The first Black owned private rocket company is addressing representation in space exploration

BY Preta Peace Namasaba May 10, 2024 4:44 AM EDT
Mateus Chipa. Photo credit: Black Enterprise

Out of more than 350 astronauts produced by NASA, only 18 have been Black. This stat has also been attributed to a lack of interest and a lack of equal opportunities to explore the space industry. Despite being established in 1958, it was not until the 1980s that NASA welcomed its first Black astronaut. However, institutional impediments mean that many talented Black individuals have not had the opportunity to participate in groundbreaking scientific endeavors, challenge stereotypes, and inspire the next generation.

In a groundbreaking move to foster diversity and inclusion in space exploration, Mateus Chipa has founded Theby Space Services (TSS), the first Black-owned private rocket company. His bold initiative seeks to address a glaring lack of representation of African-Americans and Africans in space exploration through entrepreneurship. Chipa was frustrated by the inaction and absence of significant Black leadership in the field and decided to take matters into his own hands. He was driven to break down barriers and create opportunities for empowerment by a deep-seated desire to see the Black community play a more prominent role in space exploration.

“TSS came in a place of a lot of frustration, a lot of accountability and responsibility…For the last 10 years, I’ve been frustrated because I haven’t seen any Black nation or individual talking about going into space. I’ve been asking myself why. Why ain’t nobody thinking about this?” Chipa said in a video shared on YouTube.

TSS is built to fulfill three core missions with the first being offering a  “universal space transportation for all of humanity.” The company further intends to extend its services to nations in Africa with satellite deployment, cargo transport, and manned missions to the moon and other areas of space. It hopes to assist African countries in recognizing the significance of space exploration by providing a cost-effective pathway to space and engaging with space endeavors across the continent. Ultimately, the overarching goal of TSS is to send a crew with all Black astronauts to the moon and eventually Mars.

Following its launch, the company has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for developing two rockets: Big Hussle 33 and Nipsey Sky, named in honor of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. These rockets – capable of carrying both cargo and passengers into space – are poised to revolutionize space transportation. With ongoing plans to enhance access to space technology and education, TSS is setting the stage for space exploration that acknowledges and utilizes the talents and aspirations of the Black community.

“TSS is more than a space exploration company; it’s a call to action for the Black community and a statement to the world that we are ready to take our rightful place among the stars. It’s a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and empowerment, ensuring that future space missions reflect the true diversity of humanity,” Chipa explained on the company website. “

Chipa’s vision extends beyond mere participation. He anticipates a future where Black astronauts are not exceptions but significant presences in space exploration. TSS is consequently addressing representation by creating space for other Black people in space.