From the thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to the dozens of new companies promising space tourism, it is fair to say that the future of space travel has been annexed by the commercial sector.
The private and commercial space industries grew by 9% in 2014 to a total of $330 billion worldwide, a third of which is due to commercial activity, according to "The Space Report" released by Space Foundation researchers.
Space technology investors now have the rare opportunity of establishing major footholds in an industry that is still very much in its infancy.
"As the space market grows, there will be opportunities for companies that provide key systems in the space supply chain, especially for those that can adapt to the needs of new entrants and new operators," said Ian Fichtenbaum, adviser to the board at NanoRacks, a private company that partnered with NASA to develop products to aid in commercial space travel.
The following three stocks have shown consistent growth, a trend that will no doubt parallel growing consumer and industrial interest in space travel.
1. Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings (AJRD)
Originally called Gencorp, this company produces propulsion systems for the aerospace sector. It is the leading provider in both the solid and liquid propulsion markets.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is best known for providing the rocket motors that got the Curiosity rover to Mars, as well as the fuel that propelled it.
The company reported full-year 2015 earnings of $1.7 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2014.
Meanwhile, Raytheon recently signed a sourcing agreement with Aerojet Rocketdyne. The contract will allow both companies to provide more affordable propulsion systems by shaving millions off of sourcing costs.
Aeroject Rocketdyne's revenue will no doubt increase as propulsion systems from both companies become available to a larger commercial market.
Shares of Aerojet Rocketdyne are trading at about $17 apiece, up from $14.04 at the beginning of the year.
Investors should expect an admirable performance from this stock in the second half. Aerojet Rocketdyne is set to provide propulsion systems for some major rocket systems later, likely driving up its stock price.