A Falcon 9 rocket booster lands after launching the company’s Transporter-2 rideshare mission on June 30, 2021.
Private investment in space companies hit $4.5 billion in the second quarter, a record for the sector, according to a report on Wednesday by New York-based firm Space Capital.
“This was the largest quarter on record for space infrastructure investment, despite only two space company SPACs closing in Q2,” Space Capital managing partner Chad Anderson wrote in the report.
The quarterly Space Capital report divides investment in the industry into three technology categories: Infrastructure, distribution and application.
The first, infrastructure, includes what many would consider space companies, such as firms that build rockets and satellites. The sector has surged in popularity among investors, in part thanks to the billionaire space race – with Sir Richard Branson launching on Virgin Galactic just days before Jeff Bezos flies on Blue Origin’s first crewed mission, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX is sending up spacecraft at a blistering pace while developing a mammoth next-generation rocket.
The other two categories in the Space Capital report, distribution and application, more broadly include companies that depend upon space technologies for business. Distribution represents terrestrial-based technologies that connect to space-based networks, while application includes space-dependent services, like ride hailing or navigation.
In total, Space Capital tracks 1,553 companies with $199.8 billion in cumulative global equity investment since 2012 across its three categories.
Infrastructure topped the prior quarterly record of $3.9 billion hit in the third quarter last year. Anderson said this year “is now on pace to beat the previous annual record year” of $9.1 billion raised in 2020.
This quarter’s surge was “driven by mega-rounds” from companies like OneWeb, which raised over $1 billion, and Relativity Space, which brought in $650 million. Two SPACs closed mergers with space companies and began trading, AST SpaceMobile and Astra, with the deals raising hundreds of millions in capital for each venture.
Anderson’s firm is closely watching the trend of space company SPACs, which is expected to raise upwards of $8 billion in capital for space companies when deals close in the second half of this year.
“It is important to note that these companies vary significantly in terms of quality and risk; most are highly speculative from a public markets perspective, with many pre-revenue,” Anderson wrote. “We welcome the access to additional capital that SPACs offer, but are cautious that valuations and growth targets may be out of reach for companies that don’t have a defensible data angle.”
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