#1 Space SPACs
At least thirteen space companies announce or close merger transactions with special purpose acquisition companies in order to become publicly traded, producing a collective valuation of approximately $26b: Arqit, AST SpaceMobile, Astra, BlackSky, Momentus, Planet, Redwire, Rocket Lab, Satellogic, Spire, Terran Orbital, Tomorrow and Virgin Orbit.
#2 FSS in Transition
An industry in flux drives significant changes in the fixed satellite services segment: Telesat forges ahead with its Lightspeed LEO broadband constellation, securing additional capital through a merger with Loral and public listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq; Eutelsat reaffirms its commitment to OneWeb through investments totaling $715m; Viasat acquires Inmarsat in blockbuster $7.3b combination; Intelsat emerges from Chapter 11, both it and Eutelsat see a change of guard at the top; regional operators ABS, Arabsat, AsiaSat, Avanti, Es’hailSat, Hispasat, Spacecom and Yahsat confront increasing challenges to remain competitive.
#3 VCs Victorious
A record year for venture capital investments in space startups, including: ABL Space Systems, Accion Systems, Albedo Space, Astranis, Astroscale, Axelspace, Axiom, Firefly, Fleet Space Technologies, GHGSat, HawkEye 360, Hiber, Hydrosat, HySpecIQ, ICEYE, Inversion Space, Isar Aerospace, Isotropic Systems, Ispace, Kepler Communications, LeoLabs, Loft Orbital, Mangata, Mynaric, Omnispace, Orbital Sidekick, Relativity Space, Sierra Space, Stoke Space Technologies, Totum Labs, Unseenlabs and Ursa Major.
#4 Space Tourism Fly Me to the Moon
SpaceX performs a successful test flight and landing of its Starship vehicle, and separately, launches four passengers to space on the Inspiration-4 mission using its Falcon 9 vehicle and Dragon capsule, marking the first crewed orbital mission without professional astronauts; Virgin Galactic carries out its first operational tourist flight with Sir Richard Branson and three others; Blue Origin performs its first crewed space flight with the launch of Jeff Bezos and three others and then two other crewed missions, each time with its New Shepard spacecraft; and Axiom receives clearance for its first private crewed mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for 1Q 2022 using SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.
#5 Consolidation Happenings
Consolidation in the space business thrives: Astra purchases Apollo Fusion; BAE Systems acquires In-Space Missions; Marlink buys ITC Global; OneWeb purchases Trustcomm; Planet acquires VanderSat; Redwire adds Deployable Space; Raytheon purchases SEAKR; Rocket Lab acquires Advanced Solutions, Planetary Systems and SolAero; SpaceX buys Swarm; Spire adds exactEarth; Viasat acquires Inmarsat; Voyager Space purchases The Launch Company.
SpaceX’s Starlink and the OneWeb system progress through deployment, Amazon’s Kuiper and Telesat’s Lightspeed move forward in development and Boeing secures FCC approval for its V-band system, while newer players Astra, Mangata and Totum join the growing field of constellation operators.
#7 C-band Proceeds Spur Growth
The FCC C-band auction raises a record $81b, driving growth across space and communications industry sectors; Intelsat and SES secure a total of $2b in initial incentive payments by vacating the C-band before the FCC’s Phase I deadline.
#8 Space and Climate Change
An increasing number of space businesses support the effort to address climate change through environmental monitoring, data collection and analytics using satellite-based systems.
#9 Key 2021 Commercial Launch Missions
Arianespace Ariane 5: Star One D2, EUTELSAT QUANTUM, SES-17; Arianespace Soyuz: 284 OneWeb satellites, Galileo FOC-M9 (23-24); Arianespace Vega: Pliades Neo 3 & 4, BRO-4; ISRO PSLV: Amaznia 1; Long March 3B: Tiantong 103, Fengyun 4B, Zhongxing 9B, Shijian 21; Long March 6: Qilu 1 & 4, KL-Beta A & B, SDGSAT 1; MHI H-2A: Inmarsat-6 F1; Proton: Express AMU3 & AMU7; Soyuz: CAS500 1, ELSA-d; Rocket Lab Electron: Pathstone, Centauri 3, Myriota 7, Veery Hatchling, BlackSky Gen-2; SpaceX Falcon 9: Trksat 5A & 5B, Transporter 1 & 2, Tyvak-0130, SXM-8, 16 Starlink missions; Virgin Orbit LauncherOne: 2 SatRevolution satellites.
#10 Notable 2021 Commercial Satellite Orders
Airbus: 2 OneSat satellites, Superbird-9, EUTELSAT 36D; Maxar: SX-9 & -10; Thales Alenia Space: HTS 113BT, selected by Telesat as prime contractor for Lightspeed.
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Space Business Review: Special Edition – Top Ten Space Business Stories of 2021.