Space exploration may long have been the domain of national governments due to the huge budgets required. Investment from the private sector was slow to pick up due to uncertain economic returns and the concern that their involvement will in some way downplay the virtues of science. However, recent developments have seen increased participation by the private sector, ranging from partnerships with federal space programs to commercial space flights. As an investor, determine whether there is value to be unlocked from your support of space exploration activities, the feasibility of making a consistent return on investment and your capacity for risk.
Invest in Stocks
You do not need to be a billionaire to invest in outer space. Several exchange-traded funds invest in aerospace companies likely to be involved in space exploration technology and related equipment. You can opt to buy stock in individual aerospace firms after diligent research to find firms that have the best track record. Investing in space ventures directly is too risky, and you have to be experienced and knowledgeable about the respective companies' technology, management and business plans. In addition, their stocks are likely to plummet hard after setbacks or major disasters, so getting a diversified fund spreads the risk.
You can choose to invest your money in mutual funds with diversified holdings in aerospace companies. The mutual fund will be a collection of stocks, bonds and other securities. Your investment will yield money from dividends, distribution if the fund makes capital gains, or by selling your portfolio if the fund's shares increase in price. Choose an investment that is low risk if you are new to the investment world or the space technology industry.
Space Exploration Start-Up
Private enterprise, especially individuals with deep pockets, can start their own aerospace technology firms for either space exploration and transportation or mining activities on various celestial bodies. For transportation, you will not be reinventing the wheel, as you will be in good company among the few businesses that make such flights. Mining materials from asteroids is an idea that has gained ground in some quarters, the only handicap being the cost and expertise for such a mission. In either investment, you can team up with partners with expertise in aerospace technology while you finance the venture.
Patent with NASA
Since its inception, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been instrumental in developing many new ideas and ground-breaking technologies used in day-to-day living. These include digital image processing currently employed in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) and CT ("cat") scans, polyurethane-silicon plastic used in memory foam mattresses, and satellites for global positioning systems used in car GPS units and in cell phones, among other technologies. These developments were a result of private companies teaming up with NASA. You can leverage NASA expertise in testing out your new ideas that can later be patented for commercial use.
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images