Research
Interview Synopsis

Space travel – private equity opportunities & technology developments

  • Private Equity
  • Industrials
  • North America

The perceived upside for investment in space travel is “pretty bullish”, with large amounts of capital coming from previously unseen sources, a director at Sierra Space Corp told Third Bridge Forum.

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PE investment in space travel continues to take off

The Interview – which began with an update on technology developments – looked at opportunities for private companies in space travel, competition with SpaceX, and the future of space tourism.

The specialist began by highlighting three trends in space travel, including both the large scaling and miniaturisation of hardware, as well as reusability of components – the latter of which will be “key going forward” and a “dead end” for any companies that don’t.

The specialist also said private companies have an opportunity to “own” low earth orbit (LEO). As the International Space Station  reaches the end of its lifespan, companies will be given an opportunity to “design, develop and run” commercial space stations in LEO that both NASA and other international partners can use. NASA recently announced such a deal with Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation on December 2, a press release from the agency revealed. 

The number of companies involved in space travel continues to grow, with the likes of Nanoracks, Voyager and Redwire competing with more established players. But while they are currently effective in engaging in “more speculative marketing and business development activities”, the specialist said SpaceX is still “the poster child” for the rest, especially in leveraging government contracts and controlling costs.

There are a number of exciting opportunities in the space industry for private sector funding, the specialist added, such as in-space manufacturing and production. Long-term, the specialist envisages this will grow further as government subsidies “diminish”, although less so in areas of “national importance” such as debris capture and manipulation.

The commercialisation of space tourism is also a big development, we heard . While short term it may remain “niche” and for the “domain of the elite”, the specialist said once commercial space stations are set up with accommodation facilities, there could be “hundreds of space tourists”. Challenges to space tourism will come from greater regulation as governments get more involved, and the specialist warned any “terrible accidents” could set the industry back. 

But with companies such as Blue and Virgin Galactic investing further in space tourism, the specialist sees it as “big business” that is here to stay. 

To access all the human insights in Space travel – private equity opportunities & technology developments, click here to view the full transcript.

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