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Private investment in space infrastructure hit record $14.5B in 2021

Private investment in space infrastructure hit record $14.5B in 2021
SpaceX successfully launched and landed Starship SN15 at the company's Starbase spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas. File Photo courtesy of SpaceX/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Private investment in space infrastructure companies hit a record-breaking $14.5 billion last year, according to a report Tuesday by New York City-based firm Space Capital.

The new report from the venture capital company shows space infrastructure investment in 2021 was more than 50% greater than the prior record set in 2020.

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The report, which is also available in an interactive format on the company's website, shows a record-setting fourth quarter of $4.3 billion to help push investments to the record level.

The fourth quarter investments included "mega-rounds" of $250 million or more by Sierra Space ($1.4 billion), Elon Musk's Space X ($337 million), and Planet Labs ($250 million), the report shows.

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The annual report on global equity investments since 2012 is divided into three space technology stacks, including infrastructure, distribution and application, with infrastructure including space companies that build rockets and satellites, CNBC noted.

The past year was a record year for private investment across all space technology stacks with $46.3 billion invested, according to the report.

The United States has led global investment in infrastructure at 67% of the total since 2012, the report shows.

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Within private markets, another $14.7 billion was invested into 134 space companies in the fourth quarter, resulting in $252.9 billion of equity investment over the last 10 years across 1,694 companies globally, the report said.

The majority of investment dollars year-to-date have been in late stage rounds of funding.

"As we look ahead, we see tremendous opportunities to scale mass adoption of the existing infrastructure as we look for radically new approaches to build and operate space-based assets," Space Capital managing partner Chad Anderson wrote in the report, according to CNBC.

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The report also showed venture capitalists invested a record $17.1 billion into 328 space companies last year, accounting for 3% of total global venture capital flows, and driven in part by near-zero interest rates in the United States.

Anderson also said in the report that 2021 "was a big year for SPACs," referring to special-purpose acquisition companies, and noting that two of its portfolio companies, Rocket Lab and Planet Labs went public as SPACs.

"But not all SPACs are created equal and, unfortunately, much of the momentum we saw in 2021 came at the cost of deep diligence, which increases the risk for investors," Anderson wrote.

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