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Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, Oliver Daemen and Mark Bezos walk near the booster. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Blue Origin's successful flight is the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats story of the moment for the sector.

Why it matters: For investors, it doesn’t matter which billionaire hits space first. Recent headlines only generate more interest, some of which turns into investments — and that's good for companies that need cash.

What they're saying: Sending humans to space twice on largely privately funded enterprises in less than two weeks is unprecedented, Ken Herbert, managing director at Canaccord Genuity, tells Axios.

  • The Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights “validate what private capital is able to do,” he adds, and their success also points to a safety record that will support public confidence. 
  • Today’s mission "is likely an indication that achieving access to space can become a more regular event, which means (to my mind), that all of the ancillary companies that depend on space access can also be incrementally more likely to succeed," says Pete Skibitski, senior aerospace analyst at Alembic Global Advisors.

By the numbers: It’s not yet clear how much an individual seat will cost, but Bezos' larger goal is to get millions of people to work and live in space.

  • Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic is focused on space travel with ticket price estimates upward of $250,000. 
  • Bank of America and Canaccord analysts project it will take Virgin at least four years to break even or become profitable.

What to watch: Both Blue Origin and Virgin expect to launch more flights this year.

  • So far, investor interest for Virgin has come largely from the retail side, Herbert says, pointing to the stock’s volatility this year as a sign. 
  • More investment opportunities will materialize over the next two years when about a dozen new companies — including launch vehicle developers and space data companies — will come to the public market, says BofA's Ron Epstein. 

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Wrestling with the risks of private missions to space

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew, launching to orbit this week, will force the space industry to contend with just how much risk ordinary people are willing to take on in order to build humanity's future in space.

Why it matters: The private space industry's goal of building an economy in space hinges on sending more people to orbit in the near future. But spaceflight is still an incredibly risky endeavor and it will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 31, 2021 - Science

A mission to space like no other

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The launch next month of the first all-civilian mission to orbit is an ambitious test for a burgeoning space industry's futuristic dream of sending many more ordinary people to space in the next few years.

Why it matters: Companies and nations envision millions of people living and working in space without having to become professional, government-backed astronauts. Those hopes are riding on SpaceX's next crewed mission, called Inspiration4.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
19 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 launches on 3-day mission in orbit

A screenshot of the rocket launching. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 mission made history Wednesday night when it launched into orbit.

Why it matters: It's the first time a crew of amateurs has launched to orbit without a professional astronaut onboard. The mission also signals the start of a new era in space — one defined by an industry pushing to launch many more private people to orbit in the coming years.