Turning the moon and Mars green

FIVE REASONS WHY IT PAID OFF FOR US TO OFFER OHB VENTURE CAPITAL A SHARE IN OUR START-UP

OHB Redaktionsteam
Published on
by OHB Redaktionsteam, OHB SE

Blue Horizon is a startup that wants to create the conditions necessary for sustaining life in space. However, plants that grow in adverse conditions on the moon or Mars could also be used to bring new life to deserts on the earth. The startup was established by the OHB subsidiaries OHB Venture Capital and Luxspace.

 

As is the case with many startups, the story of space company Blue Horizon started with an innovative idea developed in a brainstorming session. Three employees based at different OHB locations were certain that the world needed their planned company, which seeks to create sustainable life in space. After all, the technical possibilities for extended stays in space are already in place: Astronauts regularly travel to the ISS, while manned missions to Mars are also planned for the near future. Yet, there is no infrastructure providing the necessary basis for extended space flight.

The Luxembourg initiative for utilizing space resources

Space is becoming increasingly more accessible and, hence, more interesting for humanity. This prompted the Luxembourg office to launch an initiative known as Space Resource Utilization in 2017. The aim of the initiative is to create a legal framework for using and commercializing space resources peacefully and on a cooperative basis. In this way, Luxembourg would like to contribute to the civilian exploration and sustainable use of space resources for the benefit of humanity. On November 11, 2017, it therefore passed a law governing property rights in space. In this way, it is relying on its experience in building and operating satellites and launchers. It is seeking a leading position in efforts to harness space resources and to subsequently render them usable. However, this goes far beyond the idea of space mining, i.e. efforts to obtain valuable resources from asteroids and planets. The Luxembourg initiative is an opportunity for Dr. Klaus Slenzka, Jochen Harms and Nicolas Faber to engage in some brainstorming.

Sustainable life in space a perfect fit for the Luxembourg initiative

Blue Horizon has its key skills in life sciences.

Employees of Blue Horizon have conducted research into the forms of algae that could be grown on Mars. The same algae would also be suitable for desert renaturation on the earth.

Nicolas Faber, Blue Horizon

 

Humanity’s survival hinges on whether it is possible to bring deserts on the earth back to life.

Blue Horizon is exploring life science products that were originally developed for space or for use by astronauts during their time on space stations. The key question to be answered is how these products can be used on the earth on a sustainable and beneficial basis. Technology is one example showing that it is entirely possible for space mining to be “green”. The fact that the company is not alone with its plans can also be seen in the fact that shortly after the launch of the Luxembourg Space Resources Utilization Initiative, American, Japanese and Chinese venture capitalists also founded start-ups in Luxembourg.

The benefits of space resources for humanity

Blue Horizon wants to fill the things that were confined to a small number of scientific projects just a few years ago with new life in the context of “new space”. Currently, close partnerships between institutional, industrial and political circles are arising.

Blue Horizon’s vision is to commercialize life science products that were originally developed as a result of space research.

Nicolas Faber, Blue Horizon

 

The company’s main mission is to create the conditions that are necessary to sustain life in the inner solar system, particularly the earth, the moon and Mars.

A new era in space research has begun

None of this would have been possible even only ten years ago. Today, new opportunities are arising. The entire space industry has reached a point along the road at which new momentum is being unleashed.

“This is comparable to the early days of the aviation industry at the beginning of the 20th century when a few courageous people willing to accept risks built aircraft and flew in them. These days, we all use aircraft. It is quite possible that in 20 years’ time tourists will be traveling to space as if this were the most natural thing in the world. We will find that there is no dividing wall between the earth and space.”

Nicolas Faber, Blue Horizon

For OHB it was a logical step to become involved in Blue Horizon

After the preliminary brainstorming session, talks were held in Bremen. It was a logical step for OHB Venture Capital to acquire a share in the startup as the company is committed to promoting the direct benefits for people in all projects and developments.

OHB is confident of being able to operate more quickly and more commercially in this area in the future. Venture capital inherently entails risk. However, the parties concerned are willing to accept this risk as they believe in the core idea and hold the necessary skills.

FIVE REASONS WHY BLUE HORIZON IS BENEFITING FROM OHB VENTURE CAPITAL’S SUPPORT

Nicolas Faber sees five main reasons why Blue Horizon stands to benefit from OHB’s involvement:

1. We can benefit from OHB’s European network

Our investor’s name has obviously helped, allowing us to build up a network very quickly and to make a name for ourselves swiftly in Luxembourg.

2. We are building on OHB’s technical expertise

We had fewer start-up problems as we can turn to OHB if we have any technical questions. This is something that you don’t have if you are working as an individual or in a small team.

3. We can share employees and resources with OHB

Some employees of OHB System AG are already switching to Blue Horizon in Luxembourg, while others will remain based in Bremen.

4. OHB provided us with specific support in the implementation of our ideas

The practical support that we received in searching and furnishing our offices from a partner who is familiar with the local conditions proved to be an invaluable asset.

5. We are part of the OHB network

Not least of all, we benefit from being part of OHB’s large network of partners and contacts.

Blue Space wants to develop applications as quickly as possible – for example as a supplier of components for biospheres

The company’s mission is to develop beneficial products in space in the medium term, allowing it to establish a base on the moon or Mars for building a biosphere to cultivate plants.

“Obviously, it is hardly realistic to expect Mars to be colonized in the next five years. Accordingly, it is important for Blue Horizon to initially focus on terrestrial applications. We see ourselves as suppliers of key elements for biospheres, for example. Specifically, we are developing the plants for them,” says Faber.

Some projects have already commenced: Up until the mid-20th century, Luxembourg had a significant steel industry. The waste caused by the blast furnaces has rendered some parts of the country unusable today. Blue Horizon is conducting tests to determine whether its products can help to renaturize these areas so that they can be used again.

Blue Horizon would also like to be involved in future Mars missions and has already submitted applications to this end. Space is not a separate dimension but merely the extension of our own environment.

There is no fundamental difference between the moon, Mars and the earth. They belong together just as the oceans or the deserts are part of our planet. We are living in an era in which we are learning ways of building bridges.