In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1.
This was the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. It was monumental and ignited the space race that would shape U.S.-Soviet relations for decades to come.
Since then, roughly 9,000 satellites have been catapulted into orbit around the Earth.
Of those, 5,000 remain in orbit. But fewer than 2,000 are still operational. The rest are just junk, littering the space around our planet.
Now a bevy of new projects – aimed at dethroning the old telecom guard – are in the works. This means the skies are about to be a lot more cluttered.
A new space race has been sparked. But this time it’s not between countries. It’s between Silicon Valley tech giants.
And the plans they have are like nothing the world has seen before.
Amazon‘s (Nasdaq: AMZN) Project Kuiper and Tesla‘s (Nasdaq: TSLA) SpaceX, along with OneWeb and Telesat, plan to launch a combined 46,100 satellites over the next few years!
Those four companies alone are on pace to launch more than five times the number of satellites that 40 countries have put into orbit over the last six decades.
SpaceX is far and away the biggest contributor. The company’s Starlink communications network already has 480 satellites in low Earth orbit.
But that’s only the beginning…
Starlink’s whole purpose is to bypass traditional ground-based network carriers like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ). The megaconstellation is already generating 5 trillion bytes of data per day.
And these four names are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) and a slew of other internet companies are exploring satellite-to-phone communication. Essentially, they’re all working on “internet from space” projects to bypass traditional carriers.
This has some 5G investors wondering whether the sky is falling. But internet from space isn’t a new idea.
Companies like Iridium, Globalstar and Teledesic started down this path before the new millennium.
They either went belly-up or abandoned the projects due to the capital-intensive nature of the plans.
I’m not saying the current team of Silicon Valley powerhouses is doomed to the same fate. It’s just worth keeping in mind that all of these are very ambitious projects. And they’re all still in their infancy.
But in our increasingly connected world – with the demand for faster speeds and seamless communication – this could be the next great internet innovation.
The biggest winners in the latest space race will likely be pick-and-shovel plays like Boeing (NYSE: BA), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC).
With tens of thousands of satellites required for these projects, investors can’t go wrong by playing it safe with some of the largest satellite builders in the world.
Here’s to high returns,