These Are NASA's Top 10 Contractors The International Space Station, Photo: Wikimedia Commons
California Institute of Technology CalTech took in $1.72 billion from NASA in 2013 – 11% of all funds spent on outside contractors last year. That made CalTech NASA’s No. 1 biggest contractor for the year. Caltech Submillimeter Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Data source: Bloomberg.
The Boeing Company With $1.69 billion in contracts for 2013, Boeing was NASA’s No. 2 contractor. Among publicly-traded companies, Boeing was NASA’s biggest beneficiary, winning more than 10% of contract funds. NASA contracts made up nearly 2% of Boeing’s revenues. Boeing’s Atlas V. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Lockheed Martin Corporation Lockheed Martin did nearly as well, also taking home 10% of NASA’s contracts. LockMart won $1.61 billion in NASA work in 2013 – 3.6% of annual revenues, and enough to make it NASA’s No. 3 contractor. Lockheed’s Delta IV rocket is even bigger than Boeing’s Atlas V. Photo : Wikimedia Commons.
Jacobs Engineering Group This next one may surprise you, but Jacobs Engineering was another big NASA beneficiary. It took home 4.2% of NASA funds – $452 million. Jacobs Engineering helps support operations at the Johnson Space Center. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Space Exploration Technologies As NASA’s No. 6 contractor, SpaceX’s star is on the rise. Elon Musk’s privately held space exploration company won 3.4% of NASA contracts in 2013 – $532 million. SpaceX wants to help NASA hop into the future with “Grasshopper.” Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Raytheon Co. As America’s premier “rocket” company, it’s only natural that we find Raytheon on this list. Raytheon took home nearly 3% of NASA work last year – $459 million, and 2% of revenues. Raytheon built the infrared sensors for NASA’s NPP Suomi weather satellite. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Northrop Grumman Corporation NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Northrop’s Global Hawks help with the first half of that mission, and Northrop is well paid for the help. For drones and other work, it collected $373 million from NASA – 1.5% of revenues and 2.4% of NASA’s outlays. NASA uses Northrop’s Global Hawk to monitor hurricane formation. Photo : Northrop Grumman.
Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT, Inc) Privately-held SGT doesn’t get as much press as privately-held SpaceX. But that’s okay, so long as the checks clear... NASA’s No. 8 contractor won $305 million in NASA work in 2013. SGT helps NASA monitor the polar ice sheets with ICESat. Photo : Wikimedia Commons
United Launch Alliance Formed to facilitate space launches for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, ULA operates a near-monopoly on such work, and is paid handsomely for it – $298 million in 2013. United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at liftoff. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Roskosmos Russia’s equivalent of NASA, the Federal Space Agency – “Roskosmos” – is responsible for Russia’s space program, and also does general aerospace research. In addition to funds from Russian taxpayers, Roskosmos took in $285 million from NASA last year. Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
So what is the significance of all this? Right off the bat, we can see that Boeing and Lockheed Martin are two of America's top 10 contractors for NASA. Every time NASA spends $10, Boeing and Lockheed Martin collect more than $1 each.
In fact, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are even more important to NASA than that. You see, NASA's No. 9 top contractor, United Launch Alliance, is actually a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. That means you can basically take ULA's $297.8 million NASA budget, split it down the middle, and give half each to Boeing and LockMart.
Voila! All of a sudden, Boeing is not NASA's No. 2 contractor, but its No. 1 top contractor! $1.84 billion. That's how much money Boeing got from NASA last year.
And Lockheed Martin? They're not doing too shabby either. $1.61 billion of "their own" money, plus another $149 million from ULA, gives Lockheed Martin $1.76 billion in NASA revenue. And lifts Lockheed Martin into second place.
And Jacobs Engineering, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX? Fine companies, one and all, and big beneficiaries of NASA's largesse. But if you want to place a big bet on the future of space exploration, and are looking for the best way to do that, the choice is clear.
Put a bit of money into Boeing... ... and a bit more into Lockheed Martin. With any luck, both stocks will take off.
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