As billionaires rush to outer orbit, space ETFs take off


A new space race is underway, as Galactic Virgo (SPCE) founder Richard Branson prepares for a test flight at the front space edge Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos does it himself.

According to the Wall Street newspaperBranson hopes to get to space on Sunday through the space tourism division of his company, Virgin Orbit. The flight will take place nine days before Bezos’ scheduled test flight via his own space tourism company, Blue Orbit.

A spokesperson for Branson told the WSJ that Branson had always planned to participate in a test flight for promotional purposes and to reassure the public about the safety of space travel.

The companies say the timing to beat Bezos in space is pure coincidence.

Branson’s flight will use planes equipped with a space launcher that will detach and then climb to the edge of space on the Kármán Line, recognized by NASA at 50 miles above sea level.

This is the latest in a series of test flights for Virgin Orbit. In January, the division successfully tested the launch of one of its satellite-carrying rockets.

Virgin Orbit plans to go public through a specialist acquisition company (SPAC) later this year, with an expected valuation of $ 3 billion.

Investing in space: UFO & ARKX

Space tourism has caught the attention of several billionaires, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk.

Their efforts are likely to have spillover effects on space stocks and space ETFs.

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

UFO was the first to move into space. Launched in 2019, the fund tracks the S-Network Space Index, an index that tracks companies involved in various space-related businesses. This includes companies involved in the manufacture of satellites and rockets, satellite consumer products and services, space technology equipment, and space intelligence services, including imagery.

Major holdings in UFO include Virgin Galactic Holdings, with a weighting of 5.97%; Trimble Inc (TRMB), a manufacturer of satellite components with a weight of 4.95%; and GlobalStar Inc (GSAT), a satellite communications company with a weighting of 4.89%.

UFO has an expense ratio of 0.75%.

ARK enters the space race

Meanwhile, in March, ARK Investment Management launched its own approach to the space theme, the ARK Space Exploration and Innovation ETF (ARKX).

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

ARKX, like most ARK funds, is actively managed. In practice, this allows the fund to turn to ready-made assets that investors do not easily associate with the space industry.

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

ARKX has an expense ratio of 0.75%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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