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Private investment in space companies dropped during Q2 despite monster SpaceX round, report finds

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A Falcon 9 rocket launches a batch of Starlink satellites to orbit on April 29, 2022.
SpaceX

Private investment in space companies dwindled in the second quarter — weighed down by broader economic and market headwinds but salvaged in part by a funding round at Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to a report Thursday by New York-based firm Space Capital.

Space infrastructure companies brought in $2.5 billion of private investment in Q2, of which SpaceX’s recent $1.7 billion raise made up the majority. The quarterly figure represents a 45% drop from the same period in 2021, which marked a record year for investment in space companies.

Space companies, especially those which recently went public, have suffered a rocky first half of the year as investors turned on technology and growth stocks. The space economy hasn’t been spared from rising interest rates, inflation or supply chain disruptions.

According to the report, capital has largely sat on the sidelines as well — at least temporarily.

“While we believe the macro environment will continue to cause headwinds for some space companies, we do not believe that the space economy is at existential risk,” Space Capital managing partner Chad Anderson wrote in the report.

“Space technologies are next generation digital infrastructure, the ‘invisible backbone’ that powers our global economy,” he said.

Satellite technologies such as imagery and communications make up about 90% of the total annual investment in the space economy and “already play a critical role in most major industries,” Anderson wrote. The remaining 10% flows into companies that build hardware, such as rockets and spacecraft.

In total, Space Capital tracks 1,727 companies which have raised $264 billion in cumulative global equity investments since 2012.

The report also highlighted investments in “Emerging Industries” – made up of companies working on orbital stations and industrials, space logistics and lunar services – as seeing “consistent growth in the past decade,” drawing $2.7 billion over that period.

While the subsector remains in its “infancy,” according to the report, SpaceX’s coming mammoth rocket Starship represents a key enabler to “Emerging Industries” companies, with the potential to further lower the cost of orbit.

Importantly, SpaceX continues to “defy consensus,” Anderson wrote in the report, and should be able to raise large chunks of funding in the future “despite current market conditions,” which will boost the nascent “Emerging Industries” subsector.

“Just as the Falcon 9 [rocket] did 10 years ago, Starship will further reduce the cost to orbit,” Anderson wrote.

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