SpaceX’s Starship mega-rocket could make or break the space industry, experts say

Monday, January 17, 2022 12:09 PM

SpaceX conducts a test launch of its prototype SN15 spacecraft from the company’s spacecraft facility in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S., May 5, 2021. (REUTERS/Gene Blevins)

The rise of mega-rockets, such as SpaceX’s spacecraft, could make or break the “New Space” industry, experts say.

Countries like South Korea, Japan, India and the United Arab Emirates plan to launch their first missions to the Moon, which will require the use of so-called mega-rockets.

“Public enthusiasm for space will remain high with the launch of new mega-rockets over the coming year,” said Seraphim Space CEO Mark Boggett. “That includes NASA’s giant moon rocket and SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft, to bring humans back to the moon and one day to Mars.”

Such missions won not only the hearts of starry-eyed investors, but also their wallets.

The space economy has had another record year for private capital investment, swallowing $12.4 billion in 2021 – an increase of more than 60% from the previous year, London-listed Seraphim Space has found. .

And Boggett expects that momentum to continue, although the industry is currently at an “inflection point.”

Risky business

As Elon Musk’s space company scrambles to resolve production issues with Starship’s Raptor engines ahead of its orbital test flight earlier this year, the future of the company and the space economy in the sense wide is at stake, warned research and analytics firm GlobalData.

“SpaceX has made great strides in making space commercially viable, but Starship is by far its most ambitious and riskiest project,” associate analyst Francesca Gregory explained.

“Operating at the limit of the laws of physics, the launch vehicle‘s unparalleled payload and turnaround time will see space adopt a business model similar to that of commercial aviation. If Starship can operate efficiently, it will be a watershed moment. Access to space will be unprecedented, unlocking the potential for a commercial space boom.

If the ambitious Starship falters, however, it could scare off industry investors and curb rising levels of SPAC activity among industry startups.

“A critical failure of Starship will shake confidence in the industry, stifling investors’ appetite for risky bets,” she explained, adding “It is clear that the outcome of the orbital test flight has repercussions on broader financing of the space economy”.

However, Boggett noted that while SPACs will be “tougher” this year, the pipeline remains strong for communications and climate-focused businesses.

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