G
ULA Delta IV rockets launch NASA satellites into space -- and could do the same for your investments. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Between the kerfuffle over sales of Russia's RD-180 rocket engine, the launch of a new satellite to monitor global warming and CO2 emissions on Earth, and the recent grant to Boeing (NYSE:BA) of a $2.8 billion contract to build the "core" launch section of its new Space Launch System, NASA has dominated news headlines this year.

What you may not know about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, though, is that much of the news it makes is actually made possible by the other organizations that work for it. And for investors, this is a good thing.

Eager as investors may be to "invest in space," individuals can't invest in NASA itself. But we can invest in the companies that help NASA accomplish its mission. So with a little help from Bloomberg, we've dug up some facts and figures on the 10 top contractors doing work for NASA. Featuring high-profile names like Boeing and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), the California Institute of Technology and even Russia's Roskosmos, these 10 companies and organizations combined take in more than half the money NASA spends on outside contractors.

You can't invest in all of these names, of course. But there are enough publicly traded stocks on this list -- that are investable -- to make it worth your while to investigate.

So go ahead. Take a quick click-tour through the following slideshow, and see whether you can spot an opportunity or three ...

Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BMW and Nike and owns shares of Lockheed Martin, Nike, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.