Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Those are the words spoken by William Shatner in the opening sequence of the original Star Trek episodes. That show aired only three seasons, between 1966 and 1969, but it sure did produce a legion of, shall we say, loyal fans. I guess that’s why it spawned six more television series, 13 movies and who knows how many books, games, toys and more – even annual conventions that continue to this day 45 years after the first one.
I’ve never been a trekkie, but it seems to appeal to something in all of us to discover what else is out there. The show took place far into the future in the 2260s, but here’s the thing: We’re already getting closer to this kind of space travel becoming reality.
Back in 1961, President Kennedy made it a goal of the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of that decade. Incredibly, the nation did it. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon, followed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually setting foot on the moon and Armstrong uttering those immortal words: “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The next-generation innovations that came out of the space race were amazing. In fact, so many things that we now take for granted are a direct result of the space program. Things like memory foam, cordless tools, better braces for kids’ teeth, those ear thermometers parents swear by, smoke detectors, improved car tires and on and on.
The Next Great Space Race
Now that we’ve conquered the moon, the new space explorers and some private corporation visionaries have their sights set on Mars. Even NASA says it expects to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s – so within the next 20 years!
In fact, just this past weekend, six people emerged after eight months in a controlled environment on a Hawaiian volcano designed to simulate life on Mars and gauge how well astronauts would handle the conditions. They were limited to a 1,200 square foot space, had to wear space suits whenever they went outside and ate only prepared foods, and communication with the rest of the world took place with a 20-minute delay. And guess what? When they got tired of being crammed in a small space with each other, they could use virtual reality devices to look at beaches or other familiar places. That’s yet another NexGen theme we’ve talked about being incorporated into this one.
As with the race to the moon, governments like the U.S. and China are involved, but what’s different and interesting about the race to Mars is that private individuals are also working on their own plans. These aren’t just any old people, but some of the “who’s who” of NexGen visionaries, innovators and entrepreneurs. It helps that they also happen to be incredibly rich, but that’s what makes us pay attention. I’m talking about Elon Musk, the brilliant head of Tesla (TSLA); Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group conglomerate; and Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon (AMZN), which is blazing new trails in retail and other areas as well.
Musk in particular is worth paying attention to because he has written out an actual plan. Within 50 years, he envisions a Mars colony with over one million inhabitants. He has gone so far as to say he would like to die on Mars one day. It still sounds like science fiction, but whether you think of Musk as a genius or a total lunatic, he has phenomenal ideas and has made himself and others a lot of money. If you bet against him, you take your chances.
From our perspective as both investors and consumers, it doesn’t really matter who gets to Mars first. The effort itself will lead to even more inventions that we cannot even fathom at this time, and we can only imagine how our lives will be changed by them in the coming years.
It’s not too soon to start thinking about how we can make money off of this trend. We know that billions of dollars will be spent on the technology that will create rockets and everything else needed to accomplish a feat as enormous as sending people to another planet. There are several companies directly involved in making the trek to Mars a reality, but all the pure-play space companies are private, most notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Since we do not have access to private companies, we need to think outside the box.
This derivative approach often leads to even better opportunities than the direct plays. For example, buying Apple (AAPL) would be the most direct – and obvious – play on the new iPhones, but that doesn’t make it the best. You’re going to make more money in related companies, like those that supply some of the components.
There are various possibilities related to the Mars race, from exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to individual stocks to options. Sometimes you can even do all three at once, which is how we increase our gains in my Profit Multiplier service. Right now, I’m watching an aerospace/defense ETF for the right entry point, and a stock I was going to recommend, Orbital ATK (OA), just got bought this past weekend at a 22% premium. It’s frustrating to have been so close to being in before the buyout, but on the other hand, it’s confirmation that things are happening in this area and that opportunities are out there.
In fact, a similar company that has its eye on landing big contracts for space exploration is high on my watch list right now. The trend is in place, so now it’s simply a matter of having the fundamentals and technicals line up to give us the right entry. I’ll be alerting my subscribers as soon as we do.
I’m not a candidate to be among the first to go to Mars whenever it happens, but I definitely want to be at the front of the line when it comes to making money on this ultimate NexGen trend.