almost 2 years ago

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    The big players this decade in space

    Introduction

    The next ten years will be exciting for those involved in developing the global space industry. How so, you may ask? Here's a simple statistic and a projection, in 2020, the space economy generated around 400 billion dollars in revenue, and in 2031, I expect the sector to create approximately 10 trillion, a 25x times today's figure. Something as big as the current space sector growing 25x clearly can change the attention of investors, entrepreneurs, employees, and other stakeholders. The biggest players in New Space are SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Rocket Lab, etc. Now we give a brief overview of some of the emerging large and medium size startups in the U.S. new space economy.

    SpaceX 

    Space Exploration Technologies, more commonly known as SpaceX, is a US-based vertically integrated space company founded by Elon Musk. The company is reducing the cost of space travel to establish a sustainable second home for humanity on Mars. The firm has, over the years, operated several rocket families that have been sending payloads to orbit, including Falcon 9 (several versions) and Falcon Heavy. Their newest rocket family in development is Starship, the main rocket they'll use to send crewed missions to Mars. For the first time, SpaceX sent a staffed crew into space in May 2020, and several other human-crewed tasks since then.

    Blue Origin

    Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos back in 2000. SpaceX's main competitor. Blue Origin is developing reusable rockets to reduce the cost of getting objects into space. Unlike Mr. Musk, Mr. Bezos is not the chief executive of Blue Origin as he's still much more involved with Amazon as its executive chairman. Starting in 2021, the firm has operated two crewed missions into space (above the Karman line, which is 62 miles above mean sea level)

    Virgin Galactic

    Virgin Galactic is the sub-orbital space tourism company of Richard Branson, founded in 2004 and currently operates out of Spaceport America in New Mexico. Unlike SpaceX and Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic focuses on suborbital space tourism via a rocket plane launched mid-air by another plane after taking off like another airplane. Virgin Galactic has a backlog of 600 playing customers who have paid over 200 thousand dollars per seat. As of this writing, the only civilian astronaut flown by Virgin G. has been Richard Branson in the summer of 2021. The first paying nonemployee customer can expect to fly into space in 2023.

    Virgin Orbit

    Virgin Orbit is a spin-off from Virgin Galactic focused on launching small stats from mid-air, which is unique to other small sat launch providers. The firm became an independent firm in 2017 and, since then, has completed one successful launch, sending ten CubeSats into space. Virgin Orbit operates both its H.Q. and launches out of California. It is under contract to launch a payload of 44 CubeSats for the U.S. Space Force in 2021.

    Rocket Lab

    Rocket Lab is an American medium-size rocket launch provider operating from New Zealand. And Peter Beck founded the firm in 2006. In November 2018, Rocket Lab launched its first commercial rocket on behalf of NASA. The firm is working on developing a second rocket named neutron as a replacement for its current rocket, Electron. Rocket Lab is currently the only established medium size rocket launch provider delivering payloads into space which may remain so until others join the ranks.

    Relativity Space

    Relativity Space is a medium size rocket launch manufacturer focusing on using 3d additive printing to lower the cost of delivering a pound to space by order of magnitude. The firm was founded in the USA by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone in 2015 and has recently been valued at 4.2 billion dollars as Fidelity Investments invested 0.65 billion dollars. The recent round of funding will allow them to develop the Terran R rocket once they launch Terran 1 in 2022. Until Relativity Space can regularly launch commercial payloads to space, Rocket Lab will have a monopoly within the medium left space vehicles.

    Axiom Space

    Axiom Space is a space-based real estate developer founded in the USA by Michael Suffredini and Kam Ghaffarian in 2016. Various well-connected former NASA employees are currently operating the firm. These contracts should provide these firms with revenues and cash flows to develop their planned private space station, which they plan to launch using SpaceX. The remote space station that the firm is developing uses NASA-provided money of 140 million dollars.

    Summary

    Being the final frontier for man, the investment horizon and opportunity for space is quite limitless. The investment returns for individual investors and society will still be large but more limited than an unbounded value. For some community members, we will have the opportunity shortly to spend our entire lives in space, for example, in orbit, on the moon, mars, on one of Jupiter's moons, an asteroid, etc. It is truly an amazing time to live as the private space race heats up and opens another chapter in human exploration. Leading the charge will include SpaceX, Blue Origin, and the other firms mentioned in this paper.
    Sources: CNN, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Wikipedia [ Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit ],  Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, and Axiom Space.

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