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Space has attracted over $2 billion this year

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX

Getty Images | Robyn Beck

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX

Money is pouring into space.

According to a report on Wednesday from investment firm Space Angels, more than $2 billion of private capital has been invested in space industry companies this year.

Venture backers are following the lead of tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, who are all racing to build and deploy spacecraft in various forms. Those three billionaires have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to their companies and projects.

Personal investments account for 48 percent of this year’s contributions, while venture capital makes up 44 percent and corporations contributed 7 percent, Space Angels said. Some 59 firms invested in space this year, up from five in 2011. The number peaked at 89 in 2015.

Source: Space Angels

The vast majority of private space investment has come in recent years, as the government has reeled in its spending and corporations have filled the void.

Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson calls 2009 the “dawn of the entrepreneurial space age,” and said in a statement that 88 percent of the almost 250 space ventures to receive “non-government equity funding” have been financed in the past eight years.

This year will mark the first time for commercial launches across the globe to outpace government-sponsored launches. Through September, there were 41 commercial launches and 28 under government contract.

Earlier this week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted that the space industry would reach at least $2.7 trillion in the next three decades, up from about $350 billion today. Morgan Stanley has a more modest forecast of $1.1 trillion by 2040.

The Space Angels portfolio includes rocket builder Vector, asteroid miner Planetary Resources and satellite constellation start-up Planet.

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