The Space Payoff

On Wednesday, President Bush reignited one of the great Rule Breaking endeavors of all time, proposing to send an American back to the moon by as early as 2015.

It might be easy to dismiss the announcement as pre-election rhetoric and little more, but if you've been reading us here at for any length of time, you've probably heard David Gardner talk about Rule Breakers -- companies that are pioneering important new industries and making big money for investors in the process.

Such high-risk, high-reward stocks have in the past included (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) , and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) America Online subsidiary. You could argue that satellite radio market leader XM (Nasdaq: XMSR  ) is among today's Rule Breakers.

Endeavors such as the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy can also be counted among the Rule Breakers, as David argued here. When measured in terms of human achievement, space exploration has to rank at least near the top of the Rule Breaker pile.

The president's renewed reach for the stars should have Rule Breaking investors thinking about what innovations will be required to explore the heavens. Have your belled thinking cap nearby?

So far we know that there will be a new spacecraft called the Crew Exploration Vehicle, which will replace the Space Shuttle after it's retired from service in 2010. That will likely create demand for new propulsion systems, advanced navigation systems, and data gathering equipment.

Any winners come to mind? Clearly the big defense contractors such as Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) , Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon should benefit. So should engine makers United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney unit and General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) . Computer maker Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW  ) may even see some upside after its recent success helping with the Mars Rover landing.

Of course, the real stratospheric returns are bound to be made by investing in smaller firms creating as yet unknown technologies for space life. The Rule Breaker investor will dismiss the hype and think like a venture capitalist looking for the next big thing. While we look to the heavens, then, we'll also be keeping our eyes peeled for the investment stars of tomorrow., eBay, and Time Warner are all Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Interested in learning more? Try Stock Advisor risk-freefor six months.

Tim Beyers doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned. He considers himself a rule breaker, but his wife thinks he's lunar. Your comments are welcome.

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