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Space business gets billionaire boost

Blue Origin's successful flight is the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats story of the moment for the sector.

Why it matters: For investors, it doesn’t matter which billionaire hits space first. Recent headlines only generate more interest, some of which turns into investments — and that's good for companies that need cash.


What they're saying: Sending humans to space twice on largely privately funded enterprises in less than two weeks is unprecedented, Ken Herbert, managing director at Canaccord Genuity, tells Axios.

  • The Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights “validate what private capital is able to do,” he adds, and their success also points to a safety record that will support public confidence. 
  • Today’s mission "is likely an indication that achieving access to space can become a more regular event, which means (to my mind), that all of the ancillary companies that depend on space access can also be incrementally more likely to succeed," says Pete Skibitski, senior aerospace analyst at Alembic Global Advisors.

By the numbers: It’s not yet clear how much an individual seat will cost, but Bezos' larger goal is to get millions of people to work and live in space.

  • Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic is focused on space travel with ticket price estimates upward of $250,000. 
  • Bank of America and Canaccord analysts project it will take Virgin at least four years to break even or become profitable.

What to watch: Both Blue Origin and Virgin expect to launch more flights this year.

  • So far, investor interest for Virgin has come largely from the retail side, Herbert says, pointing to the stock’s volatility this year as a sign. 
  • More investment opportunities will materialize over the next two years when about a dozen new companies — including launch vehicle developers and space data companies — will come to the public market, says BofA's Ron Epstein. 

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