Is investment in outer space going to do the same? Like the web/tech bubble much of the hype is based on speculation, virtual assets and perceived public value. Wealthy people are dumping billions from their personal wealth on the space gamble. So what exactly are they buying into?
The space industry use to be an industry dominated by government space agencies and huge aerospace contractors. We are starting to see a trend towards the newcomers capturing the contracts and limelight. This is in part due to a more commercial aproach by providing more streamlined and economical products and services. This new investment money is not only challenging the old school ways and suppliers to the industry but is also opening the doors to new markets that, up till now, existed only in science fiction.
Space tourism is perhaps the most tangible market that is poised to boom in the next few years. We can already take flights to experience the "zero G" effect. Several companies are booking flights into sub-orbital space and are likely to have the "licensing" to proceed by 2014. There are others that are more ambitious in their tourism proposals including trips to Mars. Space hotels are designed and ready to be lifted into orbit to accommodate the tourist of the near future.
Much of the emerging space industry is founded on the principal that the resources for space development needs to come from space. This sparks "fever" in the prospectors looking at Lunar and asteroid mining as the next gold rush. The mining of space resources is critical to human expansion beyond our atmosphere. These mined resources will also need to be processed and refined in space to provide building materials opening the doors to the space developer.
Real estate is likely the most speculative of all the space business. This has traditionally been the safe long term investment here on Earth. Will this be the case in space? The difference with space real estate is that it does not have the same limitation as here on Earth. Earth has limited land and therefore as the population grows, the land availability declines thus pushing prices up.
My opinion? Space development, or the ability to "build" in space will be the best investment. The few that concentrate early in this market will dominate. Those that also mine their own resources and build their own developments stand to produce the best gains. Mining alone leaves the investor at the mercy of market value and demand for the resource. Building for others limits profit potential as it adds others in the supply chain to the end user. Extract minerals, refine and process them, build space structures and sell them or their use to others. That is what we are positioning for our cooperative in order to maximize our growth potential.