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6 Key Takeaways From The Morgan Stanley Space Summit

6 Key Takeaways From The Morgan Stanley Space Summit

Morgan Stanley hosted its second annual Space Summit on Tuesday in New York.

Here are six key takeaways from the gathering of private and public space companies, regulators and investors, and discussion of the role of space in several private sector business opportunities as well as national security.

Satellites Remain Key Opportunity

Private satellite company OneWeb says it plans to launch more than 30 satellites a month by the end of next year. And Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, founder of private launch company SpaceX, says the company's planned constellation of internet communications satellites known as Starlink needs 400 satellites to create the continuous global coverage it's trying to build out, and even more — 1,000 satellites — to be economically viable.

Demand for improved private-sector communications continues to drive satellite demand. Analyst Adam Jonas noted that both ViaSat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) and Intelsat SA (NYSE: I) have cited growth opportunities for satellite-based inflight connectivity, and maritime communications.

Government Is More Involved, Not Less

Government support for space in both the private and military sectors has increased, Jonas wrote in the note. The 2020 defense spending bill establishes the Space Force as a separate military branch — with a vote on that measure expected Wednesday in the House and later in the Senate.

The bill's House conference report was completed earlier this week and Jonas said expectations are for passage and signing into law by the president later this month.

Private Investment Continues to Flow Into Space

Investment from the private sector into the space industry continued to flow this year, though Jonas said challenges around late-stage financing may grow next year as investors expect progress.

Demand For Intelligence Will Drive AI Innovation

The military and intelligence communities will have particularly high demand for analytics and artificial intelligence applications for that analysis, Jonas said.

"Technological emphasis included: cyber, GPS, communications, data and analytics, SAR, propulsion, travel, space situational awareness/orbital debris mitigation," he wrote.

Space Tourism Still Go For Launch

Perhaps one of the most closely-watched space developments in the non-technical private sector is on the prospect for space tourism - and all systems are still a go for launch in that regard. Morgan Stanley analysts met separately recently with Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) CEO George Whitesides and discussed the company's plans for space tourism. The company has reiterated expectations for a commercial operations launch next year, scaling in 2021.

And while much of the talk is about tourists going into space, Jonas and the company see the tourism business more as a technological and money-raising support for other parts of the business.

Related Links

Morgan Stanley Bullish On Virgin Galactic, Says Space Tourism Is Incubator For Hypersonic Travel

Musk Vs. Bezos Vs. Branson: Who's Winning The Space Tourism Race?


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