As the space race rolls on, several companies are planning major satellite, spaceship and rocket launches over the next few years. Here is a collection of stocks to watch for opportunities in the space exploration and telecoms industries.
- Virgin Galactic is to pause spaceflight operations in 2024 in order to focus on its Delta spaceships.
- Sidus Space is on course to launch its AI-enabled LizzieSat satellites next year.
- Rocket Labs could launch its eagerly-anticipated mission to Venus as early as next December.
The Space Flight Stock
Virgin Galactic’s [SPCE] share price is up 25% in the past month, after the company revealed plans to cut costs. It will be pausing spaceflight operations in 2024 to prioritise developing its next-generation Delta spacecraft. “We forecast having sufficient capital to bring our first two Delta ships into service and achieve positive cash flow in 2026,” CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement issued with the company’s third quarter (Q3) 2023 results.
The Satellite Constellation Stock
Iridium Communications [IRDM] has announced that a partnership with Qualcomm [QCOM] is set to be terminated on 3 December. The partnership, which was only announced in January, would have seen emergency messaging delivered through Iridium’s satellite constellations to smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile platform. “While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. The termination won’t impact the company’s full-year guidance.
The Satellite Launch Stock
Sidus Space [SIDU] is on course to launch its artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled LizzieSat satellite in 2024, the company announced in its Q3 2023 earnings report, released on 14 November. “We have developed a strong customer base who are ready to start receiving our AI-enhanced space data, that we believe will be transformative for both Sidus and the industry more broadly,” said founder and CEO Carol Craig in a statement. By the end of the quarter, the company had completed environmental testing of the LizzieSat satellites and had inked agreements to sell data collected by them.
The Venus Mission Stock
Rocket Lab [RKLB] is hoping to launch its eagerly awaited private mission to Venus as early as late 2024. The purpose of the mission, a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to study the planet’s clouds for microbial life. Originally targeted for May 2023, the launch was eventually pushed back, but there are hopes the launch window could now arrive as early as 30 December next year, according to a report from Space News.
The Adjusted Launch Plan Stock
AST SpaceMobile [ASTS] announced last week that it’s expecting the cost of manufacturing and launching the first five of its BlueBird satellites to rise from $110m to $115m. This was mainly down to “a potential customer requesting a change in the inclination of the orbit so that our constellation could provide better coverage for their subscriber base,” said AST SpaceMobile Chief Financial Officer Sean Wallace on the Q3 2023 earnings call. According to Space News, B Riley analyst Mike Crawford believes AT&T [T] could be the mystery customer.
Another Way to Invest in Space
The Procure Space ETF
The Procure Space ETF [UFO] holds all five stocks. As of 30 September, 50.9% of the portfolio has been allocated to the media and communications sector, while industrials and technology have been allocated 32% and 11.2%, respectively. Consumer discretionary and materials have weightings of 5.3% and 0.6%. The fund is down 18% in the past year and down 13.9% in the past six months.
The ARK Space Exploration and Innovation ETF [ARKX] only holds Iridium and Rocket Lab. As of 30 September, 54.6% of the portfolio had been allocated to industrials and 25.9% to information technology. Communication services and consumer discretionary had weightings of 9.8% and 4.7% respectively. The fund is up 9.3% in the past year and up 2.8% in the past six months.