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Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum test their gear just prior to a 1996 space-shuttle launch
COMPANY: Paragon Space Development
FOUNDERS: Jane Poynter, 47; Taber MacCallum, 44; Grant Anderson, 46
2008 REVENUE: $8 million
START-UP YEAR: 1993 Funding $75,000 in savings, student loans, and credit card debt
START-UP COSTS: A few thousand dollars for glass globes; $30,000 for computers and lab equipment; $600 a month for lab and office space
BREAKEVEN: Five years out on sales of $800,000
BIGGEST EXPENSE: About $20,000 a year for travel
QUALIFICATIONS: Poynter is a biologist, MacCallum a chemist, and Anderson an engineer.
RED TAPE: Each space agency has its own safety requirements.