Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic could spell major trouble for dozens of small companies working to break into the space industry.

The big picture: SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and other companies are well-established with strong customer bases and robust portfolios, but the prospects for the industry's growth hinge on smaller companies.

  • Many of those companies are launched with venture capital funding that will likely dry up as the crisis continues.

What's happening: Some space companies are already facing major problems in the wake of the pandemic.

  • OneWeb — which planned to build a constellation of internet-beaming satellites — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of March, largely blaming the decision on the economic situation created by the coronavirus.
  • Astra, a small rocket launch company, has cut some of its staff in order to try to make it through the crisis.
  • Private space station designer Bigelow Aerospace laid off its workforce after nonessential businesses were closed in Nevada.
  • Satellite manufacturer Maxar has also warned that supply chain issues could disrupt orders, causing delays in delivering spacecraft for customers in the coming months.

What to watch: The coronavirus crisis will likely accelerate shakeouts in already crowded or overly speculative parts of the space market, experts say.

  • Dozens of small rocket companies were expected to come online in the next few years, but the economic situation now could force many of them to fold before launching.
  • Other parts of the industry built on speculative, far future endeavors like mining the Moon for resources could also face headwinds when trying to raise funds in the current market.

Between the lines: Larger companies like SpaceX or ULA likely have the reserves to make it through the economic downturn, but the failures of smaller companies will still affect their bottom lines.

  • Relatively small satellite companies hold contracts with larger launchers to send their wares to orbit. If those companies fold, it will shrink the base of customers for these larger companies.
  • "It's a tightly interdependent industry, so when you see a company like OneWeb filing for bankruptcy, the launch manifest that was associated with them is now gone," Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Axios.

Yes, but: Parts of the U.S. government are already working to help the space industry counter the ill effects of the health crisis.

  • NASA recently awarded SpaceX a contract to fly cargo to its yet-to-be-built small Gateway space station around the Moon.
  • Experts also expect to see future contracts awarded from governments to help keep companies they rely on for national security and other launches stay afloat.

The bottom line: The space industry will likely emerge from the coronavirus crisis smaller, leaner and with a long way to rebuild.

Go deeper: The coronavirus pandemic, as seen from space

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Globetrotting climate envoy Kerry makes Biden team’s first visit to China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

John Kerry became the first senior Biden administration official to touch down in China this week. He's also been the first to sit down with a string of world leaders.

Why it matters: Kerry may no longer be secretary of state, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise after a glance at his calendar. The unusual role could make Kerry a foreign policy force multiplier for President Biden, or potentially a source of mixed messages.

Chicago releases video of fatal police shooting of 13-year-old boy

A small memorial is seen on April 15 in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer in March. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Chicago's independent police review board on Thursday released the body camera footage of an officer's fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29.

The big picture: Tension continues to rise nationwide in response to police misconduct and racism. Thursday's footage release comes days after officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright in a traffic stop near Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, is ongoing.