By David Bullock
To disrupt a $4 billion market, Tom Marotta and co-founder Ian Vorbach of The Spaceport Company seek to deliver commercial launch and reentry facilities to providers around the world, starting with ocean-based platforms.
“The Spaceport Company builds commercial launch and reentry sites for launch and reentry operators,” said Marotta. “The demands for launch sites are exceeding the supply.”
The two founders hope to cater to the dozens of new launch entrants and the hundreds of payloads that are planned to be launched, at a time where demand for launch is at its highest ever.
“The challenge to build new spaceports have come from a regulatory and local, political standpoint. So, moving the spaceport offshore will not eliminate regulatory concerns, but it does significantly reduce the regulatory obstacles for building a launch site. So much so that the benefits of expedited regulatory approval far exceed the costs of operating offshore,” Marotta added.
Marotta is an expert in regulatory matters and environmental planning and has years of experience at the FAA and private industry setting up spaceports. Vorbach is an MBA holding rocket propulsion engineer, with experience in startup entries and exits with previous experience at Stratolaunch.
The company is targeting two broad market segments, venture-class satellite launch and reentry. It is not only hard to find a place to launch from, but it is also hard for launch companies to have spaceports that could provide, what Marotta described as, “future growth.”
One of the first customers The Spaceport Company has a contract with is Varda Space. Varda has already put deposits to do reentry services.
Moreover, launch and reentry capabilities allow for global point-to-point travel for both customers and payloads.
“[One of our emerging] markets are point-to-point rocket transportation. There are several emerging companies that are well funded, well resourced with very highly credential staff building vertical landing vertical takeoff rockets that can go anywhere in the world in two hours,” Marotta said.
“One of our customers is New Frontier Aerospace, which is a DoD funded startup… and they are really excited to work with us so we can provide them a launch site model or an infrastructure model that is scalable. We can build facilities… that can be relatively easily replicated all over the world,” he added.
“Once we build our first spaceport off the coast of Florida… we can replicate that model in the ocean off the coast of any major city in the world. Now you’re getting this network of spaceports all around the world, where these point-to-point service providers can send people and cargo within two hours all around the world,” Marotta said.
The company already has an investor and fully funded for the next year at the pre-seed level. With this money, the company has enough to do regulatory approvals and design. It plans to have a seed round within the next six months to a year.
“That money will go to buying the ships, building the ships, doing the shakedown cruise and getting the facility ready to go. We plan to have our first operations in January of 2024,” Marotta said. “We do not need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Our capital requirements are relatively modest. We do not need to raise what an aerospace company needs to raise for an orbital class rocket, for example. We’re on the scale of millions to tens of millions [needed to be raised], well below a hundred million. We can get to an operational spaceport for relatively low amount of money.”