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Investment in Commercial Spaceflight Grows to $1.46 Billion, Updated Industry Study Reveals

Total investment in the commercial human spaceflight sector has risen by 20% since January 2008, reaching a cumulative total of $1.46 billion, according to a new extensive study performed by the Tauri Group and commissioned by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Revenues and deposits for commercial human spaceflight services, hardware, and support services has also grown, reaching a total of $261 million for the year 2008.

The analytic study, performed by the Tauri Group of Alexandria, Virginia, was based on aggregated data from a comprehensive survey of 22 companies engaged in commercial human spaceflight activities, including most Commercial Spaceflight Federation members. The new Tauri Group study results, which updates a study conducted a year earlier, can be downloaded here [pdf]. Key findings include:

* Deposits and revenue for direct commercial human spaceflight services, such as flights of private citizens to the International Space Station and deposits on suborbital commercial human spaceflights, rose to $50.0M in 2008, compared to $38.8M in 2007 and $28.8M in 2006.

* Investment of $1.46 billion has been committed to the industry since January 2008, of which approximately $624 million has been spent to date and about $838 million is available. Sources of investment include individuals and angel investors (about 52%), private equity (about 30%), government (about 15%), and corporate reinvestment (about 4%).

* Revenue for commercial spaceflight hardware sales, development, and support services, increased to $211M in 2008, compared to $206M in 2007 and $123M in 2006. (This category includes sales of hardware and services directly intended for commercial human spaceflight; sales of commercial human spaceflight-related products and services to customers in other industry sectors; and sales and services that develop technologies and corporate capabilities that can be leveraged for commercial human spaceflight applications.)

* Total facility space expanded to 1,180,000 square feet (over 20 football fields) in 2008, compared to 762,100 square feet in 2007.

* The commercial human spaceflight industry reached an employment level of 1,186 workers in 2008, not including employees at these 22 companies who are engaged in activities unrelated to commercial human spaceflight.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Bretton Alexander commented, “This survey reveals modest, but increasing, revenues from commercial spaceflight activities, including growing deposits and contracts for government development activities. But the real highlight is the sizable investment that is not government related. Growing investment from private equity funds and other investors has turned longtime skeptics into people who are taking notice.”

Since the survey was primarily a rearward look at activities in the year 2008, several companies such as Orbital Sciences, United Launch Alliance (a Boeing-Lockheed joint venture), and other firms, which have made recent public expressions of interest in commercial human spaceflight, were not part of the tabulations above.

The full Tauri Group study results can be downloaded here [pdf].

Image credit (showing the investment deal recently concluded between Aabar Investments and Virgin Galactic): Virgin Galactic / Mark Greenberg