It was recently revealed, possibly first by George Kirikos, that the domain name privateer.com had apparently been acquired by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. A brief article in SlashDot indicated that the name was for a space company, currently in stealth mode. An official launch of Privateer is apparently planned at a space conference happening later this month. It now appears likely that Privateer will work in the area of removal of space debris. Space debris is a significant hazard to space operations. What Is Space Debris? Space debris, sometimes called space junk, consists of no longer functioning spacecraft, launch vehicle parts, and, in particular, pieces of spacecraft that have undergone in-space collisions. The US Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) currently tracks about 27,000 individual pieces of space debris. The size limit for tracking depends on distance, with the ability to track objects 5 cm and larger if they are in low earth orbit (LEO), and about one meter if in higher altitude geosynchronous orbit (GEO), the two most populated space regions. But the number of potentially hazardous space debris objects is far more than the number of tracked objects. It is estimated that there are at least a half million pieces of space debris the size of a marble or larger. Many more even smaller pieces could still be devastating during a high velocity collision with a spacecraft. One orbital collision can result in many pieces of debris. For example, in 2009 the collision of a non-operational Russian spacecraft with an operating US commercial spacecraft resulted in an additional 2700 pieces of space debris. While some of these will burn up in the upper atmosphere during re-entry, many will remain hazardous in orbit for a period of years. When China deliberately shot down one of its own spacecraft in 2007, an even higher number of space debris fragments was released. If nothing is done about the growing population of space debris objects, space will become much more dangerous in coming decades, and perhaps space operations would need to cease entirely in coming centuries. Steve Wozniak Steve Wozniak was the engineering wizard behind the original Apple I and II computers, and closely involved in the early development of the first Macintosh. He left Apple in 1985, although continues to be listed as an employee, paid an annual stipend, and, from time to time, he represents the company at events and interviews. Wozniak founded a series of companies and organizations since 1985, mainly in the technology and education fields. In 2020 Wozniak founded Efforce.io, a blockchain-documented way to support environmental product initiatives. It uses the WOZX cryptocurrency. In 1990 Wozniak helped start the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The Domain Name Privateer As far as we know, the price paid for the domain name privateer.com has not been disclosed. It is known that the domain name sold previously, in 2014, for only $3700, although clearly the current worth of the name is much higher. The domain name was created in 1997, and continuously registered since that time. The WayBack Machine Internet Archive does not show significant use, beyond a lander. The domain name privateer.com was listed for sale at Dan and other places over the past few years, at times as make offer and also with a low 6-figure asking price. A payment plan was offered, and the fact that the domain name is currently at Metaregistrar may be indicative of a payment plan administered by Dan. Elliot Silver at DomainInvesting.com also speculated that it might be a Dan payment plan, and shares a 2020 monthly asking price he learned from internet archival research on past landers. At time of writing, the site privateer.com was operational, but just with a splash screen video and a contact page. The term privateer, according to Dofo, is registered in 57 TLDs with 11 listed for sale. DotDB shows that the term as part of 678 longer domain names. The Word Privateer The initial meaning of the word privateer is “an armed ship owned and officered by private individuals holding a government commission and authorized for use in war, especially in the capture of enemy merchant shipping.” It seems a fit to a business aimed to combat space debris, and supposedly hoping to be funded by governmental space agencies and/or private space operations companies. The word privateer is of course highly generic, with many other applications possible. I searched the US TESS trademark database and could not find a space-related record for the name, but it is trademarked in several other sectors. The term privateer is the name, or part of the name, for 272 active businesses, according to OpenCorporates. Private Space Companies While private companies have worked with governmental agencies since the early days of space operations, the balance toward private participation seems to have accelerated in recent years. Probably the best known private space company is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company, officially launched in 2002, has achieved a number of private space firsts in propulsion technologies, launch craft reuse, and the first private company to launch a spacecraft and to send humans into space. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is a publicly traded company, founded in 2004, but significantly smaller than SpaceX in terms of employees and revenue. Virgin Galactic sent humans into flight in July 2021. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his space company Blue Origin, founded in 2000, is, in many ways, competing in the same space sectors as SpaceX. Blue Origin developed a variety of space vehicles and engines, including plans for a lunar rover. There are many other private space companies, some founded even earlier, such as Arianespace and Bigelow Aerospace. The Harvard Business Review recently published an article entitled The Commercial Space Age Is Here. Number of Satellites One estimate reported in Geospatial World is that there were 7389 satellites in orbit as of April 2021, with several thousand of these not operational and therefore posing a risk. In 2020 alone, at least 1283 new satellites were launched. Other estimates are significantly higher. For example the ESRI Satellite Map shows over 19,000 when I checked today. The trend is toward more numerous, but smaller, satellites. The Starlink satellite constellation that will provide broadband Internet globally has more than 1600 satellites in orbit in mid-2021, with tens of thousands more being in the plans. Space Debris Control Initiatives As mentioned earlier, the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) tracks many space debris objects, and space operations are occasionally altered based on this intelligence. There are a number of space debris removal missions in various stages of proposal or implementation. The European Space Agency announced ClearSpace-1 in 2019. The mission, proposed to launch in 2025, will rendezvous with nonoperational satellites, other large space debris, and launch vehicle remnants, then use a robotic arm to capture them to remove the risk. Early in 2021 NASA published a working document on efforts and techniques to mitigate space debris risks. Space Domain Name Opportunities The global space sector is huge and growing rapidly. The Bank of America estimates it will triple by 2030, to more than a $1.4 trillion market. As the number of business grows, there will be new opportunities in domain names in the sector. The following list of space sectors may be helpful to those considering investment in space-related domain names. AI applied to space operations asteroid mining and other space resource extraction autonomous space operations closed system agriculture needed for long duration missions consulting consumer products such as space themed clothing and jewellery data analytics databases and reference sites on space topics education and training environmentally friendly innovative launch techniques health and wellness in flight image analysis launch facilities material science in space environments propulsion systems remote sensing risk evaluation and mitigation robotic machinery for space and planetary exploration rovers (both directly in space, and adaptation to earth application) simulation space debris technology and programs space insurance space law space tourism terraforming venture capital opportunities with a space focus What important topics have I left out? Of course many businesses will choose a name not directly related to the space sector, such as Privateer. Your Thoughts I believe that I know the name of the Dan seller of privateer.com, but I am not 100% sure there was not an intermediary transaction. In any case, without permission I would not reveal the name. However, should the seller be a NamePros member and wish to self-identify in the discussion, that would be great, particularly if you can add more information about the sale. The space industry publication Space.com just published an article on Steve Wozniak starting a company to clean up space junk. They indicate that the company will be called Privateer Space. That name, in the .com extension, was just registered in May 2021, and currently directed to a nonoperational Wix site. I also checked the registration status of privateer.space, registered in 2017 but not currently operational. What are your thoughts on the domain name privateer.com – do you feel it is a good match for a space debris company? What do you think would be a fair price? More generally, what areas of space do you think will be good domain name opportunities in the next 5 years? Do you feel .com will dominate sales in the sector, or will .io, .space, .tech or another TLD find significant traction?