Good morning. Welcome to the 73 new readers who have joined Payload since Friday. A reminder: We’re at GEOINT 2022 this week. If you’ll also be there, keep an eye out for the Payload hat and come say hi.
In today’s newsletter:
🎙️ Earth’s Future with Space
✈️ Starlink B2B
📊 ARKX Q1
🗓️ The week ahead
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Miami Tech Week Panel Recap
On Friday, Payload CEO Mo Islam took the stage at Miami Tech Week to moderate “Earth’s Future With Space.” Bright and early at 9:30, Mo kicked off the 45-min space industry panel with:
- John Gedmark, CEO of Astranis
- Chris Power, CEO of Hadrian
- Delian Asparouhov, cofounder of Varda
- Kevin Weil, president of Planet (NYSE:PL)
At a high level, the panelists covered business models of each space company, new products being brought to market (and orbit), dual-use technologies, supply chain challenges, working with the US military, new models of aerospace manufacturing and design, and the conflict in Eastern Europe.
- Selling to the DoD: Astranis recently announced that it was awarded a multiple-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to compete for orders under a $950M ceiling for the USAF’s ABMS program. In Miami, Gedmark expanded on earlier comments about American leadership in space.
- New manufacturing models: In March, Hadrian raised $90M to continue its buildout of vertically integrated, software-defined, aerospace parts factories. Last October, Varda booked a Falcon 9 rideshare to launch its first microgravity factory. “It’s a huge defensive and strategic advantage if you have a large commercial manufacturing supply chain operating in [LEO,]” Asparouhov said on Friday’s panel.
- Recruiting: Power lamented that the industry is competing with the consumer-facing tech companies…and often losing: “We’ve created layers of abstraction where now our best talent is optimizing ad clicks or trading pictures of cats.”
Coming Soon to an Airline Near You?
JSX, a short-haul “hop-on jet service,” announced Thursday that it’s inked a deal with SpaceX to become the first air carrier to adopt Starlink for in-flight connectivity services.
- JSX flies between Austin, Burbank, Concord/Napa, Dallas-Love Field, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, LA, Monterey/Carmel, Oakland/SF, Orange County, Phoenix, Reno/Tahoe, and San Diego. Its fleet spans 77 Embraer 135s and 145s.
- Starlink aviation service is pending regulatory approval. JSX expects to launch complementary Starlink WiFi in its jets by Q4, CNBC reports.
Aviation blitz? Starlink has been testing aviation terminals for some time now. Earlier this month, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the WSJ his airline had held talks with SpaceX and conducted exploratory tests of the technology.
And today, CNBC reported that Hawaiian will launch Starlink-based complimentary internet service as early as next year. It’s the first major airline to sign up for the service.
Sizing up the market: In 2021, Euroconsult found that ~9,000 aircraft across 115 airlines were equipped with in-flight connectivity (IFC) terminals—and that 80% were connected through satellite-based systems. By the end of the decade, the market research firm estimates that the number will reach between 16,000 and 20,000 connected aircraft.
ARKX Pulse Check
ARK Space Exploration & Innovation (ARKX) is an ETF managed by the eponymous, iconoclastic, and currently down-bad NYC fund manager ARK Invest. The space ETF launched at the end of last March, so it just recently celebrated its first bday. Time for a check in…
- At the end of Q1, ARKX’s assets under management stood at ~$420M, an ~11% dip from the prior quarter.
- The bright spot, if you can call it that, is that the space fund outperformed its sibling ARK ETFs in Q1. ARKX finished the first three months of 2022 down just 4.9%, while the others fared more poorly and posted double-digit declines.
ARKX is broken down into four themes.
- Orbital (#1) and suborbital (#2) space companies are self-explanatory.
- “Enabling technologies” (#3) spans AI, 3D printing, energy storage, and more—this is the cutting-edge stuff that goes into the aerospace supply chain.
- “Aerospace beneficiaries” (#4) is those who stand to disproportionately benefit from satellites and on-orbit assets, ranging from farmers to flying car makers.
- The Q1 2022 weighting: Aerospace beneficiaries @ 43%, Enabling technology @ 30%, Orbital aerospace @ 16%, and Suborbital aerospace @ 11%.
ARK’s methodology gives it some leeway in picking holdings for the space exploration fund. In Q1, among the ETF’s biggest detractors were software companies and a logistics service provider.
Upshot: As we wrote a few months ago, “while ARKX is by no means a pure-play ETF, it has still…introduced aerospace names to retail traders (for better or worse).”
In Other News
- Capella Space has raised $97M in Series C funding—stay tuned for more information in tomorrow’s Payload.
- Rocket Lab (NASDAQ:RKLB) is now targeting no earlier than April 27 UTC (April 28 NZT) for There and Back Again, its first attempt to capture an Electron first stage mid-air.
- Elon Musk was added as a speaker to the All-In Summit, which takes place May 15–17 in Miami.
- Kleos plans to offer its customers dedicated and taskable radio frequency monitoring capabilities.
- IonQ (NYSE:IONQ), which is developing a satellite-based quantum communications system, will report Q1 financial results on May 16.
- China’s foreign ministry is reportedly skeptical of the US destructive direct-ascent ASAT testing ban. A spokesman criticized the US government for not considering an arms control initiative for space that Russia and China proposed in 2008.
- Correction: On Friday, we wrote that ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander mission was expected to launch this year. The mission has recently been delayed to 2023.
The Week Ahead
Monday: GEOINT 2022 runs through Wednesday in Aurora, CO. The Ax-1 crew of private astronauts, after undocking from the ISS Sunday evening, are set to splash down off the coast of Florida at around noon. Weather delayed their return for five days.
Tuesday: Raytheon Technologies (NASDAQ:RTX) will announce Q1 earnings at 8:30 am ET. Later tonight, China intends to launch 10 Earth observation satellites on the Chang Zheng 11 rocket.
- SpaceX will launch the Crew-4 mission to the ISS, sending three NASA crew mates and one Italian astronaut on a new Dragon crew capsule, Freedom, following Ax-1’s delayed return.
- Boeing (NASDAQ:BA) and General Dynamics (NASDAQ:GD) will release Q1 earnings in the morning.
- MIT Space Week 2022, with in-person and virtual events, begins.
- On Capitol Hill, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the Department of Commerce’s budget for FY2023, where they’re expected to discuss the Biden Administration’s proposed funding increase for the Office of Space Commerce.
Thursday: Northrop Grumman (NASDAQ:NOC) will announce Q1 financial results at 9 am ET, and Mynaric (NASDAQ:MYNA) will release its results from FY2021. Also, two Russian cosmonauts will make a second spacewalk from the ISS to continue activating its new robotic arm.
Friday: L3Harris (NASDAQ:LHX) will end the week announcing Q1 earnings at 8:30 a.m. ET, and the MIT New Space Age Conference will host 25+ industry leaders as part of Space Week programming.
The View from Space
Follow the newsroom. Rachael is Payload’s reporter and Ryan is the managing editor.
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