robots to Jupiter, and why is there a billionaire fight for the moon? Will the term “astronaut” be commoditized, and will space tourism lead to more efficient Earth tourism industries? This session will explore the point at which Earth infrastructure and Mars infrastructure merge, and the economics behind it.
Session 6 - Space Law & Geopolitics
This session will explore the fundamental cornerstone of any functioning and efficient economy: legal rights. Firstly, we will look at how the modern economy in space is transforming our modern geopolitics on Earth. Secondly, we will look at the changing interpretations of Space Law and what this means for governments, investors and founders. Are you allowed to claim ownership of an asteroid? Can you legally sell land on Mars? In answering these questions, we will look at how the legal framework incentivizes certain types of economic growth.
Session 7 - Case Study: Varda Space and In-Orbit Manufacturing
This session will be based on the Harvard Business School case-method style of teaching. The cohort will be presented with a case study on Varda Space and the decision to pursue in-space manufacturing. The cohort will apply the foundational business and economics concepts to date to respond to the case study question: would you invest, and at what valuation? Varda Space CEO and Founders Fund investor will reflect upon the decision to target this sector.
Session 8 - Case Study: Hadrian and On-Earth Manufacturing
This session will be based on the Harvard Business School case-method style of teaching. The cohort will be presented with a case study on Hadrian and decision to pursue enture capital instead of private equity disruption to manufacturing. The cohort will apply the foundational business and economics concepts to date to respond to the case study question: which type of funding would you have pursued, and why? Hadrian CEO and its Lux Capital investor will reflect upon the decision to pursue this industry.