As we enter 2021, Space investment has never been hotter. Be it private companies raising capital, or public companies newly minted via the SPAC (special purpose acquisition companies) machine, the sector continues to grow both its investor base, as well as the wallet share of those investors. All segments of the industry, be it launch or satellite hardware, remain healthy, though there are shifts in which segments are perceived to be where the lion’s share of future growth will be. Further, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), edge computing and miniaturization allows for more sophisticated hardware to be put in orbit, yielding more insightful products and services.
New decade, newer capabilities
If the past ten years were about getting matter to orbit by building access to Space via low cost, reliable and reusable launch vehicles, the next ten years should be defined by manipulating mass in orbit. This will take the form of applications as wide ranging as on-orbit servicing of satellites for the purpose of upgrading, refueling, maneuvering or de-orbiting, to applications like Space debris clean-up and Space-based tugs. With the capability that on-orbit servicing drives, specifically, identification, rendezvous, capture and manipulation of matter in orbit, other even more sophisticated applications are enabled.
These include building private Space station outposts and so called “free flyers” in Space that can be special purpose Space destinations for tourism, manufacturing or scientific experimentation. But is also enables more sophisticated satellite hardware that is more capable. Be it leveraging edge computing in Space, or more sophisticated data techniques applied to Spacebased data, the upside potential of geospatial data remains a huge driving force for hardware demand and investor interest. I expect this trend will continue in 2021 and beyond.
Ecosystem ready to go parabolic
As the demand for, and the supply of, hyperspectral data continues far into the future, the “megaset” of data the industry has generated will continue to grow exponentially. Furthermore, given the continued evolution of AI, ML and predictive analytics, we will continue to generate emergent, example, predicative information that will certainly generate substantial amounts of value for investors. As this value is captured, via public company exits, via traditional IPOs or SPACs, that capital can return to the ecosystem to fund additional early stage ventures, or supply the much-needed growth capital for the industry. This would complete the natural lifecycle of capital and signal an ecosystem ready to go parabolic in terms of its growth. I believe we are on the cusp of this future for the industry.
The landscape for Space and geospatial asset investment remains incredibly strong, and the outlook for the industry remains extremely promising. As the capabilities of the industry continue to evolve, investors are likely to see very lucrative returns, and the unlocking of additional value.