2018 was an exciting year for the space industry and Starbridge. SpaceX continues to disrupt the launch business and Blue Origin follows close behind. The Mars Opportunity rover fell silent after a dust storm, but two other spacecraft arrived at separate near earth asteroids and both will return samples. The last days of the year are book ended by not one but two historical missions: the landing of China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft on the lunar far side and the extended mission flyby of Ultima Thule by NASA’s New Horizons.
For us here at Starbridge, this was our inaugural year. This was the year that we signed on our first investors and made our initial investments. Our portfolio now includes companies such as Made In Space, Umbra Lab, Axiom Space, and a few companies still in stealth mode. We even added a few people to our core team who hold the same vision of generating great returns by investing in impactful companies and building influential relationships in the growing space industry.
We are all excited about the prospects of 2019. The Moon will become a bit more crowded with China and India landing rovers on the Moon’s surface and the first private mission to the Moon by the Israeli company SpaceIL. NASA’s Commercial Crew program is performing both un-crewed and crewed test flights with Boeing and SpaceX. 2019 will be a particularly busy year for SpaceX with two scheduled Falcon Heavy flights, ‘hopper’ test flights of Starship related systems, and two Commercial Crew flights. We will most likely see both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flying people into space, at least three new smallsat launch vehicles doing their first test flights, and sadly, a few companies will be closing their doors.
For Starbridge, we have significant plans for 2019. Our first Fund will officially close in the coming months and we will begin planning for Fund 2 later in the year. Our strategic relationships will begin to bear fruit in terms of tools and organizations to help rationalize the space industry’s financial infrastructure. We are particularly encouraged by the growing interest in in-space manufacturing and commercial LEO communications infrastructure.
While economists expect some sort of economic slowdown in 2019, Starbridge believes the accelerating rate of development in the space industry will continue to make space a compelling investment. Regardless of the state of the larger economy, we always encourage companies to apply the same sound safety margins to their finances that they do to their engineering. We also encourage individual investors who are not already deeply embedded in the industry to find an advisor, whether it’s Starbridge or someone else, who can help them navigate and evaluate deals.
We’re looking forward to many great things in 2019 as we help our investors and portfolio companies grow. Come join Starbridge and help build the future!