Branson, Bezos, Musk give space ETFs liftoff

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Fox Business 09 July, 2021 - 06:37am 9 views

When does Branson go into space?

Virgin Galactic will broadcast the flight of its founder, Richard Branson, as the billionaire soars into space on Sunday (July 11). Space.comHow to watch Virgin Galactic launch billionaire Richard Branson to space on Sunday

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ProcureAM CEO Andrew Chanin discusses the potential impact of the Pentagon's UFO report on space stocks.

A new space race is underway, as Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson prepares for a test flight to the edge of space before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gets there himself.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk's SpaceX has already had several successful launches under his company's belt in partnership with NASA, as he also runs Tesla. 

Branson, on Thursday, detailed his Sunday flight plan for Virgin Orbit which will take place nine days before Bezos’s scheduled test flight via his own space tourism company, Blue Orbit. 

The British billionaire's flight will use airplanes equipped with a space launch vehicle that will detach and then climb to the edge of space at the Kármán line, which is recognized by NASA at 50 miles above sea level. 

Already, investors have driven shares of Virgin Galactic up 122% this year alone. 

Virgin Orbit is planning to go public via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) later this year, with an intended valuation of $3 billion.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart discusses the emerging leisure space travel market ahead of Richard Branson flying to space just nine days before Jeff Bezos.

Currently, there are two pure-play space ETFs: the $621 million ARK Space Exploration and Innovation ETF (ARKX) and the $131 million Procure Space ETF (UFO).

UFO was the first to head to space. Launched in 2019, the fund tracks the S-Network Space Index, an index that tracks companies involved in a variety of space-related enterprises. This includes firms involved in satellite and rocket manufacturing, satellite-based consumer services and products, space technology hardware, and space intelligence services, including imagery. 

Top holdings in UFO include Virgin Galactic Holdings, with a 5.97% weight; Trimble Inc (TRMB), a satellite component manufacturer with a 4.95% weight; and GlobalStar Inc (GSAT), a satellite-based communications company with a 4.89% weight. 

UFO has an expense ratio of 0.75%.

Meanwhile, ARKX tracks space exploration and innovation companies, including orbital space companies, suborbital space companies, companies that enable the technologies used for space exploration, and companies that are positioned to benefit from space exploration.

ARKX, like most ARK funds, is actively managed. In practice, that allows the fund to turn to out-of-the-box holdings that investors don’t readily associate with the space industry.

Top holdings within ARKX include Trimble Inc (with 9.64% weight); the company’s own 3D Printing ETF (PRNT), with a 6.8% weight; and Kratos Defense and Security (KTOS), with a 6.51% weight. 

ARKX has an expense ratio of 0.75%. 

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Final frontier: Billionaires Branson and Bezos bound for space

Yahoo News 09 July, 2021 - 12:15am

 Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launched Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin in the early 2000s, and now both men stand on the verge of lift-off themselves, mere days apart.

 The result of both an overlap in the companies' development timelines and the pair's fierce rivalry, the launches mark a milestone in the nascent space tourism industry.

 While the tycoons are among the first passengers, their ultimate goal is to allow hundreds of (wealthy) clients to admire with their own eyes, for a few minutes, the curvature of the Earth.

 They won't be the first billionaires in space.

 Hungarian-American Charles Simonyi and Guy Laliberte, the Canadian co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, spent several days aboard the International Space Station in 2007 and 2009 respectively, but made the trip on Russian Soyuz rockets.

 Bezos and Branson will be the first to hitch a ride with private space companies — which they themselves created.

 "It's just an incredible, wonderful coincidence that we're going up in the same month," Britain's Branson told The Washington Post in an interview, adding that his decision to move up his spaceflight to July 11 was "honestly not" intended to best the Amazon founder, whose voyage is slated for July 20.

 Branson's flight takes off Sunday from a base in New Mexico called SpacePort America.

 The time has not yet been announced, but the company said a livestream will begin at 7:00 am local time (1300 GMT).

 A carrier plane takes off from a runway, then lets go of the spaceship, baptized VSS Unity, at 50,000 feet (15,000 meters).

 VSS Unity's two pilots ignite its rocket engines, propelling the craft to Mach 3 above the 50 miles (80 km) altitude considered the boundary of space by the United States.

 The passengers, Branson and three other Virgin Galactic employees, will be able to unbuckle and experience weightlessness for a few minutes.

 The ship finally glides back to the original runway.

 Branson's role: evaluate the experience for future clients, expected from 2022.

 About 600 people have already bought tickets, ranging in price from $200,000 to $250,000.

 "When we return, I will announce something very exciting to give more people the chance to become an astronaut," he has promised.

 Blue Origin's voyage launches on July 20, the anniversary of the first Moon landing in 1969.

 The reusable rocket system is named New Shepard in honor of Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

 After lift-off, the capsule, which carries up to six crew members, separates from its booster, then spends four minutes at an altitude exceeding 60 miles (100 kilometers) — also known as the Karman line, the internationally accepted border of space.

 By comparison, commercial planes generally fly at an altitude of six miles (10 kilometers).

 The booster lands autonomously on a pad two miles from the launch site, and the capsule floats back to the surface with three large parachutes that slow it down to about a mile an hour when it lands.

 On board will be the Amazon founder, his brother Mark, 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk, and the mystery winner of an auctioned ticket that sold for $28 million.

 It will be New Shepard's first crewed launch. Virgin Galactic has had three crewed flights including pilots, and even a passenger.

 Unlike rival SpaceX, which foresees more ambitious trips for tourists that will last several days, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin's so-called suborbital flights require minimal training.

 But after being heralded as imminent for years, the advent of space tourism remains dependent on the complete success of these tests.

 In 2014, a Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash caused the death of a pilot, significantly delaying the program. Another tragic event of this kind could well put an end to it.

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