Global investors in 2019 poured more than $5.8 billion worth of investments in space companies -- mostly American -- setting the stage for a boom in this burgeoning industry this decade.
Last year was a record year for investment in companies that are part of the space industry. The $5.8 billion went to companies in a record 198 investment rounds, exceeding the previous record of $5.1 billion set in 2017, according to a report Tuesday by investment firm Space Angels. Space companies have received nearly $26 billion in investments since 2009, according to this New York-based firm.
Space Angels said corporate capital, venture capital and individual or angel capital each contributed a third of the total investment in space companies in 2019. The company said early-stage deals comprised 72% of the total investment rounds last year.
Among the large funding rounds in 2019 was that for Relativity Space, which raised $140 million. The funding success of this company is a reflection of a decade-long shift in the industry, said Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson. He also said younger space companies are driving innovation in a market long dominated by heavyweight government contractors.
"These companies are graduating and going from concept to scale," said Anderson to CNBC. "All the companies that are in space in the last 10 years are new. They've all entered a different point over that timeline and you need to see them graduate as, in venture capital investing, graduation rates are really important."
Space Angels, the world's most active investor in the space economy, is an American angel investment and venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in the space economy. It has stakes in nearly two dozen space companies. Space Angels investments underscored the maturity of space companies in 2019, with 75% more later-stage deals compared to 2018.
But it was the "Big Boys" that received the most funding in 2019. SpaceX, Blue Origin and OneWeb accounted for the bulk of last year's investments and took home billions in new funds. Anderson said the steady growth at both the top and bottom of the funding funnel is key for healthy growth in the space economy.
He said investors are becoming more and more interested in the booming space economy set to fly higher this decade. Anderson also expects 2020 will see IPOs from several space companies established in the past decade.
"The meat of this has all happened in the last five years, as in 2015 things just started to really take off," according to Anderson.