Of all the market being pursued by space startups in the last decade, asteroid mining was perhaps the longest-term, and maybe also the most far-fetched. While space tourism has struggled to get off the ground the business case is clear once companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic start flying—which may finally happen this year.
The role of the private sector in space development and utilization is rapidly increasing, not only in the United States but also in Japan. NASA took an important role in fostering the private sector in US, the most famous example being the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which supported SpaceX. What should be the role of space agencies in fostering space startups? How can Japan’s space agency, JAXA, support them?