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A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

What they found: According to the report, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw $5.7 billion in investment, bringing the year's total up to $25.6 billion.

  • Venture capital firms invested $15.7 billion into more than 250 space companies last year, according to the report.
  • One of the more surprising findings was that the infrastructure segment of the industry — which includes rocket manufacturers like SpaceX and Relativity Space — had a record year for investment, at $8.9 billion.
  • That record shows this part of the industry bounced back from a major slowdown in the second quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic.
  • Multiple space companies announced their intentions to go public last year. "We expect that there will be at least a few more publicly listed space companies to add to the ETF in 2021," Space Capital's Chad Anderson told me via email.

What's next: The report urges space watchers to keep an eye on the growing competition between Amazon and Microsoft, which are both courting space companies to use their web and cloud services.

  • These companies are effectively making analysis tools less complex to use, allowing companies to work with their data more quickly and easily, potentially opening up avenues for new customers to get in on the action.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Podcasts

When investing goes viral

You've likely heard the headlines this week about the stock market mania around GameStop. But this isn't just about the stock market. It's a kind of populist uprising borne of the Internet.

  • Plus, what’s behind GM’s big electric vehicle announcement.
  • And, the new Wild West is in outer space.

Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Correctional Facility in Wetumpka, Alabama in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

59 mins ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran, and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January, and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arm's length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.