Morgan Stanley is serious about investing in outer space and just had its first conference about it

BE-4 engine test at Blue Origin's West Texas launch facility.

Blue Origin
BE-4 engine test at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch facility.

Morgan Stanley hosted its first “Space Summit” in New York City on Tuesday, as the firm is telling clients to pay attention to space companies.

The event “included participation from private and public space companies and investors, with discussions centered on bandwidth, national security, and capital formation in the private domain,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note to clients on Wednesday.

Read more:Morgan Stanley says 2019 could ‘be the year for space,’ led by the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin

A dozen space-related companies spoke at the event, as well as a host of Morgan Stanley analysts with backgrounds on everything from telecommunications to the future of transportation. Seven companies building space hardware spoke at the summit, according to a copy of the event’s agenda seen by CNBC: OneWeb, Telesat, ViaSat, Maxar Technologies, Rocket Lab, Spaceflight Industries and Spire Global. Additionally, five venture capital and consulting firms spoke: Seraphim Capital, Razor’s Edge Ventures, In-Q-Tel, RRE Ventures and TMF Associates.

Morgan Stanley asked three questions of the 12 companies and firms that spoke:

How urgently does the Department of Defense need a Space Force? When will a human being next step foot on the moon? What is their best single investment idea for the space industry?

Here’s what Morgan Stanley said about their answers:

  1. Need for a Space Force: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the greatest sense of urgency. The average of the responses was 3.5.”
  2. When a human will next step on the Moon: “The answers ranged from 2022 to 2030, with an average answer of 2025. 10 out of the 12 presenters believe China will be the next to put a human on the moon before the US.”
  3. Single best space investment idea: “Blue Origin and in space manufacturing got the most frequent mentions.”

Attendees who spoke to CNBC after the event called remarks by OneWeb CEO Adrián Steckel the highlight of the day. According to two attendees, Steckel revealed OneWeb plans to launch only two-thirds of the previously announced 900 satellites for its broadband internet constellation. Steckel explained that OneWeb only needs to put 600 satellites in 12 orbits, rather than 18, to get global coverage, the people attending said.

Additionally, Steckel talked about focusing initially on large enterprise customers – such as aviation and marine – for its broadband networks, attendees said. That would mark a noted shift from OneWeb’s stated mission, which the company’s website says “is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, connect every school on Earth, and bridge the digital divide by 2027.” OneWeb has raised more than $2 billion to fund its massive satellite network, with investments from SoftBank, Qualcomm, Airbus and Virgin.


Written by Loknath Das