We are an open community for entrepreneurs, students, engineers, scientists, investors and others who are interested in the development of private companies commercializing outer space. We seek to promote Chicago as a center of excellence for new commercial space, space-related, or space-scalable ventures.
Space is a place. Space is a place where we are doing business. Billions of dollars each year are generated from businesses that are operating in space. Examples include launch services, communications, weather, other remote sensing, and global positioning systems (GPS). As humanity moves beyond the initial stage of simply exploring space and goes to space to stay, we will engage in the activities that people do when they inhabit a place. The challenges of space-based enterprises are familiar: logistics, scheduling and transport, construction, energy, food, air and water, habitation, finance, insurance, communication, resource extraction, and manufacturing.
Space is happening now. NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program is motivating competition and innovation in the private sector to provide launch services for crew and cargo. This shift has also enabled the private sector to address other issues beyond launch services and is enabling the growth of an entirely new industry.
Opportunities for new space ventures span a broad range of for-profit applications developed to solve problems here on Earth, and that can be scaled to solve key problems in space and vice-versa. These applications cover diverse fields including biotechnology, medicine, nanotechnology, smart materials, and alternative energy. Technological innovation and new business models are being followed by significant venture investment.
Chicago is an economic powerhouse. A global financial center, a technology center, a transportation hub, supporting a large science and engineering workforce, and home to world-class colleges and universities, Chicago has all of the ingredients to grow new commercial space ventures.
We are starting up the private space industry in Chicago. Join us. Join the future.
David has been a technology entrepreneur for most of his career, having founded and developed multiple successful technology start-ups. He has over 30 years of experience as a software engineer, managing software development teams and performing product engineering. He has consulted with venture capital firms and advanced technology start-ups, performing technical due diligence and business strategy assessments. In 2013, he left the IT industry to follow his passion for space exploration. David founded Orbital Transports to develop the space logistics and orbital infrastructure technologies needed to support human settlement of the Solar System. As an advocate of space-related and space-scalable businesses, he founded the NewSpace Chicago community of space entrepreneurs and others engaged in building commercial space ventures in Chicago. Prior to Orbital Transports, LLC, he founded multiple successful technology companies, including Athena Security, Inc., a network security company, which was acquired by SolarWinds in 2012. He has received 4 patents. He graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Joel Viñas was raised in Florida, in the shadow of the Space Coast. After service in the U.S. Marine Corps as an avionics calibration technician, Joel pursued a degree in business management with the University of Central Florida. Joel has honed his unique business and analytical insight through various roles as marketing, business and operations analyst. A certified project manager, Joel has been an integral part of the NewSpace Business Plan competition, both as operations manager and as an advisor to entrepreneurs, coaching finalists and preparing them for investor pitches.
An ardent supporter of human space settlement, Joel is an Advocate of the Space Frontier Foundation, and a member of the National Space Society, Planetary Society and Chicago Astronomical Society. He serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Space Commerce and Finance, a nonprofit enabling space startups. He is also co-founder of Chicago’s space-centric networking organization, NewSpace Chicago.
Capt. David C. Koch has been an aviation/aerospace-industry professional for over fifty years. He has extensive experience as an aviation manager and consultant. He has many aviation-related entrepreneurial ventures to his credit. He has written numerous aviation-industry-related articles, papers and technical documents including business plans and business cases. He is the author of the books “False Security: The Real Story About Airline Safety”, “A Personal Flyer’s Guide to More Enjoyable Flying” and “Air Travelers Heaven”. He has many media appearances to his credit and he has been a featured speaker at various aviation-industry and community-organization events and meetings. He has served as an airline, corporate and military pilot and he has accumulated over 18,000 flight hours.
Capt. Koch has served in the following aerospace-industry-related capacities: Special Assistant to the president of United Airlines for Space Shuttle acquisition, Founding National Chairman of the American Society of Aero Space Pilots (ASAP), Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Founding President of the Houston Chapter of the Aviation/Space Writers Association (AWA), Founding Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association Professional Outlook Committee (ALPA—United Airlines), Founding Chairman of the United Pilots Buyout Committee, Founding Chairman of Houston Space Week, Managing Trustee of The Aerospace Trust, the Founding Executive Director of the Center For Airmanship Excellence, a member of the National Space Society Space Settlement Advocacy Committee, a director of NewSpace Chicago and a member of the Kishwaukee College Aviation Advisory Committee. He is an Adjunct Instructor in the Kishwaukee College aviation program.
He has also served as the CEO of Aerospace International Companies, AvWorld Public Charters, Allstates Aviation, Apollo Skysails, Cloud 9 Air Travelers Club, AvWorld FliteMatrix and he currently serves as the CEO of AirChicago Holdings, Inc.
Stephen Wasko is Principal and Owner of Wasko Associates, an operations and financial consulting firm specializing in small to mid-sized company development and growth. He has over 35 years of management experience in the aerospace, life sciences, healthcare, advanced materials/nanotechnology, software and telecommunications industries. During his career, Wasko was responsible for commercial space activities in the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) Space Station Division, directed technology development activities on the National AeroSpace Plane Program, and was a Program Manager in Rockwell International’s Shuttle Orbiter Division. Wasko holds a B.S.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in the same field from the University of Southern California, and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
Brendan is the Co-Founder and CTO of a Chicago web development firm called LaunchPad Lab. With a product-focused approach to development, the team uses inventive and creative ways to solve real problems. IoT is a focus area for the team in building a complete system to interface with connected devices and visualize data on the web.
Brendan’s degree in Electrical Engineering provides for a natural interest in IoT, the fusion of hardware and the web, and the space industry. As a member of Chicago’s Tech community, he’s excited for the potential to transform Chicago into a hub for the space industry the same way IoT has evolved in the Midwest and Chicago over the last decade.