Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Aug 24, 2021

Space Investing: Ready for Takeoff?


Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Adam Jonas, Head of Morgan Stanley's Space and Global Auto & Shared Mobility teams. With the help of my research colleagues across asset classes and regions, I try to connect ideas and relationships across the Morgan Stanley platform to bring you insights that help you think outside the screen. Today, I'll be talking about the Apollo Effect and the arrival of a new space race. It's Tuesday, August 24th, at 10:00 a.m. in New York.

In May of 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced America's plan to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely to Earth before the end of the decade. This audacious goal set in motion one of the most explosive periods of technological innovation in history. The achievements transcended the politics and Cold War machinations of the time and represented what many still see today as a defining milestone of human achievement. In its wake, millions of second graders wanted to become astronauts, our math and science programs flourished, and almost every example of advanced technology today can trace its roots in some way back to those lunar missions. The ultimate innovation catalyst: the Apollo Effect.

60 years after JFK's famous proclamation, we once again need to draw on the spirit of Apollo to address today's formidable global challenges and to deliver the solutions that improve our world for generations to come. The first space race had clear underpinnings of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Today's space race is getting increased visibility due to a confluence of profound technological change, accelerated capital formation - fueled by the SPAC phenomenon - and private space flight missions from the likes of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. We think space tourism is the ultimate advertisement for the realities and the possibilities of Space livestreamed to the broadest audience.

The message to our listeners is: get ready. This stuff is really happening. Talking about Space before the rollout of the SpaceX Starship mated to a Super Heavy booster is akin to talking about the Internet before Google Search, or talking about the auto industry before the Model T.

We are entering an exciting new era of space exploration, one that involves the hand of government and private enterprises - from traditional aerospace companies to audacious new startups. This race is driven by commerce and national rivalry. And the relevance for markets and investors, while seemingly nuanced at first, will become increasingly clear to a wide range of industries and enterprises.

The Morgan Stanley Space team divides the space economy into 3 principal domains: communications, transportation and earth observation. Our team forecasts the global space economy to surpass $1T by the year 2040. And at the rate things are going, it may eclipse this level far earlier.

When I first started publishing on the future of the global space economy with my Morgan Stanley research colleagues back in 2017, very few people seemed to care, and even fewer thought it was material for the stock market. I would regularly ask my clients "on a scale of 0 to 10, how important is space to your investment process?" And by far the most common answer I received was 0 out of 10. A lot of folks said 0.0 out of 10, just to make the point. Not even four years later and, oh my goodness, how things have changed. The investment community and the general public are rapidly embracing the genre and becoming aware of its importance economically and strategically.

So whatever your own area of market expertise, this next era of space exploration and the innovation, and commerce that spawn from it, will matter to your work, and to your life. But beyond the national competition, the triumph, the glory, the failures and the many hundreds of billions of dollars that'll be spent on launches, missions and infrastructure - is a reminder of something far bigger that we learned over a half a century ago during the Apollo era - that Space is one of the greatest monuments of human achievement, and a unifying force for the planet. We are all witnesses to this amazing adventure.

Thanks for listening. And remember, if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague today.

Recent developments in space travel may be setting the stage for a striking new era of tech investment. Are investors paying attention?