The prioritization of space among “competing economic superpowers” is a common theme according to the national security experts who Morgan Stanley talks to regularly, Jonas said. He said the space team has asked Morgan Stanley’s intelligence contacts whether the U.S. or China “is more likely to put boots on the moon the next time.”
“We usually hear China,” Jonas said.
Jonas laid out a thought experiment for what the U.S. response might be “if China went to the moon in five years, planted a flag and said ‘we’re staying and we’re mining water to make fuel.'” He doubts the U.S. would just brush it off, saying “you guys are slow.”
More likely, China putting astronauts on the moon would be “Sputnik on steroids,” Jonas said, a reference to the U.S.’s 1950s-era competition in space against the Soviets.
Read more: Air Force general says China is advancing in space five times as fast as the US
The space industry needs a catalyst or two if it is going to become the exponential growth driver Morgan Stanley thinks it will be. A well-executed China lunar mission would be one such inflection point, Jonas thinks. Additionally, the launch of a satellite constellation by “an Apple or an Alphabet or an Amazon” would also “go a long way to accelerating the market’s appreciation of this stuff,” Jonas said.
“Space is more real than autonomous right now,” Jonas said. “It exists, it functions, it generates revenue.”
The multiple broadband satellite constellations in development could have a massive second order impact for the industry, according to Sinkevicius.
“If you get more eyeballs on the internet then you know what happens to the likes of Amazon,” Sinkevicius said. “When you start attaching the Amazon, Facebook, Google effect to putting more eyeballs on to the Internet you know that was roughly a third of our $1 trillion-plus-based economy.”
Overall, there’s a steady realization that the space business is “very interesting and frankly fun,” Jonas said.
“When we published the piece [in October 2017] we had some folks internally say ‘do you realize what you’ve just done’ but they said that in a way like ‘this is phenomenal, you’ve just opened Pandora’s Box here,” Jonas said.
“It was almost like the more we looked, the more we found.” Jonas added.
Read more: Morgan Stanley says 2019 could ‘be the year for space,’ led by the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin