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Expand chart
Data: Space Angels; Chart: Axios Visuals

Since 2009, more than $3 billion has been invested in companies building rockets to deliver small satellites to space, according to data provided to Axios by Space Angels.

The big picture: At the moment, most small satellites are delivered to orbit by hitching rides on larger rockets carrying other, bigger payloads as their primary missions.

  • These small launcher companies are banking on the idea that in the future, small payload operators will want dedicated rides of their own.

By the numbers: In 2018, global investment in small launcher companies hit $823 million, with $451 million invested in these types of companies through Q3 of 2019.

The intrigue: With dozens of companies aiming to break into the small launcher business in the coming years, experts are concerned that a bubble is forming in that part of the market.

  • Driving the news: Vector Space — one of the companies that was once considered at the forefront of this kind of launcher development — filed for bankruptcy on December 13.
  • Part of the growth in 2018 was spurred by investment in Vector as well as a number of other small launch providers that are now trying to get off the ground.

The bottom line: Vector's troubles could signal that the small launcher bubble is bursting.

Go deeper: Houston, we have a rocket bubble

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that global investment in small launcher companies hit $823 million in 2018 (not $832 million).

Go deeper

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
56 mins ago - Podcasts

Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck

President Biden has said that getting Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 is his administration’s top priority given an initial rollout plagued by organizational, logistical and technical glitches.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the bottlenecks and how to unclog them with Carbon Health chief executive Eren Bali, whose company recently began helping to manage vaccinations in Los Angeles.