With the Virgin Galactic news, and Freetrade’s investment platform on the way and promising a vastly expanded stock universe, I thought I’d take the time to run through a topic that personally interests me. Space is the next frontier, and its fairly likely that we’re going to see advancements within our lifetime that were unthinkable to even our parents. I’ve broken up all the space-related stocks I could find into rough sections and given each company a brief intro (I’ve also put the Freetrade icon to good use to show which are available in the app). If there’s demand I can keep this post updated with any IPOs, mergers and other actions as are likely to occur in the near future. Here we go:
Satellites and Communication
Iridium Communications ($IRDM)
Operates a huge constellation of 141 communication satellites primarily for voice and data use.
Listed on NYSE-American, Globalstar manages a Low-Earth-Orbit constellation of around 50 satellites.
SES S.A. (€SES)
Luxembourg-domiciled SES has partial or full ownership of a strew of satellite operators across North America, Africa and the Middle East, as well as media distribution companies and governmental contract units. The company has a 43-strong orbital fleet.
Operator of 34 satellites that provide governmental and commercial communication services to the entire Eurasian continent and much of North Africa. Bought a 24% stake in OneWeb in 2021.
Satellite operator focusing on broadband services through its popular Hughes Network Systems. Holds a small stake in OneWeb. Sold its broadcast business back to Dish in 2019.
Dish Network Corporation ($DISH)
The biggest name is American satellite television. Has been subject to a substantial number of lawsuits.
Loral Space & Communications ($LORL)
Operates the Telesat network of satellites that has partnered with Blue Origin and Alphabet’s Loon, as well as XSTAR which operates a monopoly in the commercial X-band frequency. Previously manufactured satellites but that operation is now part of Maxar.
Orbcomm Inc. ($ORBC)
Manages a Low-Earth-Orbit constellation of 14 operational communication satellites.
SKY Perfect JSAT Holding (J¥9412)
Operates the JSAT constellation and provides the SKY PerfecTV! satellite broadcasting service.
American firm that provides satellite-based broadband services, and currently has three satellites in orbit.
Sirius XM Holdings Inc. ($SIRI)
Satellite radio company with several operational satellites. Purchased streaming platform Pandora in 2018 for $3.5bn. Rather hilariously provides a machine-learning-powered Fish Mapping™ service in partnership with Garmin and Maxar.
AST & Science ($ASTS)
Backed by Vodafone, Rakuten, Samsung and American Tower, AST & Science is planning to launch a back-end provider of space mobile communications branded SpaceMobile and offered to partner telcos, which will revenue share their services in return for access the hundreds of millions of subscribers across the world that are not covered terrestrially. Also owns nanosatellite maker NanoAvionics.
BlackSky Holdings Inc ($BKSY)
Provide geospatial intelligence from their own constellation. Has a joint venture with Thales Alenia Space that manufactures smallsats.
Spire Global ($SPIR)
Satellite operator covering SaaS focusing on global meteorological data collected with its own CubeSats, and has a partnership with the ESA to use Galileo weather data. Actually started as a Kickstarter in 2014!
OHB SE (€OHB)
Europe’s largest pure-play space multinational owns a number of businesses that focus on a wide range of space-related services including the fabrication of satellites, outfitting of spacecraft (including the ISS) and the supply of components to major space programmes. Some OHB revenues are still tied up on Earth; it sells mechatronic systems for ground-based antennas and telescopes, which could provide an advantage over rivals.
AAC Clyde Space (SkrAAC)
This Swedish-based microsatellite specialist had sales of just £6m in 2019, and it acquired Glaswegian CubeSat provider Clyde Space for £26m in 2017, which it claims allows it to offer full turnkey services from design to orbit operations.
GomSpace Group (SkrGOMX)
Danish high-end nanosatellite designer, integrator and manufacturer for the academic, government and commercial markets.
Maxar Technologies ($MAXR)
The Colorado-based space firm has absorbed a number of businesses, including SSL; a dominant satellite builder, DigitalGlobe; a satellite imagery service and Radiant Solutions, which provides analysis services using said satellite imagery. In May 2019, Maxar was selected by NASA to be a prime contractor for its Lunar Gateway programme.
The PAO S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia is the main private space contractor for Russia’s Roscosmos, and builds the legendary Soyuz and Progress sister spacecraft. It also provides development and experimental support to the astronauts of the Russian segment on board the ISS.
China Spacesat Co. (C¥600118)
Small satellite and ground equipment producer that could give you some exposure to the Chinese space industry. Information may be difficult to glean for Western investors however, and the company was blacklisted under the Trump administration in 2020.
Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. ($SPCE)
Virgin Galactic became the first publicly traded space tourism business on October 28th 2019 when it merged with former Facebook-exec Chamath Palihapitiya’s cash shell. It is the anchor tenant of Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Momentus Inc. ($MNTS)
Aims to provide commercial space transportation services and a host of in-orbit services such as refueling and repairs. Its vehicles use Microwave Electrothermal propulsion.
Rocket Lab ($RKLB)
World leader in small lift launch vehicles and has been regularly providing payloads to orbit since 2018. Owns manufacturing and launch facilities in New Zealand.
Smallsat rocket startup based in Alameda, California.
A holding company formed in 2020 that has been on an acquisition spree of space businesses including Made In Space (which specialises in 3D printing in orbit), DSS (which builds the new ROSA arrays that will be installed in the ISS and collaborates with Maxar), Loadpath (which builds Cubesat deployers), as well as Roccor and modular spacecraft builder Oakman Aerospace.
The aerospace giant’s Defence and Space division is involved with a number of research and transportation missions on behalf of the ESA, as well as the Ariane Joint Venture with Safran that manufactures launch vehicles for the same space agency. The company also builds communication and observation satellites.
Boeing’s wide-ranging space operations include spacesuit material design, GPS satellite assembly, space capsule design and Spectrolab, which manufacturers space photovoltaics. It is a prime contractor for the international Lunar Orbital Gateway project and operates the United Launch Alliance Joint Venture with Lockheed Martin that provides launch services.
Northrop Grumman ($NOC)
Northrop Grumman has decades of experience working for the US Defence Department, and supplied numerous military satellites, tracking systems and motor stages for missiles and rockets, including the UK’s Trident. Its Mojave-based subsidiary Scaled Composites manufactures Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft and other stratospheric prototypes. Last year it purchased Orbital ATK, which manufactures rockets, the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, as well as communication and observation satellites.
Lockheed Martin ($LMT)
Another American defence contractor that is the chief architect of the Trident-class missiles and the controversial F-35 Fighter. The company has worked extensively with NASA on spacecraft production. Aside from the Boeing Joint Venture, Lockheed collaborates with Energia and Roskosmos and has invested in CubeSat launcher Rocket Lab. It is currently in the process of acquiring Aerojet Rocketdyne, and is exploring 5G networking with startup Omnispace.
General Dynamic ($GD)
GD has a long history of collaboration with NASA stretching back to the Atlas rockets and Apollo missions. It provides satellite ground stations, Beryllium Machining and satellite communications. It also co-manages the NASA Shared Services Center.
General Electric ($GE)
GE has collaborated with NASA since the agency’s inception but mirroring the decline of the once dominant firm it is less involved nowadays, with influence reduced to technological and aviation-related research contracts.
BAE Systems (£BA)
Markets space-grade chips, circuitry and sensors.
Safran S.A. (€SAF)
This French Aerospace company has many contracts with its native defence department, but its main space capabilities include satellite equipment, propulsion and space optics. Operates the Ariane Joint Venture.
Belgian-based SABCA has worked on European space programs for over 40 years, specialising in the major structural elements and thrust vectoring control systems of launch vehicles such as the Vega.
Electric Optic Systems (A$EOS)
An Australian defence contractor that develops laser technology for tracking space debris and has worked with JAXA for optical laser communication on the Hayabusa2 probe.
Raytheon Technologies ($RTX)
Subsidiary Collins Aerospace makes the space suit and life support systems used by NASA astronauts on board the ISS. Also provides space intelligence services.
Operates Thales Alenia Space with a majority 67% shareholding alongside Italian defence contractor Leonardo S.p.A. The subsidiary is a designer of telecoms, navigation and observation satellites. Claims to be responsible for over half of the ISS’ pressurised volume. It is a prime contractor on the European ExoMars mission and ATV vehicle and on NASA’s Cygnus and Orion programmes.
Has supplied 1,900 components to the ISS since 1998 including navigation, life support control and scientific equipment.
Teledyne Technologies, Inc. ($TDY)
Teledyne’s Defence Electronics division has over 25 years of experience manufacturing a wide range of technology including amplifiers, processors, filters, High Energy devices, assemblies, switches and wiring.
L3Harris Technologies ($LHX)
Consists of the former L-3 Communications, which holds service contracts with NASA and manufactures space sensors, and Harris Corp which produces small satellites mainly for governments.
Moog, Inc. ($MOG)
Specialises in space avionics, propulsion mechanisms, actuation and structures.
Ball Corporation ($BLL)
The aerospace division has been involved in the development in space optics on the James Webb Space Telescope and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as well as in the construction of observation satellites such as the Kepler Space Observatory.
Mercury Systems ($MRCY)
Produces space-qualified filters and power amplifiers, among other products from its catalog (mostly RF and Microwave). Customers include launch vehicle contractors, satellite builders and NASA with its Mars Rovers.
HEICO Corporation ($HEI)
HEICO’s Electronic Technologies Group designs and manufactures niche electronic, electro-optical, microwave and other components for aerospace and telecommunications.
Leidos Holding, Inc. ($LDOS)
Defence contractor that provides solutions such as image-based object detection, mission planning and analysis, radiation monitoring, and logistics (including space food). Subsidiary Dynetics is participating in the NASA Artemis programme.
CGI Inc. (C$GIB)
IT consultant CGI has worked on the European Galileo project, developed software and cybersecurity for satellites and recently acquired Dublin-based Scisys which provides satellite ground infrastructure.
Manufactures space-grade silicone products such as sealants, coatings, foams and gels.
Porsche Automobil Holding SE (€PAH3)
VW’s Audi unit has collaborated on a “Quattro” Lunar Rover for the Mission to the Moon project. Aside from its 31% holding in the Volkswagen Group, Porsche has a minority interest in INRIX, and full ownership of PTV Planning Transport, both of which provide traffic and parking information with the help of satellite data.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (J¥7011)
The Japanese engineering conglomerate is involved with Japan’s ISS programmes and produces JAXA’s primary launch vehicles and related electronic systems.
Toyota Motor Corporation (J¥7203)
The world’s largest auto manufacturer began collaborating with JAXA this year to produce a fuel-cell-powered manned rover as part of the country’s plans for lunar exploration beginning in 2029.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (J¥7012)
Was heavily involved with the Japanese Kibo ISS module, makes fairings and fittings for the H-IIB rocket and is collaborating on various next generation projects.
IHI Corporation (J¥7013)
Involved in the construction of the Epsilon Launch Vehicle, rocket booster for the Japanese H-IIB rocket and the BT-4 engine used in the Atlas V and Antares rockets. Has also partnered with others such as Canon Electronics to found Space One, a minirocket launch service.
Mynaric AG (€M0Y)
Makes laser products for satellite constellations, airspace and ground stations.
Draper Esprit (£GROW)
This listed European VC fund has a £3.7m stake in Finnish radar satellite company ICEYE, and has also invested in Bright Computing, a cloud computing firm that counts NASA among its clients, and launch startup Isar Aerospace.
Analog Devices ($ADI)
Manufacturer of semiconductor products, and has a specialist portfolio that is qualified for space applications.
Provides satellite connectivity services. Also acts as network partner for the Mission to the Moon project and has a significant stake in AST & Science which recently went public via SPAC.
Astrotech Corporation ($ASTC)
Focuses on acquiring and commercialising space-related research. Currently manages units specialising in mass spectrometry and image processing, correction and enhancement technology.
The Japanese investment group is in pretty much everything (to the point of absurdity some may claim), but a few holdings that should pique interest are Mapbox, which services customers such as Facebook and The Weather Channel, and a 24% stake in OneWeb, which exited bankruptcy in 2020 with the UK Government as a significant shareholder.
Facebook is itself competing against OneWeb and SpaceX to build a global satellite-based internet service, and launched its first test equipment into orbit in 2020.
Google’s Loon project of internet-harbouring stratospheric balloons was graduated from the secretive X division in 2018, and is on track for deployment in Kenya. Alphabet may be using its acquisition of Titan Aerospace in 2014 to pursue other projects but none have been made public. Google is a 7.5% minority shareholder in SpaceX.
Given the size of the Redmond giant, it already has substantial space interests. It has worked alongside NASA’s JPL and Inmarsat, and operates the increasingly influential Azure data centre network.
Like the other big data players, Amazon’s enormous AWS operation would benefit from the colossal amounts of information space exploration would produce. It’s late to the broadband constellation party, but has already started building ground station facilities. Aside from this, Amazon’s stock performance is already funding Jeff Bezos’ own space venture, Blue Origin. Similarly to the company below, its CEO’s connections may provide future synergies.
Applied Graphene Materials (£AGM)
AGM has developed composite applications for space exploration including cryogenic pressure vessels being considered for use in NASA’s Artemis and Lunar Gateway missions. It is also working with Airbus on satellite applications.
Versarien PLC (£VRS)
This graphene group’s metallic and hard wear subsidiary Total Carbide is part of the Westcott Space Cluster and there is promise in space applications for carbon fiber reinforced polymers.
Metal additive manufacturing company that counts SpaceX as a customer, as well as others in aerospace.
This may seem like a joke, but it’s a serious proposition. Aside from the recent Maxwell acquisition giving Tesla potentially game-changing energy density that would allow for applications such as VTOL, Elon Musk co-founded SpaceX. Its unlikely to ever go public, but when space travel and Mars occupation becomes a reality, there will be a demand for EVs (let’s not forget the moon buggy was electric), and Tesla’s biggest shareholder has gone on record as being interested in aerospace products. Synergies are also possible, SpaceX’s Starlink constellation could provide network access for Tesla’s fleet.
Deutsche Post AG (€DPW)
DHL sponsors and provides logistics services to NASA contractor Astrobotic, a space freight startup attempting to establish a supply line to the Moon by 2020. Its tie-in MoonBox service is offering micro-payloads to the lunar surface from $460. The German company is keen to be associated with the first moon deliveries.
Hilton is very keen on letting us know it wants be involved with space tourism, as its endless Hollywood product placement demonstrates.
Under Armour ($UAA)
Under Armour is the Exclusive Technical Spacewear partner for Virgin Galactic, and has designed a base layer, spacesuit and footwear for passengers.
Sumitomo Forestry (J¥1911)
Logging arm of the Sumitomo keiretsu which has a research partnership with Kyoto University to develop wood-based satellites to reduce atmospheric pollution.
As always, this is not investment advice and individual investors should make their own decisions on what investments they are personally comfortable with.